When I asked my friend and primary recipe tester, Marlene Newell, who runs the site cookskorner.com, to contribute a post during bread month, a challah recipe was the first bread that came to mind, and I’m delighted it did, because I love the soft, egg-rich crumb and flavor, probably my favorite of the non-lean doughs. This is Marlene’s favorite recipe and it comes from one of the foremost bread teachers and writers about bread in the country, Peter Reinhart. If you don’t know about him, you should!  See Peter’s blog, as well as his other site and soon to be show, Pizza Quest. “This is my best challah to date,” Peter wrote to us in an email, “and I don’t think I can top it.”—M.R. by Marlene Newell The Jewish Sabbath and holiday bread got Read On »

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Please welcome Monica Bhide, the India-born, DC-based writer/teacher/cook, author of the blog A Life In Spice, the book Modern Spice, as well as a cool new spice app, iSpice, for iphone and ipad.  Here she gives us instruction on a flavored bread (basic breads can be flavored as easily as a pasta dish—see this recipe for a corn-chipotle ciabatta for instance) as well as a lesson in some Indian seasonings, here, curry leaves which I’ve only worked with a couple times and am glad to see used here. —M.R. by Monica Bhide I would be lying to you if I told you I knew how to bake. In most Indian homes, baking is not something you grow up with.  There are a few exceptions like in the western part of India where the Portuguese settled Read On »

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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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