During the pandemic, when everyone who was anyone was fussing over their sourdough starter like a new puppy, I was not.
I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger to tend to a starter that needed caring, feeding, and coddling, day in and day out. After all, I already had a husband who needed all of that. (Kidding, sort of.)
So, when it comes to my sporadic bread baking, I rely on packaged dry yeast instead, which is convenient enough to buy at any supermarket and to keep handy in my fridge when the urge strikes.
But along comes 2019 James Beard Award-winning “Outstanding Baker” and head baker at Chicago’s Publican Quality Bread bakery, Greg Wade, who shows how to combine both dry yeast and a preferment for even better results, as evidenced in his recipe for sensational “Oat Rolls.”
It’s all in his new cookbook, “Bread Head” (W.W. Norton), of which I received a review copy. It was written with St. Louis book collaborator Rachel Holtzman.
Best yet, these crunchy, cream-filled meringue confections are readily available at Whole Foods and Nugget Markets to pick up on the spur of the moment.
Chef Alex Trouan started apprenticing at a pastry shop in his native France when he was only 15 before going to work for legendary Pierre Herme in Paris. In the 1990s, he moved to California, started baking macarons, and never looked back.
There’s a lovely wholesome taste to these chewy-soft fruit bars, which is not surprising, given that the recipe hails from a baker who got his start selling farmhouse-baked treats out of an old red truck.
In his previous career as the art director at the Washington Post and Smithsonian magazines, he would spend his free time baking pies and breads at his Virginia Piedmont farmhouse, which he sold from that vintage red truck that he bought from none other than designer Tommy Hilfiger.
Noyes now operates two Red Truck bakeries, both in historic buildings, and has fans in Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.
That’s what the farmers market at San Jose’s Santana Row is — all one block of it on the main drag between Olin Avenue and Olsen Drive), with vendors on both sides plying fresh produce, flowers, and gourmet prepared foods.
The market, Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., is seasonal. So, if you want to check it out, you have until the end of this month before it’s gone until next year.
Because it’s an evening market, it’s an ideal place to pick up dinner or the fixings for it. Just follow your nose to find the Roli Roti truck parked in the center of the Row with spinning rotisseries packed with whole chickens and sides of ribs.
Just be warned that on a hot day before sunset, this truck is parked in full sun with heat radiating off the rotisseries, so bring a hat and a cool drink as you wait in line, as there almost always is one.
Who can blame people for flocking here when the rosemary-flecked chicken is so juicy, bronzed, and succulent that you barely need a knife. A whole chicken ($15.50) gets wrapped up hot off the rotisserie, ensuring it will still be warm by the time you dive into it at home.