The subtitle of the stunning new book French Boulangerie, by Ferrandi Paris, the French equivalent of the Culinary Institute of America, should be Fermentation. All but a few recipes in the book include the process. At the beginning, after covering the ingredients and explaining gluten, there are lengthy instructions describing several fermentation techniques: levain, commercial yeast, and poolish. Step-by-step photos are spread over recipes for different breads, viennoiserie, types of puff pastry, brioches, creams and fillings. But the scope isn’t limited to France: there are recipes for injera, bao buns, babka, pastrami sandwiches, pizza-like flatbreads and even hot dogs. For each, the book gives an accurate indication of how long it takes to complete the recipe.
“French Boulangerie: Recipes and Techniques From the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts,” photo by Rina Nurra, Flammarion, $40.
Black Cod Straight From The Harvester
Pacific sablefish, also called black cod, is all the fun with very little risk. The meat is so rich in fat that it will remain moist and delicious even if you have to make an emergency phone call while cooking. This winter, E-Fish, a direct-from-harvester seafood platform, has a good supply from California, sold in two-pound lots, skin-on filets. It’s the fish of choice for the Nobu treatment, with a miso glaze and takes a good heat. It comes from Water2Table, a seafood company in San Francisco that works with anglers.
Sablefish, $79.99 for two pounds, e-fish.com.
For neutral cooking oil, go with algae
There is a new, almost colorless, plant-based oil to use when olive oil has too much personality. Algae Cooking Club Oil is made from algae and is lighter and more neutral than almost all seed and other vegetable oils. The algae is grown indoors, from an original base material found in nature, in stainless steel tanks in Brazil; it is then fermented with sugar and pressed for the oil that develops in the process. Its environmental impact is very minimal, according to the Algae Cooking Club. Seaweed known as kelp is called macroalgae. This oil, which has received the blessing of chef Daniel Humm, is made from microalgae, tiny invisible single-celled organisms. The resulting oil has a high smoke point, making it great for frying, and the company claims it has healthy Omega-9 fatty acids. But it is much more expensive than supermarket canola.
Algae Cooking Club Algae Cooking Oil, $25 for 16 ounces, algaecookingclub.com.
This citrus dish will brighten up your table
Just as citrus fruits of all kinds brighten the winter menu, so would the table benefit from this lemon serving dessert: a generous slice of pale yellow, delicately rippled at the edges and made of soda-lime glass. At about 11 inches in diameter and fairly flat, it’s the perfect serving dish for a lemon curd cake or a stack of lemon ricotta pancakes. In the summer it would make a great showcase for a seafood salad.
Lemon Serving Plate, $19.95, surlatable.com.
Apple brandy with a nod to legend
The aroma of this new apple brandy, or eau de vie as they would have it, suggests a pile of freshly peeled apple skins. Apple aromas are not uncommon in spirits, particularly some chardonnays that suggest green apple, but not the riper nose of Tamworth Distilling’s latest; it is named after Lilith, who in Jewish folklore (perhaps derived from Mesopotamian legend) is said to have been the first of the biblical Adam’s wives. She supposedly turned into the tempting serpent of Eden who tempted Eve with the apple. This brandy is made from heirloom Cortland apples from New Hampshire, home of Tamworth, fermented and double distilled in alembics and aged over four years in whiskey barrels. Aging, which brings its color to a pale amber, makes it more brandy, for which there is a strong tradition in New England since colonial times, than eau de vie, which is usually inauthentic and clean. It is in the Calvados style, smooth on the palate with deep flavors of cloves, honey and black pepper. In 100 trials it follows the rules for a bottle determination.
Tamworth Garden Lilith Apple Brandy, $95 for 750 milliliters, Tamworth Distilling, tamworthdistilling.com.
Gianduja, the chocolate-hazelnut spread that is peanut butter in Italy, has many commercial labels, most notably Nutella which popularized it some 60 years ago. Ghia, a company that makes non-alcoholic aperitifs, introduced a version in 2021 replacing the palm oil found in Nutella with extra virgin olive oil and reducing the sugar to 11 grams in two tablespoons (compared to 21 grams for Nutella). Now they’ve added a particularly appealing crunchy style made with crushed almonds and puffed quinoa, and with nine grams of sugar in two tablespoons. It’s spreadable, doesn’t completely pour, great on ice cream or as a pastry topping and can be ready for your secret post-midnight scoop
Ghia Ghianduja Crunch, $32 for two 8-ounce jars, drinkghia.com.
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