My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz is more than just a cookbook. It’s a beautiful book, part recipes, part stories, and more of a coffee table book than a traditional cookbook. It’s a pretty good size (think textbook size), and is full of pictures of not only the food, but Paris as well. The cover and pages are flat- this is not your high-gloss cookbook, and that fits nicely with the home-kitchen theme. A popular blogger and cooking instructor, Lebovitz has written a few cookbooks, but this one is all about his approach to Parisian cuisine. It incorporates traditional French foods with modern techniques and flavors, and is very easy to follow. Lebovitz does a good job of explaining French techniques and ingredients. The book is separated into several sections- first Lebovitz talks about different ingredients and equipment and how the French use them during cooking. Next, the recipes are arranged by Appetizers (Salted Olive Crisps, Eggplant Caviar), First Courses (Vegetable Soup with Basil Puree, Duck Terrine with Figs), Main Courses (Parisian Gnocchi, Counterfeit Duck Confit), Sides (French Fries, Baked Provencal Vegetables), and Desserts (Coffee Creme Brulee, Buckwheat Madeleines). Finally, there is a pantry section, which details how to make kitchen staples such as chicken stock and vinaigrette. Stories about Lebovitz’s time in France are interspersed throughout the book. Some of the ingredients are new to me, or at least I’ve never used them before, but the recipes look so good that I can’t wait to try them out. I decided to start with Honey-Spice Bread (or Pain d’epices in French).
3/4 cup (240g) honey
1/2 cup (90g) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (180ml) water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/3 cups (175g) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (90g) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon whole or ground anise seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper.
Heat the honey, brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan until it begins to boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup (140g) of the all-purpose flour. Let cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup (45g) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk.
Stir half the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; add the eggs, then the rest of the honey mixture, stirring just until smooth. (If any bits of flour remain, whisk the batter briefly to break them up and incorporate them.)
Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife, then tip the cake out onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely. If possible, wait a day before slicing. Pain d’epices will keep for at least 1 week at room temperature, if well wrapped. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
I didn’t have any whole wheat flour on hand, so I just used all-purpose flour. The recipe was very easy to follow, although I wouldn’t preheat the oven until after step 2 (the honey-flour mixture takes awhile to cool down). The bread rose a lot in the oven, so don’t worry if your pan seems pretty empty before you cook it. This smelled amazing while it was baking. The Honey-Spice Bread tasted great- it was just sweet enough with a great flavor from the mix of spices. This is a great bread for fall. Lebovitz classified it as a dessert recipe, but I ate it for breakfast.
My Paris Kitchen is a beautiful cookbook, with a nice combination of recipes and stories. There are traditional French dishes (Croque Monsieur, Coq Au Vin) mixed with newer recipes (Hummus, Indian Cheese Bread) and the desserts all look amazing. I can’t wait to try Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Tart.
5 out of 5
Disclosure: I received a copy of My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.