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The Zen of Japanese Cottony Milk Bread

Jan 21, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Bread

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It's been 30 years since I first experienced it on a visit to Japan--the softest and most unusual bread. I never hoped to recreate in my own country and kitchen but then it appeared on the web. Of course I had to try it. And it became an obsession. In one week, I produced 7 different loaves and now finally my ultimate version. It is soft, slightly chewy, and captures the exact flavor of the aroma of bread baking in the oven. When toasted it becomes amazingly light and only a little chewy.

This soft white bread flies in the face of artisan breads having no whole grain, no long rise, and the addition of sugar. If only I had a picture of a young boy named Oliver, tasting this bread for the first time, closing his eyes in rhapsody, and hugging his mother to thank her for telling me that he loves white bread. Marissa tells me that by the time we came back from dinner, Oliver and his sister Cate had managed to polish off all but 2 inches of the bread.

When I saw a picture of this bread on line, I noticed immediately that the crumb was similar to the one of my memory. And there is a delightful video. The voice of this Vietnamese baker, Linh Trang, is nothing short of enchanting. And her instructions couldn't be more explicit and easy to follow.

The recipe on her blog RicenFlour is given only in grams, which is the way I bake as well, and ensures successful replication.

I have made a few modifications. Because the exact size of the loaf pan is not readily available, I prefer a 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch 6 cup loaf pan. It offers the best height for the loaf but the 9 by 5 inch 7 cup loaf pan offers more support to the risen loaf giving it a better shape on the outside.

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BAKED IN AN 8-1/2 BY 4-1/2 INCH LOAF PAN

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BAKED IN AN 9 BY 5 INCH LOAF PAN

I used King Arthur Bread flour which is 12.7% protein, whereas the original used 12% protein flour. So for one loaf, I decreased the amount of bread flour to 238 grams and increased the cake flour to 62 grams. This made it whiter in color and more delicious in flavor as bleached cake flour has a floral quality.

I increased the yeast to 9 grams, so that it would rise within the parameter of about 1 hour for the first rise and shaped rise. A larger amount of yeast is needed than for most breads due to the addition of the sugar.

When shaping the logs, I only rolled them out one time as it was difficult to keep the shape well even when rested between two rollings. I found it had no effect on the texture of the bread. Before dividing the bread into 4 pieces, instead of kneading it, I pressed it down to eliminate air bubbles. I found that kneading it made it harder to shape into even logs.

In the 6 cup loaf pan, the dough rose to 3/4 inch from the top of the pan at its highest point when ready to bake. (The baked loaf was 4 inches high at its highest point.)

Instead of an egg wash, which together with the sugar in the recipe caused it to brown too much, I sprayed the risen loaf with water and added ice cubes to a preheated cast iron pan on the floor of the oven, after placing the bread on the lower rack.

I also tried using 100% unbleached all-purpose flour and shaped it as a single loaf. You can see from this photo that the texture is quite different and less fluffy than the one with bread + cake flour shaped into 4 separate sections. The flavor was not nearly as delicious using all-purpose flour.

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ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR ON THE LEFT, BREAD FLOUR + CAKE FLOUR ON THE RIGHT

I love Linh's technique of brushing the baked loaf with heavy cream instead of the usual butter. And I love how she describes it as giving a glow to the crust. It also softens the crust, which perfectly complements the soft interior.

I am offering all these details because I want you to succeed in making this extraordinary loaf. I'll be making it on a regular basis, after I deplete the large supply now in my freezer.

The Most Transformative & Delicious Way to Cook Brussel Sprouts

Dec 31, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review

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I first met Dana Jacobi many years ago when she and her mother came to my former cooking school to study baking. It was enjoyable having such sweet and attentive students. I didn't realize at the time that Dana was a fellow food professional. Since that time, I have followed with great interest Dana's evolving career as a cookbook writer of 14, now 15 books.

I knew that this newest book, The Power Greens Cookbook, would be very special for two reasons:


  • Dana is an exceptionally creative and excellent writer

  • The photographs are by my wonderful friend and photographer of two of my books: Ben Fink

So it was no surprise that her method for cooking brussels sprouts is a game changer and it is the method I will use from here on.

It is quite amazing how the taste and texture of brussels sprouts is affected by the cooking method. While this is true for all food, it is dramatically so with this vegetable. I've always cut off the base and made a little X to ensure that the steam would penetrate to the center to provide even cooking. I would stick a cake tester into them to determine when they were tender. And they were never quite the same texture throughout.

Dana's method is the soul of simplicity, and yields the most evenly cooked and more purely flavorful results. And no need to test for doneness--they steam to perfection in just 6 minutes. All you need to do is cut off the base and cut each in half. Then set them in a steaming basket with boiling water beneath. Lovely with a little butter, Dana's sauce of olive oil, parsley, garlic, shallots, and capers makes a fantastic dressing. The brussels sprouts are great served hot or room temperature.

This book will not be retired to decorate my library--it will have a permanent place in my savory kitchen. There are 139 other recipes still to enjoy.

The Power Greens Cookbook: 140 Delicious Superfood Recipes

For the Love of Eiswein--A Christmas Story

Dec 24, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special for the LA Times Syndicate

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There are those who truly believe in the cliche that love is blind and indeed they are often right. Life isn't perfect, so we tend to fill in the gaps with our creative imagination, and a certain degree of purposeful lack of vision can go far in keeping things going. But given those rare times when one is hit with the real thing that never disappoints, is lasting, in fact mellows and improves with age, and for which one can actually remove the rose colored glasses so often necessary for enchantment, only a fool would fail to treasure such beneficence. There were few such fools Christmas Eve 1996 when the Gods bestowed the gift of the most perfect conditions to date for making Eiswein to many vineyards throughout the wine growing regions of Germany.

Grapes, other than dessert wine grapes, are normally harvested in October. The advantage of allowing grapes to sit longer on the vine is that more flavor and sweetness can develop. The risk, however, is that they usually start to deteriorate before the temperature drops in mid January. The longer the wait, the higher the risk that it will all be for naught and the entire crop wasted.

When grapes freeze, the watery part freezes solid but the sugary juices containing flavors remain liquid. The grapes must be pressed before thawing so that only the naturally concentrated juices are released and the watery part stays frozen and left behind.
Because it is impossible to predict just how long the temperature will cooperate, it is advisable to pick the grapes immediately. When vintners emerged from mid-night mass on Christmas Eve, to discover that an unprecedented early drop in temperature had frozen the perfectly ripened grapes, they felt as if they had been given a Christmas present. It was the same heart-warming story in many vineyards throughout Germany: Fellow parishioners volunteered to go immediately to the vineyards to help pick the precious harvest before the grapes could defrost and spoil.

Eiswein, was invented in 1965 in Germany, the world's Northern-most wine growing region. It is usually made with either the Riesling, or Scheurebe grape (a cross between Riesling and Muller-Thurgau). It's intensity is at least equal to that of the renowned trockenbeerenauslese, fondly referred to as tba. Eiswein, however, has more purity of flavor because the freezing process does not impart any additional flavors.

The concentration of grapes for tba is caused by botrytis (aka noble rot). Botrytis, which is a fungus, breaks down the skin of the grape, causing the water to evaporate and the grape to shrivel. The botrytis also adds a distinctive burnt sugar-like tartness which masks some of the grape's flavor. The most conscientious growers remove any botrytis affected grapes before making the Eiswein.

The 1996 Eiswein harvest had the advantage not only of an early freeze but also of exceptionally clean botrytis free conditions and, of course, this is reflected in the extraordinary quality of the wine.

We all know that too much sweetness can quickly become cloying, but the beauty of a great German Eiswein is that the natural high acidity of the grape lends a provocative stinging poignancy, much desired balance between sweetness and fruit, and aging potential of as long as 100 years. Though often easy to drink even when very young, it isn't until about 10 years that the sweetness and acidity come into full married balance, with layers of unfolding flavors. It only takes a little glass of this liquid joy to go a long way and once experienced, it is impossible to forget.

Eiswein, retailing from $65 to $150 for 350 ml., is relatively inexpensive if you consider that for every glass you are drinking the equivalent of ten glasses that would have been produced from the same grapes had they not undergone the concentration. Besides, Christmas comes but once a year and Eiswein more seldom still. And once opened, the wine will keep refrigerated to be savored repeatedly over several weeks.

People are always asking what to eat with a wine that fills the mouth with such honeyed ambrosial nectar, it's like eating a glorious liquid dessert. My choice would be the simplest and finest cookie I know: the almond crescent. Crisp, buttery, impossibly fragile, with the faintest whisper of cinnamon, they will prove the point that one perfect thing deserves another. And, this recipe takes very little time to make in a food processor.

1996 Eisweins that I have enjoyed in the various wine regions of Germany which are exported to U.S.A. include: Selbach-Oster (Mosel), Hermann Donnhoff (Nahe), Gunderloch (Rheinhessen), Heyl zu Hernsheim (Rheinhessen), Josef Biffar (Pfalz), Fuhrmann-Eymael (Pfalz), Muller-Catoir (Pfalz),Von Buhl (Pfalz), Dr. Heger (Baden), Salwey (Baden).

Continue reading "For the Love of Eiswein--A Christmas Story" »

My New Pie Booklet is Now an I-Book as Well as E-Book

Dec 21, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

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This booklet contains 9 of my top favorite classic American pies, including apple, pecan, and chocolate cream. I also offer my best pie crust and tips for successful pie making, including step-by-step photos for making a lattice crust.

I am delighted that the booklet is available on iTunes, just in time for your holiday pie baking, and is being offered for only $2.99.

Gramercy Tavern's Buttermilk Coconut Pie Recipe

Dec 20, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

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Maya Ferrante, winner of the 2016 Gramercy Tavern In-House Pie Contest, generously sent us her recipe which will be featured on the menu: This is just in time for you to make for the holidays!

Pecan Cookie Crust

Ladyfinger Cookies: 100 grams/3.5 ounces
Granulated Sugar: 25 grams/2 Tablespoons
Kosher Salt: 1/4 teaspoon
Pecans Halves: 125 grams/1-1/4 cups
Unsalted Butter, melted: 57 grams/4 Tablespoons

1. Grind ladyfingers, granulated sugar and kosher salt in food processor until ladyfingers are fine crumbs.
2. Add pecan pieces and pulse until mixture is homogenous. 3. Add melted butter and pulse until incorporated evenly. 4. Pour mixture into 9.5-inch pie pan and press into pan to form even crust. 5. Freeze until solid, about 15 minutes 6. Bake at 375°F for about 12-14 minutes until lightly browned. Cool before filling with custard.

Buttermilk Coconut Custard Filling

Large Eggs (3): 150 grams/3 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon (47 ml)
Granulated Sugar: 166 grams/2/3 cup
Bleached all-Purpose Flour: 23 grams/3 Tablespoons
Coconut Cream: 190 grams/3/4 cup
Buttermilk: 484 grams/2 cups
Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon
Kosher Salt: pinch
Flake Coconut, unsweetened: 170 grams/2 cups
Flake Coconut, sweetened: 64 grams/3/4 cup

1. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, granulated sugar and flour together. Add coconut cream, buttermilk, vanilla extract and salt and mix thoroughly.
2. Stir in both coconut flakes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. 3. Pour into cooled pie shell. 4. Bake at 350°F until custard is set, about 30-35 minutes. 5. Cool thoroughly before topping with Date Cream

Date Cream

Heavy Cream: 464 grams/2 cups
Medjool Dates, pitted, cut in half: 113 grams/4 ounces/1 cup less 1-1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Chips, unsweetened: 1-1/2 cups Whipped Cream Stabilizer: 1 teaspoon
1. Place heavy cream, medjool dates and coconut chips into sauce pan and warm to a slight simmer for about 20 minutes. Cream should have slight notes of coconut and be gently sweetened with coconut.
2. Pass through chinois and chill cream. 3. Once cream is cool, add whipped cream stabilizer and whip to very soft peaks.

Garnish
Toasted Coconut Chips: 3/4 cup

Return to Fantes in Philly 2016

Dec 19, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


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My dear long-time friend Mariella Giovannucci Esposito, co-owner of Fante's Kitchen Shop, invited us down for a December book signing and pie kit showing event. This also provided a perfect opportunity to eat at Zahav (a popular Israeli restaurant) with my cousins Ali and John Zagat, and to meet their soon to be 8 month old Sylvia.

We began with 3 different and delicious hummuses and here's Sylvia enjoying one that wasn't spicy.

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After countless other delectable dishes our main course was this gorgeous, intensely flavorful lamb shoulder with pomegranates.

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Too full for dessert, that didn't keep us from ordering and sharing 3, and they were all amazingly delicious.

The next morning, our car was entirely encrusted with ice but we managed to get to Fante's in time to take a quick look around before the event was due to start.

Whether summer's hot, humid, and sunny, or winter's cold, slushy, and gray weather, Philadelphia's Italian street market is always open. This year it is celebrating its 110th anniversary.

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We made a trip down the street, past awning-sheltered tables laden with produce, and trash cans serving as side walk heaters, to Claudio specialty foods for cheeses, meats, and a staggering array of dried pasta, before seeing Fante's spectacular front window display of my books and products.

Along with our book signing table, displaying several of my books, a wall with a who's who of visitors, from Walter Mondale to Bobby Darren to Emeril, and several of my products were next to us.

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We did not get as many people as usual stopping by, due to the weather, but what lacked in numbers was warmly made up by the wonderful people (and their stories) that braved the weather to come.

One woman, Cynthia Kruth, teaches baking in Connecticut and arranged to visit her daughter in Philly in time to come to our appearance.

One couple came from across the river in NJ, bringing 3 of her collection of my books for signing. Miriam (the wife and baker) claimed to have read through the entire Baking Bible. I was delighted to discover that she is a music teacher.

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Another couple came with their 2 kids and brought tears to my eyes when the wife presented me with a first edition of The Cake Bible. She said that as a young student she took it out of the library for two years until her grandmother bought her a copy. She met her husband, a chef, when they worked together in a restaurant after graduation, and they recently opened their own farm to table restaurant Russet, at 1521 Spruce Street. She said she would not have her husband, her children, or her restaurant, if not for my book. This was one of the most moving tributes I've received as an author.

Mariella's charming and knowledgeable daughter Liana, honored us by purchasing a copy of The Baking Bible. I discovered, much to my delight, that in addition to working at her family's Fante's, she is also a chemist.

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After the event we were treated to the traditional Philly steak sandwich. And we are all now looking to Fall/Winter 2018 when we will surely return when touring with The Baking Basics.

Sublime Ketchup from Chef Michael Anthony

Dec 17, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Radio

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I have been a lover of ketchup since I was a little girl and my grandmother served me spaghetti with ketchup and butter, thinking it was like the tomato sauce which she saw our Italian neighbors preparing. I never dreamed one could make real ketchup at home. But when I ordered the hamburger special at Gramercy Tavern, in New York City, it was served with the best ketchup I had ever tasted and I learned that it was the creation of executive chef Michael Anthony (one of my top favorite chefs). I immediately begged for the recipe.

Chef Michael's ketchup is a world apart from even the best bottled store-bought variety. It is a brilliant blending of ingredients--less sweet, more vibrant, and far more complex. You will see why when you look at the ingredient list. It takes time, and attention, especially when cooking down the sauce so as not to scorch the reducing juices, and you'll need a food mill to achieve the classic silky consistency, but boy is it worth it! For me there is no going back.

Continue reading "Sublime Ketchup from Chef Michael Anthony" »

The Hoola Hoop of Tart Unmolding

Dec 15, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Tarts

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Truly it is the simple things that can make the biggest difference. It took me all these years to figure out a sure fire way to unmold a tart in a tart pan with removable bottom when it sticks to the bottom. I wasn't happy with heating a towel under hot tap water and wringing it out before applying it to the pan bottom as it never stayed hot enough for more than a few seconds and I was also concerned by the risk of moisture creeping into the bottom crust.

One day during our step-by-step photo shoot, it suddenly hit me how to heat the bottom of the pan effectively without turning the tart upside down! I've added this simple technique to the upcoming Baking Basics but can't bear to make you wait for almost two years to know it, especially with all that holiday baking coming up. So here it is right now:

Heat the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan by filling it with very hot water. Let it sit for several seconds until the pan feels hot. Empty the water and invert the pan onto a counter. Set the tart on top and let it sit for about 1 minute or until the bottom no longer feels cold. Repeat if necessary. You can also use a blow dryer to heat the inverted cake pan. If necessary, slide a thin-bladed knife or long metal spatula under the crust to release it.

My New Pie E-Booklet Has Arrived

Dec 14, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Equipment

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This booklet contains 9 of my top favorite classic American pies, including apple, pecan, and chocolate cream. I also offer my best pie crust and tips for successful pie making, including step-by-step photos for making a lattice crust.

I am delighted that the booklet is available on Amazon just in time for your holiday pie baking. It is readable on any of your devices with a free Kindle E-reader download and is being offered for only $2.99.

Rose's All-Original All-American Pie Recipes

WQXR Nutcracker Sweets Annual Holiday Posting

Dec 10, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Radio

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I taped these radio segments with host Naomi Lewin of WQXR in December of 2010. When she invited me to do the show it was because she was familiar with my book. Coincidentally, I danced in George Ballenchine's second production of the Nutcracker Suite, pictured in the above photo.

Rose's Christmas Cookies


What she didn't know at the time was that as a little girl I was a toy soldier in George Ballanchine's second production of The Nutcracker Suite at City Center in New York. Doing this show was like a revisit to my past!

It was such a delightful concept, choosing themes from the "sweets" in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite ballet, talking about the history of the ingredient, recipes, and then the unforgettable music, that I promised myself to post the link to this show every December as a special holiday present to all of you. Enjoy!

PS Naomi generously gave me a present of her home-baked cookies and my favorite, a family heirloom from her grandmother Hanna Gaertner called Dattelkonfekt (Date Confections), The recipe now graces my newest book, The Baking Bible.

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