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.