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Category ... Special Stories 2016

Gramercy Tavern Pie Contest 2016

Nov 25, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


Miro Uskovic, Executive Pastry Chef of Gramercy Tavern, invited us for the third time to be judges for the annual Tavern's pie baking challenge. This is a fun and potentially career-advancing contest for the staff. Two of the previous best pie winners not only had their pies featured on the menu for months but also were promoted to sous chefs. As we walked in the door, my dear friend Ron Ben-Israel, internationally known wedding cake baker/decorator extraordinaire, greeted me with a hug. Susan Ungaro, another early arriving judge, joined us for a tour of the kitchens. Miro also showed us this beautiful array of Christmas cookies for the upcoming holidays.


The familiar meeting room, with its room length table adorned only with nine place settings of score sheets and pencils, forks, and glasses of water, but not a pie in sight. This year, Miro and Executive Chef Michael Anthony, also a judge, decided to "amp things up a bit" with the judging. Along with several staff members, the prestigious group of judges included Ron Ben Israel, host of Food Network's "Serious Sweets," Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation, and Ghaya Oliveira, Executive Pastry Chef at Restaurant Daniel (and one of my favs). Then, to my utter joy, in walked Alex Guarnaschelli, Chef/Owner of "Butter" in New York, one of the judges of Food Network's "Chopped," and one of my long-time friends.


Miro had a hard time getting us all seated because we wanted to hug and catch up, but there were 19 pies to evaluate so we finally took our seats. Miro announced that this year each contestant would bring out and talk about his or her pie, as we tasted it. We were then able to give our critiques and comments. Unsurprisingly, Alex was in her delightful 'A game' judging mode, amazingly able to give a stream of articulate commentary without needing to take a breath. Also, unsurprisingly to me, in almost all cases we shared the same opinion, exchanging expressive looks as she and I at times changed our top choices, as a sea of pie plates filled the table.


Continue reading "Gramercy Tavern Pie Contest 2016" »

A Tribute to Dorothy Cann Hamilton of ICC

Oct 26, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


Many of you have already learned of Dorothy's untimely and tragic death this month and that she was the founder of the French Culinary Institute in 1984 which gave birth to a litany of renowned chefs and restaurateurs such as Dan Barber, Bobby Flay, and David Chang. Dorothy was an extraordinarily valuable, influential, and cherished member of the food community and will be missed greatly.

As a neighbor (I lived a 10 minute walk from the school) the French Culinary made me feel like I had a second home. If I needed an emergency ingredient, they welcomed me to run over to the store room. I audited chef Amy Quazza's bread and Dieter Schorner's Danish courses and frequently judged final exams of the graduating pastry classes. And if I needed a venue for a demo, French Culinary was always my first choice.

When my Pie and Pastry Bible was published, Dorothy generously offered to host a book party in the pastry kitchen suggesting that I do a small demo. I don't remember exactly what I made but what I will never forget is how she introduced me. Inspired by the press material which played upon the theme of "bible," Dorothy opened with: Rose is a worshipped woman--something I wish someone would say about me! If only she could have seen the standing room only turnout of worshippers--students, friends, and family--that filled Saint Malachy's--The Actor's Chapel Roman Catholic Church, on Tuesday October 25th.

A celebration of Dorothy's life followed the service and was held at the school which is now called the International Culinary Center. In the crowd there were so many familiar faces--Deans Jacque Pépin and Alain Sailhac and his wife Arlene Feltman (who started DeGustabus at Macy's) Marion Nestle, Drew Nierporent, Jenifer Lang and her daughter Georgina, Mitchell Davis of the Beard House, Danny Myers--an endless stream.

Matthew Septimus, who is the photographer of our upcoming book, also did several books for the French Culinary Institute and showed us photographs on each floor which he had taken of the Deans and other food celebrities--in fact--he designed this wall of photos.

In every kitchen on every floor there were samples of delicious food such as shredded duck confit tacos, boeuf bourguignon, cassolet, rabbit paella....and video memories of Dorothy, all accompanied by Abba's "Dancing Queen" playing in the background. Here are a few of the photos Woody managed to capture of me with some of my all time favorite people.


Matthew Septimus, Me, Dean Jacques Torres, and chef Mark Bauer

Continue reading "A Tribute to Dorothy Cann Hamilton of ICC" »

A New Way to Dinner (via Food52)

Oct 22, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


This week, Woody and I drove into New York for a most delightful book launch. A New Way to Dinner, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. The subtitle says it all: "A playbook of recipes and strategies for the week ahead." And we got to taste an array of recipes contained in the book.

I almost passed up the chicken fingers because they are always so dry but, knowing Amanda and Merrill, I put my initial resistance aside and was richly rewarded by a crispy panko crust and deliciously juicy moist interior. When I met Merrill and her mother I learned the secret. This is the recipe her mother made on a regular basis when she was growing up and instead of the usual sawdust chicken breasts she employed the more flavorful and moist chicken thighs. I would buy this book just for this recipe alone and I can't wait to try many of the others.


We were so happy to see our old friend Eunice Choi, whom we first met 7 years ago at KitchenAid's Epicurean Classic in Michigan when she was a recent graduate of Cornell University and was working as a prep assistant. We knew she would have a wonderful career in food and sure enough she went on to work at Food and Wine Magazine and now is on staff at Food52.


And what a great surprise to discover that our terrific publicist, Allison Renzulli, who worked with us on The Baking Bible, is now at Ten Speed Press--the publisher of A New Way to Dinner.Allison.jpg

On a final note, I am so proud to have my best pie crust featured in the book as a Rhubarb Galette.

Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead

A Return to Troisgros

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.









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Continue reading "A Return to Troisgros" »

A Lesson in Pasteles with Maria

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" »

My Favorite Pie Crust

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).

Liberty View Farms Spring Dinner

Apr 30, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


Whenever life takes us to the Hudson River Valley, our dear friends Biliam Van Roestenberg of Liberty View Farm and Agnes Devereux of the Village Tea Room host a spectacular dinner and we all invite friends from the area.

The warm spring weather enabled us to dine outdoors with a view of the apple orchards in full bloom!

This month, we were once again presenters at the International Wine and Food Festival at the Mohonk Mountain House. By happy coincidence, Sara Moulton was also a presenter so she and her husband Bill Adler were among the dinner guests. (We each bought and personalized each other's newest books.) And we were delighted that Nina Smiley, of the Mohonk Mountain House could join us. We learned that she had just started a Wellness program which includes meditation, T'ai Chi, and "forest bathing."


When we were in Vancouver for Nathan Fong's wedding, we met fellow award winning author Hiroko Shimbo and discovered that she and her husband Buzz have a house near New Paltz so they were also invited guests. Coincidentally, Hiroko was just featured in Sara's beautiful new book Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101. Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better

Agnes prepared a delicious dinner beginning with warm roasted red onion salad with ewe's blue cheese and a sherry vinaigrette.


The main course was pan roasted salmon with rhubarb relish and Hawthorne Valley yogurt, accompanied by an amazingly delicious red cabbage braised in rhubarb, and a local arugula salad with stone ground mustard vanaigrette.


Once the sun set the temperature began to drop so we enjoyed dessert indoors: Agnes's signature Honey Bee Cake (which she says was inspired by my Honeycomb Chiffon Pie from The Pie and Pastry Bible). She also served pastry cream filled cream puffs and Orchard Hill Cider Mill Ten 66 Pommeau.


Winter Spinach Heralds the Growing Season

Apr 16, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


My friends the Meneguses gifted me with a huge batch of spinach from their farm. Here it is trimmed, washed, and ready to blanch. It filled my largest "everything bowl to the very top."


Blanched 2 minutes before freezing to keep the color. Reduced in volume to 1/10th! 100 grams, together with cheddar cheese, made a delicious filling for an omelet.


Packaged for freezing for many an omelet to come.

Profile in Grace

Apr 02, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


What a challenge to try to summarize all the exceptional talents and qualities of Diane Boate. Perhaps her father said it best when, as a little girl, he dubbed her Mrs. Much.

Our friendship began 20 years ago when she called me and introduced herself as "the cake lady of San Francisco." She was planning a trip to New York City with her partner Robert Meyers (now her husband) and hoped to get together. She also told me that she had lost her only two sons to AIDS and that the reason she brought it up in our very first conversation was that she wanted to avoid an awkward moment should it inevitably arise later on.

Contemplating the devastation of such an unimaginable loss I expected the possibility of a defeated person but instead discovered again and again over the years that followed that instead of succumbing to self-pity, Diane turned her grief to the joy of creativity and most of all to helping others and making the world a more loving, beautiful and interesting place. I have never known a person to possess so many skills: from artistry, photography, crafts, cooking, baking, writing, gardening, and even playing both the piano and banjo by heart and ear. You may have seen the recent posting of this exquisite crocheted blouse she made for me after my having admired it years ago.


I asked Diane if she would write a short bio, and in her own words highlight the activities and accomplishments she values most in her life.


From 1966 to 1976 I held three of the only regularly paying jobs I would ever have, for The Dating Game TV Show, The Egg and The Eye Gallery, and The Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
From 1976 to the present 2016 it has been a 40 year run being The Cake Lady, the Hat Lady, Photographer, Botanical illustration artist and published writer.

Special awards were winner in Gourmet Gala March of Dimes food extravaganza, winner SF Urban Fair cake decorating contest, being selected to produce cake for 2000 visiting mayors, winning a contest at National AIDS Grove Mad Hatters fundraiser for a huge hat comprised of 27 handmade dolls, being made President of the SF Hat Society, being selected to write a regular baking column for EATDRINKFILMS.com.

Working through the grief of losing my sons to the AIDS epidemic, I embarked on learning new skills as in taking my first Art History class and earning an Aplus from a tough European trained instructor. If I can do that, I told myself, I can do anything.

For escapes I disappear into knitting and crochet projects, and always back to reading books. (One year in the 60s without a job, I read 87 books.)

I have come to an idea that everything I do has a foundation of music behind it. I started music school when I started kindergarten in a Convent School in Eureka, California, my home town, graduating 10 years later, going on to Napa High School and College.

I see color when I hear music. Music has given me mathematics, form, cadence, harmony, structure, and joy. If you listen carefully when I play the piano, you would understand where my flights of fancy come from when making a hat or decorating a cake, or where patience and discipline fit in when constructing clothes or any number of crafts, or where sadness tried to drag me down but I came out the other side, singing.

The main thing with me is, what is the next new thing I am going to do? How can I surprise someone today?

First Vine on Line

Mar 29, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


I'm delighted to share with you an unusual profile which Tom Natan just posted on his new blog First Vine on Line--a food, wine, and culture blog.

Tom is co-owner of First Vine, a Washington DC importer and retailer of quality wines. We first met when his neighbor David Hagedorn was writing an article for the Washington Post on making pie crusts, featuring my favorite cream cheese pie crust (which became the most requested Washington Post recipe for years running!). Tom offered to help with the prep for the photo shoot and we had a great time talking about taste, texture, and wine.

I especially appreciate this profile because it highlights details of a side of me never before revealed--my passion for wine. But most of all I am deeply impressed by Tom's writing and feel honored to have this fine portrait in words. I also rediscovered that we are true kindred spirits.

Nordic Ware Demo and Visit to Minneapolis

Mar 26, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Demos & Book Touring


(Hanaa is holding an amazing spiced cake called sellou or sfouff, so fragile it just barely holds together with a fine almost sandy texture. I miss it still!)

We started our Minneapolis visit with a long anticipated and fabulous Moroccan dinner at our Alpha baker Hanaa's home with her husband, T, and Marie and Jim Wolf. Hanaa pulled out all the stops with a vast variety of savories including the best spiced olives and a wide variety of extraordinary baked items. Hanaa is one of the most gifted and imaginative bakers I've ever met and it was a very special treat to taste her baking first hand in addition to meeting her and her lovely husband for the first time.




We had the pleasure of staying with Marie and Jim, and finally got to meet the infamous JJ and the adorable baby Lilly. While I slept late, recovering from the intense events of the Chicago Housewares Show, Woody did the entire prep for our demo/book signing at the Nordic Ware Factory Outlet store. This included baking a cherry lattice pie, making two extra piecrusts for rolling out, and baking some Rollie Pollies to show how to make good use of the dough scraps.

Pic 28.jpg
Photo credit Linda Stewart

The event turned out to be one of the most enjoyable of my memory because it was comprised of a large group of dedicated bakers. This resulted in a lively Q & A exchange. We were especially delighted to welcome several olds friends including Mike Quinlan, VP Sales and Marketing, and Woody's charming daughter Maran, who is a professor of Philosophy at Minneapolis Downtown Community College.

Pic 39.jpg
Photo credit LoAnn Mockler

My dearest friend, Michelle Gayer, owner of the "Salty Tart" bakery generously provided her deliciously chewy/chocolaty meringue cookies. Michelle and I baked together years ago when she was pastry chef at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and we have been friends ever since.

Photo credit LoAnn Mockler

The following evening we returned to one of our favorite restaurants-- 112 Eatery and got to meet Anna, Michelle's valued associate and to congratulate Michelle for her James Beard nomination for Best Pastry Chef--Midwest.

A serendipitous visit to The Kitchen Window kitchen supply store, turned out to be a delightfully dangerous place for an equipment junkie like me. Fortunately, we only take carry-on bags for our flights, which limits my purchasing impulse. This incredible store has a mind-boggling variety of high-quality kitchen equipment and also conducts around 400 classes a year in three classrooms above the store. We talked in length with Ken, one of the salesmen and a fellow x-New Yorker who has lived all over the world. His in depth knowledge of the equipment was so impressive we made a second visit the following day.

Our last meal before our return home was lunch at the award winning 46th Patisserie. Marie and Jim are so lucky it is in walking distance from their home. I was totally blown away by their pastries, bread, and chocolates. It is no wonder it is rated as one of the top bakeries in the nation.

Chef-owner John Kraus sat down with us along with two weekly regulars, Woody's daughter Maran and her friend, Tom, while we enjoyed the amazing Brioche Bostock and coffee.

Photo Credit Jim Wolf

Bostock Pat 46-3.jpg
Photo Credit Jim Wolf

Chef Kraus was about to fly to San Francisco on a pastry fact-finding mission, so I gave him a few suggestions along with my new mini SynGlas rolling pin to show our SF colleagues and to try out on his return. He gave us a terrific walnut and current bread, half of which we shared with Marie and Jim and the other half with Elliott on our return.


Highlights from the International Housewares Show

Mar 19, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Demos & Book Touring


This was our third appearance at the International Housewares Show in Chicago. Dan O'Malley, of the American Products Group, hosted us to promote the new Rose's Signature Line, which includes my SynGlas nonstick rolling pin, dough mat, fast tracks (dough guides), cutting mat, and mini rolling pin. The APG booth was constantly overflowing with prospective buyers, APG staff, and representatives.

Woody and I were delighted to have been invited to present my new line in action at the KitchenAid Cooking Theater. We demoed our favorite flaky piecrust and cherry pie. When we entered the backstage prepping kitchen to go over our lists and to prep for the following day, my dear friend Emeril Lagasse, who was just about to give his presentation, took the time to give me a big hug. He asked if I would like a second set of hands for our demo and tempted as I was, I declined realizing he was needed at his booths to promote the re-launch of his product line.


The demo turned out to be the perfect testimonial for the truly non-stick rolling pin and dough mat. Although the recipe, like most butter based pie crust recipes, advises to refrigerate the pie crust for 40 minutes to rest and firm after mixing, we had to use the room temperature dough that was just demoed. With just a mere dusting of Wondra flour on the dough mat and dough, the crust rolled out easily, without sticking!


In addition to meeting many people at the booth, including two women bakers who asked for me to sign their aprons.


It was great to meet one of APG's top reps, personality plus Jenny Johnson and her talented designer/partner Andrea Daugherty.


We walked several miles each day, stopping at many of the 2000 plus booths, including visiting Sam Weiner at our favorite knife sharpeners and waffle makers booth: Chef's Choice/Edgecraft


We also visited my product display at Harold Import Company, home of Rose's Perfect Pie Plate. It was a delight to see my wonderful friends Elizabeth Karmel and Helen Chen, representing their product lines. It was Elizabeth who introduced me to Harold's Kitchen owner Robert Laub. She now also has a beautiful new French porcelain line with Revol--check out the red roosser roaster! And I love Helen's new and very useful rice and quinoa rinsing bowl which I'm holding in the photo.


And it was heart warming to see the enthusiastic young C-Cap student chefs clamoring for a photo with their hero (could it really be me?!) We gave them 4 signed Baking Bibles.


Evenings were reserved for enjoying some of Chicago's best restaurants, including The Girl & The Goat and The Purple Pig. Dan hosted a delightful dinner at the appropriately named Rosebud's Steakhouse. Our last morning, before taking off for Minneapolis, was a conversation-filled catch-up breakfast reunion with Janet Besk Zaslow, one of my favorite students from when I had the Cordon Rose Cooking School many years ago. I was very impressed by her album of baking photos including wedding cakes she had been inspired to make over the years.

Tune in next week for the Minneapolis leg of our Midwest Visit.

A Tribute to Pat Conroy

Mar 15, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


At the beginning of August she announced in quiet triumph that she had finally discovered the perfect recipe. She had thawed eight wild ducks that Luke had killed the previous winter. The stock she made from the discarded duck bones and parts was dark as chocolate and its flavor was wild and sun-charged but slightly overpowering. She cut the wildness with a little red wine and a dash of cognac. She then sat down for an hour and thought about everything she knew about the flavor of wild duck. She cooked the ducks slowly with turnips and onions and tart apples and scuppernong grapes from the arbor. She considered the mysteries of balance and proportion in a perfect meal. When we sat down to dinner, we could sense her apprehension. She was worried about the grapes. She had consulted no cookbooks; she had cast off into the unknown without her copies of Gourmet to guide her. Using only what she found in her larder, she was on her own.
I was worried about the turnips but my mother assured me that wild duck was the only meat she knew of capable of holding its integrity against a turnip. That bothered me not at all; I simply hated turnips. But the fruit cut the bitterness of the turnips and the turnips played their role flawlessly by diminishing the cloying sweetness of the grapes. The meat was the color of wild roses and even my father ceased his nightly lament on the joys of fried food and ate with silent gusto. It was my mother's own creation, it was marvelous, and we stood and gave her a standing ovation after the meal was finished. It was her seventh standing ovation of the summer.

The following article, with the above quote from Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, was written for my column for the LA Times Syndicate many years ago:

Pat Conroy is my favorite contemporary writer. When I read this poignant passage from his most recent novel, The Prince of Tides I considered it to be the most exquisitely enticing culinary prose I had ever read and became intent upon reproducing the recipe. The very words scuppernong grapes resounded with magic that I had to know first hand and the phrase "the meat was the color of wild roses" all but sent me into anticipatory culinary ecstasy. So I wrote what is probably my very first fan letter and a year later when I still had received no response, wrote again.

It was then that I discovered the full brilliance of Conroy's imagination. His wife Lenore called to tell me that they hadn't responded in all this time because they could not decide who should be the one to tell me that the dish never actually existed. [Note: Pat told me that his mother was not much of a cook and her speciality was frozen fish sticks!] Lenore did, however, invite me to dinner and, in the end, I was so glad I had written those letters because even though I did not end up with the recipe I had so single mindedly pursued, I did find the friendship of two very special people that I treasure far more.

I tried to reproduce the imaginary dish, and although the turnips in the rich brown sauce prepared from home made chicken stock were the most delicious I had ever experienced, my tasters and I all agreed that the best way to eat duck is roasted, with moist flesh and crispy skin.

Papa Bernachon--An Unforgettable Man and Chocolatier Extraordinaire

Feb 13, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


This is a special story which I wrote years ago for the LA Times Syndicate. Because someone on Face Book this week wrote about his visit to Bernachon in Lyon, France, I was inspired to share this story with him and with all of you. It starts out with a special technique I discovered for roasting duck but my favorite part is about Maurice Bernachon and the lunch we shared at one of the finest restaurants in the world--Chapel. And only now--this very moment, after all these years--as I write the name Chapel, do I realize how fitting was Alain Chapel's name, for eating at his restaurant was truly a religious experience.

Perfect Crisp Roasted Duck
(a revolutionary technique for the fairest of all fowl)

Duck, with its rich moist flesh and flavorful crispy skin, can be the most delicious of all poultry. However, when not cooked properly it is greasy with fat, the flesh over-cooked and dry and the skin soft and uninteresting. Because I love duck so much and even in restaurants have more often than not been disappointed, I set out years ago to find a way to roast duck which would eliminate the maximum amount of fat while maintaining the juiciness.

The solution turned out to be extraordinarily simple: boiling water is poured over the skin to tighten it, then the duck is air dried (which can be accomplished overnight in the refrigerator). The most important part is that during roasting, the skin of the duck is pricked, the oven temperature is very high to release the fat and boiling water is poured directly on the duck to keep it moist and to prevent the fat from splattering. The resulting duck is virtually fat-free, moist with crisp skin and, as an added benefit, it cooks in under an hour. I have never prepared duck another way for 15 years since this technique evolved. But I do have a memory of quite a different duck that was more delicious still at an unforgettable lunch in the south of France. I was in Lyon, working with the Bernachons on the translation of their book:


The book is no longer in print but is still available for a song at some bookstores and Amazon, where it received a 5 star review.

Papa Bernachon invited me to lunch to celebrate its completion and asked me to choose between Bocuse and Chapel. I was torn. Both were brilliant chefs but Chapel, with his near military precision and passionate perfection was the chef of my heart and soul and his was my favorite restaurant in all the world. Despite this, and after some hesitation, I chose Bocuse because I knew that Maurice Bernachon's son Jean Jacques is married to Paul Bocuse's daughter. Politesse won out over passion--not to mention the fact that I knew we would eat magnificently at either place. And I comforted myself with the promise that someday soon I would return to Chapel.

The day of the luncheon arrived. We folded our aprons, changed out of our whites, and drove off to what turned out, to my joyful astonishment, to be Chapel. The greeting Bernachon received from the Maitre d' was worthy of a king. But then, of course, he is considered the king of chocolatiers in France and his neighbors in the food establishment are very proud of him. But with his silver mane of hair and courtly gallant manners, I felt as if I were dining with the long fantasized French grandfather of my dreams. Chapel came out to greet us and serious discussion ensued (as only seems to happen in France) about our culinary fate (choice of food). I was so overjoyed I could have cried with pleasure.

The first coarse arrived and from then on the meal seemed never to end. We ate for four hours, but so slowly I had the illusion of never being too full. (Afterwards, though, I went to my hotel and slept for 5 hours. And when I awoke, I was not hungry for dinner!)

I remember best the splendid regional Vacherin Mt. d'Or, which was at its peak, the glorious burgundy that was the best I ever tasted and seemed like a musical note to rise at the end of each sip, and the canneton à la vapeur which was the best duck I ever tasted. (Canneton is a young duck which he poached in a flavorful broth and then roasted the legs to have the contrast of the crisp skin.) When Bernachon mentioned my appreciation to Chapel, as we were enjoying our digestif brandy on the porch, his answer was approvingly emphatic: "she is right. I asked my purveyor to find the best duck in France and it turned out they come from Alsace." I felt as if I had passed an exam.

At some point, during the course of the meal, I mentioned to Bernachon how much I enjoyed the French facial expressions known as les moeux--how you could see in their faces exactly what they are thinking. To my surprise his response was: "You also have a face like that." And finally I knew how it was we ended up at Chapel instead of Bocuse! And a good thing too as it turned out to be the last time. My beloved Chapel died soon after.

Herewith, my best recipe for duck. It will make even the ordinary varieties taste like something special.

Continue reading "Papa Bernachon--An Unforgettable Man and Chocolatier Extraordinaire" »

The Pastry Chef Who Rescued Our Ganache

Jan 30, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


Pastry Chef Jason Pitschke and His Fantastic Tart Tatin.

Those of you who enjoyed the postings on the Nathan Fong/Michèl Chicoine Vancouver wedding cake will be interested to know a little more about the pastry chef Jason Pitschke who generously not only gave us an area in his kitchen in which to work, but also loaned us his special equipment, and most important of all, his expertise, especially when the raspberry ganache turned out less than silky smooth.

Pastry chefs have to be artists, engineers, and often detectives. Jason quickly thought to ask me what percentage cream we usually use for ganache, and when I said 40% he replied, in an ah hah moment: "That has to be it--we only have 36%--it needs more fat." He got out his immersion blender and started adding more cream and voila: perfection!

36% would have been just fine for an ordinary chocolate and heavy cream ganache. (As I write ordinary I recall how a mere 30 years ago few people ever heard of ganache in this country. I used to define it as the ultimate nosh--yiddish for treat or snack.) But this ganache replaced a large amount of the cream with raspberry purée.

I was impressed by so many qualities Jason possessed: focus, humility, dedication, fortitude, and creative artistry. It turned out that we have a very special dear friend in common: Jean Franç Bonnet. Jason worked under JF when he was head pastry chef at restaurant Daniel in New York City. About 20 years ago, I wrote a letter to the government pleading to keep JF in this country and saying that we risked losing a culinary gem to France. I told JF that I would do this if he promised to stay humble because he was going to become the best pastry chef in the country. We have been friends ever since. JF is now owner of Tumbador Chocolate.

I first met JF when I was writing a story about financiers for Food Arts Magazine for which I was interviewing pastry chefs. JF was the only one who actually took the temperature of the beurre noisette and I saw immediately that he had a rare and deep understanding of the science of baking. I would often call him with questions and he always knew the answer.

As Jason and we worked in our close but separate areas of the pastry kitchen, between dashing off to the ovens across the way, we exchanged stories and tastes of what we were making. Here's a photo of one of his signature desserts which was every bit as delicious as it is stunning to behold: Jason's version of the red velvet cake. Talk about kindred spirits: it is enhanced with raspberry just as I brushed my red velvet rose with raspberry purée which gave it a moist and delicious flavor.


A Wedding Affair to Remember

Jan 23, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


Fifteen years ago, during a spirited conversation with Nathan Fong, I told him: "If you ever get married, I will be glad to make your wedding cake." Fast forward to December 2014. Woody and I were working on our computers when I received an email from dearest Nathan, to which my reaction was something like this: "Woody, Nathan is getting married... wants us to make his wedding cake... will fly us up to Vancouver....what? January 16th? We cannot possibly do that in less than a month.... I'm emailing him right back, to say --no!" Nathan quickly replied to my reply, with: "it's not January 2015 it's a year later"!

Nathan's choices were a chocolate cake for Michèl with the addition of raspberry for him. He assured me that there definitely would be no more than 250 guests at the dinner. He also told me that birch trees were to be the theme for the wedding decor. Woody and I decided to make the Deep Passion Wedding Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, with the added enhancement of raspberry in the cake and the frosting, which would be ganache. For the birch theme, the cake was to be decorated with the "Meringue Birch Twigs" from The Baking Bible. It was a year of testing, planning, spreadsheets, confirmations, laminating our recipes, and crossing our fingers, before we flew to Vancouver, Canada for what was to be an extravaganza wedding and a celebration of food event. Nathan is a renowned, world-class food stylist and event planner. He had pulled out all of the stops for planning his and Michèl's wedding. Michèl, in addition to having been a pastry chef, is also an event planner and talented decorator.

Going to Canada meant that virtually all of the ingredients and equipment had to be supplied by Nathan and his staff. We arrived on a Monday night to Vancouver's typical winter weather--raining and in the mid 40's F. One of the biggest challenges of baking in an unfamiliar location is always the oven. How will it bake our cakes? Especially since, we were making 9 cakes from 6 inch rounds to 18 by 12 inch sheet cakes.

Continue reading "A Wedding Affair to Remember" »

A Girl and Her Whisk(s)

Jan 10, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


Carol Ritchie came up with a delightful idea to start a start Whisk Movement Cookin' with Carol featuring "the whisk." She asked me to contribute a recipe and also a story about what whisks mean to me.

I first met Carol almost 20 years ago on a food symposium trip to Australia. We bonded over this mollusk at the Fleurieu Peninsula. It was the very first of the season and they handed it to Carol but I was the one with the ever ready Swiss army knife to open it. Then soon harvested a few more and I still remember the amazing ocean-freshness.


When my book The Pie and Pastry Bible was published, and book tour brought me to Texas, Carol invited me to be a guest on her show. We had a delightfully fun time pulling strudel and to this day she is in my icontacts address book as: "great tv host--did strudel" so I would always remember.

I'm honored to be a part of her new online (ad)venture.

Our New Year's Dinner

Jan 04, 2016 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2016


I Love Agata & Valentina!
They always come through.

When I saw the photo of the pork shoulder ragu on Food52 a few weeks ago I knew I would have to make it as soon as possible. We were planning to go into New York so I called my favorite butcher Pino to order the pork shoulder and then we stopped by Agata & Valentina for the handful of fennel called for in the recipe. After spending about 20 minutes with Jeff, the store manager, sorting through the large selection of spices, we realized that they were out of fennel. I explained why it had to be fennel, saying that it is the predominant spice in Italian sausage. Joe asked me to wait for a few minutes while he asked the store butcher if he had any left, saying he had been making sausages that very week.

I waited at the cash register and just as I was about to leave, Ramon, the meat manager appeared, much to my astonished joy, with a little package of fennel as a present. I have to explain that neither Jeff nor Ramon knew me or that I am a food professional. I'm certain it was a combination of my intensely conveyed longing to have this ingredient but mostly the store's policy of supportive neighborly consumer service. People might except this in a small town but not usually in New York! See why I love them?

The ragu was soul satisfying accompanied by a 2012 Joseph Swan pinot noir. The brandied cherry ice cream was dessert. Happy New Year!

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