David Lebovitz's food blog was not the first that I started reading regularly (That'd be The Amateur Gourmet), or the second (Smitten Kitchen, naturally). I'm not even sure if it made it into my first list of links on my first long-forgotten attempt at a blog. But once I started reading his witty, honest prose, I was hooked. I dreamed of flying off on a whim across the Atlantic Ocean to join in on his Parisian escapades. Short on cash, I compromised by living his life through his recipes. I am sure that there are many of you who feel the same.
Despite my devotion to Lebovitz's blog, I wasn't totally sold on the idea of his new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. What, I thought, could he add to his decade-long online log of his culinary adventures? How could a pastry chef possibly construct a good, well-rounded exploration of today's Parisian cuisine?
It only took one glance through the book to realize how silly those thoughts were. Not since receiving 2012's Jerusalem have I felt as compelled to thoroughly read a cookbook, cover to cover. My Paris Kitchen, as the subtitle (Recipes and Stories) indicates, is a collection of more than just culinary instruction. Close to half the content is written in narrative form, with Lebovitz weaving inviting and insightful tales about his adopted city into a collection of smart, fun recipes. Some of these are total French classics—think oeufs mayo and green lentil salad—while others give a nod to the ethnic diversity in the city. Lebovitz naturally includes a substantial dessert section, but it is clear from the breadth of the book that his Paris kitchen is filled with so much more than sweets.
Upon cooking through the dishes I'll share this week, it was clear to me that Lebovitz took great care to work out all the kinks in each dish. The recipes simply worked. On the other hand, he also has a sense of levity in his style; I could tell when and where to improvise without fear of ruining the dish.
This week, we'll all take a trip to Lebovitz's Paris kitchen. We'll start with his take on leeks vinaigrette and a hearty duck and fig terrine. Next, we'll saute green beans in garlic butter and toss together a demure lentil salad. Finally, we'll end the week with spicy, rotisserie-inspired chicken.
Win 'My Paris Kitchen'Thanks to our good friends at Ten Speed Press, we have five (5) copies of My Paris Kitchen to give away this week. All you need to do for a chance to win a copy is to tell us the first dish that comes to mind when you think of Parisian cuisine in the comments section below.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to KQED's Bay Area Bites, SFoodie, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.