Archive for the ‘food’ Category

2008 CSA, Week 1

Friday, June 20th, 2008

2008 CSA Week 1

Bok Choi-2 heads
Chinese Cabbage-1 head
Red Sail Lettuce-1 head
Buttercrunch Lettuce-1 head
Rhubarb-1 bunch
Green Mizuna-1 bunch
Red Vein Mizuna-1 bunch
Garlic Scapes-4
Sage with flowers-1 bunch

So far we’ve eaten most of the Red Sail lettuce and I used up the rhubarb making jam! I was going to make garlic scape pesto on Wednesday night but I had so many other projects going (putting vegetables away, making jam, making rhubarb sauce, dying my hair purple…) that I didn’t feel like doing it by the time Jeremie was home for dinner. There will definitely be some garlic scape pesto this weekend, either Saturday night or Sunday.

I’ve been craving rhubarb jam but whenever I see it in a shop it tends to be $20 a jar. I found one stand at the farmers market that sold some strawberry rhubarb jam but they used corn syrup in their recipe, so, no. I made mine with a nice jam sugar from Belgium.

rhubarb jam, in progress

Somehow I neglected to take a picture of the finished jam, before or after jarring. Sad. It’s pretty!

rhubarb, i still love you

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Out here on the East Coast it’s been way too crazy hot to turn on the oven. I had bought some rhubarb at the farmers market late last week and I wanted to cook it up, thinking I’d be getting more today. More on that later. Last night I made rhubarb sauce. Just rhubarb, some sugar, and a teeny amount of water. Delicious! I enjoy rhubarb sauce over angel food cake, which I had to buy because of said too hotness for the ovenness.

It’s a little cooler today and I could probably justify turning on the oven to bake a pie but the universe does not want me to. The people I bought the rhubarb from last week didn’t have any this week. A different stand had some but it was on the limp side and was $5! For a small bunch! That’s a little spendy for rhubarb, much as I love it. We did have tamales from the Boxcar Cantina stand and they were very good. The best I’ve ever had? Not quite. Best I’ve had outside of New York City from Somewhere That’s Not Out Of Business? Yes.

In case you’re wondering, said market is the Westport Farmers Market. They’re open on Thursdays.

One week to go

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

The CSA starts in one week. Exciting! The freezer is in decent shape but hopefully we can polish off a bit more before the cookable & freezable veggies start arriving.

I enjoy gardening. Even though the CSA provides more food than we can actually eat (hence the freezer) I grow a nice chunk of veggies & herbs myself. This year is a little more intense than last year. In the good name of ‘crop rotation’ I decided to plant tomatoes in pots this year. Since I was going to plant a couple of pots, the reasoning went something like “well why don’t I just plant a bunch of pots?”
I found a couple of really pretty large terracotta pots with wooden stands at Crate & Barrel when we were up in Cambridge over Memorial weekend. I already had two large plastic terracotta-colored pots, a long green windowbox, and an assortment of smaller pots.

I’m not so great at planning ahead when it comes to my garden. If I was, I would start leafing through the seed catalogs in February and I’d order things well in advance. Instead, I go to a nursery and buy whatever they happen to have once the weather gets nice enough to plant. I cleared a bit of the patch and planted some peas mid-May, before we went to Japan. The rest went in June 1. I went shopping in the morning and planted in the afternoon. Of course, I got a little carried away at the nursery and bought more tomato plants than I was planning on. A couple of them had to go in the garden but I put them in different spots than I usually do. Here’s what we have: 8 tomato plants, 1 eggplant, 4 cucumbers, peas, mint, cilantro, thyme, sage, chives, arugula, dill, eucalyptus, basil, and a few pretty annuals. Some are on the “upstairs” deck in pots and some are in the garden.



I need to take some progress pictures and a few shots of the “downstairs” garden.

rhubarb, i love you

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

It’s quite late but I’m not at all tired, even though I should be. I’m hanging out in Chicago with Lani for the weekend. We did a lot of walking today. I mapped it out using because we were curious and it looks like it was just over 7 miles. This morning we went to Dollop coffee for awhile to chat and relax before going on to the beach. Lani had talked up their pie and one of several flavors they had today was strawberry rhubarb. It was delicious and I definitely want to make some variant of rhubarb pie next week. If you find yourself in Chicago, Dollop is a very nice place to spend some time. And eat pie. I’m nowhere near hungry right now but if I knew there was a piece of that pie in the kitchen, I would go eat it.
Note: the pie is baked by Hoosier Mama Pie Company!

back in bread

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Thursday night I started a white sourdough sponge.

On Friday I worked from home, which allowed me to bake off some bread while I was waiting for various bits of code to compile. First off – sourdough! We planned to have hot dogs Saturday night for dinner and I wanted to see how sourdough would work for hot dog buns. I finished the sourdough dough with 2+ cups of whole wheat flour, for about a 60/40 white/whole wheat split. Half the dough went towards the rolls and the other half became cheddar pepper sourdough. When it was time for the final shaping of the bread, I stretched it out into a rectangle and sprinkled it with cheddar and fresh cracked pepper. I rolled it up like a jelly roll and then let it finish rising in the brotform.

sourdough rolls cheddar pepper sourdough

The cheddar pepper is sticking its tongue out at you.

Once that was done, I went on to Challah! I tried the recipe from a new book in my collection, Secrets of a Jewish Baker. It’s very interesting in that it gives each recipe with three possible modifications for making the dough: by hand, in the food processor, or in a heavy duty stand mixer. The author recommends the heavy duty stand mixer and luckily, I have a good one. The stand mixer modifications end up making more dough than the standard recipe, so instead of two breads it yields three. I have little use for three challahs in one Shabbat and we usually struggle to make it through even one standard size challah, so I decided to make 6 “small” challahs (they weren’t *that* small). I froze 4 of them and baked off two.

unbaked challahs

As you can see, I tried the ‘6 Strand Braid’ for two of the challahs. My 6 strand technique needs work. Here are the two I baked off:

baked challah

The challah was delicious. Eggy but not too eggy, sweet but not too sweet. The sourdough rolls were good, but a little too hard on the inside to be a perfect hot dog bun. Perhaps I’ll try them again using only white flour to see if that makes a difference.

the latest in bread

Monday, April 7th, 2008
Rising Today's oven setup
the dough the oven

This week I tried my hand at half white/half whole wheat sourdough bread. Really, it was more of a 3/5 to 2/5 split, since I made the sponge with white starter and white flour and then added 2+ cups of whole wheat flour in the second stage of mixing the dough. The other new area of experimentation was in the oven. The small tin you see there was for boiling water. Many professional bread ovens have steam injection and I wanted to see what the effects of some moisture would have on the bread. They were many.

Sourdough - Half white/half whole wheat Sourdough - Half white/half whole wheat with caraway
plain, before baking with caraway seeds, before baking

Sourdough - Half white/half whole wheat

Big bread! The loaves definitely expanded more than they’ve been with pure dry heat. The crumb was moist and the crust was beautifully golden brown yet much softer than previous breads.
Here’s a shot of the loaf with caraway seeds, sliced.

Sourdough - Half white/half whole wheat with caraway seeds

I started the sponge late Saturday night, added the second round of flour and kneaded it before heading to the gym on Sunday morning. When I got home I shaped the loaves for their final rise and baked later that afternoon. After an excruciating cooling period (I wanted to rip in to the bread as soon as I pulled it from the oven), we had panini sandwiches for dinner with the plain sourdough, fresh mozzarella, and homemade pesto from the freezer. Delicious. Thankfully there’s leftovers of all the ingredients so I might get another treat for dinner tonight.

Mozzarella & pesto panini

Once a Purim

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I made hamantaschen last night. Apricot, raspberry, and chocolate. For the chocolate I used the fancy Cote d’Or Noir de Noir spread that we get in Belgium. It’s a very dark chocolate and while it’s a little too dark for me, Jeremie and Courtney really liked it. My favorite is the apricot. I sent a tin of hamantaschen to Elias this morning and I packed up a tin to take to Belgium. We’re going to Brussels tomorrow evening. Yay for that!

Jenny Jo, this one’s for you

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Last weekend was all about Whole Wheat Sourdough. I intended to make one batch with the long fermenting recipe, substituting whole wheat flour for white flour and adding a bit more water, since whole wheat requires a greater hydration. I started the sponge (a.k.a. stage 1) late at night. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I wasn’t paying as much attention to the process as I should have. I ended up adding a whole recipe’s worth of flour to the bowl. Whoops. Instead of trying to scoop the right amount of flour out, I scaled everything else up and made two recipes of dough. Which means four loaves. Lots of practice is good, right? I made two loaves of plain whole wheat and two loaves of seeded whole wheat sourdough. One loaf got to spend its final rise in my new brotform and the other three rested on flour sack towels inside of glass bowls. That worked out fine but the brotform makes such a nice design on the bread, I may need to pick another one up. Here’s the goods:

whole wheat sourdough in the brotform whole wheat sourdough - long rise
whole wheat sourdough - long rise, seeded slice of seeded whole wheat sourdough
whole wheat sourdough - long rise, seeded and plain sliced whole wheat sourdough

I’ll have to do this again with the right amount of ingredients for one recipe before I post what the proportions should be for Whole Wheat sourdough.

Feed me, Seymore

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I fed my whole wheat sourdough starter all night long.

Not really. Before bed I poured out about a half cup of starter and added a cup of flour and a half cup of water back to the mix. By morning it had bubbled up to the top of the jar. I was hoping to start some dough going before I left the house this morning, but I ran out of time so I had to pop the starter in the fridge. I’m going to do some serious whole wheat sourdough experimenting this weekend. I want to tackle the long fermenting recipe with whole wheat flour, try my brand new brotform, and play around with various methods in the oven.

Last night we polished off the last of the seeded sourdough by making panini sandwiches for dinner. My sandwich had Emmentaler and sauerkraut. Mmmn, delicious.

Sourdough Continues

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Last Sunday I baked two breads: Seeded Sourdough and Chocolate Chunk Sourdough

Seeded Sourdough & Chocolate Chunk Sourdough breads

I was trying to get close to Zingerman’s Chocolate Sourdough bread. The taste was there but the crust was on the soft size. Baking on a baking sheet is very easy, especially when it comes to shaping the loaves, but it doesn’t get you a perfect crust. The next round of this same bread will be on my baking stone or in my 5qt Le Creuset round. I’m not yet convinced that a cloche baker is worth the investment. They’re not terribly expensive but there’s lots of reports out there that they break pretty quickly.

Chocolate Chunk Sourdough

I did not do any additional baking this week because most of my time was taken up preparing for The Party. What was The Party, you ask? The Party was for my birthday and Jeremie’s birthday. It was our first Big Party in this house (we’ve lived here 5 years) and the first we’ve had in a very long time. Last night we had about 30 people over and a good time was had by all. On the savory side we had veggies & spinach dip, hummus and pitas, salsa, black bean dip, guacamole, and tortilla chips, tapenade, crackers, and a variety of cheeses, spinach pies, mozzarella cheese sticks, and garlic cheese crostini. For the sweet stuff we had my sweet & spicy pecans, peanut and regular M&Ms, a big birthday sheet cake, and a giant chocolate torte. The drink options were too numerous to enumerate. Needless to say, we have a lot of leftovers.