I don’t mind spending part of my winter this year in New York. Even though it was one of the coldest winters in history, and on the first day of spring, we had a snowstorm, the beautiful snow blanketed everything in a thick white layer, which reflects the light and kept my mood cheery and optimistic. It rarely snows in Paris and la grisaille (the gray skies, sans la neige — or without snow), can augment the sullen mood around town. And the only people who you’ll see braving the cold are the hardy smokers, God love ‘em, clustered in the doorways of buildings and businesses, trying to get as many puffs in as possible before they can’t take it anymore and head back inside to the cozy warmth, with the rest of us.
Results tagged recipe from David Lebovitz
If you’re not from a place, you don’t have the same nostalgic pangs for the foods, even if some of us invoke Proust when we bite into a madeleine, or get all bent out of shape when someone messes with a certain food from a particular country or region – even if we’ve never been there.
I’m not a big fan of creamy soups, but I am a staunch defender of New England clam chowder. The word “chowder” comes from the French word “chaudière,” a big soup pot or cauldron. Some say it may have been invented by Breton fishermen in France, who later brought the soup to Canada and New England. Although I am not sure about the Manhattan-variety of chowder, which to me is like adding tomato puree to the dressing for a Caesar Salad, and calling it a “Caesar Salad.” If you’re looking for a tomato-based clam chowder there are plenty of places to find one in books and on the internet. This isn’t one of them.
I grew up eating New England clam chowder, which we often enjoyed at Howard Johnson’s, the famed roadside restaurant (which was once the largest restaurant chain in America), where Jacques Pépin worked, coming up with recipes in the 1960’s.
The place wasn’t fancy, but it was pretty good; the orange and turquoise roofs were a welcome sight during long drives on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (Most New Englanders of a certain age will remember hearing the phrase; “Sorry, we don’t have Coke. We have HoJo cola. Would you like one?”
It’s always nice to meet your heroes and many years ago, I was fortunate to meet one of mine. But I can’t claim Nick Malgieri as “mine,” as he’s been a guiding influence for bakers everywhere, publishing books with recipes and technique for making everything from traditional Italian pastries to Viennese tortes and even Middle East and Greek sweets, to the delight of bakers near and far
If you like to bake and have picked up one of his books, you’ll probably feel a little kinship with him as well. Nick established his credentials as a baking professor and author after stints as the Executive Pastry Chef at the Windows on the World restaurant, as well as having extensive experience baking professionally in Switzerland, Monaco, and France.
But not to worry. Nick’s focus now is on home baking, and his newest book is meant to make home baking as straightforward and foolproof as possible. Nick Malgieri’s Pastry: Foolproof Recipes for the Home Cook has spectacular photos by Romulo Yanes, who many know for his brilliant photography that appeared for years on the cover, and inside, of the much-missed Gourmet magazine.
For those that like books with lots of pictures, and step-by-step photos, this is the book for you, especially if you want to tackle some of those more challenging doughs, like Viennese strudel and yeast dough, as well as French brioche and yufka, the Turkish version of filo dough. They’re all demystified here. (For gluten-free bakers, he presents two different recipes without a laundry list of difficult ingredients.) There’s also pizza chiena, baked in a cake pan, as well as this lovely French Apple Pie, a neat puck of pastry filled with cooked apples and raisins.
Someone recently asked me why cookbooks go out of print. I was thinking about it and when trying to find out how many cookbooks are introduced each year, I couldn’t find any accurate statistics except for “hundreds.” In publishing, cookbooks also have two seasons; fall and spring. Depending on the subject, the publisher will decide when is best to release it. And for a variety of reasons – publishers fold one book division into another imprints, editors leave, etc. – or certain topics just fall out of favor.
At the risk of dating this post, at the moment, current popular topics are gluten-free, paleo diets, and slow cooker recipes. (If you write a book that encompasses all three, you’ve hit the trifecta.) One trend that did come along, and stayed with us for a while, was low-fat cooking and baking. Then it kind of faded away as other topics grabbed the public’s interest and that genre of book faded away.
(Recent studies have shown that fat isn’t necessarily the demon that we once thought it was and certain types of fat in your diet are fine. While I like fat, I don’t need to eat an overload of it. Except when it comes to cream cheese frosting. Then all bets are off.)
One person that was ahead several curves is Alice Medrich. Alice was one of the first people to introduce top-quality bittersweet chocolate truffles, cakes, and other treat to Americans, with her legendary bakery, Cocolat (which is now-closed), and a string of spectacular cookbooks. So when Alice writes something, it’s worth taking notice.
I’ve been a bit out of sorts recently, getting a little buried under things that are less-fun than cooking and baking. Fortunately, I gotta eat. And I also have to have chocolate, frequently. (As in, daily.) Otherwise I turn into some kind of crazed person. It’s a little strange, but I guess there are odder things to be addicted to. But if I don’t have a tablet of chocolate in my kitchen (or living room, or bed room, or…), I go a little mental and find myself wandering around wherever I am, searching for a bar to break the end off of and nibble on.
Which is why unsweetened chocolate is so vexing. While it’s great for baking, and giving things like chocolate pudding an especially intense bitter chocolate flavor, it’s hard to keep my hands off the little chunks when I can chopping it up for a recipe.
Who knew I (or more to the point, Paris) was so ahead of the curve? Last year, when I wrote about the preponderance of purple populating Paris, a few readers pointed out that the color orchid was named The Color of the Year by tastemakers, Pantone.
And recently, I made Marsala-baked pears, only to find out that, yup – this year, Marsala is the color of the year. So if you’re interested in finding out what the color of the year is going to be for next year, keep an eye on this blog.
Sometimes when I write posts for the blog, I write so fast that my mind can barely keep up with my fingers. (Hence the
occasional frequent typo.) Ideas fly into my head and I literally have to jump up from my chair and make them. Such was the case with this Dulce de Leche Cheesecake recipe, which combines two of everybody’s favorite things: cream cheese and dulce de leche. The French are fans of le Philadelphia, a catch-all word for cream cheese (just like we say Band-Aids and Kleenex, which are actually specific trademarks) and they are also fans of confiture de lait (milk jam), their own version of dulce de leche.
They don’t, however, have graham crackers, an all-American invention made with whole-wheat flour, and designed by Reverend Sylvester Graham, to discourage people (his followers were called “Grahamites”) from having impure thoughts.
(Not sure how I’d explain how a whole-grain cracker curbs lascivious urges to French friends. But somehow, I doubt that would increase the chances that we’d be seeing them anytime soon on French supermarket shelves.)
Apparently I’m not the only one who loves polenta cake. The Italians like it so much that it’s called Amor Polenta. Which means “Polenta Love.”
Well, at least that’s what I thought it meant, because amour in French means “love.” And I assumed that it was the same in Italian. (Another reason for finally getting on that life-long ambition to live in Italy and learn Italian.) But for now, checking in an Italian dictionary, I found out that “amor” means “sake.” (As in, for the purpose of.) So I’m not sure how it got its name, but this cake makes a pretty good argument for the sake of whisking polenta into a cake.
I’m one of those people who is completely crazy for anything with cornmeal, from corn bread to even a kind of kooky polenta ice cream that I’m sure no one else has ever made, because I used a completely obscure polenta that very, very few people can get their hands on. But I felt compelled to make it, for the sake of using up a little bag of that polenta that I had.