Bruce Aidells Reviews Burma
To whom would you give this book?
Anyone who’s interested in Southeast Asian cooking or who craves new flavors. I am lucky enough to have a couple of great Burmese restaurants in the Bay Area, where I live, and now I can reproduce some of my favorite dishes at home.
What surprised you the most?
I thought that because the recipes are so simple, with fewer ingredients than I’m used to working with—they’re home dishes from real families—they would lack flavor. The fried rice with shallots, for instance, has basically four ingredients—rice, peas, turmeric and shallots—but it’s got just enough going on to have great flavor.
Did you learn about a new ingredient?
I couldn’t find fermented bean paste in the small town where I live, so I used the suggested alterative, brown miso. My store sells it only in one-pound bags. Now I’m thinking about how to use up all the rest of the miso, besides making the obvious soup: I’m going to marinate some pork, mix some miso with ground beef to add extra umami and try spreading it on toast for breakfast.
Did anything about the book make you jealous?
My own book has 100 color photos, but Naomi’s has 175, so, yes, I have photo envy. I wish I could have spent the vast amount of time Naomi did in Burma (she has traveled there for 30 years) to get to know home cooks and write about my adventures.
What was the greatest challenge for you in testing this cookbook? It was hard for me to follow a recipe exactly. I had to hold myself back from adding things.
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Adam Roberts Reviews Bouchon Bakery
Adam Roberts, author of Secrets of the Best Chefs, reviews Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
Is Bouchon Bakery an important new book?
Yes! Keller is almost fanatical in his pursuit of excellence. The book is groundbreaking in that it’s about the most OCD form of cooking from our nation’s most OCD chef. Keller’s exactitude is really unrivaled; every ingredient is measured to one-tenth of a gram, and the phenomenal results speak for themselves.
Would you say Keller’s recipes are very difficult, then?
Actually, both the recipes and tips make cooking at the most sophisticated level approachable for the home cook. That said, there are a few challenging recipes thrown in for the more daring.
Did you learn anything new?
The book has useful tips—for instance, Keller recommends using Plugrá European-Style Butter, which has 82 percent butterfat content. The difference in color and depth of flavor in my scones was notable! And to make sure the caramel in your caramel corn doesn’t seize up, heat up the bowl you’ll be tossing it in.