060 Eric of Garden Fork Returns


Kelly has jury duty this week and I had no guest. Coincidentally, Eric Rochow of the Garden Fork Podcast also had no guest or host this week so we both agreed to be guests on each other’s podcasts. This is the second time we’ve had Eric on and in this episode he discusses tapping maple trees and making syrup, grilling steaks on coals, crowd funding, pie crusts and meditation apps. Here’s the rundown:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

The Best Way to Bake Pizza in a Home Oven


This trick works so well I thought I’d repeat/revise an earlier blog post, this time with pictures.

Our cob oven makes great pizzas. Why? High temperatures. You just can’t make good pizza in a home oven. Or so I used to think.

One evening I invited some friends over for an outdoor pizza party but rain put a wrinkle in those plans. I remembered that Josey Baker had some instructions in his book Josey Baker Bread on how to make pizza in a home oven, so I decided to give it a try. Baker credits this home oven technique to a San Francisco street pizza maverick who goes by the name PizzaHacker. I’m happy to report that it works so well that I wonder why I should bother to spend three hours tending a fire to prep the outdoor oven. Is pizza out of a wood fired oven better? Perhaps, but not by much.

The PizzaHacker’s method is simple. Here’s what you do:


1. Preheat an oven oven safe skillet (I like cast iron) over high heat on a burner. Put a little oil in the pan.


IMG_00982. Plop your shaped dough into the skillet. Top your pizza while it cooks in the skillet for three minutes.


3. After three minutes stick it under the broiler for another three more minutes or until done. That’s it. This method works much better than trying to bake pizza on a pizza stone.

4. Take the pizza out and let it cool down for a minute. Then slice and enjoy.

I wish I had known about this technique before I bought an expensive pizza stone as this method works much, much better.

Bold Baking


As co-founder of a baking Meetup group, I get to see a lot of what Michael Pollan somewhat crassly calls, “crumb shots.” One consistent error that I see in many of those bread selfies, is that the baker did not leave the dough in the oven long enough. The crust is too light in color.

I’ve found that my best loaves are the ones where the crust is chestnut brown, taken from the oven just before it starts to burn on the bottom. Too soon and you have a light colored loaf with a soft crust and gummy interior. It took me a long time to figure out that you get a good crust by baking your bread almost to the burning point. Josey Baker calls this “bold baking.” It’s bold because it goes against the beginner’s fear of burning.

While crust color provides a convenient clue for when your loaf is ready to remove from the oven, oven temperature and baking times are also factors. If the bread bakes too fast you’ll end up with a soft crust; if the oven runs too cool you’ll get a crust that’s too hard. In our old O’Keefe and Merritt, I bake my bread at 500º F (260º C). If you’re using a convection oven you’ll need to bake at a lower temperature.

So be bold baker!

Shakerato (Why don’t you come to your senses?)

There’s a new afternoon transgression around the Root Simple compound: the caffé shakerato. A shakerato is an iced coffee mixed in a cocktail shaker. Making one is much easier than hauling yourself down to that dreaded temple of  middlebrowedness whose green siren logo will lead us all to financial ruin and sugar-induced comas. No, you don’t need another Frappuccino.

Making a shakerato is simple. Brew some strong coffee (espresso is best, but I don’t have an espresso maker). Let the coffee cool down (this is important–add the ice too soon, and the coffee gets diluted) and put it in a cocktail shaker with some half and half, sugar to taste and a pinch of salt (everything tastes better with a pinch of salt). Add some ice, throw your hands in the air and shake like you just don’t care. Pour, straining out the ice, of course, and enjoy. You’ll find that the combination of shaking and milk will create a satisfying, frothy beverage.

Add a jigger of dark rum to the shaker if you want to upgrade to a cocktail.

This recipe is a dumbed-down version of the one I found in obsessive cocktail guru Dave Arnold’s book Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail. So far I’ve only allowed myself to check Liquid Science out of the library. I fear that if I owned it I would fall down a deep mid-life crisis cocktail hobby hole involving some of the gadgets and ingredients Arnold details in the book: $8,000 centrifuges, canisters of liquid nitrogen and potentially hazardous beverage experiments involving powdered quinine sulfate.

* Do you have Desperado stuck in your head now, like I do? Sorry about that.

050 Who Wants Seconds?

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Want some tips from a professional caterer and chef on how to make better meals at home and throw awesome parties? Listen to our 50th podcast episode with author and chef Jennie Cook of Jennie Cooks Catering. During the show we discuss:

  • Secrets to vegan cooking
  • Tips for healthy home cooking
  • Roasting vegetables
  • Making your own mayonnaise
  • Involving kids in the kitchen
  • The problems with cooking shows
  • Working with leftovers
  • Advice for throwing a party
  • Jennie’s book Who Wants Seconds?
  • How to not burn your soup
  • Food swaps

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.