Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt


For the meatballs:

* 1 pound ground lamb
* 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt:

* 7 ounces whole-milk Greek yogurt
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* Zest of 1 medium lemon, minced


  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  3. Form into 30 balls (about 2 teaspoons each) and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine all yogurt ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Serve with the meatballs.

Crostini with Tomato-Fennel Sauce

EDIT 1/2/09: originally I envisioned this as a bite with grilled tri-tip; however, the sauce is good on crostini alone, and reminds me of an italian version of Spanish "tomato bread", known as pa amb tomaquet. My version is a lot more juicy and flavorful from the fennel.

Sauce is based on what I found earlier this week on Epicurious, and very tasty. Would be good for pasta or pizza; I like the sweet fennel notes that come from both the seeds and the root.

20 crostinis (recipe follows)
1 cup of Tomato Fennel Sauce
Fresh fennel fronds

Assembly: spread about 1 tbsp tomato sauce on crostini. Top with small piece of fennel frond.


1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Baguette or other good-quality crusty bread, cut into 1" x 2" pieces
Salt + Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and garlic. Let rest at least 30 minutes
  3. Lay sliced bread out on cookie sheet.
  4. Brush bread with infused oil on both sides.
  5. Season "up" side with salt and pepper
  6. Bake for 7 minutes, flip pieces, and bake for 8 to 13 minutes more (15-20 minutes total).

Tomato-Fennel Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 cup chopped fresh fennel
* 1 1/4 teaspoons fennel seeds
* 1 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, fennel and fennel seeds and sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices and next 4 ingredients. Simmer until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon, about 25 minutes. Blend about 1 cup of sauce in blender til smooth; stir back into sauce. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before using.)

Roast Chicken

Who says that meat can't be cheap? Foster Farms whole young chickens for 69 cents at Ralphs this week. Sure, it's not free range, but it's decent quality.

So here's my roast chicken (based on ATK):

1 young chicken
1 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced in 1/2
1 onion, sliced in half
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Fennel fronds, chopped (optional)
1.5 cups chicken stock
Roasting pan with V-Rack
  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Combine butter with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Remove giblets & set aside; rinse and dry chicken. Salt inside. Set in roasting pan.
  4. In cavity, stuff 1/2 of onion, lemon, rosemary sprig.
  5. Put butter under skin, then smear all over outside.
  6. Salt and pepper outside.
  7. Add remaining chopped veg (onions, carrots, celery, chicken stock, fennel) and giblets to pan.
  8. Roast at 450F for 15 minutes, middle rack.
  9. Turn down temp to 375F for 45 minutes, or until breast hits 160F. Check thigh too; you can always cut the thighs off and return them to the oven.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

wine party

On New Year's Day, we're hosting a little party to start the New Year and celebrate B's completion of her sommelier program at PCI.

We'll be busting out a vertical tasting of a nice red blend from Santa Barbara County (Epiphany Cellars Revelation, which is typically Syrah, Petit Syrah and some kind of Grenache), stretching back to 1999.

So what small bites to make? We're estimating 14-16 people.

Lamb meatballs with greek yogurt
Stuffed mushrooms
Goat cheese/caramelized onion puff pastries
Braised duck en croute
Tri-tip bite tomato/fennel sauce
Bacon-wrapped dates
Bratwurst with Dijon mustard

Something sweet:

Grandma's Bread #17

Adjusting the formulations again; I estimate this hydration around 77%.

Bread flour 100.00% 427g
Rye flour 25.00% 107g

Buttermilk 30.00% 160g
Water 50.00% 267g
Honey 15.00% 80g
Salt 2.00% 11g
Yeast 1.50% 8g


  1. Heat water & buttermilk to 80-100 degrees.
  2. In mixer bowl, add buttermilk mixture. Stir in honey, then stir in yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk flours together in separate bowl.
  4. Add to mixer bowl, knead with hook on #2 for 2 minutes, let rest for 20min.
  5. Add salt. Knead with hook on #2 for 7 minutes.
  6. Shape on floured board, put into oiled bowl, covered, for 2.5 hours.
  7. Knock down, letter fold 2x, shape into loaf, put into greased & floured loaf pan.
  8. Into fridge at 230pm, out at 530pm.
  9. Rise for 1 hour
  10. Add 2/3 cup hot water.
  11. Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then at 400 for 30 minutes.
  1. When it came out after 1st rise from oiled bowl, it was soft like pizza dough, and had doubled in size. Very easy to handle, very soft but not really sticky, minimum flour recipe.
  2. At 530pm when it came out, it was doubled in size again, in the pan. So probably too much yeast.
  3. After a 1 hour rise, it was falling over the sides.
  4. Could've stayed in the oven another 5 minutes.
  • Great browning
  • Nice thin, crispy/crackery somewhat shattery crust
  • Super light, airy texture, like store-bought sandwich bread, with a tiny chew/pull. More "spongy" than regular sandwich bread (doesn't compress as much)
  • No yeasty taste despite super-fast rise
  • Not sour, not sweet.
  • Overall doesn't taste like Grandma's bread, but is a rye variation

how much yeast?

DiMuzio talks about this in "Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective" (p 158).

For a lean dough @ 77F, he estimates the following percentages for peak fermentation times:

0.3% - 3 to 4 hours
0.4 - 0.5% - 1.5 to 2 hours
0.7% - 1 hour
1% - 30 to 45 minutes

Lots of variables enter in though:

  1. Sweeter doughs require more yeast (typically over 12% sugar)
  2. Richer doughs require more yeast

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grandma's Bread #15 & #16 - extrapolated

So I plugged in my weights & quantities from #14 to try to figure out baker's percentages for Grandma's bread #14. Here's what I ended up with (using the Expanded Pizza Dough Calculator on

#15: single loaf based on #14 weights

Flour (100%): 342.88 g
Water (53%): 181.73 g
ADY (1%): 3.43 g | 0.91 tsp
Salt (2%): 6.86 g | 1.23 tsp
Honey (30%): 102.86 g | 0.31 cups
Buttermilk, fresh (85%): 291.45 g | 1.19 cups
Rye Flour (36%): 123.44 g
Total (307%): 1052.64 g | 37.13 oz | 2.32 lbs

Looking at the numbers, it seems funny. #14 and #15 dough is clearly wet, possibly over-hydrated, although wet + sticky dough is pretty normal for rye breads, which don't have much of a gluten structure. Also, according to Rose Levy Beranbaum, buttermilk is about 90% water and 1.75% fat, so the buttermilk by itself brings the hydration to ~76.5% alone (of bread flour only, or ~62.5% of total flours), without the water! This means we need to add ~3.5% water to get overall hydration to about 80%, which is pretty slack. So let's try an academic exercise:
  1. Reduce water to 4%, which will make overall hydration ~80% of bread flour (or ~66.5% of flours overall); pretty slack, but less slack than breads up to and including #14!
  2. Reduce rye to 25% (less stickiness, same flavor?)
So here is #16, the academic exercise :)

Flour (100%): 427.03 g
Rye Flour (25%): 106.76 g | 3.77 oz | 0.24 lbs | 15.43 tbsp | 0.96 cups
Buttermilk, fresh (85%): 362.98 g | 12.8 oz | 0.8 lbs | 23.7 tbsp | 1.48 cups
Water (3.5%): 14.95 g
ADY (1%): 4.27 g | 1.13 tsp
Salt (2%): 8.54 g | 1.53 tsp
Honey (30%): 128.11 g | 0.38 cups
Total (246.5%): 1052.64 g | 37.13 oz | 2.32 lbs

I would recommend making both of these, following same general directions as #14, and see what happens!


  1. Heat buttermilk & water to 100 degrees.
  2. Dissolve ADY and honey in buttermilk mixture; let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. To mixing bowl, add flours, whisk to combine. Add buttermilk mixture. Mix on Kitchenaid #2 for 2 minutes. Should clear sides of bowl.
  4. Let rest for 20 minutes.
  5. NOW ADD SALT. Knead on #2 for 7 minutes.
  6. Put in tub, cover and let rise for ~2 hrs, then into fridge.
  7. Went into fridge at 615pm, out 945am next morning (15.5 hours total)
  8. Rise at room temp for 2 hours
  9. Preheat oven to 450F, bake 40 minutes with 1 cup hot water

NOTES on #16:

  • I only added 70g honey (ran out), made up the rest of the weight with white sugar
  • Even in mixing, hydration looks a lot more normal. In mixer, dough clears sides of bowl, but doesn't clear bottom (about coffee-cup size); out on lightly-floured board, very easily handleable
  • Texture was MUCH tighter than #14, still a bit damp and soft, despite 1 hour rest. Crust was also thicker, not in a nice way.
  • Better rise and oven spring than #14 though. My guess is that the yeast is OK, but it needs less buttermilk and more water, as well as overall higher hydration.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandma's Bread #14

Same old recipe, with a twist: I'm making 4 loaves for the holidays, so I decided to increase the recipe accuracy by weighing my otherwise normal volumetric measurements.

Here's what I have so far:

Makes 4 loaves

586g water (2-1/2 cups)
940g buttermilk (4 cups)
295g rye flour (2-2/3 cups of Arrowhead Mills rye flour)

820g bread flour (6-1/4 cups) (I weighed 6.25 cups 3 times, and came up with 810, 820, and 870g!)
52g table salt (7-1/4 tsp) - REMEASURE THIS I DON'T THINK THIS IS RIGHT!
11.6g* active dry yeast (4 tsp)
340g* honey (1 c)

* these two weights were calculated based on weight estimates found on the internet, i.e., 340g per cup of honey, 2.9g per tsp of active dry yeast.

Recipe: exactly like #11, with the following notes:
  • 1st rise: 2 hours at room temp
  • Retardation: 8 hours in fridge
  • Final rise: 2 hours at room temp
  • Bake at 450F for 40 minutes

  • All loaves turned out close to the same: texture and crust very similar to #11
  • Soft, flavorful, good balance of savory, sour and sweet.
  • One on the right-most side of the oven seemed to rise the most, whereas the one on the left-most side got a tiny bit burned on the bottom and one of the sides at 40 minutes.

  • Check the loaves on the sides carefully for burning at 30 minutes or so; if so, move the loaves around.
  • Cooling in the pan for 10 minutes is a good idea! Then cool fully on racks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

True Spanish Tortilla

Ah, the true Spanish omelette, called tortilla in Spain, is served breakfast, lunch, dinner and for snacks; is served hot or cold; and can incorporate any number of fillings.

I like it pure and traditional: just egg, potato and onion. Sure, a little chorizo and truffle oil can be nice too, but totally not necessary; the "plain vanilla" version is immensely satisfying.

I made this for B's folks over Thanksgiving again; they loved it and asked for the recipe.

Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Espanola)
Serves 2-4

1 recipe Aioli (recipe follows)
6 large eggs
3 medium yellow potatoes (like Yukon Gold or other yellow), peeled
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup olive oil

  1. Make Aioli and set aside (recipe follows).
  2. Cut potatoes lengthwise into quarters, then thinly slice across into 1/8" thick "pie wedge" shapes (a handheld slicer or food processor works really well for this).
  3. Spread potatoes out on cookie sheet, and dry off slices with paper towels. Salt generously.
  4. In a large pan heat olive oil over high heat. Add sliced potatoes, and turn down heat immediately to medium. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't let the potatoes brown!
  6. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Again, no browning!
  7. Drain potatoes in collander, reserving leftover oil. Taste potatoes, season with more salt as necessary. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Now, in medium mixing bowl, crack eggs, and whisk until just after yolks are broken (eggs will have yellow and clear streaks in it still).
  10. Mix potatoes back into eggs, and stir gently to combine.
  11. Let potato/egg mixture rest for 10 minutes
  12. Heat a 8" non-stick skillet with 2 tbsp of leftover oil over medium heat.
  13. Add potato/egg mixture (it will be near the top of the pan).
  14. Using spatula, cook for 5 minutes, moving runny eggs under cooked eggs, scraping sides of skillet often.
  15. Put a plate with no lip to cover the skillet. In one motion, flip tortilla onto plate.
  16. Add 1 tbsp oil back to skillet. Carefully slide the tortilla from the plate back to the skillet.
  17. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, shaking the skillet every 10 seconds or so.
  18. Flip the tortilla over again (using the plate method described before), and WITHOUT OIL back into the skillet for 1 minute.
  19. Flip the tortilla one last time, and cook for 1 minute. (Totals: 5 minutes, flip, 3 minutes, flip, 1 minute, flip, 1 minute, remove from skillet)
  20. Once removed from skillet, let rest uncovered 5 minutes.
  21. Slice tortilla into quarters. Serve warm or room temperature, slathered with Aioli.
  22. Refrigerate leftovers; will keep for about 3 days.
Yields about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise (do NOT substitute Miracle Whip!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt + pepper

Whisk all ingredients to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest for at least 30 minutes. Taste again and adjust seasonings. Use as needed, or refrigerate up to 5 days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eggnog ice cream

What says "winter" more than "ice cream"? ;)

B. bought some egg nog for Thanksgiving, so I decided to make some other use of it and make some ice cream. Made a recipe from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream book. Incredible richness and flavor. Sure, they had a recipe for Egg Nog Ice Cream, but I just took their "Sweet Cream Base" recipe and doctored it a little. If you don't have nog, you can substitute using 6 egg yolks, 1 cup milk and some nutmeg.

Egg Nog Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup egg nog
2 tsp vanilla extract
Fresh nutmeg & cinnamon, a pinch or two each

In mixing bowl, whisk eggs on high speed for 1 minute. Add sugar gradually and once all is incorporated, whisk for another 1 minute.

Add heavy cream, egg nog, vanilla, nutmeg and cinammon and whisk at high speed for 1 minute.

Cover bowl and put in fridge at least 1 hour.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions (in my case, 25-30 minutes in my rotating-bowl Cuisinart with a pre-frozen bowl).

Pack tightly into containers (it will be pretty soft still). Tap containers on counter to shake bubbles out. Top containers with plastic wrap on surface of ice cream, and freeze at least 4 hours to set up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

no knead #4

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

No knead bread #4

This is the Bittman/Lahey bread, using sourdough, with the corrected hydration. Instead of 1 tbsp starter, this time I'm trying 44g of my 60% hydration firm starter, which is close to 3 tbsp. Hopefully this will jump-start fermentation. Yeah I realize it's lower than the typical desired 15-40%, but I think it will do just fine; it's a pretty active starter. Added some wheat germ to see how it affects the nuttiness factor.

Remember, baker's percentages are all measured by weight! So if you're gonna bake, get a good scale! For the small ingredients (yeast/salt), you may need to get a micro-scale, b/c a lot of the larger kitchen scales just measure in even-numbered grams (2,4,6,8,10,etc)

Flour (100%): 430.77g
Water (80%): 344.62g
Starter (10%): 44g
Salt (1.8%): 7.75 g | 1.39 tsp
Wheat germ (1.4%): 6 g | 1 tbsp
Total (193%): 833 g
  1. Measure out water
  2. Dissolve starter a portion of the water; then add back into the main water
  3. Add flour, then salt, then wheat germ
  4. Stir to combine, until all raw flour is incorporated.
  5. Cover tightly and set aside at room temp for 18-20 hours (start time: 845p, 18hrs=245pm next day, 20hrs=445pm; my rise was a little more than 21 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 500F, with cast iron dutch oven & lid inside.
  7. Dust generously with flour, turn out and shape into a round. Cover and let rest 15 min.
  8. Shape into a round, put on top of parchment, let rise in basket, covered for 45 min.
  9. Remove dutch oven carefully, lower parchment & bread into pot, cover, and into the oven
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, and bake for 12-15 more minutes.
  11. Remove and let cool on rack for 1.5-2 hours.

See the photos!
  • Good flavor, more sour than #1
  • A lot more oven spring than #1, about the same as #2
  • Texture is a little more heavy & dense than #2, but it's nice not to have that yeasty flavor
  • Nice browning
  • Crust thickness just like #2. #1 actually had a thinner crust I think.

For next time, I wish I could put the dough right on the dutch oven instead of parchment, which I think causes some steaming and extra thickness of the crust.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

tday salad overdrive

What is it?
  • Baby lettuces
  • bacon wrapped, blue cheese stuffed dates, reheated and chopped into quarters
  • Point Reyes blue cheese, crumbled
  • Basil oil
  • Fig tangerine balsamic sauce
  • sherry vinegar
  • leftover teriyaki chicken thigh, chopped, could b turkey

delish and not a new scrap! T day leftovers except salad greens

Monday, December 07, 2009

standard loaf size

What is a standard size for a loaf?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

making sourdough bread more sour; my starters

Inspired by a post on The Fresh Loaf forums about sourness, I got to thinking about how to make my sourdough more sour.

A lot of the sourness has to do with the starter, and how it's maintained. The "sourness" has to do with the bacteria in starter, which produce both acetic and lactic acid. Acetic acid is what makes vinegar sour, and is more sharp and pungent; lactic acid is the type of sour found in milk products & yogurt, and is a softer, creamier, more mellow sour. (On a side note: lactic acid is a beneficial part of the winemaking process, as part of malo-lactic fermentation in white wines, which converts green-apple flavored malic acid to creamier flavored lactic acid).

In any case, to make a sourdough bread more sour, do any one or more of the following:
  1. Maintain a firm starter (50-60% hydration)
  2. Keep the starter cool, around 50-65F (in fridge)
  3. Use higher ash flour (like high gluten flour)
  4. Feed the starter regularly
  5. Spike it (dough and/or starter) with rye flour
  6. Long and slow bulk fermentation (1st rise) (somewhere between 8 and 24 hours)
  7. Cool bulk fermentation (1st rise) (such as in the fridge)
  8. Lower overall hydration for the dough
  9. Increase the amount of starter in the recipe (the working range is 15-40% of final dough weight, or 25-35% of the flour weight)
To make sourdough less sour:
  1. Use a liquid starter (90-170% hydration)
  2. Keep the starter at warm temp (70-85F) (such as room temperature)
  3. Use lower ash flour (like all-purpose gluten flour)
  4. Don't feed it as regularly
  5. Don't use any rye flour
  6. Bulk fermentation (initial rise) for dough for a short time (less than 8 hrs)
  7. Bulk fermentation in a warmer place (such as room temp)
  8. Higher hydration for the dough
  9. Reduce the amount of starter in the recipe (between 5-15%)
DiMuzio's "Bread Baking" and the forums at The Fresh Loaf have more great info on how to make your sourdough more sour.

I keep 2 starters right now:

1. My original LBB starter, built using Nancy Silverton's organic grape-based starter recipe in the "La Brea Bakery" cookbook. I keep it at about 178% hydration (which is very liquid); I feed it as follows: 1/4c starter, 1 cup flour & 1 cup water. It stays in the fridge most of the time. If I need to bake, I take it out and feed it 2x per day for about 4-5 days to get it back up to strength.

2. A firm starter, which is just the LBB starter but it's maintained at 60% hydration as follows: 1 tbsp starter + 1 tbsp + 2 tsp water, 1/3 cup flour. This one sits in a plastic covered container on top of my fridge. I feed it maybe 1x per week. I'll feed it 2x per day for 1-2 days before baking.

I've been leaning more towards the firm starter lately, mostly because I can work in smaller quantities for maintenance, and it last longer at room temp w/o feeding, so I can bake with it more quickly.

I had a couple other starters; one was a Carl Griffin one that my friend John gave me. The other was a rye-based version that I started a few years ago. I threw them both out, just because I like the flavor of the LBB one, it's easy to maintain and works well.

Making a lot of bread

A great French video about making bread (I wish I understood French!)

According to a post on the Fresh Loaf web site:
the recipe is very simple: 33 kg of flour, 22 litres (i.e. 22 kg) of water and half a bucket (maybe 5 litres?) of starter.
Amazing to see someone work with that much dough.

What's also interesting to me is how this recipe matches up with the 1-2-3 recipe for sourdough, which is, by weight:

3 parts flour
2 parts water
1 part liquid starter (100% hydration)

And of course salt, which will be around 2% (well, 1.8 - 2.2% to be more exact) of the weight of the flour.

Well, what is liquid starter @ 100% hydration? Simply, an active sourdough culture that has been maintained at 1:1 flour-to-water, by weight.

1:1 flour-water starter is different if you go by volume:

1 cup bread flour (using fluff-dip-knifescrape measuring technique) weighs about 132g
1 cup water @ room temp weighs about 236g

This results in a starter that has a 178% hydration!

yeast! I use ADY!

It's important to know what kind of yeast you are using.

Why? Some recipes call for instant yeast, some for active dry yeast.

To convert instant yeast to active dry yeast, multiply by 1.25.
AKA 1 tsp instant yeast (IDY) = 1.25 tsp active dry yeast (ADY)

To convert active dry yeast to instant yeast, multiply by .75.
AKA 1 tsp active dry yeast (ADY) = 3/4 tsp instant yeast (IDY)

I use Red Star Active Dry Yeast (ADY), which I buy in a 2lb sack at discount at Costco. It's very cheap that way ($5-6 for the bag, which will last you FOREVER!); I put some in separate jars: one small job in the fridge, the rest goes in the freezer, where it will keep more at least a year past the expiration date!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

no knead bread #1, 2 and 3

Inspired to make some more no-knead bread. There are many sources for this, and I've made no knead before (from Jeff Hertzberg's "Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day") and was definitely disappointed. Flavor and texture were both pretty lacking (at least compared to the King Arthur and LBB sourdoughs I'd been baking).

Last week on Evan Kleiman's "Good Food" show on KCRW (one of my favorite food programs), Mark Bittman was talking about his no-knead bread, as published in the NY Times. In Evan's interview with Bittman, he was talking about 4 cups flour to 2 cups water.

#1 He also provided the recipe by weight. I did my own measurements, and got a different set of results for the water:

Flour: 428g (me), 430g (Bitt) (3 cups)
Water: 385g (me), 345g (Bitt) (1-5/8 cups)
Table Salt: 8g (me), 8g (Bitt) (1-1/4 tsp)
Yeast: ?? (me)*, 1g (Bitt)

* For yeast, I decided to use my firm (Columbia) sourdough starter instead of the dry yeast. It's a pretty active culture, so I use 1 tbsp,

I tested my measurements again, and yes, 1-5/8 cup water IS 383-385 grams. So the water weight in the optional listed on the recipe is PROBABLY WRONG, and will affect the final outcome dramatically (and likely in a negative way). At room temperature, 1-5/8 cups water weighs about 384 grams, not 345 grams. This also makes a difference in the hydration of the dough: ~90% by weight at 384 grams, ~80% at 345g water. 345g of water at room temp (72 deg F) is a little less than 1-1/2 cups of water.

So if I do it again, I will have to try it with a little less than 1.5 c of water.

Some other notes about these volumetric bread recipes (which I've come to strongly dislike): my flour was measured in 3 cups, using the "fluff-dip-knifescrape" technique. Packed down flour would yield a totally different result.

Here's how Bittman's original recipe (89% hydration) breaks down:

Flour (100%): 430.37 g | 15.18 oz | 0.95 lbs
Water (89%): 383.03 g | 13.51 oz | 0.84 lbs
ADY (.2%): 0.86 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.23 tsp | 0.08 tbsp
Salt (1.8%): 7.75 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.39 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
Total (191%): 822 g | 28.99 oz | 1.81 lbs | TF = N/A

Here's Bittman's corrected recipe (80% hydration):

Flour (100%): 430.77 g | 15.19 oz | 0.95 lbs
Water (80%): 344.62 g | 12.16 oz | 0.76 lbs
ADY (.2%): 0.86 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.23 tsp | 0.08 tbsp
Salt (1.8%): 7.75 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.39 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
Total (182%): 784 g | 27.65 oz | 1.73 lbs | TF = N/A

How much starter to add? Rose Levy Berenbaum says to add 15%/40% min/max of the entire (finish) weight of dough in starter. Based on the above recipe:

15% of 784g = 118g of starter
40% of 784g = 314g of starter

So translated, the same recipe would work if you leave out the yeast, and add between 118g and 314g of firm starter.

Here's my version:
  1. Dissolve the starter in 1 tbsp. of the water. Once dissolved, add it to all the water.
  2. In a big tub, mix with a wooden spoon, until combined.
  3. Put in big tub. let rise for 20 hours (put in at 815pm on 12/6, started fold 12/7 at 415pm).
  4. Remove, dust liberally with flour, fold using dough scraper.
  5. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Liberally flour dough again, using scraper, fold/shape dough into round
  7. Preheat oven to 500, with cast iron dutch oven on center rack.
  8. Place into floured basket, cover with plastic wrap and towel, and let rise for 3 hours.
  9. Turn dough carefully into dutch oven, cover, and into the oven at 500F for 5 minutes, then 25 minutes at 450F (30 min. total)
  10. Remove cover, back in oven for 15 more minutes (45 min total).
  11. Remove and let cool at least 2 hours.
Notes for #1:
  1. Waaaay too wet. Even in a heavily floured basket, dough totally stuck and fell apart during transfer into cast iron pot. I think it would need to be treated more like a ciabatta.
  2. At 30 minutes (when removing lid) was already nice and golden brown. 45 minutes was really good, getting some nice chocolates.
  3. Poor oven spring (1 of 5); I think this is just because waaaay too wet.
  4. Nice browning on the top and bottom crust, with some blistering despite non-smoothness of top crust (4 of 5)
  5. Shatteringly crisp, cracker-like thin crust (5 of 5)
  6. Nice chew (4 of 5)
  7. Big open-hole structure/texture (4 of 5)
  8. Mild, but slightly pleasantly lingering flavor. (4 of 5)
#2: making Bittman's recipe with 80% hydration and ADY.

Notes for #2:
  • Rise time: 16.5 hours. However, after 9.5 hours, dough had more than doubled (130am); when I checked again in the morning, it was at the same level, which likely means it wasn't rising any more, or was on its way back down.
  • Remove from bucket, rest 15 min, shape, rest 30 minutes, dump onto parchment, slash and bake.
  • Already much better, more dough like when stirring up, less like batter.
  • Still pretty wet; seemed pretty flabby this morning.
  • Preheated oven to 500 with cast iron, place parchment and bread in, cover, back in oven, turn temp down to 450 immediately. Baked for 30 minutes covered, 15 minutes uncovered (45 min total).
  • Really nice oven spring, turned out as a nice round loaf (4.5 of 5)
  • Crust: nice golden brown color, with just a little blistering despite non-smoothness of top crust (3.8 of 5)
  • Good crisp, cracker-like thin crust, with a tiny bit of chew (4.9 of 5)
  • Great softness, with just a bit of chew (4.5 of 5)
  • Good variable medium to large open-hole structure/texture (4.4 of 5)
  • Mild flavor, but I can taste the commercial yeast (3.8 of 5)
  • Probably could've baked for 5-10 more minutes. I would like a slightly darker crust, and, even after 1 hour of rest, still a little damp inside
Verdict on #2: I liked the rise (some of the best spring ever!), texture (softer than #1) and the crust (golden brown). I would like the crust darker. I'm not crazy about the lingering commercial yeast flavor.

Here's the original recipe from the Good Food blog:

No Knead Bread – Original Recipe
Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf

Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (or a scant 1/3 tsp active dry yeast)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

No Knead Bread – Optional Recipes

WEIGHT VS. VOLUME - The original recipe contained volume measures, but for those who prefer to use weight, here are the measurements: 430 grams of flour, 345 grams of water, 1 gram of yeast and 8 grams of salt. With experience, many people will stop measuring altogether and add just enough water to make the dough almost too wet to handle.

SALT - Many people, me included, felt Mr. Lahey’s bread was not salty enough. Yes, you can use more salt and it won’t significantly affect the rising time. I’ve settled at just under a tablespoon.

YEAST - Instant yeast, called for in the recipe, is also called rapid-rise yeast. But you can use whatever yeast you like. Active dry yeast can be used without proofing (soaking it to make sure it’s active).

TIMING - About 18 hours is the preferred initial rising time. Some readers have cut this to as little as eight hours and reported little difference. I have not had much luck with shorter times, but I have gone nearly 24 hours without a problem. Room temperature will affect the rising time, and so will the temperature of the water you add (I start with tepid). Like many other people, I’m eager to see what effect warmer weather will have. But to those who have moved the rising dough around the room trying to find the 70-degree sweet spot: please stop. Any normal room temperature is fine. Just wait until you see bubbles and well-developed gluten — the long strands that cling to the sides of the bowl when you tilt it — before proceeding.

THE SECOND RISE - Mr. Lahey originally suggested one to two hours, but two to three is more like it, in my experience. (Ambient temperatures in the summer will probably knock this time down some.) Some readers almost entirely skipped this rise, shaping the dough after the first rise and letting it rest while the pot and oven preheat; this is worth trying, of course.

OTHER FLOURS - Up to 30 percent whole-grain flour works consistently and well, and 50 percent whole-wheat is also excellent. At least one reader used 100 percent whole-wheat and reported “great crust but somewhat inferior crumb,” which sounds promising. I’ve kept rye, which is delicious but notoriously impossible to get to rise, to about 20 percent. There is room to experiment.

FLAVORINGS -The best time to add caraway seeds, chopped olives, onions, cheese, walnuts, raisins or whatever other traditional bread flavorings you like is after you’ve mixed the dough. But it’s not the only time; you can fold in ingredients before the second rising.

OTHER SHAPES - Baguettes in fish steamers, rolls in muffin tins or classic loaves in loaf pans: if you can imagine it, and stay roughly within the pattern, it will work.

COVERING BETWEEN RISES - A Silpat mat under the dough is a clever idea (not mine). Plastic wrap can be used as a top layer in place of a second towel.

THE POT - The size matters, but not much. I have settled on a smaller pot than Mr. Lahey has, about three or four quarts. This produces a higher loaf, which many people prefer — again, me included. I’m using cast iron. Readers have reported success with just about every available material. Note that the lid handles on Le Creuset pots can only withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees. So avoid using them, or remove the handle first.

BAKING - You can increase the initial temperature to 500 degrees for more rapid browning, but be careful; I scorched a loaf containing whole-wheat flour by doing this. Yes, you can reduce the length of time the pot is covered to 20 minutes from 30, and then increase the time the loaf bakes uncovered. Most people have had a good experience baking for an additional 30 minutes once the pot is uncovered.
As these answers demonstrate, almost everything about Mr. Lahey’s bread is flexible, within limits. As we experiment, we will have failures. (Like the time I stopped adding flour because the phone rang, and didn’t realize it until 18 hours later. Even this, however, was reparable). This method is going to have people experimenting, and largely succeeding, until something better comes along. It may be quite a while.

#3, which I haven't made yet, is from the ATK web site

Almost No-Knead Bread

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. (See the related information in "High-Heat Baking in a Dutch Oven" for information on converting Dutch oven handles to work safely in a hot oven.) Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 large round loaf

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tamale thoughts

This week, while I was up in San Jose, I got to see B's landlords Jacob and his wife Maria (as well as a helper friend from their church) making up a HUGE batch of tamales.

They had giant steam trays full of cooked masa. Pretty thick consistency, probably like stiff cottage cheese, but smoother of course. Maybe like potato dumpling mix. Masa looked soft/damp but not too sticky (didn't see it sticking to their hands). Anyways, corn husks were damp (maybe washed, maybe soaked). Lady took a lump, maybe between a large golf ball and tennis ball, plopped on the inside of the husk. She spread it out with the back of a soup spoon (traditional!) on the silky (smooth) side of the corn husk til it was about 1/8" thick (pretty damn thin), right up to the edge of the flat (straight cut) side and about 3/4 ways up to the top (raggedy side), across the entire width of the husk. Then, she folded it tri-fold, like a letter, across the width of the husk, leaving straight cut side on bottom and raggedy side on top. Then, she folded over the raggedy side onto the husk and tied it, to make a square package; the straight-cut side was still open. Then into a giant steamer.

Maria made us some delicious pork tacos for the road. Red sauce, redolent with chiles, beautiful deep flavor and red color but not too spicy. They made 3 kinds: pork (with red sauce); chicken; and cheese with a jalapeno strip in the middle. For the cheese ones, it was masa as usual, a sprinkling of cheese (looked like mozza or cotija), then a sliver or two of green jalapeno, seeded.

Jacob was using a "cheater" homemade tortilla press (made from two heavy blocks of wood with a lever) to create flat disks of masa on wax paper. He would hand the masa "disc" to the woman, who would put it on the husk and "clean it up", to the same thickness and dimensions as the rest.

Anyways, all of this got me thinking about making my own tamales. So I searched around and found/developed a recipe, based on what I've read and some videos I watched, as well as the knowledge I acquired above. So here goes:

Pork Tamales

Based on recipe from Sacramento Bee video site

  • 2-3 lbs Pork Butt
  • 1 large onion, whole
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt

In large pot of cold water, add 1 whole onion, 4 cloves garlic, pork and salt. Bring to a boil, then cook at a good simmer for 1.5-2 hrs. Pork Should shred easily. Remove pork and veggies; discard veg. Let cool to room temp.

Meanwhile make red chile sauce:

  • 3-4 cups dried New Mexico chiles
  • 4 cloves garlic

In pot of boiling water to cover, add chiles and simmer for 10 min.
Drain and reserve 1 cup cooking water.
Blend chiles and garlic in blender with garlic. Blend till smooth.
Strain to remove seeds/chunks. Sauce should be smooth and not too thick. Add some cooking water back (if it isn't too bitter); otherwise thin out with water.

You will need about 8 cups prepared masa.
Buy it from a mexican market, tortilla maker, or reconstitute it from dry.

Tamale construction and Cooking:
  1. Shred meat. Add sauce and mix to combine.
  2. Cool meat in sauce.
  3. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of sauce to masa (about 8 cups of prepared masa)
  4. Soak husks for 20-30 minutes in warm water, so they are soft.
  5. Spread masa on silky side of corn husk, using the back of a large soup spoon (traditional) or a 4" plastic spackle knife (modern). It should be a thin, smooth layer (about 1/8" thick), because masa expands as it cooks, and you don't want it too thick.
  6. Wrap tamales in parchment paper sheets OR place open side up in the steamer. Wrapping in paper helps keep steam in and keeps them in tact.
  7. Steam for 45-90 minutes. After 45 minutes, start checking every 5 minutes.
  8. Husk should be easily removed from masa, and masa should not taste grainy; that's when you know it's ready.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey Pot Pie

Thanksgiving leftover cooking attempt #1:

A great exercise in re-use. Thanksgiving evening, after the clean up, I roasted the turkey bones with some celery, onion, and carrots at 450 for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then into a bug stock pot, cover with cold water, add bay leaves, bring to a boil and simmer for 2.5 hours. Remove bones, strain back into stockpot and simmer overnight, reducing by 50% or so. Turkey stock!

Also separated fat (a HUGE amount of fat from turkey + rosemary butter rub) from gravy, stored fat in freezer.

So here, instead of chicken stock I use turkey stock, and instead of butter I use leftover fat!


  • 2 tbsp turkey fat (or butter)* (see info at start)
  • 3/4 c. frozen boiler onions, defrosted, or 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 c. turkey stock* (OR 2 cups chicken stock, see notes)
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (about same size as carrots, celery and boiler onions)
  • 1 1/2 c. cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 tbsp turkey fat (or butter)
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk (or 1/2 c. half-and-half)
  • 3/4c. frozen green peas, defrosted

Preheat oven to 425F.

Add butter to skillet. Cook onion, carrot, celery + spices together for about 2 minutes over high heat. Add potatoes, and cook for 10 minutes. (You are basically "par-cooking" here; remember, the thing is going to bake in the oven!)

In separate pot, make roux from turkey fat + flour, cook for 1 min. Add milk, cook till thickened. Stir turkey and cream sauce into vegetables, and heat for 2 minutes. Mixture should be like a cream of mushroom/clam chowder thickness. If too thick, add more milk/cream; if too thin, let it cook down a few minutes. NOW ADD GREEN PEAS.

Let cool to room temp.

Roll out crust, put in pie pan OR into little ramekins.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce heat, then cook at 350 for 20 more minutes (about 35 minutes total).

Let cool for 10 min, then serve.

Pastry Crust (makes single shell/top crust only)
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) crisco/shortening/lard, chilled
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) butter, chilled
  • 6 ounces (approximately 1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 cup ice water, in spritz bottle
  • Approximately 32 ounces of dried beans, for blind baking

Place butter and lard in freezer for 30 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times.

Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy.

Add lard and pulse another 3 to 4 times. Remove lid of food processor and spritz surface of mixture thoroughly with water.

Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add more water and pulse again until mixture holds together when squeezed.

Place mixture in large zip-top bag, squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


  • Totally delicious!
  • Needed more liquid: try 2 cups milk, half-and-half, or cream. You can always cook it down. It should be a little runny, as the veg is going to absorb liquid as it bakes.
  • Definitely save green peas for the end, and don't cook all veg too long before going in the pie. Remember, it's gonna bake in the oven.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta

Been making this one for a few years, it's pretty popular around the holidays here, making it for Thanksgiving here today. Based on a Bobby Flay recipe:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound sliced pancetta, diced (substitute: bacon)
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat oil over medium heat in a roasting pan or large skillet. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the shallots to the pan and cook until soft. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until the vegetables are cooked through and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Transfer to a platter and top with the reserved pancetta.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

gettin turkey ready

preparations are being made for thanksgiving. then the question of "what do I do with leftovers" inevitably arises. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Turkey pot pie
  2. Turkey soup/stock
  3. Tortilla soup with corn and turkey
  4. Crepes with turkey
  5. Mashed potato cakes with creamy mushroom sauce
  6. German dumplings (made with leftover mashers), turkey and gravy.
  7. Homemade wide pasta noodles with brussels sprouts.
  8. Turkey enchiladas
  9. "Pulled turkey" tacos in red chile sauce
  10. Turkey tamales in red chile sauce
  11. Plum tart (not related, but I've got plums in the fridge)
There was one more but I forgot.

We bought a 23 lb. bird last night at Costco, Foster Farms, .89c per lb. We will have our biggest Thanksgiving group here so far (6 people). I hope the bird defrosts in time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

apple pie

Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW's beloved Good Food radio show, presided over a pie contest this weekend. This was the winning recipe, shared on her blog and re-posted for posterity. The sour cherries soaked in Calvados make this one sound killer, I've gotta try it.

Barbara Treves' Forever Favourite Apple Pie


1-1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached, organic all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla powder
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
3 T sugar
1-1/4 cup sweet butter, unsalted (freshly made if possible)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar, chilled
6 - 8 Tablespoons ice water

Measure out all dry ingredients, combine and place in freezer, keep butter & liquid ingredients in refrigerator for at least one hour prior to preparation.

When ready, add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse to mix thoroughly. Add butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles pea-sized meal. Add vinegar, pulse to mix then add ice water, 1 T at a time, until dough begins to stick together and when pinched by hand, holds together. Remove from processor and transfer to work surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts and gently form into balls, and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least one hour.

4 Tablespoons sweet butter
12 organic apples from local farmers market (mixture of Granny Smith, Fuji or other tart, crisp apples the best) – peeled, cored and sliced.
1 vanilla bean, split seeds scraped

1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup organic sugar

4 Tablespoons organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dried, sour cherries, soaked in 1/4 cup Calvados for at least 2 hours

Filling Preparation

Mix all dry ingredients, including vanilla bean seeds together. Add 2 tablespoons of this dry mixture to roasting pan, along with peeled and sliced apples. Place under broiler and broil until apples are slightly browned but not cooked through. Once nicely browned, remove and add rest of the ingredients, except butter.

Adding Filling to Pie Dough

Chill pie plate while you roll out 1 of the dough discs on a lightly floured surface until you get a disc that measure slightly larger than your pie plate and about 1/8 “– 1⁄4” thick. Pull out pie plate and gently place rolled out dough in plate.

Add broiled apples mixture, then dot with 4 T butter. Roll out 2nd disc into a circle about 1/8” – 1⁄4” thick and place on top of apples. Pinch top and bottom dough edges together and form a decorative edge.

Final Topping

1 egg
1 Tablespoons Cream
Turbinado Coarse Raw Sugar

Beat the egg and cream together in a small dish then brush top and edges of pie with mixture, sprinkle with sugar.


400 degrees for 45 mins. Cover edges of pie with aluminum foil if starting to brown too quickly. Turn pie in oven and cook an additional 15 mins. or until done.

Cool for at least two hours prior to serving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

DiMuzio's Pizza Dough with Biga

DiMuzio's Pizza Dough with Biga #1 and #2

This recipe looked intriguing. The biga is essentially a starter with commercial yeast. Have-ta try it!

Based on following straight dough percentages (by weight):
Bread flour 100%
Water 65%
Salt 2.2%
Yeast 0.4%

Makes 2 12" pizzas (170g dough balls)

Bread flour (100.00%) 60g
Water (60.00%) 36g
Instant Yeast (0.10%) 0.06g (a micro pinch)
(final BIGA weight: 96.1g)

Bread flour 180g
Water 120g
Salt 5.28g (1 tsp + small pinch Morton's Kosher)
Instant Yeast 0.90g (1/4 tsp)
Biga 96.06

  1. In a bowl, combine water + pinch of yeast to dissolve. Let sit 2 minutes. Mix in bread flour til smooth. Cover & let sit at room temp (70 degrees) for 24 hours.
  2. The next day start the final dough: first dissolve yeast in water. Let sit 2 minutes.
  3. To mixing bowl, add flour, then biga, then salt. Knead in stand mixer for 10 minutes at speed 1-2 on Kitchenaid.
  4. Cover & let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Cut dough in half, and shape into two rounds.
  6. Place in FLOURED covered container, and refrigerate 4-12 hours.
  7. About 45 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 550 degrees.
  8. Remove dough from fridge.
  9. SHAPE IMMEDIATELY, onto cornmeal or semolina dusted peel.
  10. Add cheese first, then toppings, then a little sauce, maybe a little more cheese, and finish with olive oil.
  11. Bake at 550 for 5-6 minutes.

  • The biga is very similar to the firm starter that I keep, in terms of consistency, but perhaps a tiny bit softer. #1 is made with the biga as in the original recipe, #2 is being made with firm (Columbia) sourdough starter.
  • #2: went in fridge 745p this evening. They will have been in the fridge for about 48 hours when they are baked off tonight.
#1 Results:
  • Makes for a thin crust, 12-14" pie.
  • Baked for about 7 minutes at 550F on new Saltillo quarry tiles.
  • Decent browning; crust bottom was really thin but hard (I hesitate to use the word "crisp"), with a good bit of "tug" and chewy...interesting texture. Not very thick so there's not a whole lot more flavor to the crust. Wasn't bad at all, fairly tasty in fact. Flavor-wise, I couldn't taste any sourdough.
  • Overall, kinda "meh"; fine I suppose if you want a thin crust pie. I think I like the last 2 pies (yeast #1 and #2) better.
  • Tell you what though...THE NEXT DAY this pizza reheated better in the micro than any other EVER, and had a fresh Papa John's texture after reheating! The amazing reheatable pizza!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009 thanksgiving plan and timings

Looks like Beckey's folks and our friends Ray and Patrick are coming up for Thanksgiving.

Proposed menu:
  1. 20-22 lb roast turkey (no stuffing, stuffed with thyme, lemon, and onion)
  2. roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  3. roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta
  4. cranberry sauce
  5. gravy
  6. Beckey's family sausage stuffing
  7. green beans
  8. roasted beets
  9. yams
  10. brandied white onions
  11. pumpkin pie
Here are the actual timings for 2009 Thanksgiving

23 lb bird, 16-17min/lb, 6.1 - 6.5 hours

Night before:
  • Stuffing is made
  • Cranberry sauce is made
  • Make rosemary compound butter (2 sticks unsalted butter, about 3 tbsp fresh rosemary, 1 tbsp fresh sage)

The next day:

Preheat oven to 500F: 800am
Prep turkey: 830am
Turkey in the oven: 900am (actually, 850am)
Garlic goes in to roast: 930am
Make bacon-wrapped dates: 945p
Garlic comes out: 1130am

Set table: 200p
Peel potatoes:200p
Start potatoes in cold water: 230p
Stuffing goes in to bake: 230p
Prep brussels (wash, cut and peel): 230p

Turkey comes out to rest: 330p
Oven goes up to 425F: 330p
Start green beans: 330p
Start onions & yams: 330p
Onions & yams & beets & brussels go into oven: 345p
Heat soup: 400p
Make gravy: 400p
Heat rolls: 415p


  • Turned out fine! LOTS of turkey for leftovers.
  • Turkey was done in probably 5 hours! Turkey must've rested for 45min to 1 hour but was still hot and juicy. Skin was beautiful crisp and brown.
  • I really felt "in the weeds", b/c most of the production took place AFTER the turkey went in: peeling & cutting potatoes (2 person job), brussel sprouts, onions, yams, stuffing going into the oven.
  • Took about 45 minutes to do stuffing (brought it up to about 167 degrees). It was in one of those 1/2 size aluminum serving trays.
  • Gravy turned out really well; our friend Patrick really liked it.
  • It was great that our friends Ray and Patrick brought homemade butternut squash soup and pumpkin pie.
  • Fresh green beans: added to 1" of boiling water in large skillet, flipping with tongs took about 15 min, covered with foil and let sit.
  • Boiler onions: the frozen ones took longer to cook, and were tiny! Still good flavor.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

yeast pizzas #1 & #2

(ed note: post written between 11/2 and 11/3!)

ok, cooked some chicken thighs, and want to try to recreate alfredo chicken pizza! These are a different crust, I think I used the CPK crust for the previous version.

yeast #1: this one is based on sourdough #2, but without sourdough this time. Please note that while you can use the volumetric measurements, I definitely recommend the weight measurements, you will get more consistent results, and it will scale more accurately. My Salter scale only does even-numbered measurements in grams, and doesn't do gram fractions.

Makes 1 large pizza (14" to 16")

3 c + 2 tbsp bread flour -439g - (100%)
1 c lukewarm water 242g (55.1%)
2 tbsp wheat germ 12g (2.7%)
3 tbsp white sugar 44g (10%)
2 tbsp olive oil 28g (6.3%)
1.5 tsp active yeast 5.5-6g (1.2%)
2 tsp table salt 15g (3.4%)

Assume room temp 75 degrees; if warmer, shorten rise times; if colder, increase, etc.
  1. Combine flour, water, wheat germ, and sugar in mixing bowl; knead with hook for about 2 minutes at speed 2, until combined.
  2. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Now add yeast, olive oil, and salt.
  4. Knead with dough hook for 5 minutes at speed 2.
  5. Place in covered container to rise about 1 hour; didn't quite double; fold dough and replace.
  6. Refrigerate covered for 17.75 hours (went in at 11pm, out at 450pm next day)
  7. Remove from fridge, let come to room temp for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 550F, pizza stone 2nd shelf from top. No steam this time!
  9. Let dough rise 1 more hour (2 hours total)
  10. Shape dough, place on parchment, dock, sauce, cheese, meat, and more cheese.
  11. Bake for 8 minutes.

  • Probably my best commercial pizza imitation to date!
  • Crust browned perfectly on bottom, super thin browning, with perfect spongy chew
  • Dough cooked all the way thru, very tender and light.
  • Dough has a sweeter flavor; I don't miss the honey at all!
  • Didn't notice any effect of the wheat germ at all?
  • Crust edges have nice browning
  • Would I change anything? Probably not! :) This is almost as good as it gets.
For next time:
  • Possibly pull the dough out a little thinner; a true "pizza screen" would be great for this, not that bullshit aluminum disc from Target, which seems to reflect more heat than it absorbs.
  • Possibly a bit more wheat germ? Or try some whole wheat? Not very nutty, probably could use a bit of nuttiness, but even if not, this crust is "da best" so far.

  • Crust thickness (1=thin CPK, 3=normal PJ Dominos, 5=thick Chicago style): 3
  • Crust rise (1=no bubbles/some bubbling/5=big bubbles everywhere): 3
  • Crust crunch (1=eiscafe soft, 5=cracker hard): 3
  • Crust blistering (1=no blistering, 5=clear, perfect blistering): 2
  • Crust chew (1=not chewy,5=very chewy): 4
  • Crust doneness (1=dough still raw, 5=browned and cooked through): 5
  • Crust texture hole size (1=small, 3=med, 5=large): 3.5
  • Crust texture hole regularity (1=even, 3=a little irregular, 5=very irregular): 3.5
  • Crust browning: (1=pale/white, 3=browning, 5=chocolate brown): 4.5-5
  • Crust sourness (1=not sour, 5=very sour):1
  • Crust sweetness (1=not sour, 5=very sour):3-4

yeast #2: this one is built roughly on Petezza's Papa John's clone and uses the Expanded Calculator, and close to Pete's percentages with these changes:
--slightly higher hydration
--significantly more yeast
--slightly less oil
--honey instead of sugar, and slightly less amount

It has more yeast than the original recipe, but only about 1/2 the yeast of #1, so it will likely need to stay in the fridge for about 48 hours.

Makes one 21oz dough ball, for one 14" pizza

Flour (100%): 358 g - slightly less than 2.5 cups
Water (57%): 204 g - about 3/4c + 2 tbsp
Honey (4%): 14.3 g - a hair over 2 tsp
Active dry yeast (.6%): 2.14 g - a hair over 1/2 tsp
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (7%): 25 g - about 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
Salt (1.75%): 6.27 g - about 1.5 tsp - SALT IS MORTONS KOSHER, weights are for such.
Total (170.35%): 607.71 g | 21.44 oz | 1.34 lbs

NOTES: this dough was VERY oily to come together, and didn't knead well in the mixer (oild just caused it to flop around a lot, using the same recipe style as #1 above, so I'm modifying it now.
  1. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT SALT, about 2 minutes.
  2. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes
  4. Knead in stand mixer for 5 minutes.
  5. Cover in tub and let rest in warm place for 1 hour.
  6. Refrigerate for ~18 hours (in at 1135pm, out at 545 pm the next evening)
  7. Remove from fridge, let come to room temp for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 550F, pizza stone 2nd shelf from top. No steam this time!
  9. Let dough rise 1.25 more hour (2.25 hours total)
  10. Shape dough, place on parchment, dock, sauce, cheese, meat, and more cheese.
  11. Bake for 8-10 minutes (check at 8, maybe leave in 10, depending on the size of the pie).
Results? We'll see on Friday, probably.

11/5 results update:
Well, I made the mistake AGAIN of using that worthless perforated pizza pan. That POS aluminum seems to reflect more heat (think aluminum foil) than it absorbs. As a result there was no browning on the bottom crust at all.

On the upside the crust was flavorful, and after 10 minutes in the oven, at least it was cooked thru and not raw. The crust edges were nicely browned too.

Also, using the pie pan, I was able to stretch the crust super thin, which, in addition to the docking, would have made a really nice thin crust, closer-to-NY style pie. In addition, I know now that this recipe makes enough for a 16" pie with a nice thin crust (that's the size of my pan.)

This crust had less sweetness than #1, and perhaps a little more crispness/less softness due to lower sugar. Seemed just about as oily. I like the oilier crust, tastes more "tender"; I know my tastes will change as I refine my recipes, though. I would consider doing this recipe again, but FOR SURE baking it on a baking stone or set of tiles. 16" is a good pizza size, and I think it's a perfect amount of dough for a nice thin-crust style.

To get: a REAL pizza screen, or a set: maybe a 14" and a 16". It's handy and it's a confidence builder.

Friday, October 30, 2009

behold...the german taco

I am proud of my latest culinary creation. Behold!

The German Taco: a cross-cultural, trans-national fusion of deliciousness!

You'll need:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Cooked taco meat (carne asada, ranchera, tri-tip, or steak; any kind of roasted or braised pork would also be excellent)
  • Red cabbage braised in red wine (recipe follows)
  • Spicy mustard
  • "Senf" Crema (recipe follows)
  • Minced onion or shallot
  • Minced parsley

  • Toast your tortillas on a flame or grill (I like them double-stacked)
  • Spread tortilla with mustard, then taco meat
  • Top with red cabbage, crema, minced onion and parsley . Throw down with some German weissbier (try it with lime!) and maybe some "El Yucateco" hot sauce for a kick.
Braised Red Cabbage In Red Wine
(adapted from A. Green's "Starting with Ingredients")

1 medium head red cabbage, cored and shredded
2 tbsp. bacon or smoked pork fat (substitute olive oil if unavailable)
1/4 cup smoked bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 tart apples (like Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c hearty but soft red wine, like Cab, Merlot, Petit Verdot, maybe even Rioja!
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300. In dutch oven, heat pork fat and cook bacon for 5 minutes. Remove bacon onto paper towels, remove all but 3 tbsp. fat from pan.

Add onion and saute over medium heat until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add apples, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes more.

At once, add brown sugar, vinegar, wine, and cabbage. Bring to a boil (about 1 minute), stirring to moisten all of cabbage.

Cover and bake in oven for 45-50 minutes.

"Senf" Crema

1/4 c. mayo
1/4 c. plain yogurt
2 tbsp spicy mustard, deli mustard, or Dijon
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. honey
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors distribute. Add more lime juice or mustard to taste.

Columbia bread #4

Again, another 1/2 size recipe (1 loaf)
Levain rose for about 8 hours.
After mixing, rose 945am to 1245pm (3 hours).
Folded once at about 3 hours, then right into fridge in ceramic bowl from 1245p until 700p (6hr 15min)
Remove from ceramic bowl from fridge, rough shape, into floured basket smooth side down, rise in inflated bag on counter from 645p to 1045 (4 hours).
Bake as usual, 450 for about 30 minutes; I forgot to set the timer, but I'm sure it was very close, at least 25 minutes.

  • Again good oven spring like #3.
  • Crust: very nice, thin, like #1 and #2. Perfect browning; if you wanted it a bit richer it could have stayed in the oven for a few more minutes.
  • Texture & flavor: seems like it needed more salt or more barley malt. Otherwise, texture was really moist but not wet, perfectly soft and chewy but not gummy.
For next time:
  • Try "flower" or "grapevine" slashing of dough next time

Friday, October 23, 2009

Columbia bread #3

Making one loaf; halved all of the quantities. This time measuring by weight in grams.

I screwed up the instructions: let it go for an initial rise of about 3 hours without turning. Then turned, put into the fridge at 10am this morning. Removed from fridge at 530pm to come up to temp (7.5 hours in fridge).

3 hours rise time out of fridge in ceramic bowl. (530-830pm)
Remove from bowl, fold, shape and let rise 3.5 hours. (830pm-1200am)
Bread went in the oven at 12am sharp Saturday morning. It had finally (definitely) risen. Spring back test worked well (poked a finger, didn't spring back); this time, when slashes, didn't immediately deflate. Looks like it's getting some good oven spring.

  • Crust was very close to the same as before, possibly slightly bit thicker
  • Oven spring was the best of any load I had ever made; I think previous loaves didn't rise enough!
  • Texture and flavor was excellent!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Columbia bread #1 & #2 (sourdough)

Made some breads based on Glezer's "Artisan Baking" book. Tried measuring recipe in grams, seems much easier, although it seems the scale doesn't do odd-numbered grams! I really like both of these breads; they may replace my LBB recipe as my favorite!

1. Firm Starter

1.5 tsp sourdough starter
1 tbsp + 2 tsp lukewarm water
1/3 c. bread flour

Mix and knead into fairly stiff dough. Let rest for 8-12 hours between feedings.

2. Levain

30g starter
95g lukewarm water
150g bread flour.

Dissolve starter in water. Knead together with flour til smooth. Cover and let rest at room temp 8-12 hours.

3. Bread

600g bread flour
55g whole wheat flour
15g rye flour
20g wheat germ, toasted
450g warm water
20g barley malt syrup (available in health food stores!)
1 portion Levain
16g salt (1 tbsp + 1/4 tsp)

  1. Mix levain and let rise 8-12 hours.
  2. Whisk 1st 4 ingredients in mixing bowl.
  3. Dissolve barley malt syrup in water.
  4. Add water to flours. Mix until just combined. Let rest 20 minutes.
  6. Knead in mixer at speed #2 (Kitchenaid) for 5 minutes.
  7. Put in covered tub, let rise for 1 hour, til it (at least) TRIPLES in size.
  8. Turn out and fold once (4 fold: left, top, right, bottom) and return to tub.
  9. RETARD? At this point, you can retard in fridge 8-12 hours. If so, then remove from fridge and do step #10.
  10. Let rise 3-5 hours, until not quite doubled.
  11. Turn dough out onto floured surface, cut in 2, rough-shape into rounds, and let rest 10min.
  12. Shape dough into batards 10" long, or place into proofing baskets.
  13. Cover with inflated plastic bag, and let rise for 2.5 hours.
  14. At 2.5 hours, preheat oven to 475F. Position rack in middle with baking stone, broiler pan on bottom. Let oven preheat for 45 minutes.
  15. Add 3/4 c. hot water to broiler pan.
  16. Turn bread out onto cornmeal-and-flour dusted peel. Slash with razor blade.
  17. Spritz bread with water (I didn't do this, but the recipe calls for this).
  18. Bake for 30-40 minutes (mine seem to be done in about 30.)
  19. Let rest for at least 1 hour on rack before cutting into (2 hrs. rest preferred)

Results #1:
  • Final rise of this was about 3.25hrs.
  • Wow, crust has the best chew of any bread I've made so far; nice and thin, real chew like good restaurant bread
  • Barley malt adds great flavor and aroma, kind of molasses-y
  • Good open texture is just as good as "My Florist" sourdough
  • Just wish crust was shinier, seemed a little tannish
  • I also wish it got better oven spring! All my loaves don't rise enough!
Results #2:

  • This one has final rise of about 4 hours.
  • This one sat in a wicker basket. Dough needs to be much better floured in wicker basket before it goes in; it was stuck coming out, which affected the oven spring/deflation
  • Nice texture from wicker
  • Darker color than #1 overall
  • Nicer blisters than #1 (more consistent, but just about the same size)
  • Texture-wise, same as #1
  • Both of these have best flavor and crust of all sourdough breads I've made.
  • These are more tender, not as tough/dry as LBB seems to be.
  • Crusts are super-thin and chewy on both, which is better than LBB.

Next time:
  • Try making batards instead!
  • Try more "turning"/folding? This would be done between steps 7-11 above. More folds should help oven spring. As long as you wait 15-30 minutes between turns, should be fine.
  • Try retarding it overnight
  • Try slightly longer rise time; that should also help oven spring!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

a possible BBQ rub?

I was watching Guy Fieri's "Diners..." show and he was in Chicago at a BBQ place. The guy he was interviewing won 3rd place in Memphis in May, and here are the ingredients that went in his rub:

The rub:
Crushed red pepper
Chili Powder
Spanish paprika
Dried Ginger
Rubbed sage
Onion powder
Equal parts black and white pepper

He used a mustard slather on top of the pork: yellow mustard + beer + pepper + salt + italian salad dressing solids only + apple juice + some of the above rub

Sounds pretty damn good to me!

fish tacos #2

Turned out well, followed my previous recipe. I think the batter could've been a bit thicker. Funny, I used over 1.25 c. flour, and it still seemed a bit thin.

Used a new sauce recipe, based on something I found at Chowhound:

Fish Taco Sauce

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt + pepper to taste
1 habanero or jalapeno, minced
4 dashes hot sauce

Mix all to combine, and let sit at least 30 minutes.

Results: good flavor, nice tang. I deseeded the jalapeno, so there's not a lot of heat. Habanero or a really hot japaleno would be nice in here too, if you like more heat.

Monday, October 12, 2009

whole wheat bread #1

Made some ATK whole wheat bread this evening. I opted out of a punch down + final rise, as I didn't think it'd help that much. Then again, it might :)

Whole Wheat Bread #1

This is purely ATK recipe.

1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
2-1/4 tsp. instant yeast
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
2 cups bread flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tsp salt

  1. Combine milk and water in measuring cup. Heat in microwave for 1 minute.
  2. Stir honey into milk mixture.
  3. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Let rest for 3-5 minutes.
  4. In mixer bowl, combine flours & wheat germ and stir to combine.
  5. Add milk mixture to flour
  6. Mix with dough hook for 2 minutes
  7. Cover with plastic and let rest for 20 minutes.
  9. Knead in mixer with dough hook on setting "1" for 9 minutes
  10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  11. Shape into a rectangle, then roll into a log
  12. Pinch seam and put seam side down in buttered/floured baking pan
  13. Inflate plastic bag and let rise in bag for 1.5 hours
  14. (this is normally where you'd punch down, roll into log, and let rise for 1-1.5 more hours)
  15. Slash loaf
  16. Bake on lower rack for 45 minutes
  17. Let cool 5 minutes in pan

My mods:
Baked at 375 for 45 minutes


  • Good rise, decent oven spring
  • Texture was slightly damp, and slightly mealy, but even and soft
  • Crust had good browning on top and sides, albeit possibly slightly thick
  • Good saltiness, but not sweet enough, need to increase hone
  • Good softness initially; dried up pretty good by the next day; definitely not super soft & fluffy like sandwich bread.

For next time
  • Could've baked longer @ 375, maybe 50 minutes
  • Try higher temp baking
  • Try 1/4 cup honey next time, maybe 1/3 cup, and reduce water slightly.
  • Try overnight retard
  • Try less yeast, esp. if overnight retard (2 tsp instead of 2.25 tsp)

LBB sourdough adapted #1

I started some starter for my dad in Florida last week. It was really warm in their house (room temp is probably 77 degrees), so in 2 days the starter was bubbly and "cheesy" smelling, just like my LBB starter was. In his case, I just used 3/4 c white flour with a 1/4 c cup rye, 1 cup water, and let it sit 2 days in a tupperware on the counter.

Now I need to send him the recipe. I don't think he has a scale, so I weighed the ingredients of the original recipe on my scale. Here is the adapted version:

For 2 loaves (original):

7.5 cups + 1.5 tbsp unbleached bread flour
1/2 c. wheat germ
1-1/4 c. starter
2-1/4 c. water
4.5 tsp. table salt

For 1 loaf:

3-3/4 cups + .75 tbsp unbleached bread flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
3/4 c. starter
1 c. + 2 tbsp. water
2-1/4 tsp. table salt

  1. Add flour + wheat germ to mixing bowl. Then add starter and water.
  2. Knead on lowest setting on mixer using dough hook for 5 minutes.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Uncover and NOW ADD THE SALT.
  5. Knead on lowest setting on mixer for 5 more minutes (10 minutes total). You may need to clear the dough hook if it gets clogged up; however, dough will clear the sides of the mixing bowl.
  6. Remove from mixer.
  7. Form into ball: cup your hands together on the top of the loaf, over the sides and pinching to the bottom, like you are running your hands down both sides of a globe, starting at the Arctic Circle, down through Americas and Asia, pinching your pinkys together at Antarctica.
  8. Place in lightly oiled ceramic bowl. Cover with inflated plastic bag, and let rise 3.5-4 hours at 75 degrees. If your room is hotter (78 deg), you will need less rise time, maybe 2.5 hours. If your room is colder (72 deg) , you will need 4 hours.
  9. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter.
  10. Cut dough into two equal pieces. Slap each piece to deflate.
  11. Tuck all edges under, rough-shaping into a ball. Let rest for 15 min.
  12. Shape each into ball, and place into lightly oiled bowl or floured basket. Let rise for 1 hr.
  13. Cover rounds with inflated plastic bag, and put in fridge for about 8-12 hours, no more than 24 hours.
  14. Remove dough from fridge, cover with inflated plastic bag, and let rise on counter at room temp for ~3 hours. Dough should be doubled in size and at ~62F.
  15. Heat oven to 500. Set your baking rack 2nd from the bottom. Put a broiling pan at the bottom of your oven
  16. Slash the loaf 2 or 3 times across the top with a sharp knife or razor.
  17. Put loaf in, add 1 cup hot water to broiling pan, and bake for 45 minutes as follows:
  • first 5 minutes at 500
  • next 20 minutes at 450
  • rotate bread
  • 20 more minutes at 450 (total of 45 min).
Should hit 210F when fully baked, and sound a bit hollow.

Remove from oven.

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


  1. In mixer it came together correctly, definitely cleared bottom of bowl. 10 minutes total kneading in mixer, as listed.
  2. Initial rise was 3 hours in oiled bowl
  3. After punch down and basket, next rise was about 2 hours
  4. Fridge retardation time was approximately 13 hours; removed from fridge at 310pm.
  5. Rise time out of fridge in bag: 3 hours.
  6. Preheated oven for 45 minutes prior to baking.
  7. Baking on middle rack with stone.
  8. Single slash in middle of loaf.
  9. Flour + cornmeal on the peel
  10. Loaf in oven, then 2/3 cup near-boiling water in broiler pan.
  11. Bake for 5 minutes @ 500, 35 minutes @ 450, middle rack on baking stone.
  12. Let cool for 1 hour on rack.


  • Great chocolate mahogany exterior
  • Really good oven spring (perhaps best so far)
  • Good blistering but not huge
  • Good flavor
  • Texture was pretty good: cooked through, tender with nice chew. No real problems to speak of, I want bigger holes though.
  • Could be a slight bit more sour...maybe add a touch of rye flour?
  • Crust was a little thick, perhaps too much steam for too long?
  • 3 hours seemed like a good new final rise time; could even try 2.5?
For Next Time:
  • Less hot water in broiler pan (1/2 cup only); OR no steam but brush/mist crust with warm water right before the oven
  • More water in the dough, increase to 1-1/4 cup (add'l 2 tbsp) for each loaf.
  • Slightly longer fridge ferment - 15 hours? 18 hours? Grandma's bread had a nice crust at 24 hours.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

oven fried chicken

Made this last night, after thinking about what to make with chicken thighs I had and seeing Alton Brown's "Fry Hard" episode. Also make in consultation with my ATK cookbook. The buttermilk pre-soak adds a lot of flavor. The oven baking helps keep the calories lower. If you're even more concerned about such things, remove the chicken skin, or use chicken breasts.

Oven-Fried Chicken

4 chicken thighs
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp spice rub (your choice; I used Wolfgang Puck's pork rub)
2 cups breadcrumbs (season with extra garlic powder, onion powder and other spices as desired)
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Soak chicken in buttermilk in plastic container overnight. Drain chicken, and place on paper towels. Dry off with towels to remove excell buttermilk.
  3. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and spice rub
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on baking sheet.
  5. Put breadcrumbs in separate container. Using tongs, dredge chicken in breadcrumbs, coating both sides, pressing down to adhere. Shake off excess, and place chicken on rack.
  6. Let chicken sit on rack for 2-3 minutes; no more, no less. This helps crumb adhesion.
  7. Place chicken on sheetpan+rack in the middle shelf of oven.
  8. Bake for 30-4o minutes, or until reaches 175 degrees F.
  9. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes, tented under foil.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a salad.

Speaking of mashed potatoes, the mashers I made last week with yellow potatoes were great. The key was a dash of cream, a reasonable amount of butter, and enough milk to make it more runny than you think it should will set up as it cools!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

tale of two tarts

One savory, one sweet. I had some great summer heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market, and some pears that were really almost too ripe. What better thing to do than bake a tart! Made the tomato tart yesterday, and the pear tart tonight.

Summer Tomato Tart

1 pastry dough of choice (I used Martha's recipe, which follows; use whatever you want)
1 beefsteak (or heirloom) tomato, sliced into thin slices
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
4 eggs
2 italian sausages, cooked and cut into thin rounds (0ptional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
3 oz of fresh mozzarella
1/2 c. asiago cheese, grated
Fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Roll out dough, put into tart pan and trim. Use fork to dock the dough.
  3. Chill dough for 1 hour in fridge, if desired.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes to partially bake, and remove from oven.
  5. In a bowl, beat eggs with heavy cream until uniform. Season with salt and pepper. Combine with cooked sausage. Set aside.
  6. In a small skillet, over low heat, warm up egg mixture.
  7. Add 1/4 c. of asiago to bottom of tart shell
  8. Next add egg mixture to tart shell. Layer on tomatoes, mozzarella, and remaining asiago.
  9. Bake for 25-30 more minutes on middle rack, on top of sheet pan. Bake until shell is golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven, let rest for 15-30 minutes.
  11. Garnish with parsley.

Pear and Cranberry Bourbon Tart

1 pastry dough
4 pears, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. apricot jam
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. bourbon (like Jack Daniels)
pinch of salt
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 tbsp. butter

  1. Combine all ingredients except cranberries and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Allow to reduce to a syrup, when it starts getting really foamy, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in cranberries, cook for 1 minute, remove from heat.
  2. Remove from heat, and stir in butter until melted.
  3. Blind bake dough in tart pan for 25 minutes.
  4. Arrange pears in a nice even layer. Drizzle sauce over tart.
  5. Bake for about 25-30 more minutes (with tart pan on a sheet pan), until crust is golden brown.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve and cream would be good!

Pastry Dough

This one turned out very buttery, not too flaky, but not too crumby either. Good savory flavor. Only downside was that it shrank...a lot. This comes from Martha Stewart, but apparently it's a pretty classic pastry recipe. To be honest, I remember more success with the plum tart I made with Roland and Bev's plums, and I think I used Alton's recipe in this blog.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beacon chicken wings

Watched a video on the delicious Beacon chicken wings that Kazuo Matsusaka makes in Culver City.

He says that he marinates in soy, ginger, and canola oil overnight. Then they are dusted in cornstarch before frying.

Looking closely at the wings on the plate before he puts them in the deep fryer, it \looks like these wings have been blanched in hot oil (they already look golden and crispy), then re-fried for 3-5 minutes. I'm sure that helps with their extra crispy texture.

A little Google search turned up an LA Times Culinary SOS article for these wings. I'm reviewing and adapting this recipe to better suit.

Beacon-like Chicken Wings

12 wings
1/2 cup cornstarch
Marinade (recipe follows)
1 cup Ginger-Soy Glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 tbsp butter (optional)
4 cups vegetable oil (for frying)

1. Make marinade. In non-reactive container, add wings to marinade, cover, and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours, but no more than 24 hours preferable). Drain marinade and discard.

2. Season the wings with the salt and pepper, then dredge with the cornstarch. Shake off excess.

3. In a large pot, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry the wings, a few at a time, until lightly golden about 2 minutes. Drain the wings on paper towels and/or rack and let cool. Repeat with remaining wings.

4. Reheat oil to 375 degrees; working in batches, fry wings for 2nd time, for about 5-8 minutes. Drain the wings on paper and/or rack.

3. When all the wings almost all fried, heat a wok or heavy sauté pan over high heat. Add the reserved ginger-soy glaze and bring to a boil, then add the wings, stirring to coat. Cook the wings in the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce reduces enough that it coats the wings in a thick, syrupy glaze, about 1-2 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat. Serve on top of daikon sprouts. Pour remaining extra sauce from pan over wings, and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

makes about 3/4 cup

3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
3/4 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 c. canola oil

Whisk marinade ingredients together, and set aside.

Ginger-Soy Glaze
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

Boil, then simmer until reduced to about 1 cup.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grandma's Bread #13

Making a going-away loaf for my lady, who will be San Jose at sommelier school next week. No better reason to bake some comfort food that she can bring with her!

Grandma's Bread #13 - Sept 14-15, 2009

Makes 2 loaves

1-1/4 cups water
2 cups buttermilk
1-1/3 cup rye flour

6-1/4 cup AP wheat flour
2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup honey
3-1/2 + 1/8 tsp table salt

1. Over medium-low heat, warm buttermilk and water, stirring occasionally, just until it curdles and remove from heat. Stir in all rye flour, cover tightly and leave at room temperature overnight (at least 12 hours).

2. In stand mixer bowl, pour in rye mixture. Add yeast, then honey, then flour. Using beater attachment, mix on speed "2" for 2 minutes, until the dough is uniform. It will look like a thick, uniform batter at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes (should be 20, but I used 10 min this time).

3. NOW ADD THE SALT ALL AT ONCE. Mix using dough hook for 8 minutes, set to "2" (low speed). You may need to clean the dough hook once in a while. Dough will be very thick and sticky; it will never clear the sides of the bowl, more like a thick wet will not stop sticking! This is why the stand mixer is so handy. Total kneading time is 8 minutes. You will see some gluten strands forming in the dough towards the end.

6. Grease two bread pans with butter, and dust them with white flour. Using a wooden spoon or stiff bowl scraper, turn out the sticky dough onto a very well floured board. Form into a single round; dough will be very soft but with a well-floured board, won't be very sticky and will form a smooth surface. Cut dough into 2 equal pieces, shape dough into loaves (they will feel pretty soft, not quite baby's bottom but close) and place in bread pans. Press down on dough to get loaf to expand across the bottom of the pan. Cover with inflated plastic grocery bag, and leave in warm place to rise for 2.5 hours.

7. Cover with inflated plastic grocery bag, and refrigerate for 6 hours.

8. Cover loaves with a towel, and let rise again at room temp (~74F) for 2 hours.

9. 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 with a serrated knife or a sharp razor blade, 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 exactly 40 minutes; they will look dark chocolate brown (almost black!) on top.

10. Take bread from oven, remove from pans. Let cool on rack, uncovered, for at least 30 min; will still be warm 2 hours later.

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

  • Inflatable grocery bag worked very well! Even when dough stuck to it, was easy to peel off without ruining texture.
  • Crust is as good as #12. There were huge, puffy bubbles on the top crust. Had to deflate these before baking; even then a few popped up.
  • Interior is less holey (see pix). I think it needs more fridge ferment time, more like #11 and #12
  • Flavor is the same, again, slightly more damp, with same flavor and texture.
  • Good rise and good oven spring.
  • Overall interior seems more damp than #11 and #12; but not too damp, still good. After 30 minutes of resting, still feels like there's steam/moisture coming out.
  • Brush tops with butter this time after removing from oven. Gives it a nice shine!
Notes/Next time:
  • Go back to longer fridge ferment time; 7.5 to 8 hours will be best, or overnight (like v11).
  • Might have used 5 extra minutes of bake time, or even letting it rest in the pan after removing from oven.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Madmax" pizza

Read about this dough when I was researching pizza sauce on A poster named "Mad Max" shared this recipe, so I'm trying it out

Makes two 12" pies

3 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/3 c warm water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Heat water in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Should be no more than 110 degrees.
  2. Add sugar and yeast to water, stir to dissolve. Let rest for 4 minutes
  3. In stand mixer bowl, add flour. Dig out a well, and pour in all liquid.
  4. Mix with dough hook on lowest setting "1" for 4 minutes.
  5. Cover and let rest for 20 min.
  6. ADD SALT.
  7. Mix with dough hook on lowest setting for 13 minutes.
  8. Cover and let rest for 20 min.
  9. Oil a plastic bowl, scrape sticky dough out of mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 days. (mine went in the fridge on Sunday at 3pm, so it should be ready Tuesday 3pm; can also try it Monday night).
  10. Make two 12" pizza skins
  11. Preheat oven for 500 degrees, with pizza stone.
  12. Bake for 7-8 minutes.
Day 1 Results:
(I took 1/2 batch out this afternoon at 3pm, after 24 hrs in the fridge; then did a 3.5 hour bench rise, baked at 500 deg for 8 minutes, 2nd to top rack in oven w/ pizza stone)
  1. Nice texture and good flavor! Good puffiness, good chew, not raw or yeasty
  2. Thinnest crispy crust on the pizza bottom. Pizza edges started to get a tiny bit blistery with a nice chew.
  3. Crust did not brown (2 out of 5); probably could stay in the oven 1 more minute. Sometimes I wonder if it's my pizza stone. According to, I should try having the stone in the middle or bottom of the oven, preheat oven to 550 (at least) for 1 hour! This helps the stone get up to the right temp. Found a good thread on white crust problems. Things to consider: less sugar (there's already so little), slightly more salt, less final bench rise, higher temp, lower rack + stone.
For 2nd crust:
  1. Go for 2.5 to 3 hour bench rise
  2. Preheat to 550, stone on last level
  3. Bake for 8-9 minutes
  4. After 7 minutes move pizza from stone to middle rack
For the future:

  1. Get home air temp thermometer(s); one for fridge, one for kitchen so I can see what my "room temp" is now, as well as my fridge "cold temp" is.