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By Chris Hennes
On Nov. 7, 2017, Modernist Bread will finally arrive on my doorstep. Having preordered it literally the first day it was available, to say I'm excited about this book is a bit of an understatement. The team at The Cooking Lab have been gracious enough to give @Dave the Cook and me early electronic access to the book and so I've spent the last week pouring over it. I'm just going to start with a few initial comments here (it's 2600 pages long, so a full review is going to take some time, and require a bunch of baking!). Dave and I would also be happy to answer any questions you've got.
One of the main things I've noticed about this book is a change in tone from the original Modernist Cuisine. It comes across as less "everything you know is wrong" and more "eighty bazillion other bakers have contributed to this knowledge and here's our synthesis of it." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Myhrvold and company are now the most experienced bread-bakers in the world. Not necessarily in terms of the number of identical loaves they've produced, but in the shear number of different recipes and techniques they've tried and the care with which they've analyzed the results. These volumes are a distillation of 100,000 years of human breadmaking experience, topped off with a dose of the Modernist ethos of taking what we know to the next level.
The recipes include weight, volume, and baker's percentages, and almost all of them can be made by both a home baker and someone baking in a commercial facility. The home baker might need to compromise on shape (e.g. you can't fit a full-length baguette in most home ovens) but the book provides clear instructions for both the amateur and professional. The recipes are almost entirely concentrated in volumes 4 and 5, with very few in the other volumes (in contrast to Modernist Cuisine, where there were many recipes scattered throughout). I can't wait for the physical volumes to arrive so that I can have multiple volumes open at once, the recipes cross-reference techniques taught earlier quite frequently.
I was cooking for a party last night at which a gluten free cake was served for dessert. I had a few bites and aside from the cake being dry and the frosting very sweet, there was that tell-tale grittiness that GF baked goods seem to have. This particular bakery uses a blend of millet, sorghum, tapioca and potato flours. I used some Bob's Red Mill GF flour to satisfy a customer request for GF shortbread and found the same grittiness - they use garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour and fava bean flour.
Obviously some sacrifices of flavor and texture are made when trying to replicate the magic of gluten, but why can't these flour blends be softer? Can't they be milled more finely? Or is it just the way the particular starches or proteins in those other flours are felt on the tongue?
It's like that chalky cold cooked rice texture, do you know what I mean? Why can't it be better? Almost every time I eat something made with substitute flours, it makes me sad and want to fix it.
Today I would like to share with you a recipe for a slightly different sandwich. Instead of traditional vegetables, I recommend strawberry salsa, and rather than a slice of ham – a golden grilled slice of Halloumi cheese. Only one thing is missing – a fresh and fragrant bread roll.
Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese made with sheep's milk or a mixture of sheep's, goat's and cow's milk. It is semihard and so flexible that it is excellent for frying and barbecuing, and it is great fresh too.
Ingredients (for two people)
2 fresh rolls of your choice
2 big lettuce leaves
4 slices of Halloumi cheese
2 teaspoons of butter
half a chili pepper
2 tablespoons of minced peppermint leaves
¼ a red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped almond without the skin
1 teaspoon of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of balsamic sauce
Start by preparing the salsa. Wash the strawberries, remove the shanks and cube them. Dice the onion and chili pepper. Mix the strawberries with the onion, chili pepper, peppermint and almonds. Spice it up with honey and lemon juice. Leave in the fridge for half an hour. Grill the slices of Halloumi cheese until they are golden. Cut the fresh rolls in half and spread them with butter. Put a lettuce leaf on each half of roll, then a slice of the Halloumi cheese, one tablespoon of salsa, another slice of cheese and two tablespoons of salsa. Spice it up with balsamic sauce. Cover with the other half of the roll. Prepare the second sandwich in the same way. Serve at once while the cheese is still hot.
Enjoy your meal!
Hi there Italian chefs around the world - Two years ago (while visiting my family in New York - we live for 25 years in California)) we went to New York and ate in an Italian Restaurant in Syosset Long Island, New York (Steve's Piccola Bussola) and ordered their Chicken Cacciatore. It was unbelievable, so savory and tender and juice and it had 4 lean and juicy (no skin, no fat, no gristle) rollups wrapped around what looked like a small (about 1-2" rib bone) (in chicken???_ was able to get some of the recipe because I called them 2x, but after 5 tries at various times, I am giving up. He (the chef) said they used thighs - but the thighs I know are fatty and tough so I don't know where they got it. He said they buy the whole chickens and cut it up, so I guess they can get rid of the fat,skin and gristle that way. One, because I am never able to get their dark brown sauce (don't know how they do it because having a brown sauce by working with chicken, mushrooms, wine and onions is an enigma. Their sauce is not sweet, or sour just rich and savory. I saw the kind of sauce that it was when I saw the recipe of Hubert Keller's Beef Borguignon on TV, but it looked soooo difficult and was made with meat, not chicken. That has meat rollups sitting in a dark brown sauce. Help! I want to learn how to make that. The initial recipe that they gave me was this: Take chicken and cut it into pieces the size of a meatball with or without the bone.
Take olive oil and make very hot. Brown. Add 2 cups chicken stock, salt and pepper, parsley, and simmer for ½ hour. After brown, put until broiler and brown some more.
In another skillet, put mushrooms, onions, little tomato sauce, and when sizzling and hot, add white wine (or Marsala) and cook in pan – ½ hour. Add butter to thicken – but do not boil after butter melts
Said I can also put a little tomato sauce in there - maybe it was tomato paste.
After ready, marry the two and cook another 15 minutes all together (or not) – just eat it.
Below is a photo of Steve's Chicken Cacciatore - I know it looks like beef, but this is chicken!
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