Feb 13, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
This is a special story which I wrote years ago for the LA Times Syndicate. Because someone on Face Book this week wrote about his visit to Bernachon in Lyon, France, I was inspired to share this story with him and with all of you. It starts out with a special technique I discovered for roasting duck but my favorite part is about Maurice Bernachon and the lunch we shared at one of the finest restaurants in the world--Chapel. And only now--this very moment, after all these years--as I write the name Chapel, do I realize how fitting was Alain Chapel's name, for eating at his restaurant was truly a religious experience.
Perfect Crisp Roasted Duck
(a revolutionary technique for the fairest of all fowl)
Duck, with its rich moist flesh and flavorful crispy skin, can be the most delicious of all poultry. However, when not cooked properly it is greasy with fat, the flesh over-cooked and dry and the skin soft and uninteresting. Because I love duck so much and even in restaurants have more often than not been disappointed, I set out years ago to find a way to roast duck which would eliminate the maximum amount of fat while maintaining the juiciness.
The solution turned out to be extraordinarily simple: boiling water is poured over the skin to tighten it, then the duck is air dried (which can be accomplished overnight in the refrigerator). The most important part is that during roasting, the skin of the duck is pricked, the oven temperature is very high to release the fat and boiling water is poured directly on the duck to keep it moist and to prevent the fat from splattering. The resulting duck is virtually fat-free, moist with crisp skin and, as an added benefit, it cooks in under an hour. I have never prepared duck another way for 15 years since this technique evolved. But I do have a memory of quite a different duck that was more delicious still at an unforgettable lunch in the south of France. I was in Lyon, working with the Bernachons on the translation of their book:
A Passion for Chocolate
The book is no longer in print but is still available for a song at some bookstores and Amazon, where it received a 5 star review.
Papa Bernachon invited me to lunch to celebrate its completion and asked me to choose between Bocuse and Chapel. I was torn. Both were brilliant chefs but Chapel, with his near military precision and passionate perfection was the chef of my heart and soul and his was my favorite restaurant in all the world. Despite this, and after some hesitation, I chose Bocuse because I knew that Maurice Bernachon's son Jean Jacques is married to Paul Bocuse's daughter. Politesse won out over passion--not to mention the fact that I knew we would eat magnificently at either place. And I comforted myself with the promise that someday soon I would return to Chapel.
The day of the luncheon arrived. We folded our aprons, changed out of our whites, and drove off to what turned out, to my joyful astonishment, to be Chapel. The greeting Bernachon received from the Maitre d' was worthy of a king. But then, of course, he is considered the king of chocolatiers in France and his neighbors in the food establishment are very proud of him. But with his silver mane of hair and courtly gallant manners, I felt as if I were dining with the long fantasized French grandfather of my dreams. Chapel came out to greet us and serious discussion ensued (as only seems to happen in France) about our culinary fate (choice of food). I was so overjoyed I could have cried with pleasure.
The first coarse arrived and from then on the meal seemed never to end. We ate for four hours, but so slowly I had the illusion of never being too full. (Afterwards, though, I went to my hotel and slept for 5 hours. And when I awoke, I was not hungry for dinner!)
I remember best the splendid regional Vacherin Mt. d'Or, which was at its peak, the glorious burgundy that was the best I ever tasted and seemed like a musical note to rise at the end of each sip, and the canneton à la vapeur which was the best duck I ever tasted. (Canneton is a young duck which he poached in a flavorful broth and then roasted the legs to have the contrast of the crisp skin.) When Bernachon mentioned my appreciation to Chapel, as we were enjoying our digestif brandy on the porch, his answer was approvingly emphatic: "she is right. I asked my purveyor to find the best duck in France and it turned out they come from Alsace." I felt as if I had passed an exam.
At some point, during the course of the meal, I mentioned to Bernachon how much I enjoyed the French facial expressions known as les moeux--how you could see in their faces exactly what they are thinking. To my surprise his response was: "You also have a face like that." And finally I knew how it was we ended up at Chapel instead of Bocuse! And a good thing too as it turned out to be the last time. My beloved Chapel died soon after.
Herewith, my best recipe for duck. It will make even the ordinary varieties taste like something special.
Continue reading "Papa Bernachon--An Unforgettable Man and Chocolatier Extraordinaire" »
Feb 12, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
Photo Credit: Julia Garrtland
Kristen Miglore, of Food52, has just made live an exceptional and detailed posting on my favorite chocolate cake recipe "The Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte," from The Cake Bible.
Click here and enjoy!
Feb 04, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
Pie Demonstration and Book Signing in Minneapolis
Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
We are delighted to announce that Woody and I are doing an appearance at the Nordic Ware Factory Store.
We will be doing a pie demonstration with my new pie kit and signing copies of our newest book, The Baking Bible, named the International Association of Culinary Professionals Best Baking Book of the Year for 2015. I will be happy to sign any of my books you may already own.
Our dearest friend Michelle Gayer, of The Salty Tart bakery, will be serving a special treat.
Items from Rose's product line, Rose Levy Bakeware and Rose's Signature Series, will be available for purchase in the store.
Nordic Ware's details for signing up:
$40.00 per person, plus tax; includes a copy of The Baking Bible.
Reservations and payment accepted by telephone only at 952-924-9672.
Class size is limited to 40 people. (As of this date, 25 have already signed up.)
Nordic Ware Factory Store
4925 Highway 7/County Road 25 and Highway 100
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Jan 30, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
Pastry Chef Jason Pitschke and His Fantastic Tart Tatin.
Those of you who enjoyed the postings on the Nathan Fong/Michèl Chicoine Vancouver wedding cake will be interested to know a little more about the pastry chef Jason Pitschke who generously not only gave us an area in his kitchen in which to work, but also loaned us his special equipment, and most important of all, his expertise, especially when the raspberry ganache turned out less than silky smooth.
Pastry chefs have to be artists, engineers, and often detectives. Jason quickly thought to ask me what percentage cream we usually use for ganache, and when I said 40% he replied, in an ah hah moment: "That has to be it--we only have 36%--it needs more fat." He got out his immersion blender and started adding more cream and voila: perfection!
36% would have been just fine for an ordinary chocolate and heavy cream ganache. (As I write ordinary I recall how a mere 30 years ago few people ever heard of ganache in this country. I used to define it as the ultimate nosh--yiddish for treat or snack.) But this ganache replaced a large amount of the cream with raspberry purée.
I was impressed by so many qualities Jason possessed: focus, humility, dedication, fortitude, and creative artistry. It turned out that we have a very special dear friend in common: Jean Franç Bonnet. Jason worked under JF when he was head pastry chef at restaurant Daniel in New York City. About 20 years ago, I wrote a letter to the government pleading to keep JF in this country and saying that we risked losing a culinary gem to France. I told JF that I would do this if he promised to stay humble because he was going to become the best pastry chef in the country. We have been friends ever since. JF is now owner of Tumbador Chocolate.
I first met JF when I was writing a story about financiers for Food Arts Magazine for which I was interviewing pastry chefs. JF was the only one who actually took the temperature of the beurre noisette and I saw immediately that he had a rare and deep understanding of the science of baking. I would often call him with questions and he always knew the answer.
As Jason and we worked in our close but separate areas of the pastry kitchen, between dashing off to the ovens across the way, we exchanged stories and tastes of what we were making. Here's a photo of one of his signature desserts which was every bit as delicious as it is stunning to behold: Jason's version of the red velvet cake. Talk about kindred spirits: it is enhanced with raspberry just as I brushed my red velvet rose with raspberry purée which gave it a moist and delicious flavor.
Jan 24, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
Photo by Woody Wolston
Rose Levy Beranbaum's Perfect Pie Plate, 9-Inch, Ceramic, Rose
The pie plate originally came in a hatbox with a small recipe booklet containing 4 recipes. As it is no longer packaged this way, here is a link to purchase a new booklet which contains my top 10 American pie recipes, my favorite pie crust recipe, tips and step-by-step photos. The pages are laminated.
Rose Levy Beranbaum Signature Series Rose's All Original All American Pie Recipe Deck, Multicolor
Jan 23, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
Fifteen years ago, during a spirited conversation with Nathan Fong, I told him: "If you ever get married, I will be glad to make your wedding cake." Fast forward to December 2014. Woody and I were working on our computers when I received an email from dearest Nathan, to which my reaction was something like this: "Woody, Nathan is getting married... wants us to make his wedding cake... will fly us up to Vancouver....what? January 16th? We cannot possibly do that in less than a month.... I'm emailing him right back, to say --no!" Nathan quickly replied to my reply, with: "it's not January 2015 it's a year later"!
Nathan's choices were a chocolate cake for Michèl with the addition of raspberry for him. He assured me that there definitely would be no more than 250 guests at the dinner. He also told me that birch trees were to be the theme for the wedding decor. Woody and I decided to make the Deep Passion Wedding Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, with the added enhancement of raspberry in the cake and the frosting, which would be ganache. For the birch theme, the cake was to be decorated with the "Meringue Birch Twigs" from The Baking Bible. It was a year of testing, planning, spreadsheets, confirmations, laminating our recipes, and crossing our fingers, before we flew to Vancouver, Canada for what was to be an extravaganza wedding and a celebration of food event. Nathan is a renowned, world-class food stylist and event planner. He had pulled out all of the stops for planning his and Michèl's wedding. Michèl, in addition to having been a pastry chef, is also an event planner and talented decorator.
Going to Canada meant that virtually all of the ingredients and equipment had to be supplied by Nathan and his staff. We arrived on a Monday night to Vancouver's typical winter weather--raining and in the mid 40's F. One of the biggest challenges of baking in an unfamiliar location is always the oven. How will it bake our cakes? Especially since, we were making 9 cakes from 6 inch rounds to 18 by 12 inch sheet cakes.
Continue reading "A Wedding Affair to Remember" »
Jan 21, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
I'm delighted to share with you a special sale from Thermoworks on one of most valued pieces of equipment in my baking kitchen, the Extra Big & Loud Timer. The sound is variable and when set on the loudest I can hear it 2 floors away. I also love the large readout and buttons which are easy to operate. And once the timer goes off, if not shut off, it reverts to a time-elapsed mode. The sale will last until Monday, January 25, 2016.
The Thermapan by Thermoworks is the fastest and most accurate instant read thermometer for the consumer, essential for so many baking processes. It is also highly valued by professional chefs.
The Rose Scale by Escali was created for me as a testament to spearheading the movement toward weighing rather than volume measure in baking.
Escali Alimento Rose Limited Edition Digital Scale, 13-Pound/6kg
These are the three top items on my essential baking equipment list.
Jan 20, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
Early on Thursday morning of last week, before continuing with the wedding cake production, I had the great pleasure of being on a radio interview with a major pro. Of course it was Nathan Fong, one of the grooms, who arranged this, in addition to the countless details of the enormously complex wedding events.
The interview was such a delightful experience I'm sharing it here with you.
We will soon be posting many details of the wedding itself. Chef friends of Nathan came from all over the world, including Vancouver, to participate in the preparation of delicious courses for the reception and the wedding dinner.
Jan 10, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
Woody and I are off to Vancouver to attend the wedding of dear friends Nathan Fong and Michel Chicoine. Guess who'll be making the cake?! If you are in the Vancouver area, please come to Barbar-Jo's wonderful cookbook store on Sunday, January 17 3:00 to 4:00 we'll be doing a meet and greet and book signing!
We will respond to any blog questions after our return Tuesday January 19.
Jan 10, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
Carol Ritchie came up with a delightful idea to start a start Whisk Movement Cookin' with Carol featuring "the whisk." She asked me to contribute a recipe and also a story about what whisks mean to me.
I first met Carol almost 20 years ago on a food symposium trip to Australia. We bonded over this mollusk at the Fleurieu Peninsula. It was the very first of the season and they handed it to Carol but I was the one with the ever ready Swiss army knife to open it. Then soon harvested a few more and I still remember the amazing ocean-freshness.
When my book The Pie and Pastry Bible was published, and book tour brought me to Texas, Carol invited me to be a guest on her show. We had a delightfully fun time pulling strudel and to this day she is in my icontacts address book as: "great tv host--did strudel" so I would always remember.
I'm honored to be a part of her new online (ad)venture.