Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ultimate Fluffy, Buttery Dinner Rolls

Thanksgiving dinner is one of those meals that requires some serious organization and advance planning, particularly if you’re cooking for a crowd. I think it’s nice when you can get guests to bring along something, whether it’s a side dish, pie or even a condiment. If you can con someone into bringing the turkey then you’ve got

 it made. Then you can focus on all the other goodies and put together a smashing meal without sending yourself to the nervous hospital. The more things you can prepare in advance, the better, even if you have to freeze them. Freezing is not a dirty word, by the way – it’s done ALL THE TIME in professional kitchens,

particularly in pastry shops.
            Though I usually try to avoid eating bread during dinner, on Thanksgiving I throw my sensible eating plan out the window and eat a little bit of everything. And there’s nothing quite like a fluffy, warm roll spread with good butter to complete a meal. Luckily, my copy of a new book, Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber, just

arrived. In it there’s a recipe for a dinner roll that’s an ideal accompaniment to a grand feast. The yeast dough is enriched with eggs and butter, and the rolls are topped with the poppy, sesame or fennel seeds or dehydrated onions. I topped some of them with Maldon sea salt, which ended up being my favorite. You can make these up to a month ahead and freeze them – wrap them in foil and store them in a plastic freezer bag. Defrost them at room temperature, and then warm them up in the oven before dinner. I like to serve them with a good French butter, such as Plugra.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pecan Bourbon Cheesecake

It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about what to make for the big feast. I firmly believe that Thanksgiving dinner is the time to go for broke in the calorie department – recipes

from Cooking Light just will not do. (Save them for the next day.) Full fat, over the top, and lots of food, that’s what Thanksgiving dinner should be. For dessert, I favor pies, pumpkin and pecan for sure, and perhaps a lemon meringue for the lemon

lovers in the crowd, but occasionally I like to throw in a slightly non-traditional dessert, such as this Pecan Bourbon Cheesecake. It’s rich, yes, but you only need a sliver, and it will complement your pies very nicely. I use Demerara sugar for

the cake, a slightly crunchy light brown sugar that has a lovely flavor. If you have trouble finding it, feel free to use Turbinado (aka “Sugar in the Raw”) instead.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm Back!

 I admit it: I’ve been bad. It’s been a little over a year since my last post to this blog. But I have a suitcase full of excuses at the ready. First and foremost, I was working on my next book, which will be published in the fall of 2015. As you can imagine, cookbooks are a lot of work and eat up a good deal of time. There’s shopping, testing

(sometimes multiple times), writing and, finally, propping, styling and photography. Next the manuscript needs to be edited, copy-edited and proofed. Phew – I’m exhausted just thinking about all that work. The good news is that my book is almost done and I’m ready to get back to blogging on a regular basis. Thanks for bearing with me.

There are some wonderful new cookbook releases this fall, including a long-awaited book, The Baking Bible, from my friend Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is the most meticulous baker and recipe writer I know. Her recipes are not only wonderful, they are also foolproof. Rose has a real knack for including every important detail in her

recipes, taking the guesswork out of the baking process and ensuring success every time. Glancing through The Baking Bible, my only quandary is deciding which recipe to make – I want to eat them all. The recipe  that caught my eye this time is the one for Rose’s Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins. Baked in a Texas size muffin pan,

these individual coffee cakes are incredibly tender, and each has a hidden ring of apple inside. Ideal for a weekend brunch or afternoon snack with a cup of Joe or tea. They also freeze well, so make a double batch now and have them on hand for the holidays.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Jam Session

As the summer winds down, so do the farmers’ market baskets brimming with peaches, plums and nectarines. One of the best ways to hang on to a little bit of summer during the cold, cruel winter months (forgetting for a moment that I live in South Florida) is by making homemade preserves. When I think of the best 

preserves I’ve ever tasted, I think of Frenchwoman Christine Ferber. Ferber has a small shop in the Alsatian village of Niedermorschwihr. She is the daughter of fourth-generation bakers and pastry-makers and as a child spent hours watching her father work. When it was time for her to do her apprenticeship, she couldn’t

find an Alsatian pastry master who would teach a woman, so she left home to spend three years in Brussels. When she returned, she devoted herself to her passion: creating the finest jams in the world by capturing the essence of natural fruit flavors. Her secrets? Precision and patience. She makes over 200 flavors of

jams and sells them to some of the finest restaurants in the world. Here are some of her intriguing flavor combinations:

            Strawberry with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint
            Peach with Lavender Honey
            Wild Blueberry with Pinot Noir and Licorice
            Pear with Jasmine Mandarin Tea
            Green Apple & Wild Prune Jelly
            Melon and Raspberry with Citrus Zest
            Raspberry and Litchi with Rose Water
            Rhubarb, Apples and Gewürtzraminer
            Spiced Green Walnut

You can find many of Ferber’s recipes in her book Mes Confitures (Michigan State University Press, 2002), or, if you prefer, you can buy her jam online from Borne Confections ( Following is a recipe I adapted from the book. 

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