Monday, March 24, 2014

Bread fulfillment

Every cookbook lover knows the feeling: that thrill of discovering a new book to cook your way through, the promise of a new adventure, and the disappointment when your schedule gets in the way. If you have felt guilty, like me, for letting a prized cookbook collect dust, don't lose hope.  Even if you only have the time to gather the ingredients one by one, week by week, one day you'll seize control and find the few extra hours you need to pull it all together and make flour into bread.

Even if it takes you a month in between when Amazon fulfills your order and when your oven gets preheated, carry on! This "Saturday white bread"from the book Flour Water Yeast Salt is my first attempt to conquer this beautiful book written by Portland-based baker Ken Forkish.  I've always been fascinated by bread making, so when I was lucky enough to dine at a friend's house and eat incredible pizza and bread made from this book, I knew I had to have it in my library.  It's a pretty exciting moment when you bake that first loaf and hear the crackle of the bread, the room still and quiet because you can hardly wait to slice into your science experiment.  The bread must rest before you indulge, just like sometimes our cookbooks must rest on the shelf, as the bakers within us gain momentum.  But don't forget the inspiration that made you buy that intriguing cookbook in the first place.  Dust off your cookbooks, one by one, my friends.  We're in this together.   

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Paris Moment in LA

Selecting a variety of fresh french macarons gives me a rush of excitement that I imagine other women might reserve for things like designer jewelry or handbags.  But maybe there's others out there like me.  Those forever drawn to the beauty of the multi-colored rows, full of different flavors and ready to be plucked out of the case as the perfect two-bite accompaniment to a cappuccino.  Those more concerned with pastry tips and piping bags than pearls and diamonds. 

So it was quite the treat when I picked up a family member from Los Angeles International Airport and they greeted me at curbside pickup with a "bonjour" and a surprise box of Laduree macarons. 

The macarons are protected by their petite carrier-- a lavender box with silver embellishments, just sturdy enough for a stop through London Heathrow on its way to the west coast, security and all.  The truth is, I'm not sure if this particular trip involved a direct flight from Paris, or a connecting flight. But regardless of itinerary, I challenge you to find a more thoughtful gesture than a loved one transporting delicate sweets across international borders.  It's never an easy feat!       

Each box from Laduree is wrapped like a little gift-- creating a ritual for the lucky recipient.  (Who doesn't love the feeling associated with unwrapping a present?)  There's an unmatched elegance to it.   As much as I love a perfectly executed donut hole or oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, these treats will never outshine the macaron's style-saavy image.  And then there's the element of surprise.  What flavors will you unwrap this time? 

And fear not: If you don't happen to have a relative or friend passing through Paris anytime soon, you can still have a Paris moment in LA by trying this domestic version from Bottega Louie.  Even if you only try one, it's worth a stop. After all, two bites of attainable luxury in your everyday life can make all the difference.