Saturday, February 28, 2009


I decided to make some bread today of the "artisan" variety. A couple of years ago I did a post about the no-knead bread recipe that Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhatten developed. It makes a nice crusty bread that is airy with lots of holes and not dense. I've taken a liking to kneading bread, though, and I don't think far enough ahead to do the eighteen hour rising thing that you do with the no-knead recipe. So lately I've been using some more traditional recipes with good results.

Over the holidays my sister brought some good bread from Austin with rosemary in it, and it was delicious. She brought some fancy cheese and wine with it, and everything went so well together. We have a bunch of pecans, so I made a couple of loaves with pecans and rosemary. It is really good together. Everyone liked it except Jon. He does not like nuts and apparently does not like rosemary either.

I learned some important lessons today. Do not cut your loaf before the second rise. Cut it just before you put it in the oven. The loaf that I crosscut sort of split open in a big way during the second rise. I had to try and pinch everything back together which made it kind of collapse, so I had to let it rise again a little.

A couple of weeks ago I made homemade french bread, and we used it to make french bread pizza. It was a hit. I did learn some things when I made these loaves. The recipe I used says to let the dough rest for ten minutes before shaping into the loaves. The top surface got a little dry during those ten minutes. I should have rolled this in so the more moist side is on the outside. The way I did it left my loaves with some kind of bread measels. It tasted good, and that's the important thing.

French Bread
5 1/4 cups all purpose flour (we use Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour)
2 packages quick rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water

In a small bowl mix the yeast and the warm water (and maybe a little sugar) to make sure the yeast is active. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour and the salt. Then add your yeast water using a large wooden spoon to mix it together. Start adding the rest of your flour mixing with the wooden spoon, and then eventually mixing it with your hands. Transfer only a floured surface and knead until a nice dough forms. It takes about 8 to ten minutes to have a nice smooth, elastic dough. If you want to make the pecan rosemary bread, at this point mix/knead in two large handfuls of chopped pecans, a tablespoon or so of honey, and a tablespoon or so of rosemary.

Place dough in a large greased bowl and turn once so all sides get some oil on it. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubles- about an hour.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and gently punch down. Divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Place on a baking pan with a light dusting of cornmeal. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Put in a warm spot and let rise for about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425. Place a pan on the lowest rack (you'll use this pan to create steam).

After 45 minutes or so of rising, remove damp towel and score loaves with a sharp knife. Place baking pan in rack in middle of oven. Pour water into the hot pan on the lowest rack. It will immediately sizzle and steam will begin to form. Immediately close the oven door. You can also use a spritzer to spray the loaves and the sides of the oven to create a humid environment.

After twenty minutes take baking pan out and rotate. Bake for another twenty minutes. If the tops of the loaves start to get too brown at any point, you can cover the tops with aluminum. Let loaves cool on a wire rack. Do not cut loaves while they are hot. Allow to cool and use a good bread knife to cut the loaves. You could also use the no-knead method of baking in a dutch oven or enamel stock pot.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back Forest Trifle

Kuidaore is one of the best food blogs that I follow. The latest post looks scrumptious, but then again, everything on this blog looks scrumptious.

From the blog post:

"Crème Chocolat is layered with Kirsch whipped cream, preserved wild sour cherries, and boudoir biscuits laced with Kirsch syrup.

The key is to use good quality cherry eau-de-vie, and good quality preserved cherries. Where the latter is concerned, griottes may be the traditional choice - and I may possibly get stoned by Black Forest Cake purists for saying the following - but my personal absolute favourite preserved cherries to use are Amarena Fabbri. As much as I adore the distinctive and signature blue-and-white packaging, what has me completely sold is what lies within the jar - small, plump, succulent amarena (wild sour black cherries) carefully candied in thick amarena syrup."

I'm drooling...

Bananas Foster a Fourth Way

A while back I did a post called Bananas Foster Three Ways. Well, here is a fourth way, and it looks dee-lish-us. Culinary Concoctions by Peabody is... genius.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blackbeard's Hot Buttered Rum

I remember who first introduced me to hot buttered rum. Stephanie and I met when we were fourteen at the beginning of ninth grade. She was the new girl in school, and I remember when I first saw her in band. She looked mad and unhappy, but she was very pretty, so she was the talk among all the guys. Of course, all the girls hated her. Somewhere in the middle of the year we became best friends, and we saw eachother through many a tough time.

I started waitressing when I was eighteen. It was my next job after my summer as a security guard. I waitressed for about eight years. I started off working for ARA and Marriott foods doing banquets. Then I got a job at the Peking Chinese Restaurant. I worked for a summer at Griggs in El Paso while I was taking Microbiology and Anatomy & Physiology at UTEP. Stephanie worked for Chelsea Street Pub in El Paso. Back then Chelsea's was still pretty cool. They needed some Christmas help, so Stephanie got me a job while I was home for Christmas. I can't remember where we were or the circumstances, but she made me a hot buttered rum. She used light rum and white sugar. I remember it being almost clear. It's a comfort drink for sure.

When I moved to Houston, I got a job at Vargo's and I moonlighted at the Houston Racquet Club (I just found out this month that Mr. Vargo passed away in August). These jobs lent themselves to discovering other "comfort drinks", but hot buttered rum always held a special place in my heart.

It's a special occassion, so Puddleglum bought a good quality Puerto Rican rum. I decided to create a drink. I'm calling it Blackbeard's Hot Buttered Rum.

Blackbeard's Hot Buttered Rum

1 shot Puerto Rican rum
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 small drop blackstrap molasses
very hot water
1 pat of butter

Mix first four ingredients. Place pat of butter on top. One variation would be to use a black rum like Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Gosling's Black Seal, or Maui Dark Rum.

Coffee Can Bread and Triple Hot Chocolate

I've been making coffee can bread on occasions for over ten years. I don't make it very often, but I enjoy making it when I can. I think there is something good and wholesome about homemade bread, and I have much respect for people who bake their own bread on a regular basis. The 1987 edition of the Best of Sunset has been one of my all time favorite cookbooks. It has several really good bread recipes. It even gives instructions on how to make your own outdoor adobe oven.

Coffee Can Bread is a batter bread, so it's a dense kind of cakey bread. A couple years ago there was a big thing in the foodie world about no knead bread , which is a technique to make artisan french style bread without all the kneading. You don't do any kneading with this recipe, but it is not at all an artisan bread. If you are looking for that, this is not it. It's still an easy way to make homemade bread, and it makes good sandwich bread, so you could make cute, round sandwiches. I used a Cafe Du Monde chickory coffee can.

For the picture I left the "muffin top" on top of the slices. Kind of reminds me of that Seinfeld episode... "It's not top of the muffin TO YOU..." I pulled out a bunch of things for the boys to put on their bread, but in the end everyone wanted butter and honey. It was good. You can kind of see two faint rings etched into our table. Puddleglum uses these as templates for when he makes pizza dough. We have two pizza pans, large and medium. Puddleglum makes the dough on the table and then transfers them onto the pans. He could probably just eyeball it, but he is kind of picky about his pizza.

I'd been wanting to make some really thick and rich Mexican chocolate, so I decided to make that tonight as well. I put an Abuelita chocolate "tablet" in a mini food processor to break it up. If you've never used Abuelita or Ibarra Mexican chocolate, you need to know that you have to use a blender or a food processor to break it up. I wanted something super chocolaty, so I then fortified it with some high quality cocoa powder. In a double boiler I melted dark, bitter sweet chocolate chips with a little bit of regular chocolate chips to give a little sweetness (and because I didn't have as much of the more expensive dark chocolate chips left as I thought I did). When the chocolate was melted, I added the Abuelita chocolate and cocoa powder. I heated this for a while to get rid of some of the graininess of the large sugar crystals that comes in the Abuelita chocolate. I slowly added some milk. After that had mixed well, I added some more milk. I didn't want it to be like regular hot chocolate. I wanted it really thick and rich, so I was careful not to "water" it down with too much milk. I really like chili powder in my hot chocolate, so added that as well. Nigella Lawson likes rum in her hot chocolate, so you could add some Captain Morgan's if that's your kind of thing.

Coffee Can Batter Bread (from the Best of Sunset Magazine 1987)

1 pkg quick rise yeast
½ cup warm water (~110deg F)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3 TBSP sugar
1 ½ cup mild
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP light olive oil
~4 ½ cup Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour
Melted Butter

Sprinkle yeast over the warm water in a large bowl. Stir in ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for about five minutes until bubbly. Stir in remaining sugar, milk, salt, and oil. Beat in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Then add remaining flour ½ cup at a time until dough pulls from sides of bowl but is too soft to knead. The book says to use a heavy spoon, but I just used my hands. The dough should stick to your hands because it should be the consistency of a very thick batter. If it feels like you are kneading pizza dough, you’ve added too much flour.

Divide the dough in two. Put each half into a well greased 1-pound coffee can. Put the well greased plastic lids on (you can actually just stick them in the freezer at this point to bake at a later time. Let rise in a warm place until the batter pushes off the lids. Sometimes air pressure will pop the lids off before it’s finished rising. Just put the lids back on. It takes about 45-55 minutes to rise depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Start preheating the oven to 350deg F about thirty minutes in.

After they have finished rising, bake for about 45 minutes on the bottom rack. The tops should be very golden brown when you take them out. Brush the tops with the butter. Let cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Take a butter knife and loosen the bread from the sides and slide the loaf out. Let cool in an upright position on the rack. Serve warm with butter, honey, etc. You can modify this recipe to make English Muffins. If anyone is interested in that modification, just message me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pulled Pork Sandwiches and a Failed Attempt at Fried Pickles

The homemade kaiser rolls took a long time, but if you used store bought rolls, this is something you could put in the crock pot in the morning and have ready for dinner. The pork was fall apart tender, and Puddleglum and all the boys kept sampling the pork while I got everything ready.

There are probably a ton of recipes on the internet. I rubbed a pork should blade roast with brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, sea salt, and fresh ground
pepper. I put onion slices, carrots, and celery on the bottom of a crock pot, and put the roast (fat side up) on the vegetables.

You can roast all day on low. After you take your finished roast out, save and freeze the juice in the crock pot for soup stock. We put pan drippings in freezer bags and freeze them flat for easy thawing.

I wanted to give kudos to my friend, Christina. A few years ago she gave me the recipe for roasting a chicken in a crock pot with forty cloves of garlic, and that got me used to roasting meat in a crock pot. We've made that recipe so many times, and it is good every time. The drippings from that recipe make the best soup stock.
The kaiser rolls were tricky. I enjoyed making these, and I felt like it was worth it. If you want to try making these, click HERE to go to an excellent website with instructions and pictures. Instead of poppy seeds, I used sesame seeds since we always have a bunch of those (the boys like rice with soy sauce and sesame oil with sesame seeds sprinkled in). For my oven, the temperature in the instructions was a little high. If you are wondering what those yellow discs are, they are a pickled radish called oshingo. I tried making fried pickles with them (in addition to dill pickles), and it was a complete disaster.

I made carrot salad with asian apple pear, pineapples, and dried cranberries. It sounds good, and it was good, but truthfully I didn't feel it was a ton better than the kind of carrot salad that everyone's mom makes with plain old raisins and apples. I asked Puddleglum to pick up some of the good dill pickles in the refrigerated section, and he brought back those long flat sandwich sliced pickles. This was great for the sandwiches, but I actually wanted to make fried pickles. I did try cutting some of the sandwich slices and frying them, but it didn't turn out right. Several people commented about missing fried pickles. If I ever perfect a recipe that tastes like what I remember from Pass the Biscuits, I'll post it. If anyone tries a recipe that is close, please let me know. These were edible, and the batter might have been right, but because they were cut from sandwich slices, they weren't the right texture.

I made homemade barbecue sauce using a recipe from Emeril. It is from this WEBPAGE where he makes pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw and fried pickles. I didn't use his fried pickle recipe because he fried them whole. I think sliced pickle slices have to work better. Anyway, the barbecue sauce turned out really well. We happened to use the very last bit of ketchup for the recipe, so when I finished mixing it, I just poured it back into the ketchup container so we could just squeeze it onto our sandwiches. We were out of apple cider vinegar, so I used 1/2 a cup of white vinegar and 1/2 a cup of peach flavored grape juice (I know, but this is actually a good substitution). I know it doesn't sound very culinary, but neither do fried pickles. I also didn't have dried crushed red pepper, so I used cayenne pepper instead. It was darn good barbecue sauce.

Emeril's Barbecue Sauce

• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 cup ketchup
• 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
• 1 tablespoon molasses
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Place in a squeeze bottle and dress the pulled pork sandwiches to taste. This recipe is great as a condiment, but for baking or grilling, it is too bland. Add some Worcestershire, onion powder, soy sauce, honey or whatever to taste.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

DBSK Taste vs. Taste

This is 2 of 9 parts. You can watch the other eight by going to Skip ahead to 2:00 to see a neat fish dish being made. I don't get the entire game show. If someone understands the premise, please explain in a comment. I don't get it...