Monday, December 31, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Whole Wheat Baguettes
2 cups (500 ml) warm water (110 F/43 C)
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
5 to 5 1/2 cups (780 to 860 g) all-purpose flour. I substituted whole wheat flour for 25% of this total amount.
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt
- In a bowl, combine the warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Add the yeast and stir gently to mix.
- Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with dough hook, combine 4 cups (625 g) of the flour and salt and bean on low speed just until combined.
- Slowly add yeast mixture and beat on low until incorporated.
- Increase the speed to medium low and beat for 10 minutes, adding more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is elastic and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
- Form into a ball, dust with flour.
- Sprinkle a little flour into a bowl. Set the dough into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (45 to 60 minutes).
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few seconds.
- Form the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.
- Cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (25 to 30 minutes).
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Cut into two equal pieces and shape each into a ball.
- Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Line French Bread pans with a kitchen towel and lightly flour the towel.
- Roll each ball into a log, about as long as the bread pan.
- Place each into the bread pan and cover with the edges of the towel.
- Let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
- Position rack in lower 1/3 o oven.
- Place a shallow baking dish filled with boiling water on oven floor.
- Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
- Gently lift the towel holding the loaves out of the bread pan, being careful to not to let them touch each other.
- Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Lay each loaf into the bread pan.
- Using a sharp blade, score the loaves on the diagonal.
- Brush with egg mixture.
- Bake until the bread sounds hollow when tapped, 30-35 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the bread cool in the pan to room temperature.
Meanwhile, while the dough is proofing...there were all these onions laying about...
French Onion Soup
8 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon flour
8 cups of stock - the recipe called for beef stock, but I substituted vegetable stock instead
1 cup dry white wine
Several thick slices of course country bread
2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese
- Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir in the onions and saute until translucent (4-5 minutes).
- Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the onions are lightly golden (about 15 minutes).
- Uncover and sprinkle with the sugar and salt.
- Raise heat back to medium and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the onions are deep golden brown (30-40 minutes)
- Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and cook, stirring until flour is lightly browned.
- Don't worry if the flour sticks to the pan - that is "free flavor"!
- Slowly add the stock, stirring constantly.
- Raise the heat to high, and bring to boil.
- Add the wine, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until onions begin to fall apart (45 minutes).
Because I have no oven-proof bowls, I improvised the next steps:
- Place the fresh baked whole wheat baguette bread slices on a broiling pan, and top with cheese.
- Broil in the oven or toaster oven until the cheese bubbles.
- Ladle hot soup into bowls.
- Place the toasted bread with melted cheese onto the soup.
- Add additional shredded cheese to the hot soup.
- Serve at once.
Mmmmm, melty goodness:
Melty goodness with fresh whole wheat baguettes, sea-salted olive oil for dipping, and a nice pinot grigio. Perfect meal for a cold, snowy evening!
Monday, December 24, 2012
1. Cook a box of Zatarains Red Beans and Rice. Follow the directions on the package.
2. Saute an onion, a red bell pepper, a green bell pepper, a jalapeno pepper and two cloves of garlic in one pan. Cook till the onions are translucent.
3. In another pan, brown one pound of ground turkey. Cook till it starts to brown, then add one packet of your favorite taco seasoning and a half cup of water. Mix, and cook till the meat is throughly cooked and the water has evaporated.
4. For people who like tacos in taco shells, they can add ingredients as desired.
5. For people who like salad, you can mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
6. Toss the romain lettuce, avocado, red and green pepper.
7. Add shredded mozzarella and salsa.
8. Add the ground turkey.
9. Mix well and serve.
Then, pub chow in London. First, pot pies and boiled vegetables.
It's a collection of recipes from 7 different areas of the world, all vegetarian and all can be done in the crock pot. And, well, if you're going to get out the cutting board and the good knife, you might as well chop everything you can get your hands on. Right now, the Lebanese Eggplant Stew is simmering in the crock pot. Recipe below.
Lebanese Eggplant Stew
1 eggplant, cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste
1 cup Aunt Tobi's homemade tomato sauce, or water
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, mix well, cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
Potato and Chick Pea Yellow Curry
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches of ginger root, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cans chickpeas, not drained
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups potatoes, cubed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can coconut milk
1 large sweet potato, baked, then mashed
2 heaping tablespoons Yellow Curry Paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- In large pot, heat olive oil, onions, garlic, ginger root and peppers. Saute till onions become translucent. Add small amount of salt.
- Add potatoes, carrots and celery. Mix well and turn heat to low.
- Add chickpeas. Stir.
- In separate bowl, combine coconut milk, mashed sweet potato, cumin and yellow curry paste. Stir till well-mixed and smooth.
- Add curry mixture to vegetables. Stir well to mix.
- Add chopped cilantro.
- Cover and cook on low till potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
I found them to be very, very heavy eating, with the red bean variety having a flavor similar to fig newtons, minus the fig seeds.
Indian food with the Indians.
Upscale Groceries - the Shanghai version of Whole Foods...
...If Whole Foods sold SPAM.
Red bean granola
Saturday, September 22, 2012
This is a memoir of Marcus Samuelsson, who was born and orphaned in Ethiopia in the early 1970's, adopted by a family in Sweden and had his first introduction to cooking at the elbow of his Swedish grandmother. His culinary education and evolution reads like a career in the United Nations and present day finds him living and working in NYC's Harlem, running a number of restaurants, TV shows, books, and other culinary pursuits. It is an interesting and inspiring read.
I had never heard of him, but I did eat at Aquavit during his tenure there, during my NYC consulting days pre-September 11.
So my musings this morning are thus:
Bruce and I often comment on sub-cultures...the convergence of like-minded people who gather themselves around common interests...who are completely invisible to the larger community until one day, without preamble, a book jumps into our hands. Or we wander into a store we've never seen, as happened when we stepped into the Dragon's Den in Poughkeepsie - a store entirely dedicated to the Dungeons and Dragons gaming community. Or the Song of the Sea in Bar Harbor which launched our return to the world of music.
This blog is about all things culinary, but it is also about exploration. In the past two weeks, I've been introduced to Yotum Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater, and now Marcus Samuelsson...each with a story to tell through food. What a big, wonderful world we live in.
Beautiful windows in the CIA dining hall.
Chef demonstrates how to fry-cut potatoes:
Chef demonstrates how to peel kiwi:
Knife sharpening 101:
The day started with a classroom discussion of how knives are made, general knife handling and kitchen etiquette, and video of the instructor's favorite chef. We then moved to the kitchen and our individual stations. We moved through a series of tutorials, each designed to practice a new knife technique using our large, incredibly sharp CIA Chef's knifes.
By the end of the day, my hands were exhausted and I was bushed from standing all day, but my knife skills had taken a huge step forward. With constant practice through a summer of CSA vegetables, I can now chop 15-20 pounds of vegetables in about an hour. That seems like a dubious skill for someone who makes her living in a corporate setting, but given our family focus on healthy eating and a largely vegetarian lifestyle, this has definitely proved valuable. I've chopped, cooked and prepared vegetarian meals that fill our second freezer - and preserved our significant weight loss! There is something to be said for learning proper technique, whether it's on the violin, the QWERTY keyboard, or in the kitchen.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I found Nigel Slater's hefty book: "Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard" and the vibrant photo on the cover drew me right in. Its not often that a three inch thick, hardcover cookbook turns out to be a page-turner, but this, my friends, this book...this is a book you can read.
Ripe is a rhapsody on fruit, and not just any fruit. Mr. Slater has an orchard planted in his small city garden. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific fruit, and starts with an eloquent and passionate ode, which makes me want to run to my nearest farm stand and bury myself in apples. He goes on to describe different varieties of each fruit, including a notation about what can be found in the US, as well as in the UK. And before launching into a full chapter of recipes that highlight the fruit-of-the-moment, he provides his view of "pairings" in which he lists other foods that pair well with the highlighted soloist. This section alone is worth the price of the book...because it is here that the imagination begins to run wild.
I knew nothing of Mr. Slater prior to this. As it turns out, he has been the food critic for The Observer for 20 years, has written a dozen books, and hosts a show on BBC1 called Simple Cooking.
Mr. Slater's website describes him as a cook who can write. I don't know if he can cook or not, having not yet tried his recipes, but write, he certainly can.
For example, I use mozzarella instead of cheddar & egg whites instead of whole eggs. I find the cheddar too strong and the eggs too quiche-like. This recipe is all about the CORN. This time, I had an extra bunch of cilantro, and some red peppers, but no chives, so I substituted accordingly. Oh, and fat free 1/2 and 1/2 instead of heavy cream.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Knowing that we needed a way to organize the freezer contents for the long haul, I employed some standard design principles and I think I've got this puppy into shape. Here's what I did:
- Label everything - All containers are clearly labeled.
- Stack Like with Like - All the sauce is in one place, all the chili is in another.
- Make it Easy to Find - All shelves have labels, so even if you can't see what's in the back, you have a reference of what's there.
- Use Standard Sizes - For the most part, I have banished non-matching plastic containers. Standardizing sizes and shapes means better use of storage.
- Keep the Ice Cream easily accessible - Ok, this is not actually a design principle. But we sure do like our ice cream!
Here's what the fridge looks like today...and we're only halfway through CSA season!!
- Top Shelf: tomato sauce, lobster sauce, and pesto (4 rows deep)
- Next Shelf: Single Serving Entrees including chili, spicy chick peas, corn pie, ratatouille, stir fry, roasted vegetables, butternut squash quiche...and more (3 rows deep)
- Next Shelf: Soups of various types
- Bottom Drawer: Sweet Potato and Apricot Hand pies, Fruit pies
- On the Door: Ice Cream
Saturday, September 8, 2012
First, to roast the vegetables. Two kinds of peppers on the top shelf. Eggplant, butternut and delicata sqhash on second shelf. Tossed with olive oil and sea salt.
All assembled and ready for the oven. Onions on the bottom, then roasted vegetables, tomatos and mozzerella. Finally, thyme to taste, two eggs (I used egg beaters) and some heavy cream (for which I substituted fat free half and half).