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Baking Day with Anna Olson

Baking Day with Anna Olson

Recipes to Bake Together: 120 Sweet and Savory Recipes to Bake with Family and Friends
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

From the Introduction
“BAKING DAY” IS A phrase you may have heard in casual conversation and, like me, never really stopped to think about. It pops up in situations like:

“I’m having a baking day with my son on Saturday. We’re making a birthday cake for his brother.”

“I’m spending a baking day with my grandma, and she’s showing me how to make her babka.”

“My sisters and I always get together at this time of year for a baking day, to make holiday cookies.”

“I am obsessing over making French baguette for my fiancée—it’s her favourite— so I’m going to spend a baking day mastering it.”

“Summer’s here, so I’m spending my baking day making popsicles with the kids!”

Quite simply, a baking day is time set aside to bake with or for people you want to spend time with. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full day—even an hour spent making a batch of cookies counts as a baking day. We tend to bake more on week- ends, because that’s when we usually have a little more time and, as with most hobbies and interests, we fit baking in when we can.
No matter when the baking day, its value is more than the treats, breads or cakes that we pull from the oven. It is the memories created by spending time in the kitchen with someone you love, or devoting time to baking as a form of self-expression, that are worth so much.

This book was inspired by looking back on my baking day memories and asking my family and friends about their own favourite baking moments and recipes. For some, making weekend breakfast with their kids was a special time, or baking cookies as a family became a regular routine. For others, baking a cake for a special occa- sion was as much fun as the birthday party itself. Baking treasured family recipes or learning about baking from grandparents also holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.

This collection of recipes is meant to inspire you to take a little time in the kitchen and embrace baking time for the gift that it is. You can’t force memories to be created, but by making a batch of simple Fudgiest Frosted Brownies (page 181) or spending an afternoon baking cupcakes and matching frostings (pages 212-219) with some friends, you are setting the stage for the good times to happen.

In the following pages, you’ll find recipes for all levels of bakers, from novice to expert, and for all types of baking, from quick and easy to more elaborate. I have included quite a few breakfast recipes that aren’t actually “baked,” because a relaxed weekend morning spent making a family breakfast together has the potential to inspire further kitchen activities.

I have especially kept young bakers top of mind as I’ve developed and played with these recipes. Kids are always observing and learning, and they continue to remind me of the joy and surprise that baking brings. Think about it—you combine butter, sugar, eggs, flour and cocoa in a bowl and whisk them together. That gooey mess is poured into a pan, and after just 30 minutes in the oven . . . cake! Watching a child pull up a stool in front of the oven to watch that cake bake reminds me of my own childhood and always gives me great pleasure.

Kids should be supervised in the kitchen even when they are baking “on their own.” I have steered clear of recipes that involve candying or caramelizing sugar, since those techniques can be tricky. But I have included recipes for doughnuts that are cooked in a deep fryer (or in a pot of hot oil). Kids can do the mixing and kneading, but an adult should do the actual frying (my grandmother was in charge of frying the doughnuts we made together).

To make baking days as inclusive as possible, I have offered many vegan, gluten- free, dairy-free and egg-free recipes. No recipes use peanuts (except for the Cereal Killer Squares, page 185, and pet treats, pages 300 to 307, but you can use school- safe soy nut butters instead). Just a few recipes contain nuts at all, and they can easily be replaced by other crunchy items if need be.
So, pull out a stick of butter to soften, preheat the oven and get ready to make some delicious memories. Enjoy your baking day!

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Kiin

Kiin

Recipes and Stories from Northern Thailand
edition:Hardcover
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Flavorbomb

Flavorbomb

A Rogue Guide to Making Everything Taste Better
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

From the Introduction:
The Flavorbomb Manifesto 
If you live for wildly addictive, life-affirming taste sensations that knock you off your feet, pin you to the ground, and pleasure you with layers of intense flavors, welcome to the club. You have just found your kindred culinary spirit. 

If this describes you, I’m willing to bet you keep a running list of restaurants you go to for your favorite flavorbombs—such as a vibrant, pungent Caesar salad, extra crispy garlic fries, or a spicy puttanesca pasta. I’ll also guess that you might be able to articulate exactly what it is about those dishes that you find so addictive. But when you try to reproduce the same flavors at home, do you find yourself falling short? That’s what I hear from so many of my friends. And that’s why they are curious about why food always tastes better at my house (their words, not mine). Hence this book. 

I’m a culinary charlatan. Thinking about food 24/7 is my job—and making it taste good without playing by the rules is my game. For the past 25 years I’ve eaten my way around the globe, traveling millions of miles in search of culinary adventures and inspiring foods for my three TV series and six cookbooks. Along the way, I’ve broken eight food-related Guinness World Records, competed in some of the most outrageous food competitions on the planet, cooked alongside countless amazing chefs, harvested grapes at legendary wineries, and sampled every local street food imaginable at ramshackle carts, hawker stalls, and night markets from Italy to India. 
Before I wrote my first cookbook, I managed and toured with international recording artists. So why should you look to a rock-manager- turned-culinary-adventurer for guidance instead of a restaurant chef or a Cordon Bleu instructor? Because rock ’n’ roll and cooking are based on the same two principles: there are no rules (and any rules that do exist are meant to be broken), and the only thing that matters is leaving your audience in a state of euphoria. 

The collective experiences from my travels, adventures, and competitions, combined with the tricks, techniques, and hacks that I’ve learned from observing street vendors and working with talented chefs all over the world, have formed the backbone of my cooking in ways that culinary school can’t begin to teach. 

If you are familiar with my previous cookbooks, you know that in the past I have been known to play with my food. As the self-christened “Surreal Gourmet,” I made edible creations that fooled the eye into thinking you were eating something you were not (think savory “cupcakes” made with braised lamb shanks, topped with beet-dyed pink mashed potato icing). While I would like to think that I was making Salvador Dalí proud, I was also leaning heavily on a highly styled surreal presentation that in retrospect was a work-around for not having a formal culinary education. 

I no longer feel the need to apologize for that, and now the gloves are off. The single focus of this book is to channel everything I have gleaned into recipes and practical tips that will help you create bold, stimulating flavors that leave you and those you cook for in a state of bliss. Simply stated, this book is the distillation of my life’s journey. It is how I cook at home every day for my wife and friends. And my goal is to share everything I have learned, in practical, applicable ways that will make you a rock star in your own kitchen. 

Any time I set foot in my kitchen, I challenge myself to maximize the flavor potential of every bite. And when I write a recipe, I strive to make it addictive and foolproof for anyone who makes it. Because I get more excited by tacos than truffles, my outsider approach to creating addictive flavors won’t require you to buy frivolous top-shelf ingredients or use super-sophisticated techniques. Nor will it rely on gratuitous amounts of butter, salt, and sugar. 

Instead, we will start every recipe together by building a foundation, and then we’ll add layers of flavors and textures at every step of the way. We’ll add complexity with some simple techniques (like my favorite, caramelization), and then finish it with some of the final flourishes I’ve learned in professional kitchens. If there’s a hack or a simple trick that can save you time or up the ante—believe me, I’ll share it with you. Each individual step is easy to wrap your head around, and when you start pulling them all together at the same time, your cooking will be forever changed. 

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Hawksworth
Excerpt

From the Introduction
 
This is my first cookbook with my name on the spine, and it spans my whole professional career. We selected the recipes on the basis of quality—but also for range. I’ve included a few from my early career in the UK in the 90s because they informed so much of what I did afterward that; to me, their significance never fades. There are others from my early days at Ouest (then renamed West) that I thought really captured a moment. A few others date back to the early days at Hawksworth. Most are from our current repertoire—at Hawksworth, at Nightingale, and at Bel Café. So the cooking here represents a lot of different styles. 

But even though cooking always evolves, ingredients go in and out of style, tech- niques change, and what we understand about eating well and healthily changes how we cook, a lot of things remain the same. Those are the lessons I learned first-hand in my early years working for some great, pioneering chefs—from Marco Pierre White at the Canteen, to Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and Philip Howard at the Square. I learned that a good dish always has balance in its seasoning, acidity, and tex- tures, and always has a harmonious—not distracting—mix of ingredients on the plate. If you understand that, and the importance of classic old-school techniques, you get what makes great cooking—whatever its style. 

My style has changed a lot over the years. The journey from when I first made my mark in Vancouver at Ouest with my idea of a new West Coast French cuisine, to the lighter, more multicultural idea of fine dining I now put forward at Hawksworth and the Californian- Italian–inspired vision of Nightingale has been a long one. And it would not have been possible without the key players I’ve been lucky enough to have on my team. They know who they are and how grateful I am for their contribution. 

In some ways, I count on them more, and push them harder than ever before. Sure, I drove my brigade really hard when I was in the kitchen every day, directing traffic from the pass. But nowadays I demand even more of them in an arrangement that’s tougher for me, too: I have to trust them completely to execute my vision, to my standards, even when I’m not around. No one can be everywhere at once, and I’m no exception. I also like to travel; it’s a great source of ideas. These days if I’m cooking somewhere at night it’s usually at my house, for my family. Or maybe I’ve just gone fishing. 

In the pages that follow you’ll find recipes and stories from all the places that are so important to me. I hope you like them nearly as much as I do. 

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Eating Out Loud

Eating Out Loud

Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day
edition:Hardcover
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Maenam

Maenam

A Fresh Approach to Thai Cooking
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

From the Introduction

Maenam. The Thai word for “river.” Literally translates to “mother water.” In Buddhism, water is the strongest of all of the elements, representing an ever-replenishing flow.

Thai food. Why Thai food? It’s a question I’m often asked. Thai food came to me serendipitously, and it might have been the happiest accident I’ve ever had. This book is about Thai cooking—more specifically, a modern interpretation of classical Thai cuisine.

My wife and business partner, Kate, chose Maenam as the name of our restaurant, and it immediately felt right. Water is the strongest of all the elements in Buddhist culture, the predominant religion in Thailand, and Maenam represents its constant, ever-replenishing flow. Just as a river continues its course around boulders and obstacles, the name mirrors our willingness to persist in the face of adversity and change, and my ongoing evolution as a chef.

...

I’ve opened four more restaurants in the last 10 years, and the success of each one encourages me to be bolder still with Maenam. I’ve stopped being restricted by expectations of authenticity. Using advances in culinary techniques and technology to cook a dish differently how it was prepared 100 years ago doesn’t make it less authentic—it just makes it more modern. I’ve made my peace with that realization, and now build Maenam’s menu on a foundation of traditional Thai flavors and classic recipes, elevating them with finesse and the very best west coast ingredients we can find to strongly reflect our current sense of place.

Now in our 10th year, I feel the name Maenam—beyond the strict meaning of the word—represents a moment of change. It will forever connect me to the serendipitous hot sour soup moment at Nahm that shifted my perspective on cooking Thai food. Each of the five Thai-related restaurants we now own is a result of the life-changing day I walked into Nahm, a celebration of just how far we’ve come.

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Love Is Served

Love Is Served

Inspired Plant-Based Recipes from Southern California
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

Introduction
Café Gratitude began with a very simple mission: to serve as a gathering place—one where people could walk in feeling instantly accepted, discover a path to elevate their perspective on life, and connect with a like-minded community. That goal didn’t necessarily include having six locations throughout California, almost daily celebrity sightings, and a devout following of customers who treat our restaurants as an extension of their own kitchens and homes. But over the last seven years, that’s what our company has miraculously witnessed. While we of course owe much of that success to Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis’s inspired and enlightened plant-based offerings using ingredients that are just as kind to the Earth as they are to our bodies, we also trace these accomplishments to our humble and most dependable guides: love and gratitude. They are what permeate our culture, from the people who grow our food, to those who prepare and serve it, and to those who eat it. They are what inform our choices as a company, whether it’s supporting regenerative agriculture, consistently finding new ways to leave a smaller footprint on our planet, or serving foods that function as both indulgence and medicine. They are what saw us through the evolution from a small raw food café in San Francisco to an internationally recognized restaurant group. They were the beacons that fascinated Chef Dreux and allowed him to fill our menu with dishes that energize, comfort, and inspire; and they are what have knit a community from the millions of people who have graciously allowed us to serve them.

But to us, success is not just measured by tables filled or by anyone entering our spaces feeling welcome, appreciated, and satisfied. We believe that the true success of our mission is when these same individuals go out into the world ready to pass on those exceptional feelings. And so a more beautiful world is made. Now we’re passing on that love and gratitude to you, in the form of this book and our most treasured recipes that we’ve served over the years. As our food is just as much about spirit as it is about appetite, we invite you to welcome these recipes into your own home and, in turn, create and share the abundance.

 
Our Evolution
   
Café Gratitude’s founders, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, have always believed that given an open, supportive, and loving environment, people could be inspired to transform their lives. They also believe that changing your outlook and, in turn, your life, begins with a focus on gratitude—and that each of us has much to be grateful for, no matter our circumstances. To their minds, turning our attention from what we don’t have to all that we have been given is a foundation for meaningful human growth. Although they weren’t necessarily looking to open a restaurant as the encapsulation of these ideas, that’s exactly what they did. The first Café Gratitude opened in 2004 in the Mission District of San Francisco. They served 100 percent plant-based, organic, from-scratch, raw foods—being among the first in this country to do so. They coupled that with the concept of Sacred Commerce, or the philosophy that a functioning business can also be a place of empowerment, giving employees—or Advocates, as they are referred to—a place to feel heard and appreciated. The idea was that this acknowledgment would be passed on to the customers, who in turn would feel nourished, both physically and emotionally, and bring that feeling with them out into the world. Matthew and Terces planted the seed that love is a contagious way of being.

In 2011, Terces and Matthew partnered with CEO Lisa Bonbright and her husband Chris to bring Café Gratitude 2.0 to Southern California. Along with the Engelhart’s adult children Cary and Ryland—now our Chief Operations Officer and Chief Inspiration Officer, respectively—the team opened our first Los Angeles restaurant in Larchmont Village. Over the next seven years, our company Love Serve Remember opened 5 more locations in Venice, the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Diego, and Newport Beach. But despite our growth, our core values and mission have remained the same.

Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis joined the endeavor to open more hearts and minds to plant-based food in 2008. After helping the Engelharts and Chef Chandra Gilbert (now the Executive Chef at our sister restaurant Gracias Madre) deliver their vision in the Bay Area, he stepped into the role of Executive Chef in Los Angeles in 2011. While still honoring the founding principles of Café Gratitude, Chef Ellis expanded and evolved the menu to include cooked foods in addition to some of the beloved original raw offerings (including the then-trailblazing selection of raw desserts—Gratitude classics have never come off our menu for fear of revolt, and are included in this book). He brought with him a deep understanding of how to celebrate the flavors of plants in their most natural state, while also creating dishes that scratch the deepest of indulgent itches for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike. But no matter how seemingly naughty—Cinnamon Rolls, ‘Chicken-Fried’ Oyster Mushrooms and Waffles, Eggplant Parmesan, Mole Abuelita Enchiladas, Black Lava Cake—each of these offerings call for organic, from-scratch, healing, and healthful ingredients free of animal products, gluten, processed soy, and, in almost all cases, refined sweeteners. Testament to just how inventive, satisfying, and full-flavored the food is: only 20 percent of our customers are vegetarian or vegan.

Throughout the growth of Café Gratitude, there is one thread that has continued to firmly connect us to our founding principles: our affirmations and Questions of the Day. Looking at our menu—and through this book—you’ll notice that each dish has its own unique pronouncement: “I am Thriving;” “I am Open-Hearted;” “I am Powerful.” These affirmations have been a part of the Gratitude culture since day one and are a special part of the transformative process. There’s something subtle yet powerful that happens when you say to your server, “I am Serene,” and they then say back to you, “You are Serene.” It’s then repeated as the server passes the order on to the kitchen, back to the server as the order is ready, and again to you. It’s a series of simple moments that manage to create a tangible energetic shift, and it’s a reflection of one of our guiding truths: You are nourished just as much by your food as you are by your thoughts. The same goes for the Question of the Day, which our servers share with our guests if they’re interested in receiving it. “What’s something that brought you joy today?” “What are you afraid of?” “What are you most grateful for?” Our guests are invited to discuss among themselves, and it’s an opportunity to open and reflect. If you’re interested in creating that space in your own home, we’ve included both our signature affirmations as well as some sample Questions of the Day throughout the book. We encourage you to take a moment before your meal—whether it’s just you or a gathering of family and friends—to consider the question, share your findings, and say aloud the affirmation. Should you not want to partake, we assure you that your food will be every bit as soul-stirring as it is delicious.

Our goal for this book is to bring the expression of love from our restaurants into your home. Eating living, plant-based foods has had a profound effect on all of our lives, which we want to extend to you. It’s also challenged us to find new, delectable ways to share these plants. This book is the culmination of that effort, offering you the ability to make Gratitude-quality food in your own kitchen. The dishes you’ll find here are handpicked, first and foremost, because they are Café Gratitude favorites. They are recipes that our guests have grown to crave over the years and have requested time and time again. We’ve taken care to make them as home cook-friendly as possible, while still staying true to the from-scratch essence of our food. They are recipes for all day, every day, featuring easy to access, easy to use ingredients. We’ve also included a few more challenging recipes for special occasions and gatherings, though nothing we won’t help see you through. We invite you to play with these recipes, dabbling with individual sauces, dressings, or cheeses; making them your own and tailoring them to your tastes and preferences. We are honored to be a part of your journey and wish you fulfilling, delicious success!

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Sous Vide
Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

I have been cooking professionally since I was sixteen years old. The past rewarding yet arduous thirty-one years of learning the nuances of food and watching over countless braises, reductions, roasts, and poaches were anchored in teachings that have been culinary bible verse for hundreds of years. Apart from some useful gadgets that have come along, and, I guess, gas and electricity, my cooking techniques are much the same as one would have found in a professional kitchen in France 150 years ago. That timeless foundation has served me well, and changes in food developed at a tectonic pace, at least until fifteen years or so ago. 

One of the biggest changes was that “sous vide” became a productive and popular technique for cooking. I remember seeing the cooks in my kitchens starting to use the technology, immersing themselves in the parameters and advantages of cooking food, sealed in bags, in a precisely temperaturecontrolled water bath. That has never sounded romantic. But the results were impressive, and I was equally impressed with these younger chefs, maybe five to ten years my junior, the first phalanx of a generation who have completely changed the world of food. Watching them learn new techniques has been a wonder; I still look in admiration, and sometimes I feel like the old curmudgeon: “We used to have to cook hundreds of steaks to finally know how to get it medium-rare every single time! Kids these days can just put it in a bag? Oh, and I had to walk miles in the snow to get to my fifteen-hour work shift!”

I jest, but some of that is true, save for the walk to work. I usually took the bus. I guess I am just trying to show you how much cooking really has changed in recent years. Technology has completely altered the way we move and act in the kitchen, re-choreographing the dance of line cooking, with the new moves allowing us to precisely achieve temperatures that were a guessing game before. Steam ovens, tilt skillets, induction burners, Cryovac machines and immersion circulators have us culinarily dancing to a different tune. 

When sous vide cooking equipment became available to restaurants through a company called PolyScience, the circulators looked like they had been pulled from a steampunk science lab, and, well, they pretty much had been. They initially cost $1,000, and fine dining bought in—hook, line, and sinker—because chefs have a universal yearning to find new ways to produce dishes. 

What sous vide did for restaurants was speed up the final execution of food by having much of the food cooked and ready for reheating or a quick sear before service. It guaranteed consistency through accurate cooking temperatures, and reduced food waste through shrinkage during the cooking process. But the sous vide method also had a huge impact on taste. When you learn how to cook a piece of meat or fish (or anything else) in a water bath, understanding the perfect temperature at which the flesh will set up and be cooked but still retain moisture and flavor, you really change how customers eat and how chefs work. For those chefs taking notes on times and temps and homing in on the exact doneness and texture and flavor of the food they were cooking, sous vide was a game changer. 

The technology is actually pretty basic when it comes to sous vide, and many thermal circulators have come onto the market. These are essentially thermostat-controlled heating devices with a motor that moves the water around at the precise desired temperature. That’s it. But, as with many advances in technology, it takes a while for each new gadget to become commonly available, and I can say this with good experience: My dear father was one of the first people to buy the first IBM home computer, which boasted the processing power of today’s toasters for about $20,000. Simple economics shows that more competition drives down prices, and when combined with advances partly in production and partly in technology—well, the price of the circulators is now pretty universally around the $100 to $200 range, and lots of models are available for under $100. You can spend more for commercially robust versions, but the inexpensive ones will get the job done, with aplomb, in a home kitchen. 

With so many gadgets, electric pots, fancy ovens, and fridges with Wi-Fi connections, why do you need a sous vide setup in today’s world? Well, that is a good question. Although ostensibly a tech gadget, the sous vide circulator is truly a great way to nail old-school cooking. It is a way to efficiently and cleanly make you a better cook, and the often long cook times give you the same freedom that the slow cooker does: the power to walk away from the kitchen and return hours later to a nourishing from-scratch meal. 

In fact, sous vide takes that convenience even further: A steak at 129°F is a medium-rare steak, so it can sit in a 129°F water bath for hours and stay a medium-rare steak. You can go run some errands, come back, take a shower, and get that dinner on the table whenever you feel like it. (Okay, okay, technically the steak can’t last forever at that temperature—it will continue to keep cooking and get mushy-soft if you leave it in there all day—but for most intents and purposes, sous vide will serve to hold your food hot for as long as you need it to.) 

And it’s not just convenience and precision. There are so many things that you can make—or make better—with sous vide cooking. It opens up new doors for culinary pursuits. 

In this book, I share recipes that show some of my favorite characteristics of this method of cooking. I walk you through the basic techniques, and the recipes highlight a whole host of ways sous vide can make your cooking easier, more convenient, and more delicious. It might seem that it’s from the future, but really, it’s part of the lineage that connects us to the days when humans first discovered cooking. It’s a way to get us cooking more, at home, for the people around us.

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