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Choosing the right yeast

Yeasted breads

Baking can be intimidating, especially when it comes to making foods with yeast. There are many different types of yeast available, and baking disaster stories abound concerning dense, misshapen loaves or out-of-control dough monsters. But yeast baking doesn't have to be scary, says Susan Reid, Publications Manager at King Arthur Flour. In an interview with Epicurious, Reid dispels common yeast baking myths and provides guidance on choosing which yeast to use.

The only types of yeast that Reid says most bakers need to know about are active dry yeast and instant yeast, which are also the most easily available. In almost every instance, they can be subsituted for one another. Active dry yeast is made "by removing the water in live yeast and grinding it into fine granules." Instant yeast is ground even finer to dissolve more quickly, but it's not just active dry yeast processed further. 

"Instant is a slightly different strain, so it produces a bit of a different flavor," Reid says. But "frankly, you can use [both active dry and instant yeast] exactly the same way." So there is no need to stock both types of yeast, just stick with one for consistency. Reid recommends the SAF Red Instant Yeast used in the King Arthur Flour test kitchens. (SAF owns Red Star, a popular supermarket brand.)

One common misconception is that you must proof active dry yeast by dissolving it in warm water before using it. That step is not necessary, according to Reid. Active dry yeast "is produced in a such a way that it can be added directly to the bread dough with the dry ingredients." The reason yeast was traditionally proofed is to make sure it was still alive and able to do its job, a problem found more with fresh yeast. Fresh and rapid rise yeast are also explained in the Epicurious article.

For best results you should store your yeast in the freezer, where Reid says it will last up to a year. My experience is that it will last several years in the freezer - I recently baked bread with yeast that had a "use-by" date of 2011.

Photos, l to r:  Daring bakers' yeast meringue coffee cake from Life's a Feast by Jamie Schler and Basic soft white sandwich loaf from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

At Eat Your Books we want to bring you the best recipes - our dedicated team searches out and finds online recipes excerpted from newly indexed cookbooks and magazines. New recipes from the best blogs are indexed daily and members index their favorite online recipes using the Bookmarklet all the time.

Below you'll find this week's recommendations from the EYB team.

Remember you can add any of these online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf - it's a great way to expand your personal recipe collection.

Happy cooking and baking everyone!

From blogs:

Homemade Hot Sauce by Hugh Acheson featured on indexed blog Leite's Culinaria
Spiced Carrot Oat Breakfast Cookies from indexed blog The Kitchn

From AUS/NZ books:

 13 recipes from Sweet Envy: 100 Recipes from the Grandest Little Bakehouse in Town 
by Alistair Wise & Teena Kearney-Wise


Cookbook store profile - Good Egg

Good Egg cookbook storeOur latest installment in our profiles of great cookbook stores takes us to Good Egg located in Toronto, Canada. Good Egg is a shop dedicated to those who like to eat. Visit the store and you'll be immersed in books and things devoted to the art and culture of food. Their selection of books reflects every food philosophy, but they've whittled the vast world of cookbooks down to the best of the best. The Good Egg staff is eager to help customers, and they have a large database at their disposal to aid in that effort. Owner Mika Bareket graciously answered EYB's questions about her shop, now the only dedicated cookbook store in Toronto: 

How does Good Egg stay competitive in the current trading environment, where online stores offer low prices and free home delivery? 

The human factor! We read and test the books, and give our customers honest advice. We'd much make a friend than a sale. Also, we play really nice music in the store, and gift wrap faster than a speeding bullet.

Why do the customers in your store prefer to come to Good Egg rather than large general bookstores or online shopping?

By making discriminating choices in our buying and display. Not that larger retailers don't, but the size of our store means we need to be extra picky about what we bring in. What we may lack in range, we make up for in conviction.

Until the recent closure of The Cookbook Store, there were two bookstores dedicated to food and drink books in the city. What is about Toronto that sustained two stores whereas many cities have none?

Toronto is the most culturally diverse city on the planet, and with every wave of immigration comes restaurants and grocery stores specific to each ethnicity. Food is the great unifier in Toronto. We're located in a neighbourhood called Kensington Market, which has been a food hub for many generations. It just made sense to bring a quirky cook book store to the area.

Do you specialize in any particular areas of cookbooks?

We specialize in the best.

Do you sell other products apart from cookbooks?

Oh yes! Everything from budget friendly cast iron skillets, to ergonomic baby spoons. We're not quite a one-stop kitchen supply shop, but we try to have the essentials. We also carry many books that are not cooking-related per se, but are nourishing in some way.

What are the big sellers at Good Egg?

Yotam Ottolenghi has been our top author for 4 years running. Well deserved! Also, we reorder Niki Segnit's poetic and lovely Flavour Thesaurus constantly, and the River Cottage series of handbooks do really well, maybe because they're amazing.

Do you import many books from overseas?

We try to be patient and wait for titles to become available domestically, but some take a year to do so, and others never do. So, yes. Australia and the UK publish many of our favourite books, and well, we can't resist bringing them in despite the sticker shock due to import charges.

Do you get many chefs shopping in your store? If so, what are the books they are buying?

Chefs make up a growing proportion of our customer base, which is great for us because we can get their professional perspective and offer home cooks more informed opinions than our own. They tend to buy books with good plating ideas and/or in depth-technique, typically those written by other restaurant chefs or Michael Ruhlman, their patron saint.

What type of books do you like to cook from yourself? Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time?

I'm forever obsessed with Nigel Slater. I wish we were best friends. The first cookbook I bought as an adult was Appetite, which I still think is a perfect cookbook. Diana Henry, Fuchsia Dunlop, Jennifer McLagan and Madhur Jaffrey are my "ladies" of cooking. I like lessons from smart and sassy ladies with my recipes.

Around the world in 193 meals

Algerian and Zimbabwean food

Talk about traveling the world via food. A husband-and-wife team blogging under the name United Noshes, is making one meal from each member state in the United Nations, alphabetically, as a series of dinner parties. That's 193 meals, featuring widely varying ingredients from diverse cuisines.

Jesse Friedman and his wife, Laura Hadden, began this culinary journey three years ago "as a way to explore the culinary bounty of New York City," their home at the time. The couple has cooked their way from Algeria to Libya so far, starting at home with intimate groups of friends and, as the project snowballed, cooking for dozens of guests in large venues.

Word about their adventure spread, and as their blog readership grew larger so too did the meals and the mission. What started as an exploration of culinary diversity morphed into a fundraiser, first for the U.N.'s world food program, and now for Mercy Corps, an international relief and development organization based in the couple's new home city of Portland, Oregon. Diners each make a small donation, and to date the project has raised over $20,000 USD.

Friedman and Hadden expect to reach the halfway point of their project in a few weeks, but it will take about four more years for them to finish the project.

Photos of Algerian harira from indexed blog Great British Chefs and the Zimbabwean Goan prawn curry from Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation: Britain's 100 Favourite Curries

Men in T-shirts, cooking

I noticed something funny in my "Discards" pile this morning - a trio of men in T-shirts and jeans. looking at out me with bright eyes and white teeth.  What's going on with  that?  I thought.

It turns out that two of them - Jorge Cruise in The 100 and Abel James in The Wild Diet - were suggesting that I lose weight.  Abel says I can lose 20 pounds in 40 days.  Jorge says I can lose 18 pounds in 2 weeks. Jorge is faster.  But Abel actually has food on his cookbook  jacket.  Neither says anything about the losing 5 pounds in one week with a stomach virus, which I just successfully did. 

Fortunately, not all the men in T-shirts are so obsessed with my weight.  The one with the most facial hair and tattoos wants to help me make fast, delicious food for my family.  Dean McDermott (that's Mr. Tori Spelling) offers up straight-ahead family recipes that lean on flavor amplifiers like bacon and mushrooms and coconut oil.  It's just normal, good-tasting food, although sometimes he styles it in animal shapes.

I'm all for more men in cookbooks, especially men who aren't in chef whites.  I'm a big fan of T-shirts.  And by March I imagine I'll fit back in my jeans.  But I draw the line at tattoos.  You can lead a girl to water - or get her to make animal shapes out of food, or eat less sugar, or go Paleo - but you can't make her get inked.

The 2015 Piglet has begun

CookbooksThe Piglet cookbook tournament from Food52 is back in its sixth year. The contest pits 16 of the previous year's most notable cookbooks against each other in a head-to-head, bracket-style competition. We enjoy this three-week tournament for a number of reasons. First, it allows you to get to know the judges, many of them professional food writers plus chefs and others involved in the industry.

The variety of judges can lead to interesting outcomes as each judge approaches the cookbooks from his or her own perspective. Sometimes those decisions are controversial, and readers are encouraged to weigh in on the results. Finally, if you are on the fence about buying any of the books, this is a great way to get an in-depth review of it before you buy.

While many of this year's contenders made our Best Cookbooks of 2014 list, there are a few lesser-known cookbooks. These include Green Kitchen Travels by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, Lunch at the Shop by Peter Miller, and Smashing Plates by Maria Elia. 

The judges are all new for 2015, and include authors from the 2014 competition like Louisa Shafia, winner of the 2014 tourney for The New Persian Kitchen, and Edward Lee, author of Smoke & Pickles. Other notable judges are J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats and Iron Chef and television personality Alexandra Guarnaschelli. 

'White Heat' turns 25

White Heat 25Anyone who's been paying attention to in the last few decades knows about the fiery Marco Pierre White. He came into the limelight over 25 years ago, when he became the youngest person at the time to win first two, and then three, Michelin stars. His cookbook White Heat was a game-changer, and it's now set to be released as a 25th-anniversary edition, complete with previously unpublished photographs.

On the eve of the book's release, Rachel Cooke of The Guardian caught up with the enigmatic White. He provides insight on why he walked away from this three-starred restaurant at the height of its popularity. On the day he won his third star, White recalls the Michelin inspector told him to "'never forget what made you great.' What he was saying was: 'Stay behind your stove.' I respected that. The day I no longer wanted to be behind my stove, I put my hands up and said: 'I'm out of here.' It's all or nothing with me. I could not live a lie."

When asked his thoughts on his seminal cookbook, White is circumspect: "It doesn't mean much to me," he says. "It's not important. It's a part of my life that's been and gone...When I see those pictures [in White Heat], I just see that I was very unhappy and in great pain. That's the only emotional impact it has on me today. Work was a painkiller; it was where I hid."

Even though the fine dining world was where White made his mark, he has never visited a Michelin-starred restaurant in France and doesn't frequent new talked-about establishments: "They serve what I call conveyor belt cuisine: 18 courses, and all of them tepid. I want my food to be hot. I want to smell food when I walk into a restaurant...It's not about sitting there for three hours. I get bored after an hour. I want to go home to bed at ten."

Read more and discover other interesting tidbits, including White's thoughts on the Knorr stock cubes he promotes.

The first rule of Soup Club

Tomato fennel soup

What do you do when busy schedules prevent you from staying in touch with friends and making meaning contributions to each other's lives? If you are Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow, and Julie Peacock, you start a Soup Club. Indexed blog Leite's Culinaria shares the heartwarming story of the four friends, who decided that once a week each would whip up an extra-large batch of soup and deliver it to the others as a way to stay connected.

Their project has now turned into a book, simply named The Soup Club Cookbook. More than just a collection of recipes, the authors have created "a guide for starting your own Soup Club-the logistics (there are just a few), the essential tools (ditto), and stories (to caution and inspire)." The book leads you through the who, what, when, and where of the process, providing tips like how to estimate quantities and alerting you to potential pitfalls. Soup Club Cookbook

While this Soup Club requires delivering the soup to each person, if you start a work Soup Club you only have one delivery to make. You also get treated to a great lunch once a week or so, depending on how many people are in the club. It's a great way to combat the boring lunch blues.

Have you ever participated in a Soup Club?

Photo of Tomato-fennel soup with Brie toasts from The New York Times by Melissa Clark



A toast to toast

Cinnamon toast

When you hear about an event called the Winter Fancy Foods Show, you probably think of exotic foods and ingredients. But one of the stars of this year's show in San Francisco has very humble origins. Toast made a splash at several vendor booths. We're not talking about toasted, as in toasted nuts or seeds; this is the humble breakfast staple, which was featured in products ranging from chocolates to seaweed.

Beverages also featured the flavors of toasted bread. The Republic of Tea introduced Cinnamon Toast Tea, which has the caffeine of tea alongside the flavor and aroma of the favorite kids' breakfast treat. B.T. McElrath Chocolatier in Minneapolis was offering Buttered Toast chocolate bars. "We didn't want to use a processed cereal, so we went with honest toast," says McElrath. He sources his bread from a local artisan bakery, uses local dairy butter, and enrobes the crunch-salty mixture in a 40% milk chocolate.

Other trends at the show included dark chocolate (very, very dark like Taza Chocolate's stone-ground 87% Bolivian dark chocolate), seaweed, brussels sprouts, and parsnips. The latter two ingredients are featured in products from Wonderfully Raw in Watsonville, California. "The sprouts are dried and come in three flavors: chili pumpkin seed, tamarind apple and cheezy herb. Parsnips, which dry up with a faintly sweet flavor, taste very nice indeed when coated with either dill pickle, cheezy herb truffle or chipotle lime cilantro flavors."

Photo of Cinnamon toast with butter and honey from Leite's Culinaria by Rick Rodgers


Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

Did you know adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to build your personal recipe collection? You can now do this even if you have a free membership!

Try it out now and see how easy it is. Browse the recipes below, choose one that appeals, click on the link, and add it to your Bookshelf. (Make sure that you are signed in first.)

All the recipes we feature in these weekly round-ups have online links so you can add any of them to your Bookshelf. Happy cooking & baking everyone!
From AUS/NZ books:

7 recipes from Asian After Work: Simple Food for Every Day by Adam Liaw

6 recipes from Green Smoothies: Natural Juices, Smoothies and Tonics by Fern Green,
indexed by an EYB member

From US books:

18 recipes from Bitter: A Taste of the World's Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipe
by Jennifer McLagan

18 recipes from Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails
by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, & Alex Day

18 recipes from The Soda Fountain
: Floats, Sundaes, Egg Creams & More -- Stories and Flavors of an American Original by Gia Giasullo & Peter Freeman

10 recipes from Apples of Uncommon Character
: 123 Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-Known Wonders, Plus 20 Sweet and Savory Recipes by Rowan Jacobsen 

13 recipes from Shroom: Mind-Bendingly Good Recipes for Cultivated and Wild Mushrooms 
by Becky Selengut

A taco recipe from Pork: More Than 50 Heavenly Meals That Celebrate the Glory of Pig, Delicious Pig by Cree LeFavour

9 recipes from Dumplings All Day Wong: A Cookbook of Asian Delights from a Top Chef 
by Lee Anne Wong

8 recipes from Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook by Miriam Rubin

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!