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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.

  • Sour Dough Focaccia

    By J.P.Lon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2144836

    As I build and feed my starter, I need to dispose of excess starter. One could simply toss down the drain, but that is a bit wasteful. So I’ll just use it.

    Fairly plain and simple is a Focaccia. But as all things sourdough, a long slow rise to develop taste, texture and crumb is a requirement. If one is going to bake sourdough on a regular basis, one might want to keep a small cambro of sourdough resting in the fridge. For now, I’ll use a good bit of starter for some taste, and a touch of yeast to give this a bit of a lift.

    From Wikipedia:

    Focaccia (Italian pronunciation: [foˈkat͡ʃːa]) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza doughs. It may be topped with herbs or other ingredients. Focaccia is popular in Italy and is usually seasoned with olive oil, salt, sometimes herbs, and may at times be topped with onion, cheese and meat. It might also be flavored with a number of vegetables. Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza, or as sandwich bread. Focaccia al rosmarino (focaccia with rosemary) is a common focaccia style in Italian cuisine that may be served as an antipasto, appetizer, table bread, or snack.

    The common-known focaccia is salt focaccia. Focaccia doughs are similar in style and texture to pizza doughs, consisting of high-gluten flour, oil, water, salt and yeast. It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough and then baked in a stone-bottom or hearth oven. Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread.

    Also common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand or with a pastry brush prior to rising and baking. In the northern part of Italy, lard will sometimes be added to the dough, giving the focaccia a softer, slightly flakier texture. Focaccia recipes are widely available, and with the popularity of bread machines, many cookbooks now provide versions of dough recipes that do not require hand kneading.

  • Ciabatta

    Given my starter will not be ready for at least 5 more days, and given that I am already in a full blown nicotine fit, time to bake some bread.

    Looking for a straightforward, simple recipe, that will yield a decent loaf and provide a nice crispy crackly crust with a good crumb. Sounds like a job for Ciabatta.

    From Wikipedia:

    Ciabatta was first produced in 1052 by Francesco Favaron, a baker from Verona, in collaboration with Molini Adriesi who provided the flour to produce the bread. Favaron named the bread ciabatta as he said that the shape of the bread reminded him of the slipper (ciabatta) of his wife Andreina.

    Cavallari, owner of Molini Adriesi, called the bread ciabatta Polesano after Polesine, the area he lived in, and registered it as a trademark. The recipe was subsequently licensed by Cavallari’s company, Molini Adriesi, to bakers in 11 countries by 1999.

    Many regions have their own variations on the original recipe or a bread that closely resembles ciabatta and has become accepted as a variety of ciabatta; the ciabatta from the area encompassing Lake Como has a crisp crust, a somewhat soft, porous texture, and is light to the touch.

    The ciabatta found in Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche varies from bread that has a firm crust and dense crumb, to bread that has a crisper crust and more open texture, and in Rome, it is often seasoned with marjoram.

    New variations of the recipe continue to be developed. Wholemeal ciabatta is known as ciabatta integrale, and when milk is added to the dough, it becomes ciabatta al latte.

    The sons of Francesco Favaron of Pan Technology confirm that their father personally invented this bread. Pan Technology is a private school devoted to bread, pizza, and pastry, located in the Veneto region of Italy. Favaron stated that he developed the idea of ciabatta in the 1960s by experimenting for years when working in the city of Milan. The manual produced by Pan Technology includes 1028 formulae for Italian regional breads, one of which, it is claimed, is the original ciabatta formula. Cavallari and other bakers in Italy were concerned by the popularity of sandwiches made from baguettes imported from France, which were endangering their businesses and so set about trying to create an Italian alternative with which to make sandwiches. The recipe for ciabatta came about after several weeks trying variations of traditional bread recipes and consists of a soft, wet dough made with high gluten flour.

    Umm, a wet dough, with high gluten flour, this is gonna be wall paper paste. Better to not try and shape..

    I remember a Master Class show, with Paul Hollywood, and Mary Berry, from the Great British Baking show… Maybe a few hints lifted from there .. and a few ideas lifted from else where on the net.

  • Ragu a Rustica

    It’s summer, it’s hot, and I do not want to cook anything on top of the stove.. But I have such a wonderful slow cooker, maybe I can try that to make a hearty, tasty, pasta sauce.

    Background
    A sausage sandwich is a sandwich containing cooked sausage. Outside the United Kingdom, it generally consists of an oblong bread roll such as a bagette or ciabatta roll, and sliced or whole links of sausage, such as hot or sweet Italian sausage, Popular toppings include mustard, peppers, onions, and tomato sauce.

    If I take that concept, chop everything roughly (“a rustica”), then simmer ever so slowly in in my slow cooker, with a tomatoes and lots of fresh basil from the market, I would have a pasta sauce fit for a king.

    Bolognese sauce, known in Italian as ragù alla bolognese, is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. In Italian cuisine, it is customarily used to dress “tagliatelle al ragù” and to prepare “lasagne alla bolognese”. In the absence of tagliatelle, it can also be used with other broad, flat pasta shapes, such as pappardelle or fettuccine, or with short tube shapes, such as rigatoni or penne. Genuine ragù alla bolognese is a complex sauce which involves slow cooking using a variety of techniques, including sweating, sautéing and braising. Ingredients include a characteristic soffritto of onion, celery and carrot, different types of minced or finely chopped meat (generally bovine, including beef, and possibly pork, such as pancetta), wine and a small amount of tomato concentrate.

    The earliest documented recipe of an Italian meat-based sauce (ragù) served with pasta comes from late 18th century Imola, near Bologna. In 1891 Pellegrino Artusi first published a recipe for a meat sauce characterized as being “bolognese”. While many traditional variations do exist, in 1982 the Italian Academy of Cuisine registered a recipe for authentic ragù alla bolognese with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce (incorporating some fresh pancetta and a little milk). In Italy, ragù alla bolognese is often referred to simply as ragù.

    Outside Italy, Bolognese sauce often refers to a tomato-based sauce to which mince (beef or pork) has been added; such sauces typically bear little resemblance to ragù alla bolognese. Whereas in Italy ragù is not used with spaghetti, so-called spaghetti bolognese has become a popular dish in many other parts of the world.

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  • Pasta Carbonara

    This is why I will die of chronic cholesterol. It is also why I will die happy…. For those of you who have read my post about hedonism, this is quite indulgent, and ooohhh so simple. There are many rewards to using only the freshest cream and butter, the finest of cheese, and the best of pasta. Truly, a RogueChef classic.

    Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Latium, and more specifically to Rome, based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper. Spaghetti is usually used as the pasta, however, fettuccine, rigatoni or bucatini can also be used. The dish was created in the middle of the 20th century.

    The pork is cooked in fat, which may be olive oil, lard, or less frequently butter. The hot pasta is combined with a mixture of raw eggs, cheese, and a fat (butter, olive oil, or cream) away from additional direct heat to avoid coagulating the egg, either in the pasta pot or in a serving dish. The eggs should create a creamy sauce, and not curdle. Guanciale is the most commonly used meat, but pancetta and local bacon are also used. Versions of this recipe may differ in how the egg is added: some people use the whole egg, while other people use only the yolk; intermediate versions with some whole eggs and some yolk are also possible.

    Cream is not common in Italian recipes, but is often used elsewhere. Garlic is similarly found mostly outside Italy.

    Other variations on carbonara outside Italy may include peas, broccoli, mushrooms, or other vegetables. Many of these preparations have more sauce than the Italian versions. As with many other dishes, ersatz versions are made with commercial bottled sauces.

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  • Red Risotto with Peppers

    red-risotto

    Having done Chicken Cacciatore, one must serve over some form of starch. Pasta is traditional, but I do not feel like being traditional. A search for Italian rice dishes, yielded some interesting recipes for Arancini (Rice Balls), and they looked soo good, but not quite what I wanted, (but I WILL do them shortly) I found all kinds of risotto posts, but maybe, maybe not. Then I saw a post for a rice dish using red wine, and roasted red peppers. Quite an idea to play with, perhaps using my standard risotto, but red wine, and the roasted peppers.

    I have some broth / stock / almost gravy from a roast and I have a package of dried porcini, and I’ll steep them in just enough boiling water to cover for 20 minutes or until they’ve expanded. Drain them, reserving the liquid, and mince them. I’ll use the rehydrate as well. I’m looking for a lot of mushroom aroma, and the beef stock will add that umami mouth feel/taste.

    One can use a rich vegetable stock as well, for those with an aversion to meat or meat with dairy.

    Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.

    Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course, but risotto alla milanese, is often served together with ossobuco alla milanese.

    There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety cooked in a standard procedure.
    Grains of Arborio rice

    The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat, this is called tostatura; white or red wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, the heat is raised to medium high and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point it is taken off the heat for the mantecatura when diced cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier, and left to cook with its residual heat. Seafood risotti generally do not include cheese.

    Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all’onda (“wavy, or flowing in waves”). It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.

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