Posts Tagged ‘David Lebovitz’

Review Of Food Blogs – December 2010

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons has been relishing our wintry weather here in England with a warming, earthy Rabbit Casserole recipe that has a quaint olde worlde charm.  I love the taste of rabbit, especially farmed rabbit, which has a light gaminess that has more depth of flavour than chicken, for example.

At Cannelle et Vanille, Aran Goyoaga made a summery sounding Fennel Leek and Arugala risotto (rocket to you and me) that has an intriguing layering of flavours with the anise of fennel and the peppery bite of the rocket, but what I was really drawn to was the link back to an earlier Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake recipe that has that deep richness that I love in baking – I am not a fan of light, airy cakes, but need a bit more moistness and body to the things I bake and the buttermilk will give that.  Then, there is a to die for Pear And Hazelnut Tart that uses a gluten free pie dough, but you could substitute this for a sweet pastry per my recipe for A Simple Sweet Pastry Recipe.

At Chocolate And Zucchini, there is an intriguing Black Radish And Potato Salad, which sounds a good way of adding colour and some bite to potato salad, something which I find often bland and stodgy.  If anyone can guide me to where I might find a black radish that would be great, or I could substitute a few of the smaller red ones and give it a whirl.  While Clotilde Dusouiler’s Christmas Sablés which have all that Christmassy spiciness coming through from cinnamon (you should use baker’s cinnamon a.k.a. cassia here) and vanilla extract, which are reminiscent of the Spekulatius biscuits that I indulge in over the holiday period.

I am intrigued by Jeanne Horak-Druiff’s recipe for Feta, Sage And Pappadew Scones at CookSister, but it might be a little overcomplex in the flavours that come through and I would be tempted to drop the sage and stick with black pepper as the only seasoning which should offset the cheese nicely.  However, I do like the taste image I have of Jeanne’s French Beans With Toasted Almonds And Garlic and you could substitute the pumpkin seeds for toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds.

But the Apricot, Almond And Lemon Cake at David Lebovitz’s Blog sounds a great melding together of sweet and savoury flavours into a sweet loaf that really might work.   I like the flavours of Gruyère cheese and fennel that would come through, but might dice the apricot up to make finer bites as the mouth feel of great chunks of apricot sounds unappealing to me.  And how about Chocolate Persimmon Muffins which sound so elegantly delicious and give that faint feeling of exotic Baghdad Nights way back when, but where to find a persimmon, except the local builders who also go by that name.  Or how about a link back to James Beard’s Persimmon Bread from 2005.  Then David conjurs up a rich, chocolatey Pecan Pie for a late Thanksgiving treat which is reminiscent of Pierre Herme’s Chocolate And Nutella Tart, or Barbra Austin’s rich Carrot Cake With Cream Frosting that are great for expanding your waistline in these austere times.  And finally, there is a fascinating account of How Comte Cheese Is Made.

While at Delicious:Days, Nicky has been busy with the finickety details of making finely decorated cookies for Christmas; I wish I had the patience and time to spare.  And at Fuss Free Flavours, Helen Best-Shaw has been making another cheese flavoured bread recipe (this seems to be an inadvertent theme for December 2010), making Serbian Kiflice Cheese Rolls, which sound wonderful and savoury.

So much wonderful cooking and so many great ideas overflowing in the final days of 2010…

Review Of Food Blogs For October 2010

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I cannot really believe that it is already November, the clocks have fallen back and I am preparing for Christmas, with the Christmas cake baked and Christmas pudding slated for this weekend.  So on a cold, windy, dark November morning, I looked back with joy at the tail end of autumnal style cooking and my favourite bloggers’ articles on the web.

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons has been cooking in Turin at the Slow Food Show, making sausages and a British pasta dish; all good reading and sounds like an amazing event.  And in a Halloween vein, there are recipes for Halloween biscuits and Roasted Winter Squash With Nutmeg.

At Cannelle et Vanille, where as always the photography is awesome, Aran Goyoaga has made some delicious Pumpkin, Quinoa And Hazelnut Gnocchi which sound amazing; I have never really liked gnocchi and I get tired of pumpkin soup at this time of year, so this seems to sort out two problems at once.  While earlier, the smells of the mouth-watering Pear, Hazelnut and Brown Butter Cakes just leap out of the screen and they look so dainty and perfect in the photography, shaped as they are in mini bundt circles.  I have also worked out why her blog looks so perfect, she is a food stylist and photographer, so I do not need to feel too down on my own inabilities in my blog, where everything seems made at home, so rough and ready, which actually is how it is.

Some time back, I experimented with recipes for the ideal Almond Cake and came up with something that seemed to pass muster, however Clotilde Dusoulier at Chocolate & Zucchini has come up with a great alternative, Quince Almond Cake, which I reckon you could also do with pears if you cannot find any quinces.  Clotilde has also posted an intriguing Savory Sesame Cookies recipe that has been adapted from a recipe by Clea at Clea Cuisine.

At Chubby Hubby, they have created a fusion slow-cooked Pot Au Feu that mixes French cuisine with Vietnamese pho.  It sounds like an ideal winter warmer as the nights draw in.

CookSister has been very active with lots of photography, restaurant reviews and some inspiring recipes.  I like the Individual Beef & Guinness Pies, where I might substitute a local stout or dark beer from a microbrewery around us like Monkey Wrench Ale from Daleside Brewery or Riggwelter from Black Sheep Brewery.  These would be accompanied nicely by the Runner Bean And Feta Gratin and with Creme Brulee for pudding.

David Lebovitz has been enjoying visiting markets again with the Arabian exoticism of the Sharjah Market in the United Arab Emirates.  But life will never be the same after the recipe for Chocolate Mousse cake which is a must for any cake-a-holic and chocoholic and has already entered our repertoire.  I love his post about Oatmeal Raisin Cookies as they sound lovely, as well as the truth behind David’s life about being a chef and that it is grunt work; I think TV has a lot to answer for as it makes everyone feel they can be the next superstar singer earning gazillions or Gordon Ramsay or Prime Minister, which is plain folly as most of us are really just going to have to work hard to scrape a living, pay our taxes and get by – that’s the plain and simple truth.  My father talks about “winers, diners and grinders” in the business world, where most are permanently left in the grinders (or grunts) camp, so for example a policeman friend of ours says that they are really just well paid muscle willing to do the stuff that no-one else will do.  But the piece de resistance for me is the Swiss Chard Tart where David has topped the normal pastry filled with chard with apples on the top layer and then enclosed this in even more pastry; this sounds a delicious combination with all those heady baking spices and different textures from raisins and pine nuts.

Helen at Fuss Free Flavours has been busy making Double Chocolate Madeleines which I need to make alongside the David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Mousse Cake mentioned earlier, and I like the idea of Healthier Chocolate Crispies, which I do not feel will catch on for kid’s parties but sounds a perfect excuse for adults to indulge in children’s foods – why should they have all the fun?  Chocolate seems to be the theme and Spiced Chocolate Stout Beef Casserole sounds amazing even after Chocolate Week, finishing off with the very adult Chocolate Stout Brownies to help the waistline.

Interesting Food Blogs In September 2010 (Part 1)

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

September has been a busy month for food bloggers.  I think that is partly as many have had a holiday in August and recharged their batteries, but also it is harvest time and so there’s a huge amount of culinary stimulation in the fields, gardens, markets and shops.  For me, harvest time is perhaps the most wonderful time of year as the earth’s bounty repays the effort you have put into the soil; perhaps not as light and joyful as spring and as full of promise, but fulsome.

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie run by Julia Parsons, there are a couple of a nice and simple looking recipes – Autumnal Welsh Lamb Steaks With Butter Beans and Baked Figs With Maple Syrup.

At Cannelle et Vanille (how come the photos are just so beautiful – it is just not fair as mine look like an amateur has snapped them however hard I try), Aran has been still enjoying her vacation in here native Basque region in Spain and wrote a beautiful piece about apples and an apple cake, which puts my efforts on apples to shame; I must try Aran’s recipe as I am on a quest for a decent apple cake at the moment.   Also, I love her post about mushroom picking with her father as my mum enjoys her mushroom foraging at this time of year, which earths her back to the soil; I am so pleased that the mushrooms were cooked in a simple risotto dish as good food should be simple and natural and not overfussy.  Finally, the Leek, Butternut Squash and Potato Soup with the Apple and Gruyere Muffins have a delectable, autumnal feel about them, but with the amount of apples I have got at home an apple soup recipe would have been welcomed with open arms.

At Chocolate And Zucchini, there is a really useful post called Tomato Burger Buns, which sounds intriguing as a title.  What interested me the most was the links into an article in the New York Times about the perfect hamburger.  So I feel minded to rekindle my quest for the perfect burger, which can restart now that the nights are drawing in and I have some inspiration for the buns’ component, which was where I had been struggling for a way forward.

At Chubby Hubby, he and his wife flew off to Bangkok to eat at David Thompson’s new restaurant and has shared the recipe for Grilled Pork Neck With A Spicy Sour Sauce, which has that wonderfully Thai feel to it.  This links in nicely to a pre-press viewing at Delicious Days of David Thompson’s up and coming book on Thai street food – David Thompson’s Pork Skewers; they also do not seem too hot so would be great as children’s food.

At CookSister, there is a fabulous round up of braai recipes in celebration of national (South African) barbecue day; I like the sticky pork ribs from Simply Delicious and a Kudu Potjie which is a really traditional South African type of pot cooked casserole and Cooksister’s own Whole Leg Of Lamb Barbecue and later her Lamb Sosaties.  There is a definite autumnal, harvest-like feel to Stuffed Courgettes and inspires me to cook up our marrows from the garden.

David Lebovitz has been busy travelling to Ireland and showing folks around Paris on a chocolate tour.  In amongst it all, he has included some great recipes – a recipe for a brown soda bread inspired by his trip to Ireland and a lovely post about making butter in Cork, as well as a perfect sounding Plum And Rhubarb Crumble cooked by the lovely Rachel Allen, who is one of my favourite cooks.

Helen at Fuss Free Flavours has cooked a healthy and wholesome courgette and red lentil dhal and a Four Seed Tapenade that would be excellent on pasta, plus a Harissa Lentil Salad With Lettuce which (I must declare an interest here) uses my Harissa With Rose Seasoning.  I like the idea of the Polenta Bread that uses this corn meal staple within the bread; with Helen Best-Shaw and David Lebovitz baking bread, I reckon this winter is going to involve experiments with bread making, something which has been hold for a couple of years now.

…continues in part 2 [lots of activity in blogosphere this month]…

Food Blogs Round Up – August 2010

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

It is the height of European Summer so a number of the food blogs are in holiday mode.  In spite, or perhaps because of the summer, Julia Parsons at A Slice Of Cherry Pie has been making Tuscan Style Soup.

Aran of Cannelle et Vanille fame has been holidaying in her native Basque country in Northern Spain.  She has posted some gorgeous photographs of her family and of just over the border into France

At Chocolate and Zucchini, Clotilde Dusoulier has been baking sourdough bread; I am not a great bread baker, nor a big fan of bread itself, but I do like sourdough, so perhaps I should give this a go.  She has also baked an Apricot Blueberry Cobbler which is so classic American that it evokes a homely feeling of on the range, plus I like the idea of using orange flower water.  Cobblers are not something I have come across until I started reading food blogs, but will definitely get an outing sometime over this winter to check out whether these fruit puddings with a sort of biscuity dough will enter the family repertoire.  At Orangette this month, there is a great looking recipe for Berry Cobbler.

At Cooksister, Jeanne has been enjoying lots of exquisite looking restaurants in London and South Africa, plus quaffing wines at an exclusive wine tasting event in London town.  I liked the simplicity of the recipe for Pan-Fried Fish Fillets With Capers On Pesto Mash, as I imagine the capes nicely offset the fish tastes, and the slightly old fashioned charm of Gammon Steaks With Spicy Caramelized Pineapple and Crispy Duck Breasts In Wild Cherry Balsamic Reduction.

David Lebovitz has been enjoying the protests by the Communists in France for local food, while offering up a great recipe for that classic – Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Helen at Fuss Free Flavours has baked some amazing looking Brioche, fittingly while holidaying in France, as well as a healthy looking version of Coronation Chicken – much healthier than the full on version we tried from Xanthe Clay recipe earlier this month.

At Lemonpi, Y Lee has been spending her staycation baking cakes like this delicious looking Carrot Cake and some intriguing Skillet Cakes, i.e. cakes baked in a pan. At Mahanandi, I am nervously lusting after making the Red Chilli Pickle as it looks mindblowingly hot, as well as the wonderfully simple Semiya Upma which is an Indian vermicelli-based vegetable stir fry.  There is also an intriguing recipe for Badam Beerikaya, which is a vegetarian dish based around Chinese okra or beerikaya which can probably be done with any smallish gourd.

In mid August, we harvested our small offering of corn grown in the garden.  We ate them boiled lightly, then sprinkled with fleur de sel and drizzled with melted butter.  However, I wish I had noted the recipe for Sweet Corn Pancakes at Smitten Kitchen as that looks a luxurious take on a morning pancake; I love the idea of riching up the batter with buttermilk, which is not something I use although my mum loves her buttermilch.  And Deb’s Fresh Tomato Sauce is one of those labours of love of harvest time; homemade tomato sauce really does taste so much better than shop bought tomato pastes, although the time and effort to make them is a huge barrier to wanting to do it too often, as I have found as your yields are so tiny.  I have to confess to usually making my own tomato sauces and salsas etc using a tin of chopped tomatoes as the starting point as it is much less depressing on the effort front.  And all can be rounded off with a really satisfying American Blueberry Muffin – love them, but I still call them a bilberry here in England even though strictly they are a different plant, but closely related.

Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman Cooks has modern takes on classic recipes like Burgers, Raspberry Crisp, Fried Round Steak and homely Cinnamon Bread.  Plus the Mushroom Burgers that this superlady has been trying on the meat eating husband.

And finally, I am tempted by the recipe for Sweet Portuguese Bread at Wildyeast.  I would like to try it alongside the Brioche recipe at FussFreeFlavours, as I am intrigued by what the differences in flavour and texture will be.

Elsewhere In The Blogosphere – July 2010 (Part 2)

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

…I have done some culling of food blogs that I am following, where activity seems to have died down, while adding one new blog, Lemonpi, which has caught my eye, rather belatedly.

Lemonpi has an interesting recipe for Raspberry, White Chocolate And Lavender Muffins but I would like, at this time of year, to try it with fresh raspberries rather than frozen.  There’s also a great recipe Italian Chocolate Raisin Torte, while her Banana, Yoghurt and Mesquite Cake sounds fine and you can get mesquite meal from Goji King, but not sure if that will quite do the job so any other ideas would be great.

At Not Without Salt, Ashley was on vacation for most of July, but before leaving she posted an evily sweet looking recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes With Marshmallow Frosting; it reminds me of many happy days in my youth and recently with my kids, when happily toasting marshmallows over fires beside dens in the woods or around a campfire.  Then to come back to the summer fruits theme of Part 1 of this round up there’s a recipe for Raspberry Yoghurt Popsicles at Orangette taken from a David Lebovitz recipe.

Now if you’ve got a spare day, this is my recipe for the month which comes from the Smitten Kitchen Blog and is for Sweet And Smoky Oven Spareribs, which was awesome.  Firstly, if you have not got the 6 hours that the recipe required, just turn up the heat a bit to about 125C or 250F and cook for 4 hours – it still came out lovely and succulent, with the meat just sliding off the bone.  Secondly, take Deb’s advice and reduce the sugar and up the salt, which is what we did and it was just right; also, I ditched the sauce as it is heresy to have a barbecue sauce with ribs, plus it just did not need it.  Then there was the Thai Style Chicken Legs, which sounded great but didn’t the month just fly past.  Plus two gorgeously simple puddings, Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin and Peach Blueberry Cobbler.

And Ree at The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a lady after my heart as she knows that custard is just the best, whether it’s a warm custard on your sweet fresh fruit crumble or a cold custard in a custard tart or in the richest of richest crème brûlée recipes that she shares with the blogging world.  Then she whips up a simple but glorious sounding Blackberry Cheesecake that seems so simple to make that I don’t know why I never seem to find the time. While I like the quick cheat Sixteen Minute Beef and Beans Burritos as it exemplifies what real, home food is about – getting well-balanced food to the table quickly with whatever ingredients are in the cupboard, and (in our house) that’s without the aide of a microwave.

And finally, I like the idea at Wild Yeast of Ginger-Pecan Sourdough Biscotti, perhaps with a sweet Vin Santo di Montepulciano.

Elsewhere In The Blogosphere – July 2010 (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

With the summer fruit rolling in, Raspberry Jam is being made at A Slice of Cherry Pie, while at Cannelle et Vanille Aran is inspired by a simple bowl of frozen raspberries and bakes delicious Gluten Free Raspberry Scones and a fancy Heirloom Tomato, Rice and Almond Tart – I am a sucker for these types of simple tarts that use beautiful in-season vegetables and I like the idea of trying the unusual base for this tart.  And what could be simpler and more inspiring than the Purple Corn Muffins and Poached Salmon Salad which are gorgeously colourful, full of bright harvest-time colours.

It’s been a weird summer here in North Yorkshire, with temperatures never really rising above 15C, so I have not really felt inspired by classic summertime foods like salads and cold fish etc, sticking more to warm salads and barbecued chicken and other meats.  But Aran’s salad and the Tomato and Einkorn Wheat (or Spelt) Salad at Chocolate & Zucchini makes me feel as though I am missing something important this year.  I have already mentioned the recipe for Almond Cake With Blueberry Coulis which seems a great alternative to my own Almond Cake recipe that took inspiration from many sources, but mainly David Lebovitz.

David Lebovitz’s recipe for Caramelized White Chocolate Cakes are my kind of pudding and would go down a storm with any guests, especially amongst children.  Or returning to the summer fruits theme, Vegan Strawberry Ice cream looks and sounds to die for and on the salads line, a recipe for Classic Salad Nicoise, which is something I have always loved being a sucker for anchovies and their deep, umami and salty taste.  Then David Lebovitz has an intriguing recipe for Cornmeal Cookies that has a photo of the dough being chopped with an evil looking slice that reminds me that I must try some of the sablé recipes that I keep seeing posted on various sites; they’re just something I have never baked and I feel left out and a rural country bumpkin and so “1980s” as my daughter keeps on telling me – her current insult of choice for us out-of-date adults.

At Cooksister, there’s a posted version of South African Milktart that uses cardamom, as well as cinnamon, infused into the milk, which must be one of my favourite combinations of sweet spices.  I love cardamom and for me it is one of those misunderstood and unloved spices that should be used much more in British sweet foods, rather than being consigned to the savoury, curry-style end of cuisine.  She also cooks a whole leg of lamb on a braai with an intriguing rub all over the lamb before cooking, which is similar-but-different in concept to my less sophisticated recipe for Barbecued Lamb at Steenbergs web site.  But I do love the idea of her Coconut Tart as I am always struggling with how to imaginatively use coconut, so this sounds great with flavours that hint back to the almond cake recipes in this round up.

Now at Helen’s wonderful blog – Fuss Free Flavours – I have been inspired by her recipe and photos for Whole Wheat Walnut Bread and Matcha Muffins, which are exquisitely green in colour.  I am inspired not only to think about using matcha in sweet bakery – perhaps fudge or sablé biscuits – but I will look to adding organic matcha tea to our tea range at Steenbergs.  I know where to get it, just have been cautious about buying it as it is damn expensive.  While never having been a fan of tofu, finding the texture just too weird to take, I am inspired by Helen’s rendition of Ottolenghi’s Black pepper Tofu recipe.

There seems a lot to write about this month, so this will follow on in next couple of days…

Recipe For French Macarons

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I came across this recipe on the truly amazing food blog of the Californian pastry chef living in Paris – David Lebovitz – which can be found at  And I have been meaning to have a crack at making his chocolate macarons for well over 6 months but strangely I never had the courage as the photography on his blog is really quite daunting; I suppose I just thought I would fail and so why try – the fear of failure always tries to hold us back.

Anyway this Sunday, I plucked up courage and printed out his recipe for Chocolate Macarons and then tweaked it to a more English style of ingredient list and had to go.  They came out quite well really, although not as beautiful looking as his, but the taste was heavenly.

Chocolate Macarons

Chocolate Macarons

Here’s my slightly changed recipe (the process itself is the same as David Lebovitz’s so that’s been cribbed):

For the batter:
100g / 3½ oz icing sugar, sieved
50g  / 2 oz ground almonds
25g /3tbsp  cocoa powder, sieved
2 large egg whites (keep the yolks and make pancakes the next morning with these)
65g / 5tbsp caster sugar

Chocolate filling:
125ml / ½ cup double cream
2tsp golden syrup
120g / 4oz chocolate (either dark or not too milky chocolate – I used El Rey chocolate couverture discs)
1tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven 180oC / 350oF.  Line two baking trays or sheets with baking parchment paper and have a pastry bag with 2cm plain tip.

In a food processor, grind together the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder until quite fine. 

In a bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they start to rise, then add the caster sugar in two parts and continue to whisk until the egg whites become very stiff and firm and slightly glossy on the surface.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients in two parts into the beaten egg whites with a metal spoon or rubber spatula.  When the mixture is just smooth and just as the last streaks of white disappear, stop mixing and scrape the mixture into the pastry bag.

Pipe the batter into the lined baking try as in 3cm circles evenly spaced every 3cm apart.  I struggled with getting this stage to look pretty, but I guess practise would make me much better.  Rap the baking tray three times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake for 15 – 18 minutes.  When baked, let them cool completely.

Heat the cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan and when the cream is just starting to boil at the edges, remove from the heat and add the chocolate.  Let this heat through for about one minute, then stir until smooth and add the pieces of butter.  Let cool completely before use – I bunged it in the fridge.

To make the macarons, spread the chocolate mix on the inside of the macarons and sandwich together.

David Lebovitz then says let them stand for at least one day before serving to let the flavour settle.  This just is not practical in our house where 8 chocolate macarons could not be kept away from hungry gannets and were wolfed down in short order, which is the way good cooking should go. 

What other macarons recipes should I dare to try?