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Posts by Colin

There's a nice intro here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/yourfirstloaf   On books, Jeffrey Hamelman's _Bread_ and Peter Reinhart's _Bread Baker's Apprentice_ are really good contemporary books with extensive beginning sections on process, technique, and ingredients.  But possibly more then you want -- you're looking at 50-100 pages of moderately technical reading before getting to specific recipes.  I don't know the King Arthur book Pete mentions, but it may be...
You're describing a typical European sponge cake.  They're just not common in the U.S.   Lots of recipes.  Here's a basic one online: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,2372,152177-237204,00.html    In recent years I've been using Carol Field's "Pan di Spagna" recipe from _The Italian Baker_.  I think there was a sponge cake thread on this forum not too long ago.   They all depend on egg foams.  Often the eggs are separated and the whites beaten separately for extra...
On knives, you might want to look around in the knives forum for similar questions, for example.     http://www.cheftalk.com/t/72666/another-beginner-searching-for-a-good-knife http://www.cheftalk.com/t/73295/more-beginner-questions http://www.cheftalk.com/t/72425/home-cook-looking-for-first-real-knife   The good news is that for $400 you can get a couple of knives that will cut way, way better than what you have now, and you will have something left over for...
There are two ways to get gluten development without hand-kneading.   A wet dough that the mixer can knead.  Here is a great illustration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v24OBsYsR-A    You can use the same technique for a less-wet dough by starting with all the wet ingredients, the salt and yeast, and maybe 3/4 of the flour, and then adding the rest of the flour at the end.   A long fermentation.  Here is an...
Great advice above.  Just to add.   How much garlic and ginger?  If I was flavoring that much wet ingredients, it would chop a whole head of garlic and four or five inches of nice fresh ginger root.   For your fresh chili pepper, what are you actually using?  It depends on where you are, but you generally want those little green flavorful chilies, not bell peppers.  Where are you?   There's also a reason why a lot of Indian dishes have a final "chaunk" (or...
A great discussion.  FWLIW, this is what led me to get the Edge Pro jig (Apex 3 kit).  It gets the angle right so I can concentrate on even strokes.  I can also experiment easily with changing bevels, different levels of finish, and so forth.   I have a couple of cheap old utility knives -- the brands are long worn off but we're talking stamped blade, plastic handle, no bolster.  And when they're fully sharpened they glide through an onion almost as easily as the...
+1 on the bread.   Beyond that, what do you like?  What do you and yours want to eat?   Crepes are a nice place to start -- they take just a little practice to get right, are pretty quick, and are applicable to savory as well as sweet applications.
Re imports, even before WWI, were specialty food ingredients from Europe widely available on the U.S. West coast?  It shouldn't be too hard to find out.   Anyway I think the two commenters so far are right.  The biggest issue is going to be sourcing things like spices, flavorings, and dried fruits, in good quality, reliably, and in commercial quantities.  Scaling is the least of your characters' worries.     Part of the appeal of a lot of European baked...
Yeast makes more of itself as the dough rises (unlike, say, baking powder).  That means yeast quantities in a recipe are not critical: you can always start with less yeast than the recipe calls for, and just wait a little longer for the first rise to happen.   Professional bakers with schedules to meet pay attention to precise ratios, but if you're baking at home and can afford to let the dough take its time, you really just need a tiny bit to get a dough going.  For...
I would happily try it, but I doubt it's available in the US of A. So, more or less seriously: - If I got as close as Rome, is there any shop or restaurant that would have this? - And if I can get to Sardinia, where should I go?
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