"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Ciabatta – Revisited

    My last several forays into breads have been less than satisfactory, a combination of being out of practice, old flour, old yeast, and a starter that was “ok” but not great. And as one of my loyal critics have said the posts lacked that “RogueChef” flair.

    Time to get serious..

    I have some “Pâte Fermentée”, or “old dough” from my last experiment in baguettes, as per wikipedia:

    Old dough (pâte fermentée) may be made with yeast or sourdough cultures, and in essence consists of a piece of dough reserved from a previous batch, with more flour and water added to feed the remaining flora. Because this is a piece of old dough, it has the typical ingredient of salt to distinguish it from other pre-ferments. Once old dough had rested for an additional 10 hours of age, the French named it Levain de Chef.

    I’ll use that, along with a new dough in an attempt to sort out a few Ciabatta loaves. I’ll also incorporate a good percentage of whole wheat flour to add some taste and texture.

    Using Paul Hollywood’s dough formulation, I’ll replace 100g of the strong white flour with a whole wheat flour. (Yes, I dare take liberties with his formula, he may take liberties with any of my recipes he cares to.)

    As the weather has take a turn for the cold and nasty, this will make a great accompaniment for a hearty soup or stew.

  • Sourdough Baguettes

    Just a bit of bread porn to start the morn…

    I’ve become a great fan of “The Great British Baking Show”, and the follow on series, “Masterclass”. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, produce some absolute miracles, but then again they are “Masters”.

    It does inspire me to tackle some of the most fiendish of recipes. We all know the ones, the 5 ingredients, intense technique ones. Like Baguettes…

    One item of of this is to use a square cambro to help shape the dough, how to tell a sourdough has risen, and the patience to let it rise …

    As one makes more and more bread, one will start to see the various stages of doughs, and develop a feel for when a dough is mixed, when it has developed gluten, when it has risen, when it is truly done. In the mean time, flour is cheap, cigarettes are expensive, and it will taste good anyway.

    One will need a couche for this…

    From wikipedia:

    Alternatively, a couche (pronounced koosh) or proofing cloth can be used on which to proof dough. Couches are generally made of linen or other coarse material to which the dough will not readily stick and are left unwashed, so as to let flour collect in them, increasing their non-stick properties. A couche is typically used for longer loaves, such as baguettes. The loaves are laid on top of the couche, and folds are placed in the linen to separate and support the loaves.

  • Sourdough Starter

    Some will ask “What the hell does an ashtray have to do with Sourdough bread and stater.

    Very simple, last time I quit smoking, I started baking bread, and cooking. Just to have something to keep my mind occupied during nicotine fits, and to have something to beat during nicotine fits.. (Thereby saving on medical and legal bills)

    So one can surmise that I will again attempt to cease my inhalation of carcinogens, and resume my manic production of multiple forms of carbohydrates.

    In an attempt to keep this slightly on the healthy side, I’ll go after one of the most difficult of all breads, the dreaded French Baguette, but as always with that rougechef twist..

    What is sourdough?

    From wikipeida:

    Sourdough remained the usual form of leavening down into the European Middle Ages until being replaced by barm from the beer brewing process, and then later purpose-cultured yeast.

    Bread made from 100 percent rye flour, popular in the northern half of Europe, is usually leavened with sourdough. Baker’s yeast is not useful as a leavening agent for rye bread, as rye does not contain enough gluten. The structure of rye bread is based primarily on the starch in the flour, as well as other carbohydrates known as pentosans; however, rye amylase is active at substantially higher temperatures than wheat amylase, causing the structure of the bread to disintegrate as the starches are broken down during cooking. The lowered pH of a sourdough starter, therefore, inactivates the amylases when heat cannot, allowing the carbohydrates in the bread to gel and set properly. In the southern part of Europe, where panettone was originally made with sourdough, sourdough has become less common in recent times; it has been replaced by the faster-growing baker’s yeast, sometimes supplemented with longer fermentation rests to allow for some bacterial activity to build flavor.

    In English-speaking countries, where wheat-based breads predominate, sourdough is no longer the standard method for bread leavening. It was gradually replaced, first by the use of barm from beer making, then, after the confirmation of germ theory by Louis Pasteur, by cultured yeasts. Although sourdough bread was superseded in commercial bakeries in the 20th century, it has undergone a revival among artisan bakers.

    Manufacturers of non-sourdough breads make up for the lack of yeast and bacterial culture by introducing into their dough an artificially-made mix known as bread improver or flour improver.

    And just for the food porn addicts out there :

  • 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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  • Cajun Fricasse


    It is a funny half hot / half cold day, where in the morning you want a hefty jacket, in the afternoon you want a t-shirt, and by early evening you are back in the bomber jacket…

    My tastes are that way as well, I wanted a heavy breakfast, a light lunch and a meal with staying power for dinner.

    I remember a wonderful dish I had at a local french restaurant, it was a chicken, broken down and browned then simmered in a broth along with Spicy Sausage, “Cajun Trinity”, sinful spices, meaty mushrooms and fresh vegetables to make a really wonder full sauce. Think similar to a beef stew with really big chunks of meat and veggies… The gravy was so thick and wonderful I was soping it up with the french bread on the table. (Yes, I know it sounds soo uncivilized, sooo unsheik, but it seems everyone else at the table was doing the same thing….)

    Do note: Do not try this with boneless chicken breast, it just does not work well…

    Wikipedia says:

    Fricassee or Fricassée is a catch-all term used to describe a stewed dish typically made with poultry, but other types of white meat (like veal, rabbit, or Cornish game hen) can be substituted. It is cut into pieces and then stewed in gravy, which is then thickened with butter and cream or milk). It often includes other ingredients and vegetables.

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  • Gratin Dauphinois aux Lardons


    My holiday dinner is fast approaching and I need to start “perfecting” side dishes. This one can serve as a side or with an increase in the bacon content and the addition of a salad, fresh bread and butter, could serve as a full entree’.

    Crisp and creamy potatoes, golden crust, tender sweet onions, thick hunks of salty bacon, and a hint of garlic, (roasted for even more of a taste sensation and smooth cheese, what is not to like.

    Gratin is a widely used culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter . Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or broiled to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.

    Potatoes gratiné is one of the most common of gratins and is known by various names including gratin dauphinois, scalloped potatoes, potatoes au gratin or au gratin potatoes, pommes de terre au gratin, or a potato bake.

    A gratin containing potatoes, cheese, and some kind of meat such as bacon, is often popular at ski restaurants during the season since it is savory, high in calories and relatively easy to cook and keep warm for an hour or more.

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