I’ve finally reached a milestone in my life because I am actually going on a book tour. Yes, I can barely believe it myself. After years of publishers hiding me, aka “the loose cannon,” they are releasing me into the wild. I’ll be heading to the U.S. and Vancouver for a series of events to mark the release of My Paris Kitchen. While I’d love to go everywhere*, there’s only one (1) of me, and fifty (50) states – not to mention the provinces, territories, and wilds of Canada. However, if anyone can get me to Hawaii and arrange an event close to the beach, I will work on my publisher to find a way to accommodate that one. (But you may have to invite them to come with me.) So, in spite of how easy the airlines make it to change tickets, and the low-fees involved in doing so, this is it.
Results tagged cookbook from David Lebovitz
(Photo by Ed Anderson)
My Paris Kitchen is finally here! It’s taken me a few years to get to this day, and I thought I’d give you a little look behind-the-scenes of how the book was created. There’s a certain amount of conversation about blogs versus cookbooks, and since I have a foot in both, I am keenly aware of the connection between the two, but also what makes them different.
There’s a lot of talk about whether food blogs are overtaking traditional cookbooks. What’s changing – in my view – is that people are looking for something else in a cookbook – not just collections of recipes, which can be found online, but a storyline that carries the book. I read blogs when I’m sitting in front of my computer, but I love settling into a chair (or cozy bed) with a good cookbook, and reading all the stories that accompany the recipes.
So when people ask me, “What’s your book about?” I answer that it’s a story about how I cook in Paris – where I shop, how I find ingredients, the friends I like to cook with, as well as recipes from Parisian friends, chefs, and pastry chefs, with plenty of photos (and stories) of the outdoor markets, pastry shops, bread bakeries, bistros, and cafés. The book starts with recipes and stories for l’heure de l’apéro (cocktail hour), and goes through soups, salads, and main courses, before heading to dessert, ending with a spectacular bûche de Noël, that concludes the year across France on a sweet note.
I was deeply saddened when I heard that someone who happens to have been a culinary icon (and hero) of mine, and who I was fortunate enough to work with in the kitchen, is no longer standing behind her stove. This morning I learned that Judy Rodgers the chef-owner of Zuni Café, had passed. I was fortunate the work with Judy for a few years on and off at Chez Panisse. Judy was incredibly dynamic as a person; so much so that I think even she had trouble dealing with all her energy! She was also a dynamic cook. And like the best cooks, her food wasn’t ever about her: It was about the food.
The roast chicken with bread salad at Zuni was the most iconic dish she made and was always worth waiting for. (Although once we drank too many martinis from the bar while we waited for it, and when I got home, I realized that I’d skipped out on the bill! – which I did go back and pay the next day.) The Caesar Salad at the restaurant was the best you could get, as were the pillow-light ricotta gnocchi and the excellent hamburger, which was perfect in every way. Whatever Judy made, was the best. In fact, one of the best things I ever ate in my entire life was a simple salad she’d handed to me one night at Chez Panisse, composed of escarole, rabbit loin, potatoes, and garlic confit smeared on toasts, all tumbled together with a warm, mustardy-dressing. I never dreamed a simple salad could taste so good, and I still remember the exact moment when I put the first forkful in my mouth – it was so, so good, and I still think about it nearly twenty-five years later.
The Whole Fromage
Look, I like cheese a lot. But didn’t think I could get into an entire book on the subject. And as I read the first few paragraphs of The Whole Fromage, my suspicions were almost confirmed and I was considering putting it down because, like cheese (which I’m surrounded by on a daily basis – and I’m not complaining!), a well-edited selection is usually my preferred way to enjoy it. Fortunately I kept going and found myself completely absorbed in the book on les fromage, the subject of Kathe Lison’s obsession. And her book is a series of interesting essays as she traveled around France, visiting cheese producers, from the mountains of the Jura to the caves of Roquefort.
It’s hard to write about cheese because the scents and flavors that come to mind, used to describe the taste and smell of les fromages, aren’t often very appealing; barnyards, cattle pens, rotting milk, and the laundry bin in men’s locker rooms after the big game, often come to mind. But Kathe Lison visited some of the most intriguing cheese regions in France – from Langres to Beaufort, and recounts her visits cheese caves, curd tastings, meetings with artisan cheese producers, and an occasional brush with a cranky character or two.
A few years ago, The Art of Living According to Joe Beef – which calls itself “A Cookbook of Sorts” – landed in my kitchen. I wasn’t sure what to make of the book. It had a four-letter word in the beginning of the introduction, courtesy of a New York chef known for swearing. There was a chapter on Canadian trains. And as interesting as they sounded, I wasn’t sure I would ever make Filet de Cheval à Cheval (pan-fried horse steaks with a sunny-side up egg saddled-up on top), Pork Fish Sticks (yum), or Chicken Skin Jus (sauce made of…yes, chicken skin – ok, I’m in on that one.)
Cornflake Eel Nuggets (the story is pretty funny in the book), well, I’d give them a try at the restaurant because I’m not especially anxious to clean my own eel at home, there’s a Foie Gras Breakfast Sandwich that tempts (maybe not for breakfast, but I could imagine that for lunch), and I am not sure I would build my own metal Marjolaine cake mold (there are dimensions in the book) – although the multilayered cake made inside of it looks absolutely great.
(However I wish they hadn’t included pictures of their homemade cake pan for making the cake in, because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about tackling that welding project ever since I read about it. Darn you, Joe Beef!)
Here’s a quick one, which is perfect because it’s precisely the idea of Jaden Hair’s book, The Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites, which was just delivered to me (I saw a preview and wrote a quote for the book). It’s full of pretty amazing ideas for quick Asian dishes that can be made with easily available ingredients – often ones you already have in your pantry. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever gone from opening a package containing a cookbook, to making something from it, to eating it.
I’d made some kimchi a few weeks ago (there’s a quick version in the book that is ready in fifteen minutes) and had some lovely French farm eggs on hand, so decided to whip myself up a kimchi omelet for a mid-morning snack. People in France don’t normally eat their lovely eggs for breakfast, nor is kimchi a common pantry item, but like Jaden, I’m have a tendency to forge my own path.
I had some friends over for dinner recently who were moving away, which is always sad, and they were in the full-on stress of moving; packing up boxes, dealing with logistics, selling most of their things, and taking care of the details of deménagement.
I had been leafing through Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by chocolate expert (and comrade in chocolate) Alice Medrich, who I was introduced to in the 80s, not personally, but though her spectacular chocolate cakes and confections. Her chocolate shop in Berkeley was changing the way we thought about chocolate in America, and I’d like to think my (near-daily) allegiance to the store, called Cocolat, had something to do with it.
Alice had learned techniques for making French cakes and truffles, and was getting national acclaim for her extraordinary treats sold in the shop. I was such as fan that when I was baking just down the street, at Chez Panisse, I used to stop in on my way to work for a truffle or a slice of cake. And I finally had the chance to meet Alice, and she became one of my dessert heroes, coming out with some of the best books on baking you can get your hands on. And if you’re anything like me, before long, those hands are likely to be smeared with a little bit of chocolate.
I’m thrilled that my latest book, Ready for Dessert has just been released in a softcover edition!
The book has the same recipes as the hardcover edition of Ready for Dessert (all recipes are in standard and metric measurements) and the icing on the cake is that there are more photographs from talented photographer Maren Caruso were added.