Category ... Book Review
May 09, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
David Lebovitz is alive and well and living in Paris. In fact, he is living my dream. This is not to say that I wish my life had turned out differently, but once upon a time I was planning a move to Paris. When I discovered that the only job I could get without a green card would be as a typist at UNESCO I used all the money I was saving to go to India for a month, and on my return I started putting down some deep career roots in America where I was born and grew up.
I first met David many years ago when he was working in the pastry department at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, when he offered to drive me back to San Francisco after lunch at the restaurant. The next time I ran into him was in Bordeaux at Vin Expo when I was invited to a wine event given by the California wine growers. He was walking down the steps of the chateau as I was looking up admiring the building. I don't think at the time he spoke a word of French. Things have certainly changed. Reading David Lebovitz's books about his life in Paris is a totally vicarious experience. His powers of observation are so acute and his writing so fluent, clever, amusing, honest, and delightfully personal, I would be content with just that. But the recipes--oh the recipes--are exactly to my taste.
The first recipe that seduced me to the stove was the poulet a la moutarde (mustard chicken). I was thrilled to discover that it was the deep mustardy sauce of my fantasy that will now be part of my savory favorites. Next I tried the green beans with escargot butter. Leave it to David to realize that escargot butter was not just fabulous for snails. Rarely have I met such a kindred spirit in the food world. Next, I can't wait to try the Panisse Puffs, which look very much like my favorite popovers but contain chickpea as well as wheat flour.
Hats off to a darling man who could make the daring leap, fully immerse himself in a different language and culture, and then bring it home for the rest of us to enjoy.
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories
May 07, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
The Oxford University Press has published several encyclopedic style books on food and beverages. Their latest book, edited by award winning author and editor in chief Darra Goldstein, is The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. This stunning, beautifully organized book takes you in alphabetical order from a la mode to zuppa inglese, 800 pages later. An extensive appendix and index are included as well.
Oxford's apt description of the book is:
Most comprehensive reference work on the idea of the sweet ever published, with entries on all aspects of sweetness, including chemical, technical, social, cultural, and linguistic.
Woody and I attended the Sugar and Sweets book launch at Jacques Torre's Chocolate location in lower Manhattan. I was proud to have contributed to the sections on two of my favorite subjects: sugar and pastry tools.
It was great finally to meet editor Maxwell Sinsheimer in person and to congratulate my much esteemed colleague Dara Goldstein.
The book's pub date was May 1st and has already been well received by the press. As well as being available in hardcover, it is also available on Kindle.
The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets
Apr 20, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook
I love this book! I knew I would love this book. When author Kristen Miglore asked me for a recipe contribution for her weekly "Genius Recipes" posting on Food52, I gave her my "Fresh Blueberry Pie" now also appearing on page 205 of this book, along with the advice that she write a book featuring all of these recipes. And at last, here it is!
What a genius concept. Kristen features recipes of renowned food professionals that are not only delicious but also employ one or more brilliantly effective techniques. And she highlights them in a separate section on the recipe page titled "Genius Tip." This is an excellent teaching tool.
I have already made several of the recipes that appeared on line in Food52 or in other places such as Marion Cunningham's amazingly ethereal, crisp, and flavorful "Raised Waffles" that she gave me permission to put in the Cake Bible 27 years ago. And now, looking through the gorgeous photos in Genius Recipes, I want to try just about everything.
Kristen Miglore is a first rate researcher, writer, and food stylist. Her descriptions, recipe details and explanations of what makes the recipes special are a joy to read. I encourage you to get this book and rush right over to page 102 for Michael Ruhlman's "Rosemary-Brined Buttermilk Fried Chicken." Not only is it the best fried chicken I've ever tasted or made, it is the only one that doesn't spatter grease all over the kitchen floor.
Mar 30, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Best General Cookbook!
I am often asked about current food trends. My personal perception is that over the past few decades cooking has become increasingly complex, often sacrificing quality to "originality," and moving further and further away from the simple goodness I had so appreciated at the start of my love affair with food. I've begun to realize that I have enough recipes to last a lifetime, but what I value most are tips and techniques to improve them.
When I read about the book Twelve Recipes, it rang a bell of familiarity and pleasure. Beautifully illustrated with photos and drawings, this book, by a former artist who has been a chef for two decades at the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkley, California, was inspired by his oldest son's move to college and his desire to be able to cook well for himself in the spirit to which he was accustomed. It is not surprising, therefore, that Chef Peternell's directions are clear and direct and his voice friendly, caring, honest, and down-to-earth helpful.
Many years ago, at a lecture by Jacques Pepin at the French Culinary Institute, where he is one of the deans, I was stunned to hear him describe his philosophy on cooking in a way that exactly reflected my own. He said: "Get the best ingredients and try not to screw them up!" Cal, however, goes one step further: "It is an enduring truth that the best-tasting ingredients will yield the best-tasting dishes, but I believe as strongly that if you are missing things, or what you have is not the best, you should cook anyway. The ways in which various parts add up to the sum of a wonderful meal are many. The quality of the ingredients and the way they are prepared are important, sure, but so are the personalities of the group of eaters . . . their moods . . . the room . . . the occasion. The right equation will make the table a success even if the salad wilts, the meat is overcooked, or the cake falls."
Cal admits that there are many more than twelve recipes in the book, including variations, but that if one were to cook one from each chapter, this would constitute a good basic repertoire. This special book is also filled with sunny humor and delightful anecdotes. I have not read my way through every page yet, but I fully intend to do so. Here is an example of just why I love this book so much: On ingredients: "Dried herbs are like dead flowers: if you can't bring them fresh, probably better to not bring them at all. Most dried herbs--parsley, basil, tarragon, and cilantro--are truly atrocious and can be ruinous, while others--thyme, rosemary, and sage--are grudgingly acceptable in certain applications. Dried oregano and bay leaves are the only ones that are really okay." Music to my ears!
Jan 17, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
I have been an admirer of Alice Medrich's baking since I first visited her jewel of a shop Cocolat in Berkeley many years ago. I adored the beautiful elegance and deliciousness of her creations and applauded that, to my taste, they had the perfect level of sweetness.
When we were speakers at the JCC in San Francisco, on book tour, I was impressed by her description of the motivation behind writing her most recent book Flavor Flours.
Rather than focusing on the trendy theme of gluten intolerance, Alice went beyond it to take up the challenge of utilizing other flours to make the most of the unique flavor and texture they have to offer. We tend to think of flour as wheat in origin but actually myriad substances such as nuts rice, corn, and even seeds are considered flour when ground to flour consistency. Flour refers more particle size than to origin of ingredient.
As soon as we returned from book tour, I lost no time in trying out one of the recipes whose description intrigued me the most: the Bittersweet Teff Brownies. Alice's headnote reads: "These moist and deeply chocolate brownies have a light, rather elegant melt-in-your-mouth texture. Teff flour has a nuance of cocoa flavor to start with, so it is a natural choice for brownies." And they were just as promised!
The day they were baked they were quite fragile but on the second day they held together beautifully.
Alice advices that the brownies can be refrigerated for up to three days but, as we were away for a week on continued tour event, we discovered that they were still fabulously moist and having found some ganache stored in the fridge, along with some caramel sauce made many months ago that still had not crystallized, they made an absolutely terrific dessert!
Nov 24, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Here are links to reviews by some of my favorite colleagues, friends, and now new friends. Each comes from an entirely unique perspective. They are listed in order of their appearance.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
NYU Alumni Connect
Diane Boat for Eat Drink Films
Nov 23, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
After a near life-time as a New Yorker, I have been a New Jersey resident for well-over a year now, and loving it. Here is a wonderfully informative profile on me and my new book The Baking Bible in the current issue of New Jersey Monthly Magazine. One of my favorite parts is the title "Rose Knows." This was the title of my bi-monthly on-line column for Food Arts Magazine which, sadly, is no longer in print. But now the title lives on.
Nov 11, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
The Renée Fleming Golden Chiffon
Dédé has written another engaging story about the cake from The Baking Bible which I dedicated to the glorious opera singer Renée Fleming. Click on this link for the story and also the recipe.
Renée Fleming just sent Woody and me each a disc of her latest release Christmas in New York along with a lovely note.
Nov 04, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Last week there were several reviews that appeared related to my new book The Baking BIble. I thought you might especially enjoy the Epicurious one on baking tips.
And here's an interview I enjoyed doing from Jewish Light.
Also, I was delighted to see The Baking Bible included in the Food Network Cookbook Gift-Guide.
Today Woody and I are off for the first leg of our book tour: Wellesley, MA.
We'll try to answer questions from the road but please chime in as you always do to help answer questions or if they can wait until our return around Thanksgiving we'll be sure to answer them then.
Can't wait to hear feedback about the recipes from the book!
Oct 28, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Yes! Today, at long last, we have arrived at the official publication date of The Baking Bible.
Dede Wilson has posted her clever, exacting, and articulate review, together with one of my favorite recipes from the book, on Bakepedia. This marks the final third and fourth posting that Dede has done on me and the book. Here is the link to the current ones.
Oct 24, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Although an author never tires of reading the reviews of her or his book, at the risk that this just may not hold true for others, I am posting just one more review, partially because I love how it is written, but mostly because they are offering one of my top favorite recipes in the book: "The Heavenly Chocolate Mousse Cake." This is the one that Ben Fink, the photographer, and I, had the most trouble staying away from during the photo shoot last November. Check out Foodista.
Oct 23, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
As posted on "Serious Eats."
Oct 15, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
to be included as one of the 11 "best new dessert cookbooks," featured on The Tasting Table site!
And 1 of 24 of "our favorite titles" on Food 52!
Oct 14, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
I'm so delighted that the review is now on line as there is a link to one of the recipes and it's now easy to read on computer!
Oct 07, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
The Meyer Lemon-Rosemary Campagne Boule from Kathleen Weber's New Book (My step by step photos will be at the end of this posting.)
Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads
When I saw the photo of this bread and read the headnote, I knew I would have to make it even though it would mean waking up my sleeping beauty starter which I have been feeding faithfully since its creation over 12 years ago but, in recent years, only using to supplement commercial yeast in my breads. To my amazement, after the first feeding it doubled in just 5 hours rather than the expected 2 to 3 days.
Kathleen writes in the headnote that the lemon zest and finely chopped rosemary are mixed with olive oil to make a pesto-like slurry that appears as a bright and delicious swirl along the underside of the crust. When I asked her if this was her original concept, she said that she came up with the slurry just thinking of a pesto like thing to carry the flavors and that she didn't want it to mix in the dough, looking for something cleaner.
Sourdough, without any added commercial yeast whatsoever, is always a thrilling but scary proposition. Kathleen herself was reminded of when she rode a three wheel bicycle for the first time and her father let go of the seat, which feels like the perfect analogy to me as well. She also wrote that she never takes the power of sourdough starter for granted and it always seems like a miracle when the loaf comes out the oven.
Continue reading "Della Fattoria's Signature Bread" »
Sep 25, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
People Magazine has included The Baking Bible as one of the 16 must-have cookbooks.
"The gigantic beautiful dictionary delivers on the title's promise: This is the bible of baking."
And for a TBT (Throw Back Thursday) here's the photo from when The Cake Biblein 1988.
Sep 23, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Sep 17, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Liza Schoenfein wrote this beautifully personal review of The Baking Bible. It is special also because it describes how we first met several years ago.
My grandmother, Sarah Horwitt Wager, used to read The Forward--at least I think it was The Forward. She could read only Yiddish and I loved seeing those mysterious characters. I was amazed that she could decipher them while I couldn't understand a single one. My grandmother and I shared a room until I went away to college so many a night, at bed-time, she would give me entry into the world of her childhood in Russia with stories which I still remember vividly.
She would have been so proud to see this review.
Note:Also check out her blog--it has terrific videos!
Sep 17, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Much to the joy of any bread lover who has enjoyed her bread at the French Laundry or at her bakery Della Fattoria, Kathleen Weber has, at last, published her first book: Della Fattoria Bread. The official Pub date is October 7 but the book is available on Amazon for preorder.
Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads
Not only does it have enticing precisely written recipes from the hearth, her stories from the heart are fascinating and beautifully written and I am reading this book page by page as well as baking from it. I have already made two of the breads with great success and will include step by step photos on each of two postings.
I first met and fell in love with Kathleen's breads at my first dinner at The French Laundry in Yountville, Ca. When the wait person told me that the bread at that time was not made in house, I lost no time in asking my northern California friends to find out who was baking the bread. I was in the process of writing The Bread Bible and put in a call to Kathleen Weber, timidly asking if she would give me the recipe for her seeded wheat sourdough bread that I so loved. I was stunned by her generous response. She actually said that SHE was honored and proceeded to send me a detailed recipe in addition to the flour and yeast she used for the bread and even offered to send the water! And that is how I fell in love with Kathleen as a perfect reflection of the goodness, beauty, and integrity of her bread.
Continue reading "Casting Bread on the Water" »
Sep 12, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Good news! The honey cake recipe from my upcoming The Baking Bible has just appeared in the August/September issue of Hadassah Magazine and also available on their on line site.
This recipe was adapted from my dear friend and esteemed colleague Marcy Goldman, the authority of Jewish baking in Canada.
Note: As there was room in the article only to give the weight for the flour, here are the rest of the critical weights: (They are now posted on the Hadassah site as well.)
4 large eggs: 7 ounces/200 grams
canola or safflower oil: 7.6 ounces/215 grams
strong black coffee: 8.4 ounces/237 grams
orange juice: 4.3 ounces/121 grams
whiskey or rye: 1.9 ounces/55 grams
superfine sugar: 8.8 ounces/250 grams
light brown Muscovado or dark brown sugar: 3.8 ounces/108 grams
all-purpose flour: 14.1 ounces/400 grams
honey: 11.8 ounces/336 grams
My favorite pan for this cake is the one piece, non-stick NordicWare 18 cup Pound Cake/Angel Food Pan. It is available from Fante's in Philadelphia 1-800-4432683. Or check it out on their site. (It also works in a 16 cup pan but the NordicWare one is no longer made in that size.)
Sep 09, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Last January I wrote a posting called "How Rare It Is," about a very special baker, Jen Rao, who happens to be a neighbor.
The name of Jen's business," Around the World in 80 Cakes" is a result of her world-wide travels, her scientific background, and her experience in baking. I have been encouraging her to put all this in a book and she has chosen to publish it as an e book in installments as the chapters are completed.
The first installment, How to Bake, the Basic of Butter Cakes, is already available on Amazon. It is a model of clarity, with excellent photos and techniques which would be very helpful, especially for a beginning baker. And, dear to my heart, she offers weights s well as volume for the key ingredients.
The link to ordering her book is on her blog which also tells about her unusual background and plans for the next sections of her book.
Aug 27, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
I am delighted to have my upcoming book appear in this stunning magazine for professional pastry chefs and caterers!
Jul 29, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
The Baking Bible
Beranbaum, a veteran cookbook author and baker, divides this worthy tome into four sections: Cakes; Pies, Tarts, and Other Pastries; Cookies and Candy; Breads and Yeast Pastries. All recipes include weights and volume for ingredients, and the author's "Golden Rules" give readers essential baking information, such as why one should always use fresh baking powder and high-quality unsalted butter. "Highlights for Success" boxes are filled with inventive and helpful tips including freezing berries on branches. Classic recipes--think pumpkin pecan pie--are aplenty, but first-time recipes and unusual selections such as the author's Pink Pearl Lady Cake, Cadillac Café's milk chocolate bread pudding, and an Amish BlueRhu pie make this title a must-have gem.
The offiicial pub date is November 4 but it can be pre ordered now on Amazon: The Baking Bible
The major advantage of preordering is not only being among the first to receive the book but also the deep discount ($28.80 instead of the cover price of $40).
May 31, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
On the road to personal, first there are cookbooks. (If you are what you eat wouldn't it follow that you also are what you make?) When one reads a good cookbook one feels a strong kinship to the author.
Closer to home are memoirs, which give a glimpse into how you became who you are.
And then there is poetry--a window reveal to one's soul. Clearly, publishing poetry requires much courage and willingness to vulnerability. Great poetry is like a swift arrow to one's sensibilities, with the potential to alter one's vision of life.
I first met fellow baker and author Marcy Goldman several years ago on a visit to Montreal when I was attending the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference. She invited me to her home in the suburbs and I didn't hesitate to accept. The moment I stepped into her sunny kitchen, with two freshly baked cakes sitting on the table to greet me, I knew I had met a kindred baking spirit. My first perception of Marcy as a poet followed shortly after, when I saw the cover of her book that was soon to be published. It captured my attention and made me want to know more.
Marcy told me that she always draws a heart in the flour when she is finished baking for the day. I thought it was the most marvelous cover for a baking book that I had ever seen as it so eloquently expressed the baker's relationship to the foundation of her trade and passion. What could be a more perfect expression than the graceful hand of a baker, the flour on the counter, and the heart drawn in it. And I was reminded of the time at restaurant Bouley, in New York City, when I was moved to draw a heart in the scanty remains of the chocolate sauce on my dessert plate, as a comment to the chef.
I admire Marcy's baking, in fact, she generously gave me permission to include her famous honey cake (which I adore) in my upcoming Baking Bible. But it wasn't until she just published her first book of verse, Love and Ordinary Things, (which I ordered the moment I learned about it) that I got to experience and enjoy her poetry.
Compassionate, clever without guile, optimistic, revealing, and interwoven with symbolic references to food, especially baking, Marcy's poetry deeply touched my heart.
Love and Ordinary Things: Poems from the wheat field, kitchen, dance floor and heart
A Passion for Baking: Bake to celebrate, Bake to nourish, Bake for fun (Hardcover)
In June, "Love and Ordinary Things" will be on a Kindle countdown sale for a few days at half price. Also, Marcy is offering a free 4 month subscription to her website Better Baking if you purchase any one of her books and email her a copy of your online bill at firstname.lastname@example.org
With Marcy's permission, here is one of my favorite poems from the book:
Continue reading "Baking Poetry--the Heart and Soul of a Baker" »
Apr 19, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose
Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts
When people ask me about recipes for vegan baking, which is not my area of expertise, I direct them to my good friend and colleague Fran Costigan, known as "the Queen of Vegan Desserts, and who is listed under the favorites section of this blog's home page as Fran Costigan.
I have known Fran for many years and have great respect for her integrity as an expert in the subject, as a teacher, and as an author.
When the book arrived, I was struck by large number of gorgeous photos and delighted by the way in which the ingredients are listed in both volume, grams, and milliliters. This, together with the detailed instructions, make it a pleasure for me to work from this book.
All 120 recipes contained in this book are plant-based and some are gluten-free. The luscious chocolate ganache glaze which graces the cake on the book's cover is made with almond milk and Fran has generously given me permission to post the recipe.
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
It will take longer to read this recipe than to make it, but its success is all about the quality and taste of the chocolate and following the details in the recipe. As long as you stay within the percentages listed, any premium chocolate you enjoy eating is the one to use. The important part is to chop the chocolate very fine. Allowing the chocolate to melt into the milk for the full 4 minutes is not optional. And stir only until the chocolate and milk are emulsified--that is, glossy and smooth. Over-mixing may turn your silken ganache gritty. If the chocolate has not completely melted after the ganache is mixed, bring the water in the saucepan on the stove to a simmer and turn off the heat. Place the bowl of ganache on the saucepan for a few minutes, then stir very gently until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.
Makes 2 cups/480 ml
8 ounces/227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
1-1/4 cups/300 ml organic almond milk or soymilk (more as needed to adjust consistency)
2 tablespoons/18 grams organic granulated sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
1-1/4 teaspoons/6.25 ml pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons/10 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil (optional but recommended for sheen)
1. Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.
2. Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times to a low boil.
3. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate all at once. Rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for 4 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla and olive oil (if using) and whisk fro the center out ony until smooth and glossy. (If the chocolate is not completely melted, refer to the Sidebar on page 28 for instructions on using a water bath to melt the chocolate.)
5.Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. Dip a teaspoon into the ganache, set the coated spoon on a small plate, and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. After chilling, the ganache on the spoon should e smooth and firm, but should taste creamy. It is unlikely, but if the glaze is too firm, add a tablespoon of room temperature milk, and repeat the test. Add a second tablespoon if needed.
6. Pass the ganache through a strainer into a bowl. Whisking slowly will speed the process.
7. Allow the ganache to thicken at room temperature for 15 to 25 minutes, or until it will coat a spoon thickly with minimal dripping, but remains pourable. Stir a few times from the outside into the center before glazing.
Bake from this book often and with pleasure. It will never fall apart as it has a stitched binding!
Apr 17, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
On the way to the book party I saw proof that Spring has indeed arrived! The weeping cherry trees across the street have never been more ethereally beautiful.
And never have I seen a larger turn out for a first book. Caitlin and her wonderful husband James Freeman, of Blue Bottle Coffee, brought a dozen Mondrian cakes--the image that graces the cover of the book . Though baked three days before, in San Francisco, they were perfectly moist and exquisitely beautiful. The Cava accompaniment was lovely.
I invited my friend Eunice Choi, pictured at left, whom I first met at a Kitchen Aid event in Michigan 3 years ago when she was my prep assistant. She's now working as a special event planner for Food and Wine magazine.
Caitlin spoke eloquently and sincerely about her background and how the book came to be written. And she signed a whole pile of books, embossing them with a specially designed message of encouragement: "You can make the Mondrian!"
I predict that this book will be the launching pad for a future of myriad possibilities for the uber talented Caitlin Williams Freeman.
Apr 16, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
Today is the long awaited pub date of my dear friend Caitlin Williams Freeman's extraordinary new book Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and Frozen Treats Based on Iconic Works of Art
It is so extraordinary that I was moved to write the foreword to this book that is more than just a cookbook; it is also a work of art in itself.
Eat Your Art Out!
I first met Caitlin in 2004 when I visited her Miette Bakery production in Oakland. The purpose of the trip was to interview top bakeries for an article for Food Arts Magazine called "High Tide in the Bay Area Bakeries." The concept was that although San Francisco had led the way in artisanal bread baking, it had lagged behind in the area of pastry. Michael Battery, visionary publisher of Food Arts, perceived this as changing and assigned the article.
Meeting Caitlin turned out to be the highlight of the interviews. I had been given a set of questions to ask each baker. When I asked Caitlin where she and her partner Meg had gotten their training, to my astonishment Caitlin's answer was that she had started with The Cake Bible (my book). Was it any wonder that she captured my attention? But beyond the compliment, and in addition to her solid organizational and technical skills, I was struck at once by Caitlin's extraordinary creativity. The signature Miette cake, which she named the Tomboy, consists simply of three unadorned dark chocolate layers, filled and topped with a contrasting white buttercream, and decorated with just one small pink sugar rose in the center. Caitlin most generously gave me permission to include the recipe in my book Rose's Heavenly Cakes and even sent me some of the pink sugar roses for photography. The art director loved the cake so much she used the photo to span the end pages, and by enlarging it created an impressionistic dreamy appearance, contrasting spectacularly with the all-dark chocolate cake I had designed for the cover.
Over the years, as I watched Caitlin's work evolve, I saw that generosity, creative genius, and integrity were the hallmarks of her personality and character, permeating everything she touched. With every project or visit Caitlin continued to gain my respect and ultimately a deep friendship evolved. It may sound like a small thing, but any baker will realize how much it meant to me that when I travelled to San Francisco to make my friend chef Daniel Patterson's wedding cake, Caitlin loaned me a turntable from her bakery, and not just any turntable but the one that turned the most smoothly. She also drove all over the Bay Area amassing the equipment and special ingredients I deemed essential for my production.
When my most recent book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, was ready to launch, it coincided with the opening of Caitlin's husband James Freeman's Blue Bottle Roastery in Oakland. Caitlin came up with the inspiration to have a book party at the new roastery and invite bakers from the Bay Area to make their versions of recipes from the book. Caitlin and Leah made artistic renderings of the Diebenkorn using my génoise, mini Mondrians using my white velvet cake, and a Josef Albers cake using layers of my carrot cake, quail egg cake, and red velvet cake, each covered with rolled fondant from The Cake Bible. People came from all over the Bay Area to taste the cakes, enjoy a special coffee drink created for the occasion, meet the bakers, and the author who never stopped meeting, greeting, signing books, and talking for a solid three hours.
I remember first meeting James Freeman at the Oakland Farmer's market when Caitlin and he had just started dating. I remember thinking that he had the same reverence for the quality of his coffee as Caitlin and I had for our baking. Given the grace, harmony, and focus of her life choices, is it any wonder that Blue Bottle coffee happens to be the best coffee I have ever tasted? Happily Blue Bottle coffee and Caitlin's wonderful pastries are now available in New York City as well as the Bay area.
When Caitlin started to create recipes for SFMOMA inspired by designs from paintings she loved I knew this would be the perfect expression of her talents as artist and baker.
Three of Caitlin's edible art desserts, featured in this book, that I find the most enchanting are: the White velvet cake and chocolate ganache, consisting of cake squares and rectangles of different sizes and colors held together by thin lines of ganache--a perfect replica of Piet Mondrian Composition (No. III) Blanc-Jaune / Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue, page 79;
© 2013 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International USA
the Pistachio & honey parfait with cardamom/white chocolate--a stunningly simple cube constructed from thin white chocolate squares, charmingly decorated with line drawings of bees, and containing a deliciously ethereal filling, inspired by Richard Avedon's, Donald Fisher, Beekeeper, page 127; and the adorable Salted chocolate and vanilla bean ice cream sandwich--shaped to emulate the poodles in Katharina Fritsch's Kind mit Pudeln (Child with Poodles), page 163.
I'm so proud and honored that Caitlin chose to use two of my cakes as the base for some of her creations. She asked permission, saying:"They are perfect as they are--I'd rather credit you than adapt and change them."How like Caitlin not to change things just for the sake of 'owning' them. To me that is the ultimate sign of creative integrity and shows such a strong sense of certainty and security in her vision. Beyond the visual beauty, and engagingly accurate renditions of the paintings that inspired them, Caitlin's desserts are also uncompromisingly delicious. This book is unlike any other and a perfect reflection of the soul of Caitlin Williams Freeman. It is with great pleasure that I welcome this dear friend and fellow baker to the world of cookbook writing.
For an enchanting video showing Caitlin at work click here.
Mar 21, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
Candace Walch, who has written a most unusual and terrific food memoir, will be doing a reading this Sunday, March 24, at 7:00 at Bluestockings (172 Allen Street). It's free to the general public and if I weren't going to be out of town I would not miss it!
Here's the description of the event, the author, and the book:
A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity
Lambda Literary Finalist Candace Walsh concludes her bicoastal Licking the Spoon book tour at Bluestockings. This lively, literary page-turner is a tale told through the lens of food, from childhood's tattered Betty Crocker cookbook, to closeted Cuban arroz con pollo, Women's Studies potluck hummus, Alphabet City Martha Stewart Thanksgiving, and on through marriage, motherhood, divorce, falling in love with a woman, and legal gay remarriage in New York...plus recipes! Walsh is the editor of the anthology "Dear John, I Love Jane," the managing editor at New Mexico Magazine, and she writes about food at AfterEllen.com. A New York native, Candace lives with her wife and two children in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
If you go, please be sure to say "hi" and "congratulations" for me.
Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity
Kindle Edition: Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity
Jan 03, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Julia Moskin, in The New York Times, did a fascinating write-up of this cookbook along with a video of the panel presentation I attended back in December. It's really fun to watch.
Nov 10, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Fall always ushers in the new group of cookbooks from top authors and chefs and this fall is especially rich in high quality baking books.
Alison Pray and Tara Smith of the Standard Baking Company in Portland, Maine, have just come out with their first cookbook, Pastries, and anyone who has ever visited the bakery will want to have it. I met Alison and her husband Matt James, who does the bread baking, on my first trip to Portland and was deeply impressed by both of them and all of their baked goods. On my second trip, I also visited her other bakery, Two Fat Cats, where I discovered the best Whoopie Pie ever and put it in my most recent book (Rose's Heavenly Cakes).
photo credit: ©2012, Sean Alonzo Harris, from Standard Baking Co. Pastries, Down East Books
Pastries is filled with enticing photos of the pastries but they are not on fancy glossy paper. Rather they appear as warm, rustic and highly approachable. The recipes are very clearly written in a friendly voice. Yes, Alison is a professional baker but Tara, as she writes in her introduction, is also a joyful home baker. Between the two of them, they know what home bakers need to know.
Standard Baking Co. Pastries
The first recipe I couldn't resist trying was the luscious apricot and cream cheese babka filling. SInce Maine is known for its extraordinary wild blueberries which are tiny and intense in flavor, next will be the Wild Blueberry Oat Scones. Luckily Whole Foods market has the frozen Maine blueberries!
I know that Alison would love to have had weights in the book but having lost that battle with the publisher (as so many of us do) she made sure to tell how she measures flour (dip and sweep method--dip the measuring cup with an unbroken rim into the flour bin and without shaking or tapping the cup level it off with a straight edge spatula or knife.)
Now that they know first hand how much fun it is to write a cookbook, let us all hope that there will be Standard Bread Baking book next!
Oct 27, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
101 Classic Cookbooks
Talk about a walk down memory lane! This book, published by the Fales Library, New York University, and Rizzoli features 101 cookbooks that are presented as the top cookbooks of the 20th century, and 101 recipes of what are considered to be the top recipes from these cookbooks.
This is a book that demands to be read word by word from cover to cover. The photos, stories, and descriptions of the cookbook authors are fascinating and offer an unprecedented overview of the evolution of food in this country. Here are the authors, living and dead, who make up my world--ones I had hoped someday to meet, ones I had admired, and ones I had wanted to emulate.
I went to the book launch party this past Wednesday where seven appetizers from authors represented in the book were served. My favorite was James Beard's oyster stew from his American Cookery, 1972. It was the pure essence of oyster, simply containing butter, heavy cream, milk, oysters, their liquor, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
It wasn't until another of the authors asked me to sign the page where my book was pictured that I realized that my first book, The Cake Bible, had been chosen as one of the 101 books! I couldn't be more honored. Or so I thought until I turned the book over and found my name, listed in the "Among the Authors Featured," sandwiched between my old friend James Beard, and my much esteemed colleague Mark Bittman. (Ok it was alphabetical, but just the same, I was happy to be there.)
Oct 20, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Anthony Bordain was the first chef tell-all (or should I say tell too much) as he took us behind the scenes in his outrageous book Kitchen Confidential.
Women chefs also have a strong voice and stories to tell. Gifted food journalist Charlotte Druckman is the first to have captured their essence in her new book appropriately named Skirt Steak Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen, Chronicle Books.
This is a subject particularly dear to my heart because my mother, over 75 years ago, was the only woman in the entire dental school. Her aunt before her was also a dentist, but when I wanted to study food in the '60s I had to go to university as women were not admitted to culinary schools such as the Culinary Institute of America.
Things have changed greatly (though not enough) in recent years both in and out of the kitchen. Charlotte Druckman takes us into the world of 70 of today's top women chefs, including Alice Waters, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Lydia Bastianich. Their stories, their experiences, and their points of view are eye-opening and informative. Skirt Steak is a must for any woman who hears the siren call of chefdom. It is also a fascinating read for anyone who has ever wondered what it's like behind the scenes of the neatly laid tables of what formerly was, and in many ways still is, very much a male chef's world.
Feb 11, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes
The Lodge Company has been producing cast iron cookware since 1896 and is the only domestic manufacturer of the cast iron pan. Who better than Lodge to produce a comprehensive cookbook with over 200 recipes and photos plus detailed information on the care, maintenance, and even renewal of cast iron.
I have a huge collection of cast iron which I cherish so I joyfully contributed two of my favorite recipes baked in cast iron to this wonderful book: Corn Fingers baked in cast iron corn finger molds and No Knead Bread baked in a cast iron Dutch oven on a grill. I also shared the story of my personal connection to cast iron but I'll now admit to having left out an important part that I'm about to disclose for the first time:
My first cast iron frying pan was stolen! By me!!! Here's how it happened and trust me, it was totally unintentional, at least consciously. It was early into my freshman year at the University of Vermont. My boyfriend David Gibbs, (a Vermonter who became my first husband) introduced me to cast iron saying it was unequaled for frying bacon and many other purposes. I hefted the 11-inch pan and immediately experienced a "have to have" moment. I think it was about $7.00 which was more money than either of us could afford. We walked through the store, and reluctant to leave the pan behind I hadn't yet returned the heavy pan to the hook. We left the store without buying anything and walked into the parking lot when, to my astonishment, I discovered that the frying pan was still hanging from my right hand. I suppose I had gotten used to the weight and it had become a part of my arm. OMG I said. We'll have to return it. David, in shocked disbelief said something along the lines of: we'll be in more trouble if we try to bring it back--just keep it! I was horrified and delighted all at the same time. I still feel a little guilty. And I still have and treasure the pan.
Back to the book: you will love it! It was written and edited by Pam Hoenig, one of my favorite editors whom I worked with at William Morrow many years ago. The contributors include many of my dearest friends and colleagues in the profession. I'll list them in alphabetical order:
Nancy Baggett, Jessica Harris, Beth Henspberger, Martha Holmberg, Susan Purdy, Joanna Pruess, Elizabeth Karmel, Nancie Mcdermott, Michael Mclaughlin, Chris Schlesinger, James Villas, Nach Waxman, and Dede Wilson.
On a special note, the fabulously flavorful short rib barbecue sauce, containing molasses and bourbon, contributed by Joanna Pruess, was one I had been saving for several years after she first published it in the Gourmet Retailer. (Coincidentally, just a few weeks ago I finally had made it!) She also offers bigos, a pork and cabbage stew, my former long time Polish housekeeper made every Christmas, and always brought me a container. Now I have a recipe for it and know it's one I can count on being about as wonderful.
I also was delighted to discover that long-time friend Nach Waxman, of Kitchen Arts and Letters, a terrific cookbook store in New York City, in his recipe contribution adds his cooked al dente spaghetti to the reduced tomato sauce and fries it til some of it turns crispy-- which is just what I do! But I never knew it was ok to add something so acidic to a cast iron pan. Pam writes: "...if your cast iron pan is well seasoned, the iron is impervious to whatever you decide to put into the pan." I can't way to try it--I bet it will be crispier. This invaluable information is an example of what makes this book a "must have"!
Dec 10, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
The Pastry Chef's Apprentice: An Insider's Guide to Creating and Baking Sweet Confections and Pastries, Taught by the Masters
Because it is written by Mitch Stamm, one of my favorite instructors who teaches in the International Baking and Pastry Institute within the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University, an institution that educates and prepares students for careers as culinarians.
Because it is no compromise, for example, it calls for glucose, an ingredient not commonly found in the home baking kitchen, for the Engandine Nusstorte, which will prevent the filling from crystallizing.
Because if you like to bake by weights (as do I) you can ignore the volumes which are often incorrect (such as 170 grams listed for 3/4 cup sugar which should be 150 grams, and 114 grams for 1/2 cup of flour which should be more like half the amount). This will be corrected in the next printing.
Because the book consists of interviews and recipes from some of my favorite international pastry chefs , such as Thomas Haas, the renowned fourth generation German pastry chef who was pastry chef at Daniel in New York City before leaving for Vancouver, British Columbia to open his own chocolate and baking company. Also represented is Ewald Notter, whom I met in Switzerland where he had worked at Confisserie Sprüngli in Zürich before coming to head the pastry school for Albert Uster in Gaithersburg, Maryland. And there is the beautiful, lovely, and talented En-Ming Su who, among other achievements, was captain of the US team that won the gold medal at the esteemed Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie.
Reading the biographies and interviews will serve as an inspiration to any would be pastry chef or baker. And let me tell you something about Mitch Stamm that will give you an idea just why I and all his students so adore him. When interviewed and asked the following question:
If you had to characterize yourself as a type of bread, what
would you be?
His answer was: I would characterize myself as sticky bun: sweet, tender, and nutty. My colleagues would probably say that I am more like a naturally leavened bread: crusty, irregularly shaped, assertive, acetic, and quite sour. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Nov 26, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
If you are one of those people who is secretly thinking: "why spend money on a book about wine when I could spend it on a good bottle of it instead" you are not alone. In The Food Lover's Guide to Wine, Karen Paige and Andrew Dornenberg quote Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters of Chez Panisse as saying essentially the same thing: "It is not necessary to know about wine to appreciate it; what there is to know, beyond the glamour of vintage, producer, and varietal, is in the glass in front of your nose." Karen and Andrew write that they "agree wholeheartedly" but "...add a corollary: you can enhance your appreciation of a wine with more knowledge of it."
There are three new wine books that will add to this appreciation and knowledge immeasurably. If I had to distill each one into just one primary word it would be:
Reading between the Wines, Terry Theise: PASSION
Reading between the Wines: With a New Preface
Unquenchable, Natalie Maclean: BARGAINS
Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines
The Food Lover's Guide to Wine, Karen Paige and Andrew Dornenberg: FLAVOR
The Food Lover's Guide to Wine
But each book offers so much more. Herewith a brief description:
Terry Theise is the poet/philosopher of the wine world. He seduced me for eternity to Riesling (not that I needed any help) by describing one of the wines in his catalogue as "...tasting so ambrosial it was as though it were distilled through bees wings, and so honeyed you could hardly swirl it"! His passion goes far beyond the distilled grape, it also encompasses the people who grow it, and the significance it plays in our lives. Terry has an exceptional love of words and thoughts and employs both to offer a multi-faceted, articulate, and unique glimpse into the wine world.
Natalie Maclean I got to know Natalie through her blog www.nataliemaclean.com. In her newest book, she has taken on the challenge most dear to all our hearts: how to get the best wine at an affordable price. Her book offers up easily accessible hardcore information and education eloquently presented. Natalie generously brings us into her fun-filled world of great discoveries and fascinating travels, in fact, this book doubles as a beautifully written novel. On another note, if my favorite white wine be Terry's beloved Riesling, my favorite red is Natalie's beloved Pinot. I would love to sit down to a glass of it with her and I'm sure everyone who reads her book will share this sentiment!
My dear friends Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg live a charmed life. As husband and wife, and coauthors, they get to eat, drink, travel, and work together. In fact, I've never seen one without the other! I first met Andrew when he was a chef at East Coast Grill in Cambridge, MA. Karen is a brilliant researcher and writer. Their collaboration makes for an enviably unbeatable team, which has produced several award winning books. The Food Lover's Guide to Wine is the most recent of them! It's a beautifully organized four color production, detailed with useful information, and fascinating quotes from sommeliers offering their opinions from the classics to discussions of the major importers of different categories of wine. I love the chart on page 270 "Holy Grail Food and Wine Pairings," which should be laminated and hung in every kitchen. (On a personal note, I would add my favorite pairing--pesto and sauvignon blanc. Karen and Andrew do list asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc which is the same concept of grassiness enhancing grassiness for difficult to pair ingredients. They list two of my favorite producers: Cloudy Bay and St. Supéry.
I also once discovered the perfect harmony of lobster and Scheurebe which they recommend with shellfish and include two of my favorite producers--Alois Kracher (dessert Scheurebe) and Müller-Catoir.)
Each of these three books is available in hard cover and also in an e-book version. Terry Theise's book is now a year old and has just come out in paperback.
To my mind, all of these books are delightfully indispensible. I plan to read each one page by page but can't wait to share them with you right now! Never has wine education been so accessible and so enjoyable.
Nov 21, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Last week I attended a very interesting seminar and press event presented by Valrhona chocolate to introduce a very impressive new book:
Cooking with Chocolate: Essential Recipes and Techniques (Book & DVD)
This beautifully produced book was originally published in French under the title: Encyclopedie du Chocolat and has just been published in English by the same publisher, Flammarion, with an accompanying DVD of techniques. It is a book written by professionals for both the professional and the home baker and cook. It includes both sweet and savory recipes and, dear to my heart, the ingredients are listed in grams, ounces, and volume. It is replete with enticing photographs, creative ideas and recipes, and precise techniques.
Pierre Hermé, in his foreword, writes: ...For many long years, pastry making was a demonstrative art with a decided tendency toward ornamentation...Today's pastry chefs focus on taste, flavors, textures, and temperatures.
Years ago, whenI asked my dear friend the esteemed chocolatier Jean Françoise Bonnet now of Tumbador Chocolate, what his favorite cookbook was he told me it was a book published in France by Frederic Bau.
Au Coeur des Saveurs (English/French Edition)
Frederic Bau, who is is the long time director of L'école du Grand Chocolat du Valrhona, also edited Cooking with Chocolate.
As part of the Valrhona chocolate tasting, food scientist Vanessa Lemoine of Valrhona instructed us as to taste chocolate to its best advantage. Most of us, being food professionals, already knew this but being reminded served to suggest to me that it would be a very valuable tool to share with all of you. The technique works not just with chocolate but with any food and wine as well with slight modification.
Start by smelling.
Then chew to release the flavor. (The intial flavor is floral)
Hit your tongue against your palate. (This releases mid range earthy flavors.)
Finally, with your mouth closed, breath out through your nose. (This releases a whole new range of spicy flavors. Here's the best reason yet to listen to what your mother often repeated about chewing with your mouth closed!)
You'll be astonished as to the variety, range of flavors, and enhanced pleasure you will experience by occasionally paying this close attention to what you eat, especially when it's chocolate.
Nov 19, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
I've long wished that I could speak German so that I could understand the poetry of Wagner's opera scores in the original language, but now I have a still better reason: My Swiss friend Peter Bührer has written the most stunningly beautiful and useful guide book of New York City that I have ever seen, and it's 85% in German.
On a recent visit to New York, Peter and I sat at Balthazar for two hours going through the huge book page by page. Finally I showed the waitperson how Balthazar was listed in the book to keep her from throwing us out! (It worked.)
If I had only one statement to make about this book it would be what I told Peter after turning to the final page: Every New Yorker should be born with this book. Actually, he said it first but it was just what I had been about to say. He said Every New Yorker should have this book. For this New Yorker, it was like a sentimental trip through all the special places of my life plus places I hadn't even known about that were practically right next door!
This book is more than just beautiful and informative, it's fun! The illustrations are all by the renowned artist James Rizzi and there are all sorts of extras affixed to the pages, in the form of post-its, post cards, DVDs, and even prepaid credit cards, for example, one that will give you free rides on the water taxi. In describing his chef d'oeuvre, Bührer says:
It is the first city guide ever, worldwide, which is completely illustrated by an artist, not just a graphic designer, a top pop art artist and native New Yorker. I tried to show the variety of New York in a very clear way and
want to inspire other people to keep their eyes open in that fantastic town.
Continue reading "An Eye-Popping New York City Guide Book by Peter Bührer" »
May 13, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
One of my favorite food editors, Joe Yonan of the Washington Post, has just published his long awaited cookbook on a subject that is dear to my heart. The subtitle, nightly adventures in cooking for one, tells you everything you need to know about what the book features!
Serve Yourself is a book that is tailor-made for people like me. When I was single, 35 years ago, I cooked for myself almost everything night, and with great pleasure. I regularly sat down to a delicious meal, often feeling like a queen. I had limited funds, I was working full time and going to school every night of the week but somehow I always found a way to eat well, and usually at home. This is because I cared passionately about food. And I still do! When my husband is out for the evening I cook for myself. Tonight, for example, I have one left-over soft shell crab from last night's restaurant dinner. I will boil some pasta, sauté some garlic in my best olive oil along with the drained pasta, cut the crab into pieces, and toss it in along with a small chiffonade of basil from my window sill, add a squeeze of lemon juice, reopen some carefully stored leftover sauvignon blanc, and be in heaven.
I've been following Joe Yonan's column Cooking for One, in the Washington Post, with great enjoyment so I'm delighted that it is now available as a book to benefit all those of you who don't get the Post.
Last week, I attended a terrific book party given by our mutual friend Suvir Saran at his NY restaurant Devi. It was a quintessential who's who of food professionals from the surrounding area. It was great catching up with friends while I relished delicious recipes prepared by chef Suran from the book: the flavorful Farro Salad with Chickpeas, Cherries & Pecans, and the perfectly prepared and mildly spicy Halibut with Red Peppery Chutney. There was scarcely room for desert but after a nibble of one of the Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles, I found it quite easy to finish the rest of it!
The book is filled with enticing recipes which I look forward to doubling and making for both of us as well as for my more rare solo dining experiences.
Dec 14, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Great to know that college students are baking and from Rose's Heavenly Cakes no less! This bodes well for the next generation. Click here for details.
Dec 11, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
This extraordinary new cake book by Krystina Castella is a perfect gift for anyone who loves cake even if he or she doesn't plan ever to bake one. It is an in depth study of myriad cakes from all around the world. It is fascinating to see how each cake, beautifully photographed in color, reflects the history, ingredients, and technology of its culture. As a cake baker I love seeing the world through cake colored eyes.
Krystina Castella is a writer, profession designer, and professor of art at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Is it any wonder that her book would be of such unique presentation?!
My favorite design element, is the graphic representation of a particular cake family in the form of a family tree bearing leaves which present all the related members. An example is on page 193 which features the Cheesecake Family Tree. Here each leaf describes a different cheesecake style. The color of the leaf indicates from what part of the world the cake can be found. If the recipe is contained in the book the page number also appears on the leaf. Several other family trees, which brilliantly serve to present, at a glance, the relationship and evolution of the particular type of cake, range from the Sponge Cake Family to the Meringue Family.
The book is divided into 14 chapters, each representing a different part of the world from North America to Australia and New Zealand.
I haven't baked anything from this book but of course my first question to the author was regarding the flour, i.e. what type was used and how it was measured. The answer is unless cake flour was indicated, she used unbleached all-purpose flour and measured it by the dip and sweep method (dipping the cup into the flour bin and sweeping off the excess with a straight blade).
I feel somewhat remiss that my emphasis over the years has been focused mainly on flavor, texture, and personal history and less on the wider historical origins of my creations. This well-researched book will serve as a handy reference guide. It takes cakes to a whole new level of significance and presents them, both visually and historically within the context of their creation.
If you'd like a preview of the author presenting her cake concepts, click on this beautifully produced video and I'll need say no more.
Nov 17, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
At long last, Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston, Ma. has written her long awaited book Flour featuring recipes from her bakery and café.
I met Joanne many years ago when I was in Boston touring for one of my books. I fell in love with her bakery and was enchanted by her as well! In fact, on my next book tour, I chose Flour Bakery as the location in which to do a radio broadcast. The station had requested a bakery so that they could have bakery-like sounds in the background!
Joanne and I come from a suprisingly similar dessert background. She grew up in a traditional Chinese household and, as she writes: "rarely had the chance to indulge my sweet tooth." I grew up in a traditional Jewish household but with a nontraditional mother who had been the only woman in her entire dental school. I also rarely had the chance to indulge my sweet tooth. Joanne and I also share a passion, not just for baking, but also for analytical thinking and precision. (Unlike Joanne, however, I do not have the advantage of a degree in applied mathematics and it does not come naturally to me so I have to struggle and work hard to get all those numbers I include in my books to be accurate!)
I was struck immediately by the physcial appearance of the book. It is an upscale four color production, with stiched binding (so it will not come apart!) but instead of a paper dust jacket, it has a far more durable laminated hard cover, aka case, with beautiful colored photos printed directly on it. I suspect this will be the future of cookbook publishing as it will stand up better to frequent use, for which this book is surely destined.
Joanne's writing style is very appealing. It is both succinct, informative, and entertaining. She has her own confident voice which reflects her knowledge, expertise, and enjoyment of her baking profession.
And how has she dealt with the tricky volume/weight issue? As a professional baker there was no way she was going to eliminate weight, but when writing for the general public, not all of whom have as yet gotten on the much beloved by me scale bandwagon, she had to include volume. So volume comes first and in parenthesis comes the weight but only in grams. Now that scales so easily switch between ounces and grams there really is no need for both and we professional bakers all prefer grams. I'm really tempted to do the same in my next book except that when purchasing certain items such as butter, it's somehow easier to go by ounces and my readers have, by now, become accustomed to the charts that so readily accomodate all three systems.
The book has many enticing full page color photos such as the exquisite Black Sesame Lace Cookies which I know I will try in the near future.
Also dear to my heart are the well-thought out and beautifully organized sections on technique, equipment, ingredients, and tips.
Now on to the recipes! There are many I plan to try, including one acknowledged to be adapted from my Sourcream Coffee Cake (I'm dying to see how adding crème fraîche instead of sourcream enhances the cake) but the first one that called my name was the French Lemon Poppy Pound Cake.
The Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake in the Cake Bible was my signature cake so I was most curious to see what François Payard's take on it would be like. Joanne worked in his bakery and credits him with this recipe and all important technique but admits to having tweaked the ingredients. She generously has allowed me to print the recipe here:
French Lemon-Poppy Pound Cake
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Pound cakes are traditionally made with a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs, hence the name. When properly made, the result is a dense, velvety cake with a tight crumb. But the key is knowing how to make it properly. I can't tell you the number of times I've attempted a classic pound cake recipe only to pull a tough, unimpressive loaf out of the oven. When I worked at Payard, I learned a new approach to making pound cakes that borrows a page from the genoise playbook. First, you whip eggs and sugar together until they are as light as a feather. Then, you gently fold in the flour and leavening agents. And finally, you whisk together melted butter and heavy cream and combine them, quickly and gently, with the batter. You end up with a cake with the warm, rich, buttery flavor and incredible texture you want. This is my favorite way to enjoy pound cake: laced with copious amounts of fresh lemon zest and nutty poppy seeds.
2 cups (240 grams) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 3/8 sticks/156 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm
1/4 cup (60 grams) heavy cream, at room temperature
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
3 tablespoons poppy seeds/28 grams
4 eggs/200 grams
11/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (70 grams) confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 to 1 lemon)
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, or line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick liquid. If the butter hardens into little lumps, heat the mixture gently until the butter melts again. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy and lemon colored. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take 8 to 10 minutes.)
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture just until combined. Fold about one-fourth of the egg-flour mixture into the butter-cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg-flour mixture just until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle. (Note from Rose: In my oven I needed to tent it loosely with foil after the first 45 minutes of baking.) Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
To make the lemon glaze: While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and enough lemon juice to make an easily spreadable, smooth glaze.
When the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, pop it out of the pan and place it on the rack. Spread or spoon the glaze over the top of the still-warm cake, letting the glaze dribble down the sides.
The cake can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for to 3 days.
Same Recipe, Different Flavor
Vanilla Bean Pound Cake: To make a fragrant vanilla pound cake, omit the lemon zest and juice and poppy seeds from the cake batter and leave off the lemon glaze. Split 1/2 vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the seeds from the pod into the butter-cream mixture. Whisk well to distribute the seeds evenly. Proceed as directed, then lightly dust the cake with confectioners' sugar just before serving.
Oct 27, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose
in Book Review
Haven't we all heard, growing up, those reproachful words: "don't play with your food!"?
Some of us (I for example) 'took revenge' by becoming food stylists or cake decorators. Photographer Carl Warner chose instead to "invent the food landscape art form which transforms real food--vegetables, fruits, bread, fish, meat, cheese, and grain--into finely detailed vibrant three-dimensional scenes..."
The details and imagery of his work are awe inspiring. At first one has to look twice to see the food components in the scenery. But beyond the entertainment aspect, Warner's art reaches a deeper and ever more pleasing subconscious level. Consider how broccoli and parsley stalks do indeed ressemble trees, and the fringes of dill, fronds in the forest. Could it be that the Creator of all things used themes and patterns the way we mere mortals do?
Warner himself says that his images "let people look at the world in a different way, opening up their awareness of, and respect for, food...Once the audience makes the connection between the food as art and the food they eat, it starts a dialogue about how it is grown, where it comes from, and why nutrition and sustainability are essential to our well being."
Warner's work strikes a familiar chord, reminiscent of the movie Avatar, where on the planet of Pandora all things are spiritually connected. There is a mystical beauty, symmetry, and reassurance to this vision. It makes the mystery of life stil more mysterious and at the same time more approachable.
Carl Warner's Food Landscapes could well be the perfect gift for the art lover, the food lover, and children as well.
For a video of Carl Warner creating his masterpieces click here.
To purchase the book click on this link.