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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BBA#16 Kaiser Rolls

Kaiser rolls, that wonderfully crunchy crust, light airy interior, great with anything you may fill it with, spread on it or just eat plain. Turn back the clock , ( if only we could!!), I'm 8, my cousin Vinny , yeah I know, is also 8, it's Sunday, our task, when we visit Grandma and Grandpa on Sundays, is to walk to the  Italian bakery, Cuccio's, on the corner of W 1st and Ave X  in Brooklyn . Our parents gave us just the right amount of time, for 2 eight year olds, to reach the bakery just before 2pm, when the rolls would be coming out of the oven!
Of course we loved our walk to pick up those 3 dozen hot, from the oven Kaiser rolls, about four, that's what Vinny and I would eat on the way back, which always took longer, there had to be enough time to eat the 2 rolls! They were so delicious, the bakery is still there, making those rolls ,as well as breads, and Italian pastries, the aromas when you enter can only be described as heavenly sweet with the fragrance of fresh bread, the  hint  vanilla and of anise from the pastries.
 I have never had a kaiser roll as good as that since then, part, I am sure is just memory and not all fact, but I still have not had a good one since. It now seems strange to me with all the baking I do, why had I not made Kaiser rolls before? Partly due to my displeasure with some of the bread recipes from the books I was  using, guess  I thought , how good could the rolls be, still holding the rolls of my youth as the standard .
 Joining the BBA challenge with other amateur bakers at Chris' site  http://akuindeed.com/?p=3797#more-3797, has been immensely rewarding, the sharing of experiences with the recipes has helped me to be a better baker, as well as I believe the excellent book by Peter Reinhardt, The Bread Bakers Apprentice. I have learned more about baking bread from this one book than all of the other four I own. 
 My wife and I were anticipating the kaiser Roll challenge like two kids on Christmas eve.
The rolls were really good, really, really good! Did they meet the standard of the rolls of my youth...no, was I disappointed, not at all, they were delicious, though I think I under baked them a bit, and the result was a less than crisp crust, but the crumb was creamy colored, airy, and fragrant of a  slight sweetness from the malt I would think, as well as the cold ferment process of the pate ferment.
The recipe is not difficult, the instructions were easy to follow , the amount of liquid and flour will always be at odds with a recipe, the humidity of one's kitchen, the moisture in the flour are all a factor in making the dough. I follow the recipe and adjust as needed, without considering the accuracy of it, perhaps because I had always been doing that. I see that since we are in fact critiquing the recipe I need to be more aware of variances, but still , it's so easy to over hydrate at the start, and then have to add more flour, or under hydrate, the only way to be sure of the accuracy would require the same conditions and products the author used when making the bread. Here again I am back where I started, because every recipe ,no matter what I'm making has variables written into it, cook  30 minutes  OR UNTIL DONE, OK, just how long is that? that would depend ,again on the environment, the ingredients, the oven. knead until soft and pliable and tacky, well, a newbie, as we all once were, and at times I still am, would have some difficulty with that, just how pliable is pliable, experience always, repetition is the learning curve.
 I had used less than the amount of water only 4 & 1/2 oz.,and still needed to add some additional flour, perhaps the pate ferment had more moisture then I was aware of. In any event the dough came together was soft and slightly tacky. The problem I did have was with shaping, I did buy a Kaiser roll design cutter, along with other items, a couple months back, the hand method  I kinda botched, didn't make the rope long enough, and didn't want to do any others by hand, I have the cutter, use that, as i did want to try my new toy! Well it seems I over proofed the rolls, PR said to turn them over and proof  30- 45 min longer, it seemed to me that they were already proofed enough, but I still let them rise about 10 min more. I then brushed them with an egg white beaten with a tbs of water and then sprinkled on sesame seeds and one with poppy.
 Into the oven at 425, sprayed the walls and  floor with water, that's the oven of course LOL.After 10 minutes lowered the oven to 400 and rotated the pan 180 degrees. the rolls were already brown, let them bake just 6 more minutes and took them out, as I didn't want to burn them by leaving in for the full 20 minute total even though it said a total of 30 minutes, again I would think some ovens might need longer, but I know my electric oven is very efficient at holding heat. So did I under bake them, or was it the topping of egg white that caused the early browning, I'll have to make them again and bake longer to find out.Also I think I will leave out the oil and perhaps the egg also and see If I can achieve that crunchy crust of my youth.
 The resulting rolls were delicious though not with a crisp crust, eating them was a distinct pleasure as only the savoring of a new  pleasing taste can be, although the over proofing obliterated the cutter markings, but not the on the one I hand shaped! Also mine were a bit larger, 5 oz, and rose much higher than those PR pictured in the book.So it seems less proofing , just till doubled, no longer, would be the way to go.Next time I'll hand shape 3 and cut 3 as a test of the final appearance, I forgotten about the link Chris had put on his post about shaping the rolls. 
I looked at it ,after mine were done, and it is much simpler to follow than PR's method, although it's the same method.
Here is the process:
10 oz bread flour, 6oz lukewarm water, malt syrup 1 &1/2 tsp,1 egg beaten, 8oz pate ferment warmed on work counter 1 hour, (3/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp instant yeast,1& 1/2 tbs veg oil, not shown)
Added all to mixer ,first dry then wet , 4 &1/4 oz water, mixed 1 minute, added additional flour, about 1/2 cup, to achieve a proper dough slightly sticky, which would eventually be tacky after kneading 6 min with dough hook, added sprinkles of flour as needed ( part of 1/2 cup)  when dough was soft and supple and slightly tacky, shaped into a boule and put into an oiled bowl to rise for 2 hours.
After 2 hours weighed the dough, it was 30 oz, so i made 6 ,5oz pieces
Shaped them into rounds, first a boule then rolled under a cupped hand pressing against the table to form into a ball. lightly sprayed them with oil and covered with plastic sheet to rest 10 minutes
After 10 minutes ,rolled one into a rope about 9" long
Tried to follow method to shape, should have done it again as it was not correct, but I wanted to use my new 'toy' the kaiser roll cutter.
It does look good at this point.....but
After all were shaped ,1, 5 cut with toy..placed top side down on a oiled sprayed and cornmeal dusted parchment, lightly spray oiled them, covered with plastic and let rise 45 minutes.
 Turned them over, at this time they were proofed, I should have brushed them  with an egg white beaten with 1 tbs water added toppings, 5 sesame 1 poppy, now instead of further proofing as it said in the book, but i didn't , sometimes you gotta go with what you see, but I didn't? I let them rise again, but only 10 minutes, enough is enough.
Sprinkled  sesame seeds on the last roll,
They look good except the markings were not there, due to too much proofing and the oven spring, note the 'hand' shaped one held it distinctive shape albeit improperly shaped, they smelled great!
In keeping with the meaning of Ruler or King, I made a sandwich befitting one, ( IMO,anyway) on our fresh baked kaiser roll!
 Real mayo, red lettuce, sliced tomato, grilled ,brined, skinless boneless  chicken breast, Munster cheese, crisp steamed fresh asparagus, and crisp thick sliced bacon,  ( hey, it's for the King!!LOL) 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Home Made Pickled Garlic

I love garlic! The markets in NY sold a slender jar of pickled garlic made by a Calf garlic grower, it was not cheap, and didn't hold much garlic.You can pickle just about anything, and have made pickled veggies before, therefore why not make my own! For some reason , I never got around to doing it while we lived in NY. Our niece, her husband and 3 sons live here in NC also. Frank is a garlic lover as I,if there were anything I could make for him as a gift, pickled garlic would be it!
  First  I searched online for recipes and then tweaked them to my tastes.
 Pickling requires vinegar,salt all other ingredients are flavorings. The pickled garlic can be eaten as is, sliced in salads,as a snack, sliced in sandwiches, chopped added to a spread ,wherever you want that  flavor.
  The process ( for this recipe) is similar to fresh pack pickling, and hot water bath processing.There are 'no cook' ,so to speak, recipes out there to select from, as well as other recipes just search the Internet,  I can only offer what I have done, and have been happy with the end results. If you are not a fan of slightly sweet pickles, reduce or leave out the sugar, for an acidic pickle
 This is the recipe I used: 

2 & 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 tbs pickling salt , found in the caning supply area of your market
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar ,the less sugar, the more acidic the taste
Dried herbs of choice: rosemary, excellent with garlic, Italian blend seasoning, or individual dried herbs of preference, spices such as mustard seed, whole or cracked black peppercorns,dill seeds,dried Chile peppers, hot pepper flakes. As you can see the combinations are endless and you make them to your personal tastes, herbaceous or hot and spicy, or perhaps both!
 About 1 & 1/2 lbs ( about 6 large heads)  fresh garlic cloves peeled ( Here I cheated and bought a 5lb jar of peeled garlic)
 tip: separate cloves from bulb, blanch 30 seconds in boiling water, rinse under cold water, drain, to easily remove skins.
Have ready a caner pot  filled 2/3 with hot simmering water, about 5-6 , 8oz canning jars,lids and bands, (If desired you may use larger sizes of jars, be sure to increase the processing time twice the size,twice as long), which were washed in hot soapy water and rinsed well ,kept in another pot of hot water till needed. A towel placed  on counter next to burner with pot of garlic, for ease of filling jars.A clean damp towel for wiping jar top and threads,a dry towel to hold the hot filled jars and a thick towel placed in a draft free place to put the processed jars of garlic

1) combine vinegar,salt,sugar,and desired herbs and spices in a stainless steel pot. You may also add more herbs/ spices to each jar  to increase the flavor and as a decorative appearance. Dried chile's can be placed in individual jars or added to vinegar mix and picked out. Bring  mixture to a boil. boil 1 minute,add garlic cloves boil 3-5 minutes
2) using funnel and a ladle fill jars with garlic to 1/2 " of top and then fill with hot brine to 1/4" of top
3) wipe rim and threads of jars with clean damp towel to remove residue of brine
4) place a lid and screw on bands finger tight, place in caner filled  2/3 with simmering water 
5) continue till all jars are filled, process in gently boiling water , covered, 10 minutes, remove place on towel in draft free area  several inches apart to cool  over night.
 6) Check for seal by pressing down on lid, if it does not go up and down it is sealed, if not,reprocess or refridgerate, remove bands clean threads and bands with a clean damp towel, leave bands off or replace loosely, store in a cool dark place.
7) let the pickled garlic age for about a month, if you can't wait, I understand completely, the longer it ages the better the flavors will blend., keep in fridge after opening
I added some hot pepper flakes to the hot jar prior to adding the garlic, be creative add any spices you enjoy.
a small sprig of fresh rosemary
filling with brine to 1/4" of top rim
using plastic tool remove any air bubbles
filled to correct height garlic 1/2"  from rim, brine 1/4" of rim, clean rim and threads with clean damp towel
add clean hot lid
screw on band finger tight only
process 10 minutes in gently boiling hot water bath, water should be 2-3 " above jar tops
after 1 month chill if desired, open enjoy!

NOTE: I noticed some of the cloves had turned a greenish blue. I researched online the cause of garlic to turn color when in contact with an acid, and found it has to do with the sulphur compounds in the galic, it does not affect the flavor or quality. check here:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chicken In Stewed Tomatoes

Many years ago,more than I wish to recall, my wife Doris made this Creole chicken dish,using boneless chicken breasts and stewed tomatoes.I believe she found it in one of our cookbooks,it was a simple dish, season the breasts with a spice mixture of paprika, cayenne, marjoram, salt and pepper,saute till lightly browned, add tomatoes cover, cook.
Well , it was good,but of course we needed to adjust it to our own preferences of spice and herbs, etc.It has since evolved to a base for many other meats, like Italian sausage, pork chops or cutlets, chicken on the bone, or rolled  stuffed boneless chicken breasts.The simplicity of this dish starts with a can or two, of Del Monte Italian Style seasoned stewed tomatoes,  our preferred choice,which are already seasoned,and cooked, creating a quick tomato sauce base.
 With the addition of a large onion chopped, a couple of cloves of garlic, meat of choice and the stewed tomatoes ,you will have dinner in about an hour or so, if time is not a factor, the longer it cooks the better.
The basic steps are as follows: brown meat in a saute pan with a couple tbsps of olive oil, remove to a warm plate, discard all but 2 tbsps of oil in pan, add onions cook till soft, add minced garlic cook 1-2 minutes,but don't brown.Add meat back to pan, add the 1 - 2 cans of stewed tomatoes which have been pureed in a blender or processor .You may add any additional herbs of choice, like basil ,oregano, or spice it up with hot pepper etc, but be aware the tomatoes are already seasoned, so taste first, we usually add a tsp or so of sugar as the tomatoes  can be acidic at times.
My favorite is Italian sausage with rigatoni pasta, but we limit that, so it's usually chicken .
now that you have a basic concept, follow along as I prepare dinner:
.Brown chicken, here I used chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, which were brined ( see note below about brinning).I browned the thighs skin side down till very crisp, about  8 minutes, then cooked on the other side 8 minutes.Removed to a warm platter and then sauted onions in the oil,till soft, add minced garlic cook 1-2 minutes don't brown garlic or it will be bitter.
When the onions were soft and garlic added for a couple minutes, added 1 can of the pureed stewed tomatoes, stirred all together
Cover ,bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for a couple minutes
Add browned mostly cooked chicken to pan, cover and let simmer about 1 hour, longer is better.I started this early in the afternoon, as I was busy with other  holiday baking, it actually cooked on a low simmered  for 2 & 1/2 hours
Time to serve, on  'warmed' plates, place some chicken, add the al dente cooked rigatoni to the sauce in the pan and toss a  minute or so to coat the pasta. Then add to the plate , open the wine, toss the salad, slice the oven warmed  bread and enjoy !

Brinning is simply soaking a meat in a brine of salt ,sugar, water and if desired herbs and spices. The brinning process litteraly plumps the meat with moisture and if seasoned  adds flavor , it also denatures the protein,making it more tender.Basic brine is per gallon of water add 1/2 cup coarse salt ( or 1/4 cup table salt), 1/2 cup sugar, add any seasonings desired, think of the brine as a soup, more you add the greater the flavor. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, let cool completely before adding the meat ( chicken ,turkey, pork ) place in the fridge .
whole chicken  or bone in parts, 24 hours , boneless 1-2 hours, fillet of fish 1 hour. As you see, the smaller and boneless needs less time. after the brinning, rinse and dry before cooking, discard brine.
Of course a smaller quantity can be made using the same proportions of salt and sugar to water.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Bread

Easter, a time of rebirth, renewal, and sweet breads to remind us of the sweetness of life.
This is one of my favorite sweet breads, easy and so beautifull as a braid to have Easter morning, or to offer as a gift.
The ingredients are basic, except for the anise seeds, which are readily available at most markets.
let's begin:
3 beaten eggs, 1 cup warm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsps coarse salt ( or 1 tsp table salt),4 oz melted unsalted butter room temperature, 2 tbsps instant yeast ( rapid rise), 1 tbsp  fresh grated orange zest (peel),1 & 1/2 tsp crushed anise seeds, (use a motar and pestle to crush, coffee or spice grinder,or if you must,buy ground anise seed, it will not have the same rich flavor, but will do)
 In bowl of stand mixer,stir yeast into warm milk,add butter,eggs,orange peel,salt,crushed anise seeds
Stir in sugar
Weigh out 6 cups all purpose flour (27oz) , you might need a bit more or less
Usually you would add the flour as paddle is turning, but it will throw flour everywhere,so  hand mix the flour ( I held back 1 cup and then added as needed) till moistened, then  put bowl onto mixer and continue 
When dough comes together and is not sticky,attach dough hook and knead 6 minutes till smooth
After 6 minutes,I like to hand knead to be sure it is smooth and satiny
The recipe makes 2 loaves,I weighed the dough and then divided into 2 equal parts
Spray oiled the insides of 2 gallon zip bags and placed dough in to rise for 2 hours
After a 2 hour rise,  use one half, divide into 3 equail parts and roll into ropes about 30 " long, if the dough pulls back, cover it with plastic and let it relax 5 minutes, then braid, secure ends together, add 3-4 red dyed hard boiled eggs into braids,  line a baking tray with parchment , lightly coat with spray oil. Place braided ring onto tray.(Which I did not do, and added the eggs after the braid had risen for an hour,as it is in the photo.This deflated the braid slightly so I had to let it rise a bit more.)
After an hour ( plus the goof time) ready to bake, place in a preheated 350 degree oven, bake 30 minutes. Have a couple of tbsp melted butter ready when the bread comes out of the oven.You may also omit the  dyed eggs and serve as an every day bread. It can also be shaped into a boule, long braid, or  loaf. It makes excellent french toast.
Brush the bread with the unsalted melted butter , as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let cool completely on a rack. NOTE the loaf must be refridgerated due to the hard boiled eggs if not to be eaten within 3 hours, place in a large plastic bag or wrap with plastic.. Remove from fridge 1 hour before serving to warm to room temperature .This is delicious toasted!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Swedish Pancake Breakfast with Strawberry Compote

I had a little trouble sleeping soundly last night, finally got up about 8:45 ( hey it's Sunday!), the wife was  still sound asleep.While I was showering and planning breakfast, what you don't do that!, so ,I wanted something other than Sunday pancakes or waffles, already had my fill of English muffins.AH  HA, it came to me.. Swedish pancakes! I know I've got strawberries in the fridge,if they haven't spoiled by now, would be a great topping.Oh, I need to get a recipe! It's amazing how our lives have been transformed by the internet, in no time had several recipes, picked one and tweaked it a bit,ready to cook!
 Washed and cleaned the berries,cut off the leaves, sliced them in half ,threw them in a pot with a little sugar,covered them and let em cook, while I made the batter and put the sausage in a pan ( hey, I said it's Sunday).
 Swedish pancakes are very much a crepe, slightly sweet, some recipes use more eggs ,some less ,as it is a very personal preference I guess.
I have made many manicotti crepes and blintzes, Jewish crepes, this was no hassle to cook.
 So ,breakfast menu planned, I began:
The recipe:
1& 1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs room temperature ( place eggs in glass,let hot tap water run on them to warm)
3/4 cup ap flour sifted
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
 1 tsp vanilla
melted unsalted butter,  needed  about 6 oz for the 14 crepes 

 For the Strawberry Compote
 about 12 oz strawberries,washed hulled ,sliced in half,quarted if very large
 2 tbsp sugar
put all in small pot ,toss,cover cook over moderate heat, till as thick as you like,tasting ,adding sugar as desired,I did not add more.let cool  slightly,serve warm,reheat if needed

assembled ingredients,milk,eggs,sifted flour,salt,sugar,vanilla.had intened to use the electic griddle,but after pouring on two pancakes realized I had no controll over the shape,so switched to a 7" pan 
step one, beat eggs and milk
step two,gradually add flour beating in
step three,add salt ,then sugar,blend in
step four,add vanilla, mix in
step five, heat a pan, over medium heat, I used my 7" non-stick pan,coated it with some of the melted butter,wiping in on the pan with a paper towel.Using a 1/4 cup measure pour batter in pan ,tilting and swirling pan to coat evenly as possible.place back on heat and cook

 step six,  when edges look browned and top of batter looks dry( has lost that wet sheen) and is full of holes,using a heat proof spatula,lift and turn crepe

step seven, cook the other side about 30- 60 seconds, till slightly browned
step eight,when crepe is cooked,lift with heat proof spatula and place on a warmed plate,wipe out any crumbs with the buttered paper towel,and coat pan again lightly with the buttered towel
Step Nine,brush some melted butter on one side of crepe and roll up,placing on a warm plate
The most important step ten, placed rolled Swedish Pancakes on a warm serving plate,dust with powdered sugar and top with berry compote .In this case strawberries,blueberries,peaches anything you like may be used. They may also be spread with a filling before rolling, be creative and see what you can come up with! They are also a great dessert!
Did I mention they were delicious!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

BBA#14 Frech baguettes

This is the 14th recipe of the 2011 challenge of the BBA.I made this one and over baked the loaves ,I think I did not allow the stone to reach full temp before putting on the loaves.I couldn't get them up to 205 degrees,probably because I already baked out the moisture in them. They very crunchy! with a good 1/8" crust! The flavor was very good though over baked. 
I decided to try again,saving the first loaves for dry bread crumbs
Once more ,I forgot to fix the date after putting in new batteries, trying to get it off the picture altogether but have been unsuccessful...

Removed the pate ferment after it overnight stay in the fridge,allowed to warm for an hour,and it rose also
made the final dough, tacky not sticky
shaped into a boule and put in oiled bowl to proof for 2 hours
after 2 hours ,it's ready
shaped into baguettes
placed on a cornmeal dusted parchment atop an upside down 1/2 sheet pan covered with plastic,proofed for about an hour, scored the tops.
my first attempt I used my pizza peel which was a little too narrow and I deflated the loaf trying to place it on the stone.
 Therefore I tried the upside down sheet pan method as illustrated in the book,and it worked perfectly!
after steam pan and water spraying 3 times at 30 second  intervals, lowered oven to 450 and baked the baguettes 25 minutes.they were 205 degrees, cooled a bit by the time I took the photo
This is actually the crust and crumb of the first batch,as we sliced the new loaf to have with dinner.Unfortunately ,rather our good fortune,it was soo delicious we kept slicing ,buttering and eating,finishing the whole loaf ,before I realized I hadn't done a photo  of  the crumb . We knew if I cut another...no control whatso ever with fresh bread from the oven!!The second batch had the same rich flavor and crisp a crust ,I can say it's better than any we ever bought!