Friday, February 26, 2010
Dear Chef Kim Boyce,
Hi. Um. Gee, I've never written fan mail before. It's just that I wanted to tell you that your new cookbook, "Good to the Grain," is about the coolest cookbook I've ever seen. Really, it's the tops. It's almost as though you wrote it just for me. Did you? And how did you know exactly what I would want in a cookbook? Can you read minds? I wouldn't be surprised, because you seem pretty darned smart. Anyhow, I just wanted to say the following: "wow!", "thanks!", and "may I please have your autograph?"
Did I tell you that I got a new cook book last week?
I'm not going to tell you how. Let's just say that it will hit the shelves next month, and that it pays to have a really awesome friend who works in food journalism. But this cookbook…wow…let's get back to the cookbook. It's pages are filled to the brim with wholly unique, hearty, and usual whole grain-based creations. Notice how I said "whole grain" and not "whole wheat." Each chapter features a different grain as well as recipes that celebrate and accentuate its unique flavors and properties. As many of you may know by now, I have a mild (okay, moderately severe) obsession with amaranth, teff, buckwheat, kamut, and all the other ancient grains that have been unjustly neglected in modern american cuisine and in baking books the world over.
But, folks, this is not your average baking book.
Chef Boyce features such tantalizing creations as Honey Amaranth Waffles (yes please!), Apricot Boysenberry Tarts (goodness me!), Chocolate Babka (don't mind if I do), and one of my new all-time favorite recipes Poppy Seed Wafers. The wafers were one of the first recipes to catch my eye for two reasons, 1) though I've been inundated with recipes for chocolate chip, oatmeal, and shortbread cookies, I had never before heard of a cookie called a poppy seed wafer, and 2) the recipe calls for buckwheat flour. I am to buckwheat what a fly is to…no, I am to buckwheat what a bee is to honey. Yes, let's stick with that honey bee analogy.
I whipped up a batch of these crunchy, delicate, and satisfying wafers to give to a friend who had kindly lent me a book. Unfortunately, the wafers didn't stand a chance. At one point, (after munching my way through half the recipe) I even wrapped up the remaining cookies with pretty paper and a bow, and set them aside to be delivered to their intended audience. I am not proud to say that I actually unwrapped them and ate them all. Yes, I unwrapped someone else's package of cookies. No, it was not my finest moment. Yes, these cookies are actually just that good.
If you bake yourself a tray of these wafers, I guarantee that next month you will be first in line at the book store waiting for your copy of "Good to the Grain."
Poppy Seed Wafers
Makes about 6 dozen
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 egg yolks (save whites)
1.5 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1.5 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Step one: Put egg yolks and cream into a bowl and set aside
Step two: Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and add back any bits that don't go through.
Step three: Use your hands to squeeze the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Add cream and egg yolks and continue squeezing with your hands until the texture comes together.
Step four: Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a log that is 8-in long and 3/4-in wide, flouring the dough and work surface as necessary. Wrap each in plastic and chill for two hours. You can reshape the dough after 15 min of chilling if your having trouble with the shape.
Step five: Mix sugar and poppy seeds for topping and spread out on a plate. Brush one log with egg whites and roll in the poppy seed mixture until evenly coated. Repeat process with other log, wrap gently in plastic, and put them back in the refrigerator to chill while the oven is heating up.
Step six: Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and slice logs into 1/8-in thin wafers. You'll need the sharpest knife you have to made this easier.
Step seven: Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The wafers are done when they are a dark golden-brown with a darker ring around the edge. They should smell quite nutty. Cool on a rack, and do you best to share them with your friends.
Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours
By Kim Boyce
Photographs by Quentin Bacon
Steward, Tabori and Chang / March 2010
$29.95 U.S / $38.95 CAN; ISBN 978-1-58479-839-9