My Paris Kitchen: Parisian Gnocchi

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 Thursday: Ham, Pear & Blue Cheese Quiche from My Paris Kitchen

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?!!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Boeuf Bourguignon with Buttered Peas and book review

For the final recipe of the month, I chose Julia Child’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon. Because we still don’t have our oven fixed (I know, right!) I adapted it with help from this recipe so we could use our slow cooker instead.

It’s a long recipe, but no part of it is difficult. You chop up an onion and a carrot and the beef and you cook them in some oil and butter, then chuck them in the slow cooker with herbs and beef stock and red wine and cook them for 8 hours on low. Then about an hour before it’s done, you cook the mushrooms and onions (and the boiled potatoes) separately to bring together at the end of the cooking time.

The only trouble we had with cooking it this way is that at the end of the cooking time when we drained the liquid to put in a pot to reduce for a sauce, there was still SO much liquid left. Like none of it had evaporated at all. This wasn’t too much of a problem, it just meant that it took longer to get the sauce we were after.

I stirred the boiled potatoes in with the meat and other vegetables, because to be honest, I’m not a big fan of boiled potatoes and figured this would be the best way to give it more flavor and make it more palatable to my taste.

We served it with buttered peas from the book, adapted again by using frozen peas and cooking it in the microwave. I couldn’t be bothered shelling peas and cooking them another way, and these were really scrummy and seem to have become a regular side dish for us at the moment.

It seems strange to try to review Mastering the Art of French Cooking based on only 4 recipes. What I can say is that everything we’ve made has been fabulous, and that each recipe is very comprehensive. I appreciate the nostalgia of the book, and love the cuisine, but wish that we had done this at a different time of year since I live in Australia and it is the middle of a hot summer. I’m sure that I’ll return to the book in the colder winter months to try out a lot of the recipes that the Food52 Cookbook Club members in the Northern Hemisphere were making that looked delicious, but for me, I really wanted to try a variety of recipes and savoury, but everything summery seemed to be eggs and desserts. The only criticism I have is the lack of photos. I understand why this is, but when you’re working from just a recipe title and most are in French, photos would make it much easier to browse and choose things to cook.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Gratin Dauphinois

For today’s post my husband Aaron returns to take us through Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois (scalloped potatoes) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Taking advantage of a reduced price Christmas ham, we needed a side dish that would go nicely with glazed ham, and we had wanted to try Julia Child’s scalloped potatoes for some time, so this was the perfect opportunity to give them a go.

When going over the recipe, my initial impression was that there wasn’t enough potatoes to feed our growing family, but when you add butter, cheese and milk, it gets to be quite heavy and there was plenty for us all.

The only real change we made from Julia’s recipe was to use crushed garlic in the stead of a 1/2 garlic clove, which possibly resulted in garlicky-er potatoes, but that really wasn’t a problem.

As above, the scalloped potatoes (I did old school thin-ish slices with a knife, but this recipe would definitely benefit from a mandolin) are joined by garlic, butter, milk and cheese (we had lots of Monterey Jack in the fridge so that’s what we used) . Add a bit of salt and pepper, throw this layered goodness into the (not quite working properly so they took a bit longer) oven, and we had a very tasty dish that complimented our ham very nicely, and the kids all LOVED it.

It will definitely be a recipe we will have again in the future.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Quiche Lorraine

This month the Food52 Cookbook Club is tackling Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I’ve had this book for several years and really haven’t delved into it much so was keen to see why it’s so popular. For my first recipe, I chose Quiche Lorraine. Now I always thought quiche was a mixture of eggs, cream/milk & cheese with various fillings in a pastry crust but wouldn’t you know, Quiche Lorraine has no cheese. I was shocked!

So what goes into making the iconic Quiche Lorraine? Well, the pastry is super simple, basically flour, salt, sugar, butter and water. (I used all butter rather than 1/4 shortening because the shortening is recommended for American flour. And let’s face it Crisco is ridiculously expensive here.) Mix it together, shape it into a disc and freeze for an hour before rolling it out and partially blind baking in a pie plate. Piece of cake!

The filling is similarly breezy – dice up and lightly cook some lean bacon in a non stick frypan (Julia says you can blanch the bacon in simmering water to remove its salty smoky flavour but we skipped that step). Meanwhile combine the eggs (only 3!) with the cream and milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put the bacon in the shell and pour over the egg mixture. Then dot the top with some diced butter (this is what helps it brown on top) and chuck it in the oven for half an hour.

It turned out light and custardy rather than eggy and cheesy and while Aaron was looking for the cheese (he loves nothing more than cheese and bacon and egg) I thought it was just lovely for a hot summer day with the leftover salads from yesterday’s bbq. Now what to make next?!