March 23, 2015

biscuits de thé vert

green-tea cookies

I’ve often tripped over cultural traditions. Maybe not tripped. More like falling face down with a thud. It usually happens just when I think I have mastered a tradition. Then the traditions get tweaked or modified or scrapped or reinvented. I’m confused, but these things always confuse me. When I was small I was told it was not my place to question why. more »

March 16, 2015

soupe onctueuse d'avocat

creamy avocado soup

Why do Americans insist on putting a country in front of so many preparations? Why do we have to call a dish French fries or French toast, German potato salad or German pancakes, Polish or Italian sausage, or even Chinese chicken salad? Pommes frit or pain perdu sound so much nicer to my ear. more »

March 9, 2015

thé aux champignons

mushroom water

Sometimes you don’t realize that your journey has come to an end until you’ve been at your final destination for a while. Plus, your final destination may not be where you intended to go when you started your journey. This happened to me recently, but before I tell you about it, let’s discuss mushroom essence. more »

March 2, 2015

gâteau au yaourt sans yaourt

yoghurt-less yoghurt cake

Gâteau au yaourt is a French tradition dating all the way back to, maybe, 1950. At least that what one reference that no longer shows up on the Internet said. Different websites describe it as being so easy that even a child can make it, or being child’s play, or being the first recipe taught to French children. more »

February 23, 2015

champignons en croûte

mushroom rolls

A sign of laziness is using a food processor to “dice” mushrooms for a duxelles. The results can hardly be called a dice, and the practice lacks a certain Zen. There is a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes from producing a uniform dice from something as irregular and friable as a common mushroom. more »

February 16, 2015

un écrou pour toutes les saisons

a nut for all seasons

It was like the drugstores common to movies from the thirties and forties. Besides serving as a pharmacy, Bryan Drug House had a lunch counter, a supply of greeting cards, and various candies, ranging from Whitman Samplers to Hershey bars, for sale. It was located in the center of town, directly across West Main Street from the old Nathanial Rochester Hotel. more »

February 9, 2015

pouding de kaki

persimmon pudding

I went to the market today to buy some persimmons. I was looking for the non‑astringent type such as the Jiro or Fuyu varieties, both common in my usual markets two days ago when I last went shopping. Today, all I could find were the Hachiya variety, the traditional astringent persimmon available in my area. more »

February 2, 2015

champignon mariné

marinated mushroom

Mrs. W was a whack‑job—a true nut case—my first sixth‑grade teacher. She was actually, probably just going through some sort of a breakdown. She had decided to eschew the standard curriculum, and instead, we spent our days doing art projects and going on field trips. On one of those field trips, I visited my first mushroom farm. more »

January 26, 2015

flan aux œufs et fromage

cheese custard

The denaturing of protein and its subsequent crosslinking is fundamental to cooking. Every time you prepare a dish of scrambled eggs, that’s what you’re doing. You mechanically denature some its many proteins when you beat the egg. Then, as the egg warms in the pan, thermal denaturation occurs. At about 60 °C (140 °F), the proteins begin to crosslink and form a gel that traps water droplets in a newly created protein mesh. more »

January 19, 2015

tarte à la crème de vin

wine-cream tart

Don’t ask Wikipedia for a list of pies. The list will be too long to fathom. Still, what are the most common pies in America? Apple certainly. All types of berry and other fruit pies. There’s banana‑ and coconut‑cream pie? In the fall, pumpkin pin. At other times, sweet potato pie. more »

©2015 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.