a baking catch-up

October 30, 2012 § 7 Comments

I missed both of October’s bake days for the Tuesdays with Dorie group baking its way through Greenspan’s Baking with Julia.  It’s not that I haven’t been baking, really I have! In fact, dozens of loaves in my Paonia baker, farmer and friend’s wood-fired oven. I wish I had one! That oven absolutely bakes the best bread I’ve ever had, pizza too! Hana agrees!

Baguettes are proofed on couche (the floured cloth). My favorite bake this day was the oversized sour dough white and whole wheat loaves.

We had pizza for lunch with chickpea socca (in the cast iron pan) for the gluten-free bakers. Even Hana got a personal-sized oatmeal loaf!

And although I didn’t get them done on the TWD schedule, here’s my not quick Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves and Bagels. They were both fun to make and turned out pretty well. I get the feeling the pumpkin bread will make another appearance on Thanksgiving when my kids join us. And bagels are one of my favorite breads. I made some tweaks to the recipe because I think bagels need to be dense and chewy and never have enough sesame seeds. These were easy enough to make with the overnight rise, shaping chilled dough and immediately boiling and baking, so I hope to bake and not buy bagels from now on.

For the pumpkin bread start by roasting a pie pumpkin. I used a variety called Winter Luxury and got enough punkin’ purée for bread and a pie down the road.

I melted the butter to combine it with the pumpkin and sugar, rather than creaming it. Here’s the finished dough.

Instead of making three little pan loaves, I rolled out three strands of dough to braid. Here’s the braid before and after proofing.

The egg wash gives the bread a very dark crust. This particular pumpkin wasn’t very sweet, so next time I’ll be sure to adjust the sugar. Pretty slices though!

Onto the bagels. I substituted a 1/2 cup of rye and 1 cup of whole wheat for some of the all purpose flour, and added a little vital wheat gluten for some extra chew. I left out the shortening in the recipe as well. After an overnight rise in the refrigerator bagels were shaped from the still chilly dough and almost immediately went for a swim in the hot tub.

A brief drain on a rack, then the still wet and now poofy bagel gets lots of seeds on BOTH sides (I like sesame seeds).

Onto the sheet pan, into a hot oven for about a half hour. I barely let them cool.

Yum! Warm seedy buttery jammy homemade bagel. Wow!


party food

October 5, 2012 § 3 Comments

I just spent ten days in Colorado’s North Fork Valley on farms, vineyards and orchards. When I wasn’t out in the fields, I was in the kitchen cooking for a couple of farm dinners or baking bread at an outdoor wood-fired oven. It was a wonderful way to end the summer, feeling pretty healthy again, enjoying the outdoors and sharing good food and wine with my western slope friends. Cause to celebrate!

This iPhone photo doesn’t begin to show how beautiful parts of the drive back to Boulder was. Fall colors this year are earlier and more vibrant oddly due to this year’s drought.

This week’s FFwD recipe is hummus, the Middle Eastern rich garlicky lemony chickpea purée I tend to associate with a Greek luncheon plate, vegan sandwich spread or better yet, a party dip with vegetable crudité or pita crisps. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe provided the structure for my version using what was currently in the pantry and refrigerator, which did not include chickpeas or tahini. It was a delicious spread that we enjoyed as part of last night’s party ah, Mediterranean meal.

I had some beautiful heirloom beans called Snowcap. I pressure cooked them a few nights ago for some chili, but saved some for the hummus recipe. Give these beans plenty of time to cook, even under pressure; they get BIG.

Last night I reheated the beans as they still needed more cooking time. I toasted whole cumin seeds until fragrant and then ground them to add to the hummus. To the base mixture I added a handful of parsley from the garden, and some slow-roasted cherry tomatoes I had saved in olive oil from the refrigerator. Since I don’t keep tahini on hand, I used the last of a jar of homemade hazelnut butter.

Hummus takes center stage on a plate of fresh mozzarella with garden tomatoes and basil in a salad caprese. I had forgotten how tasty it can be singing of garlic, herbs and lemon, since many times store and café versions tend to be bland and dry.

There was a recipe for sweet and spicy cocktail nuts (December 2010) on the page opposite the hummus recipe in Around my French Table. They’re not too hot, so party animal Hana gets to enjoy a couple too.

conquering the cardoon

September 28, 2012 § 6 Comments

Cardoon ~ you can see that this edible plant is also an exotic ornamental!

Believe it or not, this is Friday’s FFwD posting for a vegetable side dish of Endive, Apples and Grapes with locally grown cardoon (still growing above) standing in for not locally grown endive. For those of you unfamiliar with cardoon (and until a few days ago I was a member of that group) they are related to artichoke, both in flavor and appearance. The main difference is that you eat the stem of the cardoon instead of the thistle flower bud of the artichoke. They are handled similarly in preparation and cooking, although there’s considerably more effort in cardoon preparation but justifiably more reward in the yield. Here’s a slideshow preview from Saveur on the process.

Start with one cardoon plant straight from the field. Remove the stalks as you would celery, but watch out for the prickles or wear gloves. Gloves will also prevent your fingers from being stained, but I found them too clumsy to wear, so I still have very brown fingertips three days later. You need to work with the stalks one at a time all the way through the following preparation to prevent them from turning brown before cooking. Of course this makes a lengthy preparation take even longer, but I remind you here, the rewards are great (if you are an artichoke lover)!

Use a knife to remove any remaining leaves and the prickles on either side of the stalk. Here is the cardoon stem “de-fanged”.

Use a paring knife or peeler (or both) to remove the strings and skin from the outside of the stem (the peeler is safer, but the strings tend to clog it up). Flip the cardoon over and carefully pull the thin white film off the inside of the stem. Rinse the stem under water often to keep it from browning (oxidizing) while you are preparing it.

Here’s what the outer skin and strings look like (I pulled most of the strings out with the paring knife and then cleaned it up with the peeler), and here’s what the white film from the inside of the stalk looks like.

The cleaned stalks go immediately into some acidulated water (water with vinegar or lemon juice added). Once you have a potful, place them into a pot of clean water with lemon juice and salt and parboil them for several minutes, depending on the desired doneness and whether they’ll undergo further cooking.

Finishing the dish is quick and easy. Slice the cardoons crosswise no larger than 1/2″ (makes them easier to chew as they can still be fibrous) and sauté in a little butter or olive oil (or both) with a sprig or two of rosemary. While that’s cooking, slice apples (I like skin on) 1/4″ thick and add to the pan. Occasionally stir or toss for even cooking, but it’s nice to get some caramelization on the edges of the vegetable and fruit. Finally toss in some whole grapes and cook until they start to release their juice. I really reduced the cooking time for this dish to get a much fresher result; I was also running out of time because cardoon preparation took so long. But I and the guests were very pleased with the result! All of the ingredients came from my friends’ Max and Wink’s orchard, vineyard and garden, and the dish was part of a celebratory wine grape harvest dinner at their winery.

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