I’m a cook, not a baker. There are few professional chefs who are both. Cory Barrett, formerly of Cleveland’s Lola, was its pastry chef and then its chef de cuisine, very rare. Michel Richard is an anomaly in being both a world-class pastry chef and a dazzlingly ingenious savory cook, as his book Happy in the Kitchen shows (I highly recommend this book, by the way, and his restaurants). That savory cooks and pastry cooks are different creatures is also why writing the new best-selling Thomas Keller book, the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook—stunning in its recipes, photography, and design—was both so hard and so exciting for me, as I tried to understand the whys behind the craft of baking and pastries and write about them through executive chef Sebastien Rouxel. But it’s holiday-time, Christmastime, the season of baking! Read On »

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  I’m giving my site over today to my friend Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes The Culinary Life blog, and whose first book, Melt, will be published next year by Little, Brown. Here she focuses on cinnamon at a time of the year when the smell of cinnamon announces the celebratory nature of the month and soothes stress. It’s true, the smell of cinnamon bread baking makes for a better mood around the house. A note about yeast and temperatures—many novice bakers get in a fluff about it. Fresh? Active dry? Instant dry? What’s it all mean? I’m not going to go into it because it’s boring—use dry, it doesn’t matter what kind (I recommend Red Star or SAF, same company). You don’t need to be obsessive about the temperature of the liquid. This recipe will Read On »

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While I’m at Pigstock, an all-around Pig Love event in Traverse City, MI, here’s a guest post from my friend and fellow writer Stephanie Stiavetti; I’m not going to say what her upcoming cookbook is about but here’s a hint. —M.R. By Stephanie J. Stiavetti Käsespätzle Many folks believe that macaroni and cheese is a purely American dish. They’re surprised when I tell them that most European countries not only have their own versions, but that some of theses recipes appeared on the culinary map long before macaroni and cheese became popular in the United States. The Italians, stalwarts of all things cheese- and pasta-related, combined these two ingredients into many a hearty dish, such as baked ziti and cacio e pepe. The Swedes have their makaronipudding, a simple, stoic casserole of macaroni and any Read On »

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  When I published Ruhlman’s Twenty last year, Rob Levitt, proprietor of an old-school butcher shop in the great meat city of Chicago called The Butcher & Larder, invited me to talk about technique while we made sausage and soup. It was so much fun and Rob, who happened also to be a graduate of the Chef Pardus school of kick-your-ass, was such a delight, I’m doing another Chicago event with him on Friday, October 19, at Floriole Cafe and Bakery, with my partner in Salumi, Brian Polcyn. (Details here on Rob’s site.) It’s a great pleasure to see people such as Rob and his wife, Allie, doing things the right and the good way. Making use of the whole animal, for instance (Rob, what the hell is a “chuck flap”? a “Paleron steak”? Want!). Read On »

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I’m thrilled to publish this guest post from Carri Thurman, baker and chef at Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, on one of life’s vital substances, salt. Without it, we die. A kitchen without it is incomplete. A cook who uses it carelessly will flounder. And the cook who, curious and surrounded by salt in solution, decides she wants to try to bring it forth herself? —M.R.  The Alchemy: Salt from Water by Carri Thurman “My mother boils seawater. It sits all afternoon simmering on the stovetop, almost two gallons in a big soup pot. The windows steam up and the house smells like a storm. In the evening, a crust of salt is all that’s left at the bottom of the pot. My mother scrapes it out with a spoon. We each lick a Read On »

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