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Dorie Greenspan

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Everything posted by Dorie Greenspan

  1. I made the Applesauce Spice Bars too! I'm in Paris (which is one of the reasons I haven't posted much lately -- another reason is that I was so out of it that I didn't know the thread had moved!) and I made the bars as a holiday treat for my French friends, who really, really liked them -- even though they're so not French. I baked World Peace Cookies for Pierre Herme, the cookie's creator, which was fun. And I baked Rugelach with St. Moret cheese because I couldn't get my hands on Philadelphia Cream Cheese when the urge to make the rugelach struck. St. Moret is like cream cheese and is often used in cheesecakes here, but I'd never worked with it. In the end, it made a delicious rugelach, one that my husband thought was lighter than usual. Reading through the posts, it looks like everyone's holidays were delicious. Here's hoping that this will be a sweet year for one and all.
  2. I'm still not a white-chocolate fan -- I'd never think of eating it out of hand the way I eat dark chocolate -- but I've come to understand that it has a real place in the dessert world, mostly as a carrier of other flavors. The real important thing about white chocolate is that it must be chocolate. So much of what passes as white chocolate is confectionery chocolate, meaning it has no cacao, or real chocolate, in it. Since, by law, European white chocolates must contain cacao, they're your best bet. I've been using Valhrona's Jivara and the El Rey white chocolate, which, as was mentioned, is really good. I've also been using E. Guittard white chocolate, which is American and really good as well.
  3. Lannie -- Happy first birthday to your daughter! What a great way to celebrate. For our son's first birthday I made a cake from Simca's Cuisine. It was a really good white cake, soaked in Grand Marnier (I didn't think the tiny bit that was on his one spoonful would harm him -- and it didn't) and filled and covered with whipped cream and coconut. Unfortunately, I didn't know Pierre Herme then -- our son, Joshua, loves the Faubourg Pave.
  4. No need to defrost the sables before baking -- however, you shouldn't glaze and sugar them before freezing. Sometimes, the frozen dough is easier to cut if you give the logs a little time on the counter, but it's not necessary. Mottmott, your ideas for why the cranberries may have sunk are interesting. I've never had the sinking-cranberry situation, but this Thanksgiving, a West Coast friend of mine had a few cranberries that flip-flopped from the bottom of the pan to the top. Insufficiently cooked syrup, as you suggested? Maybe. Overzealous batter-flattening, as you suggested? Also possible. But, as others have pointed out, the cake was still delicious. Thank goodness.
  5. I just made the Apple Cheddar Scones with polenta instead of cornmeal -- the extra crunch and grittiness is really nice. About getting tarts off the bottom of the pan. You can use a knife, as Laniloa suggested, but if you've got two tart pans, you can use the bottom of one to loosen the crust from the bottom of the other. In fact, if you do this, you'll automatically transfer the crust to the other metal round and you can use this to slide the tart onto a serving platter. You can also do this with one of those cake-lifting gadgets. Another way is to gently run a long icing spatula between the pan and the crust, then slide the loosened tart onto a platter.
  6. This traveling has put a real cramp in my posting -- sorry!, but it has been such fun to meet some of you "on the road". As always, I get so excited when I hear what you've been baking and how happy you've been with the sweets. And, the pictures, again, as always, make everything look so good. Seeing the carrot muffins made me decide to add them to the breadbasket for this weekend -- thank you. I'll also be making the Caramel Pumpkin Pie and the Far Breton. Elie, who made such a great-looking Far,will be happy to know that I made the Far with Martha Stewart for her show, to air next Monday, and his Far and Martha's looked like identical twins. I'll be traveling again, but I wish everyone a very happy, delicious and sweet Thanksgiving. Dorie
  7. Melissa, I've never kept the Rum-Soaked Vanilla Cakes for as long as you did, but I'm glad to hear they held up. Of course, it's thanks to the rum -- it acts as both a humidifier and a yummy preservative. You're right that it would make a good sweet to pack and send, but it's also a good sweet for the holidays -- you can make it when you've got some time and it will stay, and stay and stay. Thanks for the keen observation.
  8. Reading Pam's post about her perfect chocolate chip cookies gave me an idea about what might be happening with the flat-cookie club members. Pam beat her cookie dough by hand, so, assuming Pam is not an Olympic bodybuilder, my guess is that she didn't beat the butter as much as a mixer would, nor -- and I think this is more to the point -- did she whip as much air into the eggs as a mixer would. Is it possible that the flat-cookie-ers are beating the butter and particularly the eggs at too high a speed and whipping too much air into them??? With a whipped-up dough, the cookies would puff in the oven, then, because the baking time isn't very long (and shouldn't be), they'd collapse as they cooled. Just another thought.
  9. Hi all, I'm sorry to have been away for so long, but between traveling -- I'm still on the road and will be until December 10 -- and the eG Spotlight Conversation -- which was soooooooooo interesting -- I couldn't be active on the thread. I'll try to catch up. I don't have much time now, but I want to respond to Joni and the marshmallow question. Joni, I'm confused -- there are no egg whites to fold in! The whites are beaten at the beginning and then the hot sugar syrup is added. Emmalish, I'm not sure about the problem with your cookies. When I make them, they are not particularly puffy, so it's hard for me to know what "kinda flat and spread out" is for you. I would have blamed your insulated baking sheet, but you said they were pretty much the same with a regular baking sheet. In general, I don't recommend baking cookies on insulated sheets because the cookies don't get enough bottom heat with those kinds of sheets, so spreading is common. (There isn't enough initial heat to really set the cookies, so they spread an extra amount before they set and bake through.) Also, I find that cookies on insulated sheets don't get as brown as I like my cookies. Sugar Plum. you're sweets are looking really good. And, Kathy, I'm delighted that you continue to be happy. Thanks to everyone who has made and loved the Applesauce Spice Bars, they are now the first recipe I suggest when people ask me where they should start in the book. Pam, your Allspice Muffins look great. I'm so glad you like them -- as I think I said in the intro, allspice is not an ingredient you often get to see, or taste, solo, so it can be an unexpected flavor. Loved your line about the muffins being worth the time it took to brew coffee to go with them! About gingerbread marshmallows for JFL-- I'm 3,000 miles from my kitchen, so i can't do any experimenting, but I'd try making a spice extract by mixing ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and a teensy bit of clove into a little boiling water. I'd go heavy on the ginger, medium on the cinnamon and light on the nutmeg and allspice -- wish I could test the proportions for you, but it's impossible. Beat in the flavoring extract as you would other extracts. I'm out on a limb on this one because I'm not near a kitchen, but it's certainly play-aroundable. Let us know if you make them. Can't write more now, but I'll continue to try to catch up.
  10. To everyone who worked on this Conversation and to everyone who participated in it: THANK YOU. It was a pleasure for me -- fun, too -- to get to know you all a little better. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to post as quickly or as much as I would really have liked to -- I was on the road while the Conversation was in full swing -- but I think I've answered all the outstanding questions. Again, many thanks for your interest in me and my work. All my best -- Dorie
  11. Oh dear, Kouign Aman, you ask a tough question -- and is it one I really want to face? I have "cute" and useless gadgets that I'm giving space to that I really shouldn't -- the adorable green loop that scoops out avocado (it does a good job, but by the time I remember I have it, I've already cut the avocado); the tiny cutters to make sweet little flowers out of carrots (maybe in my next life -- and if I use them, I'll use the butter curlers, too); the huge scissors to cut small grapefruit sections; duplicates of the sliding measuring spoons that are a good idea, but I never reach for them; and, and ... I'm sure there are tons more. As for the bigger stuff -- why do I need not one, but two deep fryers? And why don't I use them? I fry very rarely and when I do, I'm more apt to just put some oil in a pan and bring it up to temp. However, when I do haul out the fryers, I have to admit they're fun and easy to use.
  12. There are sooooooooooooo many great cookbooks available (so many not so great ones, too, I know) that it's hard to come up with titles for a good starter library for a new couple, but here are a few ideas for categories and some books within them: A general how-to cookbook: I learned to cook from The New York Times Cookbook, but I don't think I'd recommend it to someone starting out today. I think there should be one weighty cookbook on the shelf that you can turn to to find out how to cut up a chicken, steam asparagus or zest an orange. Books that fall into this category are, among others, Joy of Cooking (I haven't seen the latest edition, but I'm sure the basic information is still very good) and The Good Housekeeping Cookbook. For a more pro look, there's the Cook's Book, in which the basics are covered by chefs with lots of how-to photos (I've looked through this book -- I've got it on my shelf -- but never cooked from it). Maybe a food science book: If you choose one, I'd opt for Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, or Shirley Corriher's CookWise. A soup-to-nuts cookbook: If you're not going to invest in many cookbooks covering all parts of the meal, a really good general cookbook might be an important addition to a kitchen library. Yes, Joy and Good Housekeeping are general cookbooks, but if you want something with recipes that are a bit more stylish, you might turn to the new Bon Appetit Cookbook, The Gourmet Cookbook, a book by Pam Anderson, maybe The Perfect Recipe, or the very modern Tasty, by Roy Finamore. An Italian cookbook: The classic is still Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cooking or you could go for the newer Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I haven't looked at the new Silver Spoon cookbook, but many people I know are using it happily. And, I love the two books by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table, which covers the cooking of Emilia Romagna, and The Italian Country Table, a very homey book. A French book: This is a hard category. For learning traditional French cooking, there's still no one like Julia Child and her chef d'oeuvre, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes I and II. For a different look at the classics and for classics with twists and modern updates, there's Jim Peterson's Glorious French Food. And for simpler French food with few explanations of techniques but with very good and reliable recipes, there's Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells. A baking book: Of course, I love my new book because it's really about home baking and just as much for newbies as old hands, but mine is hardly the only good starter book out there -- good books for beginners are Nick Malgieri's How to Bake and absolutely any book by Maida Heatter. After our new couple has worked their way through these, there are lots more waiting to be explored -- all those special single subject books, like Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love, Nina Simond's Asian cookbooks, Lorna Sass's new book, Whole Grains, and all those chocolate books. You're right -- it's hard to choose.
  13. Ludja, I really don't know how to answer your questions. I came to baking because I started baking in my tiny first kitchen after I got married and found that I loved it. As I think I said elsewhere, I had worked in another field completely, I had gone to graduate school and did a doctorate, and I had worked again before I decided to try to make baking and writing about food my work. In other words, I don't think you could say that there was anything methodical about my development. Over years of baking at home, I took many professional baking courses and worked with many pastry chefs, but by that time, I was a good home baker with lots of home experience. I learned something valuable from every class I took and I learned a tremendous amount from the pros I worked alongside, but my basic development came from reading cookbooks and experimenting endlessly at home. I can't put my finger on when, as you put it, I went from being a baker who executes recipes to one who creates them. The best I can say is that I was a tinkerer -- I always had ideas about how something should taste. Those who have read my new book, know that that's the reason I was fired from my first job in a restaurant kitchen -- I substituted most of the flavoring ingredients in the restaurant's signature cake and was fired for "creative subordination". I'd guess that it was a gentle transition between "executer" and "creater" -- gentle enough that I can't really tell you when it happened. But I'll think about it -- it's an interesting question.
  14. While weighing is the best way to get accurate measurements, that is not the method I use because it is not yet the accepted method in most American cookbooks for the home baker. (We've discussed this on various threads and most of us are in agreement that this is a shame.) I measure dry ingredients with the dip-and-sweep method. I fluff my flour, dip in the measuring cup, then lightly sweep it level with a straight edge.
  15. Sanrensho, I have a very old-fashioned way of keeping track of the recipes I'm working on -- I just keep filling notebooks with handwritten recipes and testing notes. It's not the most efficient way to do things nor the neatest, but it's the way I start work. When a recipe is tested enough so that I know I'll include it in a book, I transcribe it from my notebook to a computer file. When I do subsequent tests, I'll staple the printed recipe into my notebook and make handwritten changes and comments on it, then update the version of the recipe that I have in my computer. At some point during the process, I develop lists of the recipes in each chapter and lists of what still needs to be done. I make master lists, usually by hand (although I keep meaning to learn to do this on Excel) of what has been tested and written, what needs a headnote and what needs to be retested. I'm probably not doing a good job of explaining this, in which case, I'm sorry. It's not the sleekest, coolest, most hi-tech way of doing things, but so far it has worked.
  16. Lucy, thank you so much for writing -- I've really appreciated your posts on the France Forum. I commiserate completely with your frustration in trying to make your favorite American baking recipes with French ingredients. I, too, have had the fallen cakes and flat cookies, which is why I NEVER test recipes for my books in France. While I collect a lot of recipes in France, before I'll use them for publication, I test them in America with American ingredients. Now here's the interesting thing -- for the most part, this is a one-way problem. I have found that the majority of French recipes work with American flour but that American recipes don't fare as well with French flour. I have an American friend who tells me that whenever he gets a European recipe that he wants to make in the States, he immediately reduces the flour by one-quarter. I have never made immediate changes in a recipe and, as I've said, I haven't found that wholesale changes have had to be made. Similarly, while I made my own conversion chart, I used it as a handy general reference, not a guide for translating and converting recipes. The first time I make a French recipe in America, I weigh each ingredient and then put each weighed ingredient in a measuring cup or spoon, so that I can obtain the volume measures. In other words, as you said, I adjust each recipe one at a time. That is the way I worked on the recipes in both Pierre Herme books and in Paris Sweets.
  17. Just to clarify, Prasantrin, I think when I was talking about needing to limit the length of a book, it was in relation to the costs of including three kinds of measurements -- volume, weight and metric. I have never been on the business end of publishing, so I'm not at all savvy about costs, but I do know a little from being on the editorial side -- and both sides are closely tied together and the primary tie that binds is money. When a publishing house accepts an author's proposal, they figure out, at the start, how long the book will be (based on the proposal and whether or not it will have photographs) and what it will cost. Lots of cost projections are made based on this, so it's not easy to decide mid-project that you need more space for anything, from measures and weights to sidebars, anecdotes and more recipes. As for projects that I've wanted to pull out of -- I've been lucky in that there haven't been any. Some projects have been more easy-going than others, but I've never wanted to call it quits on any. That said, Baking, From My Home to Yours, which I did with a new publisher, Houghton Mifflin, and a new editor, Rux Martin, was the smoothest going, most enjoyable book project I've ever worked on. Of course, I loved writing the book, but the editing and the production process were so caringly and professionally handled that it made the hard parts (like editing) easy to do. This is my ninth book -- maybe nine is the charm! It's not easy to give pithy advice to would-be cookbook writers, but here are just a couple of pointers: Choose a topic that you're absolutely passionate about -- liking something isn't good enough. You'll do your best work -- and editors will be most interested in you -- if you're writing about what you know and care about most. Know what else is out there -- when you submit your proposal, you should know what else has been published in the area you're interested in and you should be able to explain why what you are proposing will stand out (and above) what is now in the field. Write a really complete proposal. Include information about what else is in the field, why your book is different and why you're the person to write the book. Include a good case for why your book is important and give as much sample material as possible, including a table of contents, of course, and as complete a recipe list as you can put together. A good proposal will not only show editors what you can do and want to do, but it will help you write the book -- you'll have done a lot of the tough "think work" ahead of time. And, prasantrin, while you may have added "plying them with samples" to be funny -- it's always a great idea! Not surprisingly, people who work on cookbooks love food!
  18. Alana, It's been 25 years since I worked in a professional kitchen in a capacity where someone actually had to depend on me to get desserts out. However, since that time, I've worked in many professional kitchens, but always with a chef and on a specific project. I was in the Fauchon kitchens, but, again, to work on recipes with Pierre Herme, not to actually do anything that was needed for production. I, too, recently read Heat, so I can really understand your desire to head off to some small wonderful place and work alongside someone who will teach you secrets. I've never had the opportunity to do this for any extended period of time, but I have had the good luck to be in many great kitchens and to learn from the chefs, if only for stretches of a few days at a time. If you can make a "Heat-dream" come true -- don't let the chance get away. Anytime you can learn new things from deeply talented people, it's a gift.
  19. I guess it won't come as a surprise, but I have way too many gadgets, pieces of equipment and kitchen gear in general. Of course, the clutter is not my fault. Part of the blame goes to my husband who, because he was trained as an engineer, has never met a piece of equipment he hasn't thought one of us needed. Then there was my decade or so of writing The Tools of the Trade column for Bon Appetit magazine -- it gave me license to go gadget gaga, and I did. When Pierre Herme came to my kitchen in New York for the first time, he said, "You have more stuff than I do!" But do I use the things? Here's what I use lots (in no particular order): Standing mixer Heavy baking sheets Silicone baking mats Whisks Rubber and silicone spatulas Offset spatulas Icing spatulas Food processor (primarily for making pie and tart dough) Rolling pins (I've got two French pins, one nylon [i love it] and one wood, and two pins with handles, one wood and one covered in silicone) Stainless steel mixing bowls in every size Baking pans -- of course -- rounds, squares, rectangles, bundts and fluted tart pans Serrated knife -- a long one for chopping chocolate Double-boiler set-up Measuring spoons and measuring cups -- metal for dry ingredients, glass for liquids Graters -- I'm addicted to Microplane graters Maybe there's more, but this is what comes to mind as I scan my NY kitchen in my mind. I have pretty much the same equipment in Connecticut. My sparest kitchen is the one in Paris, although it's still pretty well equipped. In fact, I'd say Paris is the best equipped because the proportion of essentials to bought-on-a-whim-because-they-were-cute gadgets is most favorable.
  20. Thank you for your kind comments, Anna. I've loved doing this conversation, I just wish I had more time for it. I'm on book tour, so the time that I'm free and have an internet connection available is limited -- aaarrrgh. I test recipes in lots of different ways. Sometimes I have someone working with me in my kitchen, but most often I send recipes to other people to test them once I have worked on them, gotten them to where I want them to be and written the recipe. I always send out fully written recipes because I want both the formula and the directions to be tested. The only oven that is not used for testing is a convection oven. While two of my ovens have convection capability, I never use it for baking because I assume that most home bakers don't have convection ovens. Also, since convection ovens bake so differently from still ovens, I think I'd have to give double directions if I used both kinds of ovens. That said, I think ovens are the trickiest part of writing and testing recipes. Not the differences between gas and electric, but the differences between one oven and another. Ovens, even ones that are well calibrated so that they heat to 350 when you set them to 350, cycle up and down. How often they cycle and how low the temperature goes before the heat gets cranked up again, can affect baking times and in turn textures. This is why I always give visual clues to doneness along with baking times. It's really so hard and so out of an author's control. To answer your other questions -- yes, I welcome suggestions of "tweaks" from testers. I listen to everything. I think I'd have to be foolish not to. I often have novices testing my recipes and I never have professionals -- the recipes I develop are for home bakers, so I want home bakers to be the testers. I'm a great fan of Paula Wolfert's work and now, knowing that she has used egulleters to test recipes, I admire her even more. What a great idea! Although judging from the pictures that have been posted on the Pastry & Baking forum, egullet bakers might be way too professional to be testers!
  21. I've been told lots of times (primary by pastry chefs) that a good pastry chef can easily become a good (savory) chef, but that it often doesn't work the other way around. I've always thought that there were fundamental tempermental/personality differences between people who like to cook and those who like to bake. Certainly, you see this difference among home cooks and bakers. What's interesting to me is how there was -- for centuries -- such a vast difference in status between chefs and pastry chefs, particularly in France, where the organization for the kitchen brigade was developed. The chef was always the chief (which could explain why there seem to be more screamers among chefs than among pastry chefs) and the pastry chef worked under the chef. This is still true, but over the past 25 years we've seen pastry chefs, at least in America and France, get more and more attention. Since restaurants gave up the dessert trolley and went to plated desserts, pastry chefs have been stretched to be more creative and they've been rewarded with their names on the menu. In terms of how Pierre Herme works -- He has said he is inspired by everything around him and I know this is true. Here are two examples of "inspirations" I was present to witness: Once, when we first began to work together, we were shopping in New York City and Pierre saw dried cherries for the first time. He bought some to take back to France and soon sent me a recipe for a coconut and cherry tart. Another time, we were signing books together and a woman came into the shop with a baby whose name was Celeste. Pierre said he thought the name was beautiful, pulled out the notebook that he always carries and wrote down the name. About three years later, he introduced a collection of desserts called Celeste, a collection he continues to add to. Pierre creates desserts in his head, then bakes them to confirm their taste and texture. Although all of his desserts are gorgeous, he has said that he considers the look the least important part of a dessert. (He never uses the word "decoration" and despises the use of mint leaves to pretty up a plate -- unless there is mint in the dessert.) Finally, Pierre's lab, as his patisserie kitchen is called, is the quietest kitchen I've ever been in. He is not a screamer.
  22. Patrick, it’s I who should be thanking you, first for the great joy your baking and photographs bring me (and so many others), and second for helping to coordinate this Spotlight Conversation. Thank you – beaucoup and lots. I’m by means an expert on the question you pose, but my feeling is that French cuisine and pastry have had such a great influence on cuisines across the world because of the rigor of French techniques and the repertoire of base recipes on which the cuisine is based. Oh – and it’s delicious, too. But, in many ways, I think the spread of French cuisine might be a result of something as practical as its ability to be spread. Because of the strict training French chefs get and because of the way the cuisine was codified by Escoffier, it is replicable. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t contribute to its successful dissemination. Also, I think French food and pastry is important because the French have made them important. French cuisine is considered part of the country’s patrimony, something to be nurtured, protected and “watered” so it grows -- and something to be passed along. It is so important to the culture that, once a year, all the French schools participate in La Semaine de Gout, a week during which students are taught about classic French dishes and regional specialities. Chefs come to the classes and teach children how to taste, smell and, yes, cook. It is an effort to keep French cuisine alive, just as the French arts are kept alive. Uh-oh -- I think I've rambled on and not answered your question. Is this what you were thinking of?
  23. Please, please, please Ya-Roo, don’t be embarrassed that your cookbook is stained with kitchen splatters. Hearing that is music to my ears. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the book. I don’t really know how best to answer your question because, in essence, I worked on this book just as I worked on the books I did with recipes for what you rightly called more “highly styled Parisian desserts”. The big difference was that these were my recipes and that my personal style of baking is less formal than the styles of the Parisian chefs with whom I’ve worked. While so many of the techniques, some of the flavor combinations and a few handfuls of recipes are decidedly influenced by my French experiences – okay, lots of them are outright French – my style is homier, more casual and more easy-going. This is the most personal book I’ve ever written, probably the most selfish too – I was able to choose only the recipes that made me happiest. So, perhaps you can see informality in the kinds of recipes I’ve selected – all those chunky cookies, those creamy puddings, those rustic cobblers and 15 kinds of brownies! What I hope you won’t see is an informality in the way the recipes for these fun sweets were written. Since I worked on these recipes just the way I worked on the recipes for Pierre Herme and Julia Child, I really appreciate your saying that you found the directions as carefully detailed as in my previous books.
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