Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TWD: Palets de Dames,Lille style

Hello, is this thing on? My last post to this page was nearly 4 years ago, but I have the best reason for dusting off this bad boy, and that is the release of Dorie Greenspan's new book, Baking Chez Moi. Dorie's last baking cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours, was a serious game-changer for me. I had been a full-fledged adult for years when Baking was published, cooking and baking for first myself, and then myself and my husband, and then eventually myself, my husband, and my kids, for years -- always from recipes I found in cookbooks or magazines (I'm not a kitchen improviser). But I had NO idea what a truly great cookbook really looked like until Baking came along.

Lots of cookbooks have good recipes. But Baking: FMHTY was so much more than lists of ingredients followed by lists of instructions. To bake from Baking was to feel like Dorie was actually in the kitchen with you. Telling you not to freak out, because it's supposed to look curdled at this point. Explaining what the dough should feel like. Teaching about what sounds to listen for when mixing up a pie crust in the food processor. The "serving" and "storing" suggestions in Baking became so indispensable to me, and I can't for the life of me understand why more cookbooks don't include this information. If I'm baking some Christmas goodies to mail from Alabama to Connecticut, I know I can count on Baking to tell me whether something is best eaten the same day, or whether it will stay fresh for 5 days, and choose accordingly. There are so many little details like that in Baking that (along with the quality recipes and Dorie's kind, fun, reassuring voice) add up to the extraordinary cookbook that it is. I became a better, more confident, more skilled baker thanks to Dorie.

In addition to the cookbook itself, through Baking I found a little group of online bakers called Tuesdays with Dorie. Baking along with that group was some of the most fun I've ever had, and I made some lifelong friends in the process. I'm thrilled to see the group still thriving, and it will be fun to do some baking along with Baking Chez Moi!

Baking Chez Moi was to be released right around my birthday, so obviously I asked for it for my birthday. For whatever reason it was a bit delayed being delivered and did not arrive in time for my birthday, and I could see that my husband had plans to squirrel it away for Christmas. So I dropped subtle hints that I would rather not wait until Christmas ("Actually, I really want that book now. Where's the book? GIVE ME THE BOOK!!!!"). He gave me the book then slowly backed away. It's gorgeous, of course, and I immediately felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend. The first recipe I baked from the book was this week's TWD selection, Palets de Dames. God bless the French for a lyrical language that makes everything sound more elegant. I served the Palets de Dames on the good silver, whereas the English version, Soft Iced Sugar Cookies, would have gone straight into the Tupperware.

These are simple cookies that contain only a handful of basic ingredients, and they were delicious -- soft and not overly sweet. I forget my son's exact description, but I know it contained the word "heaven." Another wonderful cookie from Dorie! I'm so excited about Baking Chez Moi. Thanks, Dorie!

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