Christmas came a little early this year when the chefs from the restaurant Bar Tartine of San Fransisco released their first cookbook. Bar Tartine is the culinary sibling to the famous bread mecca Tartine Bakery where their techniques and flavour combinations have been revolutionizing bakers and diners with incredible pastries, sourdoughs, and whole grains.
Bar Tartine Techniques & Recipes by chefs, Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla, is what they call a snapshot into a three year period in the restaurant. Both chefs are heavily influenced by their family heritages, culinary experiences, travels, and by the local, seasonal foods. Along with Tartine founder and photographer in this latest book, Chad Robertson, the chefs take us into the panty, larder, and kitchen where just about everything they use is made in-house.
As soon as I flipped through the first few pages of this book I could hear it speak to me - all from scratch, seasonal, preserves and ferments, real food, beautiful.
Bar Tartine isn't laid out like a typical cookbook. The first part of the book focuses on methods and techniques on how to prepare many staples used in the dishes served in the restaurant. Beginning with dehydrating, instructions and inspirations to dry everything from sauerkraut to fennel flowers is vibrantly demonstrated along with suggestions on where to use it. Sprouting, fermenting (in many forms!), cheesemaking, oil-infusing, pickling, and preserving (in many, many ways) round out this first section.
The second part of the book is filled with recipes that use the staples prepared from the first section for dishes served in the restaurant and/or what Cortney and Nick eat at home. Although you can make substitutions for certain ingredients (often times with suggestions from the chefs), part of the charm for me is working backwards from seeing a recipe and figuring out what components I need to prepare it. The black garlic and lentil soup will be made, I just have to roast the garlic for a few weeks first!
The unique flavours and tastes were enough of a connection for me to love this book but it's the photographs that have cemented the attachment. Weck jars full of dried fruits and herbs on shelf, a grid of jars filled with a rainbow of intense powders, pottery bowls filled with soups - it's stunning.
If I had to narrow it down, three photos really stand out to me: the first is a birds eye view of pickled ramps in a jar and also of the cleaning process after foraging. This photo resonates with me simply because those are familiar sights to my eyes - I've cleaned and pickled many wild leeks and for a few short weeks each spring the mild onion and garlic aroma wafts through the kitchen and clings to my hands.
The second photo is a two-page spread with the ingredients for a chilled beet soup. The rectangular plates with the vertical grooves on the bottom framing the purple beets? I have six of them. The corner of each plate has an edge to separate it from the rest like a dish within a dish. I've used it for condiments but haven't ruled it out as an ashtray as there is a little notch in the very corner where a cigarette could sit. Maybe not.
The third photo is of a dessert (surprise!). Crepe Cake with Apple Butter, Farmer's Cheese & Pecan bellowed at me to look, read, and salivate. So I did, and then I made it - with a few substitutions.
Buckwheat Crepes - Recipe
In the crepe cake recipe in the Bar Tartine cookbook, they layer the crepes with apple butter, farmer's cheese, and pecans. I didn't have any apple butter in my pantry but did have peach butter. The farmer's cheese component required quite a long preparation time in a warm oven, something of which I cannot spare at this time of year. Instead of cheese (they suggest ricotta), I prepared a honey-sweetened pastry cream. Whatever fillings you select, make sure the cake sits in the fridge for at least 4 hours before slicing, preferably overnight. My favourite part of the entire recipe? Not a speck of white sugar or cane sugar to be found (ok, perhaps in the brandy, but that's it).
Makes 32 x 4 oz crepes
70 g brown butter
255 g ap flour
60 g buckwheat flour
1 tsp yogurt powder
1 tsp kosher salt
900 ml milk
300 ml heavy cream
2 tbsp peach/apple brandy
butter or no-stick spray for pan
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.