Some News: A Book

peasant bread

A little over a year ago, I received a comment on the peasant bread post that read:

I found your recipe quite some time ago. In the post, you had a link to a source for the Pyrex bowls. I just happened to find it on a day when the bowls were on sale for $1.99 each. I bought 48 of them! I baked bread and gave two bowls to each family at Christmas along with a copy of your recipe…

Nothing, of course, made me happier than to read that. When I shared my mother’s simple recipe in the PB post, I hoped people would discover how easy bread baking can be. But what I hoped for more than anything was that people would love the bread so much that they, too, would want to share it with others — neighbors, friends, or 24 family members.

Over the years, many people have written in noting their favorite adaptations of the peasant bread from simply adding herbs and cheese to making cinnamon-and-sugar monkey bread to doubling the recipe, baking it in three loaf pans, and making sandwich bread for the week.

Many people have had success with the recipe, but every day people write in with questions: Can the bread be mixed at night and baked in the morning? Can the dough travel, say, to a party, and be baked on the premises? Can the bread be doubled and halved, baked in other vessels? Can the dough be frozen?

Friends, I’m so excited to share some news. [Read more…]

Greek Easter in VT

lamb on spit

Last Friday, I packed the kids into our spaceship and zoomed north to celebrate Greek Easter with my aunt and uncle, who had been preparing for the occasion for days: dying eggs for the tsougrisma, rinsing and soaking intestines for the kokoretsi, preparing the spit for the lamb we would be roasting over the weekend.

Vermont, as always, was a dream. Here’s a little recap of the occasion:
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Pickled Egg Salad Toasts

pickled egg salad toasts with prosciutto

About this time of year every year, I wonder why I don’t make egg salad more often — it’s so good, it’s light (or can be at least), and it’s filled with protein to boot. Earlier this week, I made a recipe from Shed via Bon Appetit, and I am now wondering why for all these years I haven’t been pickling my hard-boiled eggs before turning them into salad. Yes, the pickling is more work, but the bite and flavor this extra step brings is well worth the effort, which, by the way, takes all of five minutes.

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Overnight Hot Cross Buns

overnight hot cross buns

Just as Lahey’s pizza dough can be dimpled into pissaladiere and Holly’s challah twisted into babka and Nigella’s Danish pastry spiraled into croissants, Molly Wizenberg’s cinnamon buns can be rolled into hot cross buns.

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Chez Panisse’s Famous Calzones

cut calzone

Before last week, I never would have described a calzone as light. Or as something that tastes like spring. Or as something I would consider serving to company, maybe sliced into rounds to reveal its oozing, cheesy goodness.

Well, leave it to Chez Panisse to create that very calzone, a six-inch round of pizza dough filled with a mix of goat cheese and mozzarella, minced scallions, parsley and garlic, and slivers of prosciutto.

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A Tart, A Baby, A Breakfast

breakfast: yogurt, lemon curd, granola

Last week, a flat-rate box arrived at my door filled with the most amazing sight: dozens of Meyer lemons. Could anything be more heart warming for a Northeasterner this time of year? When the high for the day is 21ºF? With snow in the forecast for Friday? Maybe only that the box came from one of you — thank you, Ellen! You are a dear.

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Holly’s Babka

baked and cut babka

Last week, I visited my friend Holly — yes, Holly of challah lore — for coffee, conversation, and of course, a little snack, a slice of babka from a loaf she had made the previous day. Upon serving it to me, she, as if she were any of the women in my family, instantly began critiquing it.

It’s very lovely, she acknowledged, but noted it was kind of fussy to make, so much work for what it was. I, content as ever, tucked in but was happy to hear I was in good company. The dough was denser than she had hoped, and she wondered if she could just use her challah dough recipe as a base, spread it with a chocolate filling or Nutella, and shape it like babka.

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Vergennes Laundry

front door

There’s nothing like a good stomach bug to make you appreciate health, to inspire an outing in sub-zero weather, to revive an appetite nourished by ginger ale and dry toast for too many hours.

Last Friday morning, after a day spent on my deathbed, my aunt, Wren and I drove to Vergennes Laundry, a wood-fired bakery located in a former laundromat in Vergennes, VT. Run by a husband and wife, this gem of a café is the kind of place you could lounge in all day, beginning with a latté and croissant, moving onto fresh-squeezed orange juice and cheddar-and-tarragon gougères, finishing with an espresso and chocolate crème fraîche truffle. Every bite will make you wish you lived two doors down and kindle dreams of opening up your own Vergennes Laundry, which your town (that you love dearly) so desperately needs.

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Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse, And A Simple, Stinky Valentine’s Day Menu For Two

Julia Child's Perfect Chocolate Mousse

There was a period last summer when I was obsessed with making parfait, not the layered fruit-and-yogurt parfait, but the French parfait, which is like ice cream. The parfait-making technique calls for heating a sugar syrup to 230ºF, then pouring it into beating egg yolks. The hot syrup cooks the yolks as they whip, then whipped cream is folded into the mixture once it has cooled. The parfait is then frozen until serving.

I was intrigued by the method, which I had read about in the Tartine Cookbook, for a number of reasons but mostly because it allowed for making ice cream without an ice cream machine, which many people appreciate. And while I loved the taste and texture of the finished parfait, I never posted the recipe because parfait, despite not requiring an ice cream machine, isn’t necessarily a piece of cake to make. As I noted, it requires heating syrup to a precise temperature, pouring the syrup, which tends to get tangled in the whisk, into the whipping yolks, setting up an ice bath, folding in whipped cream, etc. — I don’t find these to be easy tasks. That said, parfait, which is French for “perfect,” is just about that, and I will certainly be revisiting the process this summer.

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Vanilla Bean Pots de Crème

bite of vanilla bean pots de creme

A few weeks ago, I snuck up to see my auntie in VT, where I spent most of the time on the couch in front of the fire, dogs at my feet, cookbook in my lap.

I was in a baking sort of mood and found myself engrossed in the dessert chapter of Bouchon, drooling over images of bouchon au chocolat (cork-shaped, brownie-like cakes) and dreaming of crème anglaise-soaked French toast. As I flipped through the pages, I drafted an ambitious grocery list, along with a mental wishlist of gadgets, including pots de crème vessels, flexi-timbale pans, and this Bouchon Mold, which I can’t stop thinking about.

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