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December 22, 2012 | By Nancy Silverton and Carolynn Carreño
One of the things that keeps me excited about what I do is that I am always learning. When I was making puff pastry not long ago, someone asked me why I made a tic-tac-toe-like slash in the process of making the dough. I had been slashing puff pastry dough, and having my chefs do it, for 30 years, or for as long as I'd been making puff pastry, and yet I had no idea why. I was thinking about this during a drive down to Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach. Then, just when I got out of the car, like magic, there was the renowned French baker Claude Koeberle.
December 19, 2012 | By Noelle Carter
To keep the dough even while rolling out your pie crusts and cut cookies, work the rolling pin in the center of the dough and don't roll all the way to the edges. You'll have greater control over the thickness of the dough if you keep the pin toward the center of the dough -- the closer you get to the rim, the more likely you are to roll the pin off the edges, flattening them and making the dough uneven. Rotate the dough a quarter-turn each time you roll to make sure the thickness remains even.
December 15, 2012 | Noelle Carter
Beyond the colorful decorations and after the initial rush of sugar, holiday cookies are about memories and tradition. Be they humble or ornate, our baked goods are used to celebrate and give thanks -- thanks for our childhoods, the blessings of family and friends and the magic that can be found only this time of year. This fall, we asked L.A. Times readers to share their special cookie recipes with us for our third annual Holiday Cookie Bake-Off and then to help us narrow down their favorites to the top 50. We received close to 200 submissions, and more than 2,500 votes were cast.
December 7, 2012 | By Noelle Carter
Because of their high oil content, nuts can go bad quickly and easily. There's nothing worse than biting into a nut gone bad -- rancid nuts tend to have a sharp, bitter flavor and can ruin a recipe. When buying nuts, shop at a store that has a rapid turnover -- odds are, the nuts are fresher than at a store where they have been sitting around for a while. Fresh nuts should feel heavy for their size and should be plump and firm and uniform in size; they should not be shriveled, wrinkled, or discolored.
December 2, 2012 | By Noelle Carter
Kristen Johnson of Santa Monica was one of the 10 winners of last year's Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with almond candy cane cookies: "My mother, Wendy Johnson , had me brainwashed as a child. Chocolate cake with almond frosting for my birthday? Yes! Sugar cookies with almond flavoring? Delicious. It wasn't until I was in college and I made my roommate the homemade chocolate cake with almond frosting that I quickly learned my mom totally messed me up. Apparently using almond in lieu of vanilla flavoring in everything is not normal.
November 20, 2012 | By Noelle Carter
If you've never made a pie dough, or other quick doughs, in a food processor, I can't stress how wonderfully simple and easy the whole process is. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter chunks and give the processor a couple whirs to incorporate, then pulse in the liquid ingredients just to combine. The steps may vary slightly depending on the recipe, but that's pretty much it. VoilĂ . Many recipes now include dual methods for mixing -- mixing bowl and food processor methods.
November 18, 2012 | By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times
The gig: Rick Wetzel and Bill Phelps are the chieftains of pretzel empire Wetzel's Pretzels. As co-founders of the Pasadena chain, the pair oversee a company with 263 franchises worldwide, 3,000 employees and $107 million in annual sales. There's also 12 company-owned stores that employ 150 people. Origin story: In 1994, the two were working in marketing at Nestle USA. On a business trip to Seattle, the colleagues, who weren't friends at the time, started kicking around the idea of pretzels as a new snack-food business.
November 16, 2012 | By Noelle Carter
This old-fashioned custard pie starts with a wonderful pecan-like base, but instead of going for the more traditional nut, cookbook writer Patty Pinner folds walnuts and raisins into the filling and spices the pie with orange zest and nutmeg in a recipe adapted from her "Sweety Pies. " The recipe is demonstrated at left by Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter. Walnut raisin pie is one of the favorite holiday recipes we've collected in our "Los Angeles Times Holiday Handbook. " The book shares more than 110 seasonal recipes to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah , Christmas and New Year's.
November 11, 2012 | By Noelle Carter
This week's Culinary SOS request comes from Sarah McKinney in San Bruno: "I recently returned from a trip to Louisville, Ky., and dined at a new restaurant called Rye . They make the most divine Sally Lunn rolls. They were one of the highlights of our dining experience - truly life-changing. Any chance you could persuade them to submit their recipe to your readers?" Rich and buttery, yet oh-so-light in texture, these rolls are bound to steal the show at any dinner party.
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