Peach season is at its peak where I live, so make sure to bake this scrumptious torte now. About thirty years ago I made a recipe for Plum Torte, a New York Times classic that became that paper’s most popular recipe ever. Ive baked it […]
Month: December 2016
Teaching at Rancho La Puerta is always full of surprises. The guests who sign up for my classes are a diverse group of extremely accomplished people from all walks of life. But in the kitchen, we’re all equals, because in the time we have together there is one aim: to cook a menu of seven recipes in two hours and to sit and enjoy the meal together. Cooking is all about the pleasures of the table and the sense of community it fosters.
At my first class, Dana Shaltry, a pediatric orthodontist, volunteered to make the dessert, a rustic French pear galette. I had demonstrated how to make the ground almond bases and pastry with a food processor, and Dana took it from there. He rolled the dough into a rough circle, cut the pears into thin slices, and arranged the fruit beautifully over the ground almonds.
It’s no secret that I love passion fruit, or to use its melodious Hawaiian name, lilikoi. When I’m in Hawaii I always buy fresh passion fruit and extract the juice myself. If I have a lot, I freeze it, pack it in my checked luggage, and bring it home to Montana. This year, a friend of mine who has lots of lilikoi growing on his property, gave me a quart of fresh juice. With this much lilikoi I had more than enough to make a cheesecake and a gorgeous tangy glaze.
Gateau Basque is one of the most famous desserts from French Basque country. And with good reason. A tender, sweet, cookie-like dough encloses a thick pastry cream flavored with vanilla and orange zest. A special cherry jam is often spread over the pastry cream before the top crust goes on. It is exquisite. I learned how to make Gateau Basque from Bernadette Irribarren, a native of the area, who has been baking the cake regularly for decades. At the time I was collecting recipes from immigrant bakers for my cookbook, “A Baker’s Odyssey.” Bernadette invited me to her home so that I could learn first-hand how she makes this special dessert.
While shopping at a farmer’s market in the San Diego area recently, I met a seller who offered samples of the plumpest darkest raisins I’d ever seen. The raisins were huge, the size of dried cherries, and they tasted of the sun. They were by […]
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 […]
In a previous post I wrote about New York Style Crumb Cake. Here’s what I said: “There’s crumb cake and there’s coffee cake, and in New York never the twain shall meet. Crumb cakes get their name from their special topping—buttery pea-sized crumbs resting atop a fine-textured butter cake. You can drink coffee with crumb cake, of course, but don’t call it coffee cake, a non-specific descriptive of just about any kind of cake to enjoy with coffee.”Now that huckleberries are in season where I live, I decided to add some to the cake, and I can tell you, the cake is sensational. Wild Maine blueberries are an excellent substitute for the wild huckleberries that grow in the mountains of western Montana.
Now to the topic of this post, a delicious buttery biscuit that’s in a class by itself. Not too sweet, but sweet enough to be considered a treat to serve with afternoon tea or coffee. I didn’t grow up with this biscuit, but it did remind me of sweet crunchy cookies that my Granny made in Shanghai. The Hungarian word for biscuit, roughly translated, is pogácsa, and there are two basic types: salty or sweet. But within each category huge variations exist. The recipe here is Vajas pogácsa, and what makes this biscuit so delicious is the butter. You must use a top quality brand, or it’s not worth bothering with. I use Strauss, with a butterfat content of 85%, but Plugra is an excellent choice, too.