31 December 2010

Shortbread Micro-recipe, Take Two

A follow up to the last post is in order. I made the 1-2-4 shortbread (a single serving, in fact) last night. This one came out much better. Same process: chop butter and whip it with a fork, add sugar and whip again, add flour and stir. I shape the dough with my hands, then put it on parchment and slip it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This time I went with 325 degrees instead of 350, but the same cooking time (9-10 minutes). This is just about when the shortbread begins to glisten but not lose its shape.
Pre-baked is on left, post baked is on right. The dough was noticeably stiffer, but it still "melted" in the oven. I think this is going to be a normal part of this recipe, as I hesitate to add any more flour. After I let it cool for an hour, it had hardened into what I would consider normal shortbread consistency - flaky and very solid. It was also delicious. Up next: either adding another ingredient (vanilla? raisins?) or playing around with the flour (whole wheat, buckwheat, etc).

Remember, this was made with 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour. And it made exactly one shortbread. Working with an amount of ingredients this small is phenomenal - I take one of my tiny sake cups and a tiny fork and can whip the butter with minimal effort; it softens quite easily given how little there is.

29 December 2010

Experimenting via Micro-Recipes

While eating a piece of shortbread, I thought to myself, "Mikey like! Mikey make?" except not necessarily in terms so simplistic. So, straight to the internet where I discovered many interesting facts about shortbread - its long and storied history, its place in cultures across the world, and its humble origins. Namely, 1 part sugar 2 parts butter 3 parts flour. If you check wikipedia, you'll note the flour bit says "oatmeal flour" but since when have I read things properly?
My plan, and I will continue with it, is to take advantage of the few ingredients and simple ratios of shortbread to experiment by making a very small  batch (a cookie or two) and tweaking things one at a time. I started off today with a baseline where I took a single tablespoon to be a part. Two biscuits where formed - a baseline sweet to be topped with powdered sugar, and a baseline savory to be topped with sea salt. Other than those toppings, applied after baking, there were no differences in the biscuits.
I made a guess on preparation and baking - refrigerate the dough to set it after shaping and an oven heated to 350 degrees, cooking time of 10 minutes. Now, that wrong type of flour mentioned above truly bit me on this night of baselining. See, oatmeal flour is a thicker, heartier type of flour than the unbleached all-purpose flour I employed. The beautiful 1-2-3 ratio did not produce much beyond slightly heated dough. Post-baking, the biscuits had notably melted and failed to solidify the least bit. Once cooled, they were semi-firm and questionably delicious - they reminded me of sugar cookie dough. I dutifully ate them, however, in the name of science.
 The next step, then, is to re-baseline the recipe using a 1-2-4 ratio. While not as mnemonic as 1-2-3, it pleases me that it forms a list of powers of two. From there, assuming I get good results, I will experiment with toppings, fillings, and dough ingredients - and I will reduce down to a half tablespoon as the "part", which will make a single biscuit. Hopefully I get good results out of this experiment, though eating a spoonful of flour butter sugar isn't the worst thing a man can do.

Two Simple Meals

Having been a little under the weather recently, nothing extravagant has been prepared in my kitchen. I'm currently working from home, resting, and very full. From what, you ask? None other than the perfect "lunch for the common cold".
Sometimes, a simple meal is all you really need. Here we have some orange-like thing from the grocery store (tangerine?), Jarlsberg toasted cheese, prepared the proper way, and tomato soup from a can, with a dash of cheese and dill sprinkled on top. How to prepare grilled cheese the proper way? Well, your cheese should be sliced thin and layered only one slice thick. A very tiny pad of butter should be placed on the top and bottom of the bread. Place it in a frying pan, then turn on the heat to medium-low. After a minute or so, slide the bread around by shaking the pan by the handle (to spread out the butter). Every 30 seconds or so, peek into the cheese - once it starts melting even the slightest bit, flip the whole thing over and continue cooking until the cheese becomes a little gooey; at that point, give it a firm press with a spatula, a flip, and another minute or so of cooking.

It is also possible to cook a lazy, healthy dinner to make up for the gluttony of holiday meals and desserts, without using any energy that would be better spent slothing around the apartment.
Here we have Israeli Couscous cooked with chopped carrots and broccoli, spiced lentils with bell pepper, and steamed carrots and broccoli on the side (as well as on top, obviously). The lentils came from a can, plain, and spices were added. To cook couscous with veggies in it, simply chop the veggies into the water before boiling it. They will add a little bit of flavor (you can add broth or spices as well) to the couscous, as well as cooking fully.

Hopefully my sickness will fix itself soon, allowing me to get good and thoroughly hung over for New Years and possibly cooking something before then.

28 December 2010

Origami Reindeer

Made this Christmas Eve as part of a reindeer-making celebration. I thought Christmas was either about family, Jesus, or presents, but apparently it is all about picking a medium and making reindeer to go next to the Christmas shrub (again, I thought one had a tree but I can see how this is hard in a small place). This folding was somewhat annoying.
Now, this was supposed to be made from foil and after the fact I can see why. In the center of the torso, and in the head, it is probably 10 or more layers of paper thick. Very hard to work with - I mostly gave up on the final shaping steps of the legs, head, torso, and horns. It was folded with an offset waterbomb base, leaving 1/6 or so of the paper hanging off the side which was later (through a very arduous process) turned into antlers.

I was also expecting it to be somewhat difficult, as it appeared as one of the last models in the book, but I realized it wasn't so much difficult as time consuming. I think there was only one sink fold in the model, and there were no funny twist folds or petal folds involving many layers.

27 December 2010

Thumbprint Rolls (Blueberry and Cinnamon/Sugar Crumble)

More free time than usual due to the holidays, so I'm doing more baking. The original plan was to cook something using Panettone dough as it is a very involved and time-consuming process. Luck (or laziness?) was on my side, and I was spared to ordeal when I read the recipe in my book - it used a starter. As my starter is still forming, I did not want to try substituting instant yeast in for a recipe that complex.
 I found a recipe that looked awesome - Fruit-Filled Thumbprint Rolls. I'll spare the dough details, as it is just cinnamon roll dough (use your favorite recipe). After getting your dough all ready, at the point when you are ready for it to rise, form it into tiny rolls and proof. Right before they are to go in the oven, wet your thumb and push into each roll in the center, creating a nice divot to fill with sugary substances. My rolls had in issue - I either didn't make big enough divots or I didn't let them rise for quite long enough. Many rolls "popped" when baked, rejecting their sugary implants and depositing them all over their surface.
Of course, you should have made your sugary substances by this point. I went with two filling options - blueberry filling and a cinnamon sugar crumble with raisins. The blueberry filling was made using a slurry of sugar, water, and corn starch that was stirred constantly over medium until it was boiling, then blueberries were thrown in as it was removed from heat. Boiling sugar water is really fun, you should try it some time. The cinnamon sugar crumble was, well, cinnamon, sugar, butter, and flour mixed together (flour added last), then topped with a few raisins once the pastry was filled.
The final part of the recipe was much looked forward to by myself - making a sugar glaze, brushing it over the rolls the second they come out of the oven (covering them in a fine, and mostly invisible, layer of sugar). The real topper was waiting for them to cool and then drizzling ever more glaze on top. To make glaze, put a dash of vanilla in a cup of sugar and whisk, then gradually add liquid (water, milk, etc) while whisking until it hits the consistency you are looking for.

25 December 2010

"Best Biscuits Ever" - So Sayeth the Recipe

Maybe true. They were delicious, and they consisted of mostly butter and cream (a bit less than half the dough by volume). And, like most of my bread, it came from Artisan Breads Every Day. The recipe is incredibly easy and, for about 30 minutes of work and 15 minutes of baking time, you can't go wrong with it. Especially when it produces biscuits that look like this.
The prep was similar to some cold-butter recipes I have made before, in which you want to mix butter into a flour mixture without melting anything. My usual method is to put the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes and the rest of the dry ingredients in the fridge in the bowl I plan on mixing everything in. When the butter is very cold, lightly dust a cutting board with flour and chop it into 1/4 inch cubes. Alternatively, and as I did for this recipe, you can actually grate the butter into the dry ingredients using a cheese grater. Mixing this is a little hard - you can stir with a spoon to get everything to stick together - but your goal that must always be in your mind is not melting that butter.
Ideally, you pour in the chilled liquid portion, mix gingerly with your hands, and roll it on a floured surface to get it to really come together. Flour when rolling this dough is a necessity, lest it stick to the rolling pin, the cutting board, itself, or your hands. The dough is repeatedly rolled out flat, folded like a letter for an envelope, and then rolled out flat and rotated a quarter turn. Every roll out is followed by a dash of flour on top of and underneath the dough, preventing the layers from meshing together.

If you did everything properly, without letting the dough warm and without rolling the layers together, you'll get a flaky, layered biscuit.
And if you let the dough get too dry so that it doesn't stick at all, you'll get a biscuit that pops apart in the oven (don't worry, still delicious).

23 December 2010


A dessert! A delicious, delicious dessert! This recipe made its way to me via Smitten Kitchen and it looked easy enough. I won't copy the recipe here (as we didn't modify it at all), but there were a few learnings from it.
Something was slightly off with our cookies when they came out of the oven - its either the fact some extra salt spilled into the recipe, or that our cinnamon and sugar bowl wasn't empty when the last cookie was coated. I would recommend switching from 1 1/2 cups sugar in dough and 1/4 cup reserved to 1 5/8 cups sugar in dough and 1/4 cup reserved. You can use the extra sugar/cinnamon mixture as an ice cream topper. Trust me, it is really good.
 Otherwise, no changes in the recipe - the cooking time of 10 minutes was spot-on. The second batch ended up getting 12 minutes and the smaller ones got far too crispy. Also, be warned, these are soft cookies. If you want your snickerdoodles hard, go elsewhere.
 A word of warning: if you don't have a mixer, fluffing butter and sugar can take some work. The strategy I used was to cube the butter to about the size of sugar cubes and knead the sugar in by hand. Once it is a smooth consistency, put it in a small bowl about twice the volume of the butter mass and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until it gets fluffy or airy. You can also use a whisk towards the end, but it isn't strictly necessary.

21 December 2010

Tofu Bake Bruschetta and Artichoke

I declared this a night for trying something new - namely, baking tofu. But that sounded pretty disgusting by itself as I didn't want to marinate it. I had the grandiose idea of baking tofu into something you could put on a pizza, but I quickly pared this down to simply making bruschetta.

With baked tofu.

Yes, it turned out fine. No, I don't have much of a recipe, simply an ingredient list and how I prepped everything. No, you probably don't want to cook this (but I might be wrong).

The baked tofu bruchetta
Tofu Bruschetta:
  • Small block of tofu
  • Bread
  • Tomato (I used grape, leftover from a past dish)
  • Poblano pepper
  • Grated cheese that melts (I forgot that important qualifier)
  • Spices
I thinly sliced the tofu into strips that were about the same size as my bread, seasoned them with some random spices, and threw them in the oven with a little olive oil at 400 for 20 minutes. I let them cool a bit, assembled the bruschetta (the order is, bottom-to-top: some cheese, dry things, things with juices, some cheese), and cooked until they looked done. Again, you can probably guess the recipe but it wasn't exactly a normal dish and came out quite dry, so you may want to hold off on making these.

Boiled-then-baked artichoke
Artichoke using leftover ingredients:
  • 1 pile of leftover poblano/tomato slices from above recipe
  • 1 medium artichoke
In a big pan, bring water to boil. Slice off the very tip of the artichoke. Once at a boil, place the artichoke in and cover with a lid, letting cook in the boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and strip off the outer leaves. Every few layers, try eating one of them - stop when the flesh doesn't really come off the leaf. Take all the removed leaves, lay them out on a baking sheet, and cover with the leftovers pile from previous recipe. Bake for 15 minutes in the 400 degree oven from previous recipe.

It Seems Fitting

That I would make a mushroom cloud of foam in my Aperture Laboratories mug. Go figure. I'm working on my foaming/pouring technique, especially with soy milk (as this was done with). For those of you who only recreationally steam milk: if it screams, it is trying to tell you something. Namely "stop it you crazy bastard what are you doing no this isn't right at all!". More people at work need to learn this.
Not a shining example of skill
Rules I follow:
  • Cold steamer. In the fridge if you can, otherwise you can run it under the tap. I don't profess to understand science, but this helps.
  • For soy, you want to stop right before the steamer gets too hot to comfortably leave your hand on it.
  • The steam head should be at a angle in your cup, off-centered and barely submerged. It shouldn't make a hissing/bubbling noise and it shouldn't make a screaming noise. If it is screaming, the steam head is too deep. Hissing/bubbling means too shallow. Angling the steam head off-center gets a whirlpool thing going on, right cuts down on the big bubbles soy milk loves to produce when steamed.
  • Pouring is still a somewhat mysterious art to me - pour slowly until you have a knuckle or so of cup left, then pour quicker. If your steamer does not have straight edges, your life will suck - I still haven't found a good way to get the foam to pour without basically dumping the entire thing in or precisely measuring the milk so I naturally only have foam at the end.
These rules are partially learned when I was a "barista" at the coffee stand in the convenience store in the dorm cafe (see why I put barista in quotes?), partially learned from the internets, partially from experience, and frequently cargo-culted from the fine baristas at area coffee shops. They mostly work, and I get something which is good enough to prevent me from going to 4b, sightglass, or blue bottle everyday (nowhere near those guys, though).

19 December 2010

Veggie "Lasagna" Bake

I was going to prepare a raw, vegan dinner tonight but decided against at the last minute when I realized that I didn't have the tools to prepare cashew cheese. Thanks to a discussion with Emily earlier in the day, I had carrot and zucchini on my mind. So, improvisation time - zucchini carrot pasta bake? Why not!

The "lasagna" with rice
Veggie "Lasagna" Bake (serves 1)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bunch trumpet royale mushrooms (10?)
  • handful of grape tomatoes (10?)
  • chili flakes
  • salt
  • shredded cheese that you like and that melts (asiago is a good call)
Preheat oven to 425. Grate the carrot and zucchini onto a plate. Save the ends you don't want to grate for fear of destroying your fingertips for garnish. Slice the tomatoes as thin as you can without juicing them - for me, this was into halves or thirds. Cut the mushrooms into sticks. In a small oven dish (like, say, a loaf pan), put down a layer of mushrooms and lightly salt them. On top of this, put down about half the tomatoes, squeezed a bit, and a very thin layer of grated cheese. Then layer on the zucchini and carrot bits, topping it off with the remainder of the tomatoes and a final layer of cheese, plus the garnish slices of carrot/zucchini. Top with chili flakes.

Bake for 30 minutes - it is done when the top layer is browning. Attempt to serve in original shape (namely, that of lasagna) but watch it fall apart completely when you scoop it up so just serve it as a pile. Maybe attempt to bake it for longer and hope that it sticks together more, but know, deep down, that it won't.

17 December 2010

Pesto Chicken, Veggie Roast, and Bananas Foster

I don't know if you've ever had Bananas Foster. If you haven't, you should. Do you like sugar and butter? Lighting things on fire? Ice cream? You get all of those things, in about ten minutes of work, for a recipe that will kick the ass of any cookies or cakes your pansy-ass could bake. Need I say more?

Bananas Foster served over hemp-milk vanilla ice cream

Actually I guess I do because this post is short and contains no recipes. Dinner had aspirations of a salmon baked in pesto, served with oven-roasted vegetables. The corner store (while not technically on a corner, it satisfies all other requirements) failed to deliver. While an impressive selection of dried foods is admirable, the only meat they had suitable for cooking was chicken.

Also, being me, I like trying to make my sauces from scratch. Pesto from scratch isn't bad under the assumption you have either a mortar and pestle, or a food processor. Otherwise just buy it pre-made. Trust me.

To pair with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and onion was deemed sufficient. Potatoes because they are delicious, onion because seriously have you never roasted an onion? Stop reading and go do it. It is amazing. I think the carrots were for color.

Pesto chicken, roasted veggies

Basil Pesto (makes enough for 2 peoples chicken)
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • dash of olive oil
  • dash of salt
  • pine nuts
Finely chop the basil and the garlic. The fineness is a function of your obsessive-compulsive tendencies and patience, but think of nori flakes or dried herbs for a size guideline. In a mortar and pestle, add a splash of olive oil, 1/4 of the garlic, and 1/4 of the basil. Mash this for a few minutes and taste. Here you decide if the 1-1 ratio of basil and garlic is good or not. The mixture should look too liquidy to be pesto right now - if it isn't, add a bit more olive oil. After deciding your ratio, continue adding in basil and garlic until you've used up all of one or the other. Remember this ratio for next time. When you have a decent consistency, add a dash of salt and 10-ish pine nuts , mashing them in. Taste and serve (or add more pine nuts/salt but don't forget to serve).

Oven Roasted Veggies (serves 2)
  • 4 small potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 stalks rosemary
  • dash of salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of olive oil
Preheat oven to 425. Slice the potatoes, carrots, and onions into approximately thumb-sized pieces. Place in a oven-safe dish so they aren't stacked up, toss in some olive oil and stir everything around. After adding a coat of olive oil, add the seasonings. Put in oven, covered, for 20 minutes, stir, and cook for 20-30 more minutes (until the potatoes are soft, the carrots are slightly crispy, and some of the onion has carmelized).

Pesto Chicken (serves 2)
  • 1 recipe pesto, above
  • 1 chicken breast
  • pine nuts
  • lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425. Cover chicken breast in pesto, squirt lemon juice on it, and add some pine nuts. Put it in the oven, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 10 more minutes. Really, did I need to write that recipe out for you?

Bananas Foster (serves 4)
  • 2 bananas, cut in half down the middle then lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • vanilla ice cream
In a pan on the lowest heat your stove can manage, melt the stick of butter. Slowly add in the brown sugar and raise the heat to medium-high. Once the sugar has been incorporated, add in the bananas. Cook this for a few minutes - the bananas should brown but not fall apart (yet). Remove from heat, throw in the rum, return to heat. Wait for it to light on fire. Try and get it to lite on fire by tilting the pan and exposing the rum to the side of it. Be disappointed that nothing burst into flames.

Immediately serve over two scoops of ice cream by removing the bananas, then drizzling the remaining sauce on top. Eat immediately. If you let it cool, you have ruined the dish and missed out on delicious.

13 December 2010

Radish Bruschetta and Butter Lettuce Butter Bean Boats (contains no actual butter)

Decided to knock out a staple ingredient of my recent dinners, go to the grocery store, and just think up something random. Maybe I shouldn't do this in the future. I said "no rice or tofu" and ended up cooking some delicious bruschetta, butter lettuce leaves filled with butter beans and snow peas. Everything also had radish in it because, hey, it looked delicious. And everything was delicious, but nothing seemed to pair well, my plating failed, and I didn't use any herbs or spices beyond salt. Also I totally failed at staying away from my staples by cooking bruschetta, which got me through large parts of college (like nachos, but questionably healthier).

First the bruschetta (and side salad, because a head of lettuce is a lot of lettuce for one person and I couldn't use it all making boats).

Sovrano Grana/Radish Bruschetta with Frisee, plus side salad
I'm not sure a recipe would do much good here, but my cooking directions for bruschetta might. I used a very hearty whole wheat bread with wheat bran and rolled in sunflower seeds. To properly prep it, you slice the bread about pinky-thick and brush olive oil and salt on both sides. You then put on thinly sliced topping of choise (usually tomato, here I used radish,) covered that in grated cheese (Sovrano Grano in this case), and add a few sprigs of your garnish (usually rosemary or basil, but here frisee). Cook it for 15-20-ish minutes in a 450 degree oven. About a minute or two before you think it is done, pull it out, drop a little more cheese on and one final sprig of garnish, place back in the oven and turn off the heat. Let this sit for a few minutes to melt the cheese and fix the garnish.
Butter Bean Butter Lettuce Boats
The second part of the meal was the "protein" portion, which I arrived at in the grocery store via the following observations:

  • Butter lettuce is delicious.
  • As are butter beans - which, if you haven't had, are like pinto beans that have been gamma-radiated and angered. Except they don't turn green.
  • Snow peas are wonderful lightly cooked.
  • Radish looks awesome (and I had leftovers from above becase things at the grocery store really aren't meant for one person).
  • Oh hey butter lettuce makes nice little boats to put shit in.
I baked the radish for a while, and cooked the beans and some snow peas over medium-low heat for 10 minutes with the bean juice and grated cheese. Served this in butter lettuce boats, the finest ship in the leafy-green navy.

I'd say it was a good dish with flavors that paired well, but the presentation could use some work. Snow pea oars for little butter bean men with radish hats? Its a shame I only thought of it now, writing this post, or there would have been 2.718x the amount of awesomeness in this post.

10 December 2010

This Bread Contains no Water

Except that which is found in beer. Yeah, you read the right. Also it contains cheese. So, two delicious and wonderful things, all rolled up into delicious, delicious morsels. This bread is somewhat of a departure, as it can't (easily) be used for sandwiches or have things spread on it. It exists in a condiment-free vacuum; a galaxy of tastes yet to be explored. It is also, distinctly, bread - not like dessert breads or pastries.
So, yes, this bread is magnificent and wonderful. It has Lagunitas Brown Shugga and some sharp cheddar cheese. The other ingredients are nothing new - flour, yeast, salt, brown sugar, melted butter (presumably for a bit of flake), buttermilk (for softness), and chives. It, like all the bread I've cooked before, came from Artisan Breads Every Day (specifically, "Soft Cheese Bread").
The dough was very firm compared to the liquid-heavy ones I have been making lately, requiring a lot more hand-stirring time (6 or 7 minutes, compared to a usual 2-4) and a kneading instead of a stretch and fold. For liquids, it had (roughly) equal parts buttermilk and beer, and a 3:1 flour to liquid ratio (by volume).
To get the swirl, after overnight cold fermentation, the dough was rolled flat and cubed cheese placed on top. I then rolled it up from one end, closed the seam with a wet fingertip, and sliced it. I let these slices rise. Sadly, some of them rejected cheese cubes during this process, preferring to use the space for expanding dough. They were reprimanded and the cheese was pushed back in before I placed them in the oven.
The only flaw with the cooking (although I wouldn't call it anything other than cosmetic) were darkened bottoms, as the cheese melted out of the spirals, coated the bottom, and then cooked into a crispy delicious layer. Actually, that sounds less like a flaw and more like a delicious accident.

09 December 2010

LazyDinner (Teriyaki Tofu)

I had plans, big plans, for dinner last night. I was going to pick a recipe out of my comfort zone, I was going to cook that shit up, and it was going to be good. Except it was raining so I took MUNI home. Not the wisest idea, that. After getting stuck for 30-ish minutes, I arrived home much later and much hungrier than anticipated.

Scrap my adventurous plans, its time for some stir-fry. Lazy stir fry. With beer.

The grocery store sells these pre-packaged, freshly-prepared "stir fry" mixes. Mostly bell pepper, but also some zucchini and squash. That, a block of tofu, and some Soy Vay, and we've got ourselves a meal. Adding a recipe wouldn't be too useful - I think it was equal parts teriyaki sauce and beer, plus the tofu and veggies, served on rice.

05 December 2010


Three breads today! I promised a few people more struan, so I made that. The lean bread keeps coming out delicious, so I made that. And the rustic mini baguettes are probably my favorite, so I made them again. Also bacon was involved because of a comment made in jest that I could not ignore.

The struan this time used to correct yeast (instant, no "wake up" required). Much fluffier than the last time, still all the delicious taste. You can see in the photo below it is a bit airier, and the crust was quite a bit lighter. The other change was to not leave it in the oven for 5 minutes after it was done with the heat off - less crispy crust, moister on the inside.
Struan on left, rosemary on top
The bacon baguettes used the Pain a L'Ancienne recipe from Artisan Breads Every Day, halved, and with 4 pieces of very crispy, very thick bacon crumbled into the dough before cold fermenting. This was a perfect amount of bacon, and adding it before the refrigeration process really let the flavor grow without overtaking the bread. I'm going to say, with some certainty, that this recipe is a beautiful thing, and the mini baguettes are the perfect way to prep it. 50 minutes at night (1-2 minutes of work every 10 minutes), 1 hour proofing period the day of cooking, and maybe 15 minutes in the oven. I think if people knew bread this good could be had with so little time, they might make it more often.
Rustic Bacon Mini Baguettes
The other change in my cooking was, for the lean bread, I cooked it in a cast iron pan instead of on a baking sheet. This gave it a much crispier bottom but I couldn't notice any other differences. As an experiment, I also added 17g of corn meal to the bread (with 340g of flour). I think (but could be mistaken) that this improved the texture of without ruining the airy goodness you get from the loaf.
Rosemary Lean Bread 

02 December 2010

Breaks Over, Soup's On!

Thanksgiving break is over and I'm back to my own kitchen. I did bake the bread for my Thanksgiving dinner, but it was nothing new - I made a full batch of rosemary sea-salt rolls and everyone enjoyed them. No photos of that, sorry.

Looking for cooking inspiration, I noticed it has been cold for a while now and the rain is ever-looming (and sometimes even falling, although thankfully not on my bicycle commute). My usual reaction to this is to drink hot chocolate and Irish Cream. That, however, fails as a nutritional dinner. I was going to make the next best thing, but Kahlua doesn't really add any nutritional value over Irish Cream, so I went further down the list until I hit the "soup" section. A while back, I had homemade bread and soup from a can; what would be better to try than homemade soup and bread from a bakery?

(The pictured carrots did not cook for long enough to brown because I forgot to preheat the oven)

Weirdly Seasoned Tomato Soup and Roasted Carrot (serves 4?)

For the soup:
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 boiling onions, quartered
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, chopped into a few pieces
  • 1 bunch savory
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 to 2 cups diced tomatoes (a decent sized can, roughly)
  • 1.5 to 2 cups navy beans (a decent sized can, roughly)
  • olive oil
  • salt
For the carrots:
  • enough carrots for as many people as will be dining (1.5 or 2 carrots each), quartered
  • olive oil
  • salt
In a soup-sized pot, put in a bit of olive oil and sautee the shallot for a minute or two. Take the dice carrot and the onions and add, sauteeing for another two minutes. Add in the water, lemon grass, and savory, and simmer, salting to taste. Let the stock simmer for 15 minutes.

On a cookie sheet, spread some olive oil and rub the carrots in it. Sprinkle salt on top of the carrots, and put into a 425 degree oven. Keep track of when you put it in - they should get about 45 minutes, which will be timed to when the soup is done.

Let the stock simmer for another 15 minutes, then add in the tomatoes. Raise the heat a little, but still don't let it boil, and cook for another 20 minutes. Add in the beans, and cook for 10 more minutes.

Both the carrots and the soup should be done now (although do keep an eye on the carrots and make sure they aren't in the oven too long).

When serving the soup, you can add some cheese on top. Also remember to not eat the lemongrass or the savory stalk - although you can, they are both very strong and can be removed from the soup.