new books, new challenges

I love cookbooks.  I could spend hours looking through the books on my shelf, even if I'm not planning on making anything or looking for a recipe.  You can often find me curled up in my comfy chair with a cup of coffee and a stack of cookbooks on the floor.  There's something about them that captivates and inspires me.  They don't even have to have pictures, but I do love big, glossy, delicious looking photos.

my kitchen bookshelf
Trevor and I recently ordered some new cookbooks on Amazon.  Two for me, and one for him.

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart has been on my wish list for a long time.  I was really excited to open it when it came in the mail, but also kind-of nervous.  I mean, it's a SERIOUS book.  Sure, I can make bread from scratch, and it's a culinary achievement that I'm proud of, but I didn't feel like my self-taught skills would be sufficient for this book.  After looking through the book, it's not quite so scary, but I've decided that I will need to tackle it the same way I would study any other text book (yeah, I'm a nerd and still crack open my books to look stuff up).  I'm going to read, highlight, underline, make notes and THEN I'll start on some recipes.  I'm looking forward to learning about the art and science behind bread and I think that what this book teaches me will help develop my baking skills in general.  Here are some of the recipes that caught my eye: brioche, cinnamon raisin walnut bread, french bread, potato rosemary bread and so many others...I mean, is there anything better than fresh, hot bread with a smear of butter? It might be a little while before I get started on these recipes, until then I'll keep making my current favorite multi-grain bread recipe.

Baking Illustrated: The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine...ahhh, the book of my Kitchen Aid mixer's dreams... What sounds delicious?  banana coconut bread with macadamia nuts, corn and apricot muffins with orange essence, glazed maple-pecan oatmeal scones, tomato and mozzarella tart, cream puffs, chocolate genoise cake...I could go on and on, it all sounds amazing.  The books from America's Test Kitchen are great, before each recipe they explain all the trials they went through while perfecting the recipe and in the process reveal a lot of secrets about technique and ingredients.  Every time I try a new recipe, I learn something new in the process.  This book is great for the average home baker, whether you're just starting out, or if you've been playing in the kitchen for years.  It's definitely worth checking out. 

Last but not least, Trevor ordered Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan.  It's a creative and interesting book, almost a combination of biography and cookbook.  I know Trevor is going to want to make the fresh ramen noodles (apparently the correct pronunciation is "ra-myun"; I'm still trying to wrap my tongue around that one) and dashi broth (maybe the bacon variety?).  A lot of the recipes are written with restaurant quantities in mind, and would require cooking for the masses and shopping for obscure ingredients at the Asian market or online, which will make this book a challenge.  The ginger scallion noodles look awesome, the picture of vinegar pickles reminds me of Cambodia, and the momofuku pork buns look melt-in-your mouth good.  There is definitely a wide variety of recipes in the book that are a combination of traditional, Asian-inspired, haute cuisine and noodle-shop simple.  They are separated into three sections based on the restaurants they come from.  The photos in the book are beautiful and they inspire you to try the recipes yourself.  One more thing: did I mention the "meat glue"?  You're going to have to read-up on that one on your own, it kind-of creeps me out.

one more picture...I bought this beautiful arrangement at the Strathcona Farmer's Market on the weekend.  It looks like spring to me.