August 2008 Baker's Stash
Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends of BetterBaking.com,
I am almost reluctant to say welcome to the August Issue of BB because it also signals the end of summer. Still, the abundance both in terms of variety and quantity of fresh ingredients to cook and bake with sweeten the deal just a smidgen. I’ve been busy baking eclectic things and working on bread after bread, fluctuating between Richard Bertinet’s books (Dough, Crust) and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day (Hertzberg and Francois, Thomas Dunne Books). Both approaches work; the latter is a great introduction to easy artisan bread but frankly, I am having a great time doing bread – in every possible way. As much as I know, I am still learning and each bread is another version of spectacular.
I’ve also been testing an amazing new grill – www.PrimoGrill.com which is now my outdoor pizza oven. It is massive, features tiers of cooking surfaces, a pizza stone and a design that endures an easy lit, enduring fire that suits bread, pizza, fish, chicken, steak and you can even smoke on it. What I like best about it is that it uses charcoal, briquettes and/or wood and is as good as a barbecue as it is a smoker, pizza oven and somewhat of a tandoor.
As you know, I am also addicted to my summer drug of choice: my hammock. My newest one hails from the hammock experts at www.HammockUniverse.com. For starters, no one offers better service than these people – they respond within hours by email and are reachable by phone, in case you need help choosing your hammock. I chose a thick corded, durable Mayan hammock which Hammock World is now offering for BetterBaking.com visitors at 10% off discount if you use this code: betterbaking2008 in the shopping cart check out at their site. This gorgeous oversized hammock swings two adults; the special universal stand is assembled in about 5 minutes. Tuck yourself in, with a cuppa tea, biscotti, and a great new book, and disappear into a summer place that is one of the best vacations you can have, without mileage or passport or even packing a bag. It is, at the least, a great way to extend summer. Is it calming and relaxing? You have no idea.
As for cookbooks – I am working on A Passion for Cooking, a collection of my best cooking recipes of my entire food writing career (from my website, my food features in the Washingon Post, Bon Appetit, and all other newspapers and food magazines I have contributed to). I have a team of dedicated testers and we are systematically testing each recipe and hand picking the final 250. Is there a publishing date? Not yet, but stay tuned.
My other two cookbooks that are out of print will get republished at some point. For now, you can read about Best of BetterBaking.com at
http://happygomarni.blogspot.com/2008/05/when-cookbooks-go-out-of-print.html. (and thanks to Christian Hudon for finding this link).
Wishing you happy baking, and that you take a moment to stop, and enjoy something as simple and ambrosial as garden ripe tomatoes on warm bread. Food doesn't have to be fancy to be divine. But the bread has to be fresh and homemade.......and all yours.
Editor and Host
Double Sesame Challah
Who doesn’t like the sesame laden crust on a velvety challah – it’s the best part. In this recipe, there are sesame seeds all over – making it the perfect summer tomato-sandwich bread. I would rave about how it makes great toast and French toast and sandwiches but there are no leftovers so why pretend….?
!!!FREE!!! Pizza on the Grill Techniques and Tips
My best techniques and some pizza topping ideas
Pizza on the Grill Pizza Dough !! FREE!!!
A supple pizza dough that bakes up crisp but chewy –not dry, not heavy or bready – perfectly balanced pizza dough. Garnish it as you like and check on the Pizza on the Grill Techniques. This pizza was tested on the Primo Grill, available at www.PrimoGrill.com. It is the perfect size for monster (or smaller) pizzas and the dome cover ensures a bistro quality finish to your savory pie. They also sell a super cast iron pizza stone. You can make this dough thick or thin - it suits either approach.
Pizza Blanca with Fresh Herbs and Garlic Bechamel
Garlic and fresh herbs makes for a heady aroma here. Homemade and easy garlic béchamel is the crowning touch. Over 3500 downloads on this recipe means....Over 2 Million Served? Or is that McDonald's line? Use Pizza Blanca Sauce as your béchamel recipe and any one of our pizza doughs or the Pizza on the Grill Dough Recipe in our Complete Recipe Archives.
Blue Ribbon Zucchini Muffins with Orange Glaze
Still the best zucchini muffin (or quick bread) – summer after summer.
Sour Cherry Cranberry Raspberry Shortbread Squares
This is the nicest marriage possible: tart sweet fruit, basking on a foundation of a sweet shortbread crust. Cut into big squares, serve on a napkin, and balance it on your lap, with a mug of coffee nearby. Very Silver Palate.....
Is this a quick bread, an Irish soda bread gone wild, or a scone in a loaf? Big, fat blackberries melt into fruity pools, barely stirring the craggy, roughhewn but slightly sweet coffeecake/bread. Great plain, toasted, or buttered, it’s a keeper.
Middle-Eastern Pickled Salted Lemons
I use these to marinate chicken breasts, to stuff a chicken before baking, to mince and add to rice dishes, vinaigrettes and more. It is a very special Middle Eastern staple that you should always have on hand. There is no end to the ways you can use these lemons nor any cap on the satisfaction they offer in upping the taste of many dishes.
Orchard Field Preserves
A jam the color of a summer sunrise.....or sunset. Sweet, just barely tangy and a pure symphony of a preserve made with the perfect balance of strawberries, apricots, rhubarb, and a ground up orange. My best jam, my favorite recipe. Old-fashioned, real, pure, and still good since I first conjured it up.
Clementine Sweet Orange Marmalade
Not bitter. Full of zesty, sweet clementines or any thin skinned, sweet oranges but seedless ones. Even if you (think you) dislike marmalade, you'll love the tart, citrus, non bitter taste of this. Small eating oranges have a nice balance between sweet and acid. The skins are thin and this makes for a delicate shred. Clementine marmalade is not as authentic as Seville but this marmalade is easier (no pits), and every bit as tasty.
Roasted Garlic Peppers
For a smoky taste, grill over the BBQ. Peppers can also be roasted in a 450 F. oven. broiled or charred over a gas burner. If you don't have the patience to remove the skins, just flake off the charred parts. A plate of these and some sourdough bread is a touch of Tuscany sunshine.
Brined Deli Style Garlic Dill Pickles
No vinegar - that's the key to real, deli style, kosher dills. Use fresh, crisp pickles for best results. Water, coarse kosher salt or pickling salt, garlic, pickling spices and dill combine with cucumbers to produce a brine. The brine is formed when the salt draws acid from the pickles and combines with the other ingredients. 3-5 days gives you half sours, 12-20 days gives full sours. Refrigeration stops the fermentation process. You can taste them while they are fermenting and adjust spices. There is really no way to hurry them up. Double recipes as required. Just fill each jar you have until you run out of ingredients. And leave the vinegar in the pantry...
Rum and Coke Banana Toasted Walnut Muffins
This banana muffin recipe is amber in color with a beautiful crumb. This is all about flavor – no one leaves a single crumb of this muffin on the plate.
Mixed Berry Cake Flour Cobbler
Any flour would do but Southern White Lily makes this the most tender cobbler imaginable. Whatever flour you use, just use a gentle touch. You can roll out the cobbler top or make the topping soft and drop in dollops on the most sumptuous filling ever
Weekender Chocolate Cake
One of those cakes you whip up Friday night to nibble on all through a summer weekend. Great for guests, after the pool, coffee hour or midnight snacks. It is tall, dark, moist, sweet and boldly chocolate – the sort of cake you can also freeze or tote to the cottage or to a BBQ potluck supper.
Almond Crunch Ripple Biscotti
How many types of almond biscotti can you make? Let me count the ways. This one features a deeply almond-fused biscotti batter that showcases marzipan, with crunchy ground almonds, raw whole almonds and a layer of sugared almond crunch. It makes grandiose biscotti with a nice ribbon of stuff in the center. These are impossibly huge, granted but, serve them that way; let guests break them in half, and nibble. They also pack well to send as gifts.
When is a Copenhagen not a Copenhagen? When it is called a Galaktoboureko. I can’t really figure out how this ambrosial combination of semolina or cornmeal enhanced pastry cream and filo and a touch of syrup came to be called Copenhagens in some circles (even in some Greek cookbooks!) but one precious bite of this pastry wonder and you will not care.