29 April 2011

Bagel Porn

Last time I posted about bagels, I think I sufficiently described my love for a good bagel. I've taken to making my coworkers very happy since then by making bagels (mostly) weekly. Usually I make a variety, but this week I went for fennel and sea salt; I had made this as one of the varieties before, but it was just one bagel and it went straight into my belly. Sharing was in order.
There was only one mistake to rectify; I didn't put the fennel seed in at night, but rather worked it into the dough during shaping and added a bunch to the boiling solution. It didn't really infuse the bagel as much as I would have liked. Adding it before the cold fermentation would have made every bite a fennel floral instead of just those that contained a seed. Anyway, won't share the recipe/instructions/etc, so the only thing left is some bagel porn.

24 April 2011

Lemon and Basil Salmon, "Slow" Roasted

Having wanted to cook salmon for a long time, and finding ourselves with a weekend free of plans, we looked for a recipe. On second though, "looked" may not be the appropriate word - I was hungry, so I picked up the first cookbook, found a salmon recipe, and went to buy ingredients. The recipe came from a book I've used once before but have owned for many years. This recipe was another delicious and easy feast, so I may find myself returning to the pages more often.
As is my (approximate) policy for recipes direct from a book, I won't post the recipe, but I will share some salient bits. For one, this salmon came out beautifully. I would like to, at least partially, thank my wallet for that. I don't know the normal prices of these things, and I wasn't really in the mood to comparison shop, but $28 a pound seems like a lot of money. I mean, I guess the salmon was labeled as "wild" and "Alaskan king," two things one is instructed to look for. Maybe the salmon was also given an hour long massage after being caught, and treated to a mud-wrap facial. The other thing would be the cooking method -- I'm used to salmon cooked in a hot oven for a decent amount of time, and seasoned for yet longer beforehand. This recipe had the salmon soak for 30 minutes in olive oil and salt, and cook for only 15-20 minutes in a 225 degree (F) oven. I wouldn't think that long enough for either stage, yet it seemed to be more than ample.
The other one was the amazing sauce. It was very simple, consisting of mostly white wine, butter, and (as this is from an herb-based cookbook) basil. It may not have thickened much, and I may have forgotten to add shallots (let alone buy them), but it was divine. I may have taken a sip of it, direct from the plate, after we had cleaned it completely of salmon and veggies.

22 April 2011

Peanut butter beer sauce

So that title was probably says enough for most people. Either you want this stuff right now, or you think I have no taste in food. Honestly, it is probably both. But I've been playing around recently with making sauces/glazes/etc for my cooking, and I think I came up with something good last night. You can be the judge. The sauce doesn't look that appetizing below; maybe because its on bok choy and quinoa? Maybe because it was taken on a cell phone camera at night? It was all I had and I just wanted to cram some food and play Portal 2. I'm a simple man.
I've learned a lesson from some past bread baking experiments: you can substitute beer in for water. It makes things good. I think they did a study where groups had {water, beer, gatorade} after exercise, and beer helped recovery the most. So science agrees with me too, good ole science. Can't be doubted - they proved it in a study I may vaguely remember! Anyway, sauce:
Peanut butter beer sauce
Makes enough sauce for one dish for one person.
  • 1/3 cup beer (I used a Bock; you should, likewise, use something with a strong flavor)
  • 1 tbsp red miso paste
  • ~1 tbsp peanut butter
  • splash of white wine vinegar
  • squeeze of honey
I think the rest is obvious; just make sure that when you start the flambee, you don't let the dutch oven get too hot. Otherwise, should be a piece of cake.

21 April 2011

What to do with molasses?

Way back when I went shopping for bagel ingredients, namely barley malt syrup, I noticed molasses right next to it. And I thought (a not uncommon occurrence, despite what some may believe) that it might come in handy. Molasses cookies are delicious; surely, there must be a wealth of molasses-based recipes to use this substance on. As is often the case, I was wrong. Between my two bread books, I have two recipes that use molasses. One of those lists it as optional. The other one didn't look very good. Well, shit.
Except whats that? That looks pretty good! I just took some whole wheat bread recipes, subbed molasses for the sugar, and called it good. Turns out that works pretty well, although the molasses hits really strong if you do 1-for-1 substitutions. A 50% whole wheat 50% white wheat mix seems best, and on the liquidy (rustic) side of doughs. The part that seems most important is to dissolve the yeast/salt/molasses into your water before adding it to the flour, but otherwise just follow directions.
Highly recommend the bread be served with honey or jam; potentially even including orange zest or dried fruit directly in the dough. In fact, that sounds like a good next-step. Also, making shortbread with molasses because why not.

10 April 2011

Sesame-Miso Tofu

At some point during the week, I saw a link to a recipe for scallion pancakes. They seemed delicious, I happened to have a bunch of green onion lying around, and I wanted something other than rice with my generic Asian tofu dinner that I was going to make. Seemed like the perfect accompaniment. Now, usually when I make bread, I follow the recipe precisely. I've learned my lesson in the past with baking; there is too much chemistry, too little room for experimentation. A very fine line to walk, and I've done my fair share of hiking it in clown shoes. Not a good idea.
Except this time, I think I came out ahead. Yes, I toyed with the recipe - but when your recipe has two ingredients (flour and water), you get a bit of lee-way. From past bread baking, I know that adding yogurt to a dough gives it a bit of acid tang (to substitute for lack of a starter) and a bit of fluff. I wasn't quite in the mood for a thin, fried thick - a doughier hunk, capable of soaking up the sauce, seemed in order. The sauce I prepared was very ad-hoc, and lightly measured. I'll do my best to recount it below, but there are omissions, guesses, and outright fabrication of ingredients as transcribed.
Seasame-Miso Tofu
Serves 2
12 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
3-4 carrots, sliced
handful of snap peas, winter peas, etc
1 small white onion, sliced into strips
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp water (5 tbsp)
3-4 sprigs green onion, diced
loose handful of thai basil
2 tbsp red miso paste
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of poppy seeds
pinch of cumin
pinch of corn starch

In a large frying pan, with a bit of oil, start cooking the onion over medium. After a few minutes, throw in the tofu. Let cook without stirring for up to 5 minutes, until the tofu has begun to brown on a side. Throw in the carrots and let cook for 5 more minutes, then throw in the peas.

In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly. The consistency should be somewhat watery. Add to the frying pan, and continue stirring and cooking until you want to call it done.
Doughy Scallion Cake
Makes 1 pancake (serves 2?)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp yogurt
squeeze of honey
3-4 sprigs green onion, diced
loose handful of thai basil, shredded

In a kettle, boil some water. Put the 1/2 cup of flour in a mixing bowl that can hove boiling water poured into it. Once the water is boiling, add approximately 3 tbsp of it (fill a 1/4 cup somewhat short of the rim), the squeeze of honey, and the yogurt. Mix thoroughly for a minute with a spoon. It should be cohesive and not sticky; if sticky, add more flour in small quantities. If it doesn't form a ball, add a tiny bit more water.

Flour your hands, a work surface, and the dough, and knead it a few times. Put back in the bowl, cover, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. While its resting, feel free to prepare the above recipe. After thirty minutes, roll it out very flat on a floured work surface. Sprinkle the onion and basil on top, then roll up, spiral, and roll into a thicker pancake again.

In a frying pan over medium-high, add just enough oil to coat the bottom. When the oil shimmers, put in the cake and constantly swirl the pan above the flame. Flip after 2 minutes or less, and cook the same way on the other side for 2 minutes or less. Place on paper towel, dab off excess oil, and serve immediately.

05 April 2011

Crunchy Cheese Rolls

A while back, I made some bread with beer and cheese. It was delicious, but rather heavy. It had both buttermilk and butter. Today, I made some more bread with beer and cheese; crispy on the outside and airy on the inside, like a baguette. Except more delicious. I went with very strong cheeses, so as to use less of it. I also used very little beer, to keep most of the airy baguette goodness. A roaring success, according to my coworkers.
There isn't much to say about these - they were delicious, quick, light, crispy, and salty. The beer didn't provide much flavor but it moistened up the bread a little bit. The shaping didn't work out as well as hoped, but it still worked. The cheeses were great together. So, recipe:
Crunchy Cheese Rolls
Makes 8-10 large-ish rolls, good for a snackwhich
(adapted from Lean Bread recipe in Artisan Breads Everyday)
340g bread flour
200g lukewarm water
50g beer (I used 21st Amendment's current seasonal, Bitter American)
30g shredded asiago (or other hard, strong cheese)
block of sovrano grana (or other very hard, very strong cheese) for grating on top
7g salt
3g instant yeast

The day before baking, combiner flour, asiago, salt, and yeast in a bowl and stir. Add in water and beer, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is hydrated. Let rest for 5 minutes, then stir again for 2 minutes, and let rest for 5 more minutes. Then stretch-and-fold 4 times, with a 10 minute rest between each. Put dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover it tightly, and place in fridge overnight (or a couple days, but no more than 3).
The day of baking, remove the dough about 2 hours before you want to bake it. Break the dough into 8-10 pieces for rolls, and shape each into a ball then roll them into logs. This should be done on an oiled work surface, no flour. Put the shaped rolls on a parchment-lined sheet pan, coated with corn meal, and cover. Rest for an hour, uncover, and rest for another hour.

Preheat oven to 550 degrees. After 2 hours of the bread being out of the fridge, grate the sovrano grana (or other very hard cheese), enough to sprinkle on top of each roll. Take a dull knife and press, lengthwise, through each roll, then spread grated cheese into the crack with your fingers. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for 8-10 more minutes. Let cool for ~15 minutes, then eat.

04 April 2011

Kale (not at all) Bibimbap

Continuing my week of destroying Asian dishes by using kale (yesterday I did it to sushi, tomorrow I'm going to cancel the trend of destroying them with kale because I'm now out of kale), I've moved a bit west to Korea. I get Korean food cravings every now and then, which is hampered by a lack of good Korean food in SF. Specifically, dolsot bibimbap. While my dining companions are getting their fill of sundubu jjigae, I'm patiently waiting for my egg and rice to crust-up on a hot stone bowl. Well, I don't have a hot stone bowl at home, so I'll have to settle for bibimbap. Except not really, because I'm busy destroying regional cuisines.
This dish can only barely be called "bibimbap". "Influenced by" might be a better term, but maybe I'm better off just not mentioning the inspiring dish. For one, my dinner lacked cucumber, bean sprouts, mushrooms, and basically all of the signature veggies you expect to find. It did have the signature egg, the spicy chile sauce, and seaweed. Still, a far cry from the real thing. Also it had avocado because, hey, who doesn't love it? The flavors were mostly right, given my massive substitutions, and I'd file this under "easy" as far as prep goes. So why not give it a shot the next time you've got some lacinato kale?
You could definitely add some sauteed sprouts and mushrooms to the recipe below, and optionally some tofu. I've also suggested you eat it with lots of banchan. I didn't have any, so I just had some amazing hummus and chips. Not traditionally a Korean side, but it will do in a pinch.
 ______________o ______________
Kale Bibimbap
Serves 2 (assuming a healthy selection of banchan)
2/3 cups rice
2 eggs
5-10 leaves of lacinato (dino) kale
1/2 red onion
1 small, ripe avocado
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
furikake (or other form of seaweed/fish flavoring)
lime juice
sriracha (or other form of spicy chili paste)

Cook the rice as per the cooking instructions. When the rice has about 10 minutes to go, dice the red pepper and cut the kale into strips, widthwise. Put in a frying pan with a dash of olive oil over high heat. After 5 minutes, add in a small amount of the following: lime juice, sriracha, honey, rice vinegar, and a dash of salt. Continue stirring until it looks mostly cooked, then remove from heat.

When the rice is done, add in 1 tsp rice vinegar and 1 tsp olive oil, plus a small pinch furikake and stir. Put rice into 2 bowls and split the kale and onion mixture between them; garnish with sliced avocado. In a frying pan over medium-high, crack in the two eggs. Fry them as to your liking, preferably leaving the yoke runny. When you think they are cooked enough, immediately (but carefully, so as to no break the yoke), place an egg on top of each bowl. Add a dash of furikake on top of the egg for a visual garnish. Eat immediately, breaking the egg and stirring everything together.

03 April 2011

Something like nigiri, only not at all

Exactly as described, this dish was an experiment (I swear I cook things that aren't experiments but I usually don't post them unless they are new and delicious). I wanted something cold for dinner, so I went on my way to get salad ingredients. Somewhere on the 3-block walk, I decided I'd rather have tofu and kale (a common craving). And, somewhere on the walk home, I came up with an odd idea - wrap the tofu in kale and bake it at a high heat, quickly, to give it a crunch, then let it cool.

And while I was at it, why not add some more crunchy things - sliced apple (instead of the saltiness of soy sauce, the sweetness of fruit) and red onion (to provide bite like wasabi). I also, of course, still made the salad. Do I recommend you make these? Maybe, they were quite good. But they aren't exactly perfected, half of them fell apart, and the flavors need some work.

Hippie Nigiri (Kaleifornia Rolls)
Serves 1 adventurous person
1 single-serving block of baked tofu (~8 ounces) cut into 8 pieces
8 leaves of lacinato (dinosaur) kale (plus more if you just want to eat it)
16 fingernail-sized slices of red onion
8 thin apple slices
olive oil
sea salt
crushed red pepper

Prepare a few things: an oven heating to 475 degrees, a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water, and a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Once the water is at a boil, blanch the kale leaves by dropping them in the water, letting them cook for 10-20 seconds, and transferring them to the ice water. Make sure they cool, and press out all of the liquid.

Take each piece of tofu and place an apple slice on it and two pieces of red onion, then wrap it in a piece of kale, leaving the loose ends under the tofu slice. Place on the pan and brush with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and a dash of crushed red pepper.

Bake for no more than 10 minutes, until the kale is crispy. Either eat hot (delicious) or let cool a bit (also delicious). Wonder what the fuck you just ate and how it tasted good.