Do I need another bread book?

summary: review of “Bien Cuit” by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky; good ideas; poor choices; is it time to make room on the cookbook shelf anyway? (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Really? White print on black background? Bien Cuit’s art directors are crazy! Do they ever try reading the text after they’re finished making it pretty?

I love that the public library makes it possible for me to review a book before deciding whether to get a copy for my own shelves! And I was excited about this popular book, having to wait patiently (okay, okay; maybe it wasn’t so patient a wait) for my number 12 (of 12 holds, with just 9 copies in the system) finally turned to number 1. But at last I was summoned by the wonderful female-like computer voice on our answering machine saying

The Toronto Public Library has one or more items for the customer with the initials J! M! E! and whose library card ends with the digits […]

I LOVE getting that message!

exposed spine

Full of stunningly beautiful photographs as well as some excellent instructional photograph essays, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky with photography by Thomas Schauer is advertised as having an exposed spine. As if this is a good thing….

Indeed, the inside pages are in fine shape (aside from the white print on black background – I’ll get back to that). It’s the cover pages that are problematic. The library book I had was new in November 2015 – it’s just 4 months old! – and judging by the condition of the inside of the book, the borrowers have been quite careful with it. All the pages were clean with not even a hint of pages being dog-eared. (continue reading )

Auberge Walnut Bread – BBBabes, buddies, friends, etc… (March 2016)

auberge of the flowering hearthsummary: Spring snow; March 2016 Bread Baking Buddies; FB’s Artisan Bread Baking group; BBB Auberge Walnut Bread gallery; about the BBBabes (click on image(s) to see the BBBuddies’ and Friends’ posts)

Last August (the last time I hosted the BBB’s kitchen), I was actually away, visiting family. While we were at my father-in-law’s house, I found a wonderful old cookbook….

Auberge Walnut Bread (BBBuddies)Bread Baking Buddies (BBB): Auberge Walnut Bread

This March, the BBBabes made Auberge Walnut Bread, based on recipes in “Auberge of the Flowering Hearth” by Roy Andries de Groot and “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field. (Here is the recipe we used.)

spring snow Spring is in the air (or at least it was until a couple of days ago) and March is the month for winter breaks. Just three BBBuddies officially joined us this time around. But several more people saw a link to Karen K’s take on the recipe in the Facebook group, Artisan Bread Bakers.

As always, the BBBuddies come from all over the world; isn’t the internet wonderful? (continue reading )

Delving into the Archives: Pork al latte

go directly to the recipe

bolognese summary: going through our photo archives; in praise of back issues of SAVEUR (especially No.68, No.110) recipe for pork braised with sour cream (Brasato di Maiale), like bolognese but different!; yet another rant about SAVEUR Magazine; (click on image(s) to see larger views and more photos)

SAVEUR Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine wp-image-1998 We continue to be amazed and delighted by re-reading back-issues of SAVEUR, when the magazine still contained really interesting articles and photos.

pork al latte And there are interesting recipes too.

But it was never for the recipes that we subscribed. We always got the impression that there was something a little amiss about the SAVEUR kitchen. Not to mention that, often, the way they laid out their recipes was incredibly irritating. Sometimes they were in paragraph form, with the ingredients embedded in the text. Sometimes they were conventionally laid out but missing essential steps in the method area. Always, they insisted on calling for measuring in volumes or weighing in ounces.

But. The ideas they gave us with their recipes were wonderful. And, who ever follows a recipe to the letter anyway? Whenever we make something new, we invariably look at as many recipes as we can find and amalgamate. (As I recall, in the days before the internet, my chili con carne recipe came together from 7 different recipes from the various books on our shelves…).

So. Recently, we had SAVEUR August/September 2003 out to leaf through. And T was entranced by the photo of Italian-style Pork Cooked in Milk (adapted from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) that appeared in the issue’s feature about milk.

I confess that I wasn’t so sure. I’m not the biggest fan of milk on its own. But, I do love the pasta with Bolognese sauce. Not to mention, who am I to stop anyone from playing in the kitchen? Especially someone who really knows how to cook.

After all, eating is my life….

(continue reading )

Auberge Walnut Bread (BBB March 2016)

go directly to the recipe

BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Auberge Walnut Bread, based on recipes in “Auberge of the Flowering Hearth” by Roy Andries de Groot and “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field; perfumes and scents; memoir; a Bread Baking Babes (BBB) project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

BBB Walnut Bread Bread Baking Babes’ Auberge Walnut Bread, March 2016

Once again, I demonstrate that bread just wants to be bread!

This past August, we took a trip out west visiting with T’s aging dad. At one point, as T was snoozing and his dad was happily ensconced in his big arm chair listening to The Flying Dutchman on CD, I looked through the cookbooks in the kitchen, just to see what I might have missed on other visits. As I pulled one of the books out, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of my mother-in-law’s perfume.

auberge of the flowering hearth
Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot

When I opened the book, the perfume became even more intense. (Did she spill some on the book? Or had she doused it in her perfume to get rid of mildewy old book smell??)

I leafed through the book to see that there was a most interesting recipe for Walnut bread… I continued turning pages, holding my breath and waving away the perfume that continued to waft out, and read a little more. Then I asked if it was okay for us to borrow the book. Because we neeeeeeded to read it. (continue reading )

obsessed with pot stickers

summary: obsession with pot stickers; search for the lacy covering;

I cannot stop thinking about pot stickers! And making different fillings with different shapes.

  • Tear drop shape for pork or shrimp
  • Triangle shape for spinach and mushroom
  • Half moon shape for….

And what about that amazing lacy topping that always comes with the dumplings we get in ChinaTown? We speculated that it was simply cornstarch added to the water. None of our books say anything about how to do this.

The internet came to the rescue!

The cook pours on a thin layer of batter into the skillet as the pot stickers pan-fry. When they are done, there is a crisp layer that comes out with all the dumplings
– Christopher Tan, Help! Mysterious Pot Stickers with a Crisp Skirt, Asian Dumpling Tips
[We] went about five (5) rounds with cooking the pot stickers before we arrived at what we deemed was the tastiest, most delicate skirt. All that’s required is that instead of pouring water into the pan to steam the dumplings after they’ve fried, you pour in a slurry of flour and water. The water boils off and the starches cook into a crisp crust to connect all the dumplings.
– Andrea Nguyen, How to Put a Crisp Skirt on Pot Stickers, Asian Dumpling Tips

screenshot (continue reading )