Sunday, April 24, 2016

Seattle eats

I've been touring Seattle this weekend, it's been fun! Weather cooperated and got to see and taste a lot. 

Lots of great rock and roll memorabilia at the EMP museum. They had a great Nirvana exhibit. 

Today I went to Capitol Hill to see the Jimi Hendrix statue, which was conveniently across from the Broadway farmers market, held every Sunday. Saw some nice produce, prepared foods and mushrooms! Too bad I'm traveling, no room!  



BTW Jimi is not the only rocker represented. No more than a block or so away, there's a less known bronze statue of Chuck Berry in Seattle, doing his "duck walk", at 1641 Nagle Pl, Seattle, WA. It's in front of the Broadway Building Apartments, on the west edge of Cal Anderson park. I came across it while wandering in Seattle today and couldn't figure out exactly who it was. 


Enjoyed some great shellfish at Taylor Shellfish today, including geoduck clam, which I thought was mediocre. Yes it's unusual but frankly it's more textural (think cartilage) than flavorful. On the right, siphon meat, on the left, belly meat. Belly was surprisingly creamy but crunchy. Siphon was all crunchy chew. 


Enjoyed the Fig N Pig burger at Lil Woody's, which was wonderful. The big dollop of sweet and tangy balsamic fig jam, Gorgonzola blue cheese and thick bacon strips all work very well together. 


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Cuban-style pork roast for Cubano medianoche sandwiches

Got interested in making some Cubano medianoche sandwiches this weekend, after reading all about them on TFL. Based on a few recipes online and a video on Youtube, I came up with this version of roast pork that is redolent of garlic and citrus. The marinade is dirt-simple to make and packs tons of flavor. Sour oranges are hard to come by on the West Coast, so the orange/lime/lemon combo is a nice substitute.



Cuban-style Roast Pork for Medianoches

Ingredients
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 sour oranges; OR
    1 orange, zested and juiced +
    1 lime zested and juiced +
    1 lemon zested and juiced.
  • 4 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 c. vegetable or neutral oil
  • 4-5 lb pork shoulder/boston butt (boneless is preferable)
  • Butchers twine for tying the roast
  1. In food processor, blend all ingredients in bowl. 
  2. Poke holes in flesh with sharp knife
  3. Rub marinade all over meat
  4. Let rest covered in fridge for 4-24 hours (I think at least overnight is best, I went 24h)
  5. Tie up the roast using butchers twine. 
  6. Drain and reserve marinade. If desired, cook reserved marinade in small saucepan for 5 minutes with 2 tbsp. honey and 1 tbsp of apricot preserves to make a glaze.  
  7. Preheat oven to 375F
  8. Roast at 375F SKIN SIDE UP, until internal temp reaches 150F. I like to use an uncovered dutch oven for the roasting. If desired, apply optional glaze (see step 5) every 10 minutes during last 30 minutes of roasting. 
  9. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes uncovered before slicing.  
  10. Slice thin for sandwiches.
Really really really good! Super flavorful. I would make this again in a heartbeat. The first time I made it, I cooked it to 140F, which left it rosy pink and juicy in places, similar to roast beef. Delicious but slightly scary if you're squeamish about pink roast pork. Cooking to 150F should eliminate that problem.

To assemble your Cubano, you'll need:

Cuban bread (basically a soft
Butter (for outside of the crust, to press on a grill)
Ham
Sliced pork roast
Swiss cheese
Yellow mustard
Pickle chips or strips (dill is traditional, I prefer sweet pickles)

Assemble: ham, roast pork, cheese, pickle chips, then spread yellow mustard on top bun.
Melt butter and paint it on the crust with a brush.
Cook in a grill press, panini press on medium heat about 3 minutes per side.
Slice sandwich at a steep diagonal, so the slices are like two very sharp long triangles.
Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

beignets update

After my post in 2011 about Cafe Du Monde beignets, been reading more about beignets and trying to unlock the secrets. Sometimes I get a bit obsessive about fried foods, and beignets and donuts have been on my mind a lot (just got Lara Ferroni's donut book last week).

Some other sites have reported that Cafe Du Monde (CDM) uses a blend of flours, which includes rye flour. I don't know about that, but it's worth exploring.

I'm now thinking that some kind of choux paste is used in the making of the beignets. That is, cook flour with butter, buttermilk, sugar and salt until it forms a roux, then beat in the eggs one by one. Maybe they do this and then fry.

Something like this recipe here from Baker Bette, adapted:

Cafe Du Monde Beignet Prototype
Makes about 1 dozen beignets

1/2 cup water (8 fl oz, 240 ml)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1/4 cup)
1/8 tsp kosher salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp dried buttermilk powder
1/2 cup (+ 1/4 cup reserved) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rye flour
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp yeast

oil for frying (cottonseed is the most traditional, peanut or canola)
powdered sugar for topping

Instructions

  1. Place water, butter, sugar, and salt in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir until butter is melted and everything comes to a boil.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk flour and buttermilk powder together.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour mixture into the hot butter-water all at once while stirring quickly. Continue to stir and cook off the moisture in the dough until it pulls away from the sides and starts to form into a ball. This should take about 30-60 seconds.
  4. Place dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand mixer.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed (speed 3-4), add eggs in one at a time. Do not add another egg until the one before has been completely absorbed into the batter. The batter will look smooth and glossy when ready.
  6. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (or at room temp), until temp comes down to less than 100F. 
  7. Now sprinkle on yeast and remaining 1/4 cup of flour. 
  8. Knead using dough hook at medium speed (KitchenAid speed #4) for 1 minute. Will still be a sticky dough. 
  9. Cover and let rest at room temp for 30 minutes. 
  10. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to make handling easier. (FYI at this point you can refrigerate overnight until the next morning.)
  11. In a heavy cast iron pot, heat at least 2" of oil to 360F
  12. On a HEAVILY floured surface (1/2 cup of flour on surface!), add dough, sprinkle liberally with at ~1/2 cup flour, roll out to about 1/2" thickness. 
  13. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 2" squares. 
  14. Using a brush or your hands, carefully remove excess flour from top of dough. 
  15. Fry 2-3 pieces at a time, 4 minutes total, flipping as they brown, try to maintain at least 350F temp at all times. They should be a fairly dark brown. 
  16. Drain on rack, dust with powdered sugar.  

RESULTS:
Crumb was very ethereal and custardy. Internally, the texture was very light and very good. I think CDMs are more chewy, slightly less tender, but closely custardy.
Crust was pretty smooth, not craggy like CDM. I fried for 2-3 min at around 360-370F, and the crust was very very thin. Also tried frying some of the battered, unrolled dough. These balls had a more even texture.
Flavor was pretty buttery...delicious but not that traditional.
Rye enhances a certain sweetness, but I would dial it back more.


NOTES:
Yeast didn't do anything this time, didn't seem to dissolve into dough. Better to dissolve in a bit of water for 5 min, then add with flour.
Very soft dough, almost goopy, but no problem to roll and handle with the amount of flour specified. 
Thoughts for the future:

  • Try real buttermilk. 
  • Make roux with some high gluten flour? Or add high gluten flour later?
  • Somewhat less butter...or use oil?
Same basic approach could be used to make doughnuts.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Baguette!

I've always wanted to try the Anis Bouabsa baguette that Janedo, David, breadbakingbassplayer and others on TFL have written about and tried. Here's the basics:

Makes 4 baguettes

500g flour (Anis uses T65 supposedly; this time, I will use 425g AP flour, 50g Caputo 00, and 25g whole wheat)
375g cool water
1/4 tsp instant yeast (about 0.8g, make it easy and round up to 1g)
10g kosher salt

  1. In KA stand mixer, add water, and flour.
  2. Mix for 1 min at lowest speed, scrape bowl, and rest for 20 min. 
  3. Now add yeast and salt. 
  4. Mix at speed #4 for 5 minutes. 
  5. Fold every 20 minutes for 1hr (3x): leave dough in mixer, run mixer for 10 seconds at speed #1, just until dough almost completely gathers around the hook. 
  6. Cover and refrigerate in mixing bowl for 21-23 hours. (This time, I will pull earlier because I have to bake by 3pm tomorrow; went in at 610pm on Sat). 
  7. Divide right out of refrigerator and pre-shape. 
  8. Rest for 45 min. 
  9. Shape and place onto baguette pan.
  10. Preheat oven to 550F
  11. Proof for 45 minutes
  12. Score 
  13. Bake at 550F for 2 min, reduce heat to 480F and bake for 18-20min.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Aerosol whipped cream expiration date - is it bogus?

Lots of info on the web, generally very conservative..."use no more than 3 weeks after sell-by date"

Well, I found a full can of ultra-pasteurized Reddi-Whip aerosol that has been sitting patiently in my fridge for a couple of years!

Yes, the sell-by date reads Oct 2012.

So after some research, I decided to give it a shot. The best guiding principle is "use your senses". Smells bad? Looks wrong? Tastes sour? Then throw it out. Geez, if you feel squeamish about it in the first place, don't do it.

Sprayed it into a bowl. No separation, no funky smell, no odd yellowish color. Pure white, like when it's new.

Next step: dip my finger and taste.

It tasted fine! Just goes to show that if it doesn't look moldy or gross, you should try to trust your own senses to determine if something is bad or not. In this case, it tasted bad IN NO WAY.

I've had containers of buttermilk 3-4 weeks past the expiry date still be fine.

Those expiration dates are often just a guideline...use your senses to figure out what's good and what's not.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

DUPLICATE MAYBE: PUBLISHED 2017-02-23

Trying Ars Pistorica's sure-fire way of creating a Lb. san franciscensis-based sourdough starter. My first attempt was not so sure fire, although it had a lot of promise.

So as a friend of mine recently asked me to help him with a starter for his restaurant, I thought I might try this method, as it seems faster than others.

It does however depend on some measure of temperature control. So what you'll probably need:

1. Insulated container. Maybe a large insulated cooler. I'm trying my CrockPot instead.
2. Gentle heat source. I'm using a heating pad this time.
3. Good instant-read thermometer. I trust my Thermapen more than my Polder.
4. Quart or gallon-sized ziploc plastic bags. It should be easiest to submerge the mixture this way.
5. Whole grain rye flour and whole grain wheat flour. For this, I went to my local health-food store today and bought 1lb of organic rye berries, and 1lb of organic hard red winter wheat. I plan to lightly grind them in my spice grinder and/or blender to break up the berries into a somewhat coarse flour. Later I used King Arthur Whole Wheat flour as my substrate.

I'm reposting the original formula, with temps in Fahrenheit because I live in the US.


Initial Build  (start: 4/16/2013, 8:00a)
20 g flour, rye, whole-grain
240 g water, 77F (25ºC)

Combine ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and seal, removing all excess air. Fill a large, plastic container (such as a cooler) with water that is 98.6F (37 ºC), ensuring the temperature is exact. Drop the bag into the water, placing something heavy atop it to prevent it from floating. Place the container’s lid on, and let the bag sit for 18 – 24h. Check the water’s temperature often, adding more hot water as needed to maintain a constant 98.6F (37 ºC). (From mariana_aga's blog, a range of 95-104F (35-40C) is recommended for this stage).

My notes: ground 20g of organic rye berries, fed 240g of water, into small Ziploc, which went into 98.6F water in a 4-cup glass measuring cup, on top of a heating pad set to "high", in my oven with the oven light on. I expect this will produce the same level of fizz as the first attempt will.

Refreshment #1 (start: )
100 g flour, wheat, whole-grain



Refreshment #2 (start: )
100 g flour, wheat, whole-grain
45 g water
30 g starter, from refreshment #1

Combine all three ingredients in a bowl, and then mix thoroughly until a homogenous texture is achieved. Let ferment for 24h at 68F - 86F (20 - 30ºC).
Final dough temperature 86F (30 ºC).


Refreshment #3 (start: )
50 g flour, wheat, whole-grain
32.5 g water
4.125 g starter, from refreshment #2 (or the last refreshment)

Combine all three ingredients in a bowl, and then mix thoroughly until a homogenous texture is achieved. Let ferment for 24h at 68F - 86F (20 - 30ºC) in an air-tight, plastic container.
Final dough temperature 86F (30ºC), if day's high temperature is below 84.2F (29ºC), and 68F (20ºC) if day's high-temperature is above 86F (30ºC).


Refreshment #4 (start: 4/14 6:30pm) 
Same quantities as Refreshment #3


Refreshment #5 (start: 4/15 6:00pm) 
Same quantities as Refreshment #3

My notes: I fed with a little bit of whole grain fresh rye today, to see if it would help actually get some leavening going. After 12 hours, still nothing visible: no puffiness, no nothing. Room temp is about 72F today. Gotta say that I'm disappointed in the process so far, especially considering the life that the starter showed in the first 48 hours. I'm going to keep the same batch going but I will try again. 







Thursday, April 11, 2013

Refined way of building sourdough - attempt #1 (and #2)

Ars Pistorica writes in his blog about a sure-fire way of creating a Lb. san franciscensis-based sourdough starter. Another write-up from the process can be found here.

So as a friend of mine recently asked me to help him with a starter for his restaurant, I thought I might try this method, as it seems faster than others.

It does however depend on some measure of temperature control. So what you'll probably need:

1. Insulated container. Maybe a large insulated cooler. I'm trying my CrockPot instead.
2. Gentle heat source. You can just keep adding hot water to your cooler, but then keep in mind that it's unclear how long it will be able to maintain that temperature. A fishtank thermometer might work, but their thermostats are generally too cool (most don't go above 90F (32C)). I'm trying a cheap CrockPot. I also bought a heating pad, but generally didn't find it warm enough, nor being able to control the temperature with a lot of accuracy.
3. Good instant-read thermometer. I trust my Thermapen more than my Polder.
4. Quart-sized ziploc plastic bags. It should be easiest to submerge the mixture this way.
5. Whole grain rye flour and whole grain wheat flour. For this, I went to my local health-food store today and bought 1lb of organic rye berries, and 1lb of organic hard red winter wheat. I plan to lightly grind them in my spice grinder and/or blender to break up the berries into a somewhat coarse flour. Later I used King Arthur Whole Wheat flour as my substrate.

I'm reposting the original formula, with temps in Fahrenheit because I live in the US.


Initial Build  (start: 4/10/2013, 8:30pm)
20 g flour, rye, whole-grain
240 g water, 77F (25ºC)

Combine ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and seal, removing all excess air. Fill a large, plastic container (such as a cooler) with water that is 98.6F (37 ºC), ensuring the temperature is exact. Drop the bag into the water, placing something heavy atop it to prevent it from floating. Place the container’s lid on, and let the bag sit for 18 – 24h. Check the water’s temperature often, adding more hot water as needed to maintain a constant 98.6F (37 ºC). (From mariana_aga's blog, a range of 95-104F (35-40C) is recommended for this stage).

My notes: used my CrockPot. Added my 98.6F water and then turned it on HIGH for about 10 min while monitoring the temp every 5 minutes or so until the temp stabilized. It ran a little hot initially, to 100-104F. Generally it was reading around 100F. After 1 hour, it was still reading 100F, so I added some ice water until the temp was 98.6F. Covered the glass top of the crock pot with 2 or 3 towels to keep the heat in (you could probably use foil to help with this too. It didn't keep the temperature that stable, although it kept it above 85F. After 12 hours (8am this morning), it was fizzy/bubbly, like in Mariana_aga's photos, with some foam developing on top.

Refreshment #1. (start: 4/11/2013, 6:00pm)
100 g flour, wheat, whole-grain

Remove the Ziploc bag from the water and add all of the whole-wheat flour. Seal, once again removing all excess air. Lay the bag on a flat surface, and, using your palms, squish the bag back and forth in order to create a homogenous liquid. Place back into the plastic container, adding enough hot water to reach 89.6F (32ºC). As before, check the water’s temperature often, adding more hot water as needed to maintain a constant 89.6F (32ºC). Allow to sit for 18 – 24h.

My notes: at refreshment, definitely smelled vomit-like and rotten, as mariana_aga suggested. Still some foam on top, but now water looked tan and murky, with no obvious effervescence. Ground up 100g of organic hard red winter wheat flour in my spice grinder/coffee mill, squished it around, and back into the CrockPot water bath, with adjusted temp around 89F. I remove the CrockPot ceramic water bowl from its heating container, and instead placed it in my oven, on top of a CVS heating pad set to High and the oven light on. I checked back after  about 2 hours, and the temp was slightly too high (between 100-105F), so I adjusted it downward. After about 12 hours, it was producing a lot of gas (really inflating the ziploc bag), which I deflated slightly to help it sink instead of float. Still a pronounced vomit smell, perhaps slightly more acidic. Temp was about 92F when I checked it this morning, so I added water to get the temp down and let it cool. One of the things I've found most difficult about this method in general is good temperature control. Takes a good bit of time and experimentation to find out what works best. A Brød & Taylor proofer would probably take a lot of the guesswork out of the process.

Refreshment #2 (start: 4/12 7:00pm)
100 g flour, wheat, whole-grain
45 g water
30 g starter, from refreshment #1

Combine all three ingredients in a bowl, and then mix thoroughly until a homogenous texture is achieved. Let ferment for 24h at 68F - 86F (20 - 30ºC).
Final dough temperature 86F (30 ºC).

My notes: still smelled somewhat vomit-y and gagworthy, although much less so. Starting to detect smells of acid and some creaminess; I can't say like stinky cheese, because although I enjoy pungent cheese (like Stilton, etc) I have never smelled cheese as rotten-acid-like as this. Anways, I ground up 100g of my hard red winter wheat in my spice grinder, and kneaded it together. Based on the dilution, after being mixed in it didn't smell offensive at all. Just for kicks, I saved an additional 30g of the refreshment #1 starter, and mixed it in with 45g water and 100g of 50/50 King Arthur whole wheat and Bob's Red Mill unbleached all purpose flour. (I keep a jar of this 50/50 mix for feeding my Tartine style starter). Both went back in the oven with the oven light on, which is in the low 80s, to ferment for 24 hours.


Refreshment #3 (start: 4/13 6:00pm)
50 g flour, wheat, whole-grain
32.5 g water
4.125 g starter, from refreshment #2 (or the last refreshment)

Combine all three ingredients in a bowl, and then mix thoroughly until a homogenous texture is achieved. Let ferment for 24h at 68F - 86F (20 - 30ºC) in an air-tight, plastic container.
Final dough temperature 86F (30ºC), if day's high temperature is below 84.2F (29ºC), and 68F (20ºC) if day's high-temperature is above 86F (30ºC).

My notes: weird smell is almost all gone. Doesn't appear to be any visible leavening.

Refreshment #4 (start: 4/14 6:30pm) 
Same quantities as Refreshment #3


My notes: weird smell basically gone. Smells clean, perhaps yogurt-like. Tasted a little piece at time of refreshment, was pretty sour-tasting, i.e., tart and acidic. Doesn't appear to be any visible leavening. I mixed up 10g of starter with 100g of flour and 100g of water, to see if I could get strong leavening. After 4 hours, there was no action on this mixture, nor 8 nor 16. For the promise that was shown in the first day or two of developing this starter, there is not much action. Room temp is 74F today.


Refreshment #5 (start: 4/15 6:00pm) 
Same quantities as Refreshment #3

My notes: I fed with a little bit of whole grain fresh rye today, to see if it would help actually get some leavening going. After 12 hours, still nothing visible: no puffiness, no nothing. Room temp is about 72F today. Gotta say that I'm disappointed in the process so far, especially considering the life that the starter showed in the first 48 hours. I'm going to keep the same batch going but I will try again. 


Refreshment #6  (start: 4/16 7:00pm) 

My notes: Not much change since refresh #5 (not a lot of visible fermentation activity, no puffiness, still gloopy), so I only threw out about 1/2 of the starter and then fed it again about 50/50. I decided to stash my refreshment #6 in the oven along with the starter #2...yes, early this morning I started my 2nd attempt with this starter method, to work out the kinks. Instead of the crockpot, I used my CVS heating pad, my oven with the light on, and a smaller quart-sized ziploc. With 4 cups of 98.6F water, on top of the heating pad in the oven it held very stable heat between 98-100F.

Refreshment #7  (start: 4/17 6:30pm)

My notes: Finally saw some leavening in the starter! Not a lot, but definitely presence of gas bubbles. Hooray! However this process has been far from "easy". Might as well go with Debra Wink's process, which I've been successful with, in about the same amount of time. On the upside, this new starter is certainly the most sour one I've ever produced, you can taste the sharpness of the acetic acid, but there's some lactic creaminess as well. I think once I'm finally able to bake with it should have good flavor.

Starter #2 went through the same usual bubbly fizziness (lots of visual activity), but it was not nearly as vomit-smelling as #1. Interesting. I fed it with refreshment #1.

Refreshment #8  (start: 4/18 7pm)

My notes: can't say the starter doubled but clearly some leavening going on. So I took about 20g, mixed it with 100g of white flour and 100g of water, and set it in the oven with the other starters (nice warm 85F+) to ferment and see what happens.

Starter #2 was fed with Refreshment #2. Again, this one doesn't smell quite as vomity/pungent as the previous version, which either means it's not working or it's working as expected. Tastes sour kinda like  Starter #1, I doubt I could tell the difference between the two. No visual leavening of it yet though. I feed this one in the mornings before I go to work.


Refreshment #9  (start: 4/19 7pm)

My notes: 


Starter #2 seems stuck as usual. Just a goopy mess. No leavening visible. Smells fine, taste is sour with a bit of that vomity quality. Fed it refreshment #3. The 100g I mixed up had close to tripled (but no more) in 12 hours or so. That's hardly speedy by any means.