If you’re the type who thinks of the “main course” as dessert rather than the entrée, read on.
Alice Medrich knows a thing or two about dessert. Dubbed the “patron saint of chocoholics” by the San Francisco Chronicle, she is the founder of Cocolat, the legendary and innovative Bay Area pastry company that revolutionized chocolate making from the mid 1970’s to the early ‘90’s. Since then her books have won the coveted Cookbook of the Year and Book of the Year awards from the James Beard Foundation and The International Association of Culinary Professionals three times.
While we know and love Medrich for her life in chocolate, her latest cookbook “Pure Dessert” (Artisan, $35) focuses on our favorite course using flavorful, inspired ingredients, from fresh cheeses and yogurts to Tahitian vanilla, all prepared simply.
Sour Cream Ice Cream. Plum and Almond Tart. Chestnut Tuiles. Jasmine Panna Cotta. If overly sweetened, frilly, gooey desserts are your thing, look elsewhere. The emphasis here is simply flavor.
“The best chefs cook savory food simply, with the best ingredients,” she writes. “Why don’t we make more desserts that way?”
Each chapter offers recipes centered on natural ingredients: milk; grain, nuts and seeds; fruit; chocolate (of course!); honey and sugar; herbs and spices, flowers and leaves; wine, beer and spirits.
Whether she’s brewing jasmine tea for tuiles or caramelizing sugar for honey caramels, this master teacher encourages rather than intimidates with clear, precise instructions. Thirty-one introductory pages guide you through proper techniques, equipment and shopping for ingredients.
The most important tip for a beginner, she advises, is what the French call mise en place, setting out and preparing all the ingredients in advance.
Schalet, cholent, kugel, charlotte – any connection?
In my latest column on OU's website I find that one of these favorite dishes is the ancestor of the others. Can you guess what it is? Read the full story.
Watch the video as I prepare Stuffed Orange Sweet Potato Cups with the ebullient Shelley Goldberg, NY1’s Parenting Consultant, and kibbutz about holiday food traditions you can take part in with your children.
RECIPES FEATURED IN THIS SEGMENT
In a jam? Try this recipe for Hanukkah doughnuts.
The Orange County Register/Fullerton News Tribune
November 29, 2007
by Judy Bart Kancigor
An old joke goes like this: The Jewish holidays are always either early or late. They’re never on time!
Hanukkah sneaks up on us early this year. We’ll begin lighting candles at sundown on December 4, so prepare for an oil crisis, and I’m not referring to the price of gas. Who knew when Judah Maccabee's tiny flask of oil miraculously burned for eight days that for thousands of years Jewish families would celebrate by frying!
While Jews of Eastern Europe descent eat mountains of latkes (potato pancakes), the Hanukkah treat in Israel is sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
Fullerton's Pnina Shichor, a former teacher and proprietor of Bound to Travel on Euclid, has been making them for years.
"When my children were young," she recalled, "my cousin, Esther Schechter, and I would do Hanukkah at Rolling Hills Elementary School. We'd tell the story, sing songs, and teach the children to make sufganiyot."
When the Shichors were considering transferring daughter Nomi to Jewish day school, Nomi said, "But, Mom, if I go there, who will do Hanukkah for our class?"
Pnina's mother-in-law, Malka Suranyi, brought the recipe from Budapest where the family survived under Nazi rule. Luckily an uncle owned an exclusive men's clothing store, which the Nazis wanted, so they kept the workers alive. After the war the Communists took over, and Pnina's husband, David, professor of criminal justice at Cal State San Bernardino, was barely 16 when the Jewish Agency smuggled him and other children out of Hungary.
My column on OU's web site features easy latkes for Hanukkah. Click here to read it.
One of the area’s more, shall we say, interesting dining establishments recently was not a newly opened theme restaurant or even an established eatery, but the Del Mar Race Track, where thousands of evacuated refugees from San Diego’s raging fires found solace, comfort and more than sustenance.
“The food was great and the experience uplifting,” said Mark Sherman of Del Mar Heights, who got what he termed “our first reverse 911 call” to get ready at about six pm on Monday, October 22, followed by the evacuation order a couple of hours later.
“This was not your New Orleans nightmare,” he said. “About a thousand evacuees at the shelter were all cooperative, supportive, and well managed by the uniformed Army and National Guard personnel.”
The shelter was located under the stands of the racetrack, where, during summer, guests with far less on their minds leisurely stroll through the Del Mar Fair Art Show.
Once inside, the Shermans were directed to the far end of the area reserved for people without pets. “We were assisted to cots carried by a military escort,” Sherman said. “They provided toothbrushes, etc. The pillows, blankets and sheets were all new and still in the package, I think from Wal-Mart.”
The couple got to sleep at about two am and awoke at about six to the smell of fresh coffee. “People were lining up for breakfast,” he recalled, “coffee, fruit, milk, cereals, hot bagels and cream cheese from Garden State Bagels, then trays of Krispy Kreme donuts. My two ‘emergency’ Nature Valley granola bars and the water we brought was a joke. They had enough water to bring life to the desert and enough granola bars, pretzels, chips, candy, and snack food to feed Iraq for a year.”
As I travel around the country on my book tour, I'm writing my column from the road. Here's my favorite dining spot in Allentown!
If it’s Tuesday it must be Allentown, I thought, as my plane hit the runway. Stop number two on my book tour, but this gig was special, because I would be staying with my oldest, dearest friend.
Arlene picked me up at the airport and said, “Let’s have lunch.” She didn’t have to ask where I wanted to go. Pistachio’s is always my first choice.
Owners Sid and Lynne Stetcher joined us, but this wasn’t the usual meeting of friends. For this column from the road, I wanted to find out what makes this restaurant special.
I asked Sid if I could talk to the chef and was surprised when he informed me, “There is no chef!” Stetcher employs only line cooks and personally trains them himself. “I don’t need a prima donna,” he said. “I have one wife. I don’t need another.”
Having no formal training, Stetcher, a self-professed foodie, claims a natural affinity. “I see it as an art form,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed food, and I’m blessed with good taste buds.”
In my latest column on OU's website, I help some nostalgic friends and relatives recreate two cookie recipes they remember from the past.
A&E’s Dog the Bounty Hunter tracks down fugitives and brings them to justice. The History Detectives on PBS search for clues to unlock mysteries of the past. Just call me the Cookery Sleuth, Seeker of Lost Recipes and Restorer of Dreams. Click here to continue.
It has been revered since Biblical times as a symbol of fertility, good health and immortality. Celebrated by King Solomon in the Song of Songs, this tangy, many-seeded fruit with its crimson-hued, leathery shell was abundant in the Garden of Eden and is even thought by some scholars to have been the real “apple” that tempted Eve.
For the Jewish people, the pomegranate has special significance on Rosh Hashanah as one of the special foods that serve as auspicious omens for the year to come. “The pomegranate is a powerful visual and sensory omen that we eat during the holiday time to remind us of the way we’re supposed to act,” said Laura Frankel, author of “Jewish Cooking for All Seasons” (Wiley, $34.95) a joyful, accessible celebration of Jewish cooking throughout the year.
“The seeds of the pomegranate supposedly add up to 613, if you took the time to count,” she said,