My love for My Paris Kitchen endures. I have been wanting to make French Onion soup for ages but Aaron was never super keen. Turns out all he knew of French Onion soup were dry soup packets that his mum would use to flavor chicken or store bought tubs of French Onion dip. I finally convinced him we needed to make it. And he is a changed man!
The soup is fairly basic in its essence, but the flavor packs a punch. It’s all about slow cooking and caramelizing sliced onions and then turning that almost onion jam into a rick broth. We opted for veggie stock in spite of the recipe choosing chicken stock instead of the traditional beef, because if we’re making a vegetable soup it seems wrong to make it a non vegetarian meal when it’s only that one ingredient that makes it not so. The broth also has sherry vinegar and white wine, garlic, salt and pepper. As I said, basic, but all the flavors pack a punch.
The show stopper of French Onion Soup is the soaking cheesy bread that is on top. We used the French bread that I made from Bread Bakers Apprentice, and since we didn’t have any soup crocks that were oven safe, we put slices of bread on a baking sheet, sprinkled the shredded Comte on top and baked it in the oven until the cheese melted.
This soup was so comforting for a cold Canberra night and luckily I had my soux chef available to do all the onion slicing so I wouldn’t be a teary mess. I think this soup will appear on our winter table again, especially seeing as though I now *have* to go find some oven safe soup crocks.
I seem to be on a My Paris Kitchen kick lately. I think it’s got to do with my need for food that is ultra comforting and packed with flavour. Regardless, this dish is exactly that! I’ve been making this chicken potato pie quite regularly since last July when Food52 Cookbook Club was going through David Lebovitz’s book, but I have shifted things around a little so as to multitask so I can get it in the oven quicker.
The first thing I do is preheat the oven and cube the potatoes and get them in a stockpot of salted water and bring it to a boil. While that’s ticking away, I chop up celery, carrots and onions and simmer them in vegetable stock for 15 minutes.
Once that’s done, you make a roux by melting butter and whisking in flour, then slowly incorporate the stock from the cooked vegetables. Once that’s thickened to a smooth sauce, add the vegetables, some garlic and white wine.
Take it off the heat and add some BBQ chicken meat, frozen peas, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Put this mixture into a casserole dish and your potatoes are now probably ready to be drained and mashed with some butter, egg yolks, cream (we use milk) nutmeg, salt and pepper. Fork this over the top of the chicken and vegetable mixture and bake for about 30 minutes before digging into the yummy goodness!
Today was definitely a manic Monday! Disaster after disaster, and I was rethinking dinner because I didn’t think we had time to try anything new tonight, but then I thought about the comfort food I was craving and the bottle of wine that needed to be finished and I reverted back to our original plan. And boy oh boy was it worth it!
David Lebovitz continues to impress me with his amazing cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. Seriously there hasn’t been a bad recipe thus far and we’ve made quite a few of them. And every one is worth repeating. I’d never heard of gnocchi made without potato, and when I saw it was made with choux pastry I just thought it sounded so weird! But after I read all the rave reviews on Facebook and after thinking about dumplings sitting in a cheesy bechamel sauce, I knew that this was definitely something worth trying.
So to make the choux pastry you need to melt some butter with salt and water and then as soon as it’s melted stir in some flour until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Put the dough ball in your stand mixer and stir in some eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Then you stir in some dry mustard. Using an ice cream scoop you drop in scoops of dough in boiled salted water and poach the gnocchi for 2 minutes before placing them in a baking dish with parmesan and a melty Swiss cheese and bechamel sauce that you’ve seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Bake it for 30 minutes and watch the magic happen!
The one criticism I have of David’s recipes has been that he doesn’t really give cues for multitasking. I’d read through the recipe and so had worked out to have the boiling water ready and was working on the bechamel at the same time as I made the choux pastry. I also started preheating the oven at the very beginning and not as I was putting the dish together. It took us about an hour from start to finish, but I reckon if you’d done the recipe step by step it would’ve probably taken twice as long!
David suggests pairing this with a green salad, but we took it one step further and used leftover vegetables from last week and made another chopped salad. It was truly a match made in heaven – the vinegar dressing and the bitter radicchio and the peppery rocket went perfectly with the rich, cheesy deliciousness that was this gnocchi. What a way to end a hectic day!
Throwback to July 2017 when Food52 Cookbook Club was going through David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen. It was such a pleasure to cook through this book and every recipe I try has been mind blowingly delicious. I checked it out from the library again recently (although I do own the Kindle version) and couldn’t believe I had not thought to look there for apricot recipes, including a recipe that uses the apricot pits that littered our house and backyard for over a month. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to try that next summer! I think this may be one of those books that you pick up and find something new each time you read it.
But today I’m going to share with you one of our favourites, that I could eat any day of the week – David Lebovitz’s ham, pear and blue cheese quiche. I’m only a recent convert to blue cheese so have been quite keen to try any recipe that features it. The flavour combination in this quiche really intrigued me and it is such a happy feeling when you try something that you are curious but skeptical of and it turns out brilliant. That is this quiche for me.
The pastry is a combination of cornmeal and flour with butter and egg. It’s mixed in a mixer then formed into a disc and refrigerated. When I rolled it out the first time it fell apart and so in future attempts I always just shape it into the tart pan with my fingers and then refrigerate it, no rolling needed.
The filling is pretty much as the title of the recipe suggests along with the basics of a quiche – eggs, cream, blue cheese and cream cheese, some cooked shallots (lately I’ve taken to just throwing in a cup of fried shallots because I bought too many at the Asian grocer and have no other use for them), seasoning, herbs, chopped ham and pear. Bake it for about an hour until it’s set and eat up! (One thing I need to remember but always seem to forget is that the quiche seems to brown on top really quickly and so never looks as nice as the picture in the book – I think it should probably be covered with foil until the last few minutes of cooking to prevent that.)
I usually choose nights to make this based on what leftovers we have in the fridge. My younger two aren’t too keen on this dish but us older 4 love it so we easily eat the whole thing between us. Is it weird if I want to make this two nights in a row?!!
Some better photos (having covered the dish in foil for 3/4 of the oven time):