Sunday, December 25, 2011

Abbott's bitters revisited


My lady got my Parson's "Bitters" book for Christmas, and it has reawakened an interest/hunger to work on some bitters recipes.

"Abbott's Bitters" haven't been made for a long time, but Robert Hess @ DrinkBoy had posted a formula for a reasonable facsimile of Abbott's Bitters.

Here's the formula paraphrased.

4 tbsp gentian root
4 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into quarter-sized disks
4 tbsp cardamom, whole
4 tbsp cassia
4 tbsp whole cloves
10 cups (2.36L, a little more than 3 750mL bottles) vodka or Everclear (grain alcohol)
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water

In 5 separate containers (preferably glass), mix one of each herb with 2 cups alcohol. These will form the "tinctures".
Let steep for 10 days, shaking once per day.
Strain each tincture through coffee filter paper, discard the solids, rinse with clean hot water, and return tincture to its container. (It will help to label them to keep track!)
Make caramel sugar syrum: heat sugar in pan until it melts and turns light brown (be careful, don't let it burn or turn too brown, it will continue to cook off-heat).
 Remove from heat, and slowly stir in 1 cup of boiling water. Switch to a whisk to dissolve, and return to heat to dissolve, if necessary.
Next combine the following parts (start with teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon measures):

1 part gentian tincture
1 part ginger tincture
6 parts cardamom tincture
8 parts cassia tincture
4 parts clove tincture
5 parts caramel sugar syrup

Combine in a bottle with dash top. Enjoy in your favorite cocktail!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Turkey Pot Pie #2

12/4/11: Building off the #1 version from 2009...

  • 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
  • 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
  • 2 c. milk & 2c. turkey/chicken stock (or use half-and-half)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 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.

(Results? I seem to recall that this was tasty, now that I'm posting this on 11/21/2012...)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 holiday stuffing/dressing

Take two on our own version of B's family stuffing

Makes one 9x13" dish, enough for 12-15 servings, plus one small 6x9 dish.

Prep time: about 1.5 hours

2 bags of Pepperidge Farms Herb Seasoned Stuffing (Note: From the PF web site, looks like 1 bag is 14oz, so 28oz total! We only had Mrs. Cubbinsons, which comes in two 6oz bags per box, so 4 bags/2 boxesm 24oz)
3 medium apples, any kind of RED apple (I used Gala and Fuji this year), peeled cored and rough chopped
2 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 large stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
1 lb of large white mushrooms, rough chopped, about 12-15 count, stems removed (I used 50/50 mix of white and cremini)
1 lb Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage
3 eggs
2 sticks of salted butter
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh sage
1 tbsp black pepper
2 cans chicken broth (24-28 oz total) (I used part of 1 box of chicken broth, measured out exactly 28oz)
1 tbsp Bell's Seasoning + 1/2 tsp for sprinkling on top
1/4-1/2c extra stock or water
NO SALT! (stock, stuffing mix and butter has salt already, Jackie doesn't add salt)


  1. Pulse stuffing mix until small dice, like breadcrumb. Set aside in large bowl.
  2. In batches, grind celery, apple, onion, and mushroom in the food processor until uniform. (This year, I ground celery and onion, mushroom + some stock, apples + some stock). Remove to separate bowl.
  3. Add both cans of broth and eggs to food processor. Add all fresh and dried spices except Bell's. Pulse some more. Add to breadcrumb bowl.
  4. In a large skillet, melt 1 stick of butter and brown the sausage in it. At end of cooking, add remaining 1 stick of butter.
  5. Pour entire butter/sausage mixture over stuffing.
  6. Knead, squeezing thru your fingers to make sure there are no lumps and mixture is uniform and even, 3-5 minutes. (2011: I didn't need to add ANY water, after using the chicken stock)
  7. Add Bell's seasoning, "until it smells right". I think 1 tbsp is good.
  8. (Let it rest at least 30 minutes. Fry up a small piece in a skillet, taste, and adjust seasoning. This year it tasted very good! Good salt balance, nice flavors)
  9. Should look as wet as a meatloaf. Add the extra stock or water if necessary to keep it soft.
  10. Pour into 9x13 pyrex baking pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 tsp of Bell Seasoning over the top.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and foil, and refrigerate overnight.
  12. The next day, preheat oven to 425F.
  13. Bake at 425F for 1-1.25hr, and broil for 3 minutes. (Most everything is cooked except the egg, so shouldn't take too long).
  • We'll see tomorrow, updates then...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

weight-volume translation

Because of a recent baking post I read, I've been thinking about this some more.

According to a weight-to-volume converter I found online:
  • 1kg of wheat flour translates to ~ 1.686L of volume
  • 1kg of water translates to 1L of volume
So, thinking out loud & inspired by a related post, I'm guessing the water weight-volume conversion will serve as a good tool for rough estimation. How about this:
  • Line a basket/container with a plastic bag
  • Fill it full of water up to where you think the size of your doughball will be.
  • Weigh the bag of water & write the number down (this becomes NumberA)
  • Now place the bag back in the container, and fill the bag up to the top of the container
  • Weigh the bag of water & write the number down (this becomes NumberB)

I'm guessing the optimum dough weight for a measured volume will be at least NumberA and Number B. The volume that develops will depend on the dough density and bread style (sourdoughs/hearth breads will weigh more than lean doughs/fluffy white breads).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Loaf sizes

Some standard dough ball sizes that I use when I bake:

Personal pizza, CPK size: 175-200g
14" pizza, thin crust, NYC style: 450g
14" pizza, medium "american" crust (PapaJohn) style: 525-575g
16" pizza, thin crust, NYC style: 600g
16" pizza, medium "american" crust (PapaJohn) style: 650-675g
Regular free-form loaf (boule) of sourdough: 1000g
Small free-form loaf (boule): 750g
"Standard" lean loaf-pan loaf (9.25" x5.25"x2.75"): 800g
Burger & hot dog buns: 92g
Small soft dinner roll: 48g
6"/7" hoagie/sandwich roll: 113g
12" hoagie/sandwich roll: 227g
Demi-baguette, Cheesecake Factory size: 250g
Large pretzel: 155g
Pita: 105g
Cuban bread loaf: 400g
Raisin Bagel: 96g

Bread and loss

Not sadness...not weight loss (really).

How much weight does a glob of dough lose while baking? Estimates are around 7-10%.

Example: a 12" sub sandwich loaf is around 6oz baked.

To calculate:

d - .10d = f
d(1 - .10) = f

d(.9) = f

d = 6oz / .9 = 6.67oz of dough pre-baked to get 6oz baked loaf.

Where d = dough weight in g, and f = final weight in g

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leidenheimer po-boy bread

Listened to a podcast with Sandy Whann, a descendent (and now owner) of Leidenheimer bakery in New Orleans, which provides french bread loaves for po-boys.

Based on my recent trip to NOLA, my recollections of the po-boy bread, and some research online, here's what I've gleaned about the Leidenheimer recipe:

  1. Uses a sponge process, which is incorporated into the straight dough
  2. Use a proprietary time/temperature/humidity proof
  3. Produces a light, flaky, crisp crust, "one that crinkles as it cools into a distinctive 'alligator skin' pattern". Should shatter into small dust or flakes when bitten into.
  4. Crumb is cotton-candy like, spongy but dry, fluffy but small-holed (not wispy), very mild, neutral flavor.
  5. Crust color is very light golden, if not whitish.

Ingredients from their nutritional info:
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Yeast (2% or less)
  • Soybean oil (2% or less)
  • Salt (2% or less)
  • Sugar (2% or less)
  • Wheat Gluten (2% or less)
  • Dough conditioners and yeast foods (which I won't include in my finished product) (2% or less)
Based on the texture of the crumb, I think it's safe to say it's not a high-hydration dough, I'm guessing no higher than about 65%, but probably closer to 60%. It's also likely a pretty lean dough.

Here's some info on the dough conditioners & yeast foods that Leidenheimer is using in their French bread (with approximate figures I gathered from the very helpful Lallemand web site):
  • Calcium propionate - preservative/mold inhibitor, use level 0.2%, probably added to finished dough (not sponge)
  • Ammonium sulfate - yeast nutrient, nitrogen source, use level 0.04%
  • Calcium sulfate - pH regulator, raises pH, use level 0.1 - 0.6%
If they are boosting pH, it may mean the water they use is too soft, which suggests (not surprisingly) that water quality is key to consistent product.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just got back from NOLA; beignets

Got back from NOLA yesterday, what an incredible 4-day splurge of eating. So many good restaurants we ate at:
  • Day/Night 1: Cochon for huge dinner feast
  • Day/Night 2: Cafe du Monde for breakfast, Central Grocery for muffaletta, Luke for oysters and other happy hour eats, Tracey's on Magazine for catfish poboy and fried pickles dinner, Coquette for drinks, Napoleon House for Pimms Cups, Yo Mama for late-nite peanut butter and bacon hamburgers (insanely good)
  • Day/Night 3: swamp tour in morning, August for lunch, Luke for oyster happy hour, Le Foret for dinner
  • Day 4: Commander's Palace for excellent jazz brunch, and a pretty good roast-beef po-boy for dinner
I have never eaten so well for so many consecutive days and meals, Got home not too long ago from easter lunch with family, and downloading photos from the to thinking about beignets!

The Cafe Du Monde box lists the following ingredients in this order, so it's probably an indication by weight
  1. enriched wheat flour
  2. milk (powder)
  3. buttermilk (powder)
  4. salt
  5. sugar
  6. leavening (baking powder, baking soda, and/or yeast)
  7. natural and artificial flavoring.
Some thoughts about them:
  1. They were not very sweet by themselves, sweetness all came from insane amounts of powdered sugar
  2. Almost a little custardy inside, very big holes, like highly hydrated dough. Reminded me of churro interior in terms of dampness and texture
  3. Of course very tender!
Some things I observed in person, and confirmed from a YouTube video, the CDM web site, and other online sources:
  1. They use Big Chief hotel and restaurant (H&R) flour for the dough (I saw big bags on pallets right outside the restaurant, and I took a photo). This is a bleached, bromated, unenriched white all-purpose flour, between 11.6-12.4% protein, according to the specs, and is milled in Texas for Koerner Co.
  2. The dough is sheeted and cut into squares by machine, then thrown right into oil to fry, for about 4 minutes. Unknown temp, although the CDM dry mix instructions say 370F.
  3. They use cottonseed oil to fry their dough.
  4. The dough should be soft, almost biscuity soft, and should be only very lightly mixed, so as not to form gluten.
I found a few recipes, this beignet recipe looks the most promising, because it doesn't use yeast. I don't think the CDM recipe (nor their model) require rise time, so use of yeast for rising is out of the question.

Anyway, the trip left me inspired, and wanting to cook more N'Awlins food, and go back to visit soon for sure!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

blue cheese 4 & wings

Made chicken wings tonight, used the Beacon-style fry method: 350 for 2 min, rest for 15 minutes, then 375 for 7 minutes.

Did the blue cheese dip like #3. The recipe below has not been made, but it's been modified as followed for next time:
  • reduced garlic to 1/2 clove; it can be a little pungent
  • reduced parsley to 1/4 tsp, and I grind it with my fingers to make it a powder
  • add a little salt and pepper
Blue Cheese #4 (TBD)

3 tbsp mayo
3 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 clove garlic, minced & ground with salt using knife blade
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley
4 tbsp crumbled blue cheese

Mix with fork to really mash those blue cheese nuggets.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chicken alfredo pizza

Finally, making a pizza tonight that I made for my lady sometime in late 2003 or early 2004, which I made with leftover garlic roasted chicken, which she really liked, but I never made for her again. I had actually made it while was away in wine school, and she hasn't let me live it down :) So here we go!

Alfredo Pizza Sauce

4 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp garlic
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. milk
3/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 c. diced mixed white melting cheese (such as 50/50 mozzarella + monterey jack)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 pinch thyme
1 tiny pinch nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste

In small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and a bit of black pepper, and cook for 30 seconds. Add heavy cream and milk all at once. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat t low, add cheese all at once, and whisk continually. Add onion powder, thyme, and nutmeg. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Pizza toppings: diced cheese, alfredo sauce, cooked shredded or diced chicken, chopped garlic, black pepper, minced parsley

Hopefully she'll like it!

Friday, March 04, 2011

other cooking weights

Some weight estimates for future baking...

(another nice chart, too bad it's in ounces!

Water: 1 cup = 236g

White flour: 1 cup = typical 125g, but can range from 120g and 140g, depending on flour scooping/sifting method and humidity.

Yeast: approx 2.25tsp = 7.1g, so 1 tsp = approx 3.156g

Salt: this runs the gamut, depending on salt type.

Table Salt: 1 tsp of Morton's Iodized Table Salt = 6.86g average
Lowest: 6.1g
Highest: 8.1g

Kosher Salt: 1 tsp of Morton's Coarse Kosher Salt = 4.766g average
Lowest: 4.2g
Highest: 5.2g

Baking Powder: 1 tsp of Clabber Girl baking powder = 4.167g
(rule of thumb: 1 tsp per 1 cup of flour)

White Sugar: 1 cup = 200.14g, 1 tbsp = 12.5g
Brown Sugar: 1 cup = 195g, 1 tbsp = 12.2g

Shortening: 1 cup = 205.5g

Butter: 1 tbsp = 14g, 1 stick = 1/4 lb (113g) 

Monday, February 21, 2011

sloppy giuseppe

I made timpano this weekend for a food-themed party, turned out will, will post the recipe shortly.

My lady bought more ground meat than was necessary, so I had a big batch of leftover ground meat sauce, made up of beef, turkey, and italian sausage. I also had some piquillo peppers left over from a chorizo pizza that I made on Friday night. Got me to thinking...

So, without further adieu, my "Sloppy Guiseppe", based on a sloppy joes recipe on

Sloppy Guiseppes

1 lb leftover cooked ground meat
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (or whatever pepper you have)
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 tsp fresh minced garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste


1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic.
2. Add meat, then add all remaining ingredients, bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Serve on nice rolls.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

coquille st. jacques, aka scallops

Everywhere we went in France, when we ate scallops, they all had this little bitty orange "tail" on them. Tasted fine and meaty just like a scallop. I never see them here in California.

Watching an America's Test Kitchen episode about scallops and they were interviewing some New England fisherman lady who was demonstrating how to shuck scallops.

I was dismayed to see her demonstrate (and say) that in the US, they throw the coral (a.k.a. scallop roe) away. Damn. What a waste. From what I recall, it's just as tasty as the scallop meat.

Dave Lieberman's Cauliflower Soup

Made this a week or two ago. A very simple dinner, with good fresh bread, delicious. Consider adding a bit of fresh cream for extra richness, but perfectly good as-is.

Cauliflower Soup and Parmesan Crisps
Courtesy of Dave Lieberman and Food Network

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup shredded Parmesan
Chopped chives, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a hand held immersion blender, puree the soup, or puree in small batches in a blender and return it to the pot. Add the Parmesan and stir until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, make the Parmesan crisps:
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the shredded cheese over the foil in 1 even thin layer. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown and crisps. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Break sheet of crisp cheese into large pieces and garnish each soup bowl with a couple shards and a pinch of fresh chives.

DDD carnitas

This is my abstraction of a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (DDD) recipe that I saw for carnitas in 2009. The recipe comes from Guy Fieri's visit to Los Taquitos Mexican Food Grill, in Phoenix, AZ, where the Ochoa family makes traditional Mexican cuisine.

Los Taquitos Carnitas

One Pork shoulder, bone-in, probably 6-8lbs.
2 cinnamon sticks
1 head garlic, with top sliced off
1-2 cups condensed milk
1-2 cups cola
1 tbsp salt
Water (to almost cover)
  1. Trim a little fat off the top of the pork shoulder, but leave some on for flavor.
  2. Slice the pork a bit, but leave bone in
  3. In a large pot, place pork, 2 cinnamon sticks, garlic, condensed milk, cola, salt, and water to almost cover.
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, simmer 2 hours in covered pot.
  5. Remove meat and shred.
Once shredded, you can throw it on the grill with some oil to get crisp. Make tacos or burrito, with some pico de gallo.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

ATK carnitas

Kinda funny that ATK is showing how to make "pork tostadas", really just carnitas. But the recipe looks pretty good anyhow. They call it "Tinga"

2 lbs. boneless pork butt/pork shoulder, cut into 1" cubes
1 tsp table salt
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
3 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried chipotle powder
1 14oz can tomato sauce
1 cup pork braising liquid (reserved from pork)
2 bay leaves

Lime wedges
Queso fresco
Avocado, diced

In a large pot, add 6 cups cold water, onion, 2 sprig thyme, 3 garlic cloves.
Bring to simmer, then cover, and simmer over medium-low for about 1.25 to 1.5 hours, or until pork starts to shred.
Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.
Remove garlic, onion, thyme.
Shred pork (it's easy using a potato masher).

In a 12" skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion, oregano and pork, and fry for 7-10 minutes,
Fry over high heat for 7-10 minutes, until edges of pork are crisp.
To finish pork, add garlic & chipotle powder, cook stirring for 1 minute.
Add tomato sauce, braising liquid, and bay leaf
Cook until sauce reduces, 7-10 minutes.

To fry tortillas, heat 1 cup oil in skillet to 350F
Fry corn tortillas for a minute or two per side. Set aside on towel to drain.

Garnish with diced avocado, cilanto, queso fresco, and lime wedges

Saturday, January 15, 2011

german night recipes


Creamy Mushroom Sauce (from Diane Phillips Perfect Party Foods); I augmented by 50/50 chicken & beef stock, also about 1tbsp of brandy before adding flour.

Roast Pork Loin from ATK; did a brine using Alton Brown's brine (I think; I had a plastic cup of it stored in the cabinet) for 1 hour before pan searing then roasting.

Pretzels (my own recipe)

Apple Schnapps