Monday, July 27, 2009

Mushroom Bacon soup

2 weeks ago, the local supermarket had a special: button mushrooms for $0.50 per package! Unheard of! The reason was the "sell by" date was the following day. So I brought them home that day and cooked them up. I like them as a spread on grandma's bread, in omelettes, etc. They had been sitting in the fridge for a few days, so I thought I would try something new. Well, it turned out pretty well. I made it without the cream, but it would be nice for some added richness.

Mushroom Bacon Soup

Serves 2

1 medium onion, diced
2-3 strips bacon
1 container button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shot (1.5 oz) brandy
2 tbsp butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
1 + 1 cup (2 c. total) homemade chicken stock (or good-quality boxed chicken stock)
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat chicken stock in a small pot to a boil; reduce heat to low.
  2. In a skillet, cook bacon, draining on towels. Pour off all bacon fat from pan. Over high heat, add 2 tbsp butter. Add onions, and cook til translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add a shot (1.5 oz) of brandy. Flame off (if desired) or cook til evaporates, about 2 minutes. Reemove from heat.
  4. Reserve about 2 tbsp mushroom/bacon mixture for garnish.
  5. Add remaining mixture to blender. Add about 1 cup stock, puree mushrooms. Adjust mixture with remaining (or more) stock if needed, so it's more like soup (a bit runny) and NOT like baby food (or applesauce).
  6. Return to pot over medium heat to keep warm. Add cream if desired, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve in bowls, garnished with reserved mushroom/bacon mixture and a sprinkle of thyme.

Southwestern Chicken Crepes with Summer Corn and Red Peppers

Serves 2-4


Garlic Cream Sauce (recipe follows)
Basil Oil (recipe follows)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into small dice
1 fresh cob of corn, kernels trimmed off with knife
dash of chili powder (1/8 tsp)
dash of smoked sweet paprika (1/8 tsp)
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 chicken breast, cooked, and cut into 1/2" cubes
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. First make the Garlic Cream sauce, and set it to reduce.

  2. Next make the Basil oil, and set aside.

  3. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally (you don't want it to brown though). Add garlic, red pepper, corn, chili powder, paprika and thyme. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes.

  4. In a small bowl, combine butter and flour with fork into uniform paste. Whisk paste into cream sauce. Increase heat on cream sauce, whisk butter mixture into cream sauce, and bring to a boil; it should thicken.

  5. Return skillet to high heat. Add cream sauce and diced chicken to skillet all at once, stirring to heat through, about 1-2 minutes. Sauce should be pretty thick; adjust with more milk if too thick.

  6. Remove from heat and set aside.

  7. Make crepes.

  8. Reheat filling if necessary. Wrap filling in crepe. Serve crepe with a little extra filling on top, and drizzled with some Basil Oil.

Garlic Cream Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme, stem removed
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine 1st 4 ingredients in small saucepot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let cook until reduced to about 1/2. Salt and pepper to taste.

VARIATION: consider adding 1 tbsp pureed chipotle en adobo to garlic cream sauce.

Crepes (makes 6 crepes)
My recipe is from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp melted butter

Blend all in blender until smooth. Let stand for at least 30 minutes.

To cook crepes, brush a nonstick skillet with a little melted butter over medium high heat. Pour in a batter in center of pan about 1/2 the size of pan, and tilt/swirl immediately to coat whole pan. Keep swirling over heat until batter freezes. Cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Carefully flip onto 2nd side, cook for about 1-2 minutes. Remove onto plate, and repeat with remaining. Use 1st cooked side as presentation side.

Leftover crepes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and will keep 3 days in fridge.

Basil Oil
Makes about 1/4 cup

20 leaves of fresh basil, washed
Olive oil

Heat a small pot with water to a boil. Add leaves, swish for 2-3 seconds and immediately remove into a bowl with ice water to cool. Once cool, remove leaves and squeeze out all water, pat dry with towel. Add to blender with olive oil to barely cover. Blend until smooth. Pass through strainer or chinois, scraping bits from outside of strainer.

Bottle in squeeze bottle and refrigerate; keeps for about 1 week.

Sourdough pizza dough #1

Trying out some sourdough pizza dough. Based on CPK recipe but adding LBB starter

Makes 1 small CPK size pizza, perhaps 12-14".

1.5 c AP flour
1/4 c + 3 tbsp water
1/4 c active sourdough starter (I use my LBB starter)
1 tsp active yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

  1. Add all ingredients except salt to mixing bowl.
  2. Mix using dough hook for 2 min. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 min.
  3. NOW ADD SALT. Mix with dough hook for 8 minutes. Dough will be very soft and sticky.
  4. Place dough in oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let rest for 2 hours at room temp. Dough will still be very soft and sticky.
  5. Refrigerate dough in bowl for 7 to 24 hours. (Went into fridge about 8:00pm or so).
  6. Remove dough 2 hours before baking.
  7. 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 500 degrees; make sure your pizza stone is in there.
  8. On a very well floured board, stretch dough into shape.
  9. Transfer dough to parchment paper on rimless baking sheet (or parchment on pizza peel)
  10. Add toppings and bake for 9-10 minutes, or until crust is browned as desired.

  • Crust thickness (1=thin CPK, 3=normal PJ Dominos, 5=thick Chicago style): 1
  • Crust rise (1=no bubbles/some bubbling/5=big bubbles everywhere) : 1
  • Crust crunch (1=eiscafe soft, 5=cracker hard):2
  • Crust chew (1=not chewy,5=very chewy): 3
  • Crust texture hole size (1=small, 3=med, 5=large): 1
  • Crust texture hole regularity (1=even, 3=a little irregular, 5=very irregular):1
  • Crust browning: (1=pale/white, 3=browning, 5=chocolate brown): 2.5

  • Dough was very wet in the mixer, very sticky
  • I let it rise for 48 hours in the fridge; perhaps too long; it was pretty wet/sticky.
  • When I stretched it, used too much flour; on the parchment, the flour on bottom didn't cook and so there was raw flour on the underside of the pizza

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grandma's Bread #12

It's become a hot July. I was cleaning out the fridge, and started looking at my starter, which was looking a little brown, and so I started thinking about grandma's bread again. Haven't made any since April, and I bought some buttermilk over the weekend with the idea of making some more.

Grandma's Bread #12 - July 23, 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 mixing bowl, combine wheat flour + yeast. Transfer rye mixture to mixing bowl. Add honey. 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 20 minutes.

3. NOW ADD THE SALT ALL AT ONCE. Mix using beater for 4 minutes, dough hook for 4 minutes, both 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 plastic wrap and towel, and leave in warm place to rise for 2.5 hours.

7. Cover tightly with oiled plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 7.5 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.

  • Forgot to oil the plastic wrap, so it got stuck to crust when I pulled it off. Made it extra rustic :( Best bet would be an inflated bag in the fridge; or a large rectangular ClickClack or other see-thru small airtight plastic cannister. So when I recovered with a towel, I dusted with some extra flour. Had a nice looking "snow dust on mountains" effect.
  • Nice dark brown top crust. Bottom crust is solid tan with a few chocolate-y spots in the corners.
  • Interior is perfect, just like #11 that proofed in the fridge. Same flavor, same texture. Would've risen more if I had oiled the plastic wrap.
  • Didn't brush tops with butter this time. Didn't seem to matter (today, at least).
Notes/Next time:
  • We'll see

Monday, July 13, 2009

tomato pie

Haven't made this one yet, but borrowed it from someone else's web site. The recipe comes from the Martha Stewart Living cookbook. Looks really good! Evan Kleinman's "Good Food" blog on KCRW was been talking about "Pie-a-Day" and she referred to her liking of this recipe.


Gruyère cheese and cherry tomatoes provide a savory version of that summer classic, the double-crusted fruit pie. Resist the temptation to eat this pie straight from the oven. Wait until it has reached room temperature; the juice from the tomatoes will have had time to collect. Serve it as a light lunch or as a side dish.


  • 2¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1¼ cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup grated cheese. Add 1 cup butter pieces; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. With machine running, gradually pour ¼ cup of ice water through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without becoming wet or sticky; do not process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount of the mixture together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  2. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.
  3. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
  4. Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, 1½ teaspoons salt, and 1½ teaspoons sugar, and the basil and pepper; when the onion mixture is cooled, add to tomato mixture; toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to a deep 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out half the dough into a circle 1 inch larger than the pie plate. (The remaining dough may be frozen up to 2 months for later use.) Transfer rolled dough to top of plate; tuck in edges to seal. Make 3 to 4 small slits in the top crust; form a decorative edge.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the egg with 1 teaspoon water for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the crust; sprinkle the crust with the remaining ¼ cup of grated cheese. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet to catch drips; bake until the crust is golden and the insides are bubbling, about 50 minutes. Bring to room temperature, and serve.