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.
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.
from The Orange County Register
September 14, 2001
by Judy Bart Kancigor
When Hana Lustigova Greenfield returned to her native Czechoslovakia in 1945 after liberation from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she miraculously found her sister, then her rabbi, who was preparing the synagogue for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). He had the sisters cut an apple and dip the slices in honey, telling them, "As bitter as was our past life, we should have a sweet future."
Just one of hundreds of stories in "The Foods of Israel Today" (Knopf $40), the latest book by Joan Nathan, the award-winning author of "Jewish Cooking in America" and host of the PBS TV series of the same name. More than a cookbook, it is an exhaustively researched and compellingly told saga of a vibrant land and its diverse people, from its rich ancient history through its beleaguered present.
Nathan is a tireless investigator and a good listener. She entered the kitchens of both ordinary Israelis and popular restaurants, gathering stories to accompany the 300 recipes from Jews, Christians and Moslems.
The Orange County Register
September 9, 2004
by Judy Bart Kancigor
When the exotic yellow Barhi date first appears in the open-air markets of Israel, no one needs a calendar to sense that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is approaching. So, too, did the ancient Hebrews mark the seasons with cues from nature - the ripening of wheat in spring, the profusion of figs in summer, pomegranate harvest in fall, the pressing of olives in winter.
Rosh Hashanah, which starts at sundown Sept. 15, began as an agricultural festival and might have remained so if not for the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, which forced the Jewish people into exile. "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking" by Phyllis Glazer with her sister, Miriyam Glazer, (HarperCollins, $29.95), explores, through mouthwatering recipes and their fascinating origins, how the holidays were remolded by the rabbis and sages in the Diaspora.
"There were no familiar signs of nature for the people to follow in their new land," Phyllis Glazer explained, visiting from her home in Israel, where she is a cookbook author and well-known food journalist. "The rabbis sought to save the holidays and give them other meanings.''
"There's a beautiful line in one of the Psalms: 'How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?' " added Miriyam, a professor of literature and a rabbinical student at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. "And so the rabbis looked for scriptural evidence in the Bible itself in order to preserve the festivals."
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
September 19, 2003
by Judy Bart Kancigor
from The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
September 26, 2003