"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Light / Straight Rye Bread

    It’s cool today, so I’m thinking a hearty beef stew or Carbonnade, and a fresh bread.

    Puttering around the kitchen / lab, I find I have almost enough bread flour, so I’ll need to lengthen it with another flour, while whole wheat jumps the front of my mind, there is a bag of rye sitting in front of it. A quick check shows, I also have a fresh bottle of caraway seeds. Sounds like a light rye loaf to me.

    Classic rye bread has various flour ratios, ranging from 25% rye to 50% rye, I’ll go with a 12.5 % rye to bread flour. (It uses all the bread flour, and i’ll not mess with my hydration ratios) Hence a “LIGHT” rye bread.

    From Wikipedia:

    Rye bread is a type of bread made with various proportions of flour from rye grain. It can be light or dark in color, depending on the type of flour used and the addition of coloring agents, and is typically denser than bread made from wheat flour. It is higher in fiber than white bread and is often darker in color and stronger in flavor.

    Pure rye bread contains only rye flour, without any wheat. German-style pumpernickel, a dark, dense, and close-textured loaf, is made from crushed or ground whole rye grains, usually without wheat flour, baked for long periods at low temperature in a covered tin. Rye and wheat flours are often used to produce a rye bread with a lighter texture, color and flavor than pumpernickel. “Light” or “dark” rye flour can be used to make rye bread; the flour is classified according to the amount of bran left in the flour after milling. Caramel or molasses for coloring and caraway seeds are often added to rye bread. In the United States, breads labeled as “rye” nearly always contain caraway unless explicitly labeled as “unseeded.”

    In Canada (especially Montreal), breads labeled as “rye” often have no seeds, whereas breads labeled as “kimmel” are usually rye with caraway seeds. Some unique rye bread recipes include ground spices such as fennel, coriander, aniseed, cardamom, or citrus peel. In addition to caramel and molasses, ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, or toasted bread crumbs are sometimes used for both color and flavor in very dark breads like pumpernickels. The addition of caraway seeds to rye bread is to counter the bloating that can be caused by the high fiber content of rye. Caraway has well-known anti-flatulence properties; however, the association is so long-standing that the flavor combination is now almost inseparable.

    A simple, all-rye bread can be made using a sourdough starter and rye meal; it will not rise as high as a wheat bread, but will be more moist with a substantially longer keeping time. Such bread is often known as “black bread” (Schwarzbrot in German, chyorniy khleb in Russian) from their darker color than wheat breads (enhanced by long baking times, creating Maillard reactions in the crumb).

    A very similar, but darker, bread, German-style pumpernickel, has an even darker color derived from toasted leftover bread and other agents. Due to the density of the bread, the yeast in the starter is used at least as much for the fermentation character in the bread itself as it is for leavening.

    I’ll cheat and use my basic bread dough / baking recipe here.

  • Cold Soup – Gazpacho

    Gazpacho

    Ambushed again by the green grocer. But, it is hot, and it is late spring, early summer.. Now I have some lovely tomatoes, cucumbers, all sorts of herbs, garlic, red onion, citrus and a flavored olive oil the owners wife made for me to try. Sounds like I am making Gazpacho.

    Background

    Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalucía. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its refreshing qualities.

    The soup has ancient roots. There are a number of theories of its origin, including as an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Moors, or via the Romans with the addition of vinegar. Once in Spain became a part of Andalucian cuisine, particularly Seville, stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar. Tomato was added to the recipe after it was brought to Europe after the Columbian Exchange which began in 1492. The dish remained popular with field hands as a way to cool off during the summer, and to use available ingredients (fresh vegetables and stale bread).

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  • Quiche

    Time for food, but given the recent set of medical stupidity one must go a bit lighter. So maybe eggs, but sunny-side up, over easy, scrambled, just is NOT going to do it for me.

    I WANT TASTE!. I WANT TEXTURE! I WANT SAVORY…. So a quiche, but one with real bacon, real veggies, and lots of cheese and eggs..

    Quiche is essentially an custard made with milk and eggs poured into a pie crust and baked. You want just enough eggs to set the milk, but not so many that the quiche becomes truck tire. You want a bit of wobble in your quiche as it comes out of the oven. Wobble means silky, melt-away custard in every bite.

    The fool-proof part comes courtesy of the French. They long-ago settled on the perfect formula of one part egg to two parts milk. A standard large egg weighs two ounces and a cup of milk is eight ounces, so a good rule of thumb is two eggs per cup of milk. One can bump this up a bit to make a more substantial quiche and go with three eggs and a cup and a half of milk in a nine-inch pie crust.

    Or as one person wrote:

    I always use the Julia Child ratio: put the eggs in a large measuring cup and add enough dairy (cream/half & half/milk) to bring the total up to 1/2 cup per egg. So, if you used 4 eggs, you’d add enough dairy to make 2 cups of custard. So simple to remember and a perfect blend of dairy and egg: not too thick, not too liquid, just right.

    Now as per quiches, they have a reputation as a fancy French entree, and for being rather persnickety to prepare, but quiches are actually very easy to make. With a little science, some good chemistry, a proper ratio and a bit of technique, quiches can be a very good selection for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late night snack.

    There are some things key to good quichery :

    1. Flaky Crust
    2. First of all, the pie crust must be tender and flaky. A good tart crust, works well.

    3. A tasty Filling
    4. The filling must have some kind of structure so the pie will hold together when sliced. As the eggs cook, they set, forming a custard. A basic quiche recipe using the proportions of 1-2 cups of dairy with 3-4 eggs will work. Any other add ins, (bacon, sausage, mushrooms, onions, etc) need to be fully cooked and cooled, BEFORE adding to the filling. In this case, 1 cup dairy to 4 eggs, plus my add ins. I am looking for hearty here.

    5. Proper Baking
    6. Following baking times and temperatures are KEY to a quiche that is cooked but not rubbery. I.E. The center is set and the outside edge is golden brown.

    You can fill your quiches with just about anything; they’re wonderful refrigerator Velcro. Leftover bacon, cooked chicken, ham, cooked vegetables, bits of cheese transform into a “slice of heaven”

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  • Irish Soda Bread

    Ah, St. Patties is surely upon us, the annual celebration of drunken people wearing “Kiss Me I’m Irish”, buttons, even when they hail from South East Asia ….

    One thing served at this time of the year is Soda bread, a type of quick bread in which bread soda (or baking soda) is used for leavening rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. Other ingredients can be added such as raisins, egg or various forms of nuts.

    The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. In Ireland, the flour is typically made from soft wheat; so soda bread is best made with a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of gluten than a bread flour.

    Various forms of soda bread are popular throughout Ireland. Soda breads are made using either wholemeal or white flour. The two major shapes are the loaf and the “griddle cake”, or farl in Northern Ireland. The loaf form takes a more rounded shape and has a cross cut in the top to allow the bread to expand. The griddle cake or farl, is a more flattened type of bread. It is cooked on a griddle allowing it to take a more flat shape and split into four sections.

    As an extension, one can divide the dough into a set of muffing pans and create a soda bread muffin or biscuit, one can add lemon zest, or serve hot with butter and citrus jellies / marmalade …

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  • Hungarian Chicken and Dumplings with onion

    chickenndumplingswo

    Yet another adventure in my search for cold weather comfort food. Food that tastes good, is reasonably good for you, does not require the budget of a small mid-eastern principality to afford, and serves the desire for hearty, hefty meals that cold weather brings. The people of Eastern Europe have been producing this for more than several centuries. Some of my closer associates have deep ties into Hungary and the Ukraine, so I have reached out to them and asked for examples. I have not been disappointed in the reaction.

    Background

    Traditional Hungarian dishes are prepared, using a wide variety of Good, Fresh, ingredients, including meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, cheeses and honey, using centuries old traditions / techniques for spicing and preparation.

    Hungarians are quite passionate about their soups, desserts and pastries and stuffed pancakes, with rivalries between regions in preparation of the same dish. Other signature Hungarian dishes would be Paprikash (paprika stew, meat simmered in thick creamy paprika gravy) served with nokedli (small dumplings), Goulash, Gundel Pancake (pancakes served in dark chocolate sauce) and Dobos Cake (layered sponge cake, with chocolate buttercream filling).

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  • Latkes

    ‘Tis the season of Hanukkah, or Chanukah, Chanukkah or Chanuka, depending on your sect and persuasion… Time for a little RogueChef/Shabbos-Goy-Eins special…

    Latkes are traditionally eaten by Jews during the Hanukkah festival. The oil for cooking the latkes is symbolic of the oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle. Despite the popularity of latkes and tradition of eating them during Hanukkah, they are hard to come by in stores or restaurants in Israel, having been largely replaced by the Hanukkah doughnut due to local economic factors, convenience and the influence of trade unions

    The word “latke” itself is derived (via Yiddish) from the Russian/Ukrainian word латка meaning “patch.” The word leviva, the Hebrew name for latke, has its origins in the Book of Samuel’s description of the story of Amnon and Tamar.[8] Some interpreters have noted that the homonym levav means “heart,” and the verbal form of l-v-v occurs in the Song of Songs as well.

    Latkes need not necessarily be made from potatoes. Numerous modern recipes call for the addition of ingredients such as onions and carrots. Prior to the introduction of the potato to the Old World, latkes were, and in some places still are, made from a variety of other vegetables, cheeses, legumes, or starches, depending on the available local ingredients and foodways of the various places where Jews lived.

    Delicate. Crisp outside. Melting soft inside. Very, very satisfying. One of the middle of the night cravings that must be sated if one is to sleep ..

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