When I was in Brooklyn a few months back doing a booksigning with the lovely folks from The Brooklyn Kitchen, a friendly woman came up to me bearing a box of treats from her bakery. I don’t like to eat in front of people, because, frankly, no one wants to meet up with an author while he is shoving pastries in his mouth. And in this day and age of people wanting pictures, I’ve learned that absolutely no one looks good when they’ve got a mouth full of food. And I have a hunch that there are a bunch of photos tagged with my name on them, around the internet, that will prove that.
Results tagged Baked from David Lebovitz
One of my favorite bakeries anywhere is Baked, located way over yonder, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a ways to go, since that part of Brooklyn lacks subway stops. (And it’s about 3000 miles from Paris, and no métro goes there either.) So I’m happy to hear they’re opening in Tribeca, so when I’m in New York, I can make it over there more frequently. But what’s just as good as visiting their bakery in person, is their latest book, Baked Occasions, featuring Matt Lewis and Renato Polifito’s favorite cakes, cookies, and candies, for entertaining, including during the holidays, and on other festive occasions.
What endears me to this duo is that we share similar tastes in treats. Leafing through the book, I immediately dialed in on the recipe for Lebkuchen, those wonderful German spice cookies iced with a swirl of dark chocolate, and the Salted Caramel Soufflé, which sounds oh-so-good. But the lure of the Old-School Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (page 110) was too powerful to resist, and I gave those a go first. After mixing up the dough, while shaping the cookies for baking, I was grabbing clumps of the cookie dough and stuffing it in my face. People who actually got to taste the baked cookies should consider themselves fortunate that I had any dough leftover to bake.
However the pièce de résistance for me was learning that they loved Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Hot Fudge Sauce as much as I do, which was one of my childhood favorites. And I jumped at the chance to churn up a batch of it, to relive those innocent days of my youth, before life corrupted me and made me the person — for better or worse — than I am today.
Just got back from a covert trip to New York. It was so top-secret that even I didn’t know about it. The trip happened in a flash and I barely got to see anyone. It was work, work, work. But a guy has to eat, right? And I think it says somewhere in the constitution of the United States that we all have the right to have abundant access to corn on the cob in the summer. And I dove into as many ears of it as I could, as well as heirloom tomatoes, that I picked up at the resplendent New York City greenmarkets.
After my memory card failure from my last trip, I decided to go camera-less, and go light – and safe(r) – and only brought along my trusty iPhone. I indulged in blueberries by the handful, sweet corn on the cob slathered with butter and salt, cheddar cheese, Korean food, and Concord grapes.
Sharp-eyed botanists, or would-be botanists, will see they weren’t quite Concord grapes, but Niabells. I used to work with a French chef in California, and when he saw me making something with Concord grapes, he looked at the bunches in the crate, and said, “I do not like those.”
2010 was a very big year for cookbooks. And when I say “big”, I don’t just mean there were plenty of great cookbooks published this year, but some of them were huge. Ready for Dessert tipped the baker’s scale at over 3-pounds, and subsequent books that continued throughout the year tested the limits of my strength, such as Bon Appétit Desserts, which weighs in at a whopping 6-pounds.
But as they say, “Size doesn’t matter” and I found myself attracted to a variety of cookbooks of all dimensions. Here are a few cookbooks, baking tomes, and food-related books that were released this year or that I featured on the site in 2010.
You’d never know that Dorie Greenspan only spends one-third of her time in Paris because after reading through this massive collection of three hundred fabulous recipes, she nails the city and the food, including stories and recipes from the restaurants, markets, and most endearingly, her stable of Parisian friends—which makes mine look like the unwashed masses. Her moist French Apple Cake was enjoyed from breakfast around here, and eating cake for breakfast probably isn’t very French, but tant pis.
I’d been planning for this trip for years, ever since I first laid my hands on a copy of Baked, the cookbook. Quite a few baking books come out and a lot are really good, but this one spoke to me. I mean, each and every dessert sounded like something I not only wanted to bake, but wanted to eat. As in right away.
As I read through the pages, I have to say that I fell in love with everything in there, from the Baked brownies to the Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake. With those swirls and swirls of shiny, dark chocolate, I just wanted to dive right into that cake headfirst. And I know this might get me into a little trouble, but I found I had a sweet spot for the authors as well.
I was entranced because Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis of Baked share with me a similar sensibility about desserts: we seem to agree that forceful, dynamic flavors, trump elaborate presentations, and prefer to let just a few great ingredients shine. Unfortunately it took me about a year after I read their book (and an interesting bus ride from Manhattan) to get there, but it was worth the wait.
I have a stack (actually, about four stacks) of cookbooks that arrived this year, many of them riddled with bookmarks for recipes. Some of them I managed to get to, presenting recipes on the blog or baking for friends and neighbors, and a few I didn’t get around to yet. In this year’s round up, I did sneak in a few recipes from favorite classics cookbooks in my collection, but there’s a nice representation from books that came out in 2009. Included are a few guidebooks that I found indispensable, plus I tossed in a couple of cookbooks that I’ve had my eye on, which are en route, that I’m looking forward to getting dusty with flour, and smudged with butter.
Here’s my annual round-up My Favorite Cookbooks from 2009:
Rustic Fruit Desserts by Corey Schreiber and Julia Richardson
I met Corey Schreiber a decade or so ago when he launched a restaurant in San Francisco. Shortly afterward he moved up to Portland to re-connect with the outstanding ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. This best-selling book features everything from a lemon-swathed Blueberry Buckle to Caramel Apple Steamed Pudding with Ginger. But it’s the Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake that is sitting in my batter’s box (or batter box?) to try.
New Flavors of Appetizers: Classic Recipes Redefined by Amy Sherman
I’m the first to admit that when I invite people for dinner, because I live in France, it’s easy to stop at the charcuterie for a few slices of country ham or hit the Arab market for a bag of salty olives. But Amy Sherman’s book is full of do-able recipes. I’m a bit fixated on her Baked Asparagus, Leek, and Goat Cheese Bites, and as soon as spring rolls back around, I’m going to tackle that one. In the meantime, there’s plenty to get me through the winter, like Olives and Feta Marinated in Lemon and Ouzo and Smoky Eggplant Dip with Cumin-Crusted Pita Chips.
I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita
I get so many inquiries about macarons that I had to compile a post of the best advice out there. (Making French Macarons.) But this little book, in English, promises a fool-proof method of making the little devils. Because of their popularity, I did a special write-up of I Love Macarons!, which offers more details about the book.
One of the things that no one prepares you for when you write a book, is that people are going to be in touch, many that you haven’t seen in a long, long time.
When Room for Dessert came out in 1999, I heard from people that I knew all the way back in high school. While I don’t quite share everyone’s glee for wanting to relive all the “good ol’ days”, I did get a message from someone who’d gone to the same college as me, and whose family had been making wonderful-smelling extracts since 1890. And what particularly caught my attention was that he mentioned the magic word—chocolate.
His family’s company, Star Kay White, produces extracts, mostly to sell to the ice cream and confectionery industry. But back then, they were just launching their extracts for home bakers. I asked Ben Katzenstein, who wrote to me, what exactly chocolate extract was, and he explained that when cacao beans are ground up into chocolate, some of the ‘top notes’ of the beans are lost in the process and adding chocolate extract replaces them.
Their chocolate extract is made without heat to avoid ameliorating the true flavor: the beans are soaked in alcohol, then removed. What’s left is a deep-dark brown elixir of highly-concentrated pure chocolate flavor and aroma. If you take the cap off and give it a sniff, the scent of pure chocolate will blow you away.
The vexing thing is since chocolate extract somewhat of an unusual ingredient, it’s hard to call for chocolate extract in a recipe, since a majority of people probably don’t keep it on hand, like I do. So it falls into the “optional” category. But at home, I find myself adding a teaspoon to almost any chocolate cake, cookie, brownie, or ice cream mixture that I’m stirring up. You can replace the vanilla extract with chocolate extract, but they work so well together, I often add both.
When I taught cooking classes, I’d often bring bottles with me to pass around for a sniff, and the look on people’s faces was first of disbelief, then surprise, and a big smile would rise in their face. It was always quite a surprise to find something so chocolaty in such a little bottle.
In preparation for Thanksgiving, this morning when I was mixing up my second batch of Baked Brownies for the week (I have no idea what happened to the first one…I swear), I pulled out my little bottle and spilled a bit into the batter, then stirred it up.
And when the batch of brownies went into my now-famous oven, I licked the chocolate-covered spatula clean as the day I bought it. I can’t say for sure whether I would’ve done that had I not added some chocolate extract to the batter. But it definitely didn’t hurt.
Related links and posts:
Star Kay White Chocolate Extract (Amazon)
Star Kay White Chocolate Extract (Dean & DeLuca)
The Best Ingredients Make the Best Cookies (Fine Cooking magazine)
Clotilde’s Very Chocolate Cookies (Recipe)