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gfron1

The making of my own cookbook

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Steelite just sent a bunch of dishes for me to use in my photoshoots.  Bauscher did the same last spring.  Very generous (and smart) of them.  Apparently they're trying to get me their latest - WabiSabi.

 

Link?

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The Wabi Sabi apparently isn't even in the warehouse yet.  I haven't seen any links.  I didn't think i had mine yet but I checked and the orange and turquoise dishes in the pic above (top left) are Wabi Sabi - very nice matte finish on them.

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I was going through our BRoll pics today and was reminded that my photographer has been capturing "working hands" shots for over two years.  He's processing them B&W with heavy saturation, but we're thinking we'll have a two page spread of the best of them. They sure make my hands look old!

 

Hand3.jpg

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Say not 'old'.  Say 'distinguished'.  Say 'experienced'.   :wink:

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Today has been spent figuring out the various book shows and their relevance to distribution and sales. IACP is all about signing books and possibly meeting folks for future deals.  There's a major expo in June that is for all books (not just cookbooks) where the little guys are not noticed.  Ditto for a spring show that I'm still gathering info about.

 

I'm also going to be making a cold call later today to the publisher that I really want to pick us up.

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A response to an esteemed author that I thought I would share - info deleted just in case it matters: 

 

Hello Rob,

 

Thank you for your message and your good questions.

 

XX Press is a wonderful publisher, highly respectful of an author. I had a great experience there with my cookbook. As at any house, one hopes for a good copy editor, and I got a good one, but that’s not guaranteed. There aren’t that many good ones to go around.

 

I don’t know whether XX Press would be receptive to an author approaching cold, but I think it might be. A strong, well-written pitch stressing your credentials/experience and the strength of the idea might succeed. I do not believe there’s anything financial to be gained from XX Press by going with an agent (you’d just lose a percentage to the agent), although possibly an agent would be listened to more than an author. I already had a relationship with an editor there (whom I’d never actually met), and she was wide open to publishing my cookbook.

 

BUT, if you think your idea is very commercial and has the potential to appeal to a wide audience, you should not go to an academic press (which XX is, in the end) but to a more mainstream press, such as Ten Speed or another. They have a bigger presence in the market — wider distributioin — and they give much, much bigger advances. Thus my TITLE was published by The Penguin Press.

 

 

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Another thing you should start to consider now (1 year passes quickly) is planning your "release shows". Things like combining a book presentation (with signing session) in one of the major cookbook stores (like Kitchen Arts and Letters) and a guest dinner in one of the good restaurants in that city. You seem to have an open and funny personality, so those kind of events are really good to capture the attention of people living far from your restaurant.

 

If you end up self-releasing your book (or signing a contract that will force you "buying" a good amount of copies of your book) then start considering some trades with other "small" cookbook publishers. With "small" I mean publishers which books aren't sold on Amazon or similars, like Montagud or Face. This way it will be much easier to sell a huge amount of copies in your restaurant, since the choice will be much broader and people will be able to get hard-to-find books. Plus your revenue will be much higher since you get full retail price and not wholesale price.

 

Gaining less money per book but selling a higher amount of books may give you a smaller income in the short term, but it will pay in the long term.

 

 

 

Teo

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Teo

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I've had many of you offer to test recipes.  Can I suggest a tougher one?  I want most of my books to be accessible to an advanced cook, and while some ingredients may require some work to source, the techniques should be relatively doable by all.  So, here is one that was a huge hit in my restaurant.

 

Atxa Yolk, Asparagus Soil, Cured Yolk, Acorn Crust

 

Inspired by Spanish chef Eneko Atxa’s technique of replacing an egg yolk filling, I’ve created a faux mushroom broth to internally poach the yolk. Be sure to use the freshest eggs available. Once you’ve mastered the technique the possibilities are limitless!

 

Cured Yolk

520 g (2 C)      Fine sea salt

55 g (¼ C)       Okinawa black sugar, grated

17 g (2 T)        Fennel seed

6                      Fresh, Farmers Market egg yolks

 

Combine salt, sugar and fennel in a bowl. In a loaf pan, sprinkle just enough of the salt mixture to coat the bottom evenly to about ¼” depth. Carefully lay the yolks on the mixture keeping an inch in between each yolk. Gently sprinkle the remaining mixture on top making sure that the yolks are completely covered. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for a week or until the yolks are firm to the touch. Once firm, remove the yolks, gently brush the salt mixture off and set on a drying rack. If you have a meat curing box or a wine cellar, age the yolks for an additional week. Store in a dry airtight container.

 

 

Acorn Crust

90 g (1 C)        Acorn flour

2.3 g (½ t)       Rice bran or canola oil

2.5 g (½ t)       Salt

84 g (1/3 C)     Water

 

Oven to 300ºF. 

 

Heat a deep skillet with 1” of cooking oil to 350ºF.

 

Combine flour, oil and salt in a mixing bowl, rubbing between the palms of your hands until a course sand is formed. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, gradually add the water until a thick paste is formed. Spread organically on a Silpat or parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until curled and crisp on the edges. Fry the crusts until crisp throughout. Hold the crusts in a dry airtight container.

 

 

Atxa Yolk with “Mushroom” Broth

250 g (1 C)      Water

75 g (½ C)       Cocoa beans, lightly toasted

20 g (1 T)        Yellow miso

Salt to taste

3.2 g (1 t)        Xantham

 

In small saucepan combine water, cocoa beans and miso. Bring to a simmer. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add xantham and mix with an immersion blender to the consistency of a runny egg yolk. Hold at 63ºC/145ºF.

 

At service, place the acorn crust on the plate. Gently place an egg yolk in an Asian soup spoon. Poke the yolk with a toothpick. Using a sterilized dosing syringe from a packet of children’s medicine, extract ¾ of the yolk filling from the egg being careful to not poke a hole in the bottom of the yolk. Immediately fill the syringe with the hot “mushroom” broth, and then gently re-insert the syringe into the hole in the egg yolk membrane. This hot liquid will poach the yolk from the inside out. Stop when the filling starts to ooze from the hole. Carefully pour the yolk from the spoon onto the crust keeping the toothpick hole on the top of the yolk. If the hole rotates from the top the fillings will ooze from the yolk.

Garnish with asparagus soil (p #), freshly sautéed asparagus tips, grated cured yolk and arugula microgreens.

====

I guess I'm mostly curious as to how its written - understandable?  This is pre-editing.  Thanks.

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I think it's mostly understandable.  I have a few nits and questions - and I know you said this is 'pre-editing', which I presume means an editor or three may have something to say about wording. I've spotted two misspellings that I'll point out.  Please let us know whether you'd like the spelling commentary left out of future posts.

 

1.  It's 'xanthan', not 'xantham', gum, and in the acorn crust it should be 'coarse sand', not 'course sand'.

2.  At the acorn crust, where you have made a coarse crust, what is meant by "Spread organically"?

3.  I'm confused about the egg yolks. The first step tells how to cure them until firm.  They are presumably the cured yolks that are grated onto the finished dish just before plating. The Axta Yolk with Mushroom 'Broth' recipe (third set of instructions) calls for egg yolks to be punctured gently with the syringe so the broth can be put into them until cooked.  I don't see more egg yolks listed for that step.  Are the cured yolks not firm, or is the ingredient list incomplete?

 

It certainly sounds interesting.  I'd be up for trying this, once I found all the ingredients.  

 

Edit: sorry, two more questions:

4. What do you do with the egg yolk interior of the plated yolk? 

5. Do you use the same syringe for extracting that yolk and inserting the hot broth?  I'd be concerned about yolk poaching inside the syringe and plugging the needle when the broth contacted it.  Do you need two syringes?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Very good comments Nancy - I'm happy to have all comments, even those spelling errors which will hopefully eventually be caught.  The yolk was a glaring omission or at least a point of confusion...need to add fresh, separated yolks to the 3rd recipe set. The syringes don't clog from the heat, but I am going to re-write with a more food safety conservative approach.  BTW, the discarded yolks get fed to your dogs!

 

All comments were helpful - already revised. I would encourage you to try the yolk process. The acorn is harder to source, and is secondary to the yolk technique.  Thanks.


Edited by gfron1 (log)

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That yolk technique sounds very interesting, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

 

I'm sure at some point you'll be discussing possible substitutions, but I'll ask about one now.  I had to look up Okinawa black sugar.  It's obviously a different color than piloncillo, which is readily available.  How different are they, aside from the obvious color differences? Would the Mexican sugar cone be a workable substitute? I ask this because I'm also dying to try the cured egg yolks!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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That yolk technique sounds very interesting, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

 

I'm sure at some point you'll be discussing possible substitutions, but I'll ask about one now.  I had to look up Okinawa black sugar.  It's obviously a different color than piloncillo, which is readily available.  How different are they, aside from the obvious color differences? Would the Mexican sugar cone be a workable substitute? I ask this because I'm also dying to try the cured egg yolks!

Without meaning to speak for Rob, I'd say he specified that sugar for the flavor profile he wanted for his recipe. The curing technique works with any type of sugar.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I have a section in the front of the book that begs people to be creative and not a slave to the recipes, but you can get okinawa black from Rare Tea Cellars.com.  Okinawa black has a very strong minerality - almost iodine-ish flavor that I love with cured yoilk.


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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Without meaning to speak for Rob, I'd say he specified that sugar for the flavor profile he wanted for his recipe. The curing technique works with any type of sugar.

 

That makes sense. Thanks for the curing information.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Well, I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't know what "spread organically" means. I just Googled it, and nothing meaningful came up. So I think it would be necessary to explain what you mean by that if you want to appeal to enough people to make them want to buy your cookbook and be profitable.

 

Also, many of your ingredients would be extremely hard to find for most people. Even die hard food enthusiasts might be taken aback by the percentage of ingredients that would either take a lot of work to source or require them to risk their credit information online for what seems to be one bite of food, even superlative food. So I suggest you make more recommendations for substitute ingredients like you did with the canola for harder to find rice bran oil. Perhaps some mainstream nut that could be ground to flour at home for the acorn flour or almond flour?

 

It sounds like you are going for a niche cookbook. I just think it's going to be kind of tough to attract enough audience with so many esoteric ingredients and unclear instructions to make this a profitable enterprise. Also pictures of a finished dish that complicated would be extremely helpful to let your target audience know what they're shooting for and to tempt them to spend the time preparing it and sourcing the ingredients. Anything you can do to expand your appeal will widen that niche and make more people want to spend their money for your cookbook.  :smile:

 

I know you are an accomplished James Beard nominated chef and very passionate and energetic in what you do. I'm going to come and eat in your restaurant in Silver City one day. I'm sure it would create a memory I would cherish for the rest of my life.

 

I want to see you succeed in your cookbook endeavor!

 

edited cuz I caint spell.

 

 


Edited by Thanks for the Crepes (log)
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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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I appreciate the feedback, and some of these things are adressed throughout the book - you're getting a snapshot out of context.  Elsewhere I go into great lengths about why I like rice bran oil, but that canola is a perfectly acceptable substitution.  The hard to find ingredient issue is one that I'm watching with every recipe. Acorn can't be substituted, but Okinawa black can.  And I'll make sure that I offer more of these suggestions throughout the book.  I do intend this book for the advanced home cook and restaurant cook. Part of the appeal will be the photos, part the foraged factor, and part the regional taste. As i continue discussing the project with potential publishers I'm getting to hone a message that is sellable, but still authentic to what I'm doing.  

 

All that said, here's a much more accessible recipe from the book for folks to play with.  I offer this one because, while easy, it has a trickiness to it that would be interesting to see how it works for you all. You'll see its further along in the editing process and has those substitutions that you're asking for.

 

Butterscotch Pie

 

The problem with most butterscotch recipes is that they use artificial flavors either by melting butterscotch candy or adding extracts. I wanted a pure, natural flavor that tricks the mind into thinking it is butterscotch. Enjoy this in a pie shell, warm in a cup or as a filling between two cake layers. And a nod to Jonah Rhodehamel at Oliveto in Oakland who served me an amazing butterscotch with crumbled toffee bits and brown butter espuma – wow!

 

110 g (1/2 C)   Muscovado sugar (brown sugar if unavailable)

490 g (2 C)      Heavy cream

180 g               Yolks (9 eggs)

28 g (2 T)        Butter, room temperature

60 g (¼ C)       Whiskey*

 

Bring the cream to a simmer in a sauce pan and hold warm. In a slightly larger sauce pan than the cream required spread the muscovado sugar equally on the bottom of the pan. Heat the pan on medium low and watch the sugar extremely closely. The sugar will go from dry to burnt in seconds, so nudge the sugar around with a whisk while you’re waiting for it to melt. If you have a hot spot in your pan, move the sugar to and from it. The very moment that the sugar is pretty much melted pour a third of the cream into the sugar to stop it from burning. Be careful as it splashes and sputters. Whisk gently until homogenous. Add the remaining cream and whisk until the eruption calms down and sputters gently.

 

While you’re waiting for the pot to calm down, place the yolks in a mixing bowl. Pour a third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks and whisk until combined. Pour the hot yolk mixture into the rest of the cream and return to the stove (tempering the yolks). Whisk constantly until the pudding begins to thicken. Its important to remove the pudding as it just starts to thicken, otherwise you can curdle your dessert. Pour the pudding through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Add butter and whiskey and whisk until incorporated. Pour into serving dish. If using as a cake filling add 3 sheets of silver gelatin to set.

 

*Use your locally distilled whiskey. We love Don Quixote blue corn bourbon from Los Alamos, NM.

 

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Looks pretty straightforward to me.  Do you think it is necessary to suggest blooming the gelatine and telling folks when to add it for the cake filling variation - or would you assume that an advanced home cook would know that?

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I wonder what my editor will say about optional ingredients - that aren't even in the ingredient list.

 

I was also thinking about these comments - I often respond before fulling digesting. I would say that 75% of the recipes are intended to be fully accessible and the remainder are meant to be more for inspiration. In those 25% I don't feel its appropriate to offer substitutions because at that point its not what I intended.

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I wonder what my editor will say about optional ingredients - that aren't even in the ingredient list.

 

I was also thinking about these comments - I often respond before fulling digesting. I would say that 75% of the recipes are intended to be fully accessible and the remainder are meant to be more for inspiration. In those 25% I don't feel its appropriate to offer substitutions because at that point its not what I intended.

You need all those little side notes you see in Cook's Illustrated and Fine Cooking - where you say "while any sugar will technically work in this recipe - I find that Okinawa black sugar's iodine-ish flavour plays off the salty yolk perfectly".  Or like I do on a prescription - "no substitution"!

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The cake filling comment threw me, and looks more like a throwaway (no pun intended) comment in its current location. I'd suggest establishing a separate paragraph, if you can make the room. It only needs a couple of sentences, possibly along these lines: "Note: the pudding can be used as a cake filling with the addition of 3 sheets of silver gelatin...." then adding 1 or 2 sentences about blooming and when to add. I wouldn't know about blooming the gelatine sheets, but I'm not an advanced pastry / confections cook.

Aside from that, I agree with Kerry that it looks pretty straightforward. It also looks delicious.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I love challenging cookbooks. In fact, I will only purchase (print or kindle) cookbooks that are challenging.   Who needs another recipe for tomato soup.   I want to cook with acorn four and such.  Niche cookbook? Sure.  Please keep in mind that there was time when sous vide circulator was not sold in Sur La Table.  Good luck grron and can't wait to purchase your book.

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