Saturday, December 10, 2011

Obsession: Bread

My brother David has been on my mind a lot lately for a variety of reasons. Maybe as the holidays approach, the ache caused by his absence becomes more acute. Whatever he reason, I search for evidence of his life in mine still.

It always comes back to bread for me. One of the things I got from his house was his "brotform." Actually my mom had it then she read, here, I think, that I would have loved to have it, so she passed it on to me. And I brought it to my new home in my suitcase.
My Brotform. It was David's brotform.

 First things first...I thought you baked the bread in this thing. Um. That would have started a fire, I do believe. I googled how to use it and you use it ONLY FOR THE FINAL RISE. That is what gives the loaf its lovely lines.

So anyway, I reached for Tartine Bread by Chad I-knew-him-when-he-was-still-in-school Robertson. As I read about Chad's search for making great bread, it was almost like reading some stuff David might have written. He talks some about the science of it and about ..well, good bread. Life is too short to eat crap bread. (Go on, needlepoint that onto a pillow. NOW.)

I started reading Tartine Bread last week and mixed up a starter pretty quickly. Make up a 50/50 mix of white and whole wheat bread flours.  Make a thick batter of water and mixed flour. No, as a matter of fact, NO YEAST IS ADDED. There are natural yeasts in the flours, on our hands, in the air. And that is what is going to make the bread rise (I know: amazing, right???)

I start the starter.
Let sit.

And sit. And sit.

And sit.

It should become stinky and bubbly. And it DID. Then you toss 80 percent of it and add equal parts water and flour to the starter. Lather rinse repeat. Until you think it's ready.

Then? THEN you mix ONE FRIGGIN TABLESPOON of that starter with 200g of warm water and 200g of flour (50/50 mix). And overnight, it should become nice and aerated and bubbly.
And then?
THEN you add 1000g flour (900g white, 100g wheat) ...hm. Annnnnd...700 g water. Let rest. Add 50g warm water and 20g salt. Mix. Rise in bowl, making turns (go buy Tartine Bread to really learn). Divide into two rounds. Rest. Shape into 2 loaves, let rise THREE HOURS. Bake. (Oh, and totally bake using Chad's method, I do not care WHAT recipe you are using. It is IMPORTANT. And it is why I am now coveting a Lodge Combo Cooker....)

The real story is that the first batch of leaven (when you mix starter w 200g each water and flour) never ever even looked like...anything.
I pitched it.
I tried to will the second batch into rising. And I persevered and baked it off and I got bricks.
Tasty bricks.
Tasty bricks, mind you, but bricks.

Then I tried one more time with the leaven. This time, I mixed the leaven in the same container the starter was in. This time, the leaven floated the way it was supposed to. This time, I did the turns timed as Chad instructs (although i still wasn't please with it after three hours. It wasn't fluffy enough.)
But I did a better job of shaping the loaves. They had more structure.
When I baked them off?
Ooh, pretty.
Ooh, big, aerated, hole-y loaf.
Pretty damn good. There's nice big aerated holes in the loaves, just the way a really good loaf should have. There's FLAVOR. Texture. Moisture. Man, this is good bread. And I think it's going to get better...

And now? Now I'm a textbook case of someone trying to live by bread alone. OH OKAY! Bread AND Butter alone.

But man, it is soooo worth it.

And buy the book for anyone in your life (you?) who makes bread. Unbelievable. The whole combo cooker technique is amazing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A most dangerous game...clotted cream.

Clotted cream. Doesn't look like much, does it now?

My husband waxes a bit rhapsodic about clotted cream. And I think I never quite got what the fuss was about. The name is awful. No one wants to eat clotted anything. And to top that off,  it is difficult, if not impossible, to find in the U.S. But over the summer (I think), I had some at a tea in Argentina, a tea at El Alvear, an old-school-elegant place.

That tea was dinner. We had two complete teas, plenty for three. We cleaned up every crumb, were stuffed...and then they wheeled over the cake cart...Didn't I feel foolish when I had to eat MORE??

But (and again, I am almost certain it was at Alvear that I had the clotted cream...) after the cucumber sandwiches and before that cake cart, I spread clotted cream on my baby scone (in Bath, England, you have to say scone to rhyme with gone. Go on, practice. Got it? We'll continue), it was this surprising marriage of butter and cream. The best of the two (and I'm the person who doesn't like whipped cream on anything)...it was delicious and all of a sudden I got it.

And that was that. Until recently, when DH mentioned it again. One quick google later, I had a recipe in my hot little hands (okay, on the hot (no, really, it DOES get hot) little laptop). Thank you to Cupcake Project and her easier-than-you-think post on homemade clotted cream.

I used only a pint-and-a-bit of cream. I didn't want to invest too much into it if the experiment failed. That went into an All-clad (my fave! No, I don't get paid to say that!) saucepan and into the 180 degree oven, which might explain why this doesn't get sold here in the U.S. (If I die, point them to this post and tell them I cooked cream at 180 degrees for about 13 hours AND THEN ATE IT.)

Frankly, I thought my experiment had failed, because it looked like...well, it looked like nothing more than slightly reduced cream. But I persevered. Into the fridge it went for another eight hours.

Ooh, and the next time I looked? THERE WERE ALL THESE CLOTS IN THE CREAM. I scooped them out. I probably have about one cup of clotted cream and one cup of cream (minus delicious clots) that I can still use to cook with, says Cupcake Project.

And here's the other thing that I forgot from my taste over the summer. There is also this caramelization that goes on while the cream reduces...So it's a flavor of butter and cream and caramel all in this one creamy spoonful.

I had to stop what I was doing and enjoy a teaspoon of this decadence on a bit (heh. That doesn't look like a bit to me!) of a scone-rhymes-with-gone. Even though I'm heading out to lunch in about 45 minutes.

Experimenting with food...a most dangerous game for my waistline (yes, I did get my run in. Oh, btw? I'm training for another bit of crazy, the Bermuda Triangle Weekend in January: 1 mile of Friday, 10K on Saturday and a 1/2 marathon on Sunday. What? When did I EVER say I would never run more than a 10K? Oh, right. ALWAYS. Liar liar and all that...I take it back. I digress.)

Here's the procedure: pour cream into oven-safe pot with lid. cover and cook in 180F degree oven for about 12 hours. Cool on counter, then move to fridge (still covered) until completely chilled. Remove skin or clots from cream. Save cream for another recipe, spread clotted cream on...on...on everything.

Also, Cupcake P says don't use ultra-pasteurized cream. I forgot that caveat and used what I had, which was, indeed, ultra-pasteurized. Flavor is great, but I'm willing to bet you can get more yield and nicer, smoother results from cream that is just plain old pasteurized. 

In the meantime, this'll do. This'll do.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tastes and Travel: Volt in Frederick, Maryland

If I recall correctly, this is the Sidepocket--hello bourbon!
September travels took me through Frederick, Md., where two of my favorite people live. (Hi, Cindi and Paul.) I had three of the most relaxing days in months, including a bike ride up the river to Shepherdstown, WV. Awesome ride, awesome people...they let me forget my troubles for a while.

One night we managed to get out to dinner at a local spot and then on to after dinner drinks at Volt, owned by Top Chef finalist Bryan Voltaggio.


The vibe here is awesome. We were too late to dine (no resies!) but got to go by for an after dinner drink.

This was the second time I missed a full-on food visit to Volt. Next time, I MUST get some dinner...too good to miss.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mmm...Corn.


This is coming a little late, but...isn't late summer corn just awesome? I spent a couple of weeks at my mom's house in September and ate corn straight from the farm as often as possible. This wacky ear? Looked like yellow river stone put together on the cob...but tasted like sweet summer.

I'll miss the corn until next year. Nothing measures up to a tender, fresh-picked, barely cooked corn. It is summer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin!

It must be fall...These are from Reeger's Farm in Indiana, Pa.


The warts? Those are called peanuts.


Fields full of pumpkins..It's a pumpkin fest in the making
That is all.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall and Remembering David Again


On September 30, my brother David would have turned 48. On September 25, we held a second memorial in our hometown, Indiana, PA. So many people turned out to remember David. It was something I dreaded, but then something I was so happy we did.
The day was lovely, a touch of fall already gracing the hills of Western Pennsylvania, a place I know David just loved.

I miss David often. Just today, while on a walk, I found myself mentally composing an email to him, an email about food of course, and then I remembered it won't get sent.

This Robbie Williams song is on a playlist we put together for the first memorial service. Eva, David's wife, said he loved this song. The lyrics are hauntingly appropriate. (The video, not so much)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Catching up...I did it (two-plus months ago, that is...)
















Poor little Babette Feasts blog. I tell you, I have not been feasting much lately. August and September were an absolute whirlwind of travel, starting with the NYC Triathlon.

That was SO much fun. And exhausting. Here's the thing. The swim? Fine, no big deal (although choppy...I worried about people without experience, then found out my cousin Amy finished faster than I did. And that is my strong event. Her weak one. I guess I really am old....but that's okay, because guess what? I did the NYC Triathlon!)...I did the barefoot run by grabbing the swim shoes I'd stashed under a bench right by the swim exit...then I stopped and used a bench to sit down and get out of my wetsuit...then I toweled off, put on bike shorts and headed out...my transition time for swim to bike was something awesome like 15 minutes.

What? It's not like I was angling for a medal!!

Anyway, then came the bike ride. Now mind you, I had really worked myself up into a state about the bike ride. They were predicting rain and all I could think of was how very bare the tires on the road bike are. Skid city is really what I was thinking. But what really happens is that you get on ...and you RIDE. You don't think you are going to fall, you just RIDE. You avoid people and you RIDE. You are very glad you are wearing the sunglasses, even though it is too dark, because wet roads kick up sprays of water right into your face and you RIDE. Then it starts pouring rain and you still RIDE. You ignore the fact that your sister, after she dropped you off for the event the day before, took note of the turnaround point and thought.."Far." You hit the turnaround point. The rain stops and the headwinds pick up...

Oh, man, I was so tired at the end of that ride. I do hilly-er hills in Charlotte, but these were loooooong, slooooowwww climbs and they took a toll.

But I got into the transition and I changed socks (so smart, to have read that it's a good idea to have some dry socks on hand), said hey to Sam as I exited the transition area (he was waiting for his relay team member to send him on his way) and promptly DIED.

Duh. uh. IED.

You start up a steep hill and I walked. You get to 72nd Street and I walked. I tried to jog and happily, I was actually jogging when I passed my little band of cheerleaders (Pat, Sushil, Simone, Gary, Julien +1, Gabby)...and then I had to walk again. All I could think was I have 6 miles to go. I was my own worst enemy. All the positive reinforcement thoughts went out the window.


I made it to each mile marker by running to the next tree down the way. Then walking. Then running to that lamppost I could see. Then walking...Then running to that big rock. It had been cool (ish) and raining during the bike ride. Now the sun came out and it was like running in a steam room and the temperature just seemed to rocket up to 90.

That is some hilly park, Central Park. Finally, around mile 4.5 Sam caught up with me. I was really feeling all kinds of crap so I said hey and see you at the finish. Sam kept running (again, when he caught up to me, I was, surprisingly, jogging)...then turned around thinking I was right behind him only to see me walking.

He waited. When I caught up to him, Sam made me start jogging and didn't let me quit. He kept me going by saying, "Come on, let's pass these two.." Then he would set his sights on the next runner or two and we'd pass them.

It was hard, but I was so touched. We crossed the finish line together and I cherish that moment.

but I gotta say, I felt awful. I wanted to cry. The volunteer who met me at the finish line asked me how I felt and must not have believed me, because he asked me my name...Truth? I should have told him I felt like crap and taken all the help he had to offer.

Scenes from the day:

Waiting in line for bus to the starting transition zone...where you then had to walk a mile to get to swim start. Yes, I was almost late...

Sam around 4:30 a.m. while waiting for the bus.

I actually stopped on the "run" to take a shot. Stupid to carry the camera at all.


Look, that's me saying hi..and trying to look like I'm having fun.

Me, Sam, Gabby, Gary
Still, I am glad so very glad I did this. The feeling of accomplishment in this cannot be matched by other things I do, mostly because this is so far out of my own comfort zone. To all of you who supported my efforts, you are so appreciated.

You MUST check out Amy's highlights, one of which was Amy, her sister Jill and I riding our way from hotel to transition zone through the streets of NYC. AWESOME. (I didn't make any of the photos because I felt like such ...yuck.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Go, Paul's Posse, Go!! Hey: How Hard can the NYC Triathlon BE????

photo courtesy Debra Rothenberg: Some ofLast Year's Posse!!
Hey, all--thanks for sticking with me over the summer. It has been a sad time for me, but I've focused on some good stuff...you've heard a little bit about my new passion, tango, and we even went to Argentina (and Uruguay), where I tango'd my little heart out.

The other passion? It's the Nautica NYC Triathlon, which I am swimming, biking and running in this coming Sunday.

I surely must be nuts.

Last year, I did make the jump into the Hudson, but since I was so SO sure I couldn't run, I knew there was no way I'd ever be doing an entire triathlon. Not me, never.

Of course, never say never, right?

So last August, I started couch to 5K, a.k.a. C25K, a.k.a. (by me at least) Couch Potato to 5K. And it worked. I ran a 5k in November, another one in March (I even led the training for the group of young women I trained with) and in April I ran (albeit slowly) a 10K over the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, SC. I knew I could go the distance.

Along the way, I continued to swim, I bought a sweet bike and rediscovered how much I really love biking and I continued to run. And now I find myself one day and a few hours away from doing the whole thing and the butterflies are going crazy!

But it has been life changing for me. Is that silly? I am doing something I never ever thought I would do in my life. And that is pretty awesome. I've always said my motto is "How hard can it be?" Now I still say that and add this: nothing is insurmountable.

Nothing.

Neither is the fundraising (ah, of course it was going here!)--I am doing my very best to raise $2,000 this year and I am inching forward. So many of you have been beyond generous in giving--trust me, even the $5 donations count. THEY ALL COUNT. The funds go directly to Amyloidosis Foundation, which is researching ways to fight this terrible disease, the disease that took Paul Hawthorne way too early--from his wife, Amy (who organized this effort) and from his two very young sons.

Paul inspired us all (we are a team of about 40) to do this. We believe in the effort and we've been paid back with new friends, people who are all positive they are making a difference. I see that as one of Paul's legacies, that even his death has brought good people together for a good cause..

So. If you are still reading? Click over to the Paul's Posse Donation Page. Donate in memory of Paul Hawthorne and ask them to notify me (those fields appear after you click the "donation" button.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rooftop Asado...

The skies shortly after we started grilling
What did you have for dinner this weekend?
We planned a wonderful, big rooftop grill. Our tango teacher (and now our good friend) Daniel was the grill master. He came with his lovely wife, K, and then we had some good friends we are trying to lure into the tango underground  community come. (Check out Passion for Tango if you live near Charlotte.)

Unfortunately, the numbers dwindled quickly as yesterday's dinner approached ...we had way too much meat for the crowd, but we "suffered" through it anyway. There was bruschetta (thank you, MJ! MJ already has come over to the tango side). Lots of Argentine wine (mostly malbec, but not only; all from Mendoza, if I recall correctly). Morcilla, chorizo, flank steak and ribs. Provoleta (melted provolone with oregano. In Argentina, they grill it). Homemade bread, a big green salad with local tomatoes, Marie Speed's very special recipe for potato salad (can't share it without permission, but it is decadent), homemade peach/honey ice cream, strawberry pie. Chocolate cookies.

It was fabulous, and Daniel was the champion griller. When a storm blew in (and I mean BLEW in), he retreated only a bit (it was torrential and there was lightning. He had to), but went back out with his big umbrella and grilled in the rain. (Ps. It hasn't rained here in weeks. Of course it would rain when we plan the only grill party we have EVER had upstairs...)...

Good food, good wine, great friends. Need I say more??

And I think maybe we got some tango recruits.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ooh, pretty...

Look what I brought back from Argentina...well, these and olive oil. You know. Because I'm still all about the food!

Wait, What??

Um. Really? A month of posts and then nothing? What's up with that?
Well, what's up with that is:
Still being heart-achingly sad about my brother, David.
A trip to see my rock-solid circle of girlfriends from Dickinson College
A trip to Kentucky to fix up an apartment there to rent it out
Two weeks of "down time" (read: catching up time_
Leaving July 3 for two wonderful weeks in Uruguay and Buenos Aires
One week spent catching up.
Many days and nights spent worrying about my newly graduated (yay!) sons, also newly unemployed (boo!)
Worry about things over which I have no control (what a waste of time)
Worry about things over which I have some control
Working out for the Nautica NYC Triathlon (not bad. I still suck at running.)
Planning trip to NYC--pack bike, order wetsuit, find out who is coming and when they are coming
Worry more. Waste more time.
Get a couple of new gigs (yay!)
Think: I REALLY NEED TO WRITE SOMETHING.


I am just down, you know? May knocked the stuffing out of me and has me re-evaluating many things. There is a lot of NOISE going on in my life and all I keep saying? "I want a simpler life."

So here is a list of things--some writer friends came up with the term Life List, far better than bucket list-- that I must still keep doing:
  • Tango--latest passion. Can't stop now--dance as much as I can. It makes me happy.
  • Cooking: teaching classes most of all, then developing recipes, the two most favorite parts of what I do.
  • Getting rid of STUFF. I definitely have too much stuff in my life. How can I make it simpler?
  • Doing triathlons. Best thing (along with the tango) that I've done in ages, doing something so far out of my comfort zone.
  • Invite more friends to dinner. My happiest times are have friends over for dinner. It's just that simple.

So now, how do I get rid of all the other stuff that make my life not simple? What are you guys all doing to simplify?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordle Curiosity...

Since the last half of the month has focused on my brother, I was curious with what wordle would do with it...I liked it, so I feel like posting it again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Looking back..

It is difficult even to think about what to say. In the middle of this very fun exercise of daily blogging, my brother died. I did my best to continue, and I did well every day except for the very day of his funeral--frankly, the routine of doing the blog helped. Every routine helped.

To those of you who visited and sent condolences, thank you so much. It means a lot, this little connection.

You didn't know David, but he was a quirky, smart, SMART guy. So smart that many of us didn't even understand everything he did and we all seemed to butt heads with him often. But when we did, short hours (minutes) later would find us contentedly sharing some of his bread, some extra-virgin olive oil that he likely hand-carried back from Italy in a suitcase of his own design, kitted out with foam padding and cut-outs for bottles of wine and cans of olive oil (I came across the design plans as I went through his papers this week).

He was famous among family and friends for the bread--he worked hard on those recipes and, in true science fashion, his recipes are really formulas--vast spread sheets with variables, equations, questions, constants...

He always made great bread.

So today, please go open a bottle of wine you may have been saving for a special day. Pitch the sliced bread and either bake a loaf or go get REAL bread, good bread. Drizzle out a bit of really good olive oil, and savor it all with family and friends. Because today is a special day.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Enjoy Some Time...




Make your own mozzarella and wrap some prosciutto made by Grateful Growers up in the soft goodness.

Now enjoy your Thursday evening. Enjoy the company across the table. Just have fun.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Osso Buco Anyone?




 Start with fabulous osso buco from Michelle Marie...



Brown them in my favorite cast-iron skillet

Into the copper pot for slow braise in the oven

Serve with classic risotto Milanese.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Million Dollar Cookie

Re-post: Million Dollar Cookie

I posted this in August 2008 after a cookie contest. No, I didn't win, but the winner's cookie was most worthy...of course, I couldn't just make it with the pre-packaged refrigerator cookies, but went in search of an improvement.

Forgive me a few re-posts while I get through these days. Food always gave my brother and me common ground. He so enjoyed quality food, especially great bread, pizza and pasta and all things locavore...so I like continuing to blog here while I remember him

********************************

Make a million dollar cookie.


Tomorrow is an "end of summer" pot-luck at the Boca Raton Magazine/Florida Table offices...For three weeks, people have asked what I'm bringing...and I felt the pressure. Here I am, the food editor. I wanted to wow people. But I was stuck. What to do, what to do, what to do...

Finally today, someone piped up and said there weren't many desserts on the list. Well, Ina's brownies for gazillions sounded like an easy plan...there are few easier recipes that turn out more goodies than that recipe (Outrageous Brownies). But then, while doing some research for recipes today, I came across mention of the million dollar Pillsbury Bakeoff winner--A peanut butter cookie with a treat inside of it--more gooey peanut butter. Thing is, the winning recipe used refrigerator peanut butter cookies.

Not likely, thank you very much. I ended up reading about the cookies by way of Culinate.com, where they suggested doing it one better with their own peanut butter cookie recipe and the Pillsbury approach. Okay.

So I made Culinate's peanut butter cookie. Made an inside treat of peanut butter and powdered sugar, wrapped it in the cookie dough, rolled it in sugar, peanuts and cinnamon, then baked.

I think my Dorie touch is still working--I only mixed until just blended...the cookies are delicate and delicious with the double whammy of more peanut butter...Hmm. I think maybe I could make this a $1.5 million cookie by adding a chocolate chip or two...or ten.

Link up to those recipes (I made the Outrageous Brownies, too...they are really that easy). You don't have to use Culinate's recipe, use your own favorite, but do try the Pillsbury approach.

One eaten in blog sacrifice. One goes to school with that lucky little girl, Bryn...and JES Publishing gets the remaining treats...Happy end of summer, all..

Just had to edit to add I tried them again with a chocoate chip inside. Eh. Not enough chocolate, really, but I couldn't add more without making the cookies bigger than they already are. So next time, I'm going to make the inside (the 1/2 cup powdered sugar combined with 1/2 cup peanut butter) out of Nutella instead!!! Oh YUM. Or should that be yummO?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Cherries

Make something sweet today. Think of me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Life Goes on

Simple routines get
us through the days. Moments are
now more difficult.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brothers and Bread

Is it strange that bread is thicker than blood when I think of you today?
Is it that the act of creating something so sustaining
gave us a connection that went beyond "brother"?
I will remember you when I measure the flour and the yeast;
as I knead, I will recall all the times we talked and mostly ate the fruits of our labors.
Crust and crumb.
Let the act be my memorial because that in the end is all I have left of you.
And in the act of baking, I can give you life again.

For my brother, David
Sept. 30, 1963-May 20,2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Simple Signs of Spring

Keep It Simple
1. Trim asparagus.
2. Heat splash of olive oil with touch of butter in large cast-iron skillet until butter is just starting to brown.
3. Add asparagus and toss, turn, toss until it starts to turn bright green and browns a bit, too.
4. Add splash of balsamic vinegar, toss until vinegar is turned to glaze.
5. Salt and Pepper.
6. EAT.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Essential Cookbooks

Thinking about the bare essentials for the best kitchen got me looking at my cookbook shelves, too. I love ANY cookbook (just about), but there are plenty I have not opened in a while.

That said, which cookbooks are most important to me? A year or so ago, this short list showed up and I promptly bought  myself Martha Stewart's Cookies Book and James Beard's Beard on Bread book--because that meant I had all the books on the list.

In writing this post today, though, I have come across Mark Bittman's 50 Cookbooks he couldn't live without (he links to his list from this link). I think I only have 10 of his 50. He also has a second list of some underrated classics he thinks every good kitchen should have. I think I only have one of those...

Here, in no particular order, are books I go to often:


Julia Child, Volume 1, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I can't quite believe I didn't buy this until Julie Powell was blogging her way through this. But I'm glad I found the blog way back when and I'm glad I bought the book. I now have Vol. 2, as well. For technique, these books are hard to beat.



Best Recipe: This series (Best Recipe, Best International Recipes, Best 30-Minute Recipes, Best Soups and Stews) come from Cook's Illustrated. Again, technique is reviewed, reasons some methods work better than others are discussed. Geeky cookbooks for geeky cooks. I love these.


Silver Palate. Okay, so maybe we cut back on the butter and cream since these came out, but my Silver Palate books are well-used. I have The New Basics, the original white and red books AND the 25th Anniversary Edition.

Trattoria Cooking by Biba Caggiano. Everyone in my family (mom, siblings, I think an aunt and uncle) owns this book. Talk about word of mouth. I don't know who got it first, but every recipe is a hit.









Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. I don't know why I didn't cook more from Hazan's books sooner, but at least a friend, Brian Sherry, introduced me to  her books and now there's no stopping me. Another one where I have not had a miss. True classics, great technique. Check out All In on Lasagne, my post to which Ms. Hazan actually commented! Made my culinary year.

The Italian Baker (Um. So there's a bit of an Italian bias, here, isn't there? Well, that's a good thing!) by Carol Field. Again, best breads, pizza doughs, focaccia...no misses here.

Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I got this book after meeting Dorie at a food writers' conference, and tried to keep up with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers. While I couldn't keep up, at least I know that if I ever want a dessert on the table, I'll find something here that I love.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Why things work. Another geeky book that stays on the shelf.
Food Lover's Companion defines food, food terms, etc. Essential for any food writer.


Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course. All things British. This way, when Mr. Babette Feasts says how much he loves a Bakewell Tart or English Christmas cake, I know I can make a great ...whatever. In this book? Best butterscotch sauce ever.
I am pretty sure I'm adding The Essential NYT  Cookbook (just won the James Beard Award) and Tartine Bread  (because I knew Chad way back when) and Tartine (their desserts) (because I knew Chad way back when and that means I love Elisabeth, too...)..oh, and Tartine in SF has a James Beard Award, too, btw....


What books do you go back to over and over?