01 April 2013

New Post, New City

So, E and I moved across the country. Rather, up - from SF to Seattle. Across the hotdog way, not the hamburger. This was my poor car for the drive:
We used one of those "we drop off a crate, you fill it, we ship it" companies for the majority of the move and stuffed the car with necessities for "camping" a few nights in our old place and a few nights in the new. Including a minimal set of cookware. The day before the crate arrived at our old place, I got sick with what E dubbed "convenient-itus" and what I called "some horrible stomach bug". Needless to say, the cookware was not used in the few days before we drove North. We arrived on a Saturday night after a leisurely two-day drive, spending the night in Grant's Pass after a meal at Black Bear Diner. I fondly remembered this chain from a similar road trip as a younger self - the pancakes where the size of my plate and my brother's burger almost the same. It almost lived up to the memories - the pancakes only want to the inner edge of the rim, robbing the poor souls eating them of a good inch on the diameter of what would surely be a wondrous food coma. But, yes, back to arriving in Seattle - our new neighborhood has a Sunday market, perfect for our Saturday night arrival and cookware. So we made this:
Some delicious fresh pasta, some random greens with goat chevre, and a duck egg. A most excellent lunch. A key benefit to the new location is a library barely a block away, and one with decent hours even. You know, those places that give you free books for a bit. They have cookbooks, even. Good ones. I promptly checked out Ad Hoc at Home, a beautiful book I could never convince myself to buy. If you need a good, all-purpose cookbook that doubles as something to display, you could do much worse. In particular, it's packed with useful tips for prep and cooking. I've always been one to blanch greens sometimes, but now it's an always. And between a wonderful surprise cooking class at Book Larder from E and the tips in this book, I'll always saute and baste with a parchment lid. Hopefully next time it won't look as ugly as this:
Something bad happened to the skin - dried out too much maybe? I don't really cook chicken, so that could be another cause. On the other hand: Jerusalem artichokes have received unanimous approval from the M&E panel of expert diners. Blanched, skin on, until just tender, then prepped however you want - like a potato. I've roasted them whole with the chicken (mistake; should cut them in half, face down, to soak up juices) and cut them into fries (super-success). Other cooking successes, brought to you by an apartment that is room temperature instead of outdoor temperature, includes sourdough bread.
Yes, after leaving SF, land of the sourdough and 60-or-so degree apartment, I've gotten back into sourdough. And it works, beautifully. Two new-ish things with this loaf. First, after watching Josey Baker shape a table full of rustic loaves in the time it takes me to do one, I got a bench scraper. For a boule, it can't be beat. And, secondly, I made a mistake, never to be repeated, with the salt. I didn't put it in initially when combining the pre-ferment with the bread ingredients. Instead, I let everything-minus-salt rest for 30 minutes to make sure the starter took and to somewhat-copy the method used by Tartine. Then I used coarse-grain sea salt. Not the best idea; even with wet hands and a few stretch-and-fold iterations, I don't think it fully mixed. Next time, kosher or fine-grain.
That led to some bites full of flavor and others bland, plus the giant and undesirable pockets of air in the above photo.

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