When I saw that the French Fridays with Dorie group had just started cooking from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, I knew I had to join right in, I just couldn’t resist! It’s one of my favorite cookbooks and not just because I adore David, or because it’s features my home away from home, Paris, but it’s truly one of the best cookbooks I own. And I own many!
The book holds a prominent spot in my kitchen bookshelf, set apart from my other cookbooks that live in the den library. It sits alongside some of my most beloved and used books, The Perfect Scoop , the Silver Palate Cookbook and Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts to name a few.
I actually just bought a second copy to use for this cook the book challenge because I want to keep my signed copy in good condition (I’m a dork that way!). I know that since I will be using it even more often now, its pages will be become receptacles of splashes and stains, drips and drops, and they will be torn and tattered in no time- the sign of a well-loved cookbook. I’ve been quite good about keeping it nice until now but I don’t want to take any chances!
Luckily, the group is only recreating just two recipes a month, a much more manageable regimen for me than a weekly recipe. Life is hectic. Finding time to shoot and edit photos or to write anything (outside of my professional life) has been a real challenge this past year. (As you can see by the lack of postings here on KC.) But I should be able to handle two posts a month!
This week’s recipe is Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower (p 224). Since the group just started last month, I went back and made the last two recipes as well-Steak with Mustard Butter and Fries (p 206), and Winter Salad (p 98). What a terrific dinner we had!
Dinner began with a winter salad, a beautiful white salad made of Belgian endive batons and coated with a pungent, creamy Roquefort cheese dressing. Endive is a member of the chicory family, which I really like sautéed. It also includes radicchio, escarole, and my nemesis leafy green, frisee. I absolutely hate frisee. I pluck it out of every salad and leave it jumbled like a pile of barbed wire on my plate.
I am not particularly fond of raw bitter greens. Cooking them mellows their sharpness and, in my opinion, makes them edible. Raw, I prefer peppery arugula and lite delicate lettuces such as butter greens or baby spinach. This was actually palatable due to the copious amounts of the Roquefort dressing I made to coat it. I was actually a little disappointed that I only bought one. The dressing is now being used as a dip for carrots and other cut up vegetables. Yum!
Steak frites is such a simple and quintessential Parisian bistro dish. Adding to the meat a hint of smokiness with a chipotle chili powder and topping it with a compound butter made with a sharp Dijon mustard transforms it into a highly flavorful, mouthwatering experience. This was served with a heaping side of freshly made, crispy French fries. The best thing is to save a few to mop up the leftover meat juices and tangy, buttery sauce.
Lastly, we also had Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower. Dukkah is a warm, aromatic Egyptian spice blend made up of nuts (mostly hazelnuts but can be made with almonds, pistachios, other nuts, or a combination thereof), sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. The blend can be purchased in some gourmet and ethnic markets, but it’s incredibly simple to make at home. Quickly toasting the nuts and spices draws out their fragrance and gives them an earthy flavor that is often not like the character of the raw spice.
Using a mortar and pestle, or a quick whirl of a food processor, the mixture can be ground into a fine powder or left with coarser chunks of nuts and seeds. It’s a versatile blend with many uses- mix it with olive oil for dipping flat breads into or sprinkle it on hummus, tahini or yogurt. You can also dust it on vegetables for roasting; it is delicious on squash, zucchini and especially cauliflower.
For details on recreating these recipes, check out the CookTheBookFridays site and see others who are also cooking the book-
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