Friday, February 26, 2010

Peter Reinhart

Went to a really great presentation by Peter Reinhart this evening at the Westlake Cooking School.

Peter was really great; tooko a lot of time afterwards to sign books and answer many questions. Every bread that I ate that evening was unquestionably delicious, from beautifully caramelized sticky buns with nuts and creamy-textured, toasty flavored rustic loaves made with the 75% hydration "Lean Dough", to the wispy soft, almost cotton-candy, velvety texture of the challah!

A few key thoughts/things I learned!
  • His doughs are extremely soft & supple, softer than a baby's bottom, perhaps!
  • Oiling the kneading/forming surface to keep from sticking, and oiling wet doughs slightly for handling.
  • Using wet fingers to handle dough (he had a little bowl at the side, dipping in his fingers as necessary).
  • The "stretch and fold" technique: stretch towards you, fold in thirds, 90 degree turn, repeat, then rest! Repeat the whole process 4 times. It shapes shaggy soft dough into a tight manageable skin, and reduces stickiness.
  • Kneading: more stretch and fold than kneading, and the doughs came out supple!
  • Yeasty bread flavor: due to too much yeast OR over-fermentation (what you're actually tasting is the alcohol, not the yeast!); a problem (he notably mentioned) with the "Artisan 5 Min/Day" bread recipes, and I totally agree with him on that
  • Blisters on crust: form the loaves, really shape them, and let them cold ferment will get blisters! Great story about this question which he discussed with Raymond Calvel.
I got my "Artisan Breads Everyday" book signed (Beckey bought it for me as a present), and even bought his "Whole Grain Breads" book, with great info on soakers. I wasn't familiar with that technique, but it's exactly what my grandma used in her rye bread.

My first baking class, and absolutely worth every penny! If you can't make it to one of his workshops, the next best thing is to read this transcript of his Barnes & Noble interview.

Thanks Peter!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

butternut squash soup 2010

One of my favorite squash soups to date. The roasting brings out a real delicious sweetness and toastiness from squash. I had some leftover ruby port, and that added a really nice depth of flavor. Be careful on the white pepper and cayenne, the flavors are so delicate and sweet that it's easy to make this way too spicy.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery and leaves, chopped
1/2 cup ruby port
1/4 cup apple pie liqueur
1 box chicken stock
pinch allspice
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
tiny pinch cayenne
Salt and white pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. On baking sheet, toss butternut cubes with olive oil, salt + white pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping cubes at 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron pot.
  4. Sweat onions + celery for about 5 minutes over medium heat (do not brown!). Add, shut off heat, stir in spices.
  5. Add butternut squash pieces to pot, along with enough chicken stock to cover.
  6. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
  7. Blend in batches in blender (don't fill blender more than 1/2 way full, and cover top with towel!).
  8. Add back to pot. Add enough remaining chicken stock to make it quite liquid, and use some water if you need to (you don't want this thick, you want it to be pretty runny, just a little thicker than chicken soup!). Heat until warm over low heat.
  9. Season with additional salt and white pepper to taste.
  10. Stir in 1 tbsp. of butter if you're feeling like it should be more creamy.
  • Add 1 diced, peeled green apple to onions when sweating

Saturday, February 13, 2010

No knead white #4

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pulled pork

Made some last week!

Slather: yellow mustard + honey (50/50)
Rub: the Magic Rub I developed
Liquid: 1/2 cup stew puree (carrots/celery/onion which had previously braised some chicken thighs) + 1/2 cup "apple pie" liqueur. Liquid went about 1/2 way up the roast.

In crock pot for ~9 hours

Results: tender, flavorful, falling apart easily, not dry. Not smokey at all; would've been nice in the smoker.

Vinegar sauce I made (recipe is top secret!) turned out well. Hints: multiple vinegars, honey, catsup.