After walking into yet another empty refrigerator at our little house in the country, I think I can come up with a list of what is essential for restocking, in 2 categories: stuff you need to buy and stuff you need to make.
The stuff you buy category: olive oil, coffee, salt, flour, mustard. Most of the vinegars seem to have survived our absence; any of the fragile ones like Verjus I made sure to use up before I left town.
The stuff you make category: stock. I’ve got veal demi-glace, chicken and fish stock all ready to go so I’m happy. Although you can certainly buy good quality stock or demi glace, there is something reassuring about making your own, and controlling what goes into it.
Once I had the basics under control, it was back to bread baking. I’ve only worked my way through 3 recipes from the Crust book, and they are all good but I need to keep making them over and over before I will feel as if I own the formula.
The ale crust bread is amazingly good. I achieved the shatter crust on my second try, and got decent holes in the crumb. The basic white French baguette recipe is excellent, and I fooled around making little twists with olives and cheese. Now, these would be excellent in the restaurant’s bread basket. Which led Jeff and I to a discussion on how Italians eat bread. The Italians use bread as palate cleanser and in informal settings as a plate cleanser (the bread swiping technique is known as ‘scarpetta’). The type of bread that I’ve been baking is bread that you eat for the pleasure of eating bread, so would Italians like all these rustic, crunchy breads….I think so!
Now, I need to work on my peel technique. A peel is a thin piece of wood that you place the bread on so that you can slide it into the oven and onto the baking stone. I can’t get the bread off in a clean slide, so all my breads are “C” shaped. I can either use the C as my signature shape, or just keep working on my peel slide. OK, I can see it now..on YouTube…the video of me perfecting my peel slide…..