Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I had to put down the march issue of Gourmet twice on my morning commute to work. First, I flipped to the back page where I was intrigues to see a recipe for a galette, with no filling. To me a galette is a free-form tart filled with fruit, tho I suppose it could be filled with something else and I'm sure it could be adapted to be savory.

But...FILLED. I would never tell you I baked a pie, and then hand you an empty sucree crust. This galette recipe was pizza dough brushed with butter and sugar, then baked. I'm almost equally annoyed at the fact that, not only is the recipe not a recipe for any sort of dough (and so not teaching you how to work with dough) but it's also not teaching you, really, what a galette could be.

Then I saw this crepe-cake recipe. I read it through fairly fast but something didn't sit right so I read it again, slowly. They didn't have you rest the crepe batter at all, which most cooks do, but we didn't rest crepe batter at work when we were using it in two different preparations, was an interesting opportunity for a discussion of philosophy but no matter. Then, in the instructions, they had you butter a pan and then heat it, and again I read it a couple time before my head sent off a little flag of NO, silly, you're supposed to heat a pan and then add fat and then let THAT get hot and then carry on. Little things.

I got to the charlotte recipe that called for melted vanilla ice cream and I puzzled over that for a second before I realized they were probably going for creme anglaise, but figured no one would be interested in learning how to make that.

In between these half-assed recipe was a very interesting article on omelets, actually on achieving perfection in cooking via the omelet.

You shouldn't inspire someone to greatness and then give them inadequate tools. Does it take up too much space to print a recipe for creme anglaise, or it it too difficult? Sometimes we want something quick, easy, without all the fuss. Without using every pan we own. That's fine. Gourmet is the only food mag I subscribe to, Food Arts aside (and how many people think that Food Arts is fascinating, because I do, but please, it's hard enough for someone like me to fudge a subscription). If I wanted to learn to make a simplified version of some Michael Mina dish or some half-cocked version of custards or cakes, I'd buy Food and Wine.


Anonymous said...

I've been trying to get a subscription to Food Arts, but even tho' they claim they will send it to me they never have.... what's your secret?

delilahboyd said...

I've almost always been disappointed with magazine recipes. And even the classic cookbook recipes seem to rely on the idea that "You, too, can make this at home in no time at all!" I guess publishers don't think anyone would buy a book or mag that said, "This is going to take time and effort, so roll up your sleeves."

A million years ago, I followed Julia C's detailed instructions for making croissants. 15 hours later, they came out of the oven and my husband wolfed them down in mere minutes. Then I remembered how cheap they were in European bakeries and got really depressed.

Fast forward: After graduating from Pastry school and becoming a personal pastry chef in DC, I just laugh when I read magazine recipes and "Quick dessert" instructions in cookbooks. Nowhere are the words, "second proofing overnight in the refrigerator."

Thanks for the great blog post!