Donna and I met Carri Thurman, who owns and runs Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, a year ago fall when she came to introduce herself bearing bread from On the Rise Bakery and some of her own Lilac Jelly.  The day was exquisite fall and the jelly inspired a great still life from Donna. And it was a pleasure to meet a fellow blogger and frequent commentor on this site. Naturally, this professional baker was first on the request list for a guest blog during bread baking month. Herewith, Carri Thurman, and a ciabatta recipe that interests me in two specific ways.  First, it requires a kind of starter or what some people refer to as a preferment: a little bit of yeast is allowed to ferment for 12 to 24 hours, which gives Read On »

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I get green tomato pickles on my mind every time I walk past the tomatoes on the vine in my backyard these chilly days. I’ve been reading about pickles, too.  One of the best books I’ve found is Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling.  It’s not only thorough, it’s also very well written (I was hopeful from the beginning when I saw that the book opens with an epigraph from an excellent Salman Rushdie novel).  I liked also that she immediately simplifies the subject by saying there are basically two kinds of pickles, fermented pickles and vinegar pickles.  Fermented or natural pickles use a brine to encourage good bacteria to create the acidity.  Vinegar pickles can work faster and tend to have more of a sweet-sour profile, whereas the fermented pickles don’t rely on sugar Read On »

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I first heard of  Robert Danhi from my friend Michael Pardus, who teaches Asian cuisines at the Culinary Institute of America, who said I should check out his book Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore. Dahni, a long time chef currently in southern California, had self-published it, which used to mean not good enough for traditional publishers to take a gamble on (but not necessarily any more). This book went on to get a Beard nomination, and Pardus, an expert in the subject, said the information was solid. What I like about the book—as much a travel book as cookbook—is that Danhi goes out of his way to talk about technique and the hows and whys of cooking. Here, he talks about peanuts and how they differ Read On »

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