After a very tumultuous several months of working myself ragged to bring a big, big project to reality, I suddenly found myself with an abundance of free time and jonesin’ to bake something. Now, I am not one who normally has the patience for baking with all its precision and demands for following procedure. But, with my nerves frayed from relentless multitasking while being endlessly interrupted with something new or something old or just something else and a constant panicky feeling that I had forgotten, overlooked (or simply ignored) something important, necessary and, likely, already two days or more late, the single-mindedness of baking had a certain meditative appeal to it.
However, not just any baking would do. An overly complicated recipe requiring hard to find ingredients (I am looking at you my Tartine cookbook) would result in a day focused on procurement and not baking. Unusual and exotic recipes would not do. I wanted something where I knew what the final result should be and I could immediately judge whether it was good. But, it could not be so simple that it was not immersive. I needed a baking project that was easily identifiable with ingredients on hand, but allowed me to shut the world out and immerse myself in the act of creating perfection.
And, so, the perfect pie crust it was.
Continue reading Zen and the Art of Perfect Pie Crust Making
A crisp chill may be in the air, but I still have some grilling days left in me. So, for the many opportunities to eat al fresca through the fall, plus the abundance of a late season harvest, I figured a light I would share my tricks for making a no mess vegetable side dish to accompany outdoor dining – Fresh Roll Salads. It is sort of like a tidy, little, portable salad in the palm of your hand.
The secret is spring roll skins. They are sometimes called fresh roll wrappers, rice paper wrappers or some combination of all those words, and, in our opinion, they are an often overlooked culinary item. You often run into fresh roll wrappers at Thai or Vietnamese restaurants where they are filled with noodles, leafy vegetables, thinly sliced scallions and other vegetables and shrimp then finished off with a peanut or soy-based sauce.
At 15 to 30 calories per skin, they are lower in calories than most tortillas or breads. Skins are made with tapioca starch, rice flour, water and salt, so they are gluten free. They come dried, so they store nicely and keep for a very long time. And they are a fun and unique way to add a salad to a barbeque, picnic or lunch. Fresh rolls salads are also perfect to make ahead so you can be busy enjoying the sunshine.
Continue reading No Mess Salad for Dining Al Fresca