Le Pain Tordu

Well it’s the Bread Baking Babes again getting me to try a new bread. I attempted their chickpea flour sourdough bread last month to limited success until I added yeast. During discussion on Facebook I was encouraged to try full on sourdough bread again. Results were not great. But, I had a starter going. And I it so happened that late this week I was feeding it daily. So when this month’s bread was posted, I read about few things that made it attractive. First, you could ignore the long fridge rise. Second, it was an easy dough to work with. Third, that it was sourdough, but with a bit of yeast too which helps guarantee a better outcome. For me at least.

Pain Tordu

So I plunged ahead. Tordu means twisted. These loaves are formed and twisted before baking. There was talk of couches too, which means I could use my cheat method of lining my batard pan with parchment. See picture to the right. This works well with soft/wet doughs.

I found that yes, the dough was easy to work with and fairly quick to make for something in the sourdough realm. I couldn’t figure out the twist so I braided the first one. Then I remembered there was a video that Kelly posted. So, the second on, on the right, was twisted.

I’ve taken multiple recipes and techniques and mixed them together. Using a much hotter bake from Kelly than the recipe originally said.

Braided on the left. Twisted on the right. Both pretty, but the braided looks better and frankly was easier.
It has a nice crumb and flavor. However, the crust is a bit chewy. I probably would bake it even darker next time. I’m sure it will crisp up when I warm it up for dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain Tordu
500 grams strong white bread flour
300 milliliters water (approximately)
3 grams instant yeast
10 grams salt
125 grams sourdough starter

Mix the flour, water and yeast for 5 minutes on low speed; this helps to obtain the right texture ‘when you need more flour you add a little. This is called contre-frasage, or ‘counter-mixing’.

Knead for 15 minutes: Add the levain and once incorporated knead for another 10 minutes at medium speed, adding the salt 5 minutes before the end. The dough should be at 73°F.

Leave to rise for 45 minutes to an hour: The dough is always left to rise in the mixing bowl. The time varies according to the temperature in the room.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll the pieces of dough into balls. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, you shape it. You take a round ball and fold it over to make it a long shape; you flour it, and with a wooden rolling pin you separate it into tow long rolls. You turn it over, flour it again, and press down with the rolling pin to separate the two rolls well. Then you turn the dough on the diagonal, passing one roll over the other and you make the corkscrew shape by letting the twist by itself. There are tordus with one turn and tordus with two turns. The rolling pin is quite slender, like a broom handle, and 70 cm long. The tordu is 80 cm long.

The two rolls coiled round each other are now put into a parchment lined batard pan or a couche if you’re going that route. Let them rise until properly proofed, about 45 minutes for me. You can go the fridge method and proof there for a more flavorful method, but I’m not sure there’s consensus for how long. The original recipe says 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F, preparing it for steaming. I put an old ¼ sheet pan in the bottom of the oven and pretty much leave it there always. It will get warped and basically unusable for anything else. A sacrifice for bread.  I’ll put a cup or two of ice in it as I put the bread in. It will make steam for the first minutes of the bake giving a crustier crust.

Put the batard pan in the oven & turn the heat down to 450ºF.  Be sure to either create steam via my method or using a spray bottle to spray the sides of the oven ever couple of minutes. Bake for 10 minutes with steam and another 20 minutes without steam.  The crust should be a deep golden brown.

 

 

Koji – Peaso

It started with stopping by a shop in Oakland called Preserved. A great shop for lots of DIY home cooking projects. Fermenting, canning, and all kinds of fun methods can be found in the books of the shop and the ingredients and tools to are there too. I had heard about this magical thing called Koji. It’s a major player in Japanese cuisine and having a new day in the sun due to some creative chefs using it in new ways. Koji-tane is the base form and spores of this fungus. The fungus is grown on rice, barley or a number of different grains. The fungus, Apergillus oryzae, is fairly easy to grow on grains in the right environmental conditions. A temperature and humidity controlled fermentation chamber is best.

I thought a good entry into Koji was to buy the rice or barley and go from there. I made Shio-Koji which can be used as a marinade to up the umami of things. If you’ve had Japanese Karaage, fried chicken, you may have tasted this special umami and not known what it was. After cooking my first shio-koji marinaded chicken I immediately recognized the flavor. I was hooked.

Just then I heard David Zilber on Fresh Air with Terri Gross. He was all about the Koji. He spoke gloriously about the spore that is essential in Japanese food. It’s used to make Miso, Sake, soy sauce and amazake. Fortunately he’d just written a whole book about fermenting, including extensively about Koji.

I ordered the book and worked with purchased Koji-Rice and Koji-Barley. I made Koji oil, Koji lacto fermented water both of which I used in Thomas Keller’s quiche recipe. The onions are slowly wilted and never browned with thyme. The koji made these the best sautéed onions I’ve every tasted. They were just so delicious. I made Koji flour to bread fish with. 

Buying already inoculated Koji-rice and barley got expensive so I finally set out to make a fermentation chamber. I had a lot of the supplies needed anyway from my days of meat curing. I already had a temperature controller that I bought way back when we lived in Hawaii to control my crock pot for my first Sous-Vide cooking. This was before there were affordable alternatives. I later used it to control my meat hanging fridge. I had a seedling heat mat. I just needed to order a small humidifier and humidity controller, a stainless steel perforated hotel pan and the Koji-Tase spores. Zilber suggests setting up in styrofoam cooler but I couldn’t find one of the right size so I first used a plastic storage bin. It didn’t work out great, so I switched to my oven. Once I learned that I needed to take out the light bulb or it would easily get too hot, it worked out fine. However, it means that my oven isn’t usable for 3-4 days. That’s OK, I have a toaster oven and a large microwave/convection to tide me over. 

At this point I’ve made two batches of rice Koji and one of barley.

Rice Koji getting there!

While my process is never complete at 48 hours like Zilber says it will be, I carry on and eventually get a nice growth of mold. What should happen is everything grows together into a mat of sorts. I sort of got that my second round of rice koji, but I’ve found that even with my less than optimal growth the koji is fine.

The whole reason I wanted to pursue the barley one was to make what Zilber calls Peaso. It’s miso made with yellow split peas instead of soy beans. I did not get the yield in weight from my barley koji so I had to supplement with rice koji to get enough to make the peaso. It ferments for 3-4 months and I’m so excited every time I check it. After just two weeks an amazing flavor had developed. As Zilber says it’s magical. It just smells so delicious when I open it up. 

So, if you’re adventurous I would highly recommend getting some Koji rice and Zilber’s book and play. When you’ve played a little you can make your own by buying the spores and inoculating your own rice and barley. Other grains work too. I think some day I’ll try farro. That nutty grain should be great. 

Sources

UMAi Dry Charcuterie

Have you been wanting to get into home curing your own charcuterie, but lack the space to hang the meats to dry? Well, now there’s a solution. And it works fairly well.

I don’t remember how I came across this product, UMAi Dry®, but I thought I’d give it a try. I have a dedicated refrigerator for hanging my charcuterie to dry, but I sometimes have trouble maintaining the right humidity in there. Too much humidity and things go wildly moldy; too little and they have case hardening.

I’ve now done two projects in the UMAi Dry bags, a Lonzino and a Coppa. Both have had a bit of case hardening by the time they had lost 30% of their weight. The meats taste good, but the Coppa seems a bit under seasoned. I followed the recipes that came with the bags. Next time I’ll just the recipes I’ve been using since #CharcutePalooza in 2011.

To use the UMAi Dry system you cure the meats in the normal way: rub the cure on and store in the fridge for the allotted time, about a week or two depending on the recipe. At the end of the cure you vacuum seal the meat in the UMAi Dry bag using one of their VacMouse pads sandwiched in between the bag layers. I’m not clear what these do, but they’re deemed essential by UMAi Dry. Then you put the meat on a rack in the fridge until it’s lost it’s 30% of weight. In my projects that was around 3 weeks. I found that I needed to put a paper towel on the rack to prevent discoloration of the meat.

You can also dry age steaks with the UMAi Dry system. The bags are specially made for allowing airflow.

My biggest criticism of the system is that their website contains only instructional videos. I don’t want to have to sit through a 20 minute video to find the answer to a question. They don’t have a troubleshooting page either to help me with the case hardening issue. Their customer service quickly replaced my lost order and let me keep the extra when it finally showed up several weeks later. That was awesome. However, when contacting them about whether I could use the bags in a curing fridge their answer was curt, bordering on snotty. I realize they can’t endorse using the product outside what it’s designed and tested for, but they could have said that in a much nicer way. Finally, they need to delay asking for a review of the product until there’s been sufficient time to actually cure something.


 

Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

The earthquake in Italy had me thinking of this dish which is from Amatrice, the center of the devastation. Chefs around the country are making this dish to raise money for the victims. I made it here at home and will make a donation. I forgot the parsley!

Mario Batali’s Bucatini all’ Amatrciana
serves 4

1/2 pound thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
12 ounces prepared tomato sauce
Kosher salt
1 pound bucatini
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

In a large, deep skillet, cook the pancetta over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Return the pancetta to the skillet. Add the tomato sauce, season with salt and simmer until very thick, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. 

Add the pasta to the sauce along with the parsley and the reserved cooking water and stir over moderately high heat until the pasta is evenly coated, 2 minutes. Serve the pasta in bowls, passing the cheese at the table.

Lucious Lemon Cheesecake

Oh boy this one was good. I’ve made this cheesecake many times before but this one took the cake as they say.

My mom has been making this recipe for many, many years. It’s very, very rich and you only need a thin slice, but you’ll be back for more. It’s great for breakfast cold from the fridge. I’ve never made it with the original zwieback, but I think it’s still available in the baby food section of the store. The recipe appeared in Suburbia Today magazine, November 1964.

24 slices (6oz.) zwieback, finely crushed (about 2 2/3 cups) or graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs (about 1 cup), slightly beaten
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Combine the crumbs, confectioners’ sugar and half of the lemon peel in a bowl; blend thoroughly. Using a fork, evenly blend in the butter or margarine.

Dump the crumb mixture into a buttered 9-in, spring-form pan. Press crumbs very firmly into an even layer on bottom and sides of pan to the rim; set aside.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar flour, remaining lemon peel, and extracts in a large bowl. Beat until smooth and fluffy. (Don’t beat for a long time or your cake will crack. It may anyway.)

Add the eggs and egg yolks in thirds, beat-thoroughly after each addition. Blend in the cream. Turn mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake at 250°F for 2 hrs. Turn off oven. Let cake remain in oven about 1 hr. longer. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely in spring-form pan, 4 to 6 hrs. (Note: you may cook it in a water bath, but the crust will not be as crunchy.)

Chill several hours or overnight before serving.

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Moroccan Chicken

Well, yes I have made this many times. But it’s easy and comes out great every time. So when new people are around and I’m not feeling super creative the recipe comes out. It’s from The New Basicswhich was published 1989. The book was a big hit and so many of us bought it. If you don’t own it, you can find it used on Amazon for very little money: Amazon.com (42 cents!)

A little bit of Google searching and you can find the recipe online too. But, this book is well worth having. The recipes are short and straightforward. They also turn out great, which means they were well tested. You might think them a bit dated, but I counter that delicious food never goes out of style.

Sous Vide Tri-Tip

I haven’t yet conquered the perfect sous-vide egg. It remains elusive. Although, I will soon try David Chang’s slow cooked egg timing from the Momofuku cookbook. I will serve it with a plain fig, just to piss him off. I have, however, found my favorite thing to sous-vide: Tri-tip.

Tri-Tip roasts are a West Coast thing apparently. They’re a fairly tough cut of meat, but have a lot of flavor. That’s perfect for sous-vide cooking. They had them in Hawaii too where I setup my first crock pot sous vide. Now with the Nomiku in the house things are so much easier.

Sunday’s dinner included the tri-tip, with a most excellent mushroom demi-glace and re-fried four cheese mac & cheese. Fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden tossed with a little vinegar and olive oil rounded out the plate. An olive bread from the farmers market was also delicious.

Sous-Vide Tri-Tip

1 tri-tip roast
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Red Miso
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, ginger powder, onion powder
1 – 2 teaspoons of chili paste with fermented soy bean or other chili paste to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Rub all over the tri-tip. Put any excess into the vacuum bag you’ll be sealing the trip-tip in. Add in the tri-tip, vacuum seal and allow it to marinade in the refrigerator for an hour to overnight. If you don’t have time you can just go to the cooking stage.

When you’re ready to cook get your sous-vide going set at 130°F and put in the sealed bag. Cook for 4 hours. This will make the meat “prime rib” tender, but not mushy. If you like more chew, you could opt for 3 hours.

Heat up your grill or broiler

Take the meat out, adding any juices to any sauce you’ve got going. See below for approximately what I did for my mushroom demi-glace last Sunday.

Grill or broil the meat for just a couple of minutes per side. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Mushroom Demi-Glace

2 shallots minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound brown crimini mushrooms or other flavorful mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (lemon thyme is lovely)
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons Demi-Glace Gold (I keep this on hand. It lasts a long time)

Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the shallots and sauté for a couple of minutes then add in the sliced mushrooms and thyme. Raise the heat and sauté until the mushrooms brown a bit. When the mushrooms are brown and have released most of their water mix the demi-glace gold into the wine and add it to the pan. Simmer until reduced to a thick sauce on the mushrooms at least a few minutes to burn off the alcohol in the wine. If it gets too thick, thin with a little water or more wine. Be sure to put in any juices  from the meat.

Refried Mac & Cheese

When you make your next mac & cheese make it in a loaf pan a day ahead. Put it in the fridge overnight and then pop it out of the loaf pan. While still cold, slice it into serving sized slices. You can do this ahead and pop it back into the fridge. At serving time, heat up the slices in a non-stick skillet or on a griddle over medium high heat. Let one side get crispy before turing it over.

My favorite:

Macaroni with Quattro Formaggi (four cheese mac & cheese)
from Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

5 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. flour
2-1/2 c. milk
5 oz. Gorgonzola, crumbled
4 oz. Fontina, grated
Pinch ground nutmeg
S&P to taste
1 lb. ziti, cooked al dente and drained
4 oz. Mozzarella, cut into 1/4″ cubes
4 oz. fresh Parmesan, grated
1 tsp. paprika

(optional)
Bread crumbs
Melted butter

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a 2 qt. baking dish.

Melt butter in a med. saucepan over med. heat. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring constantly until lightly thickened to consistency of cream. Whisk in the Gorgonzola and Fontina. Cook, whisking constantly, until cheeses are melted. Season w/ nutmeg, S&P to taste. Remove from heat.

Combine cheese sauce and cooked ziti. Stir in the Mozzarella and spoon into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle w/ Parmesan and then paprika. Cover with breadcrumbs and dot with butter. (optional-my addition)

Bake until bubbling and top is browned, 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately.

What’s Up?

Dear long neglected readers,

Sorry I’ve been absent for so long.  If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter you’ll know I’ve been obsessed with making the perfect Cannelés de Bordeaux. I’ve developed a recipe and technique to make very consistent, excellent results in my oven. I won’t be sharing that here though. I’m working on a single subject ebook on Cannelés. It may also be available via print on demand. We’ll see. I’m just in the very beginning stages. If anyone has experience in ebooks or print on demand, I’d love to hear from you.

In the mean time, here’s a picture of some Cannelés de Bordeaux.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry

Ms.-Wheelbarrows-Practical_with-frameUpdate: Cathy has just won the IACP award for Single Subject. See, I told you it was good.

Stop reading this and go order this book. Did you? I mean it. All six of you.

Cathy Barrow, a.k.a. Mrs. Wheelbarrow, was half of the duo that started #Charcutepalooza in 2011. I don’t remember how I got involved, but I’m pretty sure it was through Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics. As one of our fearless leaders every month Cathy would post our challenge on her blog. These posts were always instructive and had a spirit of cheerleading us on to try some “scary” things, like hanging meat. The challenge grew, prizes were donated and over 300 bloggers joined in. I think around 30 of us made it through all 12 months. Cathy was a great help during that year.

Little did I know that she was also a writer for the New York Times, Washington Post and others, often about canning and preserving. Cathy’s too modest to brag about such things and I don’t always Google everyone I meet. The more I got to know, the more we found in common. Her blog posts have often inspired and enabled me to make things that have been on my cooking bucket list for a long time, like croissant dough. I recently bought canelle molds because of her.

So, her book. It’s really pretty and such a great all around reference for several subjects. Cathy makes everything straightforward and approachable for the novice or more experienced cook. One of the great things about the book though is the bonus recipes. So, you’ve made way too much jam? Make rugelach. You’ve got extra duck fat from making confit? Make a crust with duck fat. And if you make one, I guarantee it won’t be the last one. I’ve made two already. This crust rocks and is justification alone to buy this book. The crust is just amazing. It’s flaky and crispy and layered. It holds up after refrigeration even.

During #Charcutepalooza I got stuck on making Pancetta. It’s always in the house, along with Guanciale. I never did get around to making bacon because I feel so hard in love with Pancetta. This book got me out of my rut with Maple-Bourbon Bacon. OMG. Delicious! And it only takes 7 days. I’ve also got Cathy’s recipe of Pancetta Tesa hanging and a Guanciale curing in the fridge.

The book covers preserving and canning, charcuterie and cheesemaking. Plus recipes to use the items you’ve made. 

I’m excited to try more recipes in this book. Do check it out.

The duck fat crust!

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Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Sugar Snap, Carrot, and Radish Refrigerator Pickles

Are you into almost instant gratification? Do you like pickles? Mrs. Wheelbarrow, Cathy Barrow, has a recipe for you. It’s in her book Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry.

Make this recipe. It only takes a few minutes to throw together and the next day you’ll have delicious pickled vegetables.

I urge you to buy the book, but if you can’t wait for it to come, listen to Cathy with David Leite on The Splendid Table here. You’ll also find links there to the recipe.

Sugar Snap Pea, Carrot & Radish Pickles
Sugar Snap Pea, Carrot & Radish Pickles

 

Canelé de Bordeaux

As I said in my last post, reading other peoples food blogs inspires me. Gives me ideas. A lot of the time they go on the back burner. Sometimes for months, even years. I don’t have a to-do list of these things, but a new post by someone else may get me off my butt to try something new. My friend, blogger and cookbook author, Cathy Barrow (a.k.a., Mrs. Wheelbarrow) has been a solid source of inspiration since I joined #CharcutePalooza back in 2011.

Cathy and I chat via the internet and exchange ideas. She posted a picture of canelé that came in a jar with armagnac on Instagram that got us talking and plotting to make canelé. She opted to go the traditional route with copper molds. I went with the newer silicone molds, the far less expensive route. Those copper molds are outrageously expensive. We also needed organic food grade beeswax to use in coating the molds. Amazon to the rescue. I ordered everything a few months ago. We planned to wait until the new year, since the end of the year is so crowded with sweets and Cathy was busy promoting her cookbook Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry (go buy it).

Last week, I had brought home from the library Jacques Pepin’s Chez JacquesIt had a simple canelé recipe that only needed to rest 12 hours; most other recipes say 48 hours at a minimum. I chatted with Cathy right away and we set a date to bake on the weekend. I re-read the other recipes I had saved too.

I’ve probably mentioned this a dozen times, but I’ll say it again, Jacques Pepin taught me almost everything I know about cooking. I watched his PBS programs on Saturday mornings for years and years. I trust his recipes implicitly. I know they will work the first time and can take on new ones even when having guests over. So, it’s with his recipe I decided to plunge ahead with. With one exception, I had read about when using silicone for canelé you get better results when you coat the molds with a beeswax/butter combination.IMG_3020

I coated the molds, probably too thickly, and stuck them in the freezer awaiting the resting of the batter. The batter rested in the fridge until the next day, longer than the required 12 hours.

I poured in the batter and started to bake. They puffed. Oh no. I had heard terrible things about them puffed canelepuffing up and spilling over. Mine never spilled and eventually sank back down. Since then I’ve read puffing is normal, runny spilling over is not.

There’s two thoughts on baking temperature, one is to start them at a low temperature and then later raise it. Then there’s the opposite. I choose to follow the first as that’s what Jacques does. My silicone molds are significantly bigger than the ones in the recipe so the canelé took way longer to cook, but in the end turned out pretty good. They were crunchy on the outside and creamy custardy on the inside. Yummy indeed. They’re not without their problems though. Their tops have what is called “white ass”. No disaster, but an imperfection. Analogous to making macarons with no feet.

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Custardy centers

 

Well they were still good. And today I made more with the high then low temperature method. They took forever to bake and I finally took them out of the molds for a final browning. They got a little extra brown, burnt even, but are very crunchy. Their insides however are not as creamy as the ones on Saturday. Another batch is in the oven, going back to the low/high method. And the postman brought me silicone molds to match Jacques size. So, more experimentation is coming. Stay tuned.

Read Cathy’s experience: THE BAKE OFF: CANELÉ, CARAMEL TART, CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY STAR AND A GIVEAWAY

Round two canelé
Round two canelé

Bialys

From my first visit to New York City in 1978 I fell in love with bialys. A cousin to the bagel and they used to be offered in every deli toasted and buttered just like the bagels. Over the years it’s been harder and harder for me to find them when we visit New York. And finding one with both onions and poppy seeds proved impossible the last time I was there in October.

Bialys
Bialys cooling.

I have been saving Bialy recipes for years, swearing I would make them. Irvin Lin of Eat the Love made them last August and posted a recipe. Reading food blogs gets things bubbling in my brain on the back burner and somehow this week making Bialys finally bubbled to the top. However, Irvin’s recipe requires making a poolish starter the day before. While I’m certainly fine with doing that, I checked out my other recipes. In Baking With Julia there’s a recipe that can be done all in one day. In fact I got mine done in 3 hours or so, due to some warm sunshine in the kitchen yesterday. The first 6 puffed up into rolls rather than the flatter ones you see on the right.

I had two today. First with breakfast: toasted with butter. Then at lunch I had one that I made into a sandwich with cream cheese, lox, capers and sliced shallots. Delish! Bialy craving vanquished.

Bialy
Bialy Sandwhich

Making Chapati for 2

A few months ago a blog post I came across was for Bread from 1660 AD. Well, the recipe is from then anyway. It was a posting of one of the Bread Baking Babes. It was an intriguing recipe and I was going to make bread that day anyway so I made it, blogged about and posted all that same day. I found out that the group puts out a monthly challenge and those of us extras, known as Bread Baking Buddies, are given a couple of weeks to play with the recipe, and post about it. I’ve not been that interested in the intervening months’ recipes. Then came January’s Chapati recipe.

I cook Indian a bit at home and I have made homemade naan before, but I generally buy frozen naan from Trader Joe’s or the nice toaster sized fresh ones at Costco and freeze them. I tend to always have a block of paneer in the freezer too.  So, last week I made an Indian dinner an Chapati to go with. I didn’t want to make a lot, since it’s just the two of us so I cut the recipe down. Chapatis are also known as Roti.

Since I have Indian grocery stores easily accessible I chose to use the traditional Atta flour. I got mine at Vik’s Chaat in Berkeley for $4.99 for 5 pounds. I’ll be able to make a lot of Chapati with that.

Chapati (makes 4 serving 2)

¾ cup Atta flour
½ teaspoon salt
up to ½ cup of very hot water, just boiled

Start out at least 45 minutes before you want to serve.

Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Add some of the hot water, but not all. Reserve a tablespoon or two. Add more water as necessary. You’re wanting to end up with a smoothish dough that isn’t too sticky. One blog I read called it silly putty consistency. And yes you young ones might not know what that is. Knead for a few minutes to get a smooth dough. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and let rest for 30 minutes or more.

When you’re about ready to cook, divide the dough into 4 pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet or a Tava if you have one, over medium high heat. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough a thin, but not too thin thickness. The best way I can think to describe it is about the thickness of ten sheets of printer paper stacked up. I bucked convention and rolled all of mine and covered them with a cloth until I was ready to cook them. It worked for me.

Light a second burner on your gas stove to medium low. If you have electric read the original post for instructions.

For each chapati put it into the hot iron skillet cooking 30 – 45 seconds on each side. Small bubble should be showing. Then transfer immediately to the burner with the flame. Miraculously they puff up. Once puffed I turned them over for a few seconds on the second side.

I enjoyed making these. They were easy and tasty. I still prefer naan, but will definitely make these again.

Paprika Recipe Manager

A few years ago there were three binders full of recipes that I might like to try and that I have tried and liked. I also had a folder full of recipes on my hard drive. I endeavored to organize them. I choose my favorites and made a website in iWeb, not really thinking much about the Copyright issues. Although I didn’t promote my site, I did point people to specific recipes when someone asked what my favorite “X” recipe was. That site is still around, but hasn’t been updated in years.

After the website came Evernote. It was a good place to clip recipes that I might want to make. I also gathered the ones on my hard drive into it. This was convenient for the syncing across devices. However, it wasn’t designed as a recipe specific app. Then I found Paprika Recipe Manager. Paprika is now on my Mac, my iPad and my iPhone. It’s not free, but I think it’s worth every penny. It can auto-import from many well known recipe sites and manual import is very easy. The apps all sync together. It took me a while to import all my current favorites and “To Try, Have Not Made” recipes. But now that I’m current, adding new recipes I might like to try is easy. I also have all my recipes with me at the grocery store so that I can check ingredient lists. Paprika also will make grocery list and has a calendar for planning. It’s very feature rich and I don’t make use of some of them often enough.

I really love this suite of apps. If you’re looking for recipe organization I highly recommend this product line.

Tartine Bread-Lékué Bread Baking Bowl

312RoNM7GULLong languishing way down my Amazon Wishlist was this Lékué Silicone Bread Maker. I don’t remember where I first saw it. But when I did I thought about how it would surely help bake “freeform” loaves of bread recipes whose dough tend to the wet side of things. I’ve had some loaves flatten out like flying saucers before. There’s a lot to learn in bread baking and I’m fairly successful, but some doughs elude me. There’s gluten development and surface tension development. Both help stop the dreadful spread. However, the Tartine Bread recipe is one that even following all the directions I’ve had trouble with. I’ve tried it several times before and often it spreads and flattens out when deposited on the baking stone.

So, this Xmas Howard got the bread baking silicone for me. I’ve used it twice and I have to say it sure does solve the problems of a wet dough. Yesterday I baked the Tartine Bread in it. My loaf is up top. The baker did stop the spread and since steam stays in the crust is nice and crunchy. The house was cool yesterday and the dough wasn’t progressing so I took some shortcuts. I ended up with and acceptable loaf with a good crust, but lacking those big holes of air usually seen in this bread. The long ferment though means that the dough got that signature sour flavor. Which I really realize I’m not a huge fan of. I don’t know what’s happened, but I no longer care for sourdough much.

I would recommend this baker for anyone who’s afraid to make freeform loaves. It may be a bit of a crutch, but any tool that helps solve problems in the kitchen is fine by me. I use a silly zippered pie crust rolling bag. It works and helps me keep from adding too much flour to the crust. A true chef might think it inexcusable to use, but I don’t care. Whatever works.

Umami

Umami. What is it? This Japanese word has crept into the lexicon of the food obsessed. It’s hard for me to describe, but my taste buds know when it’s missing. It’s that yummy deep savory taste. Umami is considered the 5th basic taste in addition to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It separates a great dish from a good dish.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve done some cooking and gotten dishes to the point where they’re good, but missing something. Missing umami. And I have several things in the house to boost the umami flavor.

The pressure cooker beef stew I made was fine, but a bit blah. So what did I do to it?

  1. I added two tablespoons of Demi Glace Gold. I always keep a tub of this in my fridge. It’s very useful if you want to make a quick sauce of any sort.
  2. I added some high quality Thai Fish Sauce from Red Boat. Fish sauce is made from anchovies, which are a good thing to boost umami. You could alternatively add some Worcestershire sauce which is also made from anchovies. Or open a can of anchovies and add some filets.
  3. I reconstituted some dried porcini mushrooms, chopped them fine and added the soaking liquid, avoiding the grit a the bottom.
  4. I boiled down the remaining beef stock from the container I had opened for this recipe and added it.

All of these added umami and the stew went from good to great.

Yesterday it was Mario Batali’s Duck Ragu. I’ve made it several times before, but yesterday it needed “something.” His recipe in the book I have doesn’t call for porcini, but online versions he’s done on TV shows do. So, I added some and their soaking liquid. I remembered to do this at the beginning, which allows the flavors to meld with the recipe better. But when I tasted I wasn’t quite happy. The sauce definitely needed more salt which I added. After a re-taste it still needed something. So, I added a couple of dashes of the Thai fish sauce. That helped, but the flavor profile was still missing something. It needed a little sourness, and sweetness, so I added a glug of Balsamic Vinegar. The Italians called it agrodolce, sweet-sour. That did it. Letting the sauce simmer for another thirty minutes and it was much improved.

So, when tasting a dish and it’s missing “something”, think about what it’s missing. Is it that deep umami flavor or some sweetness or sour? Sometimes a small squeeze of lemon juice brightens a dish in a surprising way. And don’t think of parsley as only a garnish. It’s helps add flavor and brightness too.

Lamb Casserole for two

I read a posting today that reminded me of my own recipe for something that’s vaguely cassoulet-ish. It’s neither authentic nor traditional but tasty just the same. If you want to add some cut up sausage it would be a good addition. Or add some shredded duck confit. Or put in whatever you want, I give you permission.

Lamb Casserole for two

2 lamb shoulder chops, boned and cubed (leg works but dries out a bit)
1 14.5 oz can of white beans, drained and washed (cannellini, preferred)
1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine (white vermouth is what I usually use, but if you have wine open, use that)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 small sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp chopped parsley
a small piece of salt pork or a slice of bacon (optional)
1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prepare individual gratin dishes or a small (3-4 cup) baking dish, by spraying with olive oil spray or other cooking spray.

In a medium sized sauce pan: if using salt pork or bacon, sauté over medium heat until all the fat is rendered. Remove and reserve the crisp meat. Otherwise heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.

Raise heat to medium high and add the lamb. Sauté until browned on all sides. Remove and reserve.

Add the onion and garlic, add a pinch of salt & pepper. Sauté until soft. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add chicken stock, thyme, beans, tomatoes, and parsley. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until the beans soften just a little and all the flavors come together.  If you’re in a hurry, simmer another 10 minutes, this will reduce the baking time. Add the lamb and salt pork/bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mixture into the baking dishes. Top with the bread crumbs and spray or drizzle a little olive oil on the crumbs.

Put into the oven and bake until golden brown and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 30 – 60 minutes. The beans should be very soft, with maybe some of them falling apart. That’s up to your taste. I like them to get a little creamy. Let them sit a few minutes before serving. If you want to gild the lily, drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

If the breadcrumbs aren’t browned up at the end, put the dishes under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Bread from 1660 A.D.

This recipe showed up somehow in my Facebook feed this morning on a day I was going to make bread anyway. It’s another bake along type challenges, with Bread Baking Babes & Bread Baking Buddies. I didn’t quite understand, until asking, what the difference is. The Babes are the regular cast and the rest are Buddies.IMG_2346
Anyhow, this bread is Robert May’s French Bread from the year 1660 A.D. It’s in his book The Accomplisht Cook; Or, The Art and Mystery of Cooking. It came to Ilva of Lucullian Delights via Elizabeth David’s In English Bread and Yeast Cookery.

Since it’s French, I decorated the top with a fleur de lys. It sure turned out pretty. I varied the recipe slightly due to the yeast I had on hand and a couple of my own favorite bread baking techniques. The bread has a nice crumb and is quite tasty. It should make lovely toast tomorrow morning.

Robert May’s French Bread
(my adaptation of yeast and baking techniques)

500 g/ 1 lb 2 oz preferably a half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheatmeal
7g of instant yeast
2 egg whites
1/4 cup of milk mixed with 3/4 cup warm water, plus extra water if needed
10 g salt

Put yeast, salt & flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Beat egg whites with a little of the water milk mixture until a little frothy. Add it to the flour. Add the remaining water milk mixture. Knead until you get a smooth dough. You may need to add bit more water at this point. Once the gluten is developed and the dough is smooth and glossy, put into an oiled bowl, turning once and cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until spongy and light.

Pull off a piece of dough to use for decoration. Form into a free-form round loaf and put into a rising basket or a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and dusted with flour.

Preheat your over to 450°F, with your Baking Steel or pizza stone in it. Dust your baking peel with cornmeal. Prepare you decorations. I rolled out the saved dough piece and used a cookie cutter for my Fleur de Lys.

After the dough has risen again, about 30-45 minutes, flip it overonto your cornmeal dusted peel. Brush the areas you want to put your decorations with a little water and put the decorations on. Slide onto the pre-heated Baking Steel or pizza stone. To get better oven spring I use a water bottle and spray the sides of the oven several times during the first few minutes of baking. Then this time I put a metal bowl over the loaf, a technique I just learned from one of the Bread Baking Babes. Remove the bowl after 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F. Continue cooking another 20-25 minutes until the bottom is browned, hollow when tapped and the internal temperature is 200°F at least. Use and instant read thermometer inserted from the bottom to test.

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It’s a yummy bread.

Rosemary Bread

This is the bread recipe that started really got me going baking freeform bread. It’s from the Il Fornaio Baking Book. It was a standard at my dinner parties for at least a few years. Sometimes I’d make it as rolls. I haven’t made it in a while and when I decided to bake some bread today this recipe came to mind. Baked on the Baking Steel, it came out glorious. Very nice oven spring.

Rosemary Bread, slightly adapted from the Il Fornaio Baking Book

3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (I use 1 tsp instant yeast)
1/2 cup warm water (105° degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon regular salt (I use Kosher)
1/2 cup cool water
1/4 cup biga (click for recipe) at room temperature
2 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour (more in humid environments)
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional, Scott’s addition)

2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
coarse sea salt or coarse Kosher salt

In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes. If using instant, skip this and add the yeast to the flour and use 1 cup of warm water instead of the 1/2 cup of each warm and cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer add flour, and regular salt. Mix for just a few seconds. Add biga, milk, rosemary, yeast mixture and cool water.

Beat with dough hook for 10 minutes or knead by hand for 10 – 20 minutes

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn over to oil top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. (optionally refrigerate dough for the next day, then continue) Punch down and knead briefly on a lightly floured board to expel air. Repeat rising in oiled bowl until doubled again, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Punch down dough and knead briefly.

At least 30 minutes before baking, preferably and hour, place a Baking Steel or baking stone in the oven and heat to 425°F. If you don’t have one of these two, go get one. If you insist on not getting one, place an empty baking sheet in the oven during this pre-heat and when the time comes, slide the dough onto this hot one.

On a floured board, shape dough into a smooth football shape. Or shape into 10 rolls. Place on a baker’s peel with a good dusting of cornmeal on it. You can use the back of a baking sheet as an alternative. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until dough is puffy and holds a faint impression when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. With a razor blade, slash an line about 1/4 inch deep down the top of dough. Sprinkle the slash with coarse salt.

Using a spray bottle, mist oven heavily. Wait 5 minutes. Slide bread onto Baking Steel, re-mist oven. Wait 5 minutes and re-mist oven. Or alternately, put a cast iron pan in the when you preheat the oven and drop 1/2 cup of ice into it at this point. 

Then bake until bread is deep golden, about 35 to 45 minutes for the loaf; 15 to 25 minutes for the rolls.. The bread should have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

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Scott’s Notes: If you’re going to bother to bake your own bread do invest in the two tools needed here: a baking peel and a baking stone or Baking Steel. It really does make it easier. Don’t be stingy with the cornmeal on the peel either. Make sure the bread is moving easily before you try to put it on the stone. I like more rosemary than the original recipe calls for. This recipe can also be used to make Olive Bread. Leave out the milk and rosemary and knead in 1/2 cup pitted chopped olives at the end of kneading.

Blueberry Pie

When I find a recipe that I like I rarely muck with it, but once in a while I can’t help myself. My favorite Blueberry Pie recipe for a few years has been one from America’s Test Kitchen. And although they have a couple of methods in it to keep the pie from being runny, it was still very soft and sometimes as runny as any other recipe. They also use their vodka method with the crust; something I tried for a while with success, but I’ve landed on what I believe to be a better crust.

This blueberry pie actual has a genesis in my peach glut earlier in the year. Canning guru Cathy Barrow (Mrs. Wheelbarrow, check her out) and I were chatting about things to do with my 80 pounds of peaches from our tree. I put them up under syrup as she suggested and then decided to tackle a Cardamom Peach Pie filling from her website. Her blog post highlighted the fact that the USDA only approves ClearJel for home canning of pie fillings. So, I ordered some via Amazon. But oops, I ordered Instant ClearJel and that’s not the one for canning, it’s just ClearJel. I made the filling with cornstarch after consulting Cathy.

So now I had this big bunch of Instant ClearJel. I Googled it and found that it was the perfect substitute for cornstarch or other thickeners in fresh fruit pie fillings. I left it sitting out in the kitchen so I wouldn’t forget to use it.

The blueberry bush never has enough ripe berries at once to do much with, so I collect them and freeze them until I have enough for a pie. Last year I still had to supplement with some wild frozen ones from Trader Joe’s. This year the pie was 100% Bates Motel berries. This pie was a huge hit. Even I, often hypercritical of my own cooking, couldn’t find anything wrong with it. It was a great pie, and for me there’s little better than that. You can have cake, give me pie.

Blueberry Pie

Based on America’s Test Kitchen recipe, but different crust, more berries, different thickener. I’m writing the recipe as I made it yesterday with 100% frozen fruit, this resulted in cooked but whole berries, which I think also made the pie better. A note about lard: get leaf lard if you can, if not get backfat (fatback) lard from your butcher. That stuff from the big grocery store from Armour might work, but not as well.

Pie Crust
3 cups flour or pastry flour
10 tablespoons butter
10 tablespoons lard, leaf lard or backfat lard from your butcher
large pinch of salt
8 tablespoons of ice cold water

Put flour in food processor. Cut butter and lard into piece and add to the flour with a good pinch of salt, smaller pinch if you’re using salted butter. Process in pulses until the fat is the size of peas. Add the ice water in one fell swoop. Process in a few more pulses until it starts to come together, adding more ice water by 1/2 teaspoons full if neccessary. Dump it out on a clean counter and very gently pull it together. Divide in two. Form into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least a couple of hours. You can speed this up with some time spent in the freezer, but you don’t want it frozen hard.

Filling
8 cups frozen blueberries
1 apple, Granny Smith if possible
3 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of a large lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Instant ClearJel
a pinch of salt
one egg
sanding sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Put 3 cups of berries in saucepan and cook over medium heat until they are reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10 minutes or so. Stir frequently and you can mash up some of them if you like. I don’t find that necessary. Cool when done.

Peel apple, but leave the core in. Grate the outsides on the large holes of a box grater. Gather the result in a clean lint free kitchen towel and wring out as much moisture as you can. Throw the core to the chickens.

Put the apple shreds in a large bowl, immediately add the lemon juice and toss. Mix ClearJel with the sugar and add it with the zest, the cooked berries and the remaining 5 cups of frozen berries. Throughly toss everything together.

Roll one disk of dough out and line a 9” pie pan with it. I cheat and use one of these Pie Crust Bags to roll out the dough. I really helps cut down on flour use and lets you get a pretty thin crust. Fill with the filling. Pop it into the fridge or freezer while you roll out the top, especially if you’re in a hot kitchen. Roll out the top, use a small biscuit cutter to make some 1/2” holes in the top dough for steam vents. Or make any kind of vent hole you want. Take the pie out of the fridge and top with the dough, tucking the overhang under the bottom crust a the edges to form a good seal. Crimp the edges as you see fit. I always use a fork on blueberry pie, it just seems the way it should be done. Don’t ask me why.

Mix egg with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush it all over the pie and sprinkle with sanding sugar. I was out and used plain sugar this time.

Pop the pie into the freezer for 10 minutes. Put it on a baking sheet and bake it in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake another 30-40 minutes, until the crust is brown all over, to your liking.

Cool completely for several hours before cutting. Serve with ice cream. Huber Keller’s Maple Fromage Blanc ice cream went well with it last night.

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Baking Steel

I purchased what I thought would be my final pizza stone a few years ago. It was very thick and very heavy. It should have lasted for as long as I would have it. But alas it slowly cracked and a few months ago finally broke into two. It was still usable, but the crack was right in the middle and the two pieces would magically migrate apart.

About this time I was hearing about a product called a Baking Steel. A heavy sheet of steel that would conduct heat better than a stone, thus providing you with a superior crust. Gail of One Tough Cookie got one and raved about how good her pizza was turning out. I hemmed and hawed for a couple of months and then finally ordered one for myself.

The first two times I used it was for bread. Using the pizza stone for years I was resigned to not getting the really brown bottom crust on my freeform loaves. The Baking Steel changed that! Both loaves had beautiful brown bottoms and they were crunchy. See the loaf to the left. The other thing I noticed was that I got a bit better oven spring on the loaves.

So, onto pizza, finally after having the steel for a while. I made the dough with Italian “00” flour and that recipe makes for a very stretchy dough that you can make very thin and it turns out crisp. I preheated the oven at 500°F for 45 minutes as directed. The rack it is on is in the upper third of the oven, so I turned the broiler on for a couple of minutes and then back to bake right before sliding the pizza in.

I kept an eye on the pizza and it probably took about 7 minutes to cook. The crust was CRUNCHY! There were air bubbles and it was cooked evenly all over. It was an Emeril Legasse recipe for Duck Confit Pizza. It was good, but lacking some zing. It was better leftover today than last night. I don’t think I”d make that recipe again. But I will make my take on it: no potatoes, more cheese, a good amount of chopped rosemary. The picture is up top.

So, if you want some really crispy thin crust pizza at home I can heartily recommend a Baking Steel.

Here’s the recipe I follow for the dough:

Neopolitan Pizza Dough          Servings: four 8″ pizzas

1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115°)
1 t. instant yeast
4 cups Italian “00” Flour
1 T. sea salt

Mix everything together in a stand mixer using the dough hook. Knead until it’s glossy and smooth. This will take 10 – 20 minutes. If it’s not coming together because it’s too wet, add a a little more flour. If it’s too dry add some water.

Place the dough in lightly oiled container with a lid or a bowl with some plastic wrap. Be sure to turn the dough once to coat it with the oil.

Let rise 4 hours in a warm place.
Or, place it in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to use it. It will keep in the fridge for several days.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces or for larger pizzas make just 3.

Stretch, shape or even roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured board. This dough stretches easily without tearing. Top and bake.

I was not compensated for this post. It’s just my opinion.

Einkorn Flour Bread

Have you heard of this ancient wheat variety called Einkorn? Yeah, I hadn’t either until a few months ago. Now, I cannot even remember where I read about it. It was certainly in the context of gluten intolerance which has been everywhere lately.
Einkorn was domesticated about 7500 BC. That’s 1500 years before pottery. The berries are tiny compared with today’s hybridized wheat. Einkorn has 14 chromosomes, modern wheat has 42, so that changes the gluten structure. It’s also higher in protein, essential fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene. Some claim it’s much easier to digest and may be tolerated way better than modern wheat by gluten sensitive people.

At the Berkeley Bowl last week I saw this flour available in the Jovial brand and thought I’d give it a try. It’s quite expensive as flour goes, but well worth trying. I used the Il Fornaio Bread Cookbook’s Pagnotta recipe as a guide.

Having now made two loaves, it does make a nutty flavorful, yellowish loaf. It toasts up nice and crunchy. It also holds well without molding. I really like the bread it makes, but it’s not so far superior as to induce me to switch from the really wonderful Central Milling Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Flour I get at Costco. If you have a gluten sensitivity, give it a try.

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I was not compensated for this post. It’s just my opinion.

Shrimp & Grits for two

This is my adaptation of a Food Network Tyler Florence recipe.

Grits:
1 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional see Scott’s Notes)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shrimp:
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 links spicy sausage, cut in chunks
1 tablespoon Dry Roux or all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 green onion, white and green part, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme and/or 1 tsp. Cajun or Creole Spice (Scott’s addition)

To make the grits, place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and butter, season with salt and pepper.

To make the shrimp, place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaf, thyme & Cajun Spice. Simmer for a while, 45 minutes if you have the time, if not you may need to use a bit more dry roux or flour to thicken.

Once the sauce is thickened add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the most of parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and optionally, mix well. (I don’t mix.) Top with remaining parsley. Serve immediately.

Scott’s Notes: This dish is easy and very good. I add a little Thyme to it for better flavor. I also used more stock and cooked it longer for more depth of flavor. You can easily omit the cream from the grits and it’s still tasty. Just thin the grits with water or more stock.

You could easily use boxed grits instead of the cornmeal. Just make according to directions, using stock instead of water.

Granny Foster’s Refrigerator Rolls

The dough for these rolls can be made well in advance and kept in the fridge, pulling off what you need to make dinner rolls. It also makes a great dough for Cinnamon Sticky Buns shown above. Sarah Foster of Foster’s Market shared this recipe on one of Martha Stewart’s shows. I’ve been making it ever since.

Granny Foster’s Refrigerator Rolls
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
One 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

Place the warm water, yeast and about 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl; stir once or twice just to mix. Let stand in a warm place for 5 or 7 minutes, until small bubbles form on top.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the butter, milk, salt and remaining sugar and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Do not let the mixture go over 115 degrees or it will kill the yeast; it should just be warm enough for the sugar to dissolve. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture to the milk mixture and stir until combined. Stir in about 6 cups flour and mix until the mixture forms soft dough. Add the remaining flour if the dough is still sticky.

Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured work surface for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl; cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warn place about 30 to 45 minutes, until dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces. Place the pieces on a work surface and cover loosely with a tea towel or inverted bowl and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. (The dough can be refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use at this point. Remove from the refrigerator and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then proceed as the recipe directs.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured work surface until 3/4 to 1-inch thick. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter.

Place rolls on the prepared baking sheet and let rise 20 to 25 minutes more, until rolls have doubled in bulk. (It may only take 10 to 15 minutes longer for dough to rise if it has been refrigerated.) Brush the tops lightly with melted butter. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

For Cinnamon Sticky Buns

1/2 a recipe of the refrigerator rolls above
3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1/4 chopped pecans or other nuts to your taste
1/4 cup brown sugar (dark or light to your taste)
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon, to your taste

Preheat oven to 350°F, if you’re baking right away. Butter a rectangular baking dish.

Roll the dough into a long rectangle.

Spread butter on the rectangle.

Evenly spread the pecans and brown sugar over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.

Roll up along the long side to form a long log. Cut into 12 pieces and place in the pan.

Let rise for 1 hour. At this point you can put it into the fridge overnight and bake off in the morning. In the morning: take them out of the fridge and put on the top of the stove while the oven pre-heats.

Bake for 25 – 35 minutes until lightly brown all over. Let cool a few minutes before eating. Optionally: make a glaze with confectioners sugar and just enough milk to make a glaze. Then put that on almost fully cool or fully cool buns.