Unlike a lot of people, I discovered David Lebovitz via someone else’s blog, as I was searching for a lemon ice cream recipe and came across this one (which by the way is amazing). I subsequently discovered that he was responsible for these incredible Peanut Butter Granola Bars that my ex-husband used to make. For whatever reason, I was never into his blog, but I ended up buying every book he’s ever written, and follow him on instagram, even though I find food and cooking related instagram weird.
After purchasing his books, I never used any of them, with the exception of The Perfect Scoop which I have made a number of ice creams from, and will feature again in a later post, probably during the summer when it’s ice cream season again.
After that incredibly long preamble, the other day I was trying to figure out a vegetarian recipe to make for dinner, and had been reading A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment (which I highly recommend, fairly quick chapters, and gives an interesting perspective on European and gastronomic history), so I grabbed My Paris Kitchen off the shelf, knowing that Lebowitz’s recipes are pretty dang reliable.
In the main courses section, I came across his recipe for Butternut Squash Bread Soup (page 163) or Panade de Butternut, and the vegetarian comfort food angle definitely appealed. I managed to put a number of roadblocks in my own way, however, with a LOT of help from Georgia and Chris, we managed to somehow overcome them, and the recipe turned out pretty great. Georgia had some texture issues, which I get, but she loved the flavors.
1. I chose this recipe on Sunday afternoon and then decided to walk to Trader Joe’s to pick up the few ingredients I needed. I don’t know what I was thinking, as TJ’s was both completely cleaned out of stock and the store was jam packed with cranky Queensians who drive their shopping carts about as well as they drive their cars (spoiler alert: like idiots).
2. TJs was sold out of chicken stock. They had one thing of Turkey Stock left. I needed two. Knew that I’d be doing some creative recipe interpretation.
3. TJs was also sold out of butternut squash. I got acorn squash instead.
4. Did I mention that it was a nightmare? The guy who was doing line management decided to jam everyone up against the fancy cheese case, so I couldn’t get to the cheese without a verbal altercation with the crankypants people in line who thought I was cutting, I wasn’t. Just wanted to look at the cheese before deciding whether or not to forget about TJs and go to another store,.
5. After getting home, I started my mis en place and managed to successfully mandoline two onions and a ton of garlic cloves before unceremoniously slicing off my right index fingertip, 1/8th inch of it, to be exact. Consequently bleeding A LOT, so Chris had to take over on the squash, and Georgia took over the “melting” of the onions (and eventually the rest of the recipe), while I stood around with my hand over my head trying to staunch the bleeding and decide whether or not I should go to the ER. (I didn’t).
I made up the balance of the chicken stock with wine. No complaints from anyone about how winey the dish was – turned out fab.
Georgia is turning into quite the good sous chef – she handled everything with grace, a few questions and some amazement about how the onions soaked up liquid.
Overall, the dish turned out to be less soupy than a juicy lasagna type thing that tasted like really good French Onion Soup. Georgia didn’t like the squishy bread at the bottom of the pan, but liked the sauce and the crunchy bits up top. Chris seemed to enjoy it, albeit a bit hampered by worry about his injured spouse. I will note that the leftovers didn’t disappear like Chris’s Boeuf en Daube did. So maybe make when there’s more people around to eat it.
Chris has not yet cooked from this book as he was taken down by the flu shortly after I cooked this dish. We’ll do another post once he gets back up and running.
The verdict: Loved the recipe, will cook other things from this book, will try not to injure myself again. I’m REALLY glad the instructions were clear enough for an inexperienced 14 year old to follow.