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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.

  • Guacamole


    Tis’ the night before Cinco De Mayo, and through the States, tomatoes, peppers, avocados, and cilantro are been beaten into a unrecognizable pulp, to be served as guacamole..

    From Wikipedia:

    Guacamole, sometimes informally referred to as “guac” in North America, is an avocado-based dip or salad first created by the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. In addition to its use in modern Mexican cuisine, it has also become part of American cuisine as a dip, condiment and salad ingredient.

    And there is the first time I can remember, that I venomently disagree, with the Wikipedia Community.

    Guacamole, is NOT a dip, Guacamole IS a salad.

    But like almost all things “Americanized”, the concept has been abused and misused to the point of no longer being recognizable as the original product. Made with chunks of avocado, minced onion, finely diced tomatoes, and just enough Jalapeño or Serrano pepper to add a spice kick. No mayonnaise, no sour cream, no stick blender and for god’s sake, no mariachi bands.

    Guasacaca is a smooth green sauce, from Venezuela, made with avocados and vinegar, with a much stronger flavor and spice kick .. (But that is another post)

  • Pico De Gallo

    It is May 2nd, and soon Cinco De Mayo will be upon us, with lime stuffed beers, limp tortilla chips, and over salted messes of peppers in escabeche, over-the-hill onions, and underage tomatoes. I suspect, I shall hold my head under the pillow to escape the sounds of mariachi music. played at 1000 db.

    The true pity is that, Pico De Gallo should be a harbringer of spring. A crisp, clean salad with a hint of heat, promising the garden abundance to come.

    From Wikipedia:

    In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpiko ðe ˈɣaʎo], literally beak of rooster), also called salsa fresca, is made from chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, fresh serranos (jalapeños or habaneros are used as alternatives), salt, and key lime juice. Other ingredients, such as shrimp or avocado, are also sometimes added.

    Pico de gallo can be used in much the same way as other Mexican liquid salsas, but since it contains less liquid, it can also be used as a main ingredient in dishes such as tacos and fajitas.

    The tomato-based variety is widely known as salsa picada (minced/chopped sauce). In Mexico it is sometimes called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colors of the red tomato, white onion, coriander and green chili are reminiscent of the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).

    In many regions of Mexico the term refers to any of a variety of salads (including fruit salads), salsa, or fillings made with tomato, tomatillo, avocado, orange, jícama, cucumber, papaya, or mild chilis. The ingredients are tossed in lime juice and either hot sauce or chamoy, then sprinkled with a salty chili powder.

  • Thai Noodles with Herb Pesto

    The Bad Wolf herb garden is in full swing, providing Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary and many more succulent, fragrant herbs for enjoyment. The rain and heat have done wonders for them, but not so much for my willingness to cook.

    We have a few peppers, chili and bell just beginning to bear. Young bell peppers have a mildly bitter taste that may go very well in my Asian balance for this dish.

    Some salt, some palm sugar, garlic, ginger, chili’s for a bit of heat and of course those lovely herbs for a Asian flair pesto.

    Time to do a bit of that. But I really don’t want to do too much involving heat, so perhaps Noodles or pasta as a “flavor carrier” to get that gorgeous fresh pesto into my mouth.

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  • Peach Cobbler

    Just another day in paradise…. Long Day, many crises, and rain as I wait at the taxi stand. But what is that smell, sweet and enticing, so familiar, but I can’t place it..

    Looking around, I see a fruit vendor, and on his cart are Peaches! The smell is wafting over, strangely made stronger by the rain… I had though a quick chopped BBQ sandwich for dinner, but now …. Hmmmmm, Peaches, Cobbler, Ice Cream …. I may just be a day in paradise after all..

    Maybe I’ll do the sandwich as well, but setup a nice little desert to go with coffee afterwards..

    Cobblers:

    Deep-dish fruit desserts in which sweetened fruits (fresh berries or apples are the traditional choices) are topped with a biscuit dough before baking.

    Varieties of cobbler include the Betty, the Grunt, the Slump, and the Buckle. Grunts, Pandowdy, and Slumps are a New England variety of cobbler, typically cooked on the stove-top or cooker in an iron skillet or pan with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings—they reportedly take their name from the grunting sound they make while cooking. A Buckle is made with yellow batter (like cake batter), with the filling mixed in with the batter.

    In the matter of the Cobbler, the Betty, the Grunt, the Slump, and the Buckle, let the trumpets blare, the banners fly high, and the hosts assemble, for this may be the single most contested point in all of culinarium, hotly contested, many battles joined, but with no final victor..

    All that said, I still think of a buckle when you say a cobbler. The difference in my mind is the fruit used and the time of the year your make it.

    As for today’s post I’ll hazard the slings and arrows of culinary fortune and look at another early summer fruit.

    When early summer fruit starts arriving, I have to make a cobbler. It is a simple and rustic dessert recipe, you can use any kind of fruit that is around, the ingredients are pantry staples and it freezes fabulously. When I make cobblers, I usually make two, one to serve and one to keep in the freezer for a quick thaw and serve desert. Blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, all are delicious in a buckle.

    The Team …

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  • Meatless Monday – Fried Okra

    fokra

    In keeping with my home cooking, comfort food bend of mind, another favorite dish from you youth. Some people just rebel at the thought, but young orka, rolled in corn meal, and allowed to firm up, then deep fried is a sweet taste treat of a side dish.

    Background
    The name okra is most often used in the United States, with a variant pronunciation, English Caribbean okro. The word okra is of West African origin and is cognate with ọkwurụ in the Igbo language spoken in Nigeria. Okra is often known as “lady’s fingers” outside of the United States. In various Bantu languages, okra is called kingombo or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese (quiabo), Spanish (quimbombó or guigambó), Dutch and French, and also possibly of the name “gumbo”, used in parts of the United States and English-speaking Caribbean for either the vegetable or a stew based on it. In India and Pakistan, and often in the United Kingdom, it is called by its Hindi/Urdu name, bhindi, bhendi, bendai or “bhinda”. In Tamilnadu ,India it is called as Vendaikai.

    The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic “goo” or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains a usable form of soluble fiber. Some people cook okra this way, others prefer to minimize sliminess; keeping the pods intact, and brief cooking, for example stir-frying, help to achieve this. Cooking with acidic ingredients such as a few drops of lemon juice, tomatoes, or vinegar may help. Alternatively, the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time so the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo. The cooked leaves can also be used as a powerful soup thickener. The immature pods may also be pickled.

    Okra is richer in potassium than bananas and has nearly twice as much calcium gram for gram as milk. 100g supplies a third of the recommended daily intake of magnesium (needed for energy release and healthy nerves) and more than 10 per cent of the RDA for iron. Okra is also a source of fiber – stir-fried okra contains much fiber as whole wheat bread. In addition it is quite a good source of vitamin C and the antioxidant betacarotene, which has a range of benefits, including protection against cancer and heart disease by helping to neutralise free radicals.

    Okra is one of those “binary foods” where people seem to hate it or love it, just like mushrooms, seaweed, and tofu. The hate is usually because of the gooey slime that coats the okra, but that is not a preordained fate

    Okra becomes slimy when cooked with a moist method—in a stew, curry, gumbo (in all these the sliminess helps to thicken the overall dish), or a steamer basket. Stir-frying or sauteing in hot oil, in contrast, keeps the slime within the okra pieces, or perhaps causes the moisture in the mucilage to evaporate, thus improving the pods’ texture.

    There are cooking techniques tol prevent your okra dish from being slimed. Indian food has many techniques of okra preparation, and I have three recommendations from my Indian friends.

    1. Trim just the very tip and the end of the okra and pan fry the whole okra pods until tender.
    2. Trim and round the pods then saute with onions and spices
    3. Trim SMALL okra pods, dredge in spices and corn meal / flour, and deep fry

    Note : After you wash the okra pods, wipe them dry with a paper towel. Controlling moisture is the key to controlling the slime.

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