Category ... Notes
Jul 05, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose
The way in which you process ingredients, especially those containing oil, has a profound effect on the flavor.
Garlic for example, if squeezed through a press rather than minced by hand will be bitter.
The oil in garlic is particularly temperamental. If garlic is heated until golden it takes on a fantastic flavor. If it becomes brown it metamorphoses into a truly nasty acrid smell and taste which is probably part of the reason it is sometimes referred to as “the stinking rose”!
I learned many years ago from the late Barbara Tropp, who sadly died far too young, that washing an orange or lemon with detergent and then rinsing thoroughly with water, would make a huge difference to the flavor of the zest.
Jun 21, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose
There is a special technique used in France to mellow the sharpness of fresh garlic. I discovered it years ago in one of Roger Vergé’s books and have used it ever since when adding raw garlic to a dish. It maintains the wonderful garlic flavor but tames the bite just a bit.
You don’t have to peel the garlic cloves because the peel slips off easily after boiling.
Place the garlic in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil and drain it immediately. Repeat three to 5 times and then use it to mince or slice into your recipe. Here is my favorite one for Casear salad dressing that I’ve been in the process of perfecting for years.
I discovered the beautiful and highly functional granite mortar and pestle when visiting my friend Anna Schwartz in Melbourne Australia. She offered to ship me one but then discovered that it was available in a terrific little Thai store in Chinatown not far from where I live. Elliott had to take me by car because it was too heavy to carry very far! It was relatively inexpensive—around $35 and will last several life-times.
The store will ship so if so inclined here’s the contact info.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mince the garlic and anchovies by hand.
Continue reading "Did You Know?" »
May 24, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose
Many of you know that I am a great advocate of using old starter added to bread dough to enhance flavor, texture, and keeping quality, but much to my regret, not everyone is willing to make, buy, or maintain a starter. There are, however, other ways to introduce extra flavor into bread dough that are really quite simple. My favorite easy method is used in many of my recipes in The Bread Bible. It involves making a sponge with all of the water used in the recipe, equal volume (1 1/2 times the weight) of the flour, and half the yeast and allowing it to sit from 1 to 4 hours before mixing the rest of the dough. But did you know that using just a total of one quarter of the yeast means you can let it sit at room temperature overnight which gives you more leeway time-wise. By the way, the total amount of yeast in the bread dough remains the same, you simply add less to the sponge and more to the final dough in the second stage of mixing.
It is a good thing to keep in mind when you need to slow down fermentation. You can experiment with how much yeast to add depending on the amount of time you want it to ferment and the temperature depending or the time of year. In Summer you may need to lower the yeast, in Winter increase it. YOU have the control!
Jan 26, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose
I’ve decided to start a new posting that I will schedule every once in a while as I collect these helpful tidbits that professional bakers take for granted that might not occur to anyone to pass on to home bakers. Here is the first posting:
1) Convection ovens (other than most counter top models) need to be set about 25°F/15°C lower, i.e. to arrive at the equivalent temperature of 350°F/175°C set the oven at 325°F/160°C.
2) Honey and yeast: it’s best to use processed (supermarket) clover honey as other honey, especially raw honey, may have an antibacterial effect which kills the yeast. it’s fine to experiment as some other types of honey will work but make a small batch of dough in case it doesn’t.
3) Brown sugar: store it in a canning jar. If and when it becomes rock hard, all you need to do is to make a little foil cup, set it on top of the sugar, wet a paper towel and wring out the extra water. set it in the cup and screw on the lid. Within an hour it will start to soften and by the next day it will as soft as when you first bought it.
4) How to tell when a cake is baked: if your oven has a window watch toward the end of baking. The cake will lower visible in the pan and you’ll know it’s time to test for doneness.
Jan 14, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose
I'd like to thank you for publishing The Cake Bible.
As someone who always loved baking but never went to culinary school, I read many highly rated cookbooks but grew increasingly frustrated when recipes were excellent (or not) but failed to explain what was going on. Your book answered so many questions! You should have seen me devour it from beginning to end so many years ago.
Here is what I've done since then:http://www.mirabellecatering.com/
That is your lemon curd in those pictures, your genoise, your mousseline, your ladyfingers, your meringue swans, your pistachio marzipan (heavenly!), your raspberry sauce (ditto), your chocolate leaves, etc etc etc.
Though I certainly reference other books now as well (I'm sure you recognize some of Alice Medrich's creations, and Martha's) and sometimes use their recipes, the vast bulk of what I do is still from your book (second volume - the spines break in no time!) And I would not approach those other sources with the same confidence, had I not absorbed such a basic understanding from you.
I'll have plenty of questions to send in the future, since discovering this blog, but for now just wanted to say thank-you with all my heart.
this has to be among the most validating letters i've ever received. and encourages me all the more as i submerge deeper and deeper into my first new cake book since the cake bible so many years ago. your work is exquisite and i've put in a link so everyone can see it. if i can take any credit for making your imaginative artistry more delicious i'm very proud indeed. and icing on the cake is that you acknowledged the empowerment of information and how it makes it possible to absorb so much more when you have a base of understanding. it is a life-long process and an undying thrill.
thank you heidi!
Jan 09, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose
You're going to love this: I've made my first failed génoise ever! And I learned an important lesson in the process.
People have told me over the years that they were afraid of making génoise. I even taught an 80 year old friend of the family in Harrogate England how to make génoise and it worked perfectly. But I haven't made génoise for a while now and what I remembered best was all the fearful statements of others. It never pays to do anything with fear because either one is too tentative or too bold and cavalier. I fell into the latter category. After all, I've made hundreds of génoise and I developed my original recipe for Cook's magazine almost 25 years ago. After all, what did I have to fear but génoise i mean fear itself?! But though cavalier and génoise are both French words the two should never be combined when baking! I could tell something was wrong when I poured the batter into the pan and it only filled the pan half-full instead of the usual two -thirds. Also what was odd was that the top was filled with little bubbles. Predictable, the cake never rose more than 1 inch.
My heart fell. Had I lost the magic? What if I never again would be able to make a perfect génoise? And what went wrong? Does cornstarch have a shelf life after all? (Mine was several years old.) Did I fold in the flour and cornstarch too much and deflate the batter? I felt just like everyone else who's ever asked me to diagnose or sleuth out his or her baking problems on things that always worked before and suddenly went wrong.
I sprang into action whipping up a second génoise before I lost the courage. The horrible thought occurred to me that now I understood the story of the chef who killed himself when his recipe failed-I think it was a soufflé but maybe not. Could it have been a génoise?
It always takes so much less time when you’ve just made something to make it again- all the thoughts are still active on the hard drive of one's mind. I narrowed it down to the one thing I did differently (what I was referring to as cavalier). I made the mistake of thinking: “Why do I have to beat the eggs and sugar for five whole minutes on high when after three minutes they look thick enough and don't seem to be getting any thicker or fuller in the bowl?" So I stopped beating at three minutes, and that was what made the critical difference as to the texture and height of the finished génoise (see photograph for comparison).
So the lesson is clear: Don't be fearful; and follow the instructions in the Cake Bible, especially if you wrote it.
Jan 08, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose
if only i had known that the old style saran, known as “the original premium wrap,” was going off the market to be replaced by a saran that was no longer air or smell-tight, i would have bought up as many cases as i had room to store. but now it’s too late.
i discovered this sad news by e-mail when some other desperate baker asked “now what do i use to store cakes airtight in the freezer?” after canvassing all the local markets for the old-style saran, with no luck, i tried every other wrap i could find. i knew, from working for reynolds metals company many years ago, that wraps other than saran had microscopic air holes that prevented produce from spoiling, and were not intended for wrapping things airtight in the freezer.
the producer of my pbs show, marjorie poore, shipped me a roll of her favorite plastic wrap called “stretch tight,” that she bought in cosco, saying that i would become so addicted to this wrap i would beg her to send it to me on a regular basis. to my delight she was right! it did indeed cling tightly to the bowl or whatever else i was wrapping but not being impermeable, it too wasn’t suitable for freezing cakes. still, it was the best thing i could find and i wanted more but hesitated to ask her to ship me plastic wrap from the west coast on a regular basis so i called the number on the side of the box and eureka! not only can the wrap be ordered on the internet, they also produce a wrap designed for the freezer called “freeze tite”! not only is it significantly thicker, it is also wider (15 inches wide). the manufacturer assured me that it is almost as impermeable as the old-style saran. now i can stop complaining.
here’s the website:
Jan 06, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose
someone must've given the hens a good talking to after I complained about the yolks getting smaller!
I made a triple batch of orange curd today and have to report that the 12 yolks weighed exactly what they used to. there was however extra white (1 3/4 cups instead of 1 1/2 cups). When working in larger quantities things seemed to balance out. but I once again have to make the case for weighing over measuring. Someone on the blog was kind enough to G. mail me about a highly accurate and affordable scale. I'm checking it out and will be delighted if I'm able to recommend it! As i'll soon be traveling for several weeks, stay tuned and I'll get back to you about this scale in February after I've worked with it for a while and put it through its paces. I'm optimistic!
You may notice that I'm now capitalizing some words. This is because I'm trying out voice activated software which does it automatically--if erratically. it's pretty fantastic though occasionally it makes some wild errors so I have to proofread carefully until it's more trained to recognize my speech patterns. But it's a lot easier on the hands and fingers. when I do blog entries on my laptop it will be without capitalization as I don't think people will appreciate sitting next to me in public listening to me talk to my computer anymore than they do listening to people talk on cell phones!
on another equipment note: those of you who are as sad as I am about the disappearance of the old-style saran wrap, take heart! I have discovered a viable replacement and will be writing about it in the next few days.
Dec 12, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
i found this photo of me as a little girl, taken back stage at city center after a performance of george ballanchine's "the nutcracker suite." it was the second annual performance of the ballet which is still performed at christmas time every year. i am ever grateful to my mother for having enrolled me in ballanchine's school of american ballet, which gave me the possibility of being in the nutcracker--the experience of being on stage in a magical performance no child would ever forget, either from on or off stage.
after each performance, my mother would take me to the schrafts around the corner from the ballet and i got to choose between a hamburger or an ice cream sundae. i was a disinterested eater in those days and my mother was delighted that i enjoyed these treats with such unaccustomed relish. but the delicious post performance celebration stopped abruptly after my soldier's costume starting getting too tight! ballanchine had one iron-clad rule aside from being able to dance in an acceptable fashion: if you could find a costume that fit, you were in. conversely......
in those days he was married to the beautiful prima ballerina tanaguil le clerk who tragically had just been stricken with polio.
i will always remember living for this brief moment of my young life in the rarified world of ballet.
Dec 06, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
Sugar, in all its wonderous forms, has been the focus of many articles over the past few years. People have expressed curiosity and a desire to try some of these sugars in their baking but are uncertain as to how to use them in place of the familiar refined granulated sugar. I wrote the following article primarily for chefs, in an attempt to demystify the subject. But I think the time has come to share it with the home baker as well.
First a tip regarding a commonly used sugar: Light brown. I store it in a canning jar where it stays soft for years, but if it should harden and lump, I make a little cup of aluminum foil, place it on top of the sugar, wet a paper towel, wringing out excess water, set it in the foil cup, and close the jar. In a matter of hours the sugar will soften as if by magic.
Whenever a recipe calls for light brown sugar I chose light Muscovado from the Island of Mauritius, off the coast of India. It is available in many specialty stores and on line at www.indiatree.com. The flavor is far more complex and delicious than ordinary light brown sugar and elevates the dessert to a higher plane.
Roses Sugar Bible published in Food Arts Magazine April 2000
Sugar, the one flavor that is pleasing to all humans and other mammals on birth, is alluring, addictive, and can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right cook.
Yes, sugar is sweet. But there's a lot more to it than that. Sugar can offer subtle to intense overtones of butterscotch, toffee, caramel, wine, molasses, spice and even bitterness. These qualities derive from both the variety of the sugar source and from the degree and type of refinement. Knowing the different varieties and granulations of sugar and the ways in which they best perform can add considerable depth, drama and sparkle to both cooking and baking.
Continue reading "Sugar" »
Nov 28, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
we should be across the street having dinner. a colleague of my husband's actually invited us. (it is a rare event that anyone is willing to cook for me.)
i brought a cake i'm working on though he said he was making a galette. we arrived on time to find his galette sitting in a warm oven. apparently after living in ny for 3 years he had never used the oven and it only seemed to have a light, i.e. the heat was coming from a light bulb. so i insisted on bringing the galette back across the street to bake in my oven. with an american type flaky crust it would have been pointless as the warmth would have caused the butter to leak out of the dough and loose all its flakiness. but the cookie crust of a galette is not flaky to begin with so I thought it was worth the effort.
to find out how i rescued this soft pie crust set on a pan that didn't fit into my quick preheat carousel microwave/convection oven (the soft crust loaded with fresh fruit that he was threatening to stew on the stovetop), read on!
Continue reading "Surrogate Baker" »
Nov 05, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
of all the substances, liquid and solid, that pass through the portals of my lips, coffee is the most sacred, i.e. the last one i willingly would relinquish. the funny thing is i'm not even affected by caffeine. i can drink a cup of coffee and go straight to sleep. so i don't consider my love of coffee an addiction but rather a passion.
Continue reading "Coffee, my quest for perfection" »
Oct 31, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
why i believe in real baking, i.e. baking from scratch as opposed to a mix
i suspect that the two main reasons people bake from a mix is 1) that they think it's faster and easier and 2) it's practically foolproof. there may even be some who grew up with the flavor of a mix and actually prefer it.
i grew up without a cake baking tradition, in fact, my grandmother used the oven only to store pots and pans. there was NEVER anything baked in that oven until I went to the university of vermont, took a course in basic food, and came home thanksgiving vacation with the intention of making my father's favorite--a cherry pie. it was a disaster of melting bubbling soap that I hadn't realized was stored in the broiler beneath. in short, i learned scratch cake baking on my own--from scratch.
Continue reading "Why "Real" Baking" »
Oct 27, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
i can't imagine life without a counter-top scale to weigh ingredients!. if i wrote books or recipes just for myself i wouldn't even include cup measurements. while I'm going out on a limb i might as well admit that given my druthers i would use only the metric system. it's so much easier, faster, and more reliable. can you imagine how crazy-making it is to create and proof all those charts in my books that list each ingredient in volume, ounces and grams! but i've got to cater to those resistant to weighing because as far as i'm concerned, it's better to bake by volume than not to bake at all. and baking makes me happy so i want to share it with everyone.
bakers are born, not made. we are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection. the rewards of this discipline go beyond providing absolute sensory pleasure. there is also a feeling of magic and alchemy that comes from starting with ingredients that don't remotely resemble the delicious magnificence of the final result.
Continue reading "Weigh to Bake" »
Oct 24, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose
sometimes i wish i could be a pie crust missionary--going around the country showing how fun and easy it is to make one of the most feared of baked goods: a delicious, flaky and tender pie crust--one that rolls out easily, is as malleable as clay, doesn't tear when transferring it to the pie plate, and doesn't shrink when baking.
the main secret to this perfect pie crust is the flour. I learned the perils of choosing the wrong flour when I was on my press tour for "the pie and pastry bible" 7 years ago.
Continue reading "Pie Crust Missionary" »