Chef's Notes Plus

All About Pâte à Choux

Pâte à choux is a simple and versatile French pastry batter made from milk (or water), butter, flour, and eggs. It is typically piped and baked to a crisp, hollow shell that is perfect for filling with sweet or savory ingredients. Even if you’ve never made pâte à choux, you’ve […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Best Water for Bread Making

Bread dough is made from very few ingredients, and each one counts. This includes the most basic, likely least-considered ingredient: water. The rule of thumb here is that if you enjoy drinking it, you can use it for baking bread. However, there are three important ways water quality can affect […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Vineyard Vocabulary: Oak in Wine

Most wines are aged in barrels, but those barrels are not always the classic oak ones you might imagine when you think of a vineyard. When it comes to influencing the flavors and aromas of a finished wine, though, oak is a popular choice. The primary effect of an oak […]

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Raclette is for Lovers

Cheese may not be a popular first date food, but as far as we’re concerned, nothing unites two people better than an interactive shared meal of absolute perfection. And that can really only be raclette. Half dinner, half get-together, this traditional cheese dish rivals fondue for popularity in its home […]

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Italian Rice Varieties

All varieties of rice can be divided into short-, medium- and long-grain varieties. All Italian rice  are strains of a thick, short-grained rice called japonica (Oryza sativa japonica). They may not, to most palates, taste different, but they do behave differently when cooked. There are four grades of rice: Comune […]

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Ingredient Spotlight: Fish Sauce

One of the main reasons why Vietnamese or Thai food tastes quite different from say, Chinese or Japanese food, is because it relies heavily upon fish sauce. Called nam pla in Thai, nuoc mam in Vietnamese, tuk trey in Cambodian, and patis in Filipino, fish sauce is the quintessential seasoning […]

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Lucky Noodles to Welcome the Year of the Tiger

February 1 marks the beginning of Lunar New Year, and as we celebrate the new year of the Tiger, we can’t help but hope for a little extra luck in the coming year. Though the traditions of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the communities who celebrate—like China, Korea, […]

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Identifying Cheese Rinds (or, Can I Eat That?)

Rinds happen. The first ones that showed up were on cheeses that sat around for a long time without becoming inedible. Somehow, a tough exterior was allowed to form which protected the cheese from vermin while keeping moisture inside. This is a natural rind. Other rinds occurred over time, and […]

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Bakers’ Percentage

Buckle up, foodies. We’re doing math! Artisan bread requires just a few key ingredients, but it is the ratio of those ingredients and the way they are handled that produce a wide array of finished loaves. Proper execution comes from a detailed understanding of each step in the process—what needs […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Using Malt in Breading Baking

Malted barley is called for in many of our bread recipes (as malt syrup) because of its impact on the dough. Malt is made by separating the enzymes that break down starch into sugar from cereal grains, usually barley. Many flours are treated with malts at the mill, but organic […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Sourdough Starters: 101

The process of making sourdough bread begins with creation of a sour, a culture of microorganisms that are fed and cultivated to increase their quantity. This sour is then used to ferment the final bread dough. To fully understand the process of sourdough baking, it is important to examine each […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Establishing a Sourdough Starter

Ready for at-home bread baking with your very own sourdough starter? Follow this schedule to create your own starter in 5 to 7 days. For more information about starters, see Sourdough Starters: 101. DAY 1 Mix equal amounts of flour with water (at 85°F) until the mixture is homogenous. Use […]