In a book filled with many winners, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen seldom disappoints. Working my way through the entire book with my friends from Cook the Book Fridays is a mostly delicious adventure. Each recipe offers a new technique, a new flavor combination, or a new twist on an old favorite. There’s something new to learn with every challenge.
The name of this week’s recipe Buckwheat Rolls with Seaweed Butter is tantalizingly exotic. The buckwheat galettes provide a foundation of French-ness for an Asian compound butter made with seaweed sheets, aka nori.
It isn’t a difficult recipe. Mixing the batter for the galettes (or savory crêpes) needs no special equipment beyond a bowl and a whisk.
Cooking the galettes is a bit tricky, but I was more successful this time than when we made the buckwheat crêpes with ham, cheese, and egg last year. For the seaweed butter, I used some Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed snacks I had on-hand. They toast up easily with a few waves over a gas flame before being mashed into softened butter.
The most difficult part was spreading the butter onto the galettes before rolling them in preparation for a final crisping in the pan. Once crisped on both sides, the rolls are sliced into bite-sized pieces for nibbling.
The verdict: Ick! This was a flop. Neither Howard or I liked these at all. They had so much potential, but despite the interesting list of ingredients, they were rather tasteless. We didn’t even finish them. Boo! On the positive side, this is only the second recipe we’ve made from this book that I consider to be a failure (the other one was Panisse Puffs). And so, I look forward to the next recipe the group takes on.
I’ll bet that my Cook the Book Fridays friends enjoyed this more than we did, so you can check out their links here.
This time of year, I’m barely going to the grocery store. Between the many local farmers’ markets, farm stands, my CSA share, and my own backyard, we are well-fed. This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays fit right into this food procurement system. Except for feta cheese, all the ingredients for the Potato, Feta and Basil Tortilla were already on-hand: potatoes from Dick’s Market Garden, scallions and eggs from Wilson Farm, and basil from my own garden.
In this case, the tortilla is not a Mexican corn pancake, but a Basque version of a frittata. You start out sautéing diced potatoes in a generous amount of olive oil. (The recipe said to peel the potatoes but I didn’t bother.) When the potatoes are almost tender, sliced scallions are stirred in to wilt.
Pour a mixture of eggs, some piment d’Espelette, and loads of coarsely chopped basil on top and sprinkle crumbled feta on top. The tortilla cooks stovetop until it is almost set and a golden-brown crust forms on the bottom and sides. The cooking finishes up for a few minutes in a hot oven.
I originally bought my cast-iron skillet specifically for making frittatas. I’ve seasoned it, but every time I made one, it stuck. Over the years, I’d shifted to making frittatas entirely in the oven in a baking pan. When I read this recipe and saw that the tortilla was cooked on the stove in cast-iron, I was nervous that I’d have the same experience. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the crust easily separated from the pan when I checked its progress. When I transferred the tortilla to a serving plate, I smiled as it gently plopped out. It worked! I could assume that after all this time, my pan is better seasoned, but I’m giving credit to the healthy amount of olive oil added at the start.
The tortilla was delicious for dinner as well as for lunch. A side of sliced vegetables drizzled with olive oil or a panzanella were welcome accompaniments.
I’d make this again, though I thought the amount of basil was overwhelming. I would prefer just a handful of basil for flavor supplemented with other sautéed greens to provide both substance and color.
My main takeaway lesson from this recipe is that the cast-iron skillet can be restored to its intended purpose in frittata making. I’ll just have to remember to be heavy-handed with the oil when sautéing the vegetables.