Basic Bread

The simplest of ingredients, can make the most wondrous of dishes.  No where is this more true than bread.   Flour, Water, Yeast, and Salt can combine into one of the comforting of comfort foods.

Every culture, every cuisine has some form of  this most basic of foods.  In this missive I’ll tackle one of the most basic forms.

From Wikipedia:

Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water, usually by baking. Throughout recorded history it has been popular around the world and is one of the oldest artificial foods, having been of importance since the dawn of agriculture.

Proportions of types of flour and other ingredients vary widely, as do modes of preparation. As a result, types, shapes, sizes, and textures of breads differ around the world. Bread may be leavened by processes such as reliance on naturally occurring sourdough microbes, chemicals, industrially produced yeast, or high-pressure aeration. Some bread is cooked before it can leaven, including for traditional or religious reasons. Non-cereal ingredients such as fruits, nuts and fats may be included. Commercial bread commonly contains additives to improve flavor, texture, color, shelf life, nutrition, and ease of manufacturing.

Bread is served in various forms with any meal of the day. It is eaten as a snack, and used as an ingredient in other culinary preparations, such as sandwiches, and fried items coated in bread crumbs to prevent sticking. It forms the bland main component of bread pudding, as well as of stuffings designed to fill cavities or retain juices that otherwise might drip out.

Bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance as nourishment. It plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions (“He stole the bread from my mouth”), in prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and in the etymology of words, such as “companion” (from Latin com “with” + panis “bread”).

A few notes:

We will begin to utilize a more scientific approach, weighing ingredients, we will in later missives begin to deal with hydration levels, types of flours, as well as proofing, shaping, and cooking methods

I strongly suggest the acquisition of of a good digital kitchen scale.  I will also post a chart of common volumetric measures to weight based measure.

A spoken prior, a finished dish is not better than the sum of it’s parts, use quality ingredients.  Fresh when ever possible, but DO NOT go for the cheap stuff, it will have an effect.  DO NOTE:  Inexpensive is not always cheap, and cheap is not always inexpensive.

Print Recipe
Basic Bread
The simplest of ingredients, can make the most wondrous of dishes. No where is this more true than bread. Flour, Water, Yeast, and Salt can combine into one of the comforting of comfort foods.
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish, Side
Cuisine Global
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, Side
Cuisine Global
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer with dough hook attached Add flours and 300 ml of cool water. Mix until well combined Cover and rest 1 hour
  2. After one hours rest Add salt to basic dough and mix
  3. In a separate container mix 150 ml warm (NOT ABOVE 110 Degrees F / 43C ) and yeast. Cover and Rest 10 minutes
  4. Confirm that the yeast mixture has started to bubble and smells like bread or beer
  5. Add yeast mixture and olive oil to basic dough and mix on low to medium until smooth and stretchy (8-10 minutes) Cover and rest until at last doubled in size, treble if possible. (1 1/2 - 2 hours)
  6. Gently remote dough to a baking pan / dish. I use a large well seasoned cast iron skillet. Cover and let rise for an additional 45 minutes to an hour
  7. Place metal sheet pan in oven Preheat oven to 425F / 220C
  8. Uncover the dough, dust with flour / semolina Slash and place in oven Add 1 cup water to baking sheet in bottom of oven. (THIS WILL STEAM / SPLATTER. BE CAREFUL)
  9. Close oven and bake until golden brown, ~ 30-35 minutes Remove from oven, unpan and cool on a cooling rack
Recipe Notes

Note this is a very basic recipe, the variants and divergent are endless, there are more techniques than there are cooks on the planet.   This is a starter, develop your own recipe, your own technique...

In any case, enjoy ...

Share this Recipe
 

Quick Red Sauce

Whilst clearing out my former pantry yesterday, I found a case of tomato sauce / puree from my last warehouse run.   As I am not about to just toss it into the dumpster, I’ll pull together a couple of posts on how to use.

From Wikipedia:

Tomato sauce (also known as Neapolitan sauce, and Salsa di pomodoro in Italian) can refer to a large number of different sauces made primarily from tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish, rather than as a condiment. Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes. Tomatoes have a rich flavor, high water content, soft flesh which breaks down easily, and the right composition to thicken into a sauce when they are cooked (without the need of thickeners such as roux). All of these qualities make them ideal for simple and appealing sauces.

The most common use of the term tomato sauce in New Zealand and South Africa is to describe a popular, commercially produced condiment, that is a type of Table Sauce, similar to American ketchup but without vinegar, typically applied to foods such as meat pies, sausages, other cooked meat, (in particular Steak) and Fish and chips. Tomato-based sauces served with pasta would commonly be referred to as “pasta sauce” or “Napoletana sauce”

Your basic tomato sauce is pretty bland stuff, we need to pump it up a bit.  I’m thinking a mirepoix, sweated until it takes on some color, perhaps some roasted garlic, maybe a touch of Cajun Trinity (a mirepoix, where the carrots are replaced with bell pepper), and of course fresh herbs.

As I also have tomato paste from the same shopping run, I’ll add some, just to deepen the tomato flavor, and boost the consistency.

Always test your basic canned sauce, open it and dip a clean finger in, taste it, does it taste good, or is it bitter?  If it is bitter, find a better brand of sauce / tomato puree, dump this can, you WILL NOT LIKE the resultant sauce.

Bitter tomato sauce usually comes from cooking tomatoes with the seeds, AKA crushed tomatoes, or diced.  As always good food starts with good ingredients.

A general comment, even in canned food, ESPECIALLY in canned food, get good quality, watch the ingredient list, and double, triple check the sodium content…  In this case my tomato sauce has nothing, but tomatoes, salt, basil, and citric acid.

Print Recipe
Basic Red Sauce
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Sauce
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Sauce
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, not a sauce pot, Over medium high heat, add oil add carrots, (if used) Saute 3 minutes, until they begin to soften
  2. Add onions, celery, Bell pepper (if used) Saute until onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes
  3. Add roasted garlic, and saute 1 minute or less, until the garlic of fragrant Add 1/2 fresh herbs / oregano
  4. Add tomatoes and bump up to high heat. Simmer at high for 5-7 minutes. Until just thickened
  5. Taste and check flavor / seasonings
  6. Remove from heat and add remaining herbs, to taste.
Recipe Notes

If the sauce gets too thick, one can add vegetable broth, or other stock.     I'll be playing with mushroom broth this evening.

As with my other basic red sauce, this can be used as part of a follow on meal.  ( A polite way of saying reuse leftovers ...

If the basic canned sauce is bitter, one MIGHT add a pinch of baking powder to try and  cut the bitterness, or add a bit of sugar.   In most cases this will not work extremely well, but it is a chance..   Most times, I will just dump the can.

Share this Recipe

Infusions….

Wandering out last night, I hit my favorite late night sushi/soju/sports pub for a quick bite and a small drink.   The barkeep, offered me a new take on infused liquor.  Jalapeno and Habanero infused soju.

The tasting of the infused spirits was amazing, the jalapeno soju had a green / sweet nose, a crisp sip and a lingering intense heat, the habanero was similar but with surprisingly a less intense heat, possibly owing to length of age.

Utilization of the jalapeno in a jalapeno yellow tail roll produced an intense flavor sensation.

For infusions, I’d use any clear liquor, though bourbon and cherries also come to the front of my mind.

This post is less of a recipe, and more of a discussion on method.

A 1-quart jar will hold a 750ml bottle of spirits with extra room for the infusion ingredients. The mason jar with a wide mouth makes it easy to get the ingredients in and out. Keep the original liquor bottle to store your finished spirits and label it with the flavor.

Print Recipe
Infusions....
Spicy foods are a favorite choice for many people and spicy cocktails are just as popular. If you have a passion for all things hot and spicy, you will want to give this a try.
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Liquor
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 5 min
Servings
shots
Ingredients
Course Liquor
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 5 min
Servings
shots
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In quart jar, add pepper, and spirits
  2. Let infuse for any time from one day to one week, check taste daily.
  3. Whence flavor and intensity are at a desired state. Filter and store.
Recipe Notes

One item that must be experienced, is the S3 Bloody Mary, infused Soju, Sriracha, Wasabi, and tomato..   Extra special whence the infused Soju is 50/50 Jalapeno and Habanero ..

Share this Recipe
 

Basic Red Sauce

Another of my base recipes, that can be expanded to serve a number of functions.  The base sauce can be ready in 20 minutes.

I can add browned Italian sausage, and resimmer for a “Sunday Gravy”, or I can lengthen with chicken stock for a satisfying tomato soup, or just use as is to cover a plate of pasta.

 

Print Recipe
Basic Red Sauce
Basic Red Sauce
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 10 min
Servings
People
Ingredients
Base
Extras
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 10 min
Servings
People
Ingredients
Base
Extras
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse red peppers; then puree and reserve
  2. Add oil to sauce pan over medium heat
  3. Add onion and saute until golden ~ 5 minutes, Remove from pan, add mushrooms (optional) and saute until caramelized, ~ 5 minutes, Repeat for Green pepper if used.
  4. return all, add garlic and basil, saute until fragrant, ~ 1 minute
  5. Add red pepper puree, and crushed tomatoes, season to taste and simmer until slightly thickened. ~ 10 minutes
Share this Recipe
 

Black Bean Falafel

As spoken prior, I am in city arranging my digital life in a manner that someone other than I can make sense of.  My roommates have fled the city, so I have some freedom of culinary creativity.

I had originally considered doing black bean burgers, but whence I saw the hummus, olives, pita and harissa in the fridge, my mind went directly to the Mediterranean ..

I am sure many of my readers shall shake thier head in my rouge departure from a street food classic, but then again, see the url…

From Wikipedia:

Falafel or felafe (/fəˈlɑːfəl//-ˈlæf-/; is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, that most likely originated in Egypt. It is commonly served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as taboon; “falafel” also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The falafel balls are laid over a bed of salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze (assortment of appetizers).

Falafel is a common food eaten in the Middle East. The fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and a form of street food.

 

 

Print Recipe
Black Bean Falafel
A rogue departure from the traditional Mediterranean specialty, but it does work well as a snack, entree, or part of a mezza
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Passive Time 15 min
Servings
ea
Ingredients
Falafel
Cooking
Course Main Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Passive Time 15 min
Servings
ea
Ingredients
Falafel
Cooking
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Take all from main group and mash to a stiff and grainy consistency. Pastry blender, fork, or food processor.
  2. Let this rest for a few minutes so flavors can meld (15 minutes)
  3. Use a # 40 disher or a tablespoon measure to scoop up a small amount of the mixture. Roll it in between the palm of your hands to make a compact, round ball. Since I am NOT going to deep fry these, I flatten the balls to ~1/2 inch thick.
  4. Add 1/2" of oil to a heavy cast iron skillet and heat over medium high heat
  5. As the oil shimmers, slip the falafel in and cook until golden brown, ~ 1-2 minutes per side. Remove to a draining rig
Recipe Notes

As a side / dipping sauce whip 1/2 cup tahini with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Share this Recipe
 

Vegetarian Sloppy Joe’s

It is Memorial Day weekend, I am in city, sorting out my “Digital Life”.  The room mates have decided to “be elsewhere”, leaving me with the freedom to explore new culinary avenues.

Usually I either grill or smoke for the weekend, but have not the time or the environment for this..   But all is not lost, the all time American standby by dinner, the “Sloppy Joe”, will come to my rescue.  And I’ll even toss the vegetarian twist into this.

From Wikipedia

A sloppy joe is a sandwich consisting of ground beef or pork, onions, tomato sauce or ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings, served on a hamburger bun.The dish originated in the United States during the early 20th century.

Ground turkey or textured vegetable protein may be used as a substitute for ground beef.

A sloppy joe differs from a traditional loose meat or tavern sandwich due largely to its tomato-based sauce.

I have a number of options as a vegetable protein, to replace the meat component.  Various beans, tofu / soy products, or various mushrooms.  Perhaps, button mushrooms in a large dice, partially crushed black beans as well, then the usual onions, green peppers, garlic, spices and the ever present tomato sauce and top it off with a good melting cheese.

Traditionally, a grated parmesan cheese is used, but I just like a nice melted cheese.

As a follow on, I can use the left over joe mix with soy dogs and the rest of the cheese to make Chili Cheese dogs for another meal.

 

Print Recipe
Vegetarian Sloppy Joe's
A quick, easy meal for the on the go crowd.
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
People
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
People
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat
  2. Add mushrooms and saute until caramelized; thence remove
  3. Add onion / bell peppers and saute until softened
  4. Add tomato paste and saute until carmelized
  5. Add garlic and saute until fragrant
  6. Reduce heat to medium low Add mushrooms, beans, spices, tomato sauce, soy sauce, liquid smoke, stir to combine and heat through
  7. Taste and adjust balance
Recipe Notes

Serve over toasted buns, and top with cheese.

I side this with tortilla chips

This is a great base recipe, one can omit the chili's and add oregano, basil and more tomato sauce for a basic pasta sauce.

That sauce and be lengthened with veggie stock to form a tomato soup.

Or adding additional chili powder and cumin can form a decent vegetarian chili.

Share this Recipe
 

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

As spoken prior, It is cool to cold today.  I really want Mex-Tex for dinner, so I’m cooking bean and cheese enchiladas.

From Wikipedia:

An enchilada (/ˌɛnɪˈlɑːdə/, Spanish: [entʃiˈlaða]) is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a chili pepper sauce. Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including various meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables or combinations.

The Real Academia Española defines the word enchilada, as used in Mexico, as a rolled maize tortilla stuffed with meat and covered with a tomato and chili sauce. Enchilada is the past participle of Spanish enchilar, “to add chili pepper to”, literally to “season (or decorate) with chili”.

Also as spoken prior, in deference to my roommates these shall be vegetarian.  In deference to my tastes, they shall be hearty.

 

Print Recipe
Bean and Cheese Enchiladas
Refried beans, salsa and cheese makes a flavorful filling for vegetarian enchiladas.
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mex-Tex
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mex-Tex
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish; set aside. Stir together 1/4 cup more sauce, beans, 1/2 cup salsa, spices, vegetables, and 1/2 cup cheese in medium bowl.
  2. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup bean mixture. ( I like hearty entree's ) Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.
  3. Cover dish Bake 30 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts. Check for 145 with instant read thermometer
Recipe Notes

Pass Guacamole, Salsa, and Sour Cream to the side.

Add Tortilla chips as a texture contrast.

Share this Recipe
 

Fajita Style Peppers and Onion

It’s cool to cold today, and I am thinking Mex-Tex for dinner.  Bean and cheese enchiladas, maybe a bit of Guacamole and Salsa to the side.  But I really want a bit heartier of a filling, maybe I will add in some veggies.

Cruising the fridge and panty I find Peppers, Onions and immediately I think Fajitas…  I suspect this will fortify the fillings and add a bit of a topping.

From Wikipedia:

A fajita (/fəˈhtə/; Spanish: [faˈxita]in Tex-Mex cuisine is any grilled meat that is served as a taco on a flour or corn tortilla.The term originally referred to skirt steak, the cut of beef first used in the dish.Popular meats today also include chicken, pork, shrimp, lamb, salmon, other types of fish, and other cuts of beef, as well as vegetables instead of meat. In restaurants, the meat is usually cooked with onions and bell peppers.

Since I’ll be sharing this with my roommates, I will forgo the meats and stick with just the peppers and onions.

 

Print Recipe
Fajita Style Peppers and Onion
Tender crisp veggies for a side or a topping. The perfect Mex-Tex compliment
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Side
Cuisine Mex-Tex
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 10 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Side
Cuisine Mex-Tex
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 10 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium to medium high heat
  2. Toss peppers, onions, oil, salt and oregano in a large bowl
  3. Whence the skillet is hot, add vegetables and stir
  4. Cook until tender crisp with a hint of char, 5-8 minutes
  5. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Share this Recipe
 

Sesame Noodles

cold noodles

And we have gone from fall/winter to full on summer.  I want something filling, tasty and cold.

Walking and dripping my way from PABT, to my LIC lair, I passed a noodle shop, “lo and behold” they had a sign hawking their “Cold Sesame Noodles”.

Not to be arrogant, but I know how I like my noodles, and I know what I want in my noodles.   I’ll do this at home.

I’ll plan for ~4oz of noodles per person.

 

Print Recipe
Sesame Noodles
Sweet, Spicy, Cool and Tasty. The prefect side or entree for a warm day.
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish, Side
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 15 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, Side
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 15 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, (a bowl one could toss a salad in), combine all but the pasta. Taste and adjust for balance.
  2. Bring a gallon of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as per package directions, al dente, (~ 5 minutes). Drain, Rinse with cold water, Drain again. ( I have used a salad spinner for this) Toss with a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil
  3. Add warm noodles to bowl with sauce and toss Plate servings and garnish with cucumbers, peanuts, and scallions. Serve with additional sambol / pepper paste for the adventurous.
Share this Recipe
 

Tools – Cast Iron

Let’s have a chat about the new rage in cooking, much talked about, and greatly misunderstood.  I speak, of course, about Cast Iron cookware.

Why is it all the rage?

Mostly, because it works.  The high density of the cast iron allows great heat absorption, and an even heat dissipation into the food.  This allows the maillard reaction, browning,  to occur generating the distinctive flavors of well colored food.

Many TV-Chefs and food bloggers are hopping on the cast iron horse, some will much less success than others.  Here are a few tips to allow you to be more successful ..

Select a decent pan

As with many things, price is NOT an indication of quality.  You are looking for a heavy pan, a well finished interior.  If you are new to using cast iron, or you are looking to add an additional skillet to your collection,  do not rush out and grab a $200 artisan crafted skillet, a $22, 10 inch skillet from Amazon will serve just fine.

Whilst the high end skillets with their machine honed, slick as a piece of glass interiors are very attractive, and yes I drool at them, but shudder at the price tag.

Seasoning your new cast iron

Like any other tool in you kitchen, cast iron requires maintenance.  Lets start with how to season a cast iron skillet, and how to maintain that seasoning.

Seasoning is the process of building up a fat based polymer, that adheres to the skillet and provides that super slick, no stick, surface.

I will do the following with any new cast iron I purchase, even the one’s that are “pre-seasoned”.  A well seasoned pan has a very dark cooking surface that has a reflective sheen to it.

  • Wash a new pan thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Dry completely
  • Apply a light coat of neutral oil
  • Bake in a 500 degree oven for an hour
  • Let cool and apply another light coat of oil
  • Either store the pan or repeat the cycle.  I tend to repeat this cycle at least three times with a new pan

Cleaning your cast iron

  • Clean After Use: Clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. Don’t leave it in the sink because it will rust.
  • Add hot water: Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge or stiff brush.  Avoid using  soap, or soaped steel wool, as these may strip the pan’s seasoning. NEVER THE DISHWASHER!!
  • Scrub off stuck-on bits: To remove stuck-on food, scrub the pan with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water. Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the pan.  I also have a chain mail scrubber I use.
  • Dry the skillet: Thoroughly dry the skillet or dry it on the stove over low heat.
  • Oil it: Using a cloth or paper towel, apply a light coat of neutral / vegetable oil
  • Put it away: Store the skillet in a dry place.

Cooking with cast iron

  • Always pre-heat.  Never add food to a cold pan then heat.  IT WILL STICK
  • Pre-heat gently.  Start over low heat, then move to medium low, to medium, to medium high, etc.  This allows you to control the heat of the pan.
  • I try to never go to full wack on the stove as this will just generate annoying clouds of smoke and tend to burn the seasoning off the pan.  Things will sear and brown quite nicely at medium high with a proper pre-heat.
  • Clean after use.