I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Preparing for the weekend.

My new book The Bread Baker's Apprentice arrived yesterday. I spent some time looking through it. To say the least this is a must have awesome book if you care anything about making good bread. If you are content with Wonder Bread then don't waste your money. I have been serious about making good bread ever since I started my quest to make Gino's Pizza. I even made a serious study and a serious effort to master wild-yeast breads, or sourdough bread. It has been a few years since I kept a sourdough starter going because my last one got infected and I threw it out. The other reason I haven't started a new culture is because I tried one when I first came to my present location and the bread that it made didn't taste all that good. You see, the quality of sourdough bread you can make depends largely upon the type of yeast that grows wild where you live. I gave up after a few months. I thought I would try it again, and early this week I started a new culture using my old and top secret methods. When I got the book yesterday the first thing I did was open to his chapter on wild-yeasted breads. To my surprise, his method for making sourdough is almost identicle to mine, with a few refinements. I came to my present method after years of experimentation and many, many, many crappy loaves. Unfortunately there really weren't any good books on sourdough until I bought The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Every book I looked at had little bits and pieces of the puzzle but no one place had the whole picture. To get the whole picture took me years of experimentation.

Also looking through the book, he approaches bread with the idea that you will have to make it at home, and that you don't have $20,000 steam injected ovens and proofing boxes. I think I could really get along well with this guy. He seems to have the same passion for tasty food that I do, and his book certainly shows the depths to which the food-obsessed will go to perfect something.

There are many new recipes in the book that I will have to try out, and he introduces a new concept to me - baking by weight according to baker's formulas. I have to get a scale today.

Anyway the plans for food this weekend should make some supremely tasty dishes. Tonight I am taking the wife on a date to an Indian restaraunt that we like a lot. I make tons of Indian food at home, but not this weekend. I was shopping at a store that I have nicknamed 'Whole Paycheck' yesterday and I found a certain Indian spice that is very hard to come by, even in Indian grocery stores. I think it is a conspiracy. This particular spice is an absolute necessity for certain dishes to taste right, and many recipes intentionally leave it out (I think) so that those of us of non-Indian descent cannot make tasty Indian food at home. As with everything else at 'Whole Paycheck' it was of high quality but extremely expensive.

One technique that shows up in The Bread Baker's Apprentice is the technique of cold fermentation. I discovered this on my own several years ago when I was trying to figure out why Gino's tastes so good (see the part in my recipe about refrigerating the dough). Gino's uses the technique as a convenience rather than as an enhancement. I started making most of my breads using the cold-fermentation technique after I tasted Gino's pizza dough. The author's method is a little more deliberate than mine was, and I am eager to try it. Everything I was doing he does one step better. I love this book. So for tomorrow I will start a cold fermenting baguette tonight. Tomorrow we will have an all time classic - Boeuf Bourguignon with baguettes. I will post my recipe for Beef Burgundy and his recipe for the baguettes tomorrow. Until then, Bon Appetite!