Before I say anything else, I should probably reveal my sole reason for writing this book: Food made with freshly milled flour is better for your health, the environment, and flavor. I want everyone to start using it.
Cooking and baking with freshly milled flour is a real passion and has become a significant part of what fuels me as a chef. One of the greatest aspects of working with food is that if you listen to the ingredients, they will tell you how to use them. I don’t mean this in some wacky, whimsical way, but in the most practical sense. If you pick up an apple and it’s underripe, use its texture to your advantage: slice it thinly and toss it in a salad. Give an overripe apple over to its natural evolution and mash it into jam or bake it into a pie. And if it’s perfectly ripe, just take a bite. I’m a firm believer that ingredients should dictate the menu, not the cook preparing it. I apply the same reasoning to wheat. Red Fife and other hard wheat varieties are adapted for making big, airy loaves of bread, while soft wheats like Sonora, which was historically and famously used to make super large tortillas in the Mexican state of Sonora, are best for pastries and cakes. Some wheat varieties are all-around performers and can do almost anything, but it’s up to the baker or cook to coax and tame their versatile characteristics.
It is so personally rewarding for me to introduce people to how good freshly milled flour is and how it can be harnessed. Seeing someone’s face light up when they try a slice of my fresh-milled durum sourdough bread, or hearing that they feel nourished from eating a whole wheat croissant I have baked—that’s what drives me.
If you’re skeptical, remember that it wasn’t so long ago that buying organic food was considered highbrow and unnecessary. I remember early in my career seeing a celebrated chef yell at his sous-chef for buying organic vegetables because they were considerably more expensive. At the time, his frustration seemed rational. But before long, opinions changed, and a greater knowledge and understanding led us to accept that buying chemical-free produce was responsible food sourcing and the right thing to do for our bodies.
I’m a chef. I feed people. The word “restaurant” derives from the French “to restore to a former state,” and I feel strongly that if people trust me with their time, money, and calories, I have a duty to nourish them to the best of my abilities. I am also an enthusiastic teacher and I love to share recipes and techniques with home cooks and professionals alike, so I am excited to share my approach to using flour with you. Throughout this book, we will explore the wonderful world of milling, how to source grains for milling at home, and how to approach purchasing fresh flour directly from a mill. We’ll get into the intricacies of working with fresh flour, and discuss how the characteristics of different grains work alone or in unison to create flavor and structure for bread, pasta, pizza, and pastry. With its collection of simple and adaptable recipes that highlight just how good true whole-grain cooking and baking can be, I hope this book changes the way you think about cooking and ingredients for good.
Copyright © 2019 by Adam Leonti with Katie Parla, Foreword by Marc Vetri. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.