Sunday, December 23, 2007

grandmas bread 2007

It's that time of year again, here we go:

Makes 2 loaves

2 c. buttermilk
1.5 c. water
1 lb. + 1/2 lb. rye flour, unsifted (1.5 lb. total)

1 lb. + 1/2 lb. (8 0z) + 1 oz (25 oz total) unbleached white flour, unsifted

2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tbsp. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. warm water (120 degrees)
4 tbsp. gluten

1/2 c. honey
1-1/2 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. melted butter

1. Over medium-low heat, warm buttermilk and water, stirring occasionally, just until it curdles and remove from heat. Stir in 1 lb. rye flour, cover tightly and leave in warm place. Or, refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before continuing

2. The next day, combine yeast, 1 tbsp. flour, and warm water, and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast mixture gets bubbly.

3. Into dough mixture, add yeast mixture, honey, gluten and salt. Stir in remaining 1/2 pound of rye flour, and stir in 1 lb. of white flour until mixture is uniform. It's a lot of dough, too much for the small stand mixer to handle!

4. Take entire dough and add dough to mixer set to "1" or "2" (low speed), and knead with dough hook, grad aduallyding 1/2 lb. of white flour. You will need to clean the dough hook a number of times at the beginning (every 30 seconds or so), because the dough will bunch up, even over the top of the dough hook. Add 1 oz of flour during process to reduce sticking. After a couple of minutes, it will stop sticking. Total kneading time should be about 5-7 minutes.

6. Grease two bread pans with butter, and dust them with rye flour. Shape dough into loaves and place in bread pans. Cover with towel, and leave in warm place to rise for 2-2.75 hours or until approximately doubled in bulk.

7. Preheat oven to 375, and adjust racks to put bread on lowest rack. Brush tops with butter, and place bread pans on pizza stone on lowest rack in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.

8. Take bread from oven, remove from pans, and brush tops with remaining butter. Drape with damp cloth while they cool. This supposedly will help keep the crust from separating from the dough.

9. Store in large Ziploc freezer bags when cool; this will help promote a soft crust.

UPDATE 12-24-2007: technically it looks perfect. Sides of bread "exploded" near the top, which has previously been typical. We'll see what the texture is when we taste it tonight, hopefully not gummy and/or undercooked.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Feast

Here's what's on th menu for today:

  1. 16 lb roast turkey (no stuffing, stuffed with thyme, lemon, and onion)
  2. roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  3. grilled sweet potatoes (boiled first, then grilled) with tangerine bourbon glaze
  4. green beans
  5. roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta
  6. butternut squash and apple soup
  7. cranberry sauce
  8. gravy
  9. Beckey's family sausage stuffing
  10. brandied white onions

Turkey went in at 1145a, should take around 3-4hours or so.

Last night:
  1. Beckey made stuffing (what a production!)
  2. Made soup base (cooked but didn't puree); will reheat and puree today
This morning:
  1. Beckey made cranberry sauce
  2. We roasted the garlic
  3. I boiled and cooled the sweet potatoes, put em in the fridge
  4. I made the glaze
It all came together quickly then:

  1. Brussel sprouts prepped and cooked and covered on the table
  2. Green beans prepped
  3. Stuffing in the oven
  4. Set the table
  5. Heat soup
  6. Sweet potatoes cut, grilled, dressed, plated and covered
  7. Onions cooked and into oven
  8. Green beans cooked
  9. Remove turkey and onions, let turkey rest
  10. Carve and plate turkey, cover and
  11. Remove stuffing from oven
  12. Finish gravy
  13. Finish and plate soup
  14. Eat! and reeeelaaaaax....

Tangerine Bourbon Glaze (made this up myself)
  • 1/2 c chicken stock, homemade or low sodium preferred
  • 4 heaping tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 c bourbon or whiskey
  • dash worcheshire sauce
  • dash soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp minced tangerine peels
  • 2 tb. butter
Combine stock, sugar, pepper, worcheshire, soy in small stockpot, whisk and bring to a simmer. Reduce for 15 minutes. Add tangerine peel. Continue to simmer until reduced to 1/2 of original volume, and has a glaze-y consistency (should coat back of a spoon).

Remove from heat, and whisk in 2 tbsp. butter. Adjust seasonings as necesary.

Monday, October 22, 2007

hash browns

Was at Grizzly Manor Cafe in Big Bear, CA over the weekend. Sat strategically at the bar so I could see the cook prepping all the breakfast on a giant 5-burner griddle. This place has HUGE pancakes the size of a plate, big servings, local attitude, and reasonable prices.

Here's what I learned:

Omelette/Eggs: Chef scrambles in bowl, pours out as a flat sheet onto the griddle, about the size of a dinner plate. It bubbles up and cooks pretty fast. In the middle, he adds a pile of ham, a handful of cheese, then using two grill spatulas, flips the sides up on top. Total process was maybe 1-2 minutes.

Hash browns: hash browns come frozen in a transparent 1 or 2 gallon-sized plastic bag. Looks like potatoes, grated on the big holes on the grater into approx. 1.5" x 1/8" grated strips. Hard to tell, but it's possible that they were par-boiled in this form, then flash frozen. In any case, potatoes are as white as a sheet of paper. In any case, chef mashes the frozen bag to loosen them up, then pours them out on the griddle, evening them out into a fairly thin later, no more than 1" thick (easy to do on a giant griddle with a lot of surface area). Then using a ladle, pours what looks like oil or clarified butter (about 7 ladles full) over the mass. Flips the hash using two grill spatulas, as necessary, when it begins to brown.

Had sushi last Friday. I've become much more of a yellowtail fan: it tastes smooth, lightly buttery (not as much as tuna or salmon) and precisely clean. Yum!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lentils revisited

I have a newfound love for lentils. Ever since I made that lentil dish with bacon from the San Francisco Chronicle cookbook, I've enjoyed their earthy flavor and creamy texture. I've become much more of a legumes fan lately: chickpeas and white beans, both hot and cold, have been in quite a few recipes over the last few months. Maybe a cassoulet is in my near future! In place of the chorizo, you can sub kielbasa. Thanks ATK cookbook for another great recipe

Spanish-Style Lentils with Chorizo, Morcilla and Swiss Chard
Serves 4-6
Total prep time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:60 minutes
Total time:1hr 15min

1+1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz. spanish chorizo, sliced into rounds, 8 rounds reserved
8 oz. morcilla sausage (spanish rice sausage)
1 onion, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed and separated: stalks sliced into 3/4" pieces, leaves sliced into 3/4" ribbons
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika (agridulce) or hot Spanish paprika (picante)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1.5 c. chicken stock
1.5 c. water

1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced into rings

1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp. oil and sausage, and cook for 5 minutes to brown slightly and release some oil. Remove sausage.
2. Add remaining oil, onion and chard stalks, and saute for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic, saute for 15 seconds, add paprika, chili powder and thyme and saute for 15 more seconds.
3. Add lentils, tomatoes, chicken stock and water to pot. Bring to boil, turn heat to low, cover, and cook for about 35 minutes. Lentils should already be a bit soft, with a tiny bit of tooth.
4. Add chard leaves and stir just to combine. Nestle sausage back into pot, cover, and cook covered over low heat for 10 more minutes.
5. Adjust salt, pepper and seasonings to taste. Serve with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pulled pork again

Had a pork shoulder in the fridge, started to smell a bit, but decided to cook it anyway last night.

Rinsed it well, let it soak in a brine bath (with a bit of sugar) for 30 minutes, which seemed to lessen the smell (will have to try the lemon juice or vinegar trick for the same thing in the future).

Did the Wolfgang Puck rub, covered with foil, put in the oven overnight (8-9 hours or so) at 205 degrees. In the morning (about 830a), internal temp hit around 195, which is good. Uncovered it for about 30 minutes at 205 degrees to help a bit with some crust formation & help dry it out, then threw it in the fridge. Will heat it up tonight to finish, for maybe 1 hour covered, we'll see how it turns out! Hopefully it's not totally spoiled, and if so, oh well, $7 down the drain.

UPDATE 9/10: turned out great! Totally delicious. Beckey really liked it this time. Ate them on roasted garlic bread with tomatoes and mayo (wish I had cabbage and mayo for coleslaw!) Made two custom sauces to go along:

Vinegar sauce:
  • 1/2c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Few dashes Tabasco
  • Few dashes worcheshire
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2-3 drops of liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp. pork rub
  • Process: combine all, bring to a boil and remove from heat
Pan sauce:
  • Pan drippings, cooled and skimmed of fat
  • Splash of vinegar sauce
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Process: combine all and heat to a simmer, reduce volume by 1/2. Add extra water/stock if too salty.
My Puck Rub recipe, lest I forget it:

4 tb brown sugar
4 tb onion powder
4 tb garlic powder
4 tb thyme
4 tb oregano
2 tb mild paprika
2 tb hot paprika
4 tsp cayenne
4 tsp ground coriander
4 tsp ground pepper
2 tb kosher salt
1 tb dry mustard

Mix to combine.

wonton soup revisited

Made wonton soup last night, as I felt a bit of post-nasal drip, and was tired and sluggish. Well, seems to have worked. Wonton soup is easy, esp. if you have made/purchased frozen wontons in advance. I especially liked this week's version, and I just got to eat some leftovers for lunch. Buillion cubes were a short-cut; you can certainly use chicken stock instead, but you may need to adjust the salt.

Wonton Soup Revisited
Serves 4

1 box low sodium chicken stock
2 cups + 1 cup water
2 chicken buillion cubes (I use Knorr)
3 scallions: green parts cut into 1" nuggets, white parts finely chopped
1.5 tbsp. garlic, minced
2-3 ginger "coins", smashed with flat side of knife
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups broccoli rabe leaves, washed and cut across the leaf into 1" strips
2 slices ham, cut into 1/4" ribbons
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (optional); I prefer Spectrum Organics to Kadoya
12-16 frozen won-tons

  1. In a large pot, add chicken stock, and 2 cups water.
  2. Bring to a boil, and add buillion cubes, scallions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, and boil for about 2 minutes, until buillon cubes dissolve.
  3. Add broccoli leaves and ham, and boil for 1 minute.
  4. Add frozen wontons all at once + 1/2 cup water + soy sauce.
  5. Over high heat, bring soup back up to a boil, stirring once or twice, then add remaining 1/2 cup water, remove from heat, and cover.
  6. Let sit covered off of the heat for 10 minutes, when wontons will be fully cooked.
  7. Season with additional soy sauce, salt and pepper as desired.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

sourdough returns

I've been feeding my sourdough starter since sometime late December/early January. I had leftover buttermilk which I started to make grandma's bread with, then ended up with starter.

I baked and brought my first sourdough loaf to June Lake for Zach's birthday trip. It was pretty good, here's the test batch recipe.

My First Sourdough Loaf

1 lb. bread flour
1/2 cup starter
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4-1 cup water
1 tsp salt

  1. Combine all but salt in mixer bowl with dough hook. Knead for 2 minutes on low.
  2. Add salt, and mix for 3 minutes on low.
  3. Turn in oiled bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and leave in warm place to rise overnight (or 4 hours).
  4. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.


  • nice sourdough tang
  • springy, soft loaf
  • small but even, springy/chewy crumb
  • Baked through (not damp)


  • Crust didn't brown
  • Heavy/dense loaf (could be more springy)
So I was reading on this nice sourdough-related web site ( to try some different proportions for different loaves. Here are some tips:

To obtain large crumb:

  • Lower amount of yeast
  • Longer fermentation/rise time

OK, so this time I will try:

  1. 100% flour (16oz aka 1 lb. by weight)
  2. 30% of flour weight starter (5oz by weight)
  3. 1.8% of flour weight salt (0.28oz salt)
  4. Enough water (to keep dough soft)
  5. 1 tbsp. sugar

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

slow cooking smells

The whole house smells like fejoida.

Soaked 2 pounds of black beans starting last night. Started cooking when I got home. Here was the process.

1. Drain down liquid covering beans until about 1/2 inch over beans (reserve at least 1 cup of bean liquid). Put on medium heat.
2. Cut up 2lb. pork clod into 1" cubes. Season with salt n pepper.
3. In a large pot with olive oil, sear pork pieces on each side for 2 minutes.
4. Add pork to beans, along with 2 bay leaves.
5. In same pot, add bacon chopped into 1" pieces.
6. Once bacon is getting a bit crispy, season beef stew pieces (about 1-1.5 lb) and sear in same pot like pork. Remove meat and add to beans, leaving grease in pot.
7. Chop up 3-4 medium onions. Add to pot and saute for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add rough chopped garlic, as much as you like, stir for 30 seconds. Add some cumin, red pepper flakes and paprika, and stir for 30 seconds. Add wine or sherry to deglaze pan.
8. Add onions to beans, stir to combine.
9. Bring beans to a simmer, and reduce heat to low to maintain a slow simmer.
10. Fill 1/2 in. water in a pan (or use the same "meat pot" from previous).
11. Place water over high heat, and add chorizo (in natural casing, from your butcher).
12. Bring water to a simmer, and simmer chorizo 10 minutes, flip, and simmer 10 more minutes (20 min total)
13. Cut chorizo into 1/2" rounds, and add to beans. Stir to combine.
14. Cover beans and let simmer for at least 3 hours.
15. Serve with rice, couve (collard greens sauteed with garlic), slices of orange, and maybe some caipirinha!

What else? While this was cooking, I threw together a portabello mushroom risotto in my cast iron pan in less than 20 min! Super easy, I have to remember how easy risotto is! My first time cooking with portabellos, very meaty & delicious.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Been working on several food projects:

Slow roasted pork: Tresierras had a good deal on some mystery pork roast at 99c per pound, so I bought it, rubbed it with spices per my Wolfgang Puck rub recipe, and roasted it @ 300 degrees in the oven. The meat was almost 3 pounds, which makes me estimate that at that temperature, 3 lbs will take about 3-4 hours to roast to "falling apart" status. Turned out delicious! Nice to use those aluminum roasting pans for convenience.

Vinegar: I've been reading about making homemade vinegar, so I went out and bought some unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar from the local health foods store. I chose Bragg's brand, although there were several others, but all as apple cider vinegar. Anyway, the idea is to combine the vinegar with leftover wine to make wine vinegar, both red and white wine. We'll see how it goes.

Sourdough starter: so I'm trying to make some sourdough bread. I started with my grandma's bread recipe, and have let the mixture ferment for over a week, feeding it flour & water 2x daily. I ended up taking a cup off that mixture, starting another batch to make it less sour. Then I took a cup of that and added it to a regular bread recipe. We'll see how it turns out. The "batter" tastes sour, but I wonder if the yeast in it is active enough to give it sufficient lift (I somehow doubt it). Flour makes for cheap food experiments, nonetheless.

Greek salad: my friends Dale and Leah were recounting their trip to Greece yesterday and telling me about their "Greek salad" experience. Unlike in the U.S., that salad has no lettuce in it. It contains: chopped cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, a thick piece of feta cheese doused in olive oil and oregano. Sounds pretty damn good to me. I've always thought American "greek salad", including the kind my mom makes, as somewhat insipid.

Caramelized onions: made a nice caramelized onion "jam" last week by slow cooking 3 onions in olive oil with salt & pepper until meltingly soft, then adding a tablespoon or two of good balsamic vinegar and cooking that down. Deee-licious.

Well, enough foodie ramblings for today.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Grandma's bread update

OK, so some things I learned:

After the bread cools down almost completely, store it in a plastic bag. The extra moisture that gets released will actually make the crust softer.

That said, the crust should still be softer.

I just had some of that bread yesterday, which has been stored in my fridge in a large Ziploc bag since I made it, and it was totally delicious and still moist, but not wet, with no sign of mold anywhere.