That’s right, its TWD’s 1 Year Anniversary! To celebrate our first anniversary, Dorie asked if she could answer all the questions from OSI over the past year. (You know, what would you ask Dorie if you met her???) Of course, I was thrilled! Here they are. Thank you Dorie, this made my week! xo
How many times did you have to test each recipe before you loved it, and what did you do with all of the trials??
“Baking” was a very different kind of book for me because so many of the recipes were already in my kitchen notebooks, so they didn’t take the kind of time and the number of tests that new recipes take. Still, even notebook recipes were tested a couple of times. Since I’m an inveterate tinkerer, recipes – even ones that are ready to go – get tweaked a lot. I can’t help it. I think that’s why I added the “Playing Around” section to so many of the recipes.
As for what I do with the trials, easy: I give them to neighbors. Also, we live in an old apartment building in New York City that still has manually-operated elevators, so there’s always a hungry guy in the elevator who’s happy to taste-test for me.
Who washes your dishes? :) (especially after chocolate desserts).
When I bake during the day, which is most often, I’m both baker and cleaner-upper and it’s not easy for me, since I love to bake and cook and really don’t love to do dishes. Evenings and weekends, my husband mans the sink – he actually likes it! I’ve got a dishwasher, but it seems silly to fire it up because I usually need the bowls and pans and spoons and spatulas again – and quickly.
How do you stay so thin? and Who is your favorite person to cook with and why?
I think I must be lucky (I hope I’m not tempting the weight gods) because my weight stays pretty stable. That said, I’m like most other women I know in that I complain about my weight endlessly and always think that I’ve got 5 pounds I should lose. I’m also always hoping that someone will invent that magic pill that lets us eat everything we want – as in chocolate, chocolate, chocolate – and keeps us thin and healthy.
My favorite cooking/baking partners are my husband and son because they’re the two people I love most in the world and nothing’s better than cooking with people you love.
If there was a movie made about your life, who would you want to play you? And what would the title of the movie be?
Oh dear, I can’t even imagine a movie about my life. I threw this question over to my family and the guys both decided that Audrey Hepburn should play me. (You can see why I love them, can’t you?) Of course that was after our son, Joshua, jokingly suggested Angelina Jolie, thinking he wouldn’t mind living with her. As for a title? We’re all stumped.
How on earth are you not 500 pounds, and just how much stock do you own in Land O’ Lakes butter?
A few questions above I said that I think I got lucky with my metabolism, but the fact that I’m thin doesn’t stop me from being neurotic, of thinking that my hips are too big or of calling them “cookies”.
I wish I owned stock in Land O’Lakes or that some guardian angel would give me a lifetime supply.
Do you work out a lot since you bake so much? (It’s amazing that she is still so thin!) and Do you get tired of doing dishes all the time?
I don’t work out a lot although I’d like to work out even a little. When I was in my 30s, I was an avid runner and I ran consistently and fairly long distances. These days, I walk when I can throw myself out of the house and I try to go to the gym (it’s only a short block from my apartment in New York), but don’t make it there all that often.
Yes, I get tired of doing dishes because I’ve got so many to do and it’s a chore I don’t enjoy.
How much time do you actually spend per day baking? What is one store bought baked good that you can’t live without?
I’ve never thought about or calculated how much time I spend per day baking. There are some days, days when I’m creating or testing recipes, that I spend the whole day in the kitchen and others, when I’m baking for fun, that I might just spend an hour or so. Because my office is in my kitchen in Connecticut and Paris and just the other side of the kitchen wall in New York, when the spirit moves me I’ll often just jump up from my computer, mix something up, slide it into the oven and go back to work. When I’m baking like that it’s almost like meditation – the act of creating something clears my mind and helps me think through projects.
Except for bread, which I’d never want to live without, I don’t really buy storebought baked goods. Wait, that’s not true – when I’m in Paris, I buy something every day from one of the pastry shops, usually from Pierre Herme. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I like. I like Mallomars and Petit Beurre and Pepperidge Farm Milanos and I think Tate’s Cookies (I don’t know if they’re available nationally) are as close to homemade as any storeboughts I’ve ever tasted. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this, but the storebought item I can’t live without is M&Ms – I’ve always got a stash and I never travel without them.
How did you create such an amazing lifestyle for yourself (living in the US and Paris and baking all the time)? What culinary professional do you feel you’ve learned the most from?
I’m sure this is going to sound strange, but I didn’t “create” this lifestyle. I’m not a planner and I’m pretty disorganized, so it wasn’t as though I made a list and then went about checking everything off. I think, as I think is true with many things in my life, I was lucky. The luckiest thing I ever did in my life was to marry my husband, Michael, who has always encouraged me and who has always believed that everything is possible, so that as opportunities came up, he kept saying, “Say ‘yes’ and it will work out.” So I always said “yes” and so far I’ve been brilliantly lucky and things have worked out, including Paris, which became a dream of mine when I first visited the city in 1971. I truly believe that if you follow your passions and work really, really hard at what you love to do, you can make a go of it. This may sound a little corny and a little like a late-night motivational infomercial, but doing work you love is the key to having the life you want.
I’ve worked with so many terrific people and learned something, generally lots of somethings, from each of them – I can’t even begin to tell you how fabulous it was to work with Julia Child – but I think the culinary professional who taught me the most and from whom I continue to learn is Pierre Herme.
How are you not 300 pounds?? That’s my only question!
See above. (Although, I’m answering this version of the question on New Year’s Day and feeling 300 pounds after all that food, all that wine, all that champagne and so many good desserts!)
How she came up with the names for some of her desserts? I think they’re all pretty tongue in cheek and I get the feeling that she has a fine sense of humor.
I love writing, but I find it hard and, by nature, it’s a solitary activity, so I’m always trying to have a little fun with it. Essentially, whether I’m writing a book, an article for Bon Appetit or a post for my blog, I write for myself first and then re-read and edit. Because I write about fun things, those would be good food and great cities and talented chefs, I feel like I’ve got a little leeway in the humor department – and I take it. I’m glad you enjoy it because it’s really fun for me.
When is her next cookbook coming out?
My next book is called Around The French Table and it will come out in the fall of 2010. It’s a book about simple French cooking – and baking – and, like Baking From My Home to Yours, it’s got lots of stories.
Who does she get her inspiration from?
I find inspiration everywhere! Certainly, from the market, from traveling, from chefs, from restaurants, from magazines, from blogs and websites – it’s impossible to count the number of times I’ve been inspired by changes TWD bakers have made to my recipes! – and, of course, I’m inspired by being in the kitchen and baking.
“What do you find as challenges in the kitchen?” and “Can I be your apprentice for a month?”
When I’m in my New York kitchen, space is always the challenge. I’m spoiled because I’ve got room in Connecticut and in my new kitchen in Paris, so spoiled that I sometimes forget that I used to bake for restaurants out of my narrow NY kitchen! No matter where I am, the challenge is often staying on track – I’ll make a list of things I’m going to cook or bake, or I’ll make a menu for a meal, and then sometimes, as I’m working, I’ll have an idea for something else and off I’ll go! It’s a great way to come up with new combinations and recipes, but it plays havoc with dinner and deadlines.
I’d want to ask her how she comes up with her recipes, but I’d bet she’s been asked that many times before. Instead, I am sure I’d be tongue tied. I usually get that way when I met celebrities!
My recipes come from as many places as my inspirations. Often I’ll create a recipe because it corresponds to a childhood memory or because I had something I loved at a restaurant and I want to be able to make it at home. I’m like many food-obsessed people in that I think about food all day and often dream about it at night. I carry a notebook around with me at all times because I’m always coming up with ideas at unlikely times or in unlikely places.
Can I have your autograph?
Of course you can have my autograph! If I were more savvy, I’d be able to figure out to sign this questionnaire. Bet it can be done, but …
Can you donate an all expense paid trip to the “CB goes to Paris” fund so I can bake with you?
Wouldn’t that be nice!
“Can you come live with me and bake delicious goodies for me every day?” and when she said no I would say “Why not?”
The answer to “Why not?” is soooooo simple: DEADLINES!!!! But what a great invitation – thank you!
Can I be the assistant in your kitchen for 1 day? Pleaseeeee…. ?
I’d love that! I could use some help in the kitchen, but if you came for only 1 day it would be too much of a tease.
What is your favourite French pastry of all time?
This is a hard question – I’ve never been good at these pick-a-favorite questions. Pushed to choose just one pastry, I think it would have to be a tart of some kind. The pear tart that we’re making this week is my husband’s favorite dessert and I love it, too, but an all-time favorite??? Maybe an apple tart? Maybe a chocolate-ganache tart? Maybe a plum tart? Maybe sables (essentially tart dough)? I’m sorry, I’m just not a good chooser.
“Tell the truth Dorie… how are the French?”
I love the French! I loved them the first time I went to France. I love their style, their language, their food, their culture and their country. We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve met wonderful French people who’ve become dear and close friends, so that we’ve been welcomed into the community and made to feel very much at home in Paris.
“Have you ever heard of “pouding chômeur”? It is the best dessert in the world.”
I’d never heard of it, but I googled it and it looks so very, very good. If you have a recipe for it, I’d love to try it.
I would ask her what her favorite meal is, and what her last meal would be, if she could choose.
I have bunches of favorite meals. Anything I eat outside in Connecticut is a favorite – I love to have dinner with friends outside. I love meals where you get to eat with your fingers – lobster (again outdoors) or mussels or fried chicken or a great sandwich. I love the French open sandwiches called tartines – my favorite has air-dried beef and walnuts and is made on Poilane bread. I’m not answering the question, I’m afraid. Sorry, but it’s similar to the question about choosing my all-time favorite French pastry – I’m not good at whittling anything down to one thing. In fact, when I think about favorite meals I’ve had, the food was always really good, but sometimes I can’t remember it very clearly because what ends up being most important to me is the people I shared the meal with.
My last meal? Another tough question and one to which I don’t have a good answer. I don’t know what the meal would be, but I’d hope that it would have lots of desserts and that among them there’d be ice cream – I’m crazy about ice cream – and World Peace Cookies.
Would you by any chance, be feeding your neighbourhood?”
I feed as many people as I can as often as I can because I’m always baking and cooking and we’re a tiny family. Have I mentioned how much the elevatormen in our apartment in New York love me?
“What is the one thing you find the hardest to make, or dislike the most?”
I don’t know that there are things I find hard to make or dislike making as much as there are times when I find it hard to be in the kitchen. I work very slowly and if I’ve got to get something done in a rush, I usually run into problems – I get anxious and that’s usually when I make a mistake and have to do things over again. I hate that!
Thanks again Dorie! MUAH! xo~ Laurie