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About My Bakin', Cookin', Wine Makin'!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roasted,Brined, Breast Of Chicken with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

This is one of my favorite dishes, simple ingredients,simple tp prepare.first let's discuss brining, or soaking a meat in  salted seasoned water.Brining does three things, first it adds moisture (water) to the meat,as well as flavor from the seasonings and helps tenderizes by breaking down the protein fibers.
 The length of time to brine,it's ingredients of choice I'll list below.I'll list what  used for this particular dish. 
One large split chicken breast,
The brine: per  2 qts of water , the amount I needed, to completely cover the chicken breast
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp granulated garlic  
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
 Method; place all brine ingredients in a pot,bring to boil while stiring to dissolve sugar and salt.As soon as it comes to a boil remove from heat and cool completely,before adding chicken breast.
 Place chiken in appropiate size bowl / plastic container so it will be completely covered with brine, cover with plastic wrap,put in fridge overnight or 24 hours.
Chicken Breast In The Brine,after 24 hours

 Remove From Brine And Pat The Breast Dry

Drizzle A Sheet Of Parchment With Olive Oil
Spread Oil With Fingers
Place Breast  On Parchment
Gather And Fold Parchment Over Several Times To Make A Tight Seal
Fold Ends And Crease Tightly,Fold Ends Under
Place In Roasting Tray,Roast In Preheated 375 Degree  Oven 45-50 Minutes Till Juices Run Clear and Internal Temp Is 150 degrees .Let Rest 5 Minutes
Make Sauce:

Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
 Ingredients: 2 Cups Sliced Cremini ( Baby Bella) Mushrooms
               1/2 Small Yeloow Or Red Onion Diced Small
 1-2 Cloves Garlic,About 1 tbs
Fresh Thyme Leaves  minced,About 1 tbs ( or 1/2 tsp dried)
 2 tbs Flour
 1 Can Low Salt Chicken Broth
 2tbs butter
 2tbs olive Oil
Assembled Ingredients
Saute Onion In Butter And Oil Over Med Heat Till Soft,Then Add Garlic,Cook 1 Minute,While Stiring
Add Mushrooms,Raise Heat To Med High,Stiring Till Mushrooms Are Soft Have Released Most Of Their liquid
Add Pinch Of Kosher Salt . Note: You May Omit Salt If desired,Add flour Stiring Constantly To blend Into The Oil Creating A Rue
Add Broth. Stiring Into Rue To Blend Smooth, Bring To Boil,Reduce  By 1/3
  Add Wine, Cook Several Minutes To Evaporate Alcohol From Wine

Add Thyme,Stir In,Reduce Heat to Simmer,Reduce To Desired Consistency
Note: The Salt Taste Will Increase As the Sauce Is Thickened.If This Is A concern,Use A No-Salt Broth Or Your Homemade.You may Add 1/4 cup Heavy Cream If Desired, to Make A Cream Sauce

Remove Rested Breast From Parchment,Cut Breast From bone,Slice Across Grain Into 1/4 Inch Slices
Arrange On Warmed Plates, Top With Sauce,I Served  With A Crisp Salad And A Gourmet Blend Of Wild Rice

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shrimp burgers

Always having been exposed to seafood all my life( my Grandfather was a commercial fisherman),having some type of seafood 5 days a week,during the season,was normal for us.I really miss those years . Growing up  in Brooklyn,a walking distance (about 1&1/2 mi) from Coney Island,Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs,the beach,the amusement park (although it was the beach and water I loved) was wonderful for a 7 year old boy.Summer I would walk straight down Ocean Parkway ( think every beach community has one) which extended from Prospect Park at the north end to the beach ,Bay 7th,just out side Brighton Beach.Yes that one, with the alleged Russian Mobsters,but in my time it was just a Jewish Community,whether there was another mob at that time ,hey I'm only 7,who knew,I only want to go swimming.
 I recall being at My Grandfather's house ( they lived up the block from us),he had caught a large lobster,being 6 or 7 years old, the table came up to my chin,it was the length of their dinning table.Iwas amazed to see something so big as that.After all there were 6 adults sitting at that size table, this lobster was bigger than me! My love of the ocean and it's bounty has stayed with me all my life, albeit I can no longer have seafood 5 days a week,none the less we do enjoy some once a week ,
     OK I've rambled  on nostalgically long enough,let's get to the recipe.I found this  on one the Food Channels,tweaked it a bit to suit our tastes,and love it.
 Shrimp burgers
makes 4,  2inch or so patties
 1/2  - 3/4 lb raw, shelled ,cleaned and deveined shrimp 
1 cup kernel corn,fresh is best or can niblets (prefer GG)
 1 tbs fine diced roasted  sweet red pepper (homemade if possible) or fresh
 1 scallion wash trimmed, very thinly sliced
 about 2 tbsp fine diced red onion
1/4 tsp hot sauce ( prefer Frank's) or your favorite
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 beaten egg
 1 /2 cup panko bread crumbs
 1 tbsp unsalted butter
 1 tbsp olive oil
salt & black pepper to taste

Saute  shrimp in  butter and oil over med hi heat till pink and cooked, about 2-3 min side,don't over cook .Remove from pan.let cool,place 2/3 of shrimp in mini chopper or chop fine by hand,remaining 1/3 cut in small dice.
 Whisk wet till combined mix everything in a bowl till well combined.
Shape int 4 patties,place on a plate cover with plastic wrap and chill to set ,about 15 min or longer if convenient. 
Coat patties in reg or panko bread crumbs
 heat vegetable oil in skillet, just large enough for the 4 patties, over med heat
 add patties cook 3-4 min side,drain on paper towels.
 Place on buns ,rolls of choice,dress as desired. 
We had them for Sunday breakfast on English Muffins,topped with poached egg and cheese sauce.

First time I made these I used homemade brioche rolls (BBA#4)
 For those not familiar with the BBA,Bread bakers Apprentice,written by Peter Reinhart,we are just a group of home bread enthusiasts baking one recipe per week in order from this book.
The group is hosted by Chris at         http://akuindeed.com/?p=3675

BBA#12 English Muffins

This is th 12th BBA recipe ,English Muffins.I don't know anyone who doesn't like a toasted English muffin oozing with melted butter and or jam.I was really excited to do this one,as it's a bread I have not tried before,although I do have recipes for it.
 This was a simple direct method dough,assemble,mix,hydrate,knead,proof,shape ,proof,cook,easy.That's how all recipes are intended,but there is always 'that factor',of individual interpretations of instructions.I know,been there,as well as others,yet we all wind up making great bread!
So here I go;
 flour,salt,sugar,yeast, blended,added  6 oz +1 tsp butter milk ,over poured a bit,mixed till dough came together,still a bit sticky
Out of bowl,ready to knead by hand
Begining of knead dough was sticky,added scant dustings of flour to my hands,and kneaded,flouring my hands as required by dough feel
 After 10 minutes of kneading dough is tacky,no longer sticky,temp was 77,passed window pane test,though I forgot to photo it
Placed in oil sprayed bowl, covered let rise
90 minutes later,doubled and a little yeast bubble poking it's head on top
 Measured off  6, 3 oz pieces and shaped into boules
Placed on oil sprayed parchment sprinkled with corn meal,  lightly oil sprayed tops and covered with plastic ( I used a  market greens size bag,unused of course,cut open,large and priced right)
90 minutes later , little boules ready to griddle
Carefully (as possible) lifted them with my flat metal spatula to the 350 degree preheated  griddle surface.Cooked 8 minutes first side.
Gently using spatula turned them over,you can see where my helping fingers made indentations in them.Cooked 8 minutes on this side also
Here I placed them on a baking sheet that was preheating in the oven till 350 degrees.I didn't want to place them on a cold sheet and then lose the heat in them already.Baked 8 minutes in oven at 350.
Cooled and fork split created lots of nooks and crannies  

Toasted  and buttered one,wife said it's better than Thomas' Wow!
Sunday breakfast: Shrimp Burger Patty on BBA English Muffin,poached eggs,cheese sauce and breakfast sausage. I'll post the Shrimp Burger  recipe in another post,they are delicious,and easy to make.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Home Wine Makin'

My very first exposure to home wine making was when I was seven.We lived in the basement apartment of a two family home,the landlord,being Italian (100% from Italy),made wine.The storage area of the rear part of the basement that was not part of our apartment,was used for his craft.I watched intently as he turned the top handle of the press and all that sweet smelling grape juice poured out the bottom tray.Often I would be presented with a glass of juice,delicious!He made an Italian red wine of some type,our family,that I can recall, didn't drink wine,Dad preferred beer,Mom ,rarely drank alcohol.As a young adult wine did not appeal to me,the hard liquors were my choice of drink.Fast forward,married with children,wine was still not of much interest to me.Fast forward to retirement,by this time my wife an I had learned to appreciate wine with  dinner meals.Here In NC,wineries were literally opening by the week,I believe there are more than 70 now,throughout the state.Having the time now ,we took day trips to many of them,having some wine and picnicking on the usually beautiful grounds.
Searching the Internet for information of a particular wine,I came across several 'Home Brew sites',checking them out was like opening another world of creativity for me.Had you asked me prior to this,how is wine made,I would recall my limited knowledge of being seven,and my winery experiences.I had no idea that good wine could be made from these 'Wine Kits', sold at home brew stores! The appeal is the immense variety available,from fresh grapes,only what would be available locally could be used.From kit's any wine from the world can be made.
 Always enjoying a new challenge,( Really Loving) we made our first homemade wine from a kit.An Australian Chardonnay,not a high price kit ,actually toward the lower price range of about $65 (kits make 30 bottles of wine).We did have to purchase some equipment,nothing exotic, (everything was available in a package offer)a 6 +1/2 gal food grade plastic fermenting bucket,with lid and a grommetted  vent hole for the airlock,a glass 6gal jug (called a carboy) for secondary fermentation,a manual siphon and 6ft of  food grade plastic tubing (like the stuff at pet stores for tropical fish),bottle brush for carboy,airlock,and sanitizer, a hydrometer (measures sugar level) and of course the wine kit. Additionally, I knew this was going to be a life long hobby for me,and treated myself to a floor corker.Which makes corking the bottles an ease,and a bottle tree to place the cleaned and sanitized bottles on ,prior to filling.The wine kit contains the juice ,yeast,oak (if to be oaked) ,clearing agents,preservatives ,instructions. Wine bottles were free for the asking at any winery,great considering they are over a buck each to buy.We chose bottles from one particular winery in the end,their labels just peeled of easily.
After fermenting, the wine is racked ( transferring off of the sediment after fermentation is complete),stabilizing ,clearing,   and bottling,aging at least 3 months (6 ,12+ months is better) the wine was ready to taste.
 Our very first homemade kit wine was much better than I would have expected. I could compare it to a $7-10 bottle store bought! I was hooked on this fascinating new hobby.That was 3 years ago,since, I have made,white and red wines of different varieties,some mid range price, some higher, as well as non-grape wines,fruit,nut,grain,vegetable,herb and seed wines.My conclusion,IMO,the lower end whites and up turn out good,only upper price reds are good.By that I mean $100 + red wine kits are the best value.
Please understand,I am in no way "the authority' on home wine making,I can only share my experiences,in my wine making.Their are numerous wine forums discussing wine,any question one may have ,you will find the answer there,as well as sites on making,recipes for non-grape wines (another wonderful part of the hobby) as well as books written specifically for the home wine maker. And of course the staff at your local home brew shop.
Another creative part of  the process is creating your own wine labels! I use a greeting card factory program for mine,and find it very enjoyable.After all it's your wine and the label reflects your design.
 Wines I have made:
 Whites- Chardonnay,Pinot Gris,Torrentes,Piesporter,Fume blanc,Green Apple Riesling,
Reds- Chianti,Shiraz,Cabernet Sauvignon,Merlot,Pinot Noir,Italian Brunello (needs to age 2 years,14 months  left to go).
 Non -Grape Wines:
Apple,Apricot,Almond, Anise (Star Anise),Banana,Basil, Blueberry,Blueberry Port,Barley, Carrot,Corn,Grapefruit,Cranberry,Elderberry, Ginger,Jalapeno (cookin' or drinkin'), Lemon,Onion (cookin' wine),chocolate Orange,Pear,Rice, Sweet Potato,Wheat.And at he moment what I call a Country White (for lack of a better description),a combination of  frozen juices, white grape juice, apple,grapefruit.The concept being the grape juice creates the 'wine base', the grapefruit adds citrus notes,the apple a fruit note,like cookin' or bakin, it's the adventure of the experiment.Won't know how it will be for at least a year,as most wines,grape or other require that amount of time to age,some two or more years.Heck,the time will pass whether I make wine or not ,so let's make wine!

  I have not as yet kept a complete photo process of making any particular wine,but I do have enough photos of various wines in different states of progress to give a complete picture of the evolution from start to finish.
This is the first stage,assembling the ingredients.This is a red grapefruit juice wine,note the activated wine yeast in measuring cup,pineapple chunks,also raisins were added , as well as additives,acid blend,meta bisulphite tablets ,purifies must(liquid juice).Kits contain juice ready to ferment all additives have been blended into it.
Shown are the 6+gal fermenting pail ,lid with airlock (seals wine from outside contamination) and the wine kit.Fermentation takes about 7-12 days,depending on the wine being made.

Racking Grapefruit wine after fermentation ,the wine(must) is not clear at this stage

Wine that has cleared,left ,2 gals of 'Country White',and 3 gal carboy of Sweet Potato Wine.Sediment visible at bottom of jugs.Wine is ready to be racked off sediment,and either bottled or left to age in gallon or 3 gallon jugs (bulk aging).Benefit of bulk aging ,takes longer for a temperature change to actually affect wine opposed to a 750ml bottle.Once the wine has aged then it's  bottled.Sometimes I bulk age for convience,or if it's an expensive kit. 


Red wine (a Shiraz) has cleared,and was stabilized,aged 9 months in carboy,in cool place .Now being racked once more off any final sediment ,into a sanitized pail (food grade ONLY),ready to bottle.
Sanitizing clean wine bottles and placing on bottle tree.Everything that the wine comes in contact with,from start to bottle has to be clean and sanitized
Bottling wine using siphon and gravity fed.End of tubing has a bottling wand attached,with a small pressure tip to release wine when pressed against bottom of bottle.
Filled wine bottle on corker,placing sanitized corker into iris of corker
Pressing down contracts iris,squeezes cork and pushes it into bottle neck in one motion.
Corked bottles being labeled by my nephew, (Dr Michael Reddy,NASA Scientist).Labels are homemade and applied with glue stix, and wash off easily when bottle is empty.
Pinot Gris ,from a kit,with a comical label
My wine 'cellar',actually our master bedroom walk in.The only place in the house where the temperature stays fairly constant.Majority of these need to age another year or two.All top rows are either ready or close.

Some of my Wine ,and home made labels,which were produced on my inkjet printer,labels are not water proof.I make a master sheet of uaually 4 labels ,on photo paper then have them printed at Staples,(about .60c a sheet of 4) which are water proof

A close up of labels,the Australian Chardonnay  (from a kit), is two years old,which we opened recently,it was like silk!  Designing the labels is a hobby unto itself!
Found this photo of myself,age two ,1946,yep that's a wine wagon.Didn't know it,wine was to be in my future!PS 216,Brooklyn NY in background,where I would eventually attend. 
For more information,check out some of the wine forums on line,sites dedicated to home brew,and books from your local home brew supply store. Note: fermenting wine has an odor which bothers some and not others,and should be considered. sites I use;





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BBA #11 Cranberry Walnut Bread

 Seems almost everyone enjoyed this recipe,and all the breads  look great.I was looking forward to this one as fruit and nut breads are among my favorite.I chose to do a braid with half and a sandwich loaf with the rest.I plumped the cranberries overnight in 1 cup of hot water,which created all kinds of problems .One ,I added the butter milk but needed to add 1/4 cup of more liquid,used the drained cranberry soaker.When (and I knew) I added the moist cranberries ,it created a sloppy mess.Had to add approx 3/4 cup flour to keep on track.It rose fine, divided ,shaped, eggwashed,Then had to pick up the wife,didn't put the loaves in the fridge as I should have.By the time we got back they were a liite over proofed.
 The resulting bread had a lighter spongy texture,the cranberries had lost their flavor from soaking I guess.The overall taste was good,not great to me.
When I make this again no soaking fruit for me
Cranberries added in the mixer,walnuts kneaded in by hand
I save butter wrappers for greasing,when butter is in bread
Ready to proof
2 hour proof
divided by eye
Shaped one braid one loaf
About 2 hours later,a little over proofed
Hot from the oven,golden from the eggwash,temp was 190
Crumb of loaf, spongy and light from over proof