Cookbook Book Club is my
once a month most months “cooking from the same cookbook” meal with Jan and Jenn, and this month we cooked from My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz’ latest book. As it was a rainy, blustery, windy day with hail (!), it was the perfect book to cook from – David’s stories can transport you (back) to Paris making you forget that outside, it may well be February in May 😉 I’m actually cooking my way through My Paris Kitchen with the Cook the Book Fridays group so I know that David’s recipes work (at least the ones I have cooked so far). It must be noted, though, as I did when I first reviewed the book that “if you’re looking for a “French food cookbook” this might not be the book for you. As David says, the food he cooks is influenced by where he has lived and where he lives now. He’s guided in his cooking by the influence of other cultures that is felt throughout Paris these days, reflected in its many multicultural neighbourhoods and food stores. So the food he cooks isn’t what you’d think of as typically French (although it is how many French people eat these days). But if you are the type of person who keeps cookbooks alongside fiction on your nightstand, then this is absolutely the book for you. It’s as much about the stories that go with the recipes as the recipes themselves.” So while my main course is quintessentially French, the other dishes we ended up with are not what you’d consider French at all!
Jenn, who is French, brought a vegetable slaw that she was worried didn’t really represent the book but which I think was a perfect example of the types of foods the book covers (not necessarily French food but the food David prepares and eats in his French kitchen).
Though it’s not really a recipe (more a list of the types of vegetables you could include), more a guide, this made a perfect accompaniment to my main course. We did find it needing a little more dressing though…
For the main course, I needed to practice making David’s quiche (in the book with blue cheese, pear and ham) since I am making it with a few of my classes at school this week (and while I have made quiche before, I haven’t made this one so thought it was best to do a little trial run before I worked with the boys).
Apart from the filling itself (I used mushrooms, thyme and onions instead of the blue cheese and ham), I followed the recipe to a T and had a couple of small issues. First of all, my dough cracked badly as I was placing it in the 9″ springform pan so I ended up patching it up by pressing it in (no big deal, I do that all the time!). David’s photo shows a much taller quiche in the book than I was able to achieve (there’s no way I could have with the amount of pastry I had) which makes sense since there is SO much filling (nearly 400mls cream and 225g cream cheese) and he asks you to press the dough a bit more than halfway up the sides (mine barely came halfway up). I ended up not using about 1/3 of my filling because I was worried it might overflow in the oven (in actual fact it did not rise much at all – next time I will know!).
The cream cheese was a little surprising in this – it didn’t add much to the flavour, I don’t think – because cream cheese is not an ingredient you see much used in France. In fact, when I lived there it was downright hard to find (and still is expensive and comes in tiny packaging today!). Apart from my pastry trials and tribulations though, this was an excellent dish – stay tuned to see how the boys made out with this later in the week (hint – they love making pastry!).
For dessert, Jan brought what was to be my third birthday cake – a carrot cake. David says his serves 12 – 16 people yet Jan halved the ingredients and it still made a giant cake (serving what I imagine is 12-16 people on its own). This was a BIG cake!
Again, an interesting recipe to find here mainly because of the cream cheese factor. And more intriguing, the frosting only contains cream cheese, mascarpone and powdered sugar (and then, only 3/4 cup to 2 POUNDS of wet ingredients…. Even when halved this seems like a LOT of ingredients to frost a cake!!). No butter, as you might expect (Jan certainly expected it to contain butter as she had a little ingredient mix-up – working on frosting autopilot I suspect!). It’s a hefty cake, that’s for sure – but very delicious (and snapped up as leftovers by my grateful staffroom colleagues on Monday morning!). None of us were sure about the frosting though – next time I might stick to a tried and true recipe with just butter and cream cheese. But the cake itself, I loved. No raisins or pineapple to mess with things – just pure carrot-y goodness with a few walnuts for crunch. Perfect.
All in all, a lovely lunch peppered with interesting conversation – we chatted a LOT about this book and its recipes which is the point of Cookbook Book Club! Just like a book club, only more delicious!
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Interested in our Cookbook Book Club? So far we’ve enjoyed dinner with Marcella, dinner with Nigella, dinner with Ottolenghi, dinner with Maria Speck, dinner with Naomi Duguid, lunch with Jamie Oliver, a dessert party with Butter Baked Goods, dinner with Jacques Pépin, dinner with Smitten Kitchen, recipes from Rachel Khoo, we brunched with Donna Hay, dined with Mark Bittman, got together over a Gatherings-inspired baby shower brunch, dined with Simple Bites, cooked from Food 52’s Genius Recipes and ate dinner from The Broad Fork, hosted a holiday “Food Gift Love” party, and enjoyed lunch with Mairlyn Smith and last month we cooked from Seven Spoons.
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “My Paris Kitchen” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing do. All opinions 100% my own.