07 February 2012

Ethnically Challenged "Latkes", and a Twist on Rosemary Loaf

Continuing a theme of amazing weekend weather, we had another one. A somewhat hectic schedule led to me eating exactly 2 meals at my apartment the entire weekend, Friday included. One of which was a simple breakfast. Now, some of that was warranted. A truffle-making class Saturday morning gave me the opportunity to take E to Sightglass coffee. Her comments were mostly "I can't believe your drip cost more than my latte", "this is pretty good", and "yeah, you were right, this place is pretty awesome inside". Lets consider that a glowing endorsement. The truffle class was wonderful; I feel like I can make truffles at home. Some cooking classes I've been to and heard of are more like a dinner party; the instruction takes a back seat to drinking wine, socializing, and doing (but not being instructed in) prep work. Not this one.

The lack of cooking finally caught up to me on Sunday; not wanting to go to the grocery store I settled on quinoa and apple. Not the most exciting meal, but spruced up with a little bit of earthy pu-erh tea in the water, pan-toasted almonds, and a light mirin-cayenne finish it was a nice grounded meal after a weekend of heavier fare. It also put me in the mood to do something Japanese; I wanted tempura but didn't want to deep fry something. So I made latkes, except Japanese. Both those words should be in air quotes, by the way.
A recipe would do no good, but the thought process was such: latkes are a starch + egg/flour (binding) + flavor. Replace the shredded potato (starch) with sushi rice (also a starch) and move the flavoring away from the normal (onion, sour cream) to something Japanese (shitaki, seaweed, edamame) to get a new dish. It worked, impressively. 2/3 cup cooked sushi rice, 2 eggs, enough corn flour that I felt it was binding, and far too many hand-extracted edamames later, I had something that would form into patties and cook in a bit of oil. For a bit of final flavor, I also added a tad of furikake to the batter, a pre-cooked shitake pressed onto the top of each, and served on a piece of dried seaweed. Pre-cooked mushroom is important to get all that moisture out. I served it with a bit of raw kale and cucumber salad, with cooked kale just because I love kale so much. The only lack was wasabi, which I left at E's when we made latkes in the past.

I also found the time to toy around with bread - I think my loaves are doing well flavor-wise, but the visuals are sometimes lacking. With this last loaf, I was going for a tiled pattern, with raised, flour-coated tiles separated by rivulets of cheese tween them. You can see how that turned out:
In short, there was a bit of flooding. I think my problem was a too-short rise; given the temperature of my apartment and my impatience, this is unsurprising. What I attempted to do was make a cold-fermented loaf (that is, mix the dough at night and let it rise in the fridge) with a bit of rise time before it went to sleep for the night, and putting it to bed pre-shaped. I gave it 1.5 hours on top of the 45 minutes of mixing + stretch and fold, then another hour in the morning before going in the oven (instead of 2 hours). I'm unsure if it needed a longer night rise or a longer morning rise; the Tartine bread gets exclusively a night-time rise and has an amazingly crispy crust so that leads me in the direction of more pre-ferment proofing.

The pattern was made by coating the top in flour then scoring a grid on the loaf. Finely-grated hard cheese (like asiago, for instance) was carefully sprinkled into the cuts, making sure it didn't spread out of the lines. I did the scoring immediately after bringing the dough from the fridge; pushing this off until cook-time might be preferred, which is less of an issue if it doesn't have a morning rise at all.

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