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what the New
has to say about Room For Dessert
the San Francisco Examiner gave
Room For Dessert an incredible write-up, which you can read
Francisco Examiner Review
Welcome to my
web site. If it's your first time, I hope you come back often, and
if you are a regular, thanks for coming back!
back on the road travelling and teaching. This month I will be giving
classes at all three Sur La Table's stores in the San Francisco
Bay Area, as well as their stores in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington.
Afterwards I head down to southern California to Laguna Niguel (near
San Diego) and to Westlake Village, as suburb of Los Angeles. Please
check my schedule page for more details.
I will also
be making radio appearances, as well as an in-store demonstration
at Bloomingdales in Los Angeles.
been almost a month, and I am still a bit bleary from New Year's
Eve. We made it a weekend-long celebration at friend John Scharffenberger's
house (of the famed Scharffen Berger Chocolate) in Philo, which
is in the Anderson Valley, about 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco.
I figured if the world ended, I should at least be surrounded by
orchards and vineyards. What a way to go.
I'm checking out the cider!
If you read
Saveur magazine, you may have read the delightful article about
The Apple Farm in the March of 1999 issue. The owners of the farm,
Sally and Don Schmitt were the original owners of The French Laundry
restaurant in the Napa Valley. Since selling the restaurant to Thomas
Keller in 1993, they moved to a viticultural area more remote than
the now-booming (and developed) Napa Valley, and took up organic
apple farming. They now have 2000 apple trees.
Staying at their
farm stand, I hoarded all forms of apple, including apple cider
vinegar, apple balsamic vinegar, hard apple cider, dried apple rings,
and of course, bags of crisp organic apples.
I must admit
that the apple juice really astounded me at the first gulp; I had
forgotten how rich and complex apple juice could (and should) be,
especially if you're used to the supermarket variety. Sally has
been teaching classes at the farm for years, and recently they've
built a few additional rooms for their cooking school guests and
are now able to take others. Instead of a "Bed & Breakfast" Sally
has what she calls a "Bread & Toast" which you're welcome to enjoy
anywhere you darn well please. I don't know about you, but my ideal
breakfast is a basket of warm toast with homemade jams, butter,
and a steaming pot of really strong coffee--not the usual groaning
board of waffles, muffins, flavored butters and the like served
elsewhere. And sitting amongst an arbor of apples trees sipping
coffee in handmade earthenware mugs with Sally and Don is far more
nourishing than watching them toil over a hot stove. (I don't like
watching people labor over the stove in the morning--folks should
relax over coffee while hunched over the newspaper in the morning!)
You can order
many of Sally's products, including handmade jams, chutneys, vinegars
and other foodstuffs. They're now making an apple balsamic vinegar
which has a surprisingly floral aroma (since apples are members
of the rose family) and I'm going to try it drizzled over vanilla
ice cream. But I truly worship their apple cider syrup; it's cider
that has been boiled down to a thick liquid with the consistency
of molasses, but with the flavor of tart apples.
Sally and her
daughter Karen Bates also teach weekend and Thursday classes throughout
the year in their warm and stunning kitchen set amongst the apple
orchard. Classes include preserving, picking, and general cooking
and baking. For more information about visiting or ordering products,
call them at:
18501 Greenwood Road
Philo, CA 95466
some passion in your life for Valentine's Day?
mean, passionfruit! Sometimes this perky favorite of mine can be
hard-to-find and even the most finicky pastry chef, myself included,
knows that frozen passionfruit pulp is an excellent alternative
to fresh juice if unavailable. Since there are 2 passionfruit recipes
in Room For Dessert, you can order frozen pulp in 1 kg (2.2 pound)
packages from http://www.qzina.com.
The 1 kg package
keeps beautifully in the freezer and pulp is delicious added to
orange juice or sparkling water for a tropical taste that I find
unbeatable. You can also make an impromptu batch of my favorite
drink, the Tropical Itch, for your next Polynesian party!
If you love
food-and you like to travel (and you want to spend a week with me...)
you'll be interested in a trip that I'm planning for April 22-30th.
a group of twelve people on a personalized tour the bakeries of
Paris and the chocolate shops of Belgium.
fun 8-day tour will be devoted to discovering and savoring the finest
confections in the world. We'll get a very exclusive behind-the-scenes
look at the Callebaut Chocolate factory in Belgium, where blocks
of chocolate are made from roasted imported cocoa beans. I'll take
you to some of my favorite chocolate shops in Brussels (we'll have
some waffles and french fries too!). While in Brussels, we'll have
dinner at the 3-star Comme Chez Soi restaurant, which is world-famous
for their impeccable seafood.
our chocolate passions in Belgium, we'll journey to Paris for an
exclusive tour of the Ecole Lenôtre, the famed pastry school
and bakery. We'll get a personalized tour and see artisan breads
hand-formed and baked, confectioners working their magic with sugar,
fantastic edible sculptures of nougatine, and their highly-regarded
catering kitchen. I'll also be taking us to some of my favorite
bakeries in Paris, as well as some extraordinary chocolate shops.
to Normandy to spend a day with cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis,
author of six books including the French Farmhouse Cookbook. Susan
will prepare lunch for us in her restored 15th century house. Afterwards
we'll visit Monet's famous kitchen and gardens.
The tour will
be limited to twelve guests. For additional information, you can
contact Anne Block at email@example.com
or telephone at 323-737-2200. Or visit her web site at http://www.takemymotherplease.com
package recently arrived on my doorstep. After I carefully inspected
and unwrapped it, I found burrowed under several layers of padding
a small amber bottle of pure chocolate extract, something I had
seen in passing at 'specialty' stores (I hate the word 'gourmet'
as it tends to mean aloof, snooty and foreboding). The funny thing
was, it was sent to me by a fellow who I had gone to college with
and had seen my book! He majored in politics, I majored in filmmaking.
The world is truly a small place.
As it turns
out, the chocolate extract was a product of the Star Kay White company
which has been making extracts since 1890. Chocolate extract is
made in a similar manner as vanilla extract; the cocoa beans are
steeped in a mixture of alcohol and water. Instead of using it in
lieu of chocolate in a recipe, its lusty cocoa aroma is best suited
for flavoring chocolate desserts as well as whipped cream, meringues
and custards. According to the company, when cocoa is typically
processed for chocolate, some of the 'top-notes' of the flavor are
lost. By adding a few teaspoons of chocolate extract, you're desserts
should have a richer, more full chocolate flavor.
I can indeed
attest to the persuasive aroma of this chocolate extract; I spilled
some on my T-shirt and I spent the rest of the day inhaling the
most wonderful chocolate fragrance imaginable! If you love chocolate
you might try dabbing a little behind your ears like perfume... Or
infusing some of your favorite hand lotion.... Or adding a few drops
to the pool of wax of a lit candle to scent your room deliciously
sounded a bit funny to me at first, I've taken a shine to this product.
Star Kay White pure Chocolate Extract is available at Dean and DeLuca
and Williams-Sonoma stores. You can also call the company at (914)
268-2600 for ordering information.
when you see it on Martha, you heard it here first!
Be sure to check
out my schedule page for upcoming events,
My schedule changes frequently. (Sometimes too frequently!)
If you'd like
to be notified when the site is updated and of special events, type
your Email address into the subscriber field
under the menu bar to the left. For privacy, your Email address
is never given away.
In some recent
classes, I've made marshmallows as part of a tasty Rocky Road that
I made using roasted peanuts, bittersweet chocolate and ground cocoa
nibs. Although I often demonstrate marshmallows that don't use egg
whites, I've decided after a few sleepless nights that I like these
fluffy marshmallows the best of all!
is based on one that I learned while studying confectionary in Paris
at the Ecole Lenôtre. In France, 'guimauve' or marshmallows
are often tinted with colorings or made with added flavors. I prefer
mine white and vanilla-y.
Depending on how big you cut 'em...this recipe makes
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
about 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted together
1. In a small
bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 cup of cold water to dissolve
2. In a saucepan
fitted with a candy thermometer, mix the sugar and corn syrup with
1/3 cup of water. Place over medium-to-high heat.
3. In the bowl
of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed
until frothy. Add the pinch of salt.
4. When the
syrup reaches between 210 and 220 degrees, increase the speed of
the mixer and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy (do
5. When the
syrup reaches 245 degrees, while the mixer is whipping, pour the
syrup into the whites. Pour so that the syrup does not fall on the
whip, otherwise much of the syrup will splatter onto the sides of
the bowl, not into the egg whites.
6. Scrape the
gelatin and water into the pan that you used for the syrup and swirl
it to dissolve (it should be hot enough from the syrup to dissolve
it). Pour the liquified gelatin into the whites as they are whipping.
Add the vanilla and continue to whip for 5 minutes.
7. Dust with
a sifter a 11x 17 (approximately) baking sheet evenly and completely
with cornstarch mixture. Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows
in a layer on the pan. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours or overnight,
8. Use a sharp
knife or scissors to cut the marshmallows into pieces and toss in
the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Put the marshmallows
in a colander or strainer and shake off the excess cornstarch mixture.
Store in an
airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
To make Rocky
Toss 3-4 cups of marshmallows and 1 1/2 cups of roasted peanuts
in 1 1/4 pounds of tempered chocolate and spread on a baking sheet
lined with plastic film. Cool briefly and cut into rectangles.
If you don't
want to temper your chocolate, store the Rocky Road in the refrigerator
until ready to eat.
of Room For Dessert have a slight printing error.
Tapioca Pudding on page 69 should have 1 egg instead of 3. The recipe
will work fine with 3 eggs, but the pudding will be a bit more runny
than I like it.
It's corrected in the second printing.
Also please let
me know how you like the site, what you would like to see, and
if you have baking questions, use the question
and answer page.
been making desserts for over 20 years, both in restaurants
such as Chez Panisse and at home. I've had little professional
training, instead, I've learned most of what I know from actually
doing it. I've made the mistakes, learned the hard way, and
realized that it's not fancy techniques or expensive equipment
that will make better and tastier desserts, but knowing what
you like, developing some basic skills, and learning to taste
with your mouth, as well as all of your senses.
believe that good desserts start with the best ingredients.
When I invent a dessert, I begin with perfect ingredients.
I may have dark bittersweet chocolate... tart, juicy berries...
amber-colored, burnished caramel... glossy, roasted espresso
beans... then I think of a dessert that will best highlight
these flavors. A chocolate cake should be the essence of great
chocolate, a peach shortcake should feature utterly-ripe,
juicy peaches tossed in a gentle sprinkle of sugar to coax
out all their sweet flavor, a fruit sorbet should taste just
about like biting into the ripe fruit itself.
my book, Room For Dessert, I present to home cooks
some of my favorite desserts Many are classics, some are new,
and a good deal of them I developed while working for over
12 years at the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley,
goal is to encourage you to bake. I don't want to spend a
week in the kitchen, so most of what I do is easy to prepare...
with excellent results! As always, I'm still learning too.
Every time I crack an egg, slice open a plum, or melt chocolate,
I learn something.
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