January 31, 2011



Dark, rich coffee, a bit of fresh fruit, and Le Gibassier still warm from the oven. Ah, morning in Provençal.

January 27, 2011

Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte

When I first started as a pastry chef, I was handed a recipe for a chocolate-hazelnut torte and told to fix it. Not just make it, but make it special. I think I succeeded, and apparently so did the judges at the very first Taste of Ashland (Oregon), who awarded this torte a first for flavor.

January 26, 2011

Entremet pour Deux

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

January 24, 2011

Décor Chocolate

There are times when only chocolate and roses will suffice; Valentine's Day is often one of those times. With décor chocolate, also known as modeling chocolate and sometimes chocolate plastic, you can have chocolate roses. I first learned how to make décor chocolate from a chef who'd learned from someone who learned from Roland Mesnier, White House Pastry Chef for a quarter century, so you know it's good stuff.

January 20, 2011

Basic Quick Bread

Having a good basic quick bread recipe in your repertoire makes life easy when you want to use up some bananas or zucchini, or find yourself hosting a brunch, or just want something tasty while you watch the snowstorm blowing outside your window. Michael Ruhlman's Basic Quick Bread/Muffin Ratio from his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking is an ideal place to begin.

January 17, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

With all the snow blowing around outside, I feel a need for biscuits. Just plain old buttermilk biscuits, flaky and buttery and begging for some of the raspberry jam I made last summer while still in Oregon.

January 13, 2011

Capelli d'Angelo in Brodo

Capelli d'Angelo in Brodo is a classic soup, its peasant origins clear. Bring some broth to a boil, add Angel Hair pasta, cook until just done, let rest, and serve with a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's the thing to make when your pantry is down to a few bones, a bit of flour, and some cheese.

January 10, 2011

Tea and Scones

I love making scones. When you know that while working as a pastry chef I made scones by the gross on Sundays, and made as many as 150 dozen on Mothers' Day, you might be surprised that I still love making them. But I do, because then I get to eat them. Here's a good, basic guide to scone making, the old-fashioned way, by hand.

January 6, 2011


Brioche--memories of Paris and fear of failure, well mixed. But no longer. I lucked into a copy of Ciril Hitz's book Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads, watched the included DVD, and now I have no more fear of failure. With brioche, that is.

January 3, 2011

Ragù di Peperoni e Pomodori (Roasted Pepper and Tomato Ragu)

I really enjoy good food, but I don't necessarily want to spend all day every day slaving over a hot stove. Having a Ragù di Peperoni e Pomodori sitting in the refrigerator means I can have the flavor of hours of cooking in just a few minutes.