Book Review- All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips

Hi friends! I haven’t blogged in awhile, but I’ve still been doing bread experiments. I swear I’m not going to turn into a cookbook reviewer only, I really do hope to get a chance to write about some of my sourdoughs soon, it just hasn’t worked out recently. I’ve also fell down the Instagram rabbit hole (there are so many pretty bread pictures! Who knew you could get totally inspired by a picture with a small caption? More experiments coming up!) and you can find me here.

Anyway, I recently received a copy of All Under Heaven, Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China in the mail. This is a meaty book! It’s heavy, long (514 pages!) and has such an elegant cover.


Just look at how simple and beautiful that is!

The inside is a smidge disappointing, I do love colorful food photography and this shows only black and white line drawings, but there’s nothing WRONG with it. The recipes are sorted into chapters by geographical regions, and each chapter begins with some history on that region. There is a lot of good information here! Periodically there are also drawn illustrations with instructions on some of the more difficult or unusual techniques. For example, cutting squid blossoms and filling hakka tamales are explained both visually and by the written word.

Most of the recipes seem fairly approachable, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t cooked anything out of this one yet. The size and heft of the book alone are a little much for me. I am currently flipping through it again to write this review, however, and I’m being reminded that there are some interesting things in here that might be fun to make. If I can dig out of my sourdough place for awhile I will probably try a few.

Short summary- the cover is captivating, there’s lots of history, and a bunch of recipes in here. If this seems like your thing, definitely pick it up and give it a flip through!

Please note that I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Field Blend #2 from Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish


Another bread experiment! This one I have already tried twice. You can find the recipe on page 159 of the book.

This was the first time I had used rye flour. The recipe notes say that rye flour makes dough more sticky, but I was definitely NOT prepared. I thought I was, but when it was time to divide and shape the dough I probably lost half a loaf from stickiness. Part of this was probably because I’m still not sure if I am doing my stretching and folding correctly, part was because I did not flour my work surface enough, and part was probably because bread is alive until you bake it and this one had an attitude. Continue reading

Pain Au Bacon from Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish


I’ve been making my plain, normal Sourdough for awhile now, and I feel pretty confident with it. I don’t want to remove that one from my repertoire by any means, but I do want to challenge myself and branch out a bit more.

I recently bought the book Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish because it’s stunning and I really, really, really want to make all of the beautiful bread shown in it’s pages. There may not be a ton of recipes, but the ones that are there all look worth trying. There is a lot of theory and information in this book, and I love it so much! I can’t say enough good things about it.

The first recipe I had to try was Pain Au Bacon from page 177. Who could resist the call of bacon bread? I’m pretty sure this recipe is the main reason I bought the book.

It was… hard. Not impossible, but I haven’t really worked with high hydration doughs before, and there were some challenges I hadn’t expected. I’m not sure if I did the fold and turns correctly. The dough was stickier than I was used to. When it was time for shaping, the dough did not want to hold it’s shape, even though I followed the directions in the book to the best of my ability. When it was time to bake I didn’t have much hope, but I plopped the oozey dough into the dutch oven and decided to give it a try anyway.

Oven spring is a wonderful thing. I did not get as much oven spring as I was hoping for, but I did get some. The loaves were a bit squashed looking, but the crumb was surprisingly open, and the texture of the bread was phenomenal. The crust was light and crisp, though still chewy, and the flavor was smoky and bacony and really delicious. I will be making this one again, but I definitely need more practice.


No Knead sourdough experiment

Hi friends! I haven’t disappeared. I have been doing a lot of experimentation lately and the results have been… interesting. Not exactly disappointing, but definitely not beautiful. Honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted to share, but what’s the point of having  a blog if I don’t want to share things? You can’t get better if you refuse to try.

I found myself reading My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey. A bit late to jump on the bandwagon, but I’ve jumped on now and I’m completely fascinated. I wanted to try out the basic no knead bread from the book, but I didn’t have yeast (and sometimes using store bought yeast makes me feel like I’m cheating on Heinrich, my sourdough starter.) After reading some of the theory in the book and googling a lot to find information from around the web I came up with my own no knead sourdough.

The results were not bad. The dough was a bit hard to work with and did not want to hold it’s shape as well as my normal sourdough, which means the final loaf was a bit ugly. It looked like a football, but that could be remedied with practice. There was quite a bit of oven spring, which was nice. The crust was crisp and thinner than normal, but I probably should have baked it a bit longer to get more color. The crumb was nice and open. All in all I might try this again if I have some time but don’t want to knead, but I prefer the prettier loaves from my normal recipe at this point.


No Knead Sourdough- makes one loaf


2 oz sourdough starter (100% hydration)

9 oz flour

6 oz water

.2 oz (1 tsp) salt


Mix starter and water in a large bowl and stir to dissolve. Add flour and salt and mix well. Cover and let rise on counter overnight. Afterwards, place dough in fridge (I left it in the same bowl) for 3 days for flavor development and proofing.

After the 3 days remove dough from fridge. Remove from bowl, shape, place on parchment paper or a floured countertop and let rest for about two hours in order to come to room temperature. Afterwards, lightly flour the top of the loaf and score.

Place dutch oven in a cold oven and preheat to 475° f about an hour before you want to bake. After an hour, carefully remove dutch oven and lid, plop the dough in with the scored side up, cover, and bake for 15 minutes with the lid on. After the 15 minutes reduce heat to 400° f and remove lid. Bake another 20 minutes or so without the lid, until bread reaches 205° f and loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom. Allow to cool at least an hour before slicing.


Mushrooms on Sourdough


I’ve been reading a lot about bread lately.  I find the science and artistry of it fascinating, and I love reading the back stories of the people who bake it. While reading, something sparked and I had a seemingly fleeting thought about whether I could add mushrooms to dough to make mushroom bread- an idea I discarded because I can’t see it working out (yet)- but mushrooms on sourdough has been floating around in my head like a permanent daydream ever since. It was such a strong, sensory idea that I could almost taste it. I was just going to sauté some mushrooms with some butter, salt, pepper, and garlic, but then things got better.

Today was a no-time-to-plan-dinner-wait-do-I-even-have-food? type of day. My daughter and I went out for awhile unexpectedly, and when we came home she wanted “just bread” for dinner. I had made my weekly sourdough this morning, so I gave her a few small buttered slices with some apples and strawberries. For once she ate it all and asked for more! We made some spinach chips (have you made these? They’re just like kale chips but without the aftertaste. Rub a small amount of oil on spinach leaves along with spices- we totally use flavored popcorn salt for hers- bake flat on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350° f for about 8 minutes.) and then it was time for me to make something. We usually eat together, but it was an odd day.

I had mushrooms in the fridge, and fresh baked bread, so I decided to throw together my mushrooms on sourdough. Since I had the spinach I just had to add some, spinach and mushrooms go together so well after all. With some pantry ingredients and a few things from the fridge I suddenly had an accidental delicious dinner! Maybe not the prettiest though. This is more idea than recipe, I didn’t really measure as I was going, but it’s easy to tweak to your own tastes.

Mushrooms on Sourdough


Pack of mushrooms, sliced. I bought the smallish pack of button mushrooms and sliced them myself.

Couple handfuls of spinach, roughly torn

2 Tbl butter

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper. If you don’t have all of these don’t stress, use what you’ve got.

Splash of soy sauce

Splash of lemon juice


Small spoonful of flour

Handful of parmesan

Large spoonful sour cream.

Slices of sourdough or other crusty bread.


First, sauté sliced mushrooms in butter with a little salt and pepper. I used a medium frying pan for this. You can add fresh garlic if you have it, but I couldn’t be bothered to chop or grate any so I just used garlic powder. When the mushrooms start to soften, add the spinach. Add garlic powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, a splash of lemon juice, and a splash of soy sauce. When the spinach is wilted add a glug of milk, a handful of parmesan, and a spoonful of flour to thicken it up. Make sure to mix well so you don’t end up with bites of raw flour! I added a large spoonful of sour cream and a little bit more of all of the peppers at this point. It ended up nice and creamy. Spoon over bread, either toasted or not.


Book Review- The Naked Cookbook by Tess Ward


I recently received this book in the mail, and my first thought was “what were they thinking?!” The book cover is made of very porous cardboard, and there’s little in the way of binding. I don’t normally feel like a super grubby person, but within five minutes the cover was stained and the corner was a bit torn, you know, the way my books look AFTER I have cooked with them in the kitchen a few times. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt (naked cookbook, barely there cover, sure why not) but this is a COOKBOOK. It belongs in the kitchen, getting tossed around with messy hands. I don’t think it’s going to hold up well at all.

I also was not super fond of the chapter names. Pure, Raw, Stripped, Bare, Nude, Clean, and Detox. I understand that they are working with a theme, but I don’t like thinking about nude food, it just seems weird. Maybe that makes me weird, but I don’t like it.

The next thing that really bothered me was in the first recipe. The author talks about broths and stocks and says “Broths are simmered for a long period of time (often in excess of 24 hours), whereas stocks are simmered for 3-4 hours.” According to everything I learned in school (and what I could find on food network, the kitchn, and in my copy of Professional Cooking fifth edition by Wayne Gisslen) she pretty much got it backwards. I don’t know if this is a London vs US thing, but I found it irritating.

All that said, I really do like a lot of the recipes in this book. And the pictures are very nice. I especially like the lattes, I immediately tried the turmeric + ginger latte which calls for ground spices (surprising in this kind of book, usually I expect you must use fresh or else types of recipes) which was nice because I HAD everything I needed in my pantry. And it was a little weird, but pretty delicious. There are a few other lattes I might want to try, an interesting take on granola, and some easy looking kimchi and sauerkraut. Maybe it’s my love of sourdough talking, but I have a soft spot for fermented things! Especially easy ones.


This is a book you should probably try to find in a store to flip through. If you’re like me there are a few things you need to be able to get over, but it does have some nice stuff in it.


I received this book from bloggingforbooks in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. You can find this book on Amazon here.

Book Review- The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meat by Chris Ying and the editors of Lucky Peach



I’ll forgive Chris Ying for not caring what’s new with tea. And agree with him on the not caring about tuna tartare. While I’m not quite ready to make  my own sausage (I’m going to try one of these days, for real, but it just seems so messy and kind of icky right now. Delicious, but icky) The Wurst of Lucky Peach is definitely something I’d recommend picking up to flip through.

This book does include recipes and plenty of sausage history, but it reads much more like a scrapbook (or maybe a travelogue) than a cookbook. I like it, because Chris Ying and his co authors are hilarious. There is a lot of info on types of sausages, then some stories about traveling around on sausage quests, and of course a few sausage recipes. The authors say they “tried” to reduce the amount of dirty jokes in this book, but I found plenty to find amusing. Maybe I’m just juvenile.


A lot of the recipes in here look delicious, and some of them are even possible without a meat grinder (use a food processor, etc.) which is nice because I am not ready to make that investment. There is such a broad range of sausages too, from all over the world. Many of them (boutefas, frikandel, who am I kidding? Probably at least half of them) I hadn’t ever heard of. The book is divided by geographic region and for each type of sausage there is basic info listed as to where it’s from, what type of meat it is made of, the normal preparation/cooking method, and how it’s served.  I learned so much without being completely grossed out. I know with my head that using the offal and other tough or weird cuts of meat is a good thing, but it’s still unusual to me, especially at home. I’m working on it.

That said, this book is mostly focused on fresh sausages, and it does not delve deep into the mysteries of serious sausage making. For a beginner like me, this is a great overview and introduction, but if you are more of an advanced sausage maker looking solely for recipes than this might not be the book for you.

If you like reading your cookbooks and you’re ok with sausage this book is definitely worth picking up.

More information on the book can be found here. Please note that I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.




Making bread is so cool, because it’s ALIVE until you bake it. That means you can’t really make the same loaf twice, which I happen to think is a good thing. I make sourdough enough now that I want to share with you my current way of doing it. This recipe takes a lot of starter at 100% hydration, and I also hand knead my dough, which generally takes me about half an hour. I’ve tried using my kitchenaid, but it’s just not working for me yet. I can use the mixer to knead for a few minutes and then finish it off on the counter, but I’m usually making dough in the middle of the night and don’t want to wake anyone. Also, there was that one time I overmixed and over floured and ended up with a frankenloaf, but that’s a whole different story.

There are recipes out there that take way less starter, but I like this one. I always think I want to branch out and try new ways of doing things, but I really enjoy this bread so I haven’t yet. It also makes two loaves, and unless you freeze one of them the texture only stays optimal for a day or two. I end up giving the extra loaf away fairly often, which makes me the awesome friend, right?

Here we go.



16 ounces ripe sourdough starter. If you are lost, check out the kitchn’s tutorial for this here.

10 ounces water (I use cold brita pitcher water)

18.5+ ounces flour (make sure you have about an extra cup, more on this below. I use unbleached all purpose, usually gold medal or Pillsbury brand.)

1 tablespoon salt

Cornmeal (optional)

Cast iron dutch oven(s)

Large mixing bowl

2 smaller mixing bowls


Mix starter and water in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve. Add the first 18.5 ounces of flour and the salt, and stir to make a shaggy dough.

If you need to leave this to sit for a few minutes just cover it with a towel, it will be alright.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter top. At this point, I keep a 1 cup measuring cup full-ish on the counter next to me, so I can add more flour as necessary while kneading. Before I start the kneading process I wash and dry the large mixing bowl, then film it with some oil so the bread can rise there later.

Start kneading the dough. It will start out crunchy and lumpy, this is normal. Add small pinches of flour to the dough if it becomes too sticky to work with. Be careful not to add too much flour, or it will stop sticking together. Depending on the flour I’m using and a whole bunch of other variables I don’t always understand I end up using anything between 1 pinch and the whole cup. This is something you really need to learn by doing, but it is definitely worth the trouble! It usually takes me about half an hour to knead the dough out completely, you want it to be smooth and mostly hold a ball shape in your hand. For me, the dough ALMOST passes the windowpane test, but I usually tire out before it is 100% “properly” kneaded. This goes much easier if you can turn on a podcast or some music.

Place dough in a rough ball shape in the oiled mixing bowl, turning a few times to coat the dough so it doesn’t dry out. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Leave in place until the dough doubles in size, about 1.5-2 hours depending on how vigorous your starter is, kitchen temperature, etc. etc.

After this rising period, turn the dough out onto the counter gently. Divide into two pieces, as evenly as you can. Shape each half into a boule. If you google, you can find tons of photo tutorials and youtube videos of the process, which I highly recommend if you’ve never made bread before. A properly shaped boule is much more reliable than a haphazard ball, I learned that one the hard way. Place each boule into an oiled smaller mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap (I tried to use a towel here once, but my dough dried out) and place in the fridge overnight.


In the morning, pull out the dough and put it on the counter. I leave mine in the bowl for this part. Put your cast iron dutch oven(s) in the cold oven, close the door and preheat to 450°f. I usually leave the dough on the counter for at least an hour before baking, and you want to make sure that your cast iron gets nice and hot. When you are ready to bake lightly flour the top of each dough loaf, then score with a lame or serrated knife (I use a serrated knife.) You can just do a few quick slashes or experiment with different patterns. The main objective is to make sure steam has a place to escape. If your loaves don’t look perfect, don’t stress. Just hope for the best. Oven spring, which happens before you take the lids off in the baking process, is an amazing thing. Definitely do not peek in the first 15 minutes of baking!

Pull out the dutch oven (I do this whole process one at a time so the iron doesn’t cool off too much, but I do have two dutch ovens. If you don’t-  make sure you put the cast iron back in the oven to heat up for a bit between loaves) and sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal on the bottom. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it does help prevent sticking and burning of the bottom. Carefully plop one loaf in scored side up, cover, and return to the oven. Get both loaves in if you are doing two at a time. Set timer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, turn temperature down to 400°f and remove lid from your dutch oven. Continue baking for about 25 minutes. I like to make sure my bread reaches an internal temperature of 205°f, but you can also tell it’s done by carefully tapping the bottom and listening for a hollow sound. Leave on a cooling rack to cool for at least one hour, if you cut into it before this the inside can turn gummy.

Hope you like it!



Imaginary Recipe


Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a recipe I thought I saw. I wanted to marinate some chicken with vinegar à la Nigella because it really helps tenderize the meat without drying it out. Seriously, try this. It’s my new favorite way to marinate chicken. When I was planning my shopping list I was looking for something a little different than the Indian spiced chicken from Simply Nigella. In Plated there are a bunch of marinade recipes in the front, and I swore I read one that included miso and gochujang (which I bought specifically for this) as well as vinegar. When I actually went to cook, though, it wasn’t there. I pulled out a bunch of my other cookbooks thinking I must have found it somewhere, but no luck. I guess I made it up. I tried a bit of gochujang, loved it, and decided to make it work anyway. It turned out really good! I also added sunomono and plain white rice on the side. Definitely recommend! This time I added more soy sauce and less sugar to the sunomono. My husband didn’t really notice a difference, but I found it a million times better than last time. The toddler still hated it. (Aka she licked it and immediately spit it out.)


By the way, I definitely did not eat that whole huge chicken breast. Half of it is packed up for tomorrow’s lunch.


Miso Gochujang chicken


canola oil

2-3 chicken breasts, pounded thin (you could use other cuts, just adjust cooking time)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

pinch of powdered ginger

1 tablespoon white miso

2 teaspoons gochujang (a spicy, fermented Korean hot pepper paste with a sweet finish)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (sweet rice wine. Here you could substitute sherry or even honey)


Mix all ingredients from garlic down in a bowl, then add to a large zip top bag. Add chicken and squish to cover. Leave to marinate for about 10 minutes.

Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet. Add chicken and cook, about 3 minutes per side. Chicken is done when internal temperature reaches 165. I always check, because I’m a worrier.