Have you ever been confused by the term double boiler? Or its French equivalent, Bain-marie? According to cited references in Wikipedia, Bains-marie were originally used in alchemy as a way to heat substances slowly and gently. The name derives from medieval Latin balneum Mariae, literally Mary’s bath. And what’s its purpose in cooking and baking? [...]
Duncan, Kate, and Robin. Duncan McDermott Graham (Kate’s son), Kate McDermott, and Robin Jacobs, the three musketeers of The Art of the Pie workshop. It’s rare that I get to take classes from a professional baker because I’m the one who usually gives the classes. All that changed recently when my wife, Dorothy, and I, [...]
Two stories today. One about the power of yeast and the other about a gift of food during World War II. Both come together in a sandwich. But first, something pretty to look at. When I first wrote about Cornish Splitters in 2011, I found them to be a quick and tasty yeast bread anyone [...]
One of my favorite recipes using extra-virgin Italian olive oil is in this citrus olive oil cake that I adapted from a recipe by Anne Quatrano in Food & Wine Magazine. I have always made this cake with a Ligurian olive oil, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I went to the market [...]
Cheese Soufflé Serves 4 Tall and majestic, with a crusty exterior and a super creamy interior, this is the quintessential French cheese soufflé. You make it the classic way with a thick béchamel, whisked in egg yolks, stiffly beaten whites folded in along with shredded cheese. You have several options for the cheese depending on [...]
I recently came across a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for no-knead brioche. How could that be, I wondered? Brioche, a classic French dough, gets its especially light and airy texture by vigorously beating and kneading softened butter into an eggy yeast dough. Since I’m staying in a condo with no fancy electric gadgets, I [...]
I think summer wouldn’t be summer without the promise of sour cherries. When I first wrote about them a few years ago, I forgot to tell you the story of where I get these rubies of the fruit world, so tart and full of sunshine. Sour cherries have a fleeting life span of only two [...]
Last week I was thrilled to find Italian prunes at our farmers’ market, and I thought I’d repost my recipe for baking them in a galette. I’d always called these succulent fall fruits Italian Prune Plums. But I now have learned, thanks to my friend, John Keegan, that I have been wrong. Here’s what he wrote when I made my original post on October 14, 2013.
This cake makes a fine change of pace dessert for a Thanksgiving dinner. The key to the success of this cake is a preliminary cooking of the apples on top of the stove. Apples in an upside-down cake should be tender and completely cooked. No crunch, please. Firm-sweet apples, such as Cameo or Braeburn, are excellent in this cake because they hold their shape and deliver a sweetness that complements the buttery brown sugar topping. Browning the butter before combining it with brown sugar and cinnamon adds a nutty caramel flavor. This cake is best when very fresh, and it reheats beautifully the next day in a warm oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
I’m a great fan of kitchen gadgets, especially those I don’t have to plug in. I would be lost without my whisks, granny fork, instant-read thermometer and nut grinder. What’s a nut grinder? It’s a rotary hand-cranked device you clamp to the side of a table that does a superb job of turning nuts into a fine dry powder. Many European cakes (tortes) use ground almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts, and the only way to achieve the proper texture is to grind the nuts with a nut grinder. A food processor just doesn’t hack it. I got hooked on nut grinders while baking my way through Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts (Knopf, 1974). Back then I could order a nut grinder from Williams-Sonoma. In Maida’s book she even had a sketch of one. Nowadays nut grinders are hard to find, unless you visit European cookery web sites.