Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Easy Rustic Style White Bread

One of my favorite memories from childhood at my grandparents house is that of bread baking day. The smell of hot bread wafting all through the house teased my nostrils, I could hardly wait for the loaves to come out of the oven. Grandma let them cool just enough to cut into thick slices then she would slather each slice with salty butter and homemade jam. My siblings and I sat on the back stoop with the butter melting and dripping through our fingers and down our arms. We could eat a whole loaf that way, so she made a point to make enough to save for lunches for the rest of the week. My grandmother kept a very set routine so she baked once a week, always on the same day. I think of her now when I punch down the dough, which is what she used to let me do. She was a sturdy farm women and watching her knead it into submission never ceased to amazed me...how could you do that so long without your arms falling off? After becoming a baker and owning a bakery, I have been ever grateful for the machines we have to help with that process. 
In the past few years I have been experimenting more with wetter doughs and after writing the ciabatta post for Michael Ruhlman's Blog which had me making like 5 different batches at home, I realized the same could be accomplished without the addition of the long starter. I use this method when I forget to bring bread home from work...which is surprisingly often. I like to bake this as a rustic loaf, but you could fit it into a loaf pan for more uniform slicing. You can also fiber it up by swapping in a cup of whole wheat flour to the mix or add a handful of cracked rye berries or even cheese or herbs or whatever. Think of it as a blank slate of deliciousness. With it's crispy crust and lacy interior, it also makes the most excellent toast!

For two approximately 1.5# loaves:

3 cups/ 24 oz/682 ml Warm Water
11/2 teaspoon/.25 oz/ 7 grams ACTIVE DRY Yeast (NOT instant, which you can use, but you won't get the same great interior texture)
1 1/2 teaspoon/ 3 oz/ 9 grams Sugar
2 Tablespoons/ 2.5 oz/ 10 ml Olive Oil
6 cups/ 1lb 14 oz / 853 grams Unbleached all purpose White flour
1 1/2 teaspoons/ 3 oz/ 9 grams Salt

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and suger in the water, add the oil.
Mix in about 5 cups of the flour and let the mixture sit for 5-20 minutes.
Add the last bit of flour and the salt

Mix together until all the flour should be absorbed, it will look pretty rough. Don't be scared.

Cover and let sit 30 minutes. Fold dough in the bowl scraping the sides into the center as you turn the bowl. Cover and let sit another 30 minutes, Fold and rest 2 more times. 
By the last fold, it will be poofy and firmer, but still not like a dough you would actually knead. Turn it out onto a well floured surface.

 fold the sides into the center

And turn it over

Cut in half

Fold each half together into a rough loaf

place on a floured baking sheet or parchment paper
Preheat oven to 450-500 degrees
place a shallow pan of water in the oven 
(gas-right on the bottom, electric-top shelf)
Cover loaves and let rise 45 minutes
Dock lightly with fingers and bake 25 minutes or until loaves reach internal temp of 200 degrees F 

Cool well before slicing, or you could just rip it apart and eat still warm with butter and jam...be sure to hide a loaf for later!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chorizo Sausage Chili

Brighten up even the dreariest of days, this chili has enough kick to bring your tastebuds out of hiding without making you sweat.

Chorizo Sausage Chili

2 cups dried red or pinto beans- 
rinsed well and soaked overnight then simmered in water until soft and  drained
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 pound of chorizo sausage
1 pound pork sausage
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3cup green chilis, diced (one small can)
1 pint crushed tomatoes
3 Tablespoons Chili powder
1 T Coriander
1 T Cumin
Salt to taste
Heat an 8 quart soup pot over medium high heat add the oil and the onion, saute 2 minutes, then add the celery, carrots and garlic. Continue to cook until onion is soft and somewhat translucent. Add the Chorizo and the pork sausage and continue to cook, breaking up the meat with your spoon. Saute until the sausage is cooked, add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and green chilis. Cook 2 more minutes until the smell of the spices fills your kitchen. Add the tomatoes and the beans and a little water as needed. Simmer until all flavors combine, at least 30 minutes as long as all day! (this would be great on low in your crock pot, when you get home your house will smell delicious!)
Serve with lots of shredded cheddar and sour cream. Add diced avocado if your feeling especially scandalous. A great dish for game day! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Candy Cane Beets and Kumquats

It's that time of year. Everything outside is white or grey. There is not a whole lot of fresh beautiful
produce coming our way, so you have to be pretty creative with what you do get. Last week in our CSA box, my family got a bundle of candy cane beets. Their inside striped with red and white is so festive, it is sure to brighten even the most depressed winter soul. I wasn't sure how I wanted to cook them, so I took a trip to my favorite grocery store where I found some lovely kumquats and nice firm lemon grass. The perfect something sweet and bright to enhance the natural flavors of the beets. It's a fast and easy one too, perfect side dish for midweek ribs or pair it with a salad for a positively spa worthy dish!

To prepare you will need:
2 medium candy cane beets- washed, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
3 firm kumquats, washed and very thinly sliced, removing the seeds
1 medium orange- juiced
1" segment of fresh Lemon Grass finely minced
1/4 cup of dry white wine
2 pinches of kosher salt
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
Heat Olive Oil in a 10" Saute pan over medium high heat. Add beets, kumquats and lemon grass and saute slightly...2 minutes. Add white wine to pan and cook for one minute to cook off alcohol. Add orange juice, sprinkle with salt and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered for 15 minutes or until beets are fork tender and kumquats are translucent. Remove the lid and increase heat slightly. Cook 2 more minutes or until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with arugula sprouts, or any green spicy thing you can get your hands on. Serve hot or at room temperature for a meal that is sure to make even your tired blood smile.