Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Gifts

For you listeners of WBZ's Connosieurs’ Corner, the following is the list of the food gifts we discussed on the air.

Chococoa Whoopie Pies,

I have written about these whoopie pies before, bought and sent them around to clients and served them at a major family event...these are always a HUGE hit, and the best whoopie pies I've ever had!  You cannot go wrong with these.

Gingerbread Construction Company,

Muffins the size of your head, and delicious loaves and cookies.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup,

Good for your soul, and your tummy!

Dancing Deer,

Boston Coffee Cake,


You've never had popcorn like this!

Enjoy, and share some delicious gifts this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

There is no need to knead…

So says Jim Lahey, author, owner and head baker of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City.

Back in 2006, Mark Bittman of the New York Times interviewed Jim Lahey which morphed in to a video short for broadcast on the New York Times website, which in turn, created a bread baking movement that can only be described as “viral”.  Jim’s method is perfect for those bread bakers at home who can be described as “lazy”.  Since that perfectly described yours truly, I figured “why not”?

What’s the secret you ask?  In a word:  time.  Jim Lahey’s method involves mixing 4 ingredients together (recipe below, but flour, yeast, salt and water) by hand, or with a spoon, for 30 seconds, and letting it sit for at least twelve hours, or longer.  His theory is that this long, slow rise allows the yeast and flour to do their voodoo and allows the gluten to form naturally.  After rising, because you cook it inside a Dutch oven, which acts as a miniature steam oven, you get a spectacular crust and more spectacular crumb. Having made the recipe (I have his book, “My Bread”, but you can learn how to do it from the 6 minute video here or below), I can tell you that it works to perfection, turning out a beautiful artisan style loaf.   Or, if you don’t have the book, and you don’t like Mark Bittman, you can watch one of the thousands of videos from people like you and me who have done this method, or other closely related iterations.

The basic method (from the Sullivan Street Bakery website):


3 cups flour
1½ cups water
¼ teaspoon yeast
1¼ teaspoon salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour or cornmeal

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.”

I say, take it out, put on a cooling rack, and enjoy after cooling, if you can wait that long.  Make sure to have some butter handy, for a schmear, because nothing tastes better than a hot piece of bread with melted butter soaked into it.  I assure you, if I can do it, so can you…take a look at this loaf!

Next up…no knead challah. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Better Late than Never!

Thanks to Jordan Rich, for adding me to the “Connoisseurs’Corner” line-up on WBZ 1030AM here in Boston.  These great one and a half-minute spots run at 11:58am and other times during the day.  Subject matter ranges from food and gourmet events around town and in Massachusetts and other New England states, to specific restaurants and foods.  You can here them live on the radio, or by clicking here to listen to a recent few.

Though a little after the holiday, several readers have asked me for my potato latke recipe.  There’s nothing surprising here in the recipe…most latke recipes focus on the usual potato and onion mix, and this one is no different.  But, the key to success is adding something to keep the potatoes from turning brown, and someone once told me that a Vitamin C tablet, dissolved, and added to the mix early keeps them from turning, and does not impart any off taste.  The second key to success to hand-shredding the potatoes and onions (it tastes much better after you’ve bloodied your knuckles…almost like you’ve earned the right to eat something so bad for you), and lastly, frying in a cast iron skillet, or an enamel covered cast iron skillet.  The cast iron is important…anyone who has cooked in one knows that the heat retention of these cast iron vessels cannot be replicated in any other way, and imparts a golden brown deliciousness that brings tears to your eyes…

Trust me…hand shred and use cast iron.  You will not be disappointed and will be crowned the “Latke Hero” when these hit the table.

Without further ado…

1 Vitamin C tablet, dissolved in a couple of tablespoons of water
4 large russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, or sweet potatoes-make sure you peel them
1 large onion
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tbl flour or matzah meal (I prefer matzah meal)
Canola oil or Olive Oil (traditional)

Hand shred potatoes  (or use a food process if you’re lazy)
Hand shred the onion (or use a fine chop)
Mix all ingredients together, and fry in a cast iron skillet
Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Cry, as you revel in the taste, and in taking a few more minutes off your life.