9.30.2009

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Finally fresh walnuts have arrived at the green market. I got me a small bag full and went home to try this (long since bookmarked) recipe. The walnut sauce was yummy if a bit filling. Next time I would leave out the garlic as it quite dominated the flavour. I strongly recommend using a food processor. As I don't have one, I did the grinding by hand in a mortar. This takes some time and doesn't yield a uniform grain size.

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Source: Outstanding In The Field by Jim Denevan

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh shelled walnuts (from about 7 ounces in the shell)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups cubed crustless fresh bread (2 ounces)
about 1/3 cup vegetable or chicken stock
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 clove garlic, pounded with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle (optional)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried pasta, such as spaghetti or penne
parmesan cheese

Method:

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the walnuts. Cook for about 30 seconds, until the skins start to loosen. Drain and pick off as much skin as possible with your fingers, tweezers or a pin. (This can be done one day in advance.)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, pour the milk over the bread and set aside. Transfer the walnuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they resemble fine bread crumbs. Add the soaked bread and the milk and continue processing. Add the stock until the mixture loosens and looks like a thin hummus. (You may not need to add all of the stock.) Slowly add 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a steady stream. Bledn in the nutmeg, the garlic,if using and salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the pasta, drain, thereby reserving some of the cooking water. In a large bowl, toss pasta with sauce and add cooking water as necessary. Serve immediately.

9.27.2009

Daring Baker September Challenge

Vol-au-vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

The challenge involved making your own puff pastry, use it to make tartelets and come up with a filling of your choice. The laminated dough was easy to make and turn. All it needs is some time to chill.
This month I tried to be clever and made the challenge early. As I didn't have round cookie cutters, I tried to build a rectangular vol-au-vent. Unfortunately, during baking the sides didn't stay in place and it ended with a "log cabin built by city slickers" look. But hey, no sweat. There's still lots of time to go and get some round cutters and make some cut-with-a-compass vol-au-vent, right? Or so I thought. As the month wore on, I managed to get some round cutters but in the end I didn't get around to give the challenge another go. There are still 2/3 of the puff pastry batch sitting in the freezer and with apple season getting into gear, that's a great prospect. ;)

For the filling I fried some shallots and mushrooms, finished off with cream, the remains of the egg wash and some salt and pepper.



A collection of sky-high puff pastry creations can be found at the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

9.23.2009

Wakame (Seaweed) Bread

Wakame Bread

As there is no BreadBakingDay this month and it's still some time until the Bread Baking Babes will announce their next Buddy invitation, I leafed through some bread recipes to try something new on the weekend. After some head-scratching I chose a seaweed bread, which according to Bertinet is made with some local seaweed in Brittany in northern France. He also suggests to substitute the fresh seaweed with wakame. Dried wakame is quite easily available in most asian food stores.
Preparing and baking this bread worked like a charm. It came out of the oven smelling lovely, sounding hollow and looking good. Expectations began to rise. Because I had prepared something from my must-try-this list for supper, I just left the bread to cool and took some slices to work the next day for coffee break. And here's the catch, after taking two or three bites (and one or two increasingly smaller bites for confirmation) I really didn't like the taste of the bread. Somehow the (for want of a better word) salty/sea/fish taste of the wakame does not go well with bread, but maybe that's just me. :) Can't really say why, as I've had wakame before, if only in the complementary miso soup in sushi restaurants.
The bread itself has a nice crust and rustic-looking middle- to big-sized pores. I can imagine this would taste great after substituting the wakame with some flat-leaf parsley and then eaten with some white cheese and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.



Wakame (Seaweed) Bread

Source: Dough by Richard Bertinet

Ingredients:

250 g wheat flour (type 550)
250 g wholemeal wheat flour
10 g fresh yeast
10 g salt
340 g water
10 g dried wakame (seaweed), yields about 50 g after soaking

Method:

Soak the wakame according to package instructions. Preheat oven to 250 °C.
Mix the two flours and crumble in the yeast. Add the salt and water, knead till the dough comes together. Add the wakame and knead briefly until they are evenly distributed. Pat the dough into a ball, place into a lightly floured bowl, cover and leave for about 1 hour.

Transfer dough to your work surface, deflate and again form a ball. Return dough to bowl for another 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to your work surface and form a loaf. Place loaf on a heavily floured kitchen towel, seam-side up, and let rise for 1 hour.

Turn the loaf onto a baking paddle (seam-side down). Using a sharp knife, cut the loaf alternatingly three times diagonally from the middle to the left and three times from the middle to the right, forming a leaf-like pattern. Sprinkle the oven with water and place loaf on a hot baking stone or baking tray.Bake for 45 minutes until nicely brown. The bread should sound hollow, when knocked on from below. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

9.22.2009

Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream

Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream

Sometime ago, I read a post about black pepper ice cream at the sassy radish, which reminded me that I'd earmarked a similar recipe in A Homemade Life. This yields a nice variation of the classic of classics ice cream. When adding the pepper to taste, aim at overdoing it as the pepper taste gets less pronounced after chilling.



Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream

Source: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract *
1 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper, or more to taste

* Substituted with a vanilla bean. The bean gets scraped and is infused in the milk until churning.

Method:

In a heavy medium saupepan, combine the milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar and salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and steaming; it should be just barely too hot to touch. Do not boil.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining cream into a large bowl. Set a mesh strainer across the top. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Prepare an ice bath, using a bowl which can accommodate the one with the yolks. When the milk mixture is hot, remove it from the heat. Let it sit for about 30 seconds, then gradually, slowly pour about half of it into the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan slowly and constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens slightly, just enough to very lightly coat the spatula. If you draw a line up the spatula with the tip of your finger, the custard on either side should not run back together. Immediately pour the custard through the strainer, and stir well to combine with the cream. Place the bowl carefully in the ice bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Chill custard completely, preferrably overnight. Before churning, add the vanilla and the pepper. Adjust the amount of pepper to taste. Churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to the freezer for about 2 hours for final firming up.

9.16.2009

Washoku Warriors - Miso Month

Fall Fruits With Flavored Miso Sauce


This month's Challenge for the Washoku Warriors consisted of an array of miso-based sauces to choose from, an optional fish dish and finally some desserts (again, as a choice) featuring summery or autumnal fruits.
I went for citrusy miso (replacing yuzu with lemon) and pungent red miso sauce. (The citrusy miso is the light part ying/yang sign blotch in the picture above, the red miso the dark part ying/yang sign blotch.)
Both miso sauces are very easy to prepare. They are arranged with thinly sliced apples and plums as a fall fruit dessert. I liked the lemon/apple combination, while the plum and red miso sauce turned out a bit too salty. Probably I didn't let it cool down enough before adjusting the taste.

I skipped the fish (miso-marinated broiled fish) for the time being but plan on making it some time in the coming weeks. Fresh fish is not easy to get here. There is a fishmonger in a town nearby but this requires a special trip on Saturday morning.

Another dessert (which I didn't make) of this month was poached peaches in lemon-ginger miso sauce. To prepare this you need an otoshi-buta (dropped lid), which is a lid slightly smaller than the diameter of your pot thus resting directly on the food. I hadn't heard about this before and thought it would be a fancy Japanese technique. So I was very surprised when I saw a food programme where a chef made a braised rabbit dish, covering it with a disk of heavy aluminium foil fitting just inside the pot. He went on to explain that this is a classic French cooking method called a cartouche. Great things get invented multiple times. :)

Finally, Rachel proposed a little extra challenge and asked us to get creative with our pictures.
A little while ago, Marc from no recipes posted an interview with chef Nishihara of Kajitsu restaurant in New York. When asked about advice for understanding Japanese cooking, chef Nishihara summed it up with: "If adding doesn’t work, take away.". To keep with that spirit, I produced a black/white version.
Update: Rachel posted a poll to determine the most creative entry. Please head over and choose your favourite. :)

9.13.2009

No recipe

Sorry, no recipe post today. Just some pictures from an artisanal farmers market and a walk in the park.





9.08.2009

Brown Bread Ice Cream

Brown Bread Ice Cream


The Russian bread from the last post uses some old bread in the dough so you could always go on from dough to bread to dough to bread and so on. Or you could add one more link to this little food chain and go from dough to bread to ..(wait for it).. ice cream.
This is basically vanila ice cream with some caramelized croutons. The croutons which were rock hard at first will soften up after a short time. Even if some should be burned, the bitterness will go well together with the sweet vanilla. Fennel and caraway added an adventurous element to the taste of the ice cream. Not unpleasant, but next time "normal" wholemeal bread will do.


Brown Bread Ice Cream

Source: Bread (River Cottage Handbook No.3) by Daniel Stevens

Ingredients:

Makes about 600 ml

100 g fresh or one- or two-day-old wholemeal bread
100g soft light brown sugar or demerara
250 ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod
6 medium free-range eggs
125 g caster sugar
250 ml double cream

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Tear the bread into smallish pieces, toss with brown sugar and scatter on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until quite dark and caramelised. Leave to cool on the tray. *

Meanwhile, pour the milk in a heavy-based pot. Split the vanilla bean lengthways, scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon and add them to the milk together with the empty pod. Slowly bring just to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, briefly whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar, then slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Tip in the vanilla pod too. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir constantlywith a wooden spoon o silicone spatula for about 5 minutes until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon; do not let it overheat or it may curdle.

As soon as it is ready, pour the custard into a cold bowl, cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming, and leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes.

Remove the vanilla pod, stir in the cream and churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is thickened and almost ready but still a little soft, crumble in the toasted bread and churn until frozen. **

* I put the bread into a pyrex casserole for more convenient cleaning. Maybe stir the bread crumbs once or twice to avoid burning the top layer. Also, if you're an adept from the David Lebovitz dojo of ice cream making, and prefer to chill your custard overnight, this whole step can wait until the second day.

** When I tried this, the caramelized bread cubes jammed the paddle of my ice cream maker.
I'd suggest you either fold in the cubes just before putting the ice cream in the freezer for final firming up, or blitz the cubes in a stand mixer to create caramel bread crumbs.

9.06.2009

Russian Black Bread

Russian Black Bread

This month the Bread Baking Babes are meeting in Görels' kitchen. She has combined two recipes to create a Russian bread with a rustic feel and flavour, which will (luckily) leave you on your own if you need to drive a nail into the wall.
The fun starts with setting up the soaker on the evening before baking. The combination of caraway, fennel and shallots smells so delicious, you will want to tuck in right away. (I must remember to use caraway and fennel in some soups this autumn.) The bread itself is a real winner and can be eaten just as is.

I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.


Russian Black Bread

Ingredients:

Sourdough

300 g (10.6 oz) medium rye flour
350 ml (1.5 cup) water
2 Tbsp active sourdough culture*

Soaker

100 g (3.5 oz) old bread, toasted
15 g (0.5 oz) coffee, ground
25 g (0.9 oz) vegetable oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) molasses
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp minced shallots
400 ml (1-2/3 cup) Water, hot

Final Dough

300 g (10.6 oz) medium rye flour
400 g (14.1 oz) high gluten bread flour
20 g (appr. 1 Tbsp) salt

Yeast:
Fresh: 15 g (0.5 oz) or
Instant dry: 1.5 tsp
Soaker: All of the above
Sourdough: All of the above

* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0.5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.

Method:

Sourdough

Mix the ingredients to the sourdough, cover the container with plastic and leave for 12–14 hours at room temperature.

Soaker

Toast the old bread in a toaster or in the oven. The bread should be browned, but absolutely not blackened. Dice the bread or just tear it in pieces and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of the soaker ingredients except the water. Heat the water to near boiling and pour over the soaker ingredients. Cover and leave for the same duration as the sourdough.

Final dough

Mix the two flours in a separate bowl.
If using fresh yeast: Take a small amount of the soaker liquid and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the yeast mixture OR the instant dry yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt to a mixing bowl.
Add half of the flour mixture and work the dough by hand or in machine. Continue to add about 100 ml or ½ cup of the flour mixture at a time and work until the flour is completely absorbed before you add the next round. The dough shall be firm but still quite sticky. You might not use all the flour, or you might need to add more flour, all depending on the flour used.
Place the dough in an oiled container, cover with plastic and leave for 2–3 hours or until doubled in size.

Shaping and proofing

Drizzle some rye flour on the table top and place the dough on top. If the dough is very sticky, pour just enough rye flour on top of it to make it possible to handle.

Divide the dough in two and shape the parts into oblong loaves. (I placed them on parchment paper to make it possible to just slide the loaves into the oven.) Stretch the surface using both hands to get a tight loaf. Use more rye if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 60 minutes. Don’t over-proof! (Fire up the oven after 30 minutes to have it ready.)

Baking

Place an empty metal container in the bottom of the oven. Put in your baking stone or an empty baking sheet. Heat the oven to 225 °C/435 °F. Put 3–4 ice cubes in the metal container. Move the loaves to the hot stone or sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Open the oven door to vent out some moist. At the same time, lower the temp. to 200 °C/400 °F. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped underneath, or when the inner temperature has reached appr. 97 °C/207 °F. Place on a wire rack to cool.

9.03.2009

Swabian Apple Cake

Swabian Apple Cake
(slightly blurry, because taken with 1/10 s exposure
before my first cup of coffee in the morning)

Today just a quick 'n' easy apple cake, which I brought to the office earlier this week. The cake turned out nicely fluffy and not overly sweet. Nobody seemed to mind that I accidentally tripled the amount of rum (think ketchup bottle accident). ;)

The source of this recipe "
Ich helf dir kochen" by Hedwig Maria Stuber is one of two cookbooks (the other being "Dr. Oetker Schulkochbuch") which enjoy a wide circulation in Germany. They contain the full spectrum of no-frills everyday dishes from clear chicken soup to roasts, veggies, desserts, cakes and christmas cookies. As my mother learned to cook under the tutelage of Dr. Oetker, of course I had to buy the other one. :)


Swabian Apple Cake

Source: Ich helf dir kochen by Hedwig Maria Stuber

Ingredients:

Doug:

125 g soft butter
125 g sugar
3 eggs
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp rum (optional)
150 g flour
50 g cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
couple of Tbsp milk

Topping:

750 g tart apples
30 g almond slivers *
3 Tbsp apricot jam **

* I used some grated coconut.
** Omitted.

Method:

Grease and flour a 26 cm springform pan. Preheat oven to 190°C.

Whisk the butter with sugar and eggs until foamy. Add salt and rum if using. Sieve together flour, cornstarch and baking powder and mix in with a wooden spoon. Add enough milk so that the dough will easily fall from the spoon. Transfer dough to springform and smooth out.

Peel and core the apples, then cut in half. Slice the outer side of each half several times and place onto the dough. When finished, sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for about 45 minutes. Let cool and remove springform rim. Warm the almond jam, pass it through a sieve and brush onto the cake.