Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cooking with Magic

Sometimes baking tests don't come out well, and not only is there disappointment, but I blame myself for not having foreseen the flaw in the recipe, whether it be too many eggs, too little flour, not enough salt, etc.   When this happens, I say to myself, "You were cooking with magic," as if some celestial power could have saved my ill-conceived plan.

So in that context, I will post Daniel Rose's Grandmother's Banana-Zuccini Bread recipe as an example.  On the surface, this looks like a very ordinary quickbread recipe.  There is no reason to think that I might get a sublime result, yet I feel compelled to try it (as I did with the crack brownies) because I really admired the New York Times writeup on Rose in 2008 (watch the video especially) and have heard that he has been very successful since at his Parisian restaurant, Spring.  Feel free to try it at home, and let me know if you get a magical outcome!

Daniel Rose's Grandmother's Banana-Zuccini Bread
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf, about 10 slices
"For a long time, we passed this out to dinner guests ... to take home for breakfast," said Daniel Rose, chef of Spring restaurant in Paris. "It's an American classic, but perfectly unknown here," Rose said. 
2 ripe bananas
1 small zucchini
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup sunflower or canola oil
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 fresh vanilla bean, split in half
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon each: baking soda, baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mash the bananas with a fork in a large bowl. Grate the zucchini; press between paper towels to dry. Add zucchini to the bananas; stir in the eggs, sugar and oils. Scrape vanilla bean seeds into the bowl; mix lightly.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the banana-zucchini mixture; mix briefly until just incorporated. Add the cider vinegar to the milk; stir the milk mixture into the batter. Fold in the walnuts.
3. Pour batter into a buttered and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake until a knife comes out clean, about 50 minutes; cool in pan on wire rack, 15 minutes. Store, wrapped, in refrigerator.
Nutrition information per serving: 371 calories, 44% of calories from fat, 19 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 48 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 239 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Week 58

Account this week from AR:

The Scene: The YMCA parking lot behind the stand was taken over this week by the fifth annual Doughman relay, raising money for programs at the SEEDS community garden. (If you aren’t already in the know, watch the Doughman episode of Man v. Food from a few years ago.) The morning was sunny and hot, and all the local trucks were out in full force. So was much of Durham—at least those devoted enough to community gardening, athletics, gluttony, or some combination thereof—and we gained more exposure from the additional foot traffic.

The Product: This week we brought out Spinach Leek and French Coconut Tartlets, along with our Pain au Levain. The tartlets seem to be catching on pretty quickly, and have outsold the bread for several weeks running. This week also saw the return of our Iced Chai, just in time for the warmer summer weather.

Photo by Weege

The Crew: The smaller but dedicated crew came together to keep the stand going while AB was away. Extra thanks to Ali R. in the kitchen, RML at the stand, and RG on the bike delivery route.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Week 57

Making a Scene: Whoah.  Saturday was a world-record day for us.  We brought higher-ticket items (babka and challah), made more tartlets (nearly 160), and the weather was optimal.  The entire marketplace was very, very busy.

Ginger Honey Chess Tartlet.  Photo by Weege.

I can't stop posting pictures of Ruch's kimchi.  This week's iteration was the spiciest yet and not for the faint of heart or palate.

Our awesome customers: The Rodgers family & LP, RG & EC & SMG, SSS, Joel et al., Katie & Todd & Lucas, Jason & Jennifer, Leia, Phil, Adam S. & Heather C., Weege & Friedrich et al., Laurie & Jeff.

Our giveaway winners this week, Katie, Todd, and lil' napping Lucas

Wholesale: Joe van Gogh on Broad has picked up our tartlets for their cafe.  If you missed them this weekend, a couple may still be there by the time you are reading this.  Our tartlets can also be found weekly at Respite Cafe and Reliable Cheese.

The crew: Many thanks to our hardworking crew: Ali R., AR, and SZ.  A busy market meant we were kept on our toes at the stand...thanks so much fellas for being so dependable!

Loaf: I finally got to tour Ron Graff's Loaf operation.  The amount of bread that he is able to produce from his one wood-fire oven is truly impressive.  I don't think I've ever met personally a baker more dedicated to his craft than Ron.  Also, big shouts to his crew/conspirators, Jamie and Anna.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I really enjoyed this movie recently when it was at the Chelsea.  Especially in the first third, the focus on repetition, integrity, testing, tasting, quality, simplicity, sourcing, and flavor was really inspiring.  It was fascinating to see the process of how a common street food could be elevated to masterful cuisine.  Be on the lookout when it comes to DVD July 24th.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Week 56

Account this week from AR:

The Product: We brought back the Chili-Garlic and Strawberry Cream Tartlets this week, refining our crust and fillings. Ali R. saw them through from start to finish, and they keep getting better as we continue to refine our tartlet-making techniques. The Chili-Garlic especially turned out great: it has a thin and flaky crust with a soft custard center. Those featured more Spanish Mahon from Reliable Cheese, which complemented nicely the hints of spice from the peppers and garlic. We made and sold or wholesaled 108 tartlets altogether. The Potato-Dill Bread sold at a slow but steady pace throughout the morning. A variation of our regular potato bread with added fresh Piedmont Biofarm dill, it polarized our customers into pro- and anti-dill camps. We had no idea it was so divisive! We thought we would have a few left over, but Phil from the LoMo Market swooped in just before noon to grab our last few loaves. We also sold or bartered 7 pints of Kimchi, which seems to be developing a small but loyal following.

The fabled Ruch kimchi; April McGregor, holler at us!
(click to enlarge)

The Crew: With our namesake out of town this weekend, AR, Ali R, and JM picked up the slack in the kitchen, and RML and SZ kept the stand moving smoothly throughout the morning.  Big up to RG on the deliveries.

Product Placement: You can find our product this week at Reliable Cheese, Respite, Lomo Market, and NOFO Raleigh.

Coming up: Babka's back!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Week 55

The product: We are learning that there is typically a greater demand for savory tarts early in the morning (i.e. breakfast).  Later, the attractiveness of the peanut butter chocolate tartlets drew in a lot of customers ("What are those?  Those are beautiful!").  The tarts looked so good even the venerable piemaker Phoebe Lawless checked us out for a microsecond on her way to the parking lot.  Everything sold really well - 118 out of 120 tartlets sold or bartered, and all but one of the whole wheat breads.  Many rave reviews as per usual of Ruch's Famous Kimchi -- AR, you are building quite a fan base!  For a new customer who wanted to potentially make his own kimchi, we recommended Katz' Wild Fermentation, which is a useful introduction to pickling.

Our awesome customers: EC & SMG, Leia, Joel+3, Marybeth and Allen, Adam S., Belinda, Adam R., Harris&Nat&Madeline, Keita, Walter&Ben&Linda, Jennifer+1, Brendon & Aiden & Sue + 2; Annie & Mike.

Resident Tartlet Expert, Madeline

New-ish addition to the Berenbaum's fanbase, Calvin, 3 months, son of Joel

The crew: Big up big up to RML, AR, Ali. R., and RG.  You guys amaze me.  Ali R., special big ups for decoding the mysteries of the pastry sheeter for our tartlet-making.

The Weekend, Part Two: On Sunday, we went to the Bull City Food Exchange at Fullsteam, wherein local folks traded homemade food.  We scored some Lemon Balm Jelly, Pickles, Strawberry Jam, Fudgy Graham Bars, and two plates of Mama Jean's BBQ.   Big ups to Devin, Justine, Belinda, Carolyn, and others for putting this inspiring event together.

Cute couple at the Bull City Food Exchange, Shanna and Miles

Thursday, May 3, 2012

DFM Letter

Not to sound sore, but it's been nearly two months since I submitted a written letter to the Durham Farmer's Market asking why they could have refused such a distinctive bakestand as our own.  As there has been no reply as yet, I thought I would at least post a record of the initial letter sent.  This is not meant to castigate the DFM, but instead for them to improve their internal process and create transparency in their operations.

Ari Berenbaum
Berenbaum's Bakery
                                                                                                                          March 9, 2012   

To the Durham Farmer's Board of Directors,

Upon the suggestion of market manager Erin Kauffman, I am writing in order to gain more insight into our bakery's rejection from the new vendor selection process this year.  We would like to know specifically why our bakery did not meet the criteria for selection.

We believe that our application fulfilled all the criteria for selection: unique product (Jewish bread and pastry); existing and enthusiastic customer base; highly-experienced professional baker; Durham-made, etc.

Many of our customers ask us, "Why are you not a part of the larger market?" (we set up outside the market), or "When are they going to let you in?", to which I never have a sufficient answer.

I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the DFM evaluation process, and your efforts to keep the selection process transparent, as befits a nonprofit community organization.  In my previous experience with grant application writing, applications are often returned with a score, based on objective criteria differentiating between levels of quality in application.  I would appreciate knowing our score, if there is one, or any comments from the Board regarding our application.  It would be helpful to know the specific criteria for application acceptance.  In Ms. Kauffman’s subsequent email to me, she stated only “uniqueness of product offering, quality of application, dynamics of current market composition, and fit with Market goals and mission,” all of which could be interpreted subjectively. 

Thank you for your consideration, and I would appreciate a timely reply.  Feel free to reach me by phone or email.


Ari Berenbaum