I almost never tear recipes out of magazines, but leafing through Saveur on the 8 a.m.  Houston to Cleveland flight, this recipe caught me because I’d been wanting a soft, comfort-food, James-friendly dinner roll, the kind of Parker House roll that’s slightly sweet and yeasty and soft as a pillow. Turns out this recipe comes from thefreshloaf.com, which says that the recipe is adapted from Great Country Breads of the World. There really are no new recipes, only adaptations of adaptations. What I don’t like about any of these recipes is the enormous volume of flour measured in cups.  I did the Saveur recipe exactly and the dough was very stiff—how could I know if this was the way it was supposed to be since flour by volume is so variable.  But the flavor was Read On »

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Over the weekend I made a recipe I tore from the recent issue of Saveur.  I don’t use many recipes but I’ve been looking for a flavorful, soft, comforting roll to make and this one enticed. Maddeningly though, it called for 5 cups of flour.  Normally when I make bread, I set the mixing bowl on the scale and pour in whatever weight I want.  But here I found myself scooping out cups, scraping off the top, flour drifting over the counter and cutting board. But more than the mess, was the variable amount: given that flour can weigh 4 ounces a cup or as much as 6 ounces, I didn’t know if I had 20 ounces of flour or 30 ounces—a 50% difference.  According to the standard bread ratio, if it were the former, Read On »

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After my minor salt rant, a number of people asked which salt to use and what I thought about various salts.  There are a mind-numbing array of salts out there, even big blocks of salt you can cook and serve on.  But, with apologies to Mark Bitterman, whose work and business I truly admire, I stick to three salts.  Kosher is my all-purpose, everyday, really-don’t-need-any-other-kind salt.  I use Morton’s because that’s what my grocery store stocks. If they offered a choice, I’d use Diamond Crystal, which is flakier and doesn’t have any anti-caking agents in it.  It’s just salt.  I use fine sea salt to season fish and vegetables I eat raw.  And I use a finishing salt for visual and textural appeal, fleur de sel or Maldon. I was given some smoked salt, which Read On »

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This granola smelled so good when it was baking it actually drew Donna out of bed early on a weekend morning—she’s a winter bear and not easily extracted from within the comforter.  So I had to post, even though I’ve already posted on granola.  This uses the same technique of creating a sweet fruity sauce to toss with the oats and nuts, which I love.  Instead of strawberries and banana I used crisp sweet apples (next time I’ll see how using Granny Smiths work), pureed in a blender skin and all.  By chance, as I was avoiding getting to work by poking around in favorite blogs this morning, and I came across David Lebovitz’s granola, which uses apple sauce (from a Nigella Lawson recipe); David notes that any fruit puree will work.  So, the notion Read On »

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I normally don’t brine chicken.  I roast a chicken about once a week and it’s a step I just don’t think about since salting the bird before I roast it works perfectly fine.  Also, I don’t like the skin of a brined and roasted bird—it’s too thin and dehydrated.  But on Sunday, I had the time and was curious to find out if, as I’ve read and repeated, meat that has been brined is heavier (and therefore potentially juicier) than non-brined meat.  I also had fresh herbs left over from the dumplings in the previous post.  While I always use a rosemary brine for fried chicken, I was curious to find out if the more delicate tarragon flavor would come through in the flesh of the bird.  So I made a brine using my standard, Read On »

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