Results tagged butter from David Lebovitz

Crêpes Dentelles

When I worked at Chez Panisse, we had a customer who would come for dinner several nights a week and eat downstairs in the kitchen. Jean lived by herself in San Francisco and took a cab across the bridge to Berkeley for dinner once or twice a week. When the waiters knew she was coming, they’d set up a small table next to the pastry department and she’d eat there. And because she was a generous soul, she’d treat her regular cabdriver to dinner upstairs in the café.

Other customers would come in and say, “How do I get to sit there?” I’m not sure what the attraction was, since we were all busy working, chugging water, tracing around, dishwashers hauling dishes, garbage and compost bins, but the concept caught on and eating in the kitchen became de rigeur for foodies. Oddly, for a while, whenever I went out for dinner and they knew me from the restaurant world, they’d always seat me near the kitchen, so I’d have a view of it. And I always asked if I could sit somewhere else. Who the heck wants to watch someone else work on their day off?

Jean was born and raised in San Francisco. Her parents were fur traders and they’d take long boat trips back and forth to Asia, and she and her sister would accompany them. During the long voyages, she told me, Jean and her sister would sit in the chef’s office and rifle through his cookbooks, picking out things for him to make.

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French Tart Dough Recipe

tart dough

I was in the middle of a lovely spring lunch at Chez Prune up by the Canal St. Martin the other day with Paule Caillat, a woman who teaches cooking classes here in Paris.

We talked about many things, but of course, the conversation quickly turned to the most important subject of them all: baking. And soon she began to tell me about this tart dough recipe that she’s been making for years.

I was expecting her to say, “You begin by taking some cold butter and work it into the flour.

But she started by saying, “You take butter. And you take water. You put them in a bowl. Then you put it in the oven for 20 minutes and let everything boil until…” which, of course, stopped me mid-swallow of my Côte du Rhone. I almost started choking.

“Surely, you jest!” I wanted to cry out in disbelief.

Except I couldn’t, because I don’t know how to say that in French.

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Spanakopita Recipe

flaky spanakopita

The most commonly-asked question for a certain cookbook author, aside from “Can I replace the corn syrup?” by a longshot, is: “Can that be frozen?”

So the fellow in question wrote an ice cream book, knowing that I—I mean, he would get a break from being asked that question.

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Pimping My Crêpes

pimp my galettes

Turn on the television any night in France and chances are excellent that you’ll land on a program, held in a brightly-lit studio, where celebrities, authors, and other French luminaries mingle, chat, and talk about issues—or whatever they feel like.

For some reason, though, they don’t run a banner at the bottom while the person is talking, like they do incessantly on American television. And because of that, I usually have no idea who all those overly-made up people are.

So I’ll ask—”Romain…who is that?”

folded galette

He’ll be surprised, really surprised…”You mean you don’t know who Valérie Lemercier is? She is a very big star. Très, très connu!” I always hate bursting bubbles, so I’ll nod kind of half-heartedly, although I’m not so good at keeping a poker face and hiding my feelings.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi: The Good, the Not-Too-Bad, and the Sorta Ugly

tray  of gnocchi

I thought I’d better get this one out of the way right off the bat, at the start of the year. This recipe was languishing on my kitchen counter, resisting publication until I could resist no more. (And if you saw my kitchen counter, you’d know a piece of paper takes up about 25% of it, so I’m especially eager to get it out of the way.) I wasn’t sure if it was up to snuff since I can’t claim exactly 100% success, although the end result was pretty darned good.

But Carol warned me I’d better write it up, and I’m a bit scared of her after what she did to that pig’s head. Although truth be told, she can blame any failures on Tom or Grant. Here, it’s just me, myself, and moi.

Plus I needed the counter space.

'taters

1. The Good

I’ve been meaning to mix up a batch of gnocchi for a while, since I don’t think there’s any better way to fight off the chill of winter than a big bowl of carbohydrates swimming in melted butter.

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Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe with Salted Peanut Caramel

peanut butter cookies

I promised a bunch of holiday-friendly recipes this month, and this one is a doozy! Peanut butter cookies, filled with salted peanut caramel—do those sound as good to you as they do to me?

The recipe is from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet, who is one of America’s best bakers. Her name might not be on the edge of your tongue, but she’s been quietly rolling doughs, mixing up batters, and baking off custards in this book, which is an encyclopedic authority on baking that tips the scales in both the breadth of recipes, and the actual weight itself.

And I thought my soul was a bit weighty.

When I was asked a few months ago to write a quote for the book jacket, I rifled through the preview pages, bookmarking a slew of recipes I plan to make.

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I Found The Pascal Beillevaire Butter!

I finally got a chance to track down that butter I found worthy of rapture from Le Jules Verne. Oddly, when I searched the name, I found out that I actually commented on way back in 2006. How I forgot about it, I’ll never, ever know.

bread & butter

It’s from Pascal Beillevaire, a chain of cheese shops in France. While their cheeses are very good, I have a little bit of difficulty getting past the beret-wearing salesclerks, theatrical straw mats, and hyper-bright lighting.

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Breizh Cáfe: Buckwheat crêpes in Paris

When a British travel writer asked if I’d like to meet for brunch last week, he also asked if I could suggest a reasonable place for the article he was doing. So I put on my thinking cap, kicked off my slippers, tossed my funky pajamas in the laundry bin, showered and…get this…shaved!…and actually took a break from my project and got a few breaths of fresh air.

Imagine that! (This is getting to be a habit around here…)

eggcrepe.jpg

Le Brunch is indeed available at some places in Paris, but je deteste being around people first thing in the morning—and I’m not so fond of Le Brunch either. So we compromised on the more civilized hour of 1pm. Not much is open in Paris on Sunday, which our President is fixing to change, so I suggested Breizh Café a tidy corner spot specializing in galettes de blé noir, commonly known as buckwheat crêpes.

There’s no shortage of strollers or hipsters hanging out in this part of the Marais on Sunday. Once you get by all the folks peering in gallery windows, cigarettes perched in the corners of their mouth and the obligatory Sunday am dark glasses, it’s a relief to find an inexpensive place to eat where the food is anything but trendy.

Breizh Cafe

Because owner Bertrand Larcher is a true Breton, the Breizh Café focuses on the quality of the products and lets them shine, rather than trying to mess with the originals: there’s no red pepper dust on the corner of the plate or twirls of squiggly sauces that have no business being there.

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