I've just rediscovered a book I bought back in the mid-1970's. The Cooks' Catalogue is a compilation of photos, descriptions, and prices (very dated prices) of 4,000 pieces of kitchen equipment and utensils, along with 200 recipes. This comprehensive guide is "a critical selection of the best, the necessary and the special",
according to its contributors including James Beard, Barbara Poses Kafka, Elizabeth David, and Florence Fabricant, just to name a very few of the hundreds that were involved in the publication of this book many years ago. I could spend hours pouring over the extensive descriptions of the featured items, and after doing so, know exactly what I need for a specific job in my kitchen. After reading 133 words alone on the French Pop-Up Sponge where I am told, " You may think that we are being insanely francophile, telling you to import your sponge from Europe, but this is in truth better than the synthetic sponges in the supermarket, as it has tiny holes which release the water very slowly", I now have all of the knowledge (and more) I need when searching for a new sponge! And what you will notice if you find a copy of this book, are the insanely cheap prices of these items. Yes, they are certainly 1970's prices. Those were the days, and many of these beautiful pieces of kitchen equipment and utensils aren't out there any more; surely the casualty of high production costs, companies that have folded over the years, etc., etc.
Whether or not you are interested in purchasing any of the pieces shown in this book, it will give you an encyclopedic knowledge of just about anything and everything of usefulness in your kitchen. And in addition, there are the 200 included recipes.
Having just purchased a bag of pistachios, this recipe for Pistachio Bread by James Beard caught my eye. And you may wonder, is it any good? Well... no one in this house has been able to walk past it without cutting a slice, and that includes my husband who does not care for nuts and tries to limit his bread consumption. So yes, it is good!
* The one thing I strongly caution you on is the baking time. The recipe calls for 30 to 35 minutes. I believe my bread was in the oven about 25 minutes, or slightly less than that and it was dark. Also, a heavy hand in brushing on the beaten egg before baking causes the bread to darken up much more. It's an easy dough to mix and assemble and I'm certain I'll be making this often -- hey, my husband loves it!
• Pistachio Bread •
from Beard on Bread by James Beard and reprinted in
The Cooks' Catalogue
• 1 package active dry yeast
• Granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup warm water (100˚ to 115˚, approximately)
• 1 cup warm milk
• 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened butter
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup melted butter
• 1 cup shelled, salted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
1. Combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and water in a large mixing bowl, and allow to proof. Then add the milk, the softened butter, the salt and 1/2 cup sugar to the yeast mixture. Add the flour, cup by cup, beating well after each addition. (This dough is easy to handle but will be a little sticky at this stage.) Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead for a good 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. ( I had another cup or so of flour that I kept dusting onto the dough and work surface to keep the dough from sticking. Add sparingly what you must, a little bit at a time, until the dough kneads easily and is elastic.) Form into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, an turn to coat the surface with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free spot to double in bulk.
2. Punch the dough down and turn out on a floured board. Let rest for a few minutes, then roll into a rectangle about 18-inches-by-12-inches. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/3 cup additional sugar and the coarsely chopped pistachio nuts. Beginning with the long edge of the rectangle, roll up the dough like a jelly roll, pressing each seam as you do so. Join the ends of the roll and pinch together to form a ring. Place the ring carefully on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slice two-thirds of the way down into the ring, at 3/4-inch intervals. Twist each slice to the right so that the interior of the slice is now facing upwards. Let the ring rise in a warm draft-free place until almost doubled in size. Brush the entire surface with beaten egg, then bake in a preheated 375˚F oven for 30 to 35 minutes * -- SEE COMMENT ABOVE ON MY BAKING TIME -- until the bread is nicely browned. Cool on a rack before serving.
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