February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I baked bread. I used the baguette recipe I posted about a while back, but I’ve made some slight modifications in process since then. See, it turns out that most bread recipes are written with instructions to maximize crustiness. I guess most people like a really crunchy crust? Not me (or my kids): I want my bread moist and chewy and not ripping up the roof of my mouth. I can eat me some Cap’n Crunch if I want that.
So. I went back to those recipes and books and I paid special attention to the bits that were emphasized for crustiness: baking on a stone, steaming (with a pan of water in the oven), and painting the dough with a coat of water just before baking. Then I stopped doing all of those things, and now I have bread with perfect — for us — crust. It’s chewy and delicious, but not at all crunchy. I don’t use any water, either applied to the dough or to steam, and instead of baking on a stone I bake on parchment paper on an airbake cookie sheet (or in a loaf pan).
January 15, 2014 § 1 Comment
The backstory: Kit has had to go gluten free. Like, extremely gluten free. I like to call him a Gluten Freek. The tiniest eensiest little bit of gluteny goodness — even just from cross-contamination — will double him right over with stomach cramps. So, he’s been missing a lot of his favorite foods, especially stuff we typically
get got in restaurants, like burgers and fries. A few months ago, we discovered that the kids’ favorite stop on the way up to Boston, Maggie McFly’s, has an extensive GF menu and a dedicated GF fryer. And for the “bun” on the burgers, instead of the regular GF buns like he’s been getting at the store, they have this amazing GF cheesy flatbread stuff. It’s so good I’ve started ordering my burgers with them, too.
I looked for a recipe for bread like this with no success, and then about a month ago, one came across my interwebs (I think on Twitter, but I’m honestly not sure). I tried it out last month and it came out pretty good, if a little greasy. This time, it’s pretty much perfect. The original recipe I found calls for tapioca flour, which it turns out I can’t use, as even the smell of it triggers my gag reflex (even just the little bit in GF all-purpose mixes). He talked a lot about the fine, silky texture of the tapioca flour, and I thought rice flour might substitute in nicely. Sure enough, it subs right in. Now, mine don’t look all pretty and puffy like in the pictures over at the original recipe, I assume because of the different flour. But, since we really want to use them for sandwiches, that actually works in my favor.
The hardest part about this dough is getting the texture right. It needs to be, once you’ve added everything in, moist enough to hold together but only just. Any moister, and you’re going to end up with the (admittedly delicious) greaseballs I had the first time. The key to this is the flour — the different flours seem to absorb moisture at different rates, even just different batches of the same type of flour. I used the exact same type and amount of flour this time as when I had the too-moist dough last time, and ended up having to remoisten the dough a little by adding more milk at the end.
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 c. milk
- 1/4 c. vegetable oil
- 3 1/2 c. Rice Flour (-ish — due to variations in absorbency, you may need more or less flour)
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 c. shredded cheddar
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a dutch oven or other large pot, melt butter. Allow butter to brown slightly but not burn.
Add milk and oil. Bring to boil, stirring frequently.
As soon as the mixture boils, remove from heat.
Add flour, mixing well. Mixture should be fairly dry and crumbly at this point.
Stir in eggs and both cheeses. Mixture should be smooth and slightly shiny.
If mixture is too dry, add additional milk in 2 Tbsp increments, stirring well after each addition, until mixture holds together. Do not over moisten.
Form dough into discs 3-4″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Dough will lose its shininess and you may see errant pieces of cheese begin to brown.
Let cool before serving. These are best slightly warm but quite good at room temperature or even cold for a quick snack.
April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
In case you didn’t know, yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. Thusly inspired, I popped this into the toaster oven last night for a quickie open-faced grilled-ham’n’cheese:
Bet you’re wondering what that dark layer on the bottom is…that would be raspberry jam, my friend, evoking the flavors of a Monte Cristo with none of the labor. Win!
May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
The past weekend’s kitchen marathon (more on that later, as there is cupcakey goodness that requires sharing, plus some other nifty stuff) pretty much ran me dry of some staples like powdered sugar, eggs, powdered buttermilk, cream cheese, cupcake wrappers…you get the picture: I needed a trip to the market. While I was at said market, it occurred to me that I had snap beans and fingerling potatoes from the farm market that I needed to use up, but nothing for an entree.
I ran through a list of my default entrees, and then a list of entrees I’d been considering but hadn’t tried yet and nothing seemed quite right. So I decided I’d just peruse the meat section of the store and see if anything struck me. I considered steak, and stew beef, and chicken, and pork chops…and then I saw the lamb. I love lamb. I almost never get to have it because I’m what my mother calls “frugal” and everyone else calls “cheap” so I’m only really willing to pay the premiums restaurants charge — on the rare occasions when they have it — if it’s something special like my birthday. And somehow, I had never cooked lamb myself. But…it was the perfect amount: about 1.5lbs, cut from the leg. And it was only $4.99/lb. Into my basket it went.
Of course, I realized as soon as I got home that I had absolutely no idea how to prepare lamb. I grabbed a bunch of cookbooks and settled in. I immediately discarded everything that called for an overnight marinade…I wanted my lamb tonight! I considered kebabs for awhile, but I didn’t really have anything on hand to kebab them with. I finally settled on a recipe for Ragout of Lamb from the 1961 New York Times Cookbook. The ingredient list was simple, as was the procedure for cooking. Exactly what I wanted.
If you’re not sure what a ragout is, go read about it here — I’ll wait. (I had to look it up myself, just for the record.) I did have to tweak the ingredients a bit — for instance, I didn’t have Spanish Sherry on hand, so I just threw in some of the Zinfandel I was planning on drinking with the meal. I also substituted paprika for the black pepper called for in the original: I don’t care for pepper, and I like paprika. I do this a lot…I just can’t be bothered to get a bunch of specialty ingredients, and the stuff I have on hand tends to be stuff I like. If it’s close to what’s called for, it almost always tweaks the recipe in a direction I like.
Below is the recipe for the ragout. I prepared the snap beans like this; boiled the potatoes for about 20 minutes, sliced them up and added them to the beans; and the bread recipe is the same one I’ve mentioned previously.
(adapted from 1961 New York Times Cookbook)
- 1 1/2 lbs lamb (I used a filet from a leg), in 1″ cubes
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 Tbsp paprika
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- About 1 1/2 c. chicken broth (beef broth should also work)
- 1/3 c. sweet red wine (I used Zinfandel because that’s what I was drinking)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- Basil to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a saute pan. Combine the flour, salt, and paprika in a dish suitable for dredging, then dredge cubed lamb. (Protip: I put it all in one of those white plastic takeout containers then just put the lid on and shook it all up instead of trying to dip each of the cubes in the flour dredge. Use a fork to flip the cubes out of the dredge and into the oil.) Cook lamb in preheated oil until brown on all sides. Add broth, wine, and garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes (give or take — you just want everything to heat through). If your saute pan is oven safe and has a lid, put the lid on and pop it in the oven for about an hour. If not, transfer it to an oven-safe casserole, cover, and pop it into the oven for about an hour.
Remove from oven and uncover. Immediately stir in cheese. If sauce is too thick, stir in a little more broth; if too thin, stir in a little more flour. Spoon onto plate. Garnish with basil.
Apologies for the poor picture quality: the battery in my DSLR was dead and I was hungry, so I just snapped a quick shot with my Droid.
May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
I wasn’t super hungry for lunch today, so I grabbed a couple of pieces of homemade bread, spread a little (okay, a lot) of goat cheese on each slice, popped them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and then sprinkled them with basil. This is one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten — definitely a keeper! And on smaller slices it’d be a great snack, too.
April 22, 2011 § 3 Comments
I hadn’t planned on doing a ton of cooking yesterday, but the day felt differently about things. I had a couple of days off for Passover (I’m not Jewish, but my company observes) and had been planning to make country style pork ribs in the slow cooker. I made a double batch of BBQ sauce last week so I’d have enough sauce to cook in with a bit left over to serve on top. First time I’ve tried making my own sauce, and I have to say, it is absolutely delicious. Definitely a keeper (see recipe below).
Being in the kitchen and immersing myself in tweaking recipes or prepping things so I can time them to come out so they’re ready to eat together, losing myself in the feeling of food…it’s all so therapeutic. No matter how much I have on my mind, eventually I become completely immersed in measuring, chopping, kneading, pouring, stirring — whatever the task at hand is. It’s almost meditative. When I come back from it, I may still be stressed and upset, but I am calmer and more well-balanced, better prepared to face what needs facing.
So while I was in the kitchen, I went ahead and whipped up a batch of my favorite bread (which I loaded up with apricot-maple goat cheese from my favorite local farm — accented the ribs perfectly; also, see notes for modifications I make to the recipe), a blackberry cobbler(see notes), and a couple of quarts of ice cream (vanilla and praline — both came out great). The bread dough was much wetter than usual, which made it difficult to handle, so I was concerned about how it would come out flavor- and texture-wise. It turned out just fine, even though I forgot to steam it so the crust is a little chewier than usual.
I had been planning to whip up some cheese grits, but I was a little under the weather and thought (rightly) that I probably wouldn’t be able to eat more than a few bites of anything, so it would just be a waste of grits. Most things I’m fine with having leftovers, but I just don’t care for leftover grits. Something about the texture. Leftover ribs, I discovered a while back, make excellent pulled pork. I’ll use some of it later in the week to make pork and cheddar pies, then freeze the rest.
Bread: The recipe calls for hand-milled wheat flour; I use King Arthur’s from the store. I also store the extra dough already divided into loaf sizes in quart Ziplocs
Cobbler: I grew up with pie crust cobbler and still love it that way, but this recipe has an almost cakey crust that’s absolutely delightful. I often have this cobbler for breakfast as well as dessert (though usually sans ice cream). The recipe calls for 6 cups of fresh berries; I find that 2 bags of frozen berries works perfectly — just thaw and drain before cooking.
Laura’s Sweet ‘n’ Sticky BBQ Sauce
- 1 1/4c brown sugar
- 1/2c chili sauce
- 1/2c rum
- 1/4c ketchup
- 1/4c Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4c garlic vinegar
- 3Tbsp molasses
- 3tsp onion powder
- 1tsp ground dry mustard
- dollop of vanilla
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
In a 3qt saucepan over low heat, mix all ingredients. Simmer 30 min., stirring occasionally. Let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use. Note: You may wish to remove the garlic cloves before storing.