Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Doubting Doug

The Doubting Doub - Our Summer House Cocktail

Douglas, who is married to Sharyn (a fantastic cook) and is a dab hand in the kitchen himself, has an elegant palate. He prefers gin to vodka. (Who doesn't?) And, I agree it’s almost impossible to beat a Plymouth Gin & Fever Tree Indian Tonic on a hot summer's day.  But the drink I named The Doubting Doug, which comes with two caveats, is a revelation to us Gin & Tonic drinkers and does just that (even though Doug doesn't believe me).

First, you must use Fever Tree MEDITERRANEAN Tonic; second, you must use half a lime for each drink.  

Just give it a try. No one will call the police.  

The Doubting Doug
For one drink


Squeeze half a lime into an old-fashioned glass. Fill the glass with ice then pour one shot of vodka (we use Tito’s) over the ice. Top with chilled Fever Tree MEDITERRANEAN Tonic.  Stir with a bar spoon and plop the spent half into the drink.  

Sharyn & Douglas

Douglas on Thanksgiving in his clan tartan

Friday, May 12, 2023

Pasta with Eggplant, Tomato, Basil, and Cheese

Pasta with Eggplant, Tomato, Basil, and Cheese
Pasta Sorta Norm
Adapted from Rachel Eats by Rachel Roddy

Inspired by, but not, Pasta Alla Norma, a dish typical to Catania in Sicily

Serves 4

This was my favorite new dish of summer 2022; I have already made it about a million times. When I’m making it for 2 (which is, essentially, always), I use 1 Italian eggplant (about 8 ounces), but I do not change the amount of tomatoes.

I definitely prefer the pecorino Romano cheese here over the Parmesan or ricotta salata.

1 eggplant (I use 1 small Italian, not Japanese, eggplant  weighing about 8 ounces.)

Extra virgin olive oil.

2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thick slices

400g tinned plum tomatoes, roughly chopped


Fresh basil (If you don't have fresh basil, do not substitute dried; just skip it.)

Pecorino Romano, or Parmesan, or ricotta salata 

Short pasta - penne or rigatoni work well. (I make 4 ounces max of pasta per person for a dinner portion, usually penne, and, I think, this is very generous. For a starter portion, use no more than 2 ounces per person.)

Cut the spiky cap from the eggplant, and then cut the eggplant into 1 cm thick slices. Cut the slices into 1 cm cubes, first cutting in one direction. then perpendicular in the other. (A centimeter is slightly more than 1/4 of an inch.)

Cover the bottom of a frying pan with 1 cm of olive oil, and warm over a medium/high flame. Once the oil is quite hot, add a single layer of eggplant, and cook until tender and golden, then remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate. If all the eggplant isn’t cooked, continue cooking the eggplant in batches until it is all done.

You should still have some olive oil in the pan; if not, add some more. You want about 4 tablespoons. Once the olive oil has cooled a little, add the garlic and cook until lightly gold and fragrant – do not let it burn, or it will be bitter.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often and pressing gently with the back of a wooden spoon, until thick and saucy but not dry. Add salt to taste. Add the eggplant cubes to the tomatoes, cook for another minute or so, then pull from the heat, and STILL OFF THE HEAT add a handful of fresh torn basil leaves. Do not substitute dried basil. If you don't have fresh, leave it out.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Once the water is boiling, add salt, stir and then add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain or scoop the pasta and add to the sauce and stir.  Add cheese and stir before serving.  

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Things I Like

 From Gustiamo

Gustarossa also packs San Marzano's, but I like the above better. It's not a matter of cost.

I get these Porcini Mushrooms. They pack them in a smaller amount, but since I make this Rigatoni with White Bolognese regularly, I like to have them on hand. I strain them through a small pour-over coffee strainer, like this one, which I also use to make Rachel Roddy's Spaghetti (note spaghetti, not linguine) with Clams.

I order most of my pasta from Buonitalia, but I do get Faella linguine (which I only use with an alfredo-type sauce, not with clams; with clams I use spaghetti) and Faella bucatini from Gustiamo. I buy these in the 5-pound packages. They have a maximum shipping cost of a little under $20 no matter the weight. Also, they usually have a sale the Monday after Thanksgiving with free shipping as a promotion so I order a year's worth of tomatoes at that time and also send some Christmas presents.

This is where I get the rest of my pasta, Pastaficio Setaro, specifically spaghetti chitarra, penne, rigatoni, and a little shape called nodi marini (marine knot), which stays delightfully chewy. They seem to be out of stock of penne and nodi marini now, but they usually replenish their stock pretty quickly.

I learned about Pasta Setaro from Luisa, The Wednesday Chef. At the time, like her, I was able to go to Buonitalia to buy it myself, and that's when I got "hooked" on it. If you check out that link of hers, read it to the bottom and find the hidden recipe for spaghetti with ricotta. It's a gem.

I order IQF shrimp 21-25 per pound and always keep them in my freezer. They are wild Georgia shrimp. This is a. family owned and operated company. The shrimp are delicious, but the shipping can be expensive because you should get the red (two-day) shipping if you are in a zone for it. It's worth it. Having these in the freezer is like money in the bank. These are shrimp - no salt, no preservatives, nothing but shrimp.

From here I get real Hungarian Sweet Paprika, house brand sweet mango chutney, and basmati rice in 10-pound bags.

Their grapeseed oil is beyond compare. I get the 5L jug. The first time I ordered it, I also ordered a 1L can, which I keep handy and refill and it is used up.

I use their white balsamic vinegar, Vanishing Grape, for all my salads. I also get their apple cider vinegar, which is very strong, and just use a little (tiny amount) at a time. I consider this soft of a "finishing" vinegar - a little goes a long way.

Amazon links are affiliate.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Mrs. Chang's Shrimp & Scallions

 Adapted from Myers & Chang by Joanne Chang

Joanne Chang is a baker and the owner of Flour Bakery and Cafe in Boston and Cambridge, MA, and co-owner with her husband, Christopher Myers, of Myers & Chang, an "Asian-ish" restaurant in Boston. She has written four cookbooks, Flour, Flour Too, Pastry Love, and Myers and Chang at Home

David Lebovitz adapted her thin chocolate chip cookie from Pastry Love and that has become one of my "house" cookies, so thin and crisp it almost shatters if you look at it.

This recipe, which was a "signature go-to" dish of her mother's while she was growing up, is delicious.

I always have IQF wild Georgia shrimp, jumbo (21 to 25 per pound) in my freezer. They are shipped to me from Anchored Shrimp Company, a family-owned and operated seafood company in Brunswick, GA. They are shrimp - no preservatives, no salt, no anything but shrimp. Having them in the freezer is like money in the bank.  

Mrs. Chang's Stir-Fried Shrimp & Scallions

For 4

1-1/2 pounds large (21 to 25 shrimp per pound) shrimp
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger (about a 2-inch knob)
2 to 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large egg whites
A pinch (what I use) of red pepper flakes*
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup stock, chicken or vegetable (I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base.)
1 tablespoon sugar (I use Domino Golden.)
1-1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
Black pepper to taste
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use Salute Santé Grapeseed.)
4 or 5 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

*The recipe calls for 1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, so adjust accordingly to your taste.

Amazon links are affiliate.

You can cook this recipe in a wok or a large, heavy flat-bottomed skillet.

Combine the shrimp, ginger, garlic, egg whites, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch in a large bowl and mix well. In a small bowl whisk together the ketchup, stock, sugar, salt, pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch until well combined.

Heat the vegetable oil in your pan over high heat until it shimmers. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the shrimp start to turn pink and get a little crispy around the edges. If your heat is high enough, this will take about 1 minute.

Add the ketchup mixture, and simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn the heat off, stir in the scallions, and serve immediately with rice (I make basmati.)

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Flourless Almond Cake (Amandier)

Adapted from From Baklava to Tarte Tatin by Bernard Laurance 

This is the little black dress of cakes. It’s a one-bowl cake, easy to make. It’s very sticky, not cake-y, rather like the difference between a brownie and a piece of chocolate cake.  It will be a thin disc of a cake to be served with whipped cream. I usually add a little Amaretto liqueur to the cream before I whip it. I also like it with Jeni’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream, but vanilla would be good too.

I have adapted this recipe quite a lot. The original recipe calls for almond flour, sifted, but I blitz my own unblanched almonds not quite as fine as commercial almond flour, and I definitely do not sift the ground almonds. I can't quite decide if I notice the difference between toasting the almonds and not toasting them, which probably means it's nice but not necessary.  The original recipe calls for baking the cake in a 6-inch cake pan, but I usually double the recipe and bake it in an 8-inch cake pan. If you want to use a 6-inch pan, half the recipe. 


This is best made the day before you are going to serve it, but don’t let that stop you if you want to make it the same day you are going to eat it; just make it early in the day.

Flourless Almond Cake


Ingredients for 8-inch cake


120 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled but still liquid, plus more for coating the pan

200 grams unblanched whole almonds, raw or roasted but definitely unsalted

1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt

100 grams confectioner’s sugar, sifted (I sift through a coarse sieve, not a flour sifter.) 

100 grams granulated sugar (I like Domino’s Golden Sugar)

2 large eggs at room temperature, beaten with

1 teaspoon vanilla extract




Preheat the oven to 325°F, not convection. If you're going to toast the almonds, now is the time to do it. Toast them in the oven 8 minutes, stirring at the 4-minute mark. Cool.


Generously butter the sides of an 8-inch cake pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper cut to fit. Do not butter the parchment paper.


Add the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the beaten egg, and beat again. 


Blitz the unblanched, toasted, cooled almonds in a food processor but don’t grind them as fine as commercial almond flour. They should not be reduced to a powder.  Do not sift.


In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt, sifted confectioner’s sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the beaten egg (to which you have added vanilla) and the cooled-but-still-liquid melted butter to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. The batter should be quite thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, and, using a small offset spatula, smooth the top.


Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out (sort of) clean. (In my oven 40 minutes is just right.) You want to turn it out of the pan quickly. After 2, but no more than 5 minutes, carefully run a small straight metal spatula around the cake in the pan.If it seems to be “pulling,” wait a minute and try again.  After you have done this, release the cake. If it doesn’t seem to release right away, hold it upside down for a minute, and it will release. Cool before serving.

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Monday, February 27, 2023

Shrimp Mixed Grill

 Adapted from the July 1993 Isssue of Gourmet Magazine

Most of my friends who like to cook were shocked when Condé Nast folded Gourmet Magazine, seemingly quite out of the blue. Fortunately, if you didn't keep paper copies of your favorite recipes, you can subscribe to Epicurious and often find what you are looking for there. 

This recipe was discovered by my friend Marsha. We made it at the beach in the summer of 2005. 

Shrimp Mixed Grill

You trim the stems off across the bottom of the mushrooms right up against the cap to make them flat and easy to skewer - side-to-side, not top-to-bottom.

We minced the cut-off mushroom stems and sautéed them in olive oil. We also sautéed some chopped red peppers and then turned the mushrooms and red peppers with A LOT of chopped parsley into the couscous we had already prepared to be served at room temperature. If my memory is correct all these years later, we used a package of Near East Roasted Olive Oil & Garlic Mix for the couscous.

Remember to soak the bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
¾ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons packed fresh thyme  
2 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (use less to make it less spicy)
32 large raw shrimp, peeled
32 cremini or white cultivated button mushrooms, stems trimmed flat right against the cap
1½ pounds andouille or other spicy, smoked, fully cooked sausage cut into ¾-inch-thick rounds.       
8 bamboo skewers soaked for 30 minutes in water

Process the olive oil, thyme, minced garlic, and crushed red pepper in a food processor fitted with the metal blade for 1 minute. Pour the resulting mixture into a large bowl, add the shrimp, and let stand for one hour at room temperature.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Thread one mushroom horizontally (side-to-side) on one skewer. Hold one sausage piece in the curve of one shrimp, and thread them together onto the skewer, sliding next to the mushroom above. Make sure the skewer goes through the shrimp in two places. Repeat, alternating sausage pieces inside shrimp and mushrooms on each skewer - shrimp with sausage, mushroom, shrimp with sausage, mushroom, and so on. If doing in advance, refrigerate skewers, but bring back to room temperature before grilling, and refrigerate marinade.

Prepare barbecue grill at medium-high heat. Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan whether it's been refrigerated or not. Arrange the skewers on the grill, and brush them with some of the just-boiled marinade. Grill until the shrimp are cooked through, turning occasionally and basting with marinade, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.  

Amazon links are affiliate.   


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Perfect Basmati Rice

Adapted from Made in India by Meera Sodha
Whenever I want plain perfectly-cooked rice, this is the recipe I use. I order my basmati rice from Kalustyan’s and buy Super Quality Basmati Rice Dehraduni/Indian White Extra-Long Grain in 10-pound bags.
For this dish I use an All-Clad 3-quart saucier, which, unfortunately, has been discontinued. I think a 3-quart covered sauté pan would work well. Meera Sodha uses a skillet with a lid. Whatever pot you use, it needs to have a lid. 
Mason Cash Cane Collection bowls are my favorite, and I have a nice selection in different sizes. They are no longer made in England, but except for the Batter Bowl, as of now they are made in Portugal. I have found that Everything Kitchens consistently has the best selections that I've seen.   
Perfect Basmati Rice
I know you don't use liquid measuring tools for dry ingredients, but in this case, since the instructions call for a ratio of rice (1) to water (1-1/2), I use a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup to measure both ingredients (not at the same time).
I use a stainless steel rice washing bowl and bless the day I discovered such a thing exits.  I put the rice in the rice washing bowl, rinse it till the water runs clear, and place the rice washing bowl into a Mason Cash Cane Size 24 bowl, fill it with cool water until the rice is covered, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. When it's time to drain the rice, the rice washing bowl tips easily, and the water runs out. This turns what could be a bit of a pain into an easy step. 
You can of course do the same thing with a strainer in a bowl provided the holes are small enough not to let the rice through.   
For 4
1 cup of basmati rice
1-1/2 cups of just-boiled water
2 tablespoons neutral oil (I use cold-pressed grapeseed)
¾ teaspoon salt
Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Let the rice soak in a bowl of cold water for at least 20 minutes. Drain.
Put the oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded shallow pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the drained rice stirring a couple of times to coat each grain in the warmed oil.
Pour in the boiling water, add the salt, stir once, and bring the rice to a boil, then put the lid on, and immediately turn the heat down to a simmer. Let it cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid.
When the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off, and let the rice rest for another 10 minutes. Before serving, fluff the rice with a fork.  
Amazon links are affiliate.   

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ailene's Chocolate Mousse

Ailene's Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from my friend Aliene Martin

My friend Lewis told me Ailene traveled around the United States in 1973 with Carl Sontheimer doing Cuisinart demonstrations to rapt audiences anxious to see the new piece of equipment that had been adapted from restaurant kitchens in France to the home kitchen. This was one of their recipes  

Serves 8 but can easily be cut in half.



The eggs in this recipe will not be cooked so make sure they are from a source you trust, and don't feed this to anyone with a compromised immune system, including the very young and the very old.

If your eggs are not at room temperature, put them in warm water until they are. 

I use chocolate between 64% and 70% cacao.


½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 eggs at room temperature
6 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate you have chopped by hand into small pieces 
2 tablespoons Cognac or 4 tablespoons Kahlúa, optional
1 cup cold heavy cream

Whipped cream for serving



Put ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a small saucepan, and boil until it dissolves into simple syrup.

Put two room-temperature large eggs and a pinch of salt into your food processor fitted with the metal blade, and whir until blended.

Add the 6 ounces of chocolate to the food processor bowl with the eggs in it, and whir until it's as combined as it's going to get. It may still be a little lumpy; don’t worry.

Next, while the machine is running, pour the still-hot simple syrup through the top of the food processor, which has the chocolate mixture in it. Whir until the chocolate is completely melted, and the mixture is smooth. Pour this mixture into a separate clean bowl, and set aside.

Add 1 cup of cold heavy cream to the unwashed but empty food processor bowl, and turn on the food processor until the cream whips.

Pour the chocolate mixture you have set aside back into the food processor, which has the whipped cream in it, along with 2 tablespoons of liqueur if you are using it. Whir again, and combine completely. It will be as thin as chocolate milk; don't be alarmed.

Pour this mixture into pots de crème, ramekins, small martini glasses, or a pretty glass bowl, and chill.

Serve with whipped cream.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why I Cook

MV Britannic

I am an only child who lived in New York City until I was ten years old at which time we moved to Bergen County New Jersey. My American grandfather owned a butcher shop on Broadway in the Manhattan area called Morningside Heights. I ate good - and healthy - food at home, cooked either by my English mother or my Italian-American grandmother.

Every other year when my mother took me home to visit her parents, we sailed back and forth from New York City to Liverpool on the MV Britannic, a Cunard White Star Liner..

On board ship, even when I was young, my mother and I ate each meal at the second seating in the dining room. I was never relegated to "nursery tea," which is when most children ate their last meal of the day. The food in the "grown-up" dining room was delicious, plated by stewards wearing white gloves, using French Service (two spoons in one hand). My favorite steward of all time was a young man, first name Bert, surname Lee, but I didn't "get it" and called him Bertley, like Bentley, one word. He was nice enough not to mind.

Once in England, even though post WWII rationing was still in effect, the food at home was also delicious. My grandfather there, in the Wirral, a pork butcher, made his own sausages and pork pies, similar to the ones you can get at Myers of Keswick on Hudson Street in NYC. For high tea, which is actually a workingman's meal, not the misnomer of what you would get if you went to a fancy American hotel to eat crustless sandwiches, tea cakes, and drink Champagne, we had pots of tea, crumbly Cheshire cheese, ripe cherry tomatoes, sharp green onions, freshly-laid eggs softly boiled, Hovis whole wheat bread sliced thin and buttered sparingly, and small fish paste sandwiches. There was always a Victoria sponge cake in the kitchen if you wanted a slice at the end of the meal. I can still, if you know what I mean, "sense" Sunday lunch - my favorite was roast leg of lamb with gravy and crunchy roast potatoes, convincing me then and forever that only the English can properly roast a potato.

After getting engaged at 19, I ate Sunday dinner at my future mother-in-law's, where the food was enthusiastically cooked. And when I married, a month shy of turning 21, I took the two cookbooks I had received as engagement presents, the 1964 Joy of Cooking and the blue, now well-worn, Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook inscribed by my friend Kathleen with the Thomas Wolf quote "There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves" and set myself to the task of learning to cook.

The very first meal I was going to cook, after I got home from work, was meat loaf, but my young husband was impatient and hungry, and it was going to take too long to get that dinner on the table, so I took a tip from Joy and made little individual "meatloaves" in a muffin tin. It was awful because I used dried parsley and didn't know to cut down on the amount in the recipe, so it was more like horrible parsley balls. Fortunately, it's been uphill since then. I learned to cook, I love to cook, and, not a surprise, I never used dried parsley again.

My motto became, even if I've put in a long day's work, "I'd rather eat late than eat out."

On Board Ship - Me and My Mum

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Whole Wheat Sablé

Whole Wheat Sablés

When it comes to sweets, I like plain single layer cakes, spicy gingerbread, ice cream, creme brûlée, panna cotta, zabaglione hot or cold. But what I like most of all are cookies, and 2018 was the year I learned to bake them. It was in some ways a dangerous enterprise simply because when cookies are good, it is easy for me to eat too many of them - maybe not all at once, but, you know, a cookie here, a cookie there...

You can find lots of excellent recipes for cookies - a rather famous, if not infamous, one appeared in 2018, Alison Roman’s Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread cookies and was justifiably all the rage. And there are many bakers well-known for their accomplishments in the cookie-verse especially. But when everything was said and done, I had a particular baker as my muse.

Alice Medrich

This was not a surprise to me as I have been familiar with Alice Medrich for a long time. She had already given me a recipe for an almond cake on Page 73 of Pure Dessert, which I make often, and on FOOD52 she taught me the magic of using math to adjust pan sizes when baking.

Her Double Oatmeal Cookies in Flavor Flours is basically my house cookie, and I always have some on hand. But my own personal favorite cookie is the little black dress of cookies. The cookie I know, no matter how many other good cookies I bake, I will turn back to time and time again.

The unadorned Whole Wheat Sablé.

I found the recipe in Pure Dessert, one of the most physically beautiful books in my collection and then realized the always-reliable Luisa had written about it a long time ago. By the time I got around to trying this recipe, I was already familiar with making logs of dough and had figured out that the best way for me to bake these cookies is to make the dough one day, roll it into logs, refrigerate the logs overnight, and bake them as soon as I get up in the morning. I keep a stainless steel ruler handy as I slice the cold dough into cookies, and I move quickly so they stay cold while slicing with a Messermeister Cheese Knife, which glides right through the dough (even if there are chunks of chocolate hidden inside as in Alison Roman’s cookies, which are not called chocolate chunk for no reason).

I am lucky enough to have a dual-fuel Wolf Range that allows me to bake three half-sheet pans of cookies at a time on convection mode without having to rotate the pans. Because I am able to move quickly and don't want to put cookie dough on hot pans, I have nine half-sheet pans to use when I bake cookies. I have five cooling trays available and place the sheet pans on the trays to cool a little before moving the cookies off the parchment using an offset cookie spatula.

These cookies are to me THE BEST. Thanks to Alice Medrich with a hat tip to Luisa.

Full disclosure - Alice Medrich reduced the amount of butter by ¼ stick when she put this recipe again in her excellent book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookiesand she must have had a reason, but I can’t bring myself to mess with what I think is the perfect cookie.

Note 1: When baking, it's a good idea to have an oven thermometer in your oven to make sure the correct temperature is reached before baking.

Note 2:  Once the oven reaches the correct temperature, to make sure it's really hot enough, don't put the first tray of cookies in until it has remained at this temperature for a little while - for me it's 15 minutes.

Note 3: When I take a just-baked tray of cookies out of the oven, the temperature drops so I close the oven door until the temperature goes back up. That takes 5 minutes in my oven. I open it only when I am ready to put the next trays in.

Note 4: Make sure your half-sheet pans are cool before you put cookie dough on them.

Whole Wheat Sablé
Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich


4.5 ounces King Arthur All Purpose flour
4 ounces King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces (I use Kerrygold unsalted butter.)
3.5 ounces granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat a convection oven to 325°F or a regular oven to 350°F.

Stir the flours together in a bowl, and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the pieces of butter with the sugar, salt, and vanilla for about a minute, just until smooth. Turn off the mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour all at once, turn on the mixer, and beat until the flour is just mixed in. Remove the dough and knead with your hands to make sure the flour is completely incorporated into the dough.

Form the dough into one 12 x 2-inch log or two 6 x 2-inch logs, wrap the log or logs in parchment paper or plastic food wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and, best, overnight. I like to make two logs because that way the dough doesn't get warm and soften too much while I am slicing cookies as I keep the second log in the refrigerator while I cut the first one. This helps keep the cookies round because they don't have time to get flatten too much while on the cutting board.

Cut the logs into ¼-inch thick slices, and put the cookies 1-½ inches apart on cool parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they are light brown at the edges. In my convection oven this takes 14 minutes.

Take the tray with baked cookies from the oven, close the oven door to keep the heat in, set the tray on a cooling rack, wait about 5 minutes for the oven temp to rise then put the next tray of cookies in the oven, move the sheet of parchment with the cookies on it from the tray to another cooling rack, and when cool enough not to break apart, move the individual cookies with a small spatula to a rack to cool.

These cookies are better the next day, but don't let that stop you from tasting them! Alice Medrich says "They can be stored in an airtight container for at least a month." I doubt they'll be around to test that assertion.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

No Knead Bread in the Emile Henry Italian Baker

For Joel Who Wants to Make Bread

Ready to put in the preheated oven

Jim Lahey, owner and baker at Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, devised a recipe for making bread using a very wet dough in a Dutch oven to replicate the conditions of a professional steam-injected bread oven. And on November 8, 2006, when the New York Times published Jim Lahey’s recipe for No-Knead Bread in The Minimalist column by Mark Bittman, it was a revelation.  

It turned out, it was a revolution too.  

My Bread by Jim Lahey was published in 2009. Since then his original recipe has been reworked countless times; numerous cooks have adapted his method and written their own books based on it; and plenty of people now bake their own bread at home. 

I am one of them.

After adjusting the recipe using different sizes and shapes of pots, I have figured out what works best for me. It hinges on using a specific pot, the Italian Bread Loaf Baker (formerly known as The Long Baker) by Emile Henry. It makes a long loaf, which is especially good for sandwiches and toast - and if tea and toast isn’t the most perfect combination, I haven’t found it.

The first thing I did when I got the Italian Baker was write to Emile Henry to find out if I could preheat the empty Italian Baker in the oven before putting room temperature bread dough in it. The pot is made of Burgundian clay, not part of the Emile Henry Flame Collection, so I wasn’t sure. And even now I, myself, can’t represent to you that it is okay to do that. I can, however, share with you the following response I received from Karla Stears, the corporate chef for Emile Henry on January 17, 2018, and based on this email I have been doing just that when making my loaf of bread. So have two of my friends.

You are correct, the Italian Baker is not part of the flame collection but luckily you ARE able to preheat the Baker in the oven and then add your room temperature dough.

I started out with the first recipe in My Bread and by trial and error adapted it for use in the pot by increasing the bread flour from 400 to 600 grams and making the other ingredient adjustments accordingly. I did up the percentage of salt but not by a lot.

Don’t be alarmed at how long it takes from the time you start until you have a finished loaf of bread. All you do is assemble and mix everything together. After that, the ingredients and time do all the work. You just have to figure out a routine that works with your schedule.

Bread ready to put in banneton
This is how I score the bread

No Knead Bread in the Emile Henry Italian Baker
Adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey


The first rise of the bread takes from 12 to 18 hours. I have found that a little more than 18 doesn’t do the dough any harm, especially if the temperature is cold. However, the second rise is 2 hours, and I find that it’s better to stick as closely as possible to that timing rather than letting it sit in the banneton much longer than 2 hours.

The amount of time that I bake it for works well for me in my oven, which is a 36-inch Wolf Dual Fuel. My neighbor found that the bottom of her loaf burned if she baked it as long as I do so she has reduced her cooking times to 25 minutes top on and 10 minutes top off. See how yours works out, and adjust if necessary. The internal temperature of the finished loaf should be at least 209°F. 

Special Equipment

The Italian Bread Loaf Baker by Emile Henry
A rectangular Banneton
A good bread knife, such as the Mercer Culinary Millenna 10-inch Wide Bread Knife or Victorinox Swiss Army 10-1/4" Serrated Bread Knife with Fibrox Handle
Something to score the bread with; I use kitchen shears


600 grams King Arthur Bread Flour
13 to 14 grams of kosher salt
½ teaspoon yeast (I use SAF Instant)
450 grams cool water
Wheat bran (optional)

Tip from Nancy Pollard of Kitchen Detail
Learned by watching and testing from Great British Bake Off Master Class: We all use instant yeast now, so add it to one side of your mixing bowl with the flour and other ingredients and the salt on the other side. Salt, when added to the bowl on top of the yeast, weakens and kills those necessary little critters.

Put the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl, and stir with a fork to combine. Add the cool water, and mix it all together. (I like using the handle of a wooden or silicone spoon more than a Danish whisk for this task). This will take a few minutes, but it will come together. Cover the bowl tightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm(ish) spot for 12 to 18 hours. I like to do it the night before I plan to bake and leave it overnight on the stovetop with the hood lights on.

Put a linen tea towel in your banneton and sprinkle the bottom with a little flour and a little wheat bran if you have it.

Put a little flour on a wooden board and using a plastic dough scraper, turn the very sticky dough in the bowl out on it. Fold it into a rectangle as if you were folding a piece of paper to put into an envelope. Then turn the dough in the other direction, and fold it the same way again. You can add a (very) little amount of flour to your hands as you do this because the dough can be sticky, but don’t add too much as you don’t want to add more flour to the dough.

Make sure you have patted it into a rectangle (a little oval-ish), and place it seam side down in the banneton. Sprinkle a little flour over it and a little wheat bran if you have it (so the tea towel doesn’t stick). Fold the linen cloth over it, and let it sit for two hours. It will expand to fit the banneton.

At the end of the two-hour second rise, you want to bake it in a preheated 475°F degree oven in a preheated pot. I count on it taking 45 minutes for my oven to reach that high a temp, and I always put the empty Italian Baker into the oven 10 minutes after I turn the heat on. To be clear, one hour after the dough has been turned into the banneton, I turn on my oven, and 10 minutes later I put the empty Italian Baker in the oven.    

When you are ready to bake the bread, very carefully – because it is so hot - take the Italian Baker out of the oven, closing the door right away so it doesn’t lose too much heat. Carefully remove the lid from the very hot baker, and holding the tea towel tight, turn the banneton upside down over the Italian Baker so the dough plops in. If some sticks to the sides, just nudge it with a silicone spatula, and it will pull right off. 

Now it's time to score the bread. I find it easiest to do this with kitchen shears instead of a lame. If you look at the picture directly above, you will see how I score it. I snip it right down the middle and then snip side to side.

Put the lid on the Italian Baker, and bake for 30 minutes.

At the end of 30 minutes remove the lid, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the Italian Baker as soon as you take it out of the oven. One or two silicone spatulas will help with this. Cool on a rack before slicing.

If this all sounds like a pain, it really isn’t. Like driving a shift stick, after a while it will become second nature. I bake the bread, then slice it, put it in a plastic bread bag, and slip it into the freezer. King Arthur Flour has plastic bags sized for loaves of bread, and I use those. I toast the slices lightly for sandwiches and darker for toast. Pieces of this bread toasted and cut in half or quarters are lovely to serve with cheese.

If I want to make two loaves of bread, I mix a second batch of dough an hour later than the first one and bake it as soon as the first one comes out of the oven and the bread is turned out of it. For this reason I have two bannetons, but I do not have two pots.

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A just-baked loaf