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David Lebovitz

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Everything posted by David Lebovitz

  1. Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York is amazing and he has perhaps the best selection of European cookbooks in America. He will also order anything you want, if it's possible. Cook's Library in Los Angeles is excellent too, although their selection is (I think) mostly English-language cookbooks. And for old or out-of-print cookbooks, Bonnie Slotnick is a good source.
  2. The French are actually quite friendly, especially if you show an interest in their cuisine and culture. Even in Paris! And yes, often you pay for the privilege in exchange for them showing you how they do things. It's considered an honor to learn from someone with more knowledge than you, and spending a few euros a night to offset expenses is nominal compared to the valuable things you're likely to learn in the process.
  3. I think that David said that different machines have different levels of 'overrun' i.e. incorporate different amounts of air. My machine always makes less than the recipe's indicated amount and it sounds like yours makes more. ← John: Yes, machines do vary in how much 'overrun'' they produce. I tested the recipes in 3 various machines and got different volumes from the same recipe, but they were all within about 1/2 cup. Also, letting the ice cream or sherbet keep going after you think it's fully-churned often results in more volume since much of the overrun occurs during those final few minutes.
  4. Often what's passed off as a 'convection oven' is simply an oven with a fan in it, which does circulate the air-somewhat, but isn't moving heat around all that much. (For that, you need an oven with a third heating element, which is called 'true convection'). In my experience, most of these ovens (even the professional ones I've used) still have hot-spots and don't really cook as well as people think; pans still need to be turned, although cooking times can be reduced. Most of the features of true convection ovens are only available in professional or pricey appliances. My recommendation is to ask a friend who has one if you can try out a batch of cookies in it. Or better yet, toast a baking sheet of dried coconut to determine hot-spots and heating patterns. Fine Cooking wrote an excellent article a while back that's well worth reading for more detailed information.
  5. One of the best, and perhaps most authentic, cups of espresso I've had in Paris was at the panini shop on the rue Montorgueil (at, or around, #36...almost across from Charles Chocolate). You don't need to have a panini, although they're pretty good, and you can just go up to the tiny counter and have a quick coffee (although I might not go during the lunch rush.) The guys there are Italian and their espresso is quite good. Other good places to try at Molongo (50 rue St. André des Arts), and Espressamente, the Illy-owned store (13, rue Auber), adjacent to the Opéra Garnier.
  6. There was an excellent article by Janet Fletcher entitled Take It Or Leave It, which outlined some of the foods that can and can't be taken back to the United States. It's pretty complete, although since the rules change, it's best to check with the US government's various websites just to be sure (although it can still be a crapshoot.) Definitely no fresh meats, fruit or vegetables. Anything canned is generally okay, but I've heard a few reports of things in jars being confiscated, even though they're sealed. Still, if you're going to buy foie gras, it's best to get the stuff in the jar since you can check it out first. I would check everything in a suitcase whenever possible. There's been second-hand reports about chocolates and other confections being taken away, but I think if that's true, those are the exceptions rather than the rule. Still, that would be an unpleasant surprise, to say the least.
  7. The other cup of milk is supposed to go into the bowl nestled in the ice/water filled bowl - this is the bowl that you strain the cooked custard into. Most ice creams recipes I've used, and indeed the one I used from David's book to make the vanilla above, calls for the cream to go into the bowl, with all the milk being used to make the custard - something about heating milk to a certain temp is supposed to help with making high quality ice cream - but it's not necessary to heat the cream. ← Hi Mitch: Heating up the milk is a holdover from the olden days when it was recommended to scald milk to kill any microorganisms. I don't heat the cream since I like it to be quite cold so it stops the cooking of the custard immediately. Carolyn: The Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream will be quite soft coming out of the ice cream maker due to the larger amount of sugar (which doesn't freeze) in it than other custards. I tried it with less sugar but preferred the stronger caramel flavor. To compensate I used more milk and less cream. I've made it numerous times and had no problems; I mostly use a Cuisinart ICE-50 nowadays. In my experience, those machines that require pre-freezing really need 24 hours. Not 23 hours, not even 23.5 hours. (Believe me...I've tried) I would try another recipe if you're using the KitchenAid attachment. If it doesn't work, contact KitchenAid. Unfortunately I haven't used one much since they just recently introduced them in Europe a couple of months ago.
  8. To my taste, I find both 'styles' of chocolate different. Although it's hard to make sweeping generalizations (even though I do it all the time...) the French seem to prefer a subtler, softer, smoother tasting kind of chocolate, like Valhrona, although Lindt certainly seems popular as well in France. American chocolate (and I'm referring to the smaller, artisanal producers) is more brusque and roasty-tasting. For baking in France, I tend to use Barry-Callebaut, which is a good balance of both. In my experience, the French (and European) friends I've given bars of some of the new American chocolates to don't like them much. That said, I did give some Theo to Jean-Charles Rochoux who really liked it a lot, and my Parisian partner did too. I lugged back a huge amount of Theo's origin bars that I can't wait to try...although I'm working on the filled chocolates first in anticipation of the arrival of the warmer weather finally showing up. (!) BTW: La Maison du Chocolat is owned by the same company that owns Valhrona which does make special blends for La Maison. I don't know about M. Hévin; most chocolatiers are pretty cagey when asked which couverture they use. (A past experience in his shop on La Motte-Picquet wasn't exactly positive...) For another tasting, it would be perhaps interesting to taste various chocolate bars from French chocolate-makers, not necessarily the bars fashioned by chocolatiers who either buy chocolate and pour it into their molds or mix various chocolates. Pralus, Bernachon, Bonnat, Cluizel, Weiss, and Ducloux would be interesting to compare.
  9. I didn't realize that M. Hévin and M. Chaudun were making chocolate themselves. Is that what they've said? If so, has anyone seen them actually doing it? It's quite a production if they are, with all the shipping of bean, equipment, space and storage necessary to do so.
  10. In the Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream, the chunks of caramel are intended to meld into little pockets of salty caramel. Some may stay crisp but for the most part, they're gonna melt. Caramelizing sugar is something, as most of us know, is all about 'technique' rather than a recipe and getting it to the right stage is something you just need to practice. Too little and it just tastes like melted sugar, but too cooked and it tastes burnt. Some folks like a bit of a charred edge to their caramel (Michael Recchiutti calls his 'Burnt Caramel Sauce in fact). And that's the way I like it as well. But the recipe can certainly be customized to your liking. I'm not sure what to recommend if you don't think the recipe is sweet enough since if you add more sugar, it's not going to freeze very firmly. I did end up reducing the fat to compensate for the extra sugar in the mixture and the finished ice cream, once it's spent some time in the freezer after churning, is the perfect texture for me.
  11. John: Thanks for the compliments on my photos. We used a professional for the book since ice cream is notoriously tricky to shoot. The stylist was just as critical and George Dolese is one of the very best in the business. Emmalish: Yes, I don't like to have another piece of equipment to wash either! But when using unsweetened chocolate, which is usually grainy, I find it's necessary to whiz the mixture in a blender. And thanks for posting that link to the NYTimes article. I remember it being pretty informative. (Sometimes you can search on Google and find the article 'cached' as well.)
  12. Henri Le Roux's 'CBS' caramels are available at A l'Etoile d'Or, Denise Acabo's shop at 30 rue Fontaine near Pigalle (métro: Blanche). I recommend nature, although the ones flavored with lime, chocolate, and dark tea are excellent too. He's also at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris in the fall as well. Highly recommended!
  13. Jacques has been considering something in the US, but he was concerned about the butter. He's perhaps working on another project perhaps closer to home. You can get his chocolates in Paris at Pain et Sucre on the rue Rambuteau as well as from him. If you've never had them, Heni Le Roux's salted-butter-caramels are astounding. He ships overseas.
  14. Hi David J: You actually are referring to the recipe for the 'Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough' under the 'Mix-Ins' chapter, which are soft nuggets of dough intended for adding raw to a finished batch of ice cream, rather than baked into cookies. The instructions don't advise baking them. The recipe for 'Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies' is on page 224, in the 'Vessels' chapter. There's a photo there as well. (You can perhaps crush the cookies you've baked into crumbs, press them into a pie dish and fill it with ice cream to make an ice cream pie!) David L.
  15. Hi Everyone. Glad you're working your way through the book! I have been posting recipes from the book and you can find the recipe for Roasted Banana Ice Cream at Traveler's Lunchbox. For testing recipes, I used a Krups pre-freeze model, a Cuisinart ICE 50 with built-in refrigeration, and a KitchenAid IC-making attachment. I got various yields (aka; overrun) depending on the speed of the dasher. The Cuisinart had the highest overrun and although I couldn't get access to one, the Donvier has the least from what I'm told. (Even though they have a French-sounding name, they're not available in France!) My average overrun was about 20%. So due to variations in each of the machines, I use the word 'About' to note yields, explained on page 20. Also when dealing with inexact quantities, as in fruit, there's going to be variations. The recipes are in metric weights as well. My tastes (and stomach) have changed over the years, and I find that I prefer ice cream that's less-rich so I've cut down a bit on some of the cream in recipes and added milk or half-and-half. In other cases, I offer both options. The book is mostly aimed at home cooks who are looking for basic recipes, a few challenging ones, as well as some chef-inspired ones too. There's over 200 recipes in the book and although I wanted to include more, due to space, I opted to go for variety but included as many variations as would fit. You'll also find a Frozen Yogurt recipe from The Perfect Scoop at 101Cookbooks and I'll be posting recipes on my blog from time-to-time. Happy churning! -David
  16. Few places respond to emails, even though their web sites may indicate otherwise. You can ask the concierge at your hotel to call a few restaurants for you. Fax or email them in advance (they usually do answer email, from guests) but realize, save for the fancy places, some restaurants don't take reservations until a few weeks prior to the date. And it's a nice and welcome gesture to reward them with something, like a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine, for scoring tables for you. Be sure to confirm a day or so in advance when you arrive in Paris as well to avoid disappointment. You can also use a service, like Edible Paris (to name one, and I'm sure there are others), to make restaurant reservations for you as well.
  17. ← Well, the must've (thankfully) gotten a little more generous with the food, since at our lunch (70E), we got a platter of gougères to share, then each got a foamy little bowl of crisp bacon, eggs, and cornichon essence (which sounds foufy-er than it was), which was followed by 3 full-courses. Afterwards, each guest was presented with a plate of 5 sweet mignardeses (so there was no fighting over who got what, which was a welcome touch.) They also let us pick any of the desserts from the regular menu instead of the one on the fixed menu, which was nice touch too. I thought it was quite a bit of food for the money. Originally I wanted to go with a larger, multi-course menu to get the feel of the place, but for the 4 of us, we felt we'd had plenty.
  18. I ate at Taillevent this week and it was quite good. We had the fixed price lunch (70E) which has to be one of the best bargains in Paris. The food was terrific and the wine list is amazing and well-priced for what you get...and the service was gracious and lovely. The only downside was that we were seated in the 'American' room, which we noticed as soon as they led us in there as the volume was about 3x greater than the rest of the restaurant. (I could hear each and every word one particular woman was saying from wa-a-a-ay across the restaurant.) Re: Losing a star-I don't think people should go or not go to a restaurant because of some star-rating that may or may not be accurate. I've eaten at one of the newly-3 starred places that was, frankly, horrible, and others in Paris that were passable but not exceptional. (I do recommend Astrance though!) It's merely one or two people's opinion and shouldn't necessarily be taken as gospel.
  19. Yes definitely. Le Troquet and La Regalade are good choices too. For something more modern but not terribly expensive, I would try Les Magnolias which has been written about many times here. La carte is when you order 'à la carte' or off what English speakers would call the menu and the 'menu' is a 'prix fixe' with several courses for a certain price. Some restaurants in Paris only offer a 'menu' and it's often a good bet if you are trying to save money but, depending on where you eat, can also limit your choices. ← I ate at Le Trouquet once, after I was told how wonderful it was. Each course of our dinner was raced to out to us; one course was even brought before we'd finished the previous one, which is highly-unusual in Paris. (Sometimes I credit that to them thinking most Americans expect that...and complain if things take too long, so I overlook it when it happens.) Everything was also quite salty, and I love salt and could eat it by the spoonful. The check was brought before we'd finished dessert as well. That was my experience based on one visit, but others have had good meals there. It was obvious they were trying to get us to scram by that point. Although we weren't lingering any longer than normal diners. I know this is considered one of the new 'bargain' bistros...but it doesn't feel like much of a bargain if you can't sit and eat your dinner without feeling rushed.
  20. David, I am very interested in your post. We visited RdC frequently some years ago, but haven't been back recently. I remember it's having two dining rooms, one with an entrance on Amelot and the other on Filles de Calvaire, but in our time they were always the same restaurant. Are you telling us that these two rooms now provide different levels of cuisine? If so, this is an important differentiation. ← At lunchtime, upstairs on the Blvd Beaumarchais side, they have a shorter fixed-price menu, that I believe is 14 euros. The downstairs is the regular restaurant at lunch.
  21. I love L'Ami Jean, but you're right, it's cramped. I've decided on Le Repaire de Cartouche since we're trying to stay on the Right Bank (yes, I'm very biased...) I walk by Repaire de Cartouche all the time and have never been (well, I went to the 'bistro' upstairs for the 13 euro lunch, which they basically treat like an afterthought) so we're going to go there. Hope it's good! Thanks for all your suggestions...
  22. I walked by yesterday, Jan 25th, and MVA is definately open. And there were people eating in there as well.
  23. Uually when people come to town, they want to go somewhere that I recommend (my tried-and-true spots) so I don't get the opportunity to try other places in Paris as often as I'd like to. So here's my chance!
  24. I second Verre Volé (although it gets a bit hazy), and Chez Dumonet on the Cherche-Midi has a great terrine first course. Le Comptoir has terrific charcuterie but they don't make it easy to reserve for dinner, but lunch is walk-in.
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