Those stickies at the top of the book in the picture? That’s a good sign. I’ve been contemplating my food future.
The thing is, you want to be creative with your food but it’s often too late. You enter the kitchen already hungry or with a family urgently needing food or you have your own deadline to get fed and get out of the kitchen or out of the house. In a compromise, you may be “creative” in scanning through some cookbooks before you cook, but, like me, you may be a slave to those recipes.
It can be rare for us to take some time to think about our food and how it might be prepared differently. I want to think outside the box, but I often don’t. What I need is some clever foodies who will think out of the box for me. Not just an inch or two outside the box, but feet or yards or miles.
Authors Aki Kamozawa and Alexander Talbot are just the pair to carry out this mission. Partners in life and careers, they are foodies who specialize in breaking new ground. They write the fascinating blog www.ideasinfood.com. Their first book, Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work was a most successful effort at explaining the science of food and options for preparing it. And, most importantly, explaining in language that mere mortals can readily absorb. You do not need a Ph.D. in chemistry or nutrition to enjoy their writing.
Now, we have their second book, Maximum Flavor, specifically targeting the home cook. The normal home cook. The you and me cook.
There is no need for liquid nitrogen here. Aki and Alexander know all the cutting edge techniques. They also know their audience and what we typically have in our home kitchens and our probable “comfort level” with tools and techniques.
Can wild things be done in the kitchen with “normal” stuff? Oh, absolutely. Suzen and I have made a half dozen dishes from Maximum Flavor and they are all spectacularly different. Look for specific recipes in posts over the coming week.
The authors offer a range of secrets and techniques. A better way to make nuts by using, what else, sugar syrup. How to make great home fries with just one round of frying not two.
More exotically, do you love gazpacho? How about a green gazpacho made by first using a blender, then pouring the liquid into ice cube trays, and then freezing. Take the gazpacho cubes out, and run them through a food processor to create “shaved” soup. Refreeze and serve. If the temperature is nearly 100° then this is the dish you need.
How about a pepperoni lasagna with homemade sauce cooked swiftly in a pressure cooker. Pressure cooker? The authors rave and encourage you to ask your mom for that device she no longer uses. Or, you can get a shiny new one and put it to formidable use using several of the recipes in this comprehensive tour of culinary frontiers.
Desserts are given due and proper concern. There is a pretzel caramel tart that is so beautiful you feel guilty cutting into it. Well, not too guilty. The pretzel crust is topped with caramel which is topped with a combo of dark chocolate ganache and milk chocolate ganache. Literally an over the top dessert.
When Aki and Alexander selected the title Maximum Flavor, they were not kidding. Honestly, you need to explore this exceptional book. I dare you to pick it up and not buy it.
Here is an exceptional flatbread thanks to Bon Appetit. There is no yeast here: just salt, flour and butter. The “flaky” concept comes from the softness of the bread in your mouth. The butter flavor is there along with the carbon aromas creating from skillet cooking. The effect is dramatic, particularly given the bare simple beginnings of this bread.
Suzen served this bread with a creamy salmon spread. The bread would be the ideal vehicle for a bevy of spreads at your next cocktail party.
From start to finish, this bread takes about 5 hours including rising time, so planning ahead is necessary. But the aromas, the tastes will make it all worthwhile.
The recipe below calls for sea salt to adorn the top of the bread. Here is your chance to go freelance using the salt of your choice. Suzen and I live in Manhattan where we have The Meadow as a source of dozens of salts that could be used. The Meadow began in Portland, Oregon and you can go online to see their selection. Or, go to your local gourmet store to find something smoky and fun.
Yield: 10 rounds, enough for 5+ people
- 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the surface while rolling out
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melt, plus more at room temperature for brushing [about 10]
- Flakey sea salt [such as Maldon]
- Olive oil for the parchment
Whisk kosher salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl. Drizzle in the melted butter; mix well. Gradually mix in ¾ cup water. Kneed on a lightly floured surface until the dough is shiny and very soft, about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic; let rest in a warm spot at least 4 hours.
Divide the dough into 10 pieces and, using your palm, roll into balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 15 minutes.
Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out the balls on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin into very thin rounds or ovals about 9” across. [If the dough bounces back, cover with plastic and let rest a few minutes.]
Brush the tops of the rounds with room-temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Roll up each round onto itself to create a long thin rope, then wind each rope around itself to create a tight coil. Working with 1 coil at a time, rollout on an unfloured surface to 10” rounds to more than ⅛” thick. Stack as you go, separating each round with a sheet of parchment paper brushed with oil.
Heat a large cast iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Working 1 at a time, brush both sides of a dough round with room-temperature butter and cook until lightly blistered and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and sprinkle with seat salt.
The coils can be rolled out up to 1 month ahead; wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Cook frozen [adding 1-2minutes to the cooking time].
Source: Bon Appetit