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Our Favorite Quotes from Beard on Books with JBF Award Winner Mindy Segal

Emma Sarley

April 21, 2015

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Our Beard on Books program invites people to the Beard House to listen to chefs and authors share their insights on the captivating food world. Last Wednesday, we showcased JBF Award winner Mindy Segal, who recently released her first cookbook, Cookie Love. This beautiful tome provides innovative techniques and fun interpretations of classic recipes from a self-professed “cookie nerd.” Segal exposes the reader to unexpected ingredients and creative flavor combinations in her recipes. 

Here are some of our favorite insights from Mindy:

1) "I chose cookies because they are a much better gift than a bundt cake. You get a tin of cookies and you’re really excited about it. There’s a cookie for everybody. If you like crispy cookies, you can have chocolate chip cookies. If you like soft cookies you could have rugelach cookies with fresh jam. Instead of just raspberry jam, you can put smoked almond streusel and hot fudge in the middle. There are so many different ways to think about a cookie."

2) "I wrote this book for all of you—I didn’t write it for my peers. I hope my peers buy my book and like the techniques I have created, but I wanted to teach people how to make cookies outside the box. It’s about using smoked sugar instead of using regular sugar."

3)  "Dominque Ansel was following a recipe and said, 'I don’t understand why this glaze isn’t working. I’m following the rules. Well, what if I break the rule? What if I do something else?' This is how great things are created. We are not afraid to stick our hands in the fire. When he thought outside his box, he was able to glaze the cake and it worked. So I’ve taught myself to say, why not? Why can’t we use smoked sugar? Why can’t we use fresh milled flour all the time?"

4) "I once saw a gorgeous purple sugar in a store that sells rare ingredients—it was violet sugar from Provence. I opened up the bag and I thought I was in a little field in Provence. The taste of the sugar is incredible: it’s different and floral. I used it to create a beautiful spritz cookie."

5) I would rather buy fresh milled flour than make something that taste like chemicals. I’m of the school of thought where I know where my eggs are from, I know where my sugar is from, and I know where my flour is from. Let’s start out with great ingredients. Let’s make strawberry rhubarb now and not in the winter. Let’s make nuts and chocolates in the winter. I’m of the mindset of seasonal and fresh baking.

6) A technique I want to teach you is to take caramel, hot fudge, or butterscotch sauce and refrigerate it. Then instead of making buttercream or frosting, aerate one of those and use that as frosting. Here’s something that’s not in the book: take butterscotch sauce and let it solidify. Then, make some bacon and solidify the bacon fat. Beat the butterscotch and throw in the bacon fat. You can put it on maple shortbread or Graham crackers or toast. 

Get the recipe for Mindy's Strawberry-Rhubarb Rugelach with Oatmeal Streusel.

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Learn more about the James Beard Foundation’s Beard on Books program