Sep 28, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
There is nothing quite like Concord grapes and this is the small window time of the year when they are available here in the North East.
Heidi Legenbauer Williams has written a delightful and informative article for the Daily Gazette, which includes three recipes (one of which is my Concord Grape Pie from The Pie and Pastry Bible).
Check out your local farmers' market. You can stem and freeze the grapes, preferably in Ball jars, for at least a year or until you are ready to make the pie. As I said to Heidi when interviewed on the subject this past August: It's like eating wine.
Sep 24, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
It has been 19 years since I visited and wrote about Claude Troisgros's restaurant CT when it was in New York City (the review and recipe is at the end of this posting). And it has been 44 years since I visited his family's renowned restaurant Les Frères Troisgros in Roanne, France. Claude and his Brazilian wife moved to Rio, where he is now owner of five restaurants. He is considered to be the top chef in Brazil and, of course, I was determined to visit at least one of his restaurants during our recent trip to Rio for the Paralympics.
Claude was on vacation in Sicily, so sadly we were not able to see him, but he alerted the restaurant of our impending arrival at CT Boucherie in the Barra Design Center, which was the closest one of his restaurants to where we were staying near the olympic stadium. Chef/manager Didier Labbe and chef Jessica orchestrated a fantastic array of the restaurant's specialities.
As there were eight of us family members (from both coasts of the US) enjoying the experience, and four preferred white wine, we were able to order one bottle of white and one of the house recommended Salentein Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza, Argentina 2012, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We began with two delectable appetizers.
MINI PORK, HAM AND ONION SAUSAGES, HONEY MUSTARD
HEART OF PALM AND TENDERLOIN "PASTEL"
RIB EYE STEAK WITH A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS STREAM OF ACCOMPANIMENTS AND SAUCES
AN EXQUISITELY LIGHT AND CREAMY GUAVA CHEESECAKE
MOLTEN DULCE DE LECHE
SERVER WEARING THE TRADITIONAL BUTCHER'S APRON
A MOUNTAIN OF FABULOUS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Continue reading "A Return to Troisgros" »
Sep 10, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
Maria Bonawits visited our booth at the Monroe Farmers' Market in Stroudsburg, PA two summers ago as part of our book tour "The Baking Bible." She brought several of my books for me to sign and also to get the newest one. I was enchanted by her exceptionally vibrant and charming essence.
Since that day, we have become dear friends. When we did a demonstration and book-signing event at the Buck Hill resort last month, Maria and friends came to see us. Over dinner, we made plans to stop by her house the next morning to see her and her husband, Malcolm.
Maria is originally from Puerto Rico so when the subject of pasteles, one of my favorite Puerto Rican specialties came up she offered to teach us how to make it. Maria told us that it normally takes her three days to make but that with three of us working we should be able to accomplish the task in one day. We picked a day for Maria to come to my home and kitchen and she offered to make the pork shoulder filling ahead to speed up the process.
This dish is traditionally a seasoned pork shoulder, cubed and mixed with ham, garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, peppers cilantro, olives, capers, and raisins which are encased in a dough made of taro root, green bananas (and plantain, and in her version also potato and pumpkin), which is then wrapped in banana leaves and finally in parchment paper which is tied with string as individual servings. The packets are then placed in a pot of boiling water to cook for 45 minutes. It could be considered as a relative of the tamale--a meat filling encased in a masa harina dough, wrapped in a corn husk, and steamed.
This version of pasteles is an old family recipe which Maria had been preparing since childhood, when she and her sister helped her aunt make dozens upon dozens of them, using a hand grater instead of a food processor.
After Maria arrived and was given a quick tour of the kitchen, she set up two stations for making, assembling, and cooking the pasteles. Maria explained to Woody what to purchase for banana leaves which are readily available under the Goya brand at his local Shoprite. Woody was given the task of boiling, drying, and cutting the banana leaves into individual servings. Maria and I took the task of preparing the dough. With vegetable peelers, knives, food processor, and many stories to share, we made the paste like dough.
Maria did a couple of tests on the dough, frying up small spoonfuls in oil before she was convinced it had the balance of flavors she remembered. At first Maria thought the banana was too predominant but when more meat juices were added it turned out to be perfect. She explained that the dough has to be extremely soft because it firms up on boiling.
Continue reading "A Lesson in Pasteles with Maria" »
Sep 03, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in New Products
Baking is all about temperature, both hot and cold. Realizing that not everyone wants to spend close to $100 on a thermometer, but also how indispensible an accurate thermometer is for baking, I'm so pleased to be able to recommend a member of the ThermoWorks family--the new ThermoPop.
At $29 a pop in your favorite color, it is both affordable and highly functional. It has a wide temperature range of -58° to 572°F (-50° to 300°C), an accuracy of 0.7°±-F (0.4°C) at the most important temperatures of -4° to 248°F (-20° to 120°C), and a reaction speed of 3 to 4 seconds, which is almost as fast as the Thermapen at 2 to 3 seconds.
You can check out all the features of all the ThermoWorks models on their site but for a short comparison of two features that may be especially of interest to you: The Thermapen MK4 uses standard AAA batteries, and stays on when in use. The sleep mode can be disabled entirely. The ThermoPop requires a 3 volt button cell battery and turns off after 10 minutes. It wakes up quickly with the touch of the button.
For sugar syrups and caramel, where I find the reaction speed of a thermometer the most critical, I value the Thermapen, but for most other things 1 to 2 seconds longer is perfectly acceptable. And the ThermoPop is so quick and easy to use it has a permanent place by my grill and in my savory kitchen as well.
Aug 27, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
September 6 is the official release but you can preorder now on Amazon, Apple I-Books, and Barnes & Noble. it's available on all platforms--Amazon Kindle, Apple IBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Google Play.
The Cake Bible
It has been 28 years since the publication of the hard cover edition which is now going into its 54th printing. It has changed my life and people have reported to me around the world that it has changed many others' lives as well. The electronic edition is both beautifully designed and highly functional.
Aug 20, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
I've always used a brown dish towel reserved for rolling my chocolate and yellow cake rolls, especially because it doesn't show the stains that are near impossible to remove even when washing it in the clothes washer.
Recently I received a new device designed specifically for use with cake rolls and after trying it out on a chocolate biscuit found that not only did it worked perfectly, it wiped totally clean with a sponge and dish detergent.
Although the instructions suggest using 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, I used my usual light dusting of cocoa (8 grams/a little under 2 tablespoons) and there was absolutely no sticking.
It works best to set the edge of the cake near the edge of the liner, because when rolling the cake tends to move forward.
With either the towel or cake roller, the cake needs to cool completely on a rack. To keep the cake roller from unrolling I set it seam-side-down on the rack and placed a metal bar on either side. Any long object such as a ruler will work.
The Easy Cake Roller keeps the cake moist and, of course, is reusable. You can purchase it on the company's website.
Aug 13, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
Recently, I learned a great tip from my cousin's wife Vicki who comes from Australia and now lives a mere hour away from us. We were talking about the famed Pavlova--a fabulous crisp meringue shell with marshmallowy interior, filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Woody and I had made numerous tests to perfect the consistency of the meringue for our upcoming Rose's Baking Basics book. I've always baked my meringues by piping or spreading them on parchment, which effectively prevents sticking. Vicki, however, said that she instead dusts the pan with cornstarch and the meringues slide off with ease. Of course I just had to try this immediately with the always tricky/sticky piped meringue baked in a pie plate, featured in The Baking BIble for the "Pomegranate Chiffon Pie."
Prior to Vicki's suggestion, I had recommended coating the pie plate with vegetable shortening and then dusting with Wondra flour. It was always difficult to remove the first piece, and not that much easier to achieve attractive slices. (Note: meringue does crumble when cut.) My first test was using cornstarch instead of flour and the meringue still stuck. I suspected that the shortening did not coat evenly so the next test was coating the pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and then dusting it with cornstarch. This test proved to be the charm.
I waited impatiently for the meringue to cool completely and then dislodged the very top edge along the rim with the tip of a small knife. I hesitatingly nudged the meringue forward slightly and, to my great joy, it moved. Holding my breath, with my fingers, I then lifted out the entire meringue shell onto a plate. I gazed at this wondrous sight, but it didn't take more than a few minutes to start wondering how it would work with just the non-stick cooking spray and no cornstarch. I coated the pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and removed excess with a paper towel. Instead of piping the meringue, I just spread an even layer into the pie plate. Without the cornstarch it was more difficult to spread the meringue.
At the same time and temperature (and the day was actually less humid) the meringue was still a little gooey in places so I returned it to the oven because meringue will not unmold in one piece if not completely dry. It stuck in places even when completely dry, which indicated that the cornstarch is necessary.
Piping the meringue makes it easier to make it consistent in thickness but spreading it looks just as good.
Non-stick cooking spray plus cornstarch is ideal and makes it possible to unmold the meringue. Non-stick cooking spray alone is slippery, which makes it harder to spread the meringue, and will not be possible to unmold in one piece.
With or without cornstarch, non-stick cooking spray make removing the slices much easier than shortening and flour.
Aug 06, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
LEFT: BREVILLE CONVECTION, RIGHT: PANASONIC CONVECTION
One batter, weighed equally between two identical pans, and baked for the exact same time to the exact same internal temperature, in two different countertop ovens. The interior of the cake (the crumb) is the same but the tops and the exterior are markedly different. (Note: The top of the cake in the Breville is browner but the exterior is less brown.)
LEFT: BREVILLE CONVECTION, RIGHT: PANASONIC CONVECTION
No two ovens bake exactly the same. All ovens, except for those with circulating trays, will have some hot spots. Convection ovens tend to bake more evenly but still have hot spots. I rotate my cakes half-way around after two-thirds of the estimate baking time except if they are sponge type cakes such as génoise or chiffon that will fall if moved before they finish baking.
In the Breville, if a recipe calls for 350°F/175°C I use 340°F/170°C. In the Panasonic, if it's a small cake or a pie I don't lower the temperature but for a large cake that requires more than 1 hour of baking time, such as a honey cake, which starts browning too fast, I lower the temperature to 325°F/160°C after the first 30 to 45 minutes of baking.
When you get a new oven, try baking a familiar cake. I use my all-occasion downy yellow cake from The Cake Bible. Get to know your oven and you can adjust accordingly.
Aug 03, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Special Stories 2016
Sarah Jampel, of Food52, has just posted a terrific article on my favorite pie crust along with the recipe (slightly adapted from the original).
Jul 16, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose
I have fallen in love with a new Valrhona chocolate called Illanka. I first tasted it when it was introduced at the recent Valrhona cocktail party in New York City and was nothing short of amazed. I've been a long time fan of the Valrhona Le Noir Gastronomie, aka extra bitter 61% but I found the Illanka much more exciting. Not only is it extraordinarily creamy and well-balanced, it is intensely chocolaty with an enticingly fruity finish that makes me want to reach for more.
Illanka chocolate comes from Peru and is made from Gran Blanco beans--very rare white cocoa beans found in the Piura region. Valrhona has given it the name Illanka which comes from Illa, the light and Anka, Condor in Quechua, the speaking language in Peru.
Illanka is delicious eaten just as it is, without further enhancement, but also makes a fabulous ganache simply with the addition of heavy cream.
For a 61% chocolate such as Le Noir Gastronomie I use 9 ounces/255 grams cream (about 1 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons/259 ml) to 8 ounces/227 grams chocolate.
For the Illanka 63% I use 10 ounces/283 grams cream (about 1-1/4 cups/296 ml) to 8 oz/227 grams chocolate.
Illanka can be bought on line.
Valrhona will donate $1.00 USD to the Clear Water charity project for every 500 gram/17.5 ounce bag of Illanka chocolate purchased.
Illanka has an interesting history. If you would like to learn more about it and the impact Valrhona's creation of The Clean Water Project is making on the surrounding cocoa producing communities follow this link.