Food writer and recipe tester Linda Avery reviews cookbooks.
by Joanne Chang © 2013, photos by Michael Harlan Turkell © 2013
How many people graduate with honors from Harvard University with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics? Probably several every year. But, how many have left that field to be a garde-manger cook in Boston? I’m thinking it’s safe to say if researched, there’s only one, Joanne Chang. The lady is an achiever. She now has four cafés in the Boston area (Flour1, Flour2... you get the idea) and shares ownership of a modern Asian restaurant, Myers+Chang, with her husband, Christopher Myers.
Her first book, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery & Café focused primarily on the bakery side of the business.
Flour, Too crosses over to the café side of the business but also includes twelve new dessert recipes. In Chang's six page introduction she explains the workings of the café from 4 a.m. when the first baker arrives thru lights out after breads are shaped for the next morning’s baking. Beside developing a new respect for each person’s effort (and she gives credit to everyone), I had an LOL moment reading her description of the "cake order" baker whose task, among other things, is writing on cakes – you know, "Happy Birthday," "Congratulations," and for this particular person, intricate mathematical formulas for their MIT customers!
Following the intro she lets you look into their pantry, refrigerator, cabinets and "heads" with inventory lists and descriptions of how each item is employed if you want to pick up a tip or two. The “head” section lists essential behavior, i.e., mise en place, clean as you go, etc.
Then the recipes... the recipes are extraordinary from Banana Pancakes or Winter Greens, Mushroom, and Parmesan Strata for breakfast to a choice of 15 soups for lunch plus nine sandwiches (Lemony Hummus with Cucumber, Radish Sprouts, and Red Onion for example). Dinner selections begin with eight salads before entrees like Corey’s Homemade Chicken Potpie, Mushroom, Leek Lasagna with Creamy Béchamel, or Roasted Pork Loin with Chive Spaetzle, Slow- Roasted Balsamic Onions, and Oregano Mojo (that’s a mouthful in itself).
The Asian Celery, Fennel, and Edamame Salad with Candied Lemon struck me as a versatile summer/early fall dish with great texture/crunch and who wouldn't want to try candied lemon?
This wonderful salad is crunchy, fresh, lemony, and a perfect start to any meal. We serve it at Myers+Chang, and the chefs at Flour have borrowed the dressing recipe when they want something simple and light for summer salads. You can easily improvise with various vegetables: mushrooms, radishes, cucumbers, salad greens are all terrific variations. The dressing can be made a couple weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
photo by Michael Harlan Turkell
Serves 6 as a first course
For the candied lemon
(Makes about 1/4 cup)
1 lemon, unpeeled and sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 cup/100 g granulated sugar
For the dressing
1/2 cup/120 ml rice vinegar
6 tablespoons/90 ml soy sauce
1/3 cup/70 g granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
18 ounces/500 g candied lemon (recipe follows), coarsely chopped
For the salad
8 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, leafy tops trimmed and bulb quartered, then thinly sliced on the mandoline
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 cups/280 g frozen edamame beans, thawed
Leaves from 10 to 12 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds for garnish
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds for garnish
Special equipment: mandoline
1. To make the candied lemon: In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon slices, sugar, and 1-1⁄2 cups/360 ml water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, or until the lemon slices are translucent. Remove the pan from the heat and let the slices cool completely in the syrup. The candied lemon can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
2. To make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, Sriracha sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and candied lemon. 3. Put the celery, fennel, shallots, edamame, and parsley in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well combined. Divide equally among six bowls and sprinkle evenly with the black and white sesame seeds. Serve immediately.