As you know, the Accidental Locavore is a big fan of David Lebovitz’s newish book, My Paris Kitchen. When DeGustibus announced that he was going to be doing a cooking demo, I couldn’t wait to sign up! As it turns out, he rarely does demos since he feels he’s not so good at cooking and instructing (but he would be wrong).
We started out with an amuse bouche of tapenade made from black olives and figs and served with champagne to get us in a celebratory mood. The figs were a nice addition to the tapenade, but what David said (and I haven’t tried yet) was that rinsing the capers and squeezing them dry “will change your life.” Stayed tuned!
These were followed by merguez meatballs with a harissa mayo. How these escaped me in the book, I have no idea! Nicely browned, the meatballs were just a bit spicy and the mayo added a nice little kick. Definitely have to give these a try and the mayo is a snap to make—just add a tablespoon or so of harissa to about ¾ cup of mayo. Bet it’s great on a lamb burger!
Probably my favorite, and definitely the most indulgent, were the Parisian gnocchi with béchamel. Think savory profiteroles or cream puffs with cheese sauce and you’re most of the way there. It started with a pâté à choux, (it’s what’s used for cream puffs, éclairs etc.) formed into balls and poached until partially cooked. Then David whipped up a Mornay sauce, put the gnocchi in a gratin pan, covered that with sauce and sprinkled a healthy topping of Parmesan and Emmenthal and baked it. Think of it as the French version of mac & cheese, but better, so much better!!
Not that we needed anything else, but his main course was the chicken with mustard which I’ve made (and it’s great!). Your choice of mustard really counts here, so splurge and get some real Dijon. And if you think that green beans are generally ho-hum, you haven’t tried his—steamed and drenched in snail butter, in other words, lots of butter and garlic!
For dessert, a chocolate, salted-caramel mousse. Since David is known as a pastry chef, it should have been the highlight of the evening, but it wasn’t my favorite thing. The texture was a little too slick and pudding-like for my taste, since I’ve never been a fan of toothless desserts.
If any of these sounds like something you’d like to try, get the book. It’s one of the few that’s crossed my desk that I’ve used over and over.