Brioche Bread Pudding & French Toast

I first fell in love with Bread Pudding when my friend Megan who was cooking for Dave at Cafe Mirage was making it back in the late 90’s. I had never had bread pudding to my recollection, or at least not in this way- it was drier and more like french toast served in a cup that was crispy on the top. The bread puddings I think I had tried in the past were soppy gloppy structureless sludgy masses of dough and custard (sound appetizing? meh).

Then I discovered my Wife Rachel’s weakness for Bread Pudding- which was of a similar sort to the kind I wasn’t a big fan of, more bread texture and yet with a saucy kind of hard sauce that it was drenched in with maraschino cherries on top. As usual I set out to try to bridge the gap between what I was attracted to and what my love was attracted to. It’s still kind of a throw it together dish- that evolves each time I make it. I’ve made it with sourdough bread which was really yummy and less sweet and in this iteration- I’ve used the Brioche from Sweet Peas Bakery around the corner form us on Sound Beach Ave. in Old Greenwich. So without further adieu I bring you Brioche Bread Pudding/French Toast Hybrid.

Brioche French Toast Pudding

Brioche French Toast Pudding

Brioche French Toast Pudding

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Serves: 8

Where does the line between Breakfast and Dessert lie? Bill Cosby once said it was Chocolate Cake. With this recipe we may have a contender.
Ingredients
  • ¾ loaf of Brioche from your local bakery- fresh or stale is fine.
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups of milk (2% or greater, your choice)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of natural sugar
  • ¼ freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp Indonesian Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla (I like the Penzeys double strength)
  • 2-3 tbsp of Salted butter
  • ⅛ cup of natural sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Combine the Milk, Eggs, Sugar, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Vanilla and whisk to dissolve sugar and incorporate the eggs. Tear up the Brioche and add it to the liquid mixture. Your finished produce should be quite wet still, with the Brioche filling your bowl and liquid still quite visible.
  3. Coat the inside of a loaf pan with the butter as best you can and cut the remaining bits up and leave them in the pan, tossing them in the ⅛ cup of sugar and coating the bottom and sides of the pan with the sugar.
  4. Fill the pan with the mixture until you are 1 inch form the lip of the pan (you can fill it to ¼ inch but it will overflow when it starts to bake)
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour in the loaf pan placed on a jelly roll or baking sheet with an edge to catch any overflow.
  6. The bread pudding is cooked when the internal temp reaches 160º

Late Summer Pie

Its officially not summer anymore, but we like to ride around without a helmet so lets hear it for late summer beautiful fresh baked pies! We’ve pulled this basic pie shell recipe from the New Basics but its really the same no matter where you look with small variations like using all butter to half butter. We favor the half butter taste and health benefits (maybe).

Blueberry Lemonade Pie

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Serves: 10

Ingredients
  • CRUST
  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (for a sweet filling); 1 tablespoon of a fresh herb or 1 to 2 teaspoons of a dried herb or spice (for a savory filling)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces”
  • “6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, cold
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water
  • PIE FILLING
  • 4 pints of Blueberries
  • 2 lemons zest and juice (omit seeds)
  • 1 cup of natural sugar
  • 1 packet of fruit pectin (not gelatin)
  • 2 tbsp of all purpose flour for thickening or 1tbsp of corn starch
Instructions
  1. Pie Dough Instructions:
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar if you are going to be making a sweet (dessert) pie or the herb or spice for a savory pie or tart. Add the butter and shortening, and working quickly, use a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips to cut in the ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, and toss after each addition. When you can gather the dough into a ball, you’ve added enough water (usually 5 to 6 tablespoons). Transfer the dough onto a cool (marble would be perfect) lightly floured surface, and using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about ¼ cup at a time. Repeat until all the dough has been smeared. (This will blend in the butter and shortening and make the pastry flakier.) Gather the dough into a ball, using a dough scraper, then divide the ball in half. Flatten each half slightly, wrap them in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (You can freeze the dough at this point. Wrap it well in plastic wrap.)
  4. The pastry is now ready to use.
  5. To blind bake a bottom crust or to prep the oven in general: Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Roll 1 ball of chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface to form an 11-inch circle. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate, and press it into the bottom and sides. Trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang back toward the inside, and crimp the edge decoratively.
  7. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and line it with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Fill the plate with pie weights or dried beans, and bake the pastry for 8 minutes. Then remove the foil and weights and return the pastry to the oven; bake until golden brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  8. To partially bake a bottom crust: Follow the directions in Steps 4, 5, and 6 through removing the weights and foil. Then brush the crust with the white from 1 egg and return it to the oven for 2 minutes more. It is now ready to be filled before the final baking.
  9. Fill your pie crust unbaked with your pie filling well mixed before filling. Carefully place your pie top and slit some holes into the top or come to us at Cook and Craft and buy a really cute pie funnel with a critter on top!
  10. Bake at 375 for 1 hour or until golden and bubbling. Let the pie cool for at least an hour before serving.

 

Banana Bread, an adaptation.

OK Truth. My favorite baking recipe that I make, is Banana Bread. This bread is darker and richer than what you’re used to seeing because it cooks low and slow and caramelizes everything while cooking. Enjoy it- it’s super simple and fast to make- I keep old Bananas in the freezer and put them in warm water for 10 minutes to peel them. I’ve started playing with inclusions lately too- I did this recipe with Blueberries- YUM! and the most recent was with Strawberry preserves that I made from farmers market strawberries.

Banana Bread, an adaptation.

Rating 

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Serves: 6

This bread is darker and richer than what you're used to making because it cooks low and slow and caramelizes everything while cooking.
Ingredients
  • 3 over-ripe Bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup of Sugar and a tablespoon or so of Molasses(or ½ C with a half C of any fruit Preserves you like- I just did Lemon Strawberry- OMG)
  • ¼ C Oil (Coconut or Canola, not Olive)
  • ⅓ C Buttermilk or Plain Yogurt (I frequently substitute Soy milk + zest and 1 lemon's juice- now that's a standard)
  • 1 Lemon's zest and juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 1-3/4 C Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
Instructions
  1. Start the bananas and sugar on medium heat until bubbling, remove from heat and let cool for 20 mins then add oil and vanilla. Combine dairy and lemon and egg together and add it to the banana mixture. Whisk dry ingredients together- Flour, salt, baking soda
  2. Turn Oven on to 325º and Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients and bake for 1 hour and 20 mins or until it's no longer soft in the middle. Minimum 1 hour 20 mins.

Let cool for at least a half hour- I know I know- Life’s rough.

Fall Chili

So I make chili. I think it’s pretty good chili too. My good friend Bryan, from the great state of Texas thinks it’s the best Chili he’s had (Don’t tell his family). What’s my secret? Think like a cowboy. Think like cooky, from city slickers, or just think like John Wayne. Whoever you decide to conjure up in your head, just make sure they can think on their feet, because that’s the basis we’ll be working from.

I got my Chili making method from my mom and aunt bear I think. It all started from the way I learned to make Curry- using over ripened bananas as a thickener, coffee for that earthy taste, but that’s another recipe.
On with it, already!

 

 

Fall Chili
Ingredients
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced thinly with the grain for caramelization.
  • 1 head of roasted garlic, mashed (roast at 325º for ½ hour, then 200º for an hour, you can do this days ahead and it's easier to de-clove cold)
  • 8 oz. of Fresh Apple Cider (that's what I had left in the jug)
  • 8 oz. of leftover coffee (again- whatever's in the pot)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of dried mixed beans (pinto, black, kidney, etc...)
  • 5 Guajillo Chili's (dried)- slice a small lengthwise cut into them to allow liquid to enter
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 ceylon cinnamon stick bound with butcher's twine
  • 3 TB of Penzey's medium Chili spice blend
  • 1 tb of Penzeys BBQ of the Americas or BBQ 3000
  • 2-3 TB of dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 TB of Paprika
  • 1 28oz can of Muir Glen crushed fire roasted tomatoes.
  • 3 lbs of Boneless beef Short ribs (grind half of it with coarse blade- Cut into strips 1"x1", throw it in the freezer for a half hour before grinding, flip once)
  • 2-3 TB of Molasses
  • ¼ bar of a high quality, high cocoa dark dark chocolate
Instructions
  1. I start by caramelizing the onions, but I stop just short of caramelization- so count on about a half hour to 45 mins in a medium hot cast iron or steel clad aluminum 6-8 qt pot. Put the onions in the pot cold and then turn on the heat- you won't need any oil. Turn it down to medium low after a half hour, avoid stirring it for the first 15 mins. Put the onions aside in a bowl.
  2. Pour the cider into the pot to deglaze it and stir all the brown bits to dissolve. Add the chicken stock, Chilis Cinnamon, Chili Spice, BBQ spice, Oregano, and Paprika. Keep the pan on medium high heat. Cover and let simmer for a half hour. remove the Chilis and let them cool. Rinse and check the beans for pebbles (yes I've found pebbled on numerous occasions). Cook covered on medium heat for 40 mins. Add the coffee, molasses and chocolate
  3. Grind half the beef and cook in a hot pan until brown in 2 batches, setting each aside into the bowl of onions. Grill the other half of the beef, seasoned with Salt and Pepper, cook until well browned on the outside. Le the grilled beef rest for 5 minutes. While you're resting the beef, carefully scrape the flesh from the inside of the chilis, avoiding the seeds- toss as many seeds as you can out, we're looking for the flavor of these chilis, not the heat (don't worry, they have very respectable heat already). Dump this flesh into the beans and stock.
  4. Dump the ground beef, onions, beans and stock into a large (8 quart) pot and add the can of tomatoes.
  5. Slice the beef into bite sized cubes and put this into the mix as well.
  6. Cook on medium low heat for 2-3 hours or until beans and cubed beef are tender. You can also finish this in the oven, which will require less stirring, etc...
  7. Enjoy!

 

 

Liliko’i Cake Redux

This cake is my absolute favorite in the world. There simply is no better summertime cake than the Dee Lite Bakery Passion Fruit Cake. Unfortunately, you have to be in Hawaii to get one- and the only other option is to have one fedexed to you (half sheetpan size only from what i remember). So after years of wanting to make one of these so I could enjoy it away from home, I finally dove in and began seeking out my key ingredient. Passion Fruit juice. Not that sickly sweet stuff you see from Goya, or the stuff welches would have you believe is passion fruit, no, real passion fruit should almost turn your mouth inside out from tartness. Hawaiian passion fruits are bright yellow on the outside, not purple like you see in the US grocery stores. I know of at least three varieties of passion fruit, only by their outer color. Orange, yellow and purple all three varying somewhat in sweetness and tartness. It is a flavor that is often represented but rarely done well. There is too often a heavy handed apple juice, or peach juice sort of sweetness added to passion fruit to tame it for western audiences. If you want to experience the true glory of passion fruit in a dessert- read on.

At Shop Rite in Stamford, CT. I came across Dafruta Passion Fruit liquid concentrate- This is a brazilian product imported by liberty imports in Allentown, PA. Wegmans markets carries this as well as Hannafords in NY, MA and ME. I’m sure there are other passion fruit concentrates, but you must be sure that it contains NO sugar. You wouldn’t buy lemon juice that was presweetened, right? I mean, that’s Lemonade. OK, OK- on with it, right.

First things first- We need a fruit glaze for this cake, some to add to the frosting that will be used between the cake layers and some to top the cake with after frosting. A basic fruit glaze will call for too much of a sugar to fruit juice ratio so be sure to follow it the way I’ve outlined below.

1/2 C Sugar
2 TB Corn Starch
1 C Passion Fruit concentrate + 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
2 Heaping TB of Strawberry Jelly (jam- no chunks) (we’re looking for a little glucose/corn syrup to disrupt the sugar recrystallization)

Begin with a 1/2 cup of the juice concentrate + 1/4 cup of water and add the sugar to it. Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally until it boils. While you’re heating the sugar and juice, add the corn starch to the remaining 1/2c of juice and 1/4c water and mix. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, add the corn starch mixture to the syrup and heat again until thickened and just before boiling. Finally, add the 2 Tablespoons of strawberry jelly and blend until smooth over medium to medium low heat and then remove from heat. it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and should taste sweet, but tart.

Now for the frosting- I used a traditional buttercream frosting-
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Blend the butter and Cream Cheese, then slowly add the confectioners sugar (slowly or you’ll discover why I suggest “slowly”) I usually stop the mixer, add a cup or so, then mix again until it’s combined, repeat until you’re done with the sugar. Finally- slowly add 1/2 pint of heavy cream to lighten up the density of the frosting.

Chill all of this.

On to the cakes- I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Vanilla cake mix, because it’s what I had available though I would have been fine with a plain yellow or white as well. I adjusted the recipe in a few ways- first, I added an extra egg, but combined the eggs in a different way too. take the whites of 2 eggs and add the remaining 3 yolks and 1 white to the oil and milk for the cake mixture and combine them. Meanwhile, take the 2 whites that you reserved and whip them to medium stiff peaks. once the batter has been mixed fold half of the batter into the egg whites, then fold in the rest, take care not to combine so much that you take the air out. Continue with the recipe the way the box suggests. I put a round cut piece of parchment in the bottom of both pans- it’s easier to remove the cakes later.

Let your cakes cool-

Now when you’re ready to frost- Begin by putting a coating of the glaze on your bottom layer and delicately brush it in- alternately you could also just brush a bit of the concentrate onto the cake top and it will soak right in. Then mix a little glaze into a small amount of frosting for your first layer top coating so you have a nice fruity middle frosting. Do a crumb layer followed by finishing up the rest of the cake. I made a top trim edge to keep the glaze from running down the sides of the cake (also so I could add a bit more glaze). Let your cake chill for at least an hour, uncovered. If you want to chill it overnight I would cover it.

Enjoy!

Mascarpone Chocolate Mousse

I have searched around for a good chocolate mousse recipe for a while now- Not much that I like, mostly because what I find omits one or another key ingredient that I think is required for a mousse. The ingredients you must have in a mousse, unless you’re trying to achieve dietary acrobatics are the following:

Chocolate (I like as high cocoa content as possible- go for 72-85%- if you want your chocolate a bit sweeter, add a little sugar- just a little.
Eggs (Local fresh eggs are key here- go to a farmers market or buy the “local” ones in your grocery store)
Heavy Whipping Cream.

That’s it! That’s all that is required! Now, on to my own recipe- it’s so basic, it’s probably what most chef’s would do because it just makes sense- less ingredients allow each other to shine. One thing I want to stress from the beginning is that I believe a good chocolate mousse should not be sweet, and it’s very easy for that to happen, after all cream has a sweetness all on its own. You may look at this recipe and think, it should have sugar in it- but don’t cave- leave it out. If you must, either choose a lower cocoa content chocolate or sweeten some whipped cream as a topper.  I think you’ll be amazed how the natural sweetness of cream comes through in this dessert.

This recipe will serve 10-15 people, depending on how addicted they are to Chocolate- I think I was able to serve about 15+ with this.

Alright. Here we go.
Tools: You’ll want a nice balloon whip (whisk) for the egg whites and a hand mixer for the cream. 2 large mixing bowls and a large pyrex bowl and a 3-4 quart saucepan (unless you have a double boiler) and an instant read thermometer- though it’s not essential, it’s nice to have- you should have one anyway.

Mascarpone Chocolate Mousse

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Serves: 10

I have searched around for a good chocolate mousse recipe for a while now- Not much that I like, mostly because what I find omits one or another key ingredient that I think is required for a mousse. I had a mousse made with Mascarpone up in Lakeville, CT years ago and decided to try my hand at making a recipe for it. It's a wonderful dense mousse, airy but firm.
Ingredients
  • 6 oz. plus 2 oz. (that's a half lb. total) of chocolate-I take a bread knife and break it up- if you get a thicker block of bulk chocolate it's easier to cut, like it was a hard cheese. just slowly push your way through and it will crumble.
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • ½ pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 large or jumbo local eggs-whites and yolks, separated. (if all you can find are medium local eggs- just add 1-2 more than what I call for.
Instructions
  1. Combine your Egg Yolks with a whisk and set aside.
  2. Now put about 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the saucepan and heat it over a medium low temp- you want it to simmer- place the pyrex bowl on top and put 6 oz. of the chocolate in the bowl and stir it with a silicone scraper until it is melted and set it aside, off the saucepan. it will need about 10 minutes to cool, so get whipping.
  3. Whip the creams together until they form stiff peaks and whip your egg whites until they also form fairly stiff peaks. —this is a good two person job- share the effort, (and share the reward).
  4. At this point- your chocolate should be cool enough to work with, about 110º-120º, give it a quick mixing before the next step, tempering your eggs. Have someone mixing the egg yolks with a small whisk while you pour a small amount of chocolate into the eggs, until the eggs resemble brownie batter at which point you can add the egg mixture into the chocolate bowl and combine well with the silicone scraper (spatula). Add half your whipped cream mixture and stir until combined (You can add an ounce or two of sherry or port, or brandy or other flavored liquor if you like, before moving on) and then add half the egg whites and mix just until combined- Now add the extra 2 oz. of well chopped chocolate which will provide you with a bit of texture to the final product. Finish up by folding in the remaining cream and then the remaining egg whites, being careful to not mix too much- it's ok if it doesn't look perfectly combined- you want to keep as much air in this as possible. Refrigerate, covered for a few hours or overnight.

Serve with whipped cream and or fresh berries.

Lomi Lomi Redux

I left State College on Thursday so that I could begin preparing the menu for a friends Bachelor Dinner Party.  Adam is a big fan of Asian cuisine, but he also comes from an Italian family, and in the New York area, that means, a steakhouse oriented menu will do just fine too. I decided to mix it up a bit and offer a some new twists on old favorites.

We started out with a Lomi Lomi Salmon- normally a salted salmon, green onion, tomato mixture that looks like a salsa but is kind of like fresh lox. This is a traditional Hawaiian dish. I don’t know it’s origins, since we don’t have salmon in Hawaii. My guess would be that salmon was salted for transport to the islands from Washington or Alaska and then the locals tore it up and mixed it with onion. I’m sure tomato came later.

My take was to add Blood Orange and put a ring of reduced Pomegranate around the dish for a sweet tart flavor. It was delicious. This dish takes 2 days to make, but only about an hour or so of actual work.

Recipe:

1.5 lbs Salmon Filet
1/2 cup of kosher salt
1 bunch of Green Onions
1 small Ugli or Beefsteak tomato
1-2 Blood Oranges
1-2 tsp sesame oil
1 bottle of POM pomegranate juice

Start out with 1.5 lbs of salmon filet- as low fat as possible (smaller white lines) and try to avoid the thinner belly portion which tends to be more fatty and therefore more fishy- also have your fish monger skin it for you since he’s got the bigger knives and plays with fish all day, it’ll take him 2 seconds to do. Cut the salmon filet in half down the center and then cut each narrow strip in half lengthwise so you have 4 “logs” of salmon. Liberally salt (it should be covered with salt) both sides of the salmon and place it in a covered dish and refrigerate overnight. The next day, you’ll have a lot of liquid in the dish which you can drain off- this is the liquid the salt has removed from the fish. You’ll notice that it’s gotten quite firm as well. Now soak the fish in a bowl of fresh cold water for an hour or so and then remove a piece and cut a few thin slices off of it and taste one of the inside slices to check for saltyness- too salty, change the water and repeat.

Now prep your other ingredients- you can dice everything if you like.

I like to slice some of the onions  down the middle, and leave some whole- removing the top greens and the root tip, slice the onions into 1/8 thick pieces. You’ll have a mixture of nice round slices and smaller stringy slices, set aside.

Cut the tomato into quarters and remove the seeds (the more watery parts) as much as you can and cut it into 1/2 inch dice

With the blood orange, you want to cut the peel off so the flesh is exposed and then slice it into 1/4 inch dice.

Once your fish is ready, you want to trim off any of the dark meat areas and make sure you have no skin or fat on the skin side. then slice the fish into fairly thin slices in batches, followed by cross cutting it so that you have small pieces similar to the size of your orange pieces, I usually just cut across the slices so I have tiny strips of fish. The traditional hawaiian way is to tear the fish into small pieces and you can do it that way too if you want, but I think it’s more work- try it any way. Combine all of these ingredients and the sesame oil. Refrigerate for a few hours.

While you’re waiting for your lomi lomi to settle in- take your bottle of pomegranate juice and simmer it over medium to low heat until you have about 2 ounces left- it should be pretty thick, like maple syrup. If you want- you can serve this with crackers and therefore omit the sauce, though it is a nice touch.

Enjoy!

Recent Sourdough Development

So a month ago I made a Sourdough Starter using similar method to the one found in The New Basics Cookbook, which should be in your cookbook library if it isn’t. Lukins and Rosso offer up a quick way to make an amazing tangy sourdough with reliable results. The basis of their recipe is the use of buttermilk which will impart an instant tangy familiar sourdough flavour without having to harvest wild yeasts, allowing you to develop a starter more quickly and without the possibility of having it mold, or go bad. I’ve altered their starter (actually, I’ve made it before and just went off memory when I did it this time). Instead of using regular buttermilk, I (have used hard cider) made a hot water (110º) and mashed unsulfered thompson red raisins (making like a raisin juice kind of substance, trashing most of the pulp and keeping some for nuance) and added powdered buttermilk, some raw honey.

So I have one cup of horrible smelling raisin buttermilk juice and to it, I add one cup of bread flour. Set that aside in a glass container with plastic wrap loosely covering it and leave it for a day. If you want, you can add some yeast to it to ensure you successfully achieve the act of creating “life” in a jar, or take your chances and see what kind of yeast you’re living with!

(If you choose cider, try to get an organic or natural- stay away from Potassium Sorbate or other preservatives, as it can kill your yeast enterprise. Harpoon is all natural, Sammy Smiths and maybe you’ve got a local cider? I think Harpoon is the cheapest best tasting Cider on the market.)
 

So after 24 hours of sitting out on your kitchen counter, you should notice some activity- a little or a lot of bubbling is evidence of your success. No bubbles, means, dump it and start over, and if you didn’t add yeast, try doing it on your second batch (1/4 tsp will do). Toss the “bitch” (Bourdains affectionate name for bread starters) in the fridge with a loose cover so it can breath- I use loose plastic wrap on a 1 quart jar (like a ball or old spaghetti sauce jar) and just place the jar lid on top. Now, you can let that funk sit in your fridge for a week and then add an extra cup of flour and of water to it to “feed the bitch” (Bourdain, again). If you want to use starter right after you make it and skip that last step, initially- just use 2 cups of funk water and 2 cups of flour to start your bitch. Now, here’s the irony in Bourdain’s name calling- you, the owner of said starter are now responsible for feeding this baby once a week, empty half of the starter from the jar (stir in the hooch first- that’s a low alcohol liquid produced by your yeast, and another sign that things are working, it also adds to the sourness, and is harmless) and use that approx. 1 cup of starter for making bread, adding a cup of warm water and flour back to the jar and stirring it in. Now you don’t have to make bread with this every week, but you do have to maintain it. So you can empty half the jar into the trash or use it, but don’t dump it down your drain or disposal because it WILL muck up your plumbing. By feeding it, now you’re the bitch (ha!), you’re providing the yeast with fresh flour to consume along with a drink of water. *a note on water- what you put in is what you get out, so use bottled or filtered, that’s the secret to your local pizzeria, italian, or french restaurants amazing breads.

Now all you have to do is add a cup of warm water to your cup or so of starter, 2-3 tsp of salt (very important, don’t forget it) and 3-1/2 to 4 cups of flour. This last part is a judgement call- you want your mixture to come back to form somewhat and that’s how you know you’ve added enough flour. The dryer or wetter your starter is will affect the amount of flour you’ll need. Wet dough is OK, but too wet and it may not rise enough and it will be hell to deal with once it rises, like dealing with a bowl of old elmers glue (it just happened to me). So just make sure you add enough to ensure your dough holds it’s shape and then put it somewhere kind of warm for 24 hours (maybe less, but not likely). It should, in this time, double in volume and have some bubbles on the top. From there you scoop it out onto a floured surface, sprinkle some flour on top as well and fold it a few times gently and shape it into a ball (it will probably be quite loose- and that’s ok). Place it on a floured cloth (I add oat bran or wheat bran to the cloth as well to absorb some moisture and keep it from sticking) and cover it with a cloth. Let it rise again- 4-8 hours or so and then gently flop it into a preheated (450º) Creuset or stoneware covered casserole and bake it for 30 minutes covered, remove the lid and let it bake another 15 minutes until it’s brown. Remove it from the pot and set it on a folded kitchen towel or better yet, a cooling rack for at least a half hour. If you listen carefully, you can hear it crackle as it cools…

Parmesan Garlic

Adaptation of the Lahey Mother recipe,(see my post on No Knead) I started with the basic recipe and then upon turning it out onto the floured kitchen table I dotted half the surface with 1/2x1x1/8 slices of parmesan and whole cloves of garlic, then folded it to cover the inclusions, did the same for the other half (now a half circle- so covering 1/4 circle) folded it again and quickly shaped it into a ball and placed it in a bowl lined with an oat bran dusted cotton napkin.

Here’s what I did…

+/- 3C Bread Flour (Must be Bread Flour)
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1-1/3 C cool water (55º-65ºf) Winter tap is prob. 45º (I used cider that was semi-hardened in the fridge- don’t use anything that has potassium sorbate or you’ll kill the yeast.) I also nuked it for 45 seconds to warm it a bit.

Whole wheat bran, flour or something else for dusting.

1/4 lb or less of small slices of parmesan Cheese
1 head of roasted garlic- this I cheated on and bought from Wegmans olive bar- if you need to rast it yourself- peel all the cloves from a head of garlic and roast them in the oven at around 300º after tossing them in a bit of olive oil, enough to coat them. DO NOT LET THEM GET DARK!

Mix water with yeast, stir, add salt, add flour, it should be fairly wet so i mixes well, but not so it puddles or smears in the bowl…(mix it quickly with a wooden spoon in a ceramic, glass or plastic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and forget it for a day and a half or more- (start it at night, say 10pm- then the next evening, you’re ready for stage 2)

Turn out onto a floured surface and quickly fold 1-2 times- adding the cheese and garlic on one side, then fold and add more on the remaining half and fold and immediately shape into a ball. Place it on a liberally dusted kitchen towel (NOT TERRY) with the seam side down, like linen or smooth cotton. COver ball with more bran dust or whatever you choose and cover with another towel. Let sit to rise again for 2-4 hrs.
1/2 hr before the bread is ready to bake- preheat oven and a cast iron covered dutch oven or ceramic casserole with lid to 475º. Carefully and quickly flop the dough into the cast iron pot, shake it a bit to settle it and cover, bake for 1/2 hr. uncover and go another 5-15 mins based on color. Let cool for 1/2 hr. (This is a must). Enjoy!

No Knead

An amazingly chewy Irish Wholemeal with Homemade Cider

No Knead Bread?

Yes. And you may never make bread any other way again. I may not buy bread ever again. This was the easiest thing I have ever cooked in my life by far. The secret? Don’t mess with it. This is the NYTimes reviewed bread found at the well known Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. I followed the mother recipe in My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, it was simple and the only thing you need to know is, it should be wetter than any other bread you’ve tried to make. Never Baked bread before? If you have a covered Ceramic casserole, a Creuset and emile henry covereed baking dish or any other glazed cast iron or ceramic dish- you’re ready to go. The one thing this recipe calls for that’s different than most conventional breads (minus sourdoughs) is about 18 hours of initial rise time and 2-4 hours of secondary rise time. I just started my second loaf at around 6 pm, which should make it workable by noon- but I can wait til 5 if I need to. Follow the instructions in the NYTimes article or buy the book. I know you’re thinking, well so what if Garrison thinks it’s easy, he can cook. Trust me, try it.

Here’s what I did…

+/- 3C Bread Flour (Must be Bread Flour)
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1-1/3 C cool water (55º-65ºf) Winter tap is prob. 45º (I used cider that was semi-hardened in the fridge- don’t use anything that has potassium sorbate or you’ll kill the yeast.)

Whole wheat bran, flour or something else for dusting.

Mix water with yeast, stir, add salt, add flour, it should be fairly wet so i mixes well, but not so it puddles or smears in the bowl…(mix it quickly with a wooden spoon in a ceramic, glass or plastic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and forget it for a day and a half or more- (start it at night, say 10pm- then the next evening, you’re ready for stage 2)

Turn out onto a floured surface and quickly fold 1-2 times and immediately shape into a ball (it’s gonna be soft). Place it on a liberally dusted kitchen towel (NOT TERRY), like linen or smooth cotton. COver ball with more bran dust or whatever you choose and cover with another towel. Let sit to rise again for 2-4 hrs.
1/2 hr before the bread is ready to bake- preheat oven and a cast iron covered dutch oven or ceramic casserole with lid to 475º. Carefully and quickly flop the dough into the cast iron pot, shake it a bit to settle it and cover, bake for 1/2 hr. uncover and go another 5-15 mins based on color. Let cool for 1/2 hr. (This is a must). Enjoy!