Dear Milk Streeter,
Lots of travel this month. Our editorial director, J.M. Hirsch, just visited Amsterdam, where he discovered an Indonesian-influenced rice noodle stir-fry with vegetables. Dutch cooking has lots of Indonesian influences, and this dish is quick, simple and light, perfect for midweek cooking.
J.M. is now in South Africa, where he is traveling the townships attending barbecues and taking cooking lessons. He also stumbled into a farmer’s market that was part market, part potluck and part church social. People were enjoying glasses of beer and wine, sitting down for supper at makeshift tables made with doors propped up on sawhorses. It was an amazing community experience.
At Milk Street, we just hosted Lior Lev Sercarz at a Milk Street Session. He is the owner of La Boîte in New York City, which is all about spices. He completely changed my mind about using spices. As he said, “I will never create a spice blend just for fish!” I created a Moroccan-based mixture and we used it in a loaf cake, on top of baked salmon fillets and in an impromptu salad. Lior also mentioned that spice brings out sweetness. One day he was tasting peppercorns and took a sip from his coffee cup—he thought someone had added extra sugar. Now he adds spices to his coffee and it tastes sweet; no sugar required.
Starting April 10, we launch our new website, which contains an all-new digital version of Milk Street Magazine, all of our recipes and videos, and access to our radio and television show episodes (our TV show launches this September). Having used many food websites over the years, we worked hard to produce a top-notch experience. First, all of our recipes have a step-by-step cooking mode, which includes videos. Second, the responsive design works great on tablets and smartphones, including watching videos. You can easily shop and cook from your phone.
Also starting April 10, if you buy a ticket to an upcoming cooking class at Milk Street, we will give you a free one-year membership to our website.
We just finished up filming the premiere season of Milk Street Television, which airs on public television starting this September. One of my favorite recipes was our Lemon-Buttermilk Pound Cake, a recipe by pastry chef Kathryn King of Atlanta, Georgia. We bake it in a Bundt pan. It is marvelous when individual slices are toasted and served with ice cream. It’s light and has a great tang.
Have you ever wondered which type of onion to buy? I like white onions because they are milder, but we recently discovered that the stronger onions—red and yellow—tend to become sweeter when cooked. So, for a sweet, cooked onion, start with a strong raw onion. But here’s the best part. It turns out that sweet onions such as Vidalia do not contain more sugar than storage onions such as the typical supermarket red. The latter does contain more Pyruvic acid which makes them tastes less sweet, but in fact they aren’t. Click here to join the discussion.
And, finally, a word about blind baking. All tart or pie shells will shrink a bit when pre-baked. A few tips to minimize this problem. Cut the fat into the flour well—do not leave “pea-sized” pieces. Second, roll out the dough, fit it to the pie shell and refrigerate it for half an hour and then freeze for 15 minutes. Place a double thickness of foil over the pie or tart shell, making sure it is pressed down into the shell. Fill the foil three-quarters of the way with ceramic pie weights, dry beans or uncooked rice. Bake for 25 minutes in a 375ºF oven or until the sides of the pastry are dry to the touch and set. Then remove the foil and weights and continue baking for a few minutes until lightly browned inside. You will experience some shrinking, but not enough to affect the recipe.
I leave you with a comment from José Andrés. I asked him why he always talks to his ingredients. He replied, “If you don’t talk to your tomatoes, they won’t talk to you.” Good point!
Enjoy spring—assuming that it ever actually gets here!
Founder, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street