Bake by Rachel Allen, azw3, 0007259700
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Your best friend in the kitchen, Rachel Allen, is back with a collection of delicious and easy cakes and bakes, tarts and pies, quiches and casseroles. What could be better than the smell of fresh baked bread or the joy of eating warm cookies straight from the oven? Do you pine for the pleasures of gingerbread houses and holiday delights or the warming goodness of home baked casseroles? Rachel shares ideas from both the sweet and the savory sides of baking, including quick snacks, wholesome breads and pies, exotic cakes and tarts, or easy baked meals for friends and family. This delicious resource is fully illustrated with beautiful food photography including step-by-step instructions to take the mystery out of traditional baking and pastry making. Rachel also offers troubleshooting techniques for common problems and wheat or gluten-free recipes so nobody is left out of the fun! Rachel’s friendly and expert tuition make this easy-to-use book the best friend to every home baker. Recipes include: cardamom bread; crispy bacon and cheddar bread; paper-thin crispbreads, cheese straws, and pretzels; pork, chorizo and spinach pie; beef pasties with mint, ginger, and peas; baked cheese fondue in a pumpkin; smoked salmon and leek gratin; Seville orange meringue pie; Cornish saffron cake; and lime and yogurt cake with rosewater and pistachios.
Keywords cheap cakes, vegan cupcakes, coffee basket, craft beer company, wine stores, g vinegar, my love for it has grown greater with each new venture I’ve tackled. My other restaurants, Trentina (a northern Italian–inspired restaurant) and Noodlecat (a ramen joint), embrace the use of vinegar with the same passion and fervor that catapulted the Tavern into a James Beard Award win.
Even though we were doing this bootstrap-style, all of my goals at that point had been accomplished. First, we made great, regionally sourced vinegar for less than twenty dollars per bottle. Second, we made enough of that vinegar to feature it on our menus. Third, we made enough vinegar so that our restaurant wouldn’t have to purchase any outside bottles for any of its recipes. Fourth, we could replace citrus-based ingredients whenever we wanted. (Spoiler: Vinegar is a great substitute for citrus.) And last, we produced enough to sell to the sour-starved public. We were self-sufficient in a way that no restaurant could claim.
That last point is something that farm-to-table restaurants (whatever that term means nowadays) take for granted. Sure, they can get meat cuts or vegetables from the local farm, but think about the little things that bring out your food’s flavor—like vinegar. We truly became a northeastern Ohio restaurant in every way. It was an experiment that was not only profitable and practical but proved that anyone could produce the building blocks of flavor with an old bottle of booze and some pantry space.
Which brings me to this cookbook. Vinegar is so easy to make that it nearly happens without doing any work at all. It’s so easy, in fact, that, for thousands of years, wine-makers have been trying to develop ways to prevent wine from automatically fermenting into vinegar. Don’t think of this text simply as a how-to manual for making top-shelf vinegar or vinegar-based recipes. Consider it your guide to unlocking the potential of every sweet, salty, sour, and savory bit in your food. Believe it or not, acidic and sour foods like vinegar have the ability to open our senses and make our taste buds more sensitive to all the other tastes. At the same time, they also work to bring balance as well as tone down the intensity of overtly bitter and fatty foods.
As a species, we are hardwired to taste sour foods. Some biologists feel that we evolved this ability in order to know if high-energy foods such as fruit were ripe. Unripe fruits don’t have the fully developed sugars we need to consume for instant energy. If we can taste their sourness, then we know to wait a little longer before eating them. On the other hand, there are some biologists who believe we developed this ability to warn us of potentially hazardous foods. Some spoiled foods can accumulate organic acids, and some really acidic foods can actually physically harm us. I’ll leave it to the scientists to figure out the reason for our ability to taste sour foods, but with either of these concepts, sour takes on a “forbidden fruit” quality.
My working understanding of sour taste is from years of eating and cooking. I remember when my kids were little and just starting to eat solid food. Amelia and I would give them slices of lemon to gnaw on. With each bite, they would pull back from the lemon and intensely pucker their faces. What looked like displeasure would instantly fade into a smile followed by another bite. This got me thinking about how we look to sour foods as a source of pleasure and enjoyment while eating. I mean, what kid doesn’t stuff their mouth repeatedly with Sour Patch Kids on a regular basis?
We simply crave sour foods. This is evident in cuisines around the globe. From the Pennsylvania Dutch to the people of Shanxi Province in northern China, sour foods are an instrumental—actually fundamental—part of how we enjoy what we cook and eat. Why else would a fatty grilled sausage virtually beg to be slathered in a boldly tart brown mustard? Sour ingredients just have a natural way of making us happy. As a chef, it’s important to be able to craft and manipulate foods in ways that appease the diner. Vinegar makes this possible to do, to create balance in any dish. It’s so important that it has literally become the cornerstone of all my cooking.
With all of that being said, let’s thank whoever produced that crappy bottle I bought many moons ago. It was the best twenty-nine dollars I ever pissed down the drain.
THE POWER OF SOUR
The use of vinegar can have both subtle and major impacts on our food. Using too much or too little can leave you with unintended consequences, so it’s important to learn where the sour “Goldilocks zone” is. This can be tricky at first because of the various ways that vinegar reacts with different ingredients and tastes. It’s important for you as a chef to understand how all of the tastes work together. For example, if a dish comes off as too sweet, sour and salt will help balance it out. If a dish is too salty or too sour, additional sweet will do the same thing.
This balancing ratio applies to food that is too bitter and needs to be offset by the inclusion of some umami. Vinegar is a great equalizer that’ll even out the bitterness. With this book and enough practice, you’ll be in the zone every time you cook. Take crudo (see this page) as a prime example. When making crudo, you rely on an acid to denature the proteins in the seafood and chemically cook it. The acid rearranges the protein in a way that causes it to lose the water molecules that it’s wrapped around. When this happens, the texture of the seafood changes. If you use too much acid, then the texture can toughen to a dry, rubbery mouthfeel. The opposite can happen if too little acid is used. Not enough proteins will denature, and you’ll be left with a raw, mushy texture. Finding the right balance is key. In the same way, too little or too much acid in the crudo will affect its taste—too little and there won’t be the impact of the pleasant sour flavor that you want; too much and it’ll be so sour that it’s unpalatable. Because of the multifaceted impact that acid has on food, it is a cornerstone of cooking. That makes it extremely powerful and indispensable in the kitchen.
1. THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO MAKE VINEGAR, AND EACH ONE HAS ITS PROS AND CONS.
During my many years of making vinegar, I’ve settled on two styles that I like best and work consistently for me every time. The first is what I refer to as “scrap vinegars.” I chose this name because I first started making these vinegars using the peels, or scraps, from apples. I’ve since broadened this to include any vinegar I make that needs to go through an alcoholic fermentation before it can ferment into vinegar. This means that I classify the Begonia Vinegar on this page to be a scrap vinegar even though I’m not technically using scraps.
The second style of vinegar making that I use are ones that I refer to as “boozy brews.” These are vinegars made from alcohol. My Old-School Red Wine Vinegar (this page) is a prime example. It doesn’t rely on me personally going through the process of fermenting grapes into wine and then fermenting the wine into vinegar. I start with a good drinkable wine that I enjoy and allow a vinegar mother to convert it into a great vinegar.
As you’ll see, these two methods will allow you to make any vinegar that you could possibly dream up.
2. YOU CAN HAVE TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW OF AN ABV (ALCOHOL BY VOLUME) IN THE BEVERAGE YOU WANT TO TURN INTO VINEGAR.
If the ABV is more than 15 percent, then even the alcohol-loving Acetobacter will die off. If the ABV is less than 3 percent, then various types of wild yeasts can start to grow on the surface of the alcohol before the Acetobacter establishes itself. This isn’t necessarily a safety issue but rather one related to quality. These wild yeasts can create stale, dank, and musty flavors that are unbecoming. On top of that, these yeasts can be attacked and contaminated with molds that may eventually spoil a base liquid. Because of this, I recommend starting a vinegar with alcohol in the 6 to 12 percent ABV range. This covers most beer and wine that you’ll want to use to make vinegar. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to ferment a high-ABV wine or spirit, such as a quart of 40 percent tequila or spiced rum, into vinegar, you’ll need to dilute it with water. Use this equation to dilute it to 10 percent ABV: V × ((S / F)-1) = D, where V is for volume, S is for your starting ABV, F is for final ABV, and D is for how much water you need to dilute S with. For example, based on a 40 percent tequila that you’re trying to reduce to 10 percent ABV, 1 × ((40⁄10)-1) = 3. The 1 in this equation represents the 1 quart of tequila. The 40 represents the starting ABV, and the 10 represents the target ABV. The 3 is the amount of water in quarts that has to be added to the 1 quart of 40 percent ABV tequila to dilute it to 10 percent ABV.
Math isn’t my strong suit, but I find this equation ridiculously helpful when I want to ferment a high-alcohol spirit that otherwise is too alcoholic to convert. If you’re going to start a vinegar from scratch, then you’ll need to ferment the base liquid to the optimal range. You can easily and cheaply purchase, from a home-brew supply store, an instrument called a hydrometer that will measure the level of sugars in a fermenting alcohol. By taking such readings, you can precisely measure the ABV. This works only if you’re starting from scratch and if no alcohol is present, like in the Strawberry Wine Vinegar on this page. You can also take a much simpler approach and just use your taste buds. To do this, you’ll need two alcoholic beverages, one of which is at 6 percent ABV and the other at 12 percent ABV; these will be the controls that you taste test your home brew against. If starting from a sugary base liquid that you’re first fermenting into alcohol and want to know what the approximate ABV is, taste it, then swish it around your mouth to let the alcohol settle on your palate. Next, do the same thing wi chocolate pretzels, milka chocolate, good pizza near me, homemade pizza sauce, popular alcoholic drinks,
ice cream png, savory pancakes, dinosaur birthday cake, easy pasta dinners, nutritionist degree, . Instead of worrying about how it’s all going to get done in time, all I do is glance at my game plan and realize I have nothing to do until, say, five P.M., and dinner will be ready promptly at eight o’clock. Nothing reduces stress for me more than a good game plan!
My wonderful assistant Barbara’s son Jason got married this year and Barbara offered to host the rehearsal dinner. As the date got closer, she admitted to me that she was in a full-blown panic. We all know that feeling! I said, let’s sit down and figure out how to do this in a way that won’t either break the bank or send you into a tailspin.
First, we talked about the menu. Instead of having the party catered, which would have been expensive, Barbara and I made a list of all the delicious prepared foods she could buy locally that she could serve buffet-style. She ordered spicy brisket sandwiches and smoky baked beans from Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, New York, plus huge pots of New England clam chowder and lobster rolls from the Seafood Shop in Wainscott. Barbara and I then supplemented the list with easy things we could make like guacamole, vegetable coleslaw, and tarragon potato salad. Finally, Barbara’s daughter Rebecca offered to make a huge sheet cake for the prewedding dinner. Barbara admitted that once we broke the menu into small bites, the party didn’t seem nearly so overwhelming.
At the end of the day, foolproof is really about cooking with confidence. I hope that as you cook your way through this book you’ll feel as though we’re taking a little journey together. You’re cooking and I’m standing quietly next to you ready to answer any question that you might have along the way. As I said, it’s a little like driving a car. Everyone can do it, and as with driving, the more experience you have, the more easily you’ll make the small adjustments along the way that ensure success. I hope in this book you’ll find lots of foolproof recipes and easy ideas that help you cook with more confidence than you’ve ever felt in the kitchen.
10 foolproof tips for cooking
1. Read the entire recipe before you start cooking. You don’t want to discover the beans need to soak overnight when guests are due to arrive in an hour.
2. Follow the recipe precisely when you make it the first time. After that, you can always modify it to your personal taste.
3. Buy the right ingredients. Using table salt instead of kosher salt or crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes can really change a recipe.
4. Set most of the ingredients out on the counter before you start cooking so you don’t run around like a crazy person or forget to add something to the recipe.
5. Unless you’re Julia Child or an Iron Chef, measure all your ingredients. Use wet measures (glass measuring cups) for wet ingredients and dry measures (cups and teaspoons) for dry ingredients. I also use a small kitchen scale, which is a great tool for measuring.
6. Smell or taste ingredients for freshness before adding them to a recipe. Using fish, eggs, milk, or olive oil that are even slightly off can wreck even the most carefully made dish.
7. Taste for seasonings while you’re cooking to see how the dish is progressing—except, obviously, things like raw chicken and hot caramel!
8. Grind your own black peppercorns and Parmesan cheese. It’s amazing what a difference it makes.
9. Don’t walk away from something simmering on the stove. While you’re not looking, liquids can boil over or evaporate and ruin a perfectly good dish. Check them every 5 minutes or so to be sure the heat’s right.
10. Store all food well, both raw ingredients and cooked dishes. Keep fresh meats and fish very cold and keep vegetables wrapped or in the crisper in your fridge. Allow cooked dishes to cool to room temperature and then wrap them tightly—and label them!—before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
Perfect Pound Cake