My new favorite bread.
I am madly, deeply, crazy as a loon in love.
With this bread.
It’s a solid loaf. It has a beguiling character owing to an unusual backbone of arborio rice. It has every quality you’ve dreamed about in the perfect bread. In short, it’s a keeper.
And I was smitten at the first chewy bite.
Naturally, the recipe comes from one of my favorite bread bakeries — Della Fattoria in Petaluma, where owner Kathleen Weber and her family turn out artisan loaves baked in a wood-fired oven on their ranch. They are breads full of flavor and integrity. Among the first restaurants they supplied was the French Laundry in Yountville, which tells you just how extraordinary the products are.
“Arborio Rice Bread” is from their new cookbook, “Della Fattoria Bread” (Artisan), complete with 63 recipes for everything from Della Fattoria’s signature Meyer Lemon-Rosemary Campagne Boule to Spicy Cheddar Crackers to Sticky Buns.
It appealed to me for its intriguing use of risotto-style rice and because it’s one of the more streamlined recipes in the book as it doesn’t require a starter.
Making bread always takes time and patience. It’s never a quick process. But this particular recipe doesn’t require much heavy-lifting. It also makes two loaves, so you’re amply rewarded after an afternoon of work.
Dig into a bowl of tender chicken, squash, pomegranate seeds and kale. What more could you want?
Brrrrr. The perfect time to turn up the stove is when the temperatures dip.
After all, you not only warm up the house, but yourself, as well.
Especially if it’s with a one-pot dish that’s simple, comforting and loaded with good-for-you ingredients.
Let’s face it, we probably all over-indulged over the holidays. What better way to start a new year then with a cookbook that spotlights the nutritious ingredients of “Greens + Grains”? The cookbook (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy, is by my friend Molly Watson, a former staff writer for Sunset magazine. I’ve always loved Molly’s snarky sense of humor and no-nonsense way of doing things.
In her debut cookbook, she takes you through the world of grains and greens, giving advice on how to choose, store and cook them. Learn all about purslane to stinging nettles, buckwheat to millet, and everything in between. There are plenty of vegetarian recipes, but enough meat-based ones, too, to make this an ideal cookbook for anyone wanting to expand their plant-based eating in the new year without feeling deprived in any way.
Just pickle it. Persimmons, that is.
This is one of those home-made treats that makes people take notice.
It adds just a little something special to a charcuterie or cheese platter. And it makes for an eye-opening host/hostess gift.
Now’s the time to get acquainted with “Pickled Persimmons.”
I shamelessly admit I got the idea for making these from Chef Bradley Ogden when I recently dined at his new Bradley’s Fine Diner in Menlo Park. His pickled persimmons accompanied slabs of country pate. The duo together was so good I practically couldn’t stop eating it.
I learned from Ogden only that he used vinegar and Fuyu persimmons (the squat variety that can be enjoyed while still crunchy unlike the Haichiya type that must be eaten only when squishy ripe).
Stuffing that doesn’t have to weigh you down.
Think of this as Thanksgiving stuffing-lite.
Oh sure, it still has half a stick of butter in it.
But there’s no sausage in it. Nor any milk, cream or eggs. It gets moistened with chicken broth instead.
It also gets crunch from a profusion of pistachio nuts. And it gets a grown-up touch with dried figs that have been macerated in sweet white wine overnight. But don’t worry, they don’t come out tasting overly boozy. The alcohol tempers the fruit’s sweetness and adds a rounded depth. If you don’t have the Mucscat or Essensia called for in the recipe, you can improvise. I actually ended up using Canadian icewine I happened to have on hand.
The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook writers, Molly Stevens. It first appeared in the February 2007 issue of Bon Appetit.
Lamb shanks — Tacolicious-style.
Few of us are lucky enough to score a dinner invitation to San Francisco Magazine writer Sara Deseran’s house.
Because if we did, we apparently would find ourselves chowing down deliriously on “Lamb Adobo Taco with Spices and Oranges.”
For Deseran, co-owner of the Bay Area’s Tacolicious restaurants with her husband, Joe Hargrave, this is one of her go-to dishes when entertaining.
Fortunately for us, she’s sharing that recipe in her newest cookbook, “Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook features the seasonal, bright flavors of Tacolicious at its best in such recipes as “Shrimp Cakes with Corn-Basil Salsa,” “Albondigas in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce,” “Lone Star Breakfast Taco” and “Pineapple-Coconut Aqua Fresca.”
After one taste, I can see why this dish is such a favorite of hers. Lamb shanks braise in a rich, dark sauce that resembles mole but is far easier to make. It’s one of those sauces that announces itself immediately with boldness and deep complexity, as well as a kick of heat that starts off slow and gentle, then builds the more you eat of it. The taste is very earthy, with a touch of fruitiness from the chiles, and just the merest hint of tanginess.