Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Chai

chai spices
Ingredients:

1/2″ peeled ginger root (do not use powdered ginger)
6 green cardamom pods
1 tsp Peppercorns
14-16 cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
3/4 tsp nutmeg (1/2 tsp if using freshly grated)
2 Tbl black tea
3-4 Tbl sugar
4 cups water
2 cups milk (You could use soy milk)
1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Slightly crush cardamom pods and peppercorn with a mortar and pestle. (You could use a small bowl and the back of a metal spoon.) Cut ginger root into smaller than pea sized pieces.

Get water up to a boil and add ginger, cardamom, peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let steep 5 minutes.

Without turning the heat back on add the tea and steep for 5 minutes. After five minutes strain out particulates using a colander lined with cheesecloth or a strainer and coffee filter. Strain it into a pitcher or even your coffee pot. I have a permanent mesh filter that came with my coffee pot and that works great for straining this. You want to try and make sure that you get all the little grains, otherwise your chai will have a dirt feel when you are drinking it.

Pour your spiced water back into your pot, add the milk and sugar, and get the mixture hot again. You really only need to get it hot enough for your drinking preference. When your mixture is to your desired temperature add the vanilla and serve.   If you are going to be refrigerating your chai you don’t need to reheat it with the milk.  However, make sure that the sugar is dissolved. 

This will keep well in your refrigerator for a while.

If you don’t like spicy drinks this should be okay. The amounts listed will give it a bit of heat but not enough to cause pain. It is a very pleasant warmth. Also, you could make it without the cardamom and ginger, but the flavor wouldn’t be as interesting.

I guarantee, once you drink homemade chai you will have a hard time going to back to Starbucks or liquid chai in a box. Gross.

Aside:
A huge pet peeve of mine is when people say chai tea.  Why?  Chai means tea.  It means tea in several languages.  So, when you say chai tea you are really saying tea tea.

Recipes and explanations are soon to follow.  I will explain how to make pitas, falafel, and tzatziki sauce.  Everything you need to have a falafel night at your house. 

Falafel with tzatziki

sourdough baguette

A good sourdough starter is like gold.  I have tried in years past to make a sourdough starter but have failed miserably.  They always had that layer of hooch on the top and it smelled like rotting.  I tried to dump the hooch off but my starter was completely flat.  A few months ago I turned to my guru for advice: Peter Reinhart.  In his book Crust and Crumb he gives steps to make a starter using pineapple juice in the first few days of “trapping.”  This has worked for me and we have been enjoying the results ever since.  Merlin is a great little starter.  I keep my starter in the fridge and I feed it every two weeks when I am not using it.  Also, my starter is a 1×1 ratio of flour to water, by weight.  A more solid starter works but this wet one seems to produce superior results. 

I took the 3-2-1 method of sourdough and tweeked it a bit for my baguettes.  The dough is fairly wet but after its ferment in the fridge it will become more workable.  Also, if you sprinkly a little bit of flour on your work-space for the first shaping you will notice that it is much easier to manipulate.  You don’t want baguette dough to be stiff.  You want it to be fairly tacky so that it will stick together for both shapings.  

I have tried many methods for shaping baguettes.  The one that works everytime and produces consistent results is from Mark Sinclair

sourdough baguette

Baguette recipe: by weight

150 grams Starter
250 grams Water
420 grams Flour
8 grams Salt–I almost always use Kosher coarse grain

This will produce two 12″ baguettes. 

Baker’s Percent

100% Flour
59.5% Water
35.7% Starter
1.9% Salt

66% hyrdration

Mix until dough comes together.  Kneed for 3 min with KA on setting 2.  Place dough in lightly oiled container, roll around so that the whole dough ball is covered, and then refridgerate for 24-36 hours.  When you are ready to bake take dough out of fridge and let sit for 1 hour in order to take the chill off.  Shape according to Mark Sinclair method.  Preheat oven to 500F at the start of your shaping and have a pan or cast iron skillet on your oven flour. 

Right before baking score the top of your dough and pour 1/2 cup water into whatever pan is sitting on your oven flour.  Close the oven dough and wait 2 min.  Put your baguettes into the oven, mist the top of them with water, and bake for 2 min.  Mist the top again and bake for 2 min.  Mist the top for the third time and bake for 2 min.  Mist the top for the fourth time and bake for 20 min at 450F.   All of this misting allows your baguettes to rise without ripping the crust.  You want to keep your crust moist for the first half of baking so that it can expand and not split. 

Let your baguettes cool for at least an hour before cutting.  Sourdough breads have a longer shelf life than most breads.  Sourdough breads get better the longer you let them sit uncut.  These loaves still had a crisp crust and soft crumb on day two. 

Good luck with your sourdough.  Wild yeast breads require 50% skill and experience, 30% hope, and 20% magic.    

sourdough with brie and tomato

Champignon: German Brie with Mushrooms

 

Noodles

pasta noodles

Yesterday I sprained my knee trying to break up a potential fight.  Long story.  So, that leaves me with a few days at home.  I got really bored since I finished watching season 2 of Torchwood and got caught up with LOST, and I decided that I would start making dinner at 2pm.  Yup.  Bored.  I have never stayed home from work before without being sick so this injured concept is hard to grasp. 

Tonight we are having something with noodles.  I could make noodles while leaning on my worktable and making noodles is very relaxing.  The hum of the KitchenAid doing all the hard work and the soft feel of the leathery noodle sheets makes my mouth water.  It also helps that I have some good Pecorino Romano. 

Anyways.  Here is my noodle recipe.  I have tried many others, like Ratio’s recipe, and this is the one that works every time for me. 

1.5 cups Semolina flour
.5 cups All purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 Tbl water
1 Tbl olive oil (optional) 

In my noodles today I added two cloves of crushed garlic.  I only add things to my noodles when I am using a simple sauce.  If I am making a marinara I don’t bother flavoring my noodles. 

pasta noodle

I use a KitchenAid for this whole process because it makes my life better.  I am glad that Italian grandmothers made their noodles by hand, but I live in an era of electricity and convenience.  If you want to make it by hand just scoop your flour into a bowl, create a well in the middle, crack your eggs into the well, and add water when necessary.  Mix by hand or use a spoon.  Your dough shouldn’t be sticky but you don’t want it dry either.  After a few times of making noodles you will get a feel for what the consistency should be.  Once all of your ingredients have been mixed kneed by hand for a few minutes until the dough becomes smooth.  In a KA throw all of your ingredients in together, put on the paddle attachment, and mix until your dough looks like a bowl of pea sized balls.  Squish your dough together with your hands and kneed for a few minutes until dough becomes smooth.  No matter what method you choose you should let your dough rest for 10-20 minutes in a covered bowl or in a ziploc bag.  Resting allows gluten to form and the flour to hydrate. 

Once you have let your noodle dough rest you can begin to shape it.  This really depends on what you want to do with your dough.  You could use this dough to make spaghetti noodles or you could even take the time to make hand-made cavatelli.  This part is really up to you. 

Home-made noodles cook much faster than dried box noodles.  My rule of thumb is 2 minutes in boiling water.  This hasn’t failed me yet.  To cook the above recipe get 2-3 quarts of water to a boil and mix in 1/3 cup kosher salt.  This seems like a lot of salt, and it is, but this is the one part that you can’t escape.  The grandmas have you here.  If you are using your noodle water in a recipe you might want to skip the salt.  If you are using marinara sauce or some very flavorful sauce on your noodles add the salt. 

In my pictures you will see that I have my noodles on a drying rack.  This isn’t a necessary step.  Most times I start making noodles and getting water to a boil at the same time.  Once you have your dough ready it only takes a couple of minutes to go from dough to noodle.  One trick that I have learned is to let your noodle sheets dry out for a few minutes before cutting them.  If you let the sheets dry out for 10 minutes in the open air they won’t stick together and make noodle clumps.  I put my noodles on the drying rack today because I made noodles at 2pm for a 6pm dinner.  Again, I was bored.

I’m not going to say what dish I used my noodles in, because I want to save that for a different post.  For now, just sit in suspense.

Seitan Bacon

seitan bacon

I’m back!  In my About Me section you will read that I am a teacher.  Well, we were winding down the semester and I have been wicked busy so I haven’t been able to post.  But, I’m back. 

Last night I searched the internet in an effort to find a seitan bacon recipe.  I don’t really miss meat, it’s been seven years, but there are times that I feel nostaligic for things like pepperoni and bacon.  The great thing with those products is that you are tasting the spices rather than the actual meat.  So, it is fairly easy to mimic them.  I found a seitan bacon recipe on the Vegan Cooking Club blog.  I decided to try it out and, well, it worked.

In order to make this recipe “look” like bacon you will need to make two separate seitan doughs. 

Red Dough:

1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 cup Soy Flour
2 Tbl Nut. Yeast
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper

2/3 cup warm water
3 Tbl soy sauce
3 Tbl maple syrup
1 Tbl tomato paste
1 tsp Liquid Smoke

White Dough:

1/2 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 Tbl Soy Flour
1 Tbl Nut. Yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup warm water
3 tsp canola oil

seitan bacon

Break the red dough into 4 pieces and the white dough into 3-4 pieces. Flatten each piece and layer alternating colors. This is your time to be creative. Once you have a big block of dough lay it on an oiled cutting board. Place another cutting board/saran wrap on top. Press your dough for at least 30 minutes.

After your dough has been pressed bake at 300F for 45 minutes. Your seitan will be a bit undercooked but this is what you want. It makes it easier to slice and it will pan-fry better.

seitan bacon

Beet Bread

beet bread

On Sunday I decided that I would make a beet bread.  Don’t ask why this craving hit me but I wanted bread that looked like and tasted like a beet.  My result was a modification of The Knead for Bread’s recipe.  Also, I have converted the recipe into metric measurements and baker’s percents.  Enjoy. 

Poolish:

1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup Bread Flour
1 cup water

Allow poolish to sit out overnight.  The small amount of yeast will create a great flavor for tomorrow’s recipe.

Beet Puree:

about 1/2 pound beets
1/2 cup water

Roast beets for 1-1.5 hours at 350F.  Roast beets in a small baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.  Beets should be tender to fork touch.  Cut roasted beets into cubes, I left the skins on mine, and blend with the remaining water in your pan. 

Final dough:

All of poolish
1 cup beet puree
2 3/4 Bread Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp yeast
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients and allow for 15 min autolyse.  Knead for 4 minutes or until dough passes windowpane test.  Let double in a lightly oiled bowl.  Once doubled take out and shape.  I shaped mine into boules but you could use this in a loaf pan.  I would have liked to place this in my banneton but I was afraid it would leave residual pink that would stain future doughs.  Let your dough proof until doubled.  Score the top and bake.

Bake at 400F for 30-35 min. 

My dough had enormous oven-spring that I wasn’t prepared for.  Next time I will allow it to proof for a little longer.  I got anxious to put my boules in the oven.   

Beet bread

Metric measurements and baker’s percents

Poolish:

209g water
209g Bread Flour (I used King Arthur)
0.7g DIY

Final Dough:

All of poolish
234g Beet puree
475g Bread Flour
80g Whole Wheat flour
100g water
3.5g DIY
10g salt

100% Flour
40% Water
0.5% Yeast
1.3% Salt
31% Beet Puree

It seems that this dough would be underhydrated but you need to remember that there is water retained in the beets.  This percentage does not take into account the 1/2 cup that was added to the beets while they were roasting.  1/2 cup is around 50 grams and would raise the percentage to 46%.  This dough worked for me but  you may need to adjust the hydration level according to the flour that you are using and how “juicy” your beets are.

beet bread

Beet bread sandwich: fried egg, smoked gouda, raw spinach

Sun-dried parmesan bread

This was my kitchen sink recipe.  I accidentally made too much baguette dough so I decided to throw some of it in my banneton with a few added extras.  I had sun-dried tomatoes around and I had recently ground up some parmesan.  So, I thought, why not mix it into my extra dough.  Before putting it into the oven I spritzed it with water and gave it a sprinkling of cracked pepper.  Out of all the breads I have made this one actually made my mouth water when it was baking.  The smell was incredible.  Here is how I made it. 

Follow my poolish recipe for the dough.  I made 900 grams of dough for this recipe.

After the second rise lightly flatten out the dough into a square that is roughly 12″x12″.  On one half of it sprinkle 1/4 cup ground parmesan cheese and then, on top of that, gently press in 1 cup of chopped sun-dried tomtatoes.  Leave 1/2 inch of dough around the edges so that you can seal it back up again.  Fold the empty side over the top of the tomatoes and press down on the edges to seal.  Flatten the dough slightly and business fold it into thirds (like you are mailing a business letter).  Let your dough rest for 5 min and business fold again.  I folded mine three times. 

At this point you should have a few layers of tomato and you will want to shape your dough into a boule.  You don’t need a banneton for this because all of the folding and shaping has made your dough fairly tough and it will stand on its own.  However, let your boule rise for an hour, until doubled, before baking. 

Pre-heat the oven to 500F while your dough is rising.

Right before baking spritz your boule with water and top with pepper.  You need the pepper.  Trust me. 

Spray the walls of your oven with water and bake for 2 minutes.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Turn the heat down to 425

Bake again for 30 min at 425. 

Check the temp of your bread after 30 min.  If the internal temperature isn’t over 195 it isn’t done.  The optimal temp is between 195 and 205. 

sun-dried parmesan bread

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.