26 May 2011

Rough Pastry Dough Begets Strawberry Puff Triangles

Way, way, way back I posted a photo, and quick description of, palmiers. Made from a very simple version of puff pastry dough that doesn't require making a detrempe. For those that don't speak French and don't know how to use a search engine, "detrempe" translates roughly to "what the fuck have I gotten myself into that was way more work than I thought and it isn't even the dough yet". Keep in mind my French is a little rusty, so I'd ask a professional translator to really get a feel for the subtleties in that. I don't know why I haven't made more puff pastries since then; I guess biscuits/scones are fairly close. Also, I've been eating some delicious pastries recently from Tell Tale Preserves - it seems all of my favorite hip/trendy/urban/home office coffee shops have started stocking them. They make these grownup versions of pop-tarts, as well as basically what I'm making below, but in a larger size. And tastier, but I'll work on that.
I'm going to give you two recipes below - one for the dough, and one for the pastry itself. You can use this dough anywhere a recipe asks for "puff pastry" without running to the store to find some. Some recipes you will see require several days of work - those are probably better. This stuff just gets the job done, looks good while doing it, and only needs ~45 minutes (most of that spent sitting in the freezer, actually). You'll get slightly less defined layering, but still all of the light crisp and flakiness you would find in a three-day concoction.
Rough Puff Pastry Dough
2 parts (by weight) butter
2 parts (by weight) pastry flour
1 part (by weight) water
lots and lots of additional flour in reserve

(For the math-challenged, this means for every stick of butter you need about one cup of flour and 1/4 cup water).

Chop the butter into cubes, then place all the ingredients (each in a separate container) into the freezer for about 15 minutes - don't let the water freeze. On a work surface, put down some of the flower, place the butter on top, then put the rest of the flour on top. With a pastry blade, cut the flour into the butter briefly, getting the butter into tiny chunks. It should look like this.
Once the butter and flour are a pile of delicious, fatty rubble, pour a little bit of water on top and cut the water in. You don't want to pour too much water on, as it won't get absorbed and you'll just end up with a wet work surface/counter/pants. Continue this process, pouring in a little water and cutting it in, until you don't have any more water. Now your pile of rubble is starting to gain sentience - it'll look like below. Quickly, before it becomes a seething mass of butter-golem, intent on destroying squishy human flesh - roll it flat!
This stage is a little tricky - for the first flattening, you should kind of pat it flat with a floured pastry blade. Then, turn the top third of the blob over itself, then the bottom third. Lift it with pastry blade, flour underneath, put it down so the folds are now vertical, flour the top, and roll it out with a pin. Do this process at least 4 more times, if not more, but do not let the butter melt at all. The first fold won't be much of one as it will be chunky - after 2-3 folds/rolls, it should be one cohesive piece.
 On the left is it right after the first fold, on the right after the 4th roll.
Now that your dough is one piece and rolled flat, fold it up one more time, wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer (if using it within 15 minutes), the fridge (if using it sometime from 30 minutes from now until a day or two later), or in a very deep grave (if you aren't planning on using it and wish to stop the butter-golem uprising).

Jam Puff Pockets
Some amount of above recipe (I used 1 stick of butter worth)
Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar
(optional) milk (cow, soy, coconut, doesn't really matter).

A note - mine were not very sweet, so the recipe has been modified to add a little bit more sugar than I used. The glaze should really push it into sweet land, but is entirely optional. I didn't use it. You could also try putting in a bit more jam, but that requires thinner dough and probably making squares, not triangles.

Preheat oven to 400. Line a work surface with granulated sugar, and roll the dough out into, roughly, a rectangle-ish shape. Go for something very thin. Using a pastry cutter, chef's knife, or some other long thing, cut the dough into a grid of squares. I'll just say 3 inches by 3 inches, but only because I suck at estimating distance and that seems like a good number.

Sprinkle a little bit more sugar on top of the squares, then put a very tiny dab of jam in the center. You can either fold it in half diagonally and seal the sides, or put one square on top of another and make ravioli-ish pastries. Either way, be very careful to only put pressure on the edges so you don't squeeze the jam out. Press a fork along the edges to give it some nice texture.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the prepared pastries. If you want, you can make a glaze by combining a little bit of milk into some sugar and whisking, adding milk slowly until it hits the consistency you like. Spread some of this on the pastries, but leave some in reserve. Either way, sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
Cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on how thick the dough was and how brown they get. If using a glaze, let them cool for about 10 minutes then apply another bit of glaze. Either way, wait until they have cooled completely and add sugar again. Then eat them.

23 May 2011

Birthday Breads

Most people, for their birthday, like receiving things. You know, material goods, money, strippers, what have you. I'm not such a big fan of these things. Material goods take up space and you have to move them; work gives me money; strippers aren't really my thing and I don't have a stage or pole in my apartment for them to use. So I just made food for people, and bought some new beers, and got incredibly full on a variety of bread products. Some very nice people brought me food stuffs to eat including an amazing cake (good for breakfast as well, although not a good idea).
I didn't do anything crazy or inventive for the breads - rustic baguettes with rosemary, olive and fennel bagels, and the multi-seed rustic loaf from a few posts ago. I heard no complaints on the bread, nor did I expect any. I did modify the multi-seed recipe - upped the whole wheat ratio to 75% whole wheat, 25% bread flour and added 10g of water (or so) to balance it out, as well as upping the sunflower and pumpkin seed amounts to 21g each. Equally delicious as the last loaf; on the heartier side, perhaps a better match for toast and jam than the last.
The last time I made olive bagels, they didn't quite pick up the olive flavor - so in went 10g of the liquid in which olives come. It isn't quite olive juice - it appeared to be more salty water flavored with olive juice, but it did its job. It also colored the bagels quite a bit. A dash of fennel seeds topped out the overnight flavoring, with guests doing a variety of toppings that all seemed to involve some combination of sea salt, sesame seed, and poppy seeds.
Some people actually took me up on the offer of shaping bagels - one can probably guess, in the above photo, which bagel I shaped. Luckily, the shape of the bagel doesn't really determine the taste, only how well cooked parts of it were.

On the beer front, I went and picked up two nice bottles from Healthy Spirits - a porter from Firestone Walker and a smoked urbock. The porter was amazing - I'm no expert and grading, ranking, or otherwise critiquing beer beyond the [bad, drinkable, interesting, good] rating system. This one was firmly in the [good] spectrum of beers. The urbock was... interesting. I enjoyed it quite a bit, tasting something like smoked meat mixed with a malty beer. Other people enjoyed it less than I did, but it was not as universally hated as the "chinese medicine" beer I've served before.

16 May 2011

A Few Weekend Dishes

A few dishes, but not so many photos. One in fact. Here you go, you can have it now just so you, dear reader, aren't left hanging.
With that out of the way, we can get straight to the meat of this post. Or, not meat, as the case may be. Bay to Breakers was this weekend, an event I boldly decided to run (and then home). Given the distance, carbs were in order for Saturday dinner. I had gone to the farmer's market in the morning and picked up some assorted vegetables - carrots, the tiniest fennel I've ever seen, and flowering broccolini. I had no clue what I wanted to do with the carrots, but the fennel and broccolini purchase was with intent. I needed to show E that broccolini was delicious.

I pulled out my chosen weapons for this trial - a very hot oven, olive oil, and sea salt. Turns out, you can make most things delicious with those ingredients. I think the trial was a success in my favor, but my guess is E thinks it inconclusive as the salt was what she enjoyed, not the green stuff. I still think I'm right. We ate it with soba noodles, tofu, and carrots all in a peanut-butter based sauce. Fairly delicious stuff.

There was also the matter of before-breakfast and after-breakfast for the race. Awaking at 6 and running at 7 is difficult - you need food, but nothing heavy. I went with my standard "banana and some grain that is easy to digest" which, in this case, was cold oatmeal. You should try it, being very easy to make, very cheap, and very delicious. Just soak some oatmeal in water (or milk, cow or otherwise) for 5-10 minutes and eat it. Maybe add some honey.

After-breakfast was, of course, after the race (and subsequent run home). First order was finishing off some chewy electrolyte/sugar things and scarfing down a protein energy bar. After this, and a much needed shower, it was french toast time. Day-old Pain au Levain, eggs, and a bit of flavor. I think I have a new favorite for post-jog - goodbye, burrito. Don't worry, I'll still eat you at 2am. You aren't gone forever.
Crisped Broccolini with Fennel
Variable serving size
Broccolini to feed N people
Fresh fennel
Olive oil
Sea salt
(optional) lemon juice

Preheat oven to 475. Chop the fennel bulbs into strips and reserve the leaves on the side. In a bowl, toss the broccolini and chopped fennel in a bit of olive oil, just enough to make it shiny all over. Add in a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice and toss. Prepare a baking sheet with foil, and empty the bowl onto it. Spread everything out so nothing is stacked.

Add on top a little bit more salt and the fennel leaves, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the florets have begun to char. Eat immediately, as it will cool and then get soggy very quickly.
Standard French Toast
Makes 4 slices
4 slices of soft, chewy bread
2 eggs
1/4 c milk (I used almond, you can use cow)
~2 tsp cinnamon (didn't really measure)
~1/4 tsp vanilla extract (ditto)
~1 tsp honey (ditto)
butter for the pan
powdered sugar

In a small bowl, combine everything but the bread, sugar, and butter. Mix with a fork until it looks uniform. Heat a pan over medium. Soak each slice of bread for a minute on each side, then butter the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the uncooked side, flip, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Sprinkle again with powdered sugar and devour.
Tofu Soba Stir Fry in a Peanut Sauce

Man, I don't really remember what I did. It had peanut butter, water, vinegar, and olive oil. So, like, combine those things in random amounts and see if you get a tasty sauce. If it isn't tasty, try a different ratio if ingredients. Maybe just give up and eat some peanut butter from the jar.

I won't tell anyone.

13 May 2011

Multi-Seed Rustic Bread

A bread today, with recipe. I've got approximate volume measurements so you can even follow along at home! I don't have anything witty or interesting to say about this loaf. It was delicious. You should make it. It is a bastardization, plus some interpretation, of two recipes from my go-to bread book. I took the dough from the 50% whole wheat rustic bread (the mini baguettes I make frequently) and modified it slightly, and used the recipe for the many-seeded loaf as a guide for how much seed to add. But I ignored the buttermilk/lots of oil/butter/etc from that recipe to get a much drier loaf with a very crunchy crust.
 _______________o _______________
Multi-Seed Rustic Bread
Makes one small loaf
140g (1 cup + 2 tbsp or so) bread flour
140g (1 cup + 2 tbsp or so) whole wheat bread flour
5g (~3/4+ tsp) table salt
2g (~1/2+ tsp) active dry instant yeast
10g (~3/4 tbsp) honey
10g (~3/4 tbsp) olive oil
225g (1 cup) lukewarm water
14g (3 tbsp) sliced almonds
14g (3 tbsp) sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
14g (3 tbsp) pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
sesame and poppy seeds for garnish

At least the night before you want to bake the bread, and preferably two nights before (to allow the seeds ample time to soak up moisture and soften), combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Add the water, then honey and olive oil, and mix with a wooden spoon for a minute or two. The dough will be very liquidy - it won't form a ball, and it will stick to the spoon. It shouldn't, however, be runny - dragging a spoon across it should leave a trail that stays in place.

Cover it and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir again for a minute or two, then let rest for 5 more minutes. Stretch-and-fold the dough 4 times, with 10 minutes between each iteration. The first time it will be a sticky mess that will tear in half if you let it; each time it should get much firmer until it feels smooth and resists the stretch. If it isn't solidifying, add a bit more flour. After the stretch-and-folds, place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, seal it, and put in the fridge.

The day of baking remove the bread from the fridge about 1.5-2 hours before you plan on baking it. Shape it however you wish, lightly brush it with water, and cover it in sesame and poppy seeds. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof. Allow your oven time to preheat to 500 degrees, then place the bread in and reduce heat to 450 degrees. Cook for 15 minutes, then rotate the bread to ensure even cooking. Cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the bread is brown, it sounds hollow when thumped, etc etc. If you are being super-scientific, wait for the internal temperature to read 195-200 degrees. Let cool for 30 minutes or longer.

10 May 2011

Olives in Bread

I haven't posted in a while. Its not like I haven't been cooking - I've made some questionable culinary choices in the past week and some thoroughly delicious ones (fajitas last night come to mind). I've reaffirmed some personal beliefs; namely that Sriracha or chili flakes can make most anything tasty. I also played around with throwing olives in dough. I shouldn't have to explain this one if you've ever had a good olive ciabatta or the luck of dining on a crispy olive bagel. And those are precisely the two things I tried to create.

And, following in the truest of Mikey Make traditions, I don't need no recipe. I took my standard mini baguette recipe (half the original, but approximately "one loaf" worth of dough) and added in 12 small olives, diced. I didn't press them at all, so they added a fair bit of olive juice into the dough - I had to compensate with a little extra flour at the end of mixing. The flavor was one that my coworkers thought of as enough of an olive hint without overpowering the taste buds. So, mission accomplished, I made bagels.
Here I put ~15 olives in the recipe (which uses something like 500 grams of flour, I think?) - the olive flavor was definitely a bit more subdued, but still noticeable. I also succeeded in getting some incredibly crispy bagel bottoms, something I'll have to try to replicate in the future. They were dusted with flour mostly for visual appeal, but it also takes a little of the olive and sea salt kick out of a bite. Based on these two dishes, I'll say the number of olives are 10-15 small (tip of pinkie finger or smaller) per "loaf" of bread to get a good olive taste. Maybe next time I'll even weigh it or (gasp) measure the volume.