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David Lebovitz Cooking Class + Fig & Olive Tapenade

January 24, 2011

by Emily

It feels like a million years ago already, but, bonjour!, I have to share my experience at David Lebovitz’s cooking class last Sunday.  Elizabeth introduced me to this Chez Panisse trained pastry chef American-living-in-Paris a couple of years ago and ever since, I have followed his blog, read his most recent book, The Sweet Life in Paris (which I highly recommend), giggled at his clever (and oh-so-true!) Tweets, and joined Liz on virtual truffle  hunts and cheese tastings all from the comforts (?) or our desks.  You could say we have an internet only relationship…until last Sunday, that is.

To properly prepare for our learning experience, my buddy Lauren and I along with sweet roommate Katie snacked on David’s Fig and Olive Tapenade (recipe below), roasted garlic and white bean dip, and, ahem, some Champagne.  When our heads were just right (and we were cutting it close on time), we headed to Central Market, and sharpened our proverbial pencils for a couple of hours of dessert enlightenment.

The theme of this particular class involved utilizing “The Snap of Citrus in Desserts”.  While this class was not hands on, we observed and served as taste-testers to David and his team of helpers as they prepared the following:

-Meyer Lemon-Buttermilk Ice Cream Sandwiches with Nonfat Gingersnaps
-Spiced Hot Chocolate Cakes with Caramelized White Chocolate, Candied Tangerines,  & Dark Chocolate Shards
Goat Cheese Soufflés with Mixed Citrus Compote in Sparkling Champagne & Yuzu Jelly
-Tangerine Floating Island with Blood Orange Caramel

BONJOUR, right?  I must mention that we also had some wonderful cheeses (Maytag blue cheese, Comté, and triple cream fabulousness brie) along with a refreshing French 2007 Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) and Italian Riando (Pink!!) Prosecco.  Lauren and I, of course, loved the wine selections so much that we stocked up on a few items post class… which I would definitely recommend to y’all especially since they were both < $12 / bottle.  Bon!

While we both picked up some helpful tips on preparing these particular recipes and gained some valuable education on citrus (did you know Meyer lemons are 3xs as tart as a regular lemon?), my favorite part of the class was observing David Lebovitz’s personal style and stream of consciousness dialogue.  If you have read anything of his, I am sure you too have noticed that David has a very consistent voice  across his blog, books, and, yes, Tweets. His clever and perceptive wit was so entertaining to witness it live and I have to share a few snippets from the evening:

On America v. Paris: “I love America…everything works!” and “Is anyone here French?  Good.  The foil there sucks.”

On friendly Texans and accidental one-upping: “If you think that was the best ______, you should try ______!”

On lunching at Smitty’s Barbecue: “We’re probably the only two people in here that don’t have a gun!”

On the immediacy of Twitter:  “It used to be that nothing leaves the room,” ; “In fact, I really like the Neely’s!”

On blogging: “It is immediate, stream of consciousness – mistakes are ok.”

On a personal level: “I have no social skills.  I need boundaries!”

On the most FAQ, “How long are you staying in Paris?”: “How long do you plan to stay wherever you live?”

On Nonfat Gingersnaps: “If you don’t like it, you can add some pork fat to it.”

And, finally, what I am going to ask my next set of dinner guests: “Is anyone mad at me?… here?…yet?”

The best takeaway of the evening for me was noticing that while recipes are recipes, the best part about preparing them is sharing a little bit of yourself and your talents with others.  And while David definitely put on a great show and experience for us, he too panics, lives in a bit of chaos that is Paris (and the world), and is not afraid to admit it … especially for a good laugh!

Fig & Olive Tapenade
The Sweet Life in Paris via David Lebovitz’s Blog

1/2 cup stemmed and quartered dried black figs (use dried Black Mission figs, if available)
3/4 cup water
1 cup black olives; Niçoise, Nyons, or Greek, rinsed and pitted
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper and salt, if necessary

In a medium-sized saucepan, simmer the figs in the water for about 30 minutes, until very tender. Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the liquid.

In a food processor, pulse the pitted olives, drained figs, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, capers, and fresh rosemary or thyme to create a thick paste. Pulse in the olive oil until you’ve achieved a chunky-smooth paste. Season with black pepper and salt, if necessary.  (The spread can be thinned with a bit of the reserved fig poaching liquid.)

Serve tapenade with slices of baguette or pita triangles that have been lightly brushed with olive oil and perhaps sprinkled with salt and fresh thyme, or a dusting of chili powder, then toasted on a baking sheet in the oven until nice and crisp.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011 4:37 pm

    Im talking about black trumpet mushrooms.The black trumpet is a and although you may not find them fresh at your market one can easily find the dried variety which I bought at my local Asian store .I dont think Ive ever cooked with a black ingredient before…Ive burned things to a charred crisp but never have started out with something black.Speaking of black who likes AC DC? My entry is a Charred and Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a Black Trumpet Emulsion.


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