Monday, July 11, 2016

Procurement: Pizza Stone

I should be embarrassed, I guess, that in all the times I've made pizza (at least since I've started in on sourdough bread making), all those pizzas were made on a Silpat lined cookie sheet, as I broke my pizza stone years ago, and never got around to replacing it.

This weekend, I remedied that laziness.

And unlike the stone I used 15 years ago, I actually managed to read the instructions on this one. And initially, I'm going to continue to roll my slack sourdough pizza dough onto the silpat and do the cookie sheet routine for 2/3 of the cooking time, and will then transfer it to the stone to crisp up the crust--as I have trust issues with my sourdough's stickiness (see also: the baguette pan disaster).

I bought this at BB&B and not on Amazon; though checking out the reviews there, they are a mixed bag. I am hoping that the issue with the cracking was a result of a wet stone. I washed my stone Saturday, and I have it in my oven hanging out (not on, obviously) waiting until possibly Weds or Thurs for pizza night. Here's hoping it doesn't crack. 

So, I read the instructions and washed it (no soap), and will be making a pizza this week, and hope for the best!

Sourdough: Are You Teff Eneff?

In my head, when I say "Teff Eneff..." I'm thinking of this song:

Anyway, I started branching out to using teff flour, just to keep things interesting for me; and I found a Teff Poolish Sourdough Recipe I have been tweaking the hell out of, making it a sourdough recipe, with a tiny yeast boost in the second hydration stage.

This is what my boochy sourdough starter looked like within a half hour after setting up the levain. This sat and fermented 12 hours before advancing to the next stage.

Again, I made too much bread and decided to do one loaf (the "weekly" loaf) and a couple baguettes for other purposes. The next permutation of this recipe will be halved, as this is too much bread, and again, I have no room in my freezer to put any excess.
 I'm trying to get better about my scoring on the tops...

 Now the "Money Shot," what the interior looks like! Glorious!  I think next time I will put less dough in the loaf pan, and let it rise a bit longer to see if it improves the interior.

Chicken & Waffles: An Asian Permutation

This was our dinner last night (and possibly tonight, too): Fried chicken (brined w/Thai aromatics), green papaya salad, and instead of scallion pancake, I made scallion waffles.  (And instead of maple syrup, I did a drizzle of sweet chili dipping sauce.)

I hope that the chicken will crisp back up in the toaster oven tonight. It truly was a thing of beauty.

I was so fortunate to see that Viet World Kitchen had linked to this recipe for Ruhlman’s Twenty Leads to Kaffir Lime Fried Chicken Recipe, which I used as my guide, and my only variations on the aromatics was to use garlic scape paste, gojuchang, lime juice, galangal and lemongrass. Truly, the brine was essentially the broth for tom yum goong, minus the shrimp and mushrooms.  

I pressure cooked the aromatics in a bit of chicken broth, cooled it completely and put my chicken in that, and let it sit for two whole days, before draining, drying off, and leaving in fridge uncovered most of the day to air chill/dry off a bit more before frying.

My green papaya salad was a MacGuyvered affair, using some of the garlic scape/cilantro pesto I made, using up some left over fresh made pico de gallo, nam pla, mung sprouts, cuke, shred carrot, green papaya shredded up a la minute, canned diced pineapple, lime juice, and peanuts. 

The scallion waffles were made with a pancake mix I bought from the Korean market, which I augmented with an egg, some buttermilk, and scallions. 

And of course, I made too much of everything! 

Related to the frying, this was the third time using the same batch of oil I have been using this month. And thanks to this tutorial on how to clarify my oil, it has made a HUGE difference in the quality of my deep frying.    
  • The first fry was vegetable oil straight from the bottle. I fried up some haloumi, then clarified;
  • The second fry was deep frying chiccarones, so it's not 100% vegetable oil at that point. I clarified that, no problem, it left the oil/fat crystal clear (though, in the fridge there was an obvious indication where the fat/lard layer was vs the oil, and the lard layer was not solid, but obviously a different weight/viscosity than the vegetable oil); 
  • The third fry is the fried chicken from last night. I set up the gelatin routine for the clarification, and I wonder how well this will work, given there was so much carbonized flour in the oil. Only time will tell!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Vienna, Prague & Budapest Haul

I neglected to share a photo of my provisions procured during our May travels to Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

Depicted is several different types of Viennese chocolates, as well as candies from Budapest. Licorice losenges from Prague, Paprika and Palinka from Budapest, and (APPLE MINT!) Ricolas and Absinthe from Zurich.

Below are more photos, of paprika procured, as well as (out of sequence) tasty tasty food we had while in Prague and Budapest (and I believe some noms from Demel in Vienna, too).

 Beet salad at Costes Downtown, Budapest
 Dessert at Costes
 Lunch (for me) at the Four Seasons, Budapest
 Lunch (for him) at the Four Seasons, Budapest
 Lunch at the restaurant close to Prague Castle (this was one of several identical meals eaten involving roast or confit of duck, red cabbage and potatoes)
Dinner: Monkfish at Costes
Nom at Cafe Demel, Vienna
 Nom 2 at Cafe Demel, Vienna
 Quail at Costes, Budapest
 Terrine at Costes, Budapest 

Monday, June 20, 2016

In Preparation For a Bangkok Mule

I like to think I'd be the first person to want the flavors of Thailand in a traditional Moscow Mule. 

Not sure of the volume of the jar, but this is the prototype. Stoli + lemongrass + galangal + makrut leaf. 

Every couple of days I will give the jar a shake, but plan on ignoring it for about a month, and hope for a tasty, tasty cocktail come mid-July.

After about three weeks, this is what it looks like now, strained:
And with some lime juice and a bit of ginger beer, it made a fine Bangkok Mule. 

Last Week's Loaf & Other Projects

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention last week's loaf.

I was going to do up that sourdough oat recipe that I started my journey on, and thought I'd do a soaker, and it almost went sideways.

Initially, I put the oats in a bowl, and was going to do 100% hydration to the oats and then follow the recipe as followed, and adjust the flour as needed during the knead.

Well, I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, and for 75 gm of oats, I put in roughly 125 gm of water. DOH! I let that sit all day to soak and do its thing.

I came home and set up the rest of the dough, using Einkorn APF (NOT bread flour! ugh. VERY SOFT!) and augmented a bit more with some spelt. I also had added a tsp of yeast into it as well, to ensure a bit more poof/activity, as the loaf I made for the week immediately prior to this loaf, did not activate and poof up enough for my liking and was entirely too dense. Edible and delicious, but dense as a brick. 

The resulting loaf was lovely, and despite the poofing during the proof, it wasn't overly full of holes in the crumb as I had hoped. But delicious. Inclusions were: bee pollen, hemp hearts and flax meal.

The dough was entirely too soft with all Einkorn (despite the minor adjustments of spelt). 

Earlier last week, I set up dough from this recipe to be used in a different application. Where the husband works, a co-worker is trying to get a "Thursday Pot Luck" off the ground, and I decided to make those buns, and stuff them with Trader Joes lamb koftas and dusted some buns with nigella seed, and some were dusted with duqqa/dukka,  (and provide a pint of curry gravy for dipping). And this was the result:
Feedback was positive. And I wish I held back one bun for myself to enjoy. Perhaps next time! Perhaps!

I was binge-watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and the episode where he visits Ethiopia with Marcus Samuelsson was fascinating. And of course the injera bread got me thinking about the possibilities of using teff with sourdough. So at 2 a.m., off to Amazon I went, and bought some teff flour, more einkorn flour, and some malt powder.  And at some point, THIS will happen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rhapsody in Rye: Unintentional Detour

Given I'll be traveling soon, I needed to get our weekly loaf crafted earlier than normal.

I decided to make the sourdough beer bread as I did about 10 days ago. Only, I wasn't paying attention. Everything was fine, until I was measuring out my flour, and thought I was using rye, only to realize about 3 ounces into the weigh-in that I was using buckwheat. So rather than despair, I measured out the right amount of rye, then compensated by putting in only 9 ounces of bread flour (instead of 12). 

I'm letting it bulk ferment while at work, I'll do a bit of stretch and folding once I'm home, then before putting it in a loaf pan, I'll add some hemp seeds. I'll let it sit in the fridge until Friday a.m., take it out, let it rest a bit more, and bake it off once I'm home on Friday. 

So I won't know until late Friday evening how this turns out. I'm hoping it's not too dense; however, given I use buckwheat honey in this recipe, I'm hoping the accidental inclusion of 3 oz of buckwheat flour gives it a nice flavor. The flavor of this particular loaf is tasty to begin with, so it can only make it MORE delicious, I hope! 

My only concern of course is the oven-spring, lift, crumb, whatever you want to call the interior bubbles trapped in the dough.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Note To Self: Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies (With Musings on Pizza)

I'm getting in the swing of this sourdough lifestyle, and as such, I'm always thinking of new ways to use my "discards" (I discard before feeding, so the discard is nice and hungry. I find this works for my purposes, YMMV.).

So far I've made tortillas and naan dough (the latter works great for pizzas), and this weekend I made a great chocolate cake which will be a keeper.

On the horizon at some point will be sourdough oatmeal cookies, which I'll load up with (as I said to my cousin) "plenty of garbage" (i.e. craisins, chia, shred coconut, orange peel, you name it). 

I might use this recipe for my jumping off point, and already considering tweaking this recipe thusly:
  • Coconut flour
  • Soaking the oats overnight 
  • Splenda
It'll be a few weeks, but wanted to plunk this idea down for me to refer back to, when I'm ready.

Regarding the pizza I referenced, last Wednesday, I made pizza using up 1/2 a batch of the naan recipe in that sourdough book by Sarah Owens. Half white pie with bacon and onions for me, and half with prosciutto, pineapple and arugala for the Maharajah.

 Obviously, I rolled it out directly onto a Silpat and baked it that way, and while the end product was lovely, I feel I need to invest in a pizza stone, so that once it is halfway done, I can transfer it to the stone to crisp up on the bottom.   So, if anyone is actually reading my blog and can recommend a particular brand pizza stone, I'd appreciate any input in the comments section!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Note To Self: Bake This For Mother's Day

I'll be going to a friend's house for Mother's Day, and it's my habit to take along something for desert. I'm thinking this Sourdough Chocolate Cake might be the ticket.

I'm just wondering if I have it in me to follow the recipe AS WRITTEN, though. This is a clear sign of my mother's influence, as she always views recipes as merely "suggestions," just like boxed cake mixes are a "suggested use," though she always uses boxed mixes for half-homemade things. They are great time savers.  

And now I am having a brilliant idea of morphing a boxed cake mix into a sourdough permutation. 

Do I have the willpower to just follow this recipe? The photos look so enticing! 

Maybe I'll allow myself ONE tweak? Perhaps two? Mocha frosting, and I'll use yogurt as I have that on hand (and need to use it up) instead of the sour cream.

I just wish there were a way to totally HACK the frosting. I bristle at the idea of all that confectioner's sugar. Isn't there a way to bulk up a frosting and use Splenda to sweeten? (Also that frosting needs a pinch of salt, IMHO.)

Stay tuned, for Saturday evening we make cake!

Our friend's son is the "official taster" and grand arbiter of deliciousness, and he whole-heartedly gave his thumbs up for this cake. "It's a keeper!" And he of course ate second helpings of it.

Tweaks, such as they are, for the cake:
  • As I mentioned above, I was out of sour cream but had plain yogurt, so I used that.
  • I wanted a contrast in depth of flavor between cake and frosting, so the cake got that ultra dark cocoa powder (think: Oreo cookie dark), and the frosting used regular ol' Dutched cocoa.
  • The oil I used was macadamia nut oil, which I had on hand, and wanted to use up my supply. This lent a nice nutty/buttery aspect to the batter.
  • I divided the batter between a square pan and some cupcakes, and cooked the cupcakes for roughly 22 minutes, and the cake itself baked for roughly 32, and the cake still seemed a bit over-moist in the middle, but I let the cake cool in the pan.
  • I did not reduce the sugar AT ALL in this; however, if I were making this for a cake for home, I would adjust the cake with Splenda.
  • Frosting I followed the recipe, but I added a tsp of coffee powder and maybe 1-2 T of Ovaltine powder, and a pinch of salt. 
Future tweaks for this cake if I make it for myself:
  • Splenda
  • Coconut flour

I still had about five cupcakes remaining, so like a good DO-BEE, I brought them into the office for the buzzards. I brought them in on Monday, and by this morning (WEDS), there were still three of them remaining. Cream cheese frosting will not abide sitting out unrefrigerated this long, so while it broke my heart, I tossed the remaining three, and made a mental note NOT to bring in any more baked goods for these assholes.  Let no good deed go unpunished.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Rhapsody in Rye: The Post Before THE Post

As I alluded to in a previous blog post, this is the recipe I want to make my next attempt at rye bread.

Full Disclosure:

I already made it (with a few tweaks, to be itemized later on); however, I tried to get fancy at a mid point in the baking.

I bake my rye in a bowl, specifically, the top of a double-boiler, so I get a boule kind of effect, as I am lazy and cheap and neither want to spend money to get a proofing basket or a couche. 

So my failure came in the form of dislodging the loaf at the halfway point (much like I did with my baguettes); however, I did not take into consideration that the boule was considerably more dense, thus the surface tension of the crust didn't have the structural integrity to sustain being dislodged and inverted (the intent was to place the boule directly on the rack in the oven, so all the surface of the crust got nice and... well... CRUSTY). 

As you might imagine, it started to implode, and I quickly tried to salvage the loaf, tried to place it back in the bowl and bake it off.

Note to self: Next time, just bake the fucker off in the pan. End. Of. Story.

Taste-wise the bread was CRAZY GOOD. Nice, assertive flavor, not too top heavy with tang, and everything else about it was great--except for the appearance, and I'll take the blame for that (ipso facto, NO PHOTO TAKEN).

Now, the itemization of my tweaks:
  • Einkorn flour, not a "generic" type of APF.
  • Buckwheat honey, one ounce
  • What flour to be used for dusting and kneading was buckwheat flour (I used approximately 4T) 
  • 2T hemp seeds
Bulk proofing, I lost track of time, to be honest. And I did not pop it into the fridge, either. So, let's say, 24 hours, with 12 hours bulk proof, and 12 hours of it in the pan it was going to bake in. 

So, I'm two days away from my next "Saturday loaf," and I've got my game plan in place.