Results tagged cookbook from David Lebovitz

Five Books on French Cuisine

The Whole Fromage

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.

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Homemade Mustard

homemade mustard

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!)

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Kimchi Omelet

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.

sunflower oiltwo eggs for kimchi omelet
scallionkimchi

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.

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Hot Chocolate Pudding

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.

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Ready for Dessert – Now in Paperback!

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.

chocolate chip cookies

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Paris Booksigning: This Saturday, July 14th

I’m doing a little booksigning this Saturday at La Cuisine cooking school in Paris. It’s going to be an informal affair and if you’d like to come and get a book signed, this is your chance.

There will be copies of Ready for Dessert, The Perfect Scoop, and The Sweet Life in Paris and I’ll be at the school, from 5:30 to 7:30pm, which is located at 80, quai de l’Hôtel de Ville. You can get a map, and more information, at the Facebook event page.

Happy Bastille Day!

Gâteau de Savoie

cherries and savoy cake

The last copy of The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth that I had, I’d lent to a good friend who was excited about starting a career in cooking at a local culinary school. I don’t know another book that captures precisely everything I love about cooking, written by a man truly passionate about his subject, and I though he’d like to read it, as it’s been very influential to me as a cook. Then I moved and never got it back. But it was the one time in my life that I was happy someone else had become the owner of one my books, because it’s one that cooks of our current generation have likely forgotten about, or never heard of in the first place.

Fortunately last summer when I was in New York, I went to browse the shelves at the great cookbook store – Kitchen Arts and Letters – and saw a brand-new copy, and picked it up. It’s one of those rare books that I can read over and over and over again, and never get tired of, so I can’t imagine not having it on my shelf to pull out whenever I want. And re-reading it again, in France, reminds me of how Roy Andries de Groot, the author, was so perfectly able to capture a place, and time. L’Auberge de l’Atre Fleuri was a rustic mountain inn run by two women, Mademoiselle Ray and Mademoiselle Vivette, who had the kind of place we all dream about happening upon, but no longer exists. The two women were dedicated not just to splendid cooking, but were fastidious about using the bounty of the mountain-walled valley, and the fields, lakes, and forests, that were guarded by those towering mountains.

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Favorite Cookbooks of 2011

cookbook pile up

As 2011 draws to a close, I look at the stack of books that I’ve collected on my bookshelf (and piled up on my floor…and beside my bed, and stacked in my kitchen…) and wonder how I’m going to cook and bake from them all. I just can’t help it, though—I love cookbooks. And these are the books that I couldn’t resist tackling in 2011, although a few are filled with bookmarks intended for future dinners and desserts, and blog posts. Some are traditional books bound with nice paper, filled with recipes, others are food-related books; memoirs and remembrances. And there are a few entries I’ve chosen that push the boundaries of traditional text, electronically and otherwise.

This year, I found myself drawn to cookbooks with a story to tell, not just mere collections of recipes. Books with a distinct point of view by an author, and essays which took me beyond the page and into their lives, which veered in some rather compelling directions. A few of the books were chef’s memoirs, which I did include even though they don’t have recipes. But something about them added to the canon of cookery books I have and referenced cooking in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Because I live abroad and have limited storage space (and deliveries can be a challenge), I wasn’t able to procure all the books that I wanted to. But this year saw a big uptick in publishers – and readers – jumping onto the e-book bandwagon. While not everyone wants to cook from a computer screen, one advantage is that foreign cookbooks, or out-of-print titles, may have new lives and can downloaded anywhere in the world within seconds.

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