My Favorite Cookbook

There’s something about bread. Some people yearn for a good steak, some lust for chocolate. For me, it’s bread – that magical combination of flour, water, salt, and yeast. A corner dive with that serves pizza with a great crust will have me as a friend for life, while a 5-Star Italian place will lose me forever if the bread basked is only mediocre.

Growing up, I lived in two small towns; both with large ethnic European populations. First and second generation ‘off the boat’. We had good bakeries. We had great bread. Even the grocery store bakeries managed to turn out a decent loaf.

As an adult I found myself settled down in a small city smack dab in the middle of the Great Bread Desert. Here, bread is an afterthought. Not a passion. So I learned to bake.

One Christmas, my wife gave me “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. And it immediately earned a prominent spot among my favorite cookbooks – the go-to ones, the small assortment kept in the kitchen for easy access.

A perfect combination of textbook, recipe book, and coffee table book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice addresses the art and science of bread making accessibly, enjoyably, and thoroughly. The first third is all classroom. History, chemistry, biology, mechanics, methods, tools. Don’t skip these parts. You need them. You’ll enjoy them. Trust me.

From there on it’s all action. 180 pages of recipes. “Formulas.” Bagels, Ciabatta, Pizza dough, Cinnamon Rolls, Sourdough, Challah, Focaccia. OMG, the Focaccia.

The formulas are easy to understand and come with helpful tips and commentary. Ingredients are listed by both weight and measure. Each recipe comes with tips, commentary, and photos that will make you want to get busy baking.

Armed with The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, good ingredients, and a basic set of tools you will be turning out professional quality breads in no time at all. Impress yourself, impress your friends, eat well, enjoy the journey. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a Good Read.

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CHEgg Sandwiches

Like most people, many of my best memories include food that was a part of family get-togethers, special occasions, or just every day favorites. Today, preparing and eating these foods rekindles all of the warmth and good feelings from those times. These foods weren’t always fancy or difficult to prepare but they were all delicious and designed to feed a crowd with a minimum of preparation and clean up.

Of these, CHEgg Sandwiches rank among my favorites. Not sure where the recipe originated or what it’s original name was but my sister dubbed it the “CHEgg” and that name stuck.

It is a perfect lap food for a football party, family event, or just to enjoy with a hot bowl of soup on a cold nasty day. They could even be made ahead and heated up in the boat’s oven to give the crew a hot meal without the cook having to spend much time below decks.

Give it a try and let me know what you think:

CHEgg Sandwhiches

  • 1/2# deli ham, chopped up
  • 1/2 mild or medium cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 Miracle Whip or Mayo
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup

Combine all ingredients and spread on hamburger buns. Wrap in foil and bake at 375ยบ for 15 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!