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The Final Recipe {CtBF}

Oh My! The journey started in February 2016 has come to an end. For the past three-plus years, I’ve been cooking my way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen with my friends from Cook the Book Fridays. Though I have virtually disappeared since April, this week the group is cooking the FINAL recipe in the book, the cover recipe, so I had to join in.

Fortunately, this recipe is really easy and quite delicious. You start out cooking some bacon, then sauté onions in the bacon fat. Then, you brown chicken thighs which have been coated in Dijon mustard. Everything is mixed into some white wine, simmering until the chicken is cooked through. The final touch is stirring in more mustard, both Dijon and seeded, and some crème fraiche to make a creamy sauce.

This week has been hot, so I didn’t have patience to make the recommended homemade herbed pasta to go with the chicken. Wide egg noodles were a good stand-in.

While Chicken in Mustard isn’t a “height-of-summer” recipe, it is definitely a winner. It made a wonderful weeknight meal, but it’s company worthy too.

As I reflect on the journey of cooking through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, the list of recipes (or their components) that have become part of my standard repertoire come to mind. Here are my top 5 (in no particular order):

  1. The roasted cherry tomatoes from the Cherry Tomato Crostini – These are a summer favorite, and when the cherry tomato crop seems overwhelming, I make this and freeze it for a breath of summer when the weather turns.
  2. Green Beans with Snail Butter – The garlicky sauce is one of my favorite ways to dress up green beans (second only to the Green Beans Amandine from fellow CtBF blogger Mardi Michels’s wonderful book In the French Kitchen with Kids).
  3. Apricot crumble tart – The crust and crumble combination works just as well with other summer fruits like peaches or nectarines.
  4. Raw vegetable slaw with creamy garlic dressing which I particularly like with kohlrabi.
  5. Multigrain bread – I’ve incorporated David’s crunch mixture into my own version of sourdough multi-grain.

I also enjoyed the company along the ride. I’ve been cooking with many of the home cooks in Cook the Book Fridays for almost a decade when we met through French Fridays with Dorie in 2010. I continue to enjoy the friendships through the internet and in-person connections.

This isn’t the end for Cook the Book Fridays! Or, for me, My Paris Kitchen. I still have a handful of recipes that I haven’t made yet. I intend to finish those off. And the group will continue with Dorie Greenspan’s newest book Everyday Dorie, which we started when it came out last October. From here on out, it’ll be two Dorie recipes a month. And I’ll try to stay on track.

Until then….

Spring Lamb and (tardy) Salmon Burgers {CtBF}

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Lamb is a favorite at my house. Fortuitously, lamb is also this week’s selection to celebrate spring holidays as Cook the Book Fridays cooks through the last spring season from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. This week’s recipe covers the full menu: Roast Lamb with Braised Vegetables and Salsa Verde.

Sourcing the lamb shoulder was a bit challenging. These days, according to the butcher at several local grocery chains, most lamb comes in pre-packaged. That means instead of a whole shoulder, the store is shipped packages of shoulder chops. Just as I decided we would butterfly and grill a leg of lamb instead and only follow the recipe for the braised vegetables and salsa verde, my ever-resourceful husband located a whole lamb shoulder at a more urban meat market not too far away.

“Before”

Our whole shoulder had some extra bony parts that needed to be separated (we think it was the top part of the ribs). They aren’t very meaty but will add lots of flavor to a lamb stock – coming to my kitchen some time soon.

“After” (trimmed by Howard the in-house butcher)

This dinner was very easy to put together – and impressive enough for company. Slits in the lamb are stuffed with garlic and anchovies before roasting the lamb for a few hours in a pan with white wine to keep things moist. I felt I could have used much less liquid for the same effect. The toughest part was carefully flipping the lamb twice without not having it splash down into its wine bath, making a big mess.

While the lamb roasts, we cut up a variety of vegetables to braise in butter and water (I was out of chicken stock). Baby potatoes, carrot rounds, parsnip batons and turnip wedges cooked with some sautéed shallots and sprigs of thyme. I usually steam or roast my vegetables, so I was happy to learn this easy and delicious technique.

While the lamb roasts, I also put together the salsa verde. You can use any variety of herbs. I used parsley, sage, tarragon and oregano (the last two from my herb garden). Lemon zest, green olives, capers, garlic, more shallot and a large dose of olive oil complement the herbs to create a lovely sauce.

When everything is done, this is served in shallow bowls: vegetables and their flavorful liquid provide the base for chunks of tender lamb. Each guest can spoon salsa verde over the lamb and vegetables to taste.

We enjoyed this one though I’m more likely to repeat the braised vegetables or the salsa verde than the roast lamb shoulder. This time around, I skipped the Panisse Puffs which were a spectacular failure when I made them back in July 2017. With leftovers, I might try to make socca – chickpea pancakes – to sop up the tasty juices.

The lamb meal was much more successful that last week’s Salmon Burgers from Dorie Greenspan’s newest book Everyday Dorie. It’s not that we didn’t like the burgers exactly, but we felt like there are better uses for fresh wild salmon. The flavors and texture were nice enough, but when salmon is $17 a pound, I’d much rather eat that fillet grilled. I think we’d have liked these just as much if I’d used canned wild salmon. I might even try that another time.

I sautéed the first batch of burgers in a non-stick cast-iron grill pan where it stuck in all the grooves. That happens with everything I cook in that pan, not sure why. For the second batch, I switched to my cast-iron skillet with much better results — more surface area to sear plus no sticking.

I forgot to make the pickled onions, but the burgers tasted good on Martin’s potato rolls topped with sliced avocado with the recommended cole slaw on the side.

The salmon burgers were good, just not good enough to repeat with fresh salmon.

The lamb recipe can be found on page 203 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen and the salmon burgers are on page 174 of Everyday Dorie. If you’re curious what the other members of Cook the Book Fridays thought of these recipes, check out their posts following links for lamb here and salmon burgers here.