Archive for the 'Food' Category

Roast Turkey

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
Turkey

For Thanksgiving this year, I couldn’t decide between cooking a smoked turkey or a roasted turkey. So I did both. 38 lbs of turkey may have been excessive for 12 people, but the leftovers are grand (still have quit a bit frozen).

For the smoked turkey, I followed the guide at Amazing Ribs. Hands down, the best BBQ/Grilling site around.

For the roast turkey, I started with Martha Stewart’s Cheesecloth Method, derived inspiration from Amazing Ribs, and applied a bit of my whim. The end result was incredibly good and, bonus, also produced some of the best gravy I’ve ever had.

Details:

  • You’ll need a roasting pan that allows the turkey to be suspended at least an inch, preferably more, above the contents of the pan (which will be about 1″ deep). Looking closely at the (admittedly poor) picture, my turkey roaster’s rack has little notches that allow it to be suspended over the pan. If you have room, you could use a pan on the bottom rack of the oven with a rack immediately over to hold the turkey.
  • Shove some sage leaves and a lemon inside the bird’s body cavity. No stuffing, though, as that just dries out the meat (by requiring a longer cook) while not really improving stuffing quality.
  • Pre-heat oven to 450℉
  • In the roasting pan place all the turkey innards but the gizzard — neck, any fatty bits cut off, heart, liver, etc… Add to the pan:
    • One large onion, halved, skin on. The skin adds color.
    • Several peeled carrots, cut to finger length chunks.
    • Celery, finger length chunks.
    • 6+ whole peppercorns.
    • 60 / 40 mix of water / apple juice, enough to mostly cover the veggies.
  • In a deep sauce pan, melt 3/4 lbs of butter. Add 2 cups of Sake and ~1 Cup of Jack Daniels. Once thoroughly melted and stirred, soak a cheese cloth in it and layer on top of the turkey. There should be at least 4 layers of cloth on the top and down the sides of the turkey.
  • Shove the bird in the oven. After one hour, drop the temperature to 350℉ and baste the turkey with most of the remaining butter/sake/JD magic sauce. It’ll sizzle and pop. That’s OK. The cheesecloth will likely be near black and crispy. Also OK.
  • After another couple of hours, remove the cheesecloth carefully. Baste with any remaining awesomesauce and baste with a bit more of the drippings from the roasting pan below the turkey.
  • Cook for at least another hour. The bird will be done when the meat in the thickest part reaches ~155℉. Not 165℉ as the bird needs to rest for a good 15 to 20 minutes when pulled and carryover will cause the temperature to both continue to rise and continue to pasteurize (if you hold poultry at 131℉ for long enough, it’ll be fully pasteurized– the USDA’s quote of 165℉ for safety is based on holding at that temperature for only a few seconds!).
  • Strain the contents of the roasting pan into a pot. You could choose to serve it as is as a delicious and flavorful broth to be ladled over the meat. Or you can choose to cook it down — to thicken it up — as a more traditional gravy.


75/47.5 Yogurt

Sunday, September 9th, 2012
Yum!

When I became sous vide enabled (controlled water bath, anyway, a proper vacuum chamber is on the to-buy list), it immediately dawned on me that a tightly temperature controlled water bath would be perfect for purposefully growing microorganisms as much as for preventing the growth while achieving perfectly done foods.

Roger has long been a fan of yogurt and yogurt is nothing more than milk fermented by a lactose consuming bacteria of, most commonly, the Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus varieties.

And, yes, it has proven incredibly easy, cost effective, and exceptionally delicious to cultivate these bacteria in the milk of your choice using a sous vide rig. Note that you really don’t need a water bath; a cooler, some hot bottles and towels can work well enough.

However, you do need the precision of a water bath to achieve consistent results of the highest quality!

The Recipe

Milk Divided

1. Divide a gallon of milk amongst 5 1-quart Bell canning jars (which aren’t actually 1 quart in many cases — go figure — just divide the milk evenly between them). Lids on loosely!

We often use generic organic whole milk, but low-fat works, too. It cannot be ultra-pasteurized (as ultra-pasteurization breaks down the proteins to the point that the bacteria can’t survive. The implications on the healthiness of said milk are quite bad). Raw milk works beautifully, but is expensive. I’ve been meaning to try a mix of sheep and/or goat with the cow’s milk.

Lately, I’ve taken to using a gallon of 2% mixed with a quart of raw whole milk. The result is a bit richer in flavor and texture while not being the whole fat experience.

Making Yogurt; Scalding the Milk

2. Place in an 75C water bath for ~2 hours (long enough to heat the milk thoroughly to 75C for at least an hour).
3. Cool milk to 47.5C. I find it easiest to scoop out the hot water and replace with cold water to bring the temperature down rapidly.

I usually set the target temp of the water bath to 46C initially. By doing this, the residual heat from the milk will leach out into the water bath and you can tell when it is stable when it holds steady. You can inoculate and bring the temperature back to 47.5C simultaneously (Yogurt cultures will incubate fine up to just above 50C and, in fact, I used to do this at 50C. I’ve since found that 47.5C produces an even better result.). The key is to make sure the milk is solidly below 55C before inoculation, otherwise you’ll run the risk of killing off the live cultures!


Innoculate at 50C

4. Stir in one tablespoon of the plain flavor of your favorite brand of yogurt into each jar. Place lids back onto jar loosely.

You can use previous batches to inoculate new batches, but it is generally recommended that you refresh with new yogurt every few batches. Honestly, I’m not sure how much this matters. It’d seem that as long as you store your live culture yogurt properly, you shouldn’t have any more of an issue than one might with, say, a sour dough starter. Mostly, I end up “starting over” with store bought plain yogurt simply because we eat the previous batch so quickly and we forget to preserve enough to start the next batch!
5. Leave in the water bath for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours (maybe even longer). The longer they are in the bath, the more greek-like sourness to the yogurt. I usually target 18 hours, maybe 22, and everyone in the family eats the stuff like crazy.

Done!

6. Tighten the lid and submerge in ice water to stop the bacteria from continuing reproduction as the temperature falls (more below). You should hear a “pop” as each jar seals itself.

7. Refrigerate. We’ve had jars sit in the fridge for 4+ weeks with no off flavors or nasty bits forming. Others have reported keeping the sealed jars in the fridge for 6+ weeks without issue.

You’ll get a bit of whey on some jars, some more than others, I typically collect the whey and use it in bread making.

Read the rest of this entry »

Big Cubes

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

 

If you like the occasional cocktail, get yourself some really big ice cubes. They tend to melt slower and, thus, water your drink down less while also providing a nice big chunk of cold.

 

Better yet, a very large cube of ice will not act as a dam against the side of the glass like a typical ice maker “cube”.

An upgrade over 2″ cubes would be to create 2″+ spheres. Currently, there seem to be two products on the market to do this. Instead of rehashing information, I’ll just post a link to this fantastic weblog with an article that focuses on spherical ice making.


As @dnanian reminded me, there is this absolutely fantastic spherical ice cube mold out of Japan.   Beautiful piece of work, but both a bit spend and not exactly convenient.

Still… that mechanical engineering is quite drool worthy.

Sous Vide Update

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Quick notes;  I’m sorely behind on photography and weblogging.  Instead of letting things entirely rot, I’m going to jot down some notes for future reference (my own and, hopefully, others).

I’ve also been behind on cooking, making stuff, etc…

After letting my Sous Vide Supreme gather dust for a couple of months, I thought through why and what to do about fixing this.   The quality of food that is possible with SV cooking was clearly a motivator.  What I concluded was that the size and pain of storing the SVS was ultimately the reason why I didn’t use it;  finding a place to store was a pain and the SVS always takes the same rather large volume of water, even if you only want to cook a few eggs or a couple of steaks.

Thus, after some rather extensive research, I decided to go with a PolyScience Sous Vide Professional.   Effectively, it is a PolyScience lab circulator refactored into a form convenient for use in a kitchen.   It is easy to use, very accurate, and — most critically for me — can handle both a much much smaller and, on those occasions where I need it, a significantly larger (30L) volume of water vs. the SVS.

Once obtaining said device, a bit of a food adventure has been had over the past few weeks.

Ribs & Pork Shoulder (24 hours @ 56ºC)

Ribs were basted with an apricot / rice vinegar / EVOO / brown sugar / ginger sauce prior to bagging.   Pork shoulder was rubbed down with brown sugar, light salt, and scotch bonnet pepper flakes.

End result was quite good;  both the ribs and the shoulder had “chew” in that they didn’t entirely fall apart, but were still completely fork tender.   Flavor profile was excellent;  intensely pork flavored without being overbearing.   The belly was slightly salty and, in fact, salting in sous vide is very different than salting in regular bbq.

Lesson Learned: What is likely obvious to anyone who can actually cook;  any liquid in the sous vide bag should be drained into a pan and used to make a sauce, some sauce, any sauce.   Use it to deglaze a pan.  Add it to some sauce you are making, even if you have to cook it down a bit.   There is simply too much deliciousness in the liquid in the bag to let it go down the drain!

Fillet of Salmon (30 minutes @ 54ºC)

Just hot enough to pasteurize, no more.  Sadly, this sucked.  But it was an important lesson.  The Salmon fillet was absolutely perfect in texture and color, but the flavor was off.  Namely, it was fishy because I had abused the fillet between freezer and consumption.  Not “I’m going to die” fishy, but just unpleasant.   Frankly, if I had cooked it in a stew or grilled it, it would have been fine.

Lesson Learned: When cooking SV, there is nowhere that any off flavors can escape to, be burned off, or otherwise be covered.  While you don’t have to start with the most amazing quality ingredients, they must be absolutely fresh and/or have been stored properly every step of the way between harvest and table.

 

Brisket — French Laundry Style (48 hours @ 64ºC)

Picked up a big chunk of relatively cheap brisket and cut it into three pieces.  All three were oiled, salted and peppered prior to bagging.  One then had a hot indian curry added and one had a bunch of Worcestershire + Maple Syrup.

End result was very interesting.  It was a lot less tender than I expected, but was still fork tender after being sliced across the grain.

All of the juices were drained into a small cast iron pot and were cooked down with powdered mustard, ketchup, and siracha until it thickened into what turned into a delicious BBQ sauce.

Lesson Learned: Following Keller’s temperature and time recommendations seems to “just work”.  This comes as know surprise.  However, if you read many of Keller’s SV recipes, they generally require a proper vacuum sealer to be able to achieve the “under pressure” part of SV cooking.

Cheap Steaks (48 hours @ 56ºC)

Picked up some cheap sirloin steaks.  Not terribly tender, but not too tough.  Decided to do them 48 hours to see what would happen;  one plain, one curry, and one maple syrup + Worcestershire.

Browned meat over high flame on cast iron after.

Made sauce out of the juice, of course.

Was quite delicious, but the meat texture was too tender.  Beyond fork tender.

Lesson Learned: No, really, you can make a meat too tender.  At least, if you expect to serve it in a steak-like format.  However, I’m betting that taking the same cut of meat, dropping a bunch of stew like veggies and spices into the bag, and cooking that for 48 hours in a similar way would result in an amazing stew.

Peaches (3 hours @ 80ºC)

Peaches + brown sugar + bourbon, actually.   Just an experiment.

Delicious over ice cream, but the bourbon flavor was surprisingly strong.  In hindsight, this should have been obvious.   Did this a second time and used the result in a BBQ sauce described below.

Lesson learned: The Sous Vide pouches are a closed systems.  Any flavors that go in will stay there.  They may change from being exposed to said temperature, but they can’t escape!  Duh!  So, like salt, if you have something that is an intense flavor that would otherwise be somewhat lost during cooking, vastly reduce the amount you put in!

Brisket — Baldwin Style (24 hours @ 80ºC)

Didn’t have 48 hours and wanted to try something a little different.  Did the three flavors again as described above.

Browned the meat in skillet before, on grill after.

The end result was much much more tender than the French Laundry Style described above. But that may also have been because the meat, itself, was significantly fattier.

Served with a BBQ sauce made from the SV peaches described above + brisket SV juices + ketchup + maple syrup + mustard + hot peppers.

Lesson Learned: Beyond the exceptionally well understood pasteurization tables and exactly what temperature to cook a piece of meat to consider it “rare, medium-rare, etc..”, the relationship between time/temperature vs. resulting texture is not entirely understood by anyone. Certainly, a truly competent chef will find a particular time/temperature

Leg of Lamb (24 hours @ 54ºC)

Took a leg of lamb, shoved it in a bag without anything else, and SV’d it for 24 hours.

Once done, salted, peppered, EVOO, and then grilled for a minute per side on a very high heat gas grill.

Using the leftover BBQ sauce from the previous night as a base, I added the juice from the lamb SV bag and cooked it down a bit more.

The meat was perfectly tender and medium-rare from edge to edge.  Not a bit of it was left at the end of the meal.

Lesson Learned: 54ºC is a magic number.  At 54ºC, you can mostly cook something for up to 72 hours with no worries of poisoning anyone and still result in a piece of medium rare meat.  Mostly (as there is some subtlety to the whole pasteurization thing).  Just start with a fresh and competently handled piece of meat — it can be cheap, but it must be fresh.

Pork Ribs (24 hours @ 57ºC)

Dry rub with brown sugar, salt, hot pepper, ginger, and garlic.  Into the bag for 24 hours.  Cooked down a BBQ sauce (carry over from the one above), glazed and then seared over a high heat gas fired grill.

The texture of the meat was perfect.   The flavor was too damned salty.  Not inedibly so; just much more so than desired.

Lesson re-learned: No matter how little salt you use in a Sous Vide bag, it can easily be too much.  I didn’t even think I’d used that much salt, but the end result was still saltier than expected and saltier than desired.

More notes as I figure this out….

 

Upgrading the Big Green Egg & Replacing the Gasket; High-Que.com’s Gasket & Fire Grate

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Nearly 5 years ago, I wrote a post all about the details of owning a Big Green Egg. Quite popular, but it needs to be updated as I’ve learned much since then. This is the first in what’ll likely be a series of articles outlining some upgrades and details of Big Green Egg ownership.

BGE Upgrade Kit; New Gasket & FIre Grate
High-Que’s Upgraded Fire Grate & Gasket.

There are two common complaints that I’ve heard from many Big Green Egg owners. The first is that, after years of ownership, it is harder and harder to get the egg past ~350 degrees or so (500 – 750 needed to do proper sears or cook a pizza). In particular, the fire grate included with the BGE is a big metal plate with a bunch of ~3/4″ holes drilled in it. It just doesn’t let a lot of air through to start with and, after years of use, any kind of ash build up and/or clogging of the holes in the ceramic firebox leads to even less air getting through.

Related, for those that do achieve high heat on a semi-regular basis, the factory installed woolen gasket quickly wears out.

Fortunately, there exists High-Que.com who specializes in upgraded components for the Big Green Egg. Pictured at left is their upgraded fire grate and their Nomex based high-heat replacement gasket.

For BGE owners, I cannot recommend these two products highly enough. Gasket upgrades have been around for quite a while, but most involved spray adhesive or fireplace-safe adhesive combined with a gasket that would often fray, leaving the risk of metal bits in your food (most of the gaskets were really re-purposed oven or kiln gaskets). High-Que’s gaskets are more like the original BGE gasket in physical design, but are much more durable and can withstand a higher heat. Like the original gasket, High-Que’s uses a high-heat adhesive backing that is exposed by removing a bit of paper; no toxic spray-on adhesives involved.

High-Que’s fire grate is equally as well considered & built. It is a very heavy gauge stainless steel grate that will not clog and allows for much greater air flow. As it comes with a 5 year warranty, clearly High-Que believes the product works.

Venison/Beef Burgers
Venison/Beef Burgers Seared Beautifully.

And it does. The combination of the two products has vastly improved the cooking experience with my BGE; it is easier to light, achieves a higher temperature faster (literally, takes about 12-15 minutes to reach ~600 degrees whereas I had a hard time cracking 400 without a fan before the upgrade), and the gasket looks like it is going to last much longer than the BGE wool gaskets (I won’t know for sure for another ~6 months or so).

And there was a fringe benefit that was a nice surprise; every BGE owner who has cooked at high heat has learned through quite a bit of hair loss that you have to “burp” your egg when opening it at temperatures greater than ~500. If you don’t, this rather ominously beautiful cloud of flames (seriously — check out this set o’ photos!!) will burst out of the egg and take all your arm hair right off!

With the increased air flow of the High-Que grate, the Egg doesn’t exhibit anywhere near the same degree of flashback as long as the bottom vent is wide open. What a nice surprise! To be clear, the egg will still flashback if the bottom vent is closed or if you open too rapidly at high heat, but the problem is vastly reduced!



Replacing the gasket is a bit of a chore. Click through for full details. Since the Egg needs to come apart for this anyway, a full cleaning is in order, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Homebrew Update

Monday, December 13th, 2010

I’ve finally gotten into the homebrew groove, it seems. The motivation, though, was a potential catastrophe. Namely, my kegerator can’t hold 2 typical commercial 5 gallon kegs. It seems that the dimensions of kegs vary and most are just slightly shorter and fatter than the “standard”. It won’t fit by about 1/16″!

I briefly toyed with either moving the kegerator to the big chest freezer and using the small for food. But then I had a better idea.

Since the kegerator can easily fit a commercial with a corny keg (or 2 corny kegs) then I should actually, like, BREW BEER!

And, thus, that is what I’m doing. Got a butch of heavily coffeed American Nut Brown Ale finishing in a cornelius keg while a batch of traditional English Special Bitters is in primary.

The Nut Brown Ale came out with about a ~4.7% ABV, exactly as the recipe said it should. After a week of sitting in the corny keg, the Nut Brown Ale is now on tap in the kegerator. The first few pours were a bit bitter and cloudy, but now it is pouring much cleaner and is absolutely delicious. Notable bitter coffee flavor on top of a chocolaty brown ale beer.

The English Special Bitters went in with an SG of 1.040, about 0.007 less than the recipe called for, but I’m not worried about it. Update: Came out at about 1.012 SG; or, about, ~3.7% ABV. It’ll go into the secondary now to settle and then into a corny keg in a few days to a week. I don’t expect much further fermentation, but it’ll likely end up right at 4% ABV.

A friend turned me on to Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply. Their kits are fantastic, the prices are reasonable, and they have $8 shipping on all orders.

Thus, I picked up 3 kits (and already had a kit from Fermentation Solutions, whom I’ll definitely go to when I’m ready to start doing custom recipes & for the occasional kits because theirs are quite good, too); two malt extract (ESB & Traditional English Pub Ale) and one partial extract (Oatmeal Stout).

With the gas stove, I can get through a recipe in 3 to 3.5 hours with a partial boil recipe. It is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Better yet, when my sinuses are clogged, as they often are in the winter, all that steam does wonders!

Trader Joe’s & Sous Vide Cooking; Don’t Do It!

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Trader Joe’s has quite a few relatively high quality, often deliciously pre-marinated, foods vacuum packed and frozen in convenient plastic pouches.

Not surprisingly, I’ve seen it come up in a number of Sous-Vide cooking forums that said pouches are wonderful for water bath cooking; simply pop them in the water bath at the desired temperature and be done with it.

I even tried it myself with some tuna the other night. It was a pasteurization level cook, so the end result was closer to flaky cooked than red-raw tuna, but was otherwise delicious.

However, I — and others — have wondered if the wrapping Trader Joe’s uses is Sous-Vide safe. So, I contacted customer service and asked:

Is your vacuum packed frozen fish sealed in bags that can
handle sous-vide water bath cooking (i.e. a cooking bat at ~140 degrees
F)?

Given the growing popularity of sous vide cooking and the unbelievable
convenience/quality of your fish products, it would be helpful to mark
packages that can handle SV cooking.


The response from customer service:

Thank you for your inquiry. The packaging used for our frozen fish are
not approved for this cooking method. We do advise removing all
packaging before any cooking method.

Unfortunate, but it is what it is. I suspect this is more of a CYA response than an actual statement of cooking method incompatibility, but I’m not going to risk it. Nor will I assume that any of the meats (they have beautiful pre-seasoned frozen vacuum packed rack of lamb, for example) is safe, either.

I’m going to write a followup letter to Trader Joe’s corporate asking them to re-consider.

Precise Temperature Control Cooking; Sous Vide Water Oven

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Cooking food with heat is a far more subtle process than simply applying heat. Beyond that doubling the temperature obviously doesn’t cook something twice as fast, there is a vast array of stunningly complex chemical reactions that occur as food is heated.

Even the seemingly simple act of hard boiling an egg will cause the yolk and white to pass through nearly a dozen different phases as different temperature thresholds are crossed and different proteins and nucleic within the white and yolk are denatured. For an egg, the difference between clear, runny, jelly-like, and hard boiled is only a matter of degrees!

And some reaction can take quite a while, too. Making pulled pork, something for which I have a bit of experience, involves heating the meat to a temperature such that the collagen and fat effectively changes from a tough, chewy, substance into liquid or a jello like cloud of delicious. Done right, this can take hours or, even, days.

With a stove, grill or — even — an oven, it is extremely difficult to both maintain a constant temperature and not dry the food out.

Enter sous vide.

Sous vide means, literally, “under vacuum”. That is, in sous vide cooking, the food is vacuum packed, often with spices or marinades. The actual process of cooking, though, is generally done in a water oven; a device that can maintain a bucket of water at a very precise temperature.

Precise as in the ability to cook an egg to exactly 144 degrees throughout, just hot enough that the white is semi-solid but still runny while the yolk is nearly, but not totally, liquid. I.e. the perfect poached egg. Or 72 hour pulled pork at 141 degrees that comes out fork tender, medium-rarish, but with the flavor of ham. Or the perfect rare, fork tender, short rib by cooking at 138 for 48 hours.

“But, wait!, pork at 141?!?! Beef @ 138? The FDA says we need to reach ~160 for them to be safe!! You are gonna kill someone!”

Those temperatures are actually the instant kill temperatures for food borne pathogens. If you get the inside of a steak to 166, all bad critters will be dead. However, said same critters cannot survive at ~135 or above and, thus, if you keep the meat at said temperature for long enough, the bad critters will generally be just as dead.

This isn’t the end of the story and I encourage you to both read Douglas Baldwin’s Sous Vide for the Home Cook and, covering much more than just sous vide and the single most accessible and entertaining science oriented cookbook around Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food
(seriously — get this book — even if you have a moratorium on cookbooks, get this book!!).

I had the pleasure of hearing Jeff speak and having lunch with him. It was that conversation that convinced me to dive into Sous Vide cooking; it scratches all of the über-control penchant of my geekiness while promising to yield new potential heights to appease my chefiness.

At left is the SousVide Supreme, an appliance that quite conveniently maintains a bath of water at whatever temperature you want from less than 100 degrees up to just below boiling point.

There are also a number of homebrew solutions and lab quality circulators (no surprise, heating some live soup of pathogenic critters to ideal reproduction temperatures is a long solved problem in the lab). And you can go the PID controller route and whip up a hot water oven for ~$50 (link to an excellent write-up on doing exactly that).

I personally chose the SVS both because I didn’t have a crock pot and the good quality lab circulators are typically considerably more expensive. As well, the margin for error with Sous Vide can be pretty damned narrow when cooking at the border of pathogenic reproduction temperatures; best to have a dead accurate unit than one that is off by 5 degrees.


NOTE: Since writing this article, I sold my SVS to a friend and upgraded to the Polyscience Sous Vide Professional. While more expensive, it is both slightly more accurate and, the motivating factor, vastly more versatile. As an added benefit, there is no big, single purpose, metal tub. Storing the Polyscience circulator takes vastly less room and the device can maintain temperature on a truly huge tub of water (up to 30 liters). I have various sized Cambro food trays and, thus, I can choose a smaller container when doing a handful of eggs, a deep container when doing very veggies that like to stand up, or a really large 25L relatively shallow container when cooking 5 slabs of my now infamous 65 hour tropical BBQ pork ribs!


For vacuum sealing, I’m using a FoodSaver v3840 upright sealer. In hindsight, I would much rather have a clam shell vacuum sealer as they waste less bags and, though seemingly less convenient, are easier to align the bag for sealing purposes.

In the 2 weeks I’ve had the SVS, I’ve been able to produce some truly amazing foods (and one really bland bit of food). I’ve learned a lot and also come to realize that this is really an area of cooking for which there is no deep history or reference tome. A lot of times you are on your own. And as long as you follow the safety rules put forth in both Douglas’s and Jeff’s books, you’ll always be safe even if your meal turns out inedible (as Jeff likes to say, even the worst meal can be improved by a quick call to the local pizza delivery service).

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Delicious Bread Anytime

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

King Arthur Flour — an awesome company that makes excellent products — has the single best explanation of no knead bread I’ve found. Seriously. Go read that. Make it. Then get the book I mentioned below to expand beyond the basic loaf.


5MinuteBread2.JPG

Not long ago, I took on bread making and have had great success.


However, I don’t make bread that often because, by the time I decide I want some with dinner, it is typically too late to actually make it in time!

A friend had raved about a bread recipe that involved no kneading and keeping the dough in the fridge for use anytime, claiming the result was fantastic bread with less than 2 hours from fridge to table.

In particular, he recommended the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. With access to Crackazon Prime on my iPhone, I ordered the book.

And damned if it doesn’t work. At left is the first loaf I made using this technique. In the toaster oven, even.

The base recipe basically involves mixing — but not kneading or working — a dough from a base ratio of water, flour, salt, and yeast. This then goes into the refrigerator (I’m using a six quart Cambro food container
) for at least a day, and will keep for up to 2 weeks. As it ages, it will apparently take on more of a sour dough flavor.

When you want bread, you dust the top with flour, rip off a hunk of dough, let it rise on your pizza peel for ~40 minutes, and then bake it at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

End result? A delicious bread with a crunchy crust, excellent texture, and great flavor.

The introduction to the book is a bit smarmy, what with the claim of a “revolution in baking, blah, blah, blah”, but the rest of the book is awesome. The first couple of chapters discuss ingredients and tools quite clearly while the next chapter lays out the base recipe.

From there, the rest of the chapters are full of all kinds of other bread and bread-like recipes.

Annoyingly, the recipes are all in “cups” and “tablespoons”, not weights or ratios.

So, if you do get the book, the base recipe is 708 grams water, 12 grams yeast, 25 grams salt, and 812 grams flour. Yes — it is supposed to be considerably wetter than a “normal” bread dough.



Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato Porky Thing

Saturday, September 4th, 2010
tomatoporkything.jpg

I tossed this together tonight and, though simple and fairly obvious, was just too good to not share.

Heirloom tomato season is upon us and I’ve been grabbing some beauties from my community garden plot.

A simple use that makes for a good all in one meal:

  • Slice the tomato into 1/4″ thick rounds
  • Place on lightly oiled (olive oil works best) cookie sheet or pizza pan
  • Place a couple of fresh basil leaves on each
  • Add a bit of meat. I used pulled pork (as I had made some earlier), but I’m betting ham or bacon would work exceptionally well, too. Chicken works quite nicely, as well.
  • Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Good thick layer. Maybe grate a touch of parmesan in there, too
  • Lightly pepper and add a touch of salt. I used porcini mushroom salt.
  • Toss into a warmed pre-warmed oven at about 300 degrees.
  • Wait a minute or so, then turn the oven over to Broil on high
  • Wait until all the cheese is melted and starting to bubble/brown

Delicious.