San Antonians who fondly remember the buttery yeast rolls, spicy jalapeño potato soup, and towering fudgy cupcakes at Joseph's Storehouse Baking Company need wait no longer to once again taste those favorites. Michele McCurdy-Buonacorsi, founder of the bakery/restaurant has published a cookbook, Joseph's Storehouse Baking Company: From My Heart to Yours, with all the recipes from the long-closed business, allowing cooks to recreate those dishes and hundreds more in their own kitchens.
The book includes some 720 recipes in all. She estimates 40% of the recipes are from Joseph's Storehouse, the remaining 60% those she's gathered and savored in her home through the decades. "I always wanted to write a cookbook," she says, noting that she and husband Gary Buonacorsi, who she married eight years ago, have nine children and 14 grandchildren between them. "I wanted to leave something for them. I'm not going to be around forever, and I wanted to write out these recipes."
McCurdy-Buonacorsi started out with the goal of devoting 30 minutes a day working on the cookbook. Quickly, she became so engaged by the project that she ended up spending six to eight hours a day for the last three years writing the 475-page book.
The idea for Joseph's Storehouse Baking Company began in 1987 after Patrick left his position as pastor of Shearer Hills Baptist Church to start the non-denominational River City Fellowship. Pastoring a small, new church meant living on a greatly reduced salary and, with five children, money was tight. After taking a bread-baking class from an Alamo Heights bread baker, McCurdy-Buonacorsi, a stay-at-home mom, was encouraged by her friend Connie Briscoe to sell the loaves of bread she had been giving away to friends. McCurdy-Buonacorsi was baking the bread using organic Montana wheat that she ground herself.
Briscoe sold the first loaves at the hair salon she used and both stylists and customers wanted more. Shocked that there was a market for her cooking, McCurdy-Buonacorsi baked more bread and added lunch sandwiches to the mix at her customers' request. Soon she was being approached by groups to prepare box lunches for business meetings. Since her single oven at home wouldn't support larger orders, she rented space at a small nearby restaurant and used their three ovens in the evenings. She quickly outgrew that space and, a few months later, rented a space at a wholesale bakery near the airport where she had use of its 10 ovens at night after the bakery closed. In 1992, business had increased to the point that McCurdy-Buonacorsi and Patrick left the ministry and opened Joseph's, naming it for the Biblical story told in Genesis in which Joseph stockpiled grain in storehouses in preparation for a great famine. "When I learned to bake bread, the wheat I used came in 50-pound buckets that we stored in the garage, so I thought the name based on grain storage was fitting,"
She describes the book as "a record of over 40 years of cooking and the culmination of my recipe scrapbook, filled just as I would fill a kitchen journal that I want to pass along to my children as they start their own homes. It's a collection of some of my favorite recipes, the ones I love and the ones I've shared with my family and friends. It is important to me because the dishes that fill these pages have real meaning and emotion attached to them. Woven into many of them are my favorite flavors. They're familiar and satisfying. Some are inspired by a sweet childhood memory, a European classic, or a time-honored restaurant or bakeshop. They are flavors that I will never tire of. They have meaning to my family and have been accompanied with laughs, tears, and many memories. Some have their own story and meaning. It's a compendium of all that I've learned about home cooking and at its heart are the treasured recipes that have proven to do one thing, make people happy."