Modern Parisian recipes from David Lebovitz

An interview with Paris-based chef David Lebovitz about his latest cookbook My Paris Kitchen. Lebovitz also shares recipes for roast lamb with braised vegetables, salsa verde, and chickpea puffs.

PHOTO: Ten Speed Press/Random House; My Paris Kitchen by Paris-based chef David Lebovitz.
 
Laura Brehaut, Postmedia News
Originally published on June 12, 2014; Postmedia Network
Nothing says Provence like lamb stuffed with anchovies and garlic to Paris-based chef David Lebovitz. And when he’s in a Provence state of mind, the Provençal staple panisses (deep-fried chickpea fritters) follow. Lebovitz’s panisses are in puff form in his latest book My Paris Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014), and are baked rather than fried. The puffs join roast lamb, which is served with braised spring vegetables and a sauce of fresh herbs (recipes for all three below).
 
Lebovitz has specified vegetables for braising – fava beans, small potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips and spring onions – but he encourages experimentation. This is a perfect opportunity to highlight the best of seasonal products, such as asparagus or artichokes. “I wanted to make a book with recipes people could cook at home and to reflect how I cook because I’m an American cook in Paris,” Lebovitz says in an interview. “I have a sensibility of France but I also have the American sensibility of farm to table food, freshness and also multiculturalism. It’s something that we, Americans and Canadians, celebrate in our cooking.”
 
Cooking by feel – or as the French say, by the nose (au pif) – is something that Lebovitz advocates. This means using recipes as guidelines, not dicta. He says that when he first started cooking in Paris ten years ago, he was surprised by how different French recipes were from American. “A quick glance and you’ll see that they’re about half as long, with the number of steps for even the most complex pastry reduced to three or four brief sentences,” he writes in My Paris Kitchen. Ovens vary, thus cooking times will vary. Ingredients change, and materials used in cookware and bakeware will also affect cooking times. As anyone who has burned a batch of cookies knows, checking doneness before the buzzer (or fire alarm) goes off is just good practice.
 
Overthinking and overcomplicating food makes us more dependent on recipes to tell us what to do, rather than to use our skills and commonsense. “I think there’s just pressure that people put on themselves. A lot of it is because of the Internet or food magazines where people think they have to make the perfect Bûche de Noël or if they make cassoulet and they don’t have pork belly that the authenticity police are going to come and arrest them,” Lebovitz says. “People should just breathe in and relax. I want people to enjoy cooking, to realize that a lot of these [French] foods that people idolize are actually foods that are sort of peasant food, like cassoulet, bouillabaisse. They came from poverty not [from] ‘How you can use the most expensive, authentic meat.'”
Recipes excerpted from My Paris Kitchen Copyright (c) 2014 by David Lebovitz. Published by Ten Speed Press, a Penguin Random House Company.
 
ROAST LAMB WITH BRAISED VEGETABLES, SALSA VERDE, CHICKPEA PUFFS
Épaule d’agneau aux legumes, sauce verte, et panisses
 
for roasted lamb:
1 bone-in lamb shoulder (about 4 pounds/1.75 kg)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 anchovy fillets, cut crosswise into thirds
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) dry white wine, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water, plus more if needed
 
for braised vegetables:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
8 spring onions, halved, or shallots, peeled and halved
4 sprigs thyme
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into batons
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into thick wedges
8 oz (230 g) very small potatoes, halved
1 1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock or water
1 1/2 cups (200 g) fresh or frozen peas or peeled fava beans
salsa verde (recipe follows), for serving
panisse puffs (recipe follows), for serving
 
1. Trim the excess fat from the lamb. Make a number of deep slits in the meat and stuff them with the garlic slices and anchovies. Rub the shoulder with the salt and pepper; cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
2. When ready to roast the lamb, preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC).
3. Put the lamb in a roasting pan, fat‑side up, and pour the wine and water over it. Roast the lamb for 1 hour, then turn it over so it’s fat‑side down, and roast for 1 more hour. During the roasting, if the pan begins to dry out, pour a good splash of wine or more water over the lamb so there is always liquid covering the bottom the pan.
4. Turn the lamb over for the final time so it’s fat‑side up and roast for another 30 minutes, basting it a few times with the lamb juices in the pan.
5. To braise the vegetables, about 30 minutes before you plan to serve the lamb, melt the butter in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the onions and thyme, and cook until they brown slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the parsnips, carrots, turnips, and potatoes. Sprinkle the vegetables with the salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir to make sure everything is glazed in the butter.
6. Add the stock and enough water to reach halfway up the vegetables. Cover and cook at a steady, very low boil for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the vegetables are just done; don’t overcook them. Add the peas 2 to 3 minutes before the vegetables are finished cooking. When the vegetables are done, remove the lamb from the oven.
7. To serve, spoon the vegetables and their liquid into shallow soup bowls. Shred the lamb into large pieces, and put them in the middle of the vegetables, making sure everyone gets a nice piece of the crispy lamb fat. Pass a bowl of salsa verde and a basket of chickpea puffs at the table.
serves 4 to 6
 
SALSA VERDE
Sauce verte
 
2/3 cup (50 g) coarsely chopped fresh herbs
6 tbsp (90 ml) olive oil, plus more if needed
10 green olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp capers, rinsed, squeezed dry, and chopped
1 tsp peeled and minced garlic
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (unsprayed)
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
 
1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl at least 1 hour before serving. The salsa verde should be a thick, but runny, paste. If necessary, add more olive oil and perhaps a few drops of lemon juice.
2. The flavours get better as it sits, so it can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Salsa verde will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
makes about 3/4 cup (180 ml)
 
PANISSE PUFFS
Panisses soufflées
2/3 cup (75 g) chickpea flour
1/3 cup (45 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white
1 tbsp salted or unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the mold
3/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC) with the oven rack in the middle position. Put a popover pan on the oven rack and have a baking sheet ready.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender until completely smooth.
3. Remove the popover mold from the oven and set it on the baking sheet. Brush the insides of the popover molds lavishly with melted butter, being careful since the pan is quite hot.
4. Quickly divide the batter among the molds, put them in the oven, then decrease the oven temperature to 400ºF (200ºC) and bake for 35 minutes, until puffed up and brown. Serve immediately, while warm.
serves 6
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