Monday, December 22, 2008

sourdough waffles

Maybe we'll try this at Paul & Lyla's. I've made it at home with great results. Recipe from KAF Baker's Companion.

1 c unbleached AP flouw
1 c whole wheat flour
2 tsbp sugar
2 c buttermilk
1 c sourdough starter

2 eggs
1/4 c (1/2 stick) melted butter
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

First mix dry sponge ingredients together. Then mix in wet sponge ingredients til barely blended. Let rest overnight, or a few hours.

In a separate bowl, mix all batter ingredients together. Then blend with sponge until well incorporated.

Heat waffle iron, brush with canola or veg oil. Pour in 1 ladle full. Cook according to waffle iron directions, or until steam stops (about 6.5 minutes per waffle). Serve immediately, or keep warm in 200 deg. Leftovers freeze very nicely!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

spicy louisiana sausage

Bruce Aidells wrote a nice little book called Flying Sausages, which has a number of great recipes, and which helped me have a sausage-making revelation: sausage is nothing but spiced meat... casings are optional! I've made this one before with 100% lean ground turkey from the store (Jennie-O), was very good. You may need to add more spice to taste; I think I added more paprika and garlic to the original recipe (listed below).

Makes 7 to 8 half-pound packages

2 c. sliced onions (probably 1 large onion)
3 lbs. ground turkey OR 1.5/1.5 ground chicken/turkey (ground thighs are best), very cold or slightly frozen
1/2 lb bacon, cut into pieces, very cold or slightly frozen
1.5 tbsp garlic, chopped
1/4 cup paprika (smoked or regular)
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp yellow mustard seed
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp English-style dry mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground allspice
4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

Simmer onions in water to cover until translucent, 5-7 min. Cool under cold running water & drain (this can be done ahead of time). Cool completely. Coarsely grind onions, meat, and bacon in a food processor in batches (using knife blade).

Add remaining ingredients to a big bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Test fry a small piece in some oil, and taste for salt, pepper and other seasonings.

Divide into 7-8 portions, wrap tightly twice in plastic wrap or aluminum, and refrigerate or freeze.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grandma's Bread 2008 Again

OK, here's the usual end-of-year bread, taking it back east to PA.

Using different flour this type (Bob's Red Mill Dark Rye, instead of usual Hodgson's Rye or Arrowhead Mills Rye).

Makes 2 loaves

2 c. buttermilk
1.25 c. water
1lb 8oz rye flour, unsifted

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

1 lb 14oz unbleached white flour, unsifted
4 tbsp. gluten
1/2 c. honey
3 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 1.5 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, and gluten. Stir in 1.5 lb. of white flour and mix for about 2-3 minutes, until the dough is somewhat uniform. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

4. NOW ADD THE SALT ALL AT ONCE. Mix using dough hook set to "1" or "2" (low speed). You will need to clean the dough hook often (every 10 seconds or so), because the dough will bunch up a lot, over the top of the dough hook. After a couple of minutes, it MAY stop sticking. Total kneading time should be about 5-7 minutes.

6. Grease two bread pans with butter, and dust them with white flour. Cut dough into 2 equal pieces, shape dough into loaves (they will feel like firm little logs) and place in bread pans. Cover with plastic wrap and towel, and leave in warm place to rise for 1 hour. Refrigerate covered for 7-8 hours; you can leave it up to (but not more than) 24 hours.

7. Remove loaves from fridge, remove plastic wrap, cover with towel, and let rise again in warm place for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 450, adjust racks to put bread on 2nd to lowest rack, and put an empty broiler pan at the bottom. Slash loaves down the center; brush tops with butter, and place bread pans on rack in the oven. Add 1 cup hot water to pan to steam and close door. Bake at 450 for 30-40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped (this time, did 30).

8. Take bread from oven, remove from pans, and brush tops with remaining butter. Let cool on rack, uncovered, for at least 30 min; will still be warm 2 hours later.

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

  • Ferment mixture: was more like thick dough/paste, not loose like the "sour cream" that grandma described at all
  • Mixer kept getting clogged from the dough, had to clear the hook every 10 seconds, barely could turn; dough was pretty hard and sticky
  • NEXT TIME: try increasing rise time after retarding (increase 3 hours).

  • Nice dark crust on top, great rich toasty dark flavor
  • Crust is nice and thin/crispy
  • Excellent salt-to-dough ratio, perfect amount of salt
  • When cooled for 2 hours, very soft & tender & somewhat chewy, but not wet AFAIK
  • Nice rye flavor
  • Crumb is very even, small holes, a bit too small; should be about 1/8" size, and more bagel-like chewy
  • Was still a little moist in the middle of the loaf; needs to bake longer.
For next time:
  • Try coarser rye flour
  • Try kneading by hand
  • Try less rye, more white flour
  • Try less flour overall; more slack should yield bigger bubbles
  • Try longer baking time: 40-50 minutes should be good.
Here's a photo, just from the oven:

And here's a texture/crumb shot (sorry, quality isn't great, but I don't have a decent digicam right now).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mom's dressing

Giving away a family recipe here...this is how my grandma used to make it too. I watched my mom, and wrote down as best as I could. She never did stuffing, even though she calls it that; it's actually "dressing", i.e., basically a meatloaf outside of the bird.

Mom's "Stuffing"

2 onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, finely diced
1 loaf white bread, torn into 1" pieces (my mom says "buy the cheap stuff for this")
1 lb 80/20 ground beef (you can use the non-lean ground as well)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 eggs
olive oil + butter
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
salt + pepper to taste

In a large saute pan, heat about 2 tbsp oil + 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Saute celery + onion until translucent (we don't want any browning!), about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, add bread, beef, eggs, and chicken stock. Knead well until very uniform (note: you could probably pulse this in a food processor to do this as well, for an even more uniform texture)

Put mixture into a 13x9 rectangular baking pan, and pat out into a flat layer. Pour a little olive oil on top.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Aiming for about 160F temperature for doneness.

  • You may need to add more stock; this was really eyeballed. More stock should make for moister stuffing.
  • Cooking time + temp could be adjusted. This is suitable for end of turkey cooking, when lots of items are sharing the oven.
  • Could probably try adding some sausage; this is what Beckey's mom does.

turkey day 2008

Was fun!

On the menu:

  • 22lb roast turkey (with rosemary & butter under the skin, stuffed with lemon/garlic/onion/rosemary), turned out PERFECT, roasting to reach temp of 161F in thigh, and it didn't have the usual smelly/strong "turkey" flavor, which was fantastic. Mom & I managed this one; 500F for 30 min, 350 for remaining time, loosely tented top with foil.
  • Homemade cranberry sauce (mom)
  • Mom's stuffing
  • Baby Spinach salad with persimmons & candied pecans and rice vinegar/sesame oil/orange marmelade vinaigrette (mom, from a Martha Stewart recipe, I believe)
  • Mashed potatoes with onions (mom)
  • Roasted acorn squash with rosemary & olive oil (mom); I'm not a big squash fan, but this was pretty damn good!
  • Apple pie (Monica; her first one, and a pretty damn good one!)
  • Chocolate pumpkin pie (Judy)
  • Homemade sourdough bread (me, using LBB recipe)
  • cornbread (me, using Albers Corn Meal box recipe & cast iron "corncob" baking pan, plus some added chili powder per Cast Iron Cookbook)
  • brussels sprouts with pancetta (me, Bobby Flay recipe)

Brussels I did in 2 batches in cast iron pan, then put all on a roasting pan & roasted in oven. About 5 min to crisp pancetta, about 5 minutes saute in pan, about 10-15 minutes in 400F oven, with a little lemon juice on top at the end. Yum!

Not a whole lot of leftovers...some turkey, some mashers, a few brussels (even though I made a ton, they were almost all gone). I'm thinking "t-day remix":

--turkey enchiladas
--mashed potato cakes with mushroom sauce (need some criminis/portobellos/whites)

And I need to make some more cranberry sauce! I ate 1/2 a giant Costco bag this week; I like the traditional sugar syrup + cranberry style. One of my favorite cranberry remixes was Iron Chef style, with a splash of OJ, some bourbon (Gentleman Jack), and a few good glugs of real maple syrup. Added a smoky, sweet, spicy complexity that was outstanding.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Spent some time this week blending bitters, according to my own tastes/recipes; basically developing and testing recipes.

Before I started, I decided to taste all the bitters I have on hand, to get an idea of flavor profiles.

I tried to evaluate them like wine: the nose, the color, the mouthfeel, taste, and finish. Here are my results

I tasted the following bitters:

  1. Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
  2. Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
  3. Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters
  4. Regan's No 6. Orange Bitters
  5. Peychaud's Bitters
  6. Angostura Bitters
Fee Brothers Orange:
  • Contains some alcohol
  • Light in color
  • Orange in nose
  • Orange and sweetness on tongue; some viscosity from glycerin
  • Slight gentian/orris bitterness on finish
Fee Brother Peach Bitters

  • Contains no alcohol
  • Light/pale in color
  • Tiny peach on nose
  • Very sweet and almond + light peach on tongue; some viscosity from glycerin
  • Almond in finish
Fee Old Fashioned
  • No alcohol
  • Very dark looking, like cola
  • Lots of cinnamon + clove on nose
  • Very spicy cinnamon + clove on tongue instantly, followed by gentian bitterness on finish, pretty gentle; citrus + zest overtones; some viscosity from glycerin
  • Longer, lingering finish
Regan's No 6 Bitters
  • 45% alcohol
  • Very clear, tan tint
  • Strong alcohol and some bitter orange on nose
  • No sweetness on tongue; very thin and extremely bitter
  • Gentian and citrus zest on finish, along with floral and spicy rosemary notes
Peychaud's Bitters

  • 35% alcohol
  • Very red in color, like maraschino cherry
  • Slight anise on nose
  • No sweetness on tongue; light anise + herby flavor
  • Minimal bitterness on finish, short finish
Angostura Bitters

  • 45% alcohol
  • Dark red color, with tinge of brown
  • Strong molasses on nose, + light cinammon and "jagermeister" spices (clove, anise)
  • Almost no sweetness
  • Immediate gentian on tongue, with a bit of clove

bread updates

Made bread with Carl Griffiths starter a few weeks ago. Despite a nice, agressive feeding schedule (perhaps it needed another week!), it didn't get as much lift, and didn't have as complex of flavor as the LBB sourdough.

I made a loaf of LBB a few weeks ago that rose so high (because I forgot to slash the loaf); totally separated under the crust, but it was this cool, stringy texture.

Also made LBB bagels a few weeks ago, that turned out really well too, nice texture. They don't keep too well.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

more bread

My buddy John A. asked about my Carl Griffiths starter. He believed his was dead, but after some aggressive feeding, came back to life. Frankly, it's hard to kill a well-established starter. All it takes is aggressive, 3x a day feeding:

Morning (7-9am)
pour off all but 1/3 cup starter
add 1/3 cup flour
add 1/3 cup water

Afternoon (12-1pm)
pour off all but 1/3 cup starter
add 1/3 cup flour
add 1/3 cup water

Evening (5-6pm)
pour off all but 1/3 cup starter
add 2/3 cup flour
add 2/3 cup water

After 3-5 days of this, your starter will be alive again! You can even start this feeding schedule with one tablespoon worth of starter.

Today, I'm making my LBB country white bread, but with the Carl Griffiths starter. So far so good; the starter is nice, healthy and active. I halved the recipe, but when you make bread by weight (and Silverton's LBB recipes are well-designed by weight), it scales pretty well. I'm interested to see what the differences in flavor will be.

bok choy

Last weekend bought Chinese broccoli, bok choy, and a bunch of other good stuff. Decided to make the bok choy tonight using this recipe. Delicious, delicate flavor

Baby Bok Choy with Cashews Recipe


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped green onions, including green ends
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, whole
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 pound baby bok choy, rinsed, larger leaves separated from base, base trimmed but still present, holding the smaller leaves together, sliced in 1/2 down the center
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1 Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. (use a large enough pan so that bok choy are not crowded). Add green onions, garlic and cashews, and cook for 10 seconds. Add bok choy, sliced side down. Sprinkle with sesame oil and salt. Cook down for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally (Like spinach, when cooked, the bok choy will wilt a bit.)

2 Add soy sauce, cook for about 1 minute more. Season with additional soy, salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Had some good drinks this weekend:

Gin-Gin Mule: Plymouth gin, ginger juice (or fresh ginger), simple syrup, muddled mint, fresh lemon juice, soda water. Damn good!

Brooklyn: Buffalo Trace bourbon, Averna (a Sicilian bitters) & Luxardo Maraschino (I think about equal parts), Noilly Prat dry vermouth, and a single Amarena cherry floating at the bottom.


Started making LBB bread again this morning, so far so good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

LBB status

So far so good. At 230pm this morning I out the boules in the fridge, which means they should be ready as early as 1030pm tonight for final rise. Downside is that it will still take 4 hours after the final rise to bake the bread, it will be too late tonight.

On the other hand, if I get up at 4am tomorrow morning, I will have fresh bread by 8am! :)

LBB sourdough recipe

Here's the "Country White" recipe I've been using. If you like it, buy the book!

2lb 2oz unbleached white flour
1/2c wheat germ
12oz LBB starter
1lb 2oz cool water (70 deg)
4.5 tsp sea salt

Add flour + wheat germ to mixing bowl. Then add starter and water. Knead on lowest setting on mixer using dough hook for 5 minutes. It will be a bit sticky, but pliable.

Cover with plastic wrap + towel and let rest for 20 mintues.

NOW ADD THE SALT. Knead on lowest setting on mixer for 5 more minutes. You may need to clear the dough hook every 30 seconds or so, if it gets clogged up over the top; however, dough will clear the sides of the mixing bowl.

Knead using pinch opposite/flip/slap technique described in the book. Form into ball and place in lightly oiled ceramic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap + towel, and let rise 3.5-4 hours. You'll know when it's ready when you place your hand on surface, "should feel cool and slightly flabby on the surface, center core should still feel firm." Press your fingertip into the dough, slight indentation should linger.

Turn dough out, cut it in two (should be about 1lb14oz each). Slap to deflate. Tuck all edges under, rough-shaping into a ball. Let rest for 15 min.

Shape into ball into floured basket. Let rise for 1 hr.

Cover boules with plastic wrap, and put in fridge for about 8-12 hours, no more than 24 hours.

Remove from fridge, cover with floured towel, and let rise for ~3 hours. Dough should be doubled in size and at ~62F.

Heat oven to 500.

Slash the loaf with a backwards C shape, shallow, like a flap.

Put loaf in, add water to broiling pan (or spritz oven), and bake for 5 minutes at 500, then turn down to 450 and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate boule after 20 min (total of 45 min). Should hit 210F when fully baked, and sound a bit hollow.

Let bread cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting in!

La Brea sourdough

It's almost 3.5 hours into the 1st rise of the La Brea sourdough, i.e., the "Country White" with wheat germ. So far so good! Started it this morning. It's an interesting comparison between the two (KAF and LBB, i.e., La Brea Bakery).

after 5 minutes of kneading in the mixer, was sticky but less wet then KAF
after autolyse + 5 more min kneading, a lot tighter and smoother than KAF
hand-kneading with pinch/flip/slap LBB teachnique, was a lot smoother/less sticky.

Maybe this means that the KAF is slightly too slack. The big difference is that I followed LBB's instructions to weigh out all the ingredients, and it turned out balanced. KAF uses volume measures, and despite my attempts to convert to weight measurements, seems to work better using volume measure.

I shared a bunch of the leftover La Brea starter with work colleagues on Friday, with the KAF recipe (i.e., sourdough #5, listed earlier in this blog). Hope it turns out good for them!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

sourdough update

Late on the evening of Sept 7, I started Nancy Silverton's sourdough.

Within the 1st 2-3 days, it was very bubbly and active. After that, the liquids and solids separated, thick layer of pinkish/brownish liquid, and the whole mass began to acquire a "cheesy" smell, much like Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

The ferment period went fine; at one point last week I had seen what I thought was translucent specks of white mold floating on the liquid (these could've actually been mother, i.e., acetic acid bacteria + cellulose). I scooped it off along with some offending liquid using a ladle, then added 1 cup of flour and 1 cup water as suggested in the book, and stirred. That was the only maintenance I did.

Today is day 14, and is the 1st day of feeding. When I got back from the long weekend birthday celebration, I popped the top. Today the smell was similar but less cheesy and more vinegary. The top layer of alcohol had begun to turn to vinegar, as there was that sheet of clear cellulose (the mother!) floating on top. Poured off most of the vinegar liquid, discarded the cheescloth bag which contained the organic red grapes, stirred the rest together, measured out the portion I needed, then fed it with flour and water.

Even when pouring off the liquid, I could see it sparkling/bubbling. This to me suggests it's pretty healthy.

The refreshed mixture smells a little "cheesy"; I think this is probably OK, and will actually add some nice character to the bread.

So far so good. I wonder if it went too long without feeding (supposed to start feeding on Day 10). Should've fermented pretty well by now though, and the feedings should keep it nice and healthy.

The feeding schedule I plan is: 7am, 12pm, 5pm. Will keep you posted on how it goes!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

eggplant + zucchini

Two veggies that I reviled as a child, but now enjoy them. I didn't like my mom's zucchini because it was steamed, limp/soggy and flavorless. Likewise eggplant had a weird texture. I think in my early 20's I tried eggplant again when ate Indian food for the 1st time (I think it was Bombay Palace in L.A.).

Made another tomato/zucchini/eggplant salad last night, and had most of it for lunch today. The poblano, even without seeds, adds quite a bit of heat.

Zucchini and Eggplant Salad

2 zucchini, cut lengthwise
2 Japanese eggplant*
1/2 medium red onion, cut into rings
1 poblano pepper
Handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Olive Oil
1 tb. Worcheshire sauce
1 tb. Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin

Cut eggplant lengthwise at the last minute (will brown otherwise). Season zucchini, eggplant, red onion and pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper and throw on grill over high heat. Cook eggplant, zucchini, onion for 3 minutes on cut side. Flip and grill for about 1 minute. Remove eggplant + zucchini. Leave onion on for 2 more minutes, then remove. Flip poblano to get a good char, then remove.

When cool enough to handle, cut zucchini halves lengthwise and into chunks. Cut eggplants lengthwise again and into chunks. Chop onion. Cut poblano in half and remove seeds, and chop finely. Combine all veggies in bowl. Add Worcheshire, vinegar and spices, and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

enchilada sauce

Made chicken enchiladas earlier this week with sauce I had previously made and was totally delish! Unfortunately, I don't remember where I got the recipe...ATK cookbook? Gourmet cookbook? Elsewhere? Maybe I have it stored on the home office computer. With leftover roast chicken, which was perfumed with garlic, butter, rosemary, thyme and lemon, they were outstanding.

Made some KAF "Pain au Levain" yesterday; Beckey got to try it hot for the 1st time, to rave reviews last night. Set up some dough for sourdough waffles tomorrow morning; I had to use the old buttermilk, which was about to expire. Decided to start another buttermilk-based "starter", as follows:

2 cups buttermilk
1 cup AP unbleached flour
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup sourdough starter

I'll use it to make some bread tomorrow, perhaps grandma's recipe, or some close "clone"

Gotta get up early for mountain biking tomorrow with Dale. Bye for now.

(2008-09-04 Ed Note: the sourdough waffles were light, fluffy and delicious! A lot lighter/crisper than the same KAF recipe I made with milk substitution. Although they don't freeze as well as the ones with milk, which were somehow more tender.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cocktails and Apple Pie

Had some great drinks this weekend:
  • 7&7: a classic, at a classic place in Petaluma (Volpi's)
  • Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned: with Amarena cherries and orange bitters, classy take on a classic, at Cyrus in Healdsburg
  • White Peach Sangria: there was riesling, vodka, white peaches, and other stuff in there...and it drank like juice! At Willi's Seafood in Healdsburg
  • Apple Pie: someone made this for Roland, Trenton's grandpa; he didn't have the recipe (or if he did, he wasn't sharing!) Roland was nice enough to give me a bottle of 190 proof Everclear too (a rarity here, he buys a case in North Dakota every year)
So I tracked down a few Apple Pie recipes. It goes down smooth, but watch out, it's so smooth it's really dangerous.

Apple Pie #1

1 gallon apple cider
1/2 gallon apple juice
2 cups sugar
5 cinnamon sticks
2 cups Everclear alcohol

Makes 2 1/2 Gal.


1.Heat first three ingredients to dissolve sugar.
2.Once it has cooled, add 2 C. Everclear.
3.Add 1-2 cinnamon sticks per glass bottle.
4.Pour into glass bottles.


Apple Pie #2

1 gallon apple juice
1 gallon apple cider
3 cups white sugar
8 cinnamon sticks
1 (750 milliliter) bottle 190 proof grain alcohol


1. In a large pot, combine apple juice, apple cider, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool completely.
2. When juice mixture is cool, Stir in the grain alcohol.

2nd Litho Rye

The next Litho Rye I made turned out pretty damn good. I added some honey, which helped.

  • All natural starter (sourdough!)
  • Great flavor (nice rye, not too sour)
  • Great texture (good size holes; nice chewy, spongy crumb; not damp)
  • Crust wasn't too thick
  • Beckey liked it!

  • Crust didn't brown on top too well (I took it out of the baking pan after 20 minutes, and just set it on the stone, so at least the bottom picked up some color)
  • Crust wasn't very smooth on top
This one is pretty close; if I can get the crust issues worked out, it will be a good loaf

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Litho rye revisited

Well, the 1st Litho rye turned out pretty bad. Very dense, crust didn't brown, rose very little in the final rise, flavor was VERY sour. Not good at all.

Making an updated version. I have been reading more about rye: has very little gluten, so is pretty fragile. When used in a starter, if not fed every 4 hours it becomes very sour. And it always acts extremely wet. I found that when working with wet doughs, damp hands can help out a lot!

The latest one starts out with the rye starter; starter is added to AP flour + water to form a sponge. The bread itself is ~2.5/1 rye-to-AP flour. I added a tbsp of honey to help sweeten the deal. Lastly, I'm starting this one out in a cold oven set to 450 degrees, then baking for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reducing the heat to 375, and baking for 20 more minutes before checking for doneness. We'll see how this one turns out.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

the sour life

Well, yesterday's bread turned out really well. Still holding up well today. Beckey said "it's the best bread you've ever made." Her seal of approval means a lot to me, and is very motivating.

I stayed up til 3am last night reading about Lithuanian black rye bread, including about bakeries in the US that produce it and historical and technical recipe information. So I'm going to try it again, albeit with a slightly different tack. My grandma's bread recipe is decent now, I just want to improve it to get closer to what I remember, and I think I can.

The recipe in the Lithuanian Foods book I have uses an active yeast starter. I'm going to try to do the same with the sourdough starter I have now, but modified. I'm also going to try to use their recipe, at least in generalities (2kg of starter and 6kg of rye flour is simply too much for the kind of baking that I do! That's over 17.6 lbs of flour!); that said, it's interesting that they are using a 3:1 flour-to-starter recipe by weight, whereas my version of KAF sourdough is ~3:1.75 flour-to-starter by weight. And unlike my grandma's bread, the recipe that I have uses no scalded buttermilk.

Here's the beginning:

1/2 cup KAF starter
1 cup rye flour (Hodgson Mill)
1 cup water

Let ferment for 24 hours.

So I had some leftover starter, what to do? Starting one more project: Sourdough waffles! Should be ready to rock and roll tomorrow morning...mmm! This is also from the KAF baking book, we'll see how it turns out. We had some pretty good sourdough pancakes that John A. made up at June Lake, we'll see how these compare. Should be interesting; using regular milk instead of buttermilk called for in the recipe. Hope it's close enough!

sourdough #5

Success! Almost ompletely happy with this loaf.


Crust is dark mahogany, full of flavor. When biting in about 15 minutes after cooling, end piece crust "flaked" into big 1" uneven shards, wow, so delicious.

Interior was perfectly moist, soft crumb. No gumminess in sight, at least on the end piece. Good flavor; not a lot of sour tang. Color is nearly like white bread, no grayness as in the previous loaf. Great structure; larger holes, not super uneven (not La Brea Bakery style), but not dense in any way, rather: light, airy, much drier than before but not dry-tasting at all. Much like good hard rolls found in restaurants.

Bottom crust was brown, with some nearly black spots in places, but evenly browned.

Additional baking info:
  • Shaped round loaf; slashed with 4 scallop slices.
  • 3/4 cup of warm water for steam in broiler pan
  • Baked at 455F for 20 minutes. Removed broiler pan at 20 minutes. Baked at 450 for remaining 11 minutes
  • Instant-read thermometer read ~204F when inserted into the bottom, right out of the oven.
  • The total process took about 5.5 hours: from the moment when I mixed the flour, starter and water until 15 minutes after resting from finishing baking when I cut into it.
For next time:
  • Try some retardation tactics to increase possible sour tang. Make 3 loaves one evening. Let all rise for 1 hr. Cover 2 and place in fridge. Let remaining one rise and bake that night. Bake one from the fridge in the morning. Bake one from the fridge in the evening. Compare flavors.
  • Try adding more rye to the starter; maybe add some the morning before baking that evening?
This is a keeper! Really, no need to change, this is really an excellent loaf.

Now next up: grandma's rye bread! Some new things to try:
  • Use table salt (not kosher salt)
  • Check flour-to-starter ratio (3:2 by weight looks like a good start)
  • Use same basic process as Pain au Levain, or Levain de Pate (sourdough + instant yeast)
Other things I learned:

  • Cold dough can go right into the long as it comes out of the fridge looking like it's supposed to! Just preheat to 500 instead of 455, and once bread goes in the oven, turn the temp down to normal baking temp (450-455).

Monday, July 07, 2008

more sourdough

Have made at least 2 more sourdough loaves in the meanwhile.

Loaf #3: made with whole wheat flour, per recipe. Was not as flavorful, although folding helped with the bubble texture and volume. Crust didn't brown much, and dough was very wet to handle.

Loaf #4: switched back to the rye again. This one got retarded a few times in the fridge, and dough was extremely wet to handle. I think it sat too long; didn't rise too well, and baked up pretty flat. Decent texture, but too wet to handle and bake, and again, crust didn't brown.

I've had issues with the crust browning. Probably need to bake it longer.

Loaf #5. This time (started at 5pm, doing last 2 hr rise pre-oven right now), followed the King Arthur Flour (KAF) Pain Au Levain recipe volumes (not weights) to see if it made a difference. Funny thing is, dough was still extremely wet.

Here's the initial volumes I used. I weighed the volumes on my scale, to give a more accurate measurement of what went in:

5 cups all-purpose flour (weighed 1lb 10.75oz / 760g)
2.5 cups starter (weighed 1lb 0.5oz / 468g)
2/3 cup rye flour (weighed 3.25oz / 94g)
1-3/4 cup water (weighed 14.25oz, as expected for water)

So the weights given in KAF for starter, rye and water are right, but the AP flour was way off. Even with that, though, the dough was way too sticky, unkneadable without additional flour. I added 3/4 cup additional flour for it to just pull into a ball. It was still sticky, but able to be handled/kneaded in the mixer. Was almost too much flour for the mixer, though.

Here's tonight's recipe

5.75 cups all-purpose flour
2.5 cups starter
2/3 cup rye flour
1.75 cup warm water (~90 degrees)
2.5 tsp table salt

Mix flours, starter and water in a mixing bowl, stir until just combined. Let rest for 20 minutes. Knead on 1 notch above lowest setting for 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and towel, and let rest for 1 hour in warm place, in my case, garage on high shelf.

Dust flour in bowl. Using scraper and spatula, turn out onto dusted board. Dust with a bit more flour, then do letter-fold. Put seam-side down into oiled bowl, cover, and let rise again for 30 minutes. Dust, remove from bowl, letter fold, then return to bowl to rise another 30 minutes.

Dust peel with cornmeal. Remove dough from bowl onto dusted board, and shape into boule. Cover and let rise for 2 hours in warm place. 30 minutes before baking preheat oven and broiler pan to 475F. Shelf is 2nd from bottom with pizza stone, broiler pan on top shelf.

Heat 3/4 cup water in Pyrex (microwave for 1 minute). Slash loaf with serrated knife or razor blade (I think scallop slash looks and works best).

Working quickly, slide dough into oven, pour water into broiler pan (watch out for steam!), reduce heat to 455 and bake for 20 minutes (don't open the oven door!). Turn down temp to 450 and bake another 10-11 minutes. Crust will be beautifully brown. Check for doneness with oven thermometer thru bottom of loaf.

Let cool on rack for 15 minutes. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

sourdough catch-up

In the last week or two made 2 more loaves, both using the Pain au Levain sourdough recipe from my King Arthur Flour baking book.

Loaf #1: I didn't have whole wheat flour yet, so I substituted the same amount of rye flour. I only folder it twice, and let rise between foldings. Slightly smaller quantity (only had 1lb white flour, not 1lb15oz)

Pros & cons of #1:
  • Good crust: not as shiny or blistery as last loaf, but still nice. Didn't really stretch it enough.
  • Nice texture: chewy, moist, tender crumb; bigger holes, more like I expect out of grandmas' bread, but not big uneven holes.
  • Great flavor: the rye worked really well; a bit of sour tang without tasting like sourdough
  • Long shelf life. Was good uncovered in the kitchen all week, didn't dry out.

Loaf #2: finished last night. I followed the recipe exactly this time: white flour, whole wheat flour, sourdough starter, water. Measured by weight, using exact quantities provided in recipe. Was very very wet, too wet in fact. Had to add a bunch of flour to make it manageable. This one spent a bunch of time in the fridge. I let it rise covered in the garage, which is super warm due to a recent heat spell. I folded 1st time, rise, then 2nd folding I actually folded it twice, then let rise 20 min before baking. Forgot to add salt, so added it after 1st rise and re-kneaded for 5 minutes in mixer. Forgot to slash, so it got big and broke at the top in places.

Pros and cons of #2:
  • Decent crust: didn't brown as well, wasn't as smooth and blistery, but had the same nice crackle of loaf 1.
  • Flavor: more sour, but not as flavorful, probably because of lack of rye. I missed the tang.
  • Great uneven holes. Whatever rise and folding was done worked well for a nice texture.
For next time:

  • More folding.
  • Use rye flour
  • Don't forget salt
  • Don't forget to slash!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

sourdough IV

One thing I realized after reading sourdough instructions is that you have to:
  1. discard half before feeding
  2. add 1:1 flour/water (usually between 1/2 and 1 cup each) every 8 hours or so
  3. repeat for 5 days or so
Then "Seymour" starter will be at full strength, and really be beer-smelling and active! As sourdough goes thru its lifecycle, the starter will almost double in volume on its own. Last feeding should be about 8 hours before you make the bread below. So here we go again!

TRICK: let bread rise in warm oven. Preheat the oven for 1 minute at 350 degrees, then shut off. It will get to a nice 85-90 degree temp that is perfect for dough to rise.

16oz (1lb) bread flour
10.5oz starter (nice, bubbly and stringy, like wet dough)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup WARM water (no more than 100 degrees, though; microwave 1 cup for 15-20 sec on HIGH)
  1. Combine all in mixer bowl with dough hook. Knead for 5 minutes on low. Dough should come together and be pretty soft, if a little sticky.
  2. Turn in oiled bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and leave in warm place to rise for 2-4 hours, until doubled.
  3. Fold into 3rds, like a letter, then again into 3rds the other way. Put fold sides down back in bowl, and let rise 1 more hour.
  4. Shape into boule, and let rest on pizza peel dusted with cornmeal for 2 hours
  5. At 1hr40min into last rise, preheat oven to 450F
  6. Dust with flour, slash loaf with serrated knife (scallops worked nicely!)
  7. When putting in oven, pour 1/2 cup hot water broiler pan on top rack
  8. Bake at 450 for 25 minutes on pizza stone (it was on bottom rack).
  9. Remove from oven, check temp at bottom of bread with instant read thermometer. Should read 200 degrees to be done.
  10. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.
  • Absolutely beautiful! Rose and doubled perfectly, scallops looked gorgeous
  • Airy "crackle" of bread when removed
  • Excellent top crust: 1st time the crust blistered! Thin, brown, and crisp
  • Good spongy texture; even more open/fluffy than last time, soft and chewy
  • Slightly more pronounced sourdough tang, almost like a french bread
  • Texture still too fine for my tastes; would like to get more big bubble, uneven texture

For next time:

  • Reduce amount of water for steam slightly...I may have used 1 cup during this recipe. Keep it at 1/2 cup maximum.
  • Try one of these two:
    • increasing water to 3/4 cup; it will be a wetter dough, which is useful for more uneven, big hole crumb
    • folding during 1st rise; every hour, do a tri-fold, letter style.

Monday, June 02, 2008

sourdough again

Here we go again, sourdough is currently on its 1st rise:

1 lb. bread flour
5oz starter (nice, bubbly and stringy, like wet dough)
0.25oz kosher salt (about 3/4 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
  1. Combine all in mixer bowl with dough hook. Knead for 2 minutes on low.
  2. Turn in oiled bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and leave in warm place to rise for 4 hours.
  3. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Shape into boule, and let rest on pizza peel dusted with cornmeal for 1 hour
  5. 20 minutes into 2nd rise, preheat oven to 450F
  6. Dust with flour, slash loaf with serrated knife
  7. When putting in oven, pour 1/2 cup hot water broiler pan on top rack
  8. Bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes on pizza stone (it was on bottom rack)
  9. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.
  • Excellent top crust: thin, brown, and crisp
  • Good spongy texture; more open/fluffy than last time, soft and chewy
  • Extremely light sourdough tang, almost like white bread
  • Airy "crackle" of bread when removed
  • Would probably work pretty well with grandma's bread


  • Top crust didn't look tightly stretched, a little "gappy", but this is fairly minor
  • Bottom crust burned a little
  • Still not enough airy texture; looking for bigger, uneven bubbles
  • Could be a little more tangy; probably using more starter would do

For next time:

  • Slightly higher on rack (1 from bottom, instead of bottom rack) on pizza stone
  • 25 minutes cooking time
  • Use more starter (10.5oz, based on King Arthur Pain Levain recipe, which is 3:2 flour-to-starter ratio)
  • Use more salt: 1 tbsp

Friday, May 30, 2008

quick artisan bread

There's a neat book and YouTube video on making artisan breads in 5 minutes a day. Sounds interesting. The idea is mix flour, yeast, water, and salt, mix to combine (but don't knead), rise, then bake. Buy the book, it's got lots of great recipes. Here's the basic recipe for making a round "boule", or french loaf.

Homemade Artisan Bread

Makes four 1lb. loaves. Can be doubled or halved

3 cups lukewarm water
1.5 tbsp. dry yeast
1.5 tbsp. kosher salt
6.5 cups unsifted unbleached all purpose flour

  1. Warm water to about 100 degrees.
  2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or resealable lidded food-grade bucket.
  3. Mix in the flour, kneading is unnecessary. Add all the flour, imx with wooden spoon, stand mixer, until it's uniform. You can use your hands to mix if they are very wet. Everything will be uniformly moist, without dry patches. Dough will be wet and loose.
  4. Allow it to rise for about 2 hours, until it begins to collape. Longer rise times, up to 5 hours, won't harm the result.
  5. Refridgerate dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping the loaf.
  6. Sprinkle the surface of refridgerated dough with flour. Cut off grapefruit sized piece (1 lb). Add some flour so it doesn't stick to your hands, but don't knead it. Shape into a ball; this part should only take 30-60 seconds.
  7. Dust a pizza peel with cornmeal, and place the shaped loaf on the peel.
  8. Let it rest on the peel for about 40 minutes uncovered.
  9. 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450F, with baking stone on lowest rack, with empty broiler tray on any other shelf
  10. Dust the loaf liberally with flour, and slash 1/4" deep scallop (seashell ribs), tic-tac-toe, or cross in the top with a serrated bread knife
  11. Slide into oven off of peel onto stone, and pour 1 cup hot water into broiler tray to generate steam
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is nicely browned. Wet dough will lead to soft interior.
  13. Cool on wire rack.
  14. Use remaining dough within 14 days.
  15. When refreshing dough, don't clean the bucket; this will help build a sourdough over time.

sourdough revisited

Was going thru the fridge at the beginning of this week, cleaning out old stuff, and in the back I found my sourdough starter.

Opened it up, and there was a thick layer of alcohol on there, as well as a thin, dryish grey/brown layer that looked a bit like beef caul. And kinda stinky, on top of it all. I got in there with a spoon, cleaned off the crud off the top, took a tablespoon and dumped the rest. Mixed it with 1 cup flour + 1 cup water, put it in a jar, covered and let sit at room temp for the day. Opened it up, and it was bubbly but still was kinda stinky. Saved a scant 1 tsp of the new mix, remixed with 3/4 c flour, 1/4 c rye flour, and water. Just fed it again today, there was already a layer of alcohol, and it smells great! Rich, bubbly, doughy, nice!

A new sourdough loaf is in my near future. I wonder how old this starter is now? Will have to check the blog again....ok, so it looks like I started it in Dec 2006 when I made grandma's bread for the holidays. It's neat to see that it's still alive and kicking.

Revisited another good site with tips:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Savory Stewed Pork

The whole house smells amazing right now. Needed to make something with chicken stock I made this week, plus something that would last me with leftovers through the end of the weekend. Not to mention the freezer's overflowing and I need to reduce the frozen larder.

Here's what I came up with. The lovely green pepper flavor is really ethereal through the pork shoulder. You'll need a CrockPot for this one; or, you can use a Dutch oven or other dish for long, slow cooking. Haven't busted out my CrockPot since our family trip to Mammoth in January, so I'm happy to be putting it to good use.

Savory Stewed Pork

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 11 hours

2 lb pork shoulder piece (if frozen, defrost it!)
2 large carrots, small dice
1 green pepper, small dice
2 large celery stalks, small dice
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
3 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup V8 or tomato juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp worcheshire sauce
Few dashes hickory smoke powder (substitute a dash of liquid smoke)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Wolfgang Puck rub

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, small dice
2 tbsp. fresh oregano
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Season pork shoulder with olive oil and Wolfgang Puck rub. In a CrockPot, add carrots, pepper, celery, all dried spices, chicken stock, OJ, soy sauce, worcheshire, and smoke powder. Set CrockPot to High heat, cover and cook for 10 hours.

Remove meat, cover and set aside. Put sauce into wide, shallow bowl or dish and de-fat (you can put bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes until the fat hardens on top). Skim off fat.

In saucepan, heat sauce over medium heat to simmer. Add stock or water to adjust consistency of sauce if necessary. Add garlic, onion and cook for 10 minutes. Add fresh herbs, simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. If desired, puree sauce in blender and strain. Season with salt + pepper to taste.

Shred meat, toss in sauce, and serve over pasta, polenta or rice.

Next time:
  • Also add some beer, possibly mexican?
  • Use more salt
  • Try omit V8, add more OJ

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

orange bitters

I've been playing around with making liquers recently. Earlier this week got two "presents": one I bought for myself (my new SF Chronicle II cookbook) and one Beckey got for me: a bottle of orange bitters. These are non-alcoholic blood orange bitters (from Stirrings, a Fall River, MA company). Contents: water, sugar, gentian extract, citric acid, blood orange extract, flavors and caramel color.

I can do better than that! Plus you have to refrigerate after opening, which I don't like. So I started doing research...that's why I love the interweb. Really it's amazing to me that you can go out and find recipes.

Some things I learned so far:
  • you can make herb and bark infusions separately in jars, then blend them to taste
  • a Buchner funnel + flask and vacuum pump can help a lot to speed filtering
  • don't fear pith! a bit of pith can add flavor
Orange Bitters

* 1/2 pound dried (Seville) orange peel, chopped finely
* Pinch of cardamom
* Pinch of caraway
* Pinch of coriander seeds
* 2 cups grain alcohol
* 4 tablespoons burnt sugar

1. Mix the orange peel, herb seeds, and the alcohol
2. Let stand in a sealed jar for 15 days, agitating every day.
3. Pour off spirits through a cloth, and seal again.
4. Take the strained off seeds and peel, put them in a saucepan, crushing with a wooden muddler.
5. Cover them with boiling water, simmer 5 minutes;
6. Put in a covered jar for 2 days, then strain this off and add to the spirits.
7. Put in burnt sugar for color.
8. Filter again, let stand until it settles perfectly clear, then bottle for use.

Be careful not to agitate the slight precipitation or sediment during the final operation.

Some links I found: for science gear for above recipe and other orange bitters resources.

Here are some bitters flavors to consider:

  • Lemon juice, peel, pith
  • Blood orange juice, peel, pith
  • Sour orange peel (naranja agria), juice, pith
  • navel orange juice, peel, pith
  • grapefruit juice, peel, pith
  • grapefruit juice, peel, pith
  • lime juice, peel, pith
  • cardamom
  • caraway
  • coriander
  • ginger
  • cloves
  • star anise
  • fresh ginger
  • burnt sugar
  • molasses
  • juniper berries
  • gentian
  • lemongrass
  • nutmeg
  • fennel seed
  • vanilla
  • black pepper
  • white pepper
  • almond (raw, roasted or toasted)
  • apricot kernel
  • sloe berry
  • birch bark
  • caramelized sugar (sugar turned to caramel, then into simple syrup)
  • rose petals
  • orris root
  • angelica root
  • lavender
Which reminds me, I'll have to post a krupnikas recipe soon...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pasta dough

So yesterday I made pasta dough, which I haven't made long time. I was watching the eggs episode of Jamie Oliver's relatively new show "Jamie at Home" and he made an egg tagliatelli using a simple pasta recipe, so I decided to try it out.

I had read somewhere (some blogs, etc.) that mentioned that you can use cake flour for pasta dough, and that it simulates Italian "00" grind wheat flour more closely. Cake flour has fairly low gluten, and is made of soft wheat, while "regular" all-purpose flour is made of hard wheat. Hard wheat flours (such as semolina or durum wheat) result in pasta that has more "tooth", whereas soft wheat flours (such as cake flour and Italian 00) result in softer pastas.

I had a box of Swan's Down cake flour, supposedly expiring 2007, so I figured I would try it, what the heck. Turned out really well; finished product was really tender and delicious. No real tooth to speak of, but certainly nicer than the wontons I used last time for the butternut squash ravioli.

The thing that made this great was the food processor. The key is: check/add flour/pulse/repeat. The "check" is checking for stickiness and checking for texture (should be breadcrumbs). So here it is:

Pasta Dough 1.0

4 eggs
2.5-3 cups cake flour, unsifted
(possibly more; I think it will end up at least 3 cups flour, perhaps even more)
Cake flour for kneading/dusting

Add eggs to food processor, and 2.5 cups flour. Pulse/mix until it comes together into a ball. Touch the dough and see if it's sticky (probably will be). Add more flour (about 1/3 cup at a time), pulse some more. Dough should start to turn into pea sized pieces; add more flour and pulse, and check. Repeat; You want to end up with breadcrumb style pieces (like panko, not dust crumbs, bigger crumbs).

Dump it out onto the board, knead it for a couple of minutes until the dust comes together, and the texture is smooth. Dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. It may still be a bit tacky, but that's OK.

Press dough into disc, wrap with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 15-30 minutes on counter or in fridge.

Set up pasta machine on biggest setting (mine has #1 - #7, #1 is thickest). Remove dough from plastic, mash into approximate thick square, and run it thru #1. Rub flour into both sides, fold in half, put the folded dough into machine at #1 setting. Repeat 4 times.

Then start running it through each setting, 1 to 7, in order. After each run, rub some flour on both sides. If the piece gets too long, just cut it before continuing feeding it through. Dust leftover piece with flour, fold it and cover with a cloth.

Rub flour the finished product liberally on both sides. Use immediately, or fold it over and cover with a towel until you're ready to use.

Mother's Day

Enjoying Mother's Day late lunch with Mom, and we got to talking about foods I liked as a kid.

Fejoida - what more can I say?

Broccoli Salad (with tomato, onion and vinaigrette) - "Babyte", my dad's mom, used to make this

Orange/yogurt pops - my mom used to make her own yogurt in this little yellow yogurt machine, then mix with orange juice concentrate, and freeze in plastic freezer pop containers

Grandma's pot roast - boil the hell out of it, eat it with horseradish, serve liquid with potatoes, carrots, onion, maybe green peas at the end.

Grandma's crumble cake - crust with plums/apples in a jammy consistency, and then a butter/sugar/flour crumble on top...oh man...

I didn't like green peas as a kid.

Made butternut squash ravioli per Giada's recipe, but my own dough (4 eggs, about 3 cups cake flour), ran thru the pasta machine eventually to the thinnest setting. Turned out really well; it was what Mom asked for Mother's Day! :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rosemary Cashews

Beckey really liked these, they were made by our friend Katie on a trip this spring to June Lake. Be sure and use unsalted roasted cashews, not raw ones, unless you decide to roast the raw ones.

Roasted Rosemary Cashews

1 lb dry-roasted cashews, unsalted
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Toast cashews on sheet pan for 5 minutes. In large bowl, combine rosemary, sugar, butter, salt, and cayenne. Toss hot cashews with spiced butter mixture. Serve warm.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

chickpea stew

Last night made Chickpea stew. I was trying to emulate a Spanish style stew similar to what I had in Barcelona. Not exactly the same, but very good.

The recipe here has been tweaked based on what I learned from the 1st time making it.

Chickpea Stew with Chorizo
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/3 cup red pepper, diced
6-8 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes, pulsed in a blender
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
~2 cups chicken stock
8oz chorizo (preferred), whole pieces; subsititute smoked sausage or kielbasa
8oz uncooked shrimp, deveined
Cilantro to garnish

In dutch oven over high heat, heat olive oil. Cook carrot, celery, onion and red pepper for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add spices and cook for 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, chorizo and chicken stock to cover. Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 20-25 minutes, uncovered. Add shrimp and cook for a couple minutes until shrimp just begin to curl. Adjust seasonings, garnish with cilantro and maybe some olive oil or truffle oil, and serve in bowls.

Monday, April 14, 2008

limoncello and other liqueur projects

About 2 months ago I started a Meyer Lemon limoncello (zested lemons & 750mL of Everclear 151). Within about 1 week, the color was a beautiful, clear, brilliant yellow.

Over the weekend I did the 2nd stage: strain out zest, make simple syrup (2 cups sugar to 2 cups water), add lemon juice. Now let it sit for 2 more months. Filled it in a 1.5L bottle of Skyy Vodka. We'll see how it turns out.

For the future I will try:

1. Using good bottled water
2. Filtering using filter paper
3. The Brita filter technique from "LimoncelloQuest"

I had more 151 left over, so I decided to use part of it on an improvised "krupnikas". Added dashes of cinammon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, whole coriander, whole black pepper, a 1-inch piece of vanilla bean, a tiny splash of vanilla extract, and about 2-3 tbsp. of leftover zest from the limoncello. Can't wait to see how that turns out.

Friday, March 21, 2008

perfecting tabbouleh

Here's my version of tabbouleh

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup (240ml) bulgur wheat (#2, medium size)
  • 1 bunch (240ml) fresh parsley, chopped (the more the better)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 cup (240ml) green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup (100ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)

  1. Soak bulgur in water for 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Refrigerate until cool.
  2. Peel, seed, and dice the tomato. Chop the green onions, the white portion finely, the tops around medium. Finely chop the parsley and mint.
  3. Mix the bulgur, tomato, green onions, grated onion, parsley, and mint in a large bowl. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together and pour over the salad. Stir through, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow the flavors to meld.
My modifications:
  • Original recipe called for 1/2 cup lemon juice. Too much juice, I think. 1/3 cup seems more right, esp. based on the 1/2 cup of olive oil, gives more of a dressing feel. Also seems like too much liquid. We'll see how it looks after it sits in the fridge for a bit.
  • Didn't have green onions, so used 2 large shallots. Probably could have used more.
  • Another option is to add cucumber. I didn't, but would probably be good.

Check out Wiki Cookbooks for more tabbouleh recipes

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Leftovers Remix x2

Two leftover recipes, remixed, from this week. Since Beckey's out of town, I don't mind playing with my leftovers. Both seem to have a Spanish twist.

Mock Spanish Risotto

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp. diced pimentos (from a jar)
3/4 c. cooked ham, cut into 1/4" x 1-1/2" strips
1 tsp. smoked sweet spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera, Agridulce)
1/4 c. leftover not-too-dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is nice)
1 cup cooked rice (leftover, any kind: white, brown, risotto)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (from a bag is easy!)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pimentos and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add cooked ham slices, toss and stir for 1 minute. Add paprika and stir for about 10 seconds. Add white wine followed immediately by rice, and stir to heat thru. Remove from heat, stir in cheddar cheese, and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Sopa de Ajo con Cebolla

This is my garlic soup version, kicked up French-onion style!

1 tbsp. olive oil (if you have leftover O.O. from making Spanish tortilla, use it!)
1 tbsp. other fat (butter, rendered chicken/pork fat, bacon grease, etc)
1 brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup stale French/sourdough/crusty white bread cubes (about 1" square)
2 eggs
1 qt. chicken stock (boxed or homemade)
chopped fresh parsley
salt + pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil + fat over medium heat. Add onion, stir to coat, turn down heat to medium, and leave for 2 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low, and stir every few minutes for 18 minutes, until onions turn brown & caramelized. Add paprika, chili flakes, garlic slices and stir for 2 minutes.

Raise heat to high, add stock all at once. Bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add bread cubes, parsley and stir. Remove from heat, ladle into hot bowls. Crack an egg into each bowl, ladle more hot soup over it, and let it poach for 10 min (or put it in the oven). Enjoy the hearty meal!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

sweet potato salad; childhood foods

My aunt made a good cold sweet potato salad for my uncle's birthday.

Boil sweet potatoes, toss with diced green pepper, white onion, celery, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Very simple, but very good.

I think it's a great example of changing tastes. I didn't like a lot of different foods when I was growing up, including sweet potatoes. Maybe because I couldn't stand the icky, sickly-sweet, fake-fluff marshmallow.

Other foods I hated as a kid:

  • broccoli: brown and overcooked, so bitter
  • cheese: I only liked mozzarella, and string cheese. Disliked cheddar, even if melted. Especially disliked stinky cheese, like blue cheese or particularly the "green can" of Kraft Parmesan. No grilled cheese (until later), certainly not on sandwiches.
  • chocolate: bars, ice cream, chocolates, sauce, chocolate chip cookies; mint chocolate chip was a double whammy of badness
  • cookies: mom never backed chocolate chip (or any for that matter), so I never learned to appreciate the joy of a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie
  • melon: no honeydew, no canteloupe, only watermelon
  • green veggies: green beans cooked until they were brown and dead; spinach
  • cauliflower
  • tomatoes: OK in pasta sauce (like on spaghetti, I think the only pasta my mom regularly served); couldn't stand them fresh, neither in salads nor on sandwiches.
  • any egg that wasn't scrambled: sunny side up or over easy = yuck!
  • Coca Cola (see below)
  • Plain cheese pizza
  • Big Macs: cheese and dressing were bad, too complicated
  • Spumoni ice cream: chocolate in there, weird flavors
  • Beets: too strong and earthy, kinda like spinach
  • Cabbage: some was passable, but in general disliked most forms: Brussel sprouts, sauerkraut, fresh
  • Squash: still don't like it too much; what bothers me most is texture, I think. can't get around the stringy texture most of the time.
What I liked:

  • Soda: my great aunt always had a 6 pack of 7-UP "shorty" cans in her closet, which I would poach when I would visit. Mom would never buy soda, and if bought, never Coca Cola
  • Ketchup: cmon, what kid doesn't?
  • Pizza: all kinds, just not plain cheese
  • Basic McDonald's hamburger: no Big Mac, didn't like the dressing and esp. the cheese
  • Strawberries: fresh, or also my favorite ice cream flavor...well, that and vanilla.
  • Salad: iceberg, with thousand island or vinaigrette
  • Carrots: watching B&W TV cartoons in my grandpa's room after school Friday
  • Apples: see "Carrots"
  • Blackberries: from my grandparent's bushes in the backyard
  • Pineapple guava: amazing little green, egg-sized guava, right off my grandparents' tree
  • Kumquats: from my aunt and uncle's backyard tree, surprisingly tart and tangy
  • Oranges: juice or fresh, as long as not dry, delicious!
  • Satsumas/Clementine tangerines: I remember a tense family trip to Sequoia around Thanksgiving, and we got some at a roadside stand that were a revelation to me.
  • Tacos: "ghetto tacos" ,ground beef
  • Fejoida: my mom learned from my dad's mom
  • Meatloaf: simple, yet tasty
  • Potatoes: french fries, tater tots, hash-browns, pan-fried a la grandma on Fridays
  • Steak: vinegar + garlic marinated flank steak, and nice T-Bones at lunch on Fridays at grandparents
  • Baked chicken: bone-in chicken breasts, baked, crispy skin and delicious fond (baked on bits) in the bottom of pan....I figured out for myself that blending them with the rice that was often served was another delicious revelation.
  • Walnuts: cracking fresh walnuts....where else? my grandparents house
  • Juice: all and every kind, orange/apple/grape/lemonade/cranberry!
  • Tonic water: had one taste, I think in Palm Springs, and decided nearly immediately "yes this is for me!" I liked the sweetness with the citrusy, bitter tang.
  • Spaghetti: my mom made 2 pastas: spaghetti and lasagne. Spaghetti was always prepared sans-sauce, so you'd have to ladle it at the end, and mix it yourself (don't like that style anymore)
  • Bacon: one of my favorite dishes? Mom used to make this for the feijoida. Dice bacon, and saute with onion, a bit of garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Serve over my grandma's black rye bread
  • Grandma's rye bread. Had an excellent version in LT; I can get close, but I'm not there yet. When toasted and buttered, became just like a french fry, slightly crispy on the outside, light and chewy in the middle. Heaven in a slice!
Note to self: watching Tony Bourdain in Cleveland with Harvey Pekar. Gotta pick up American Splendor graphic novels.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grandma's Bread Jan 2008

February 2008, trying again, with some minor adjustments:

1. Reducing initial water a little bit, by 1/4 cup.
2. Add rye flour all at once to fermentation mixture

Makes 2 loaves

2 c. buttermilk
1.25 c. water
1.5 lb. rye flour, unsifted

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

1.5 lb. (24 0z) + 1 oz (25 oz total) unbleached white flour, unsifted
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 1.5 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 1.5 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. 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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chowhound; repurposing dinner

I like the Chowhound site. I came across it a year or two ago, but just looking at it more today. They have a bunch of great tips in th "Chow Tips" video, such as:

  • Pomegranate seeds: to remove, cut the pomegranate in 1/2, and whack the rind using a wooden spoon (cut side facing down over a sieve or bowl); the seeds will just fall into the bowl/sieve!
  • Tempering chocolate: to stabilize chocolate to keep it shiny & glossy, like a candy bar. Must be accurate. Heat 3/4 lb of chocolate in double boiler to 118 degrees. Cool to 80 degrees over an ice bath by adding remaining 1/4 lb. Rewarm to 85-87 degrees for milk chocolate, 88-91 for dark chocolate. Now coat: put item into chocolate with fork, pull it out, scrape it, and onto parchment.
Also enjoying "repurposed" meals this week, i.e., using leftovers and/or parts of meals to create something new and delicious! For example:

Sunday brunch: Spanish tortilla with aioli
Sunday dinner: Tri-tip, mashed potatoes, and arugula salad
Tonight's dinner: Tri-tip sandwich with Point Reyes blue cheese, aioli, dijon and arugula on baguette, with arugula salad on the side. Yum!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

german dumplings

I thought I had some Panni mix, but I didn't, and I decided to make turkey soup with Bavarian potato dumplings tonight for dinner tonight. So here's the recipe I improvised.

2 medium yellow potatoes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1.5 tsp salt
Grated nutmeg (just a dash)
Stock or water
  1. Scrub and rinse potatoes, and poke holes in them.
  2. Microwave potatoes on high for about 7 minutes.
  3. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, and let them sit for 10 minutes. Then dump then into a bowl full of ice water to cool them
  4. Peel and then rice the potatoes in a potato ricer
  5. Meanwhile, Bring stock or water to a high boil in a large pot
  6. Add flour, starch, salt and nutmeg. Knead for 3-5 minutes until even. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 10 minutes.
  7. Form mixture into 6-8 large, smooth balls.
  8. Lower them carefully into the boiling water/stock, and reduce heat to a simmer
  9. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or till they float to the top. Take one out and test it (cut it in half, and make sure it is cooked through).
  10. Remove and serve with meat + gravy; or, add the ones you want to use to a soup.
  11. Store remaining dumplings outside of any liquid. For example, slice them up the next day and cook them in some butter.
  • Dough came together & held together perfectly in the stock with no disintegration
  • Good texture:, a bit soft, no graininess (might be desirable), extremely even texture
  • Nice hint of nutmeg flavor
  • Not sure if texture would work for Lithuanian cepelinai, a little too soft and smooth
For Next Time
  • Try steaming/boiling the potatoes to determine effect on texture
  • Try a bit less flour (maybe 1/4 cup?)