On Cream Cheese, the Workings of Beelzebub, and the Destruction of All that is Good and True in Frostings.

So alright, cream cheese may not be the working of the Devil. But it is the working of 19th century dairy farmers in upstate New York, which is, you know…close. These shadowy men, whose real names are unknown to us, spent years of their lives working in secret to create an inexpensive American version of […]

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Salt Rising Bread II

Aha! I knew there had to be some kind of back woods edge to salt rising bread, that hill country delicacy I mentioned in a post last week. This highly unusual bread, as you may recall, is leavened with bacteria instead of yeast. Well it turns out the bacteria is nothing other than our old […]

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Finally. . .

Got those apple tarts made and baked off (the little one finally recovered and went to day care today). The results were good. Slicing the apples very, very thin makes for a better presentation, giving the surface a very nice scalloped effect. I used a 6-inch cutter for mine which is plenty big. Anything more […]

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Joe’s Hardware I

You won’t be surprised to discover I have strong opinions on rolling pins. I have lots. But the two I turn to the most are my simple Chinese rolling pin (which looks like this only longer), and my big heavy conventional pin. The big one has a 15-inch cylinder which I really like for rolling […]

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Calling All Readers!

Both of you guys. The site will be down for the next 48 hours while I switch hosts. Don’t despair though. There’ll be a weekend’s worth of baking nonsense come Sunday morning.

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The Home Baking Quality Edge

Much is made in the media of the shortcomings of home cooks, and their increasing inability to compete with the quality of restaurant food. Which in and of itself is a kind of irony, since for most of the last century dining out was what people did when they didn’t have access to the good […]

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Joe’s Soapbox XXVIII

One of my pet peeves is TV chefs throwing the word “carmelization” around everywhere. Sour grapes? Well, yes actually. But just because I’m ticked that Tyler Florence gets to jet around the country making pot-au-feu with pretty single women while I’m sitting at home blogging in my underwear doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to carp […]

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The Italian Cream Cake Conspiracy

I’m constantly struck how neighboring regions have such different culinary traditions. Lousiville is just 5 short hours away from Chicago, yet it is unequivocally part of The South. Here, biscuits rule instead of Italian loaves, and people reminisce about country ham and salt rising bread. The pizza’s terrible but the barbecue kills. And when I […]

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Apples & Honey

I don’t know why the significance of the pairing of apples and honey in this week’s pastry recipe didn’t strike me before. The combination is of course eaten the night of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, to bring blessings in the upcoming year. It was the unusual choice of honey that got me interested […]

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