Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ciabatta Believe It! Roasted Garlic and Herb Ciabatta

Are there terrible puns I am unwilling to make? No. Especially if they are based on food. I will apologize for them though, so, I’m sorry. Kind of.

Now that apologies are out of the way, I will put the most awesome foreword I could ever put on this blog (for now.) This bread is Michael Ruhlman approved! He retweeted the picture I put on twitter, saying “nice crumb!” Super awesome feeling to have someone I respect that much compliment something I did learning from his book!

So with that in mind, I promised I would post about the ciabatta bread in my last post, and so here we go.

I opted to take some of his suggestions for making a roasted garlic and rosemary bread to heart, and substituted dried oregano for fresh rosemary.


As always, the use of Michael’s guidelines in Ratio greatly demystified the process of baking.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week 8–Slow Cooking: ItaLatino Chicken Stew?

I again push the deadline on posting something for the 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge on Reddit. But by the time this posts, it should be before midnight in my time zone. Heck there is plenty of time before it is midnight in Hawaii. But enough apologizing, on to the soup.

I again am doing something mostly by the seat of my pants in this case. Looking for a few recipes gave me a good idea of what would work; unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients to any particular recipe, so I just borrowed some ideas from a few recipes and went with it.

So why is it ItaLatino Chicken Stew? One because it sounds ridiculous, and I’m open to new names. Two because it uses “Italian style” crushed tomatoes and fajita seasoning. And Italian Fajita soup just sounds even more wrong. And there’s not really that many fajita ingredients in this dish. And while there’s a slightly chili like quality to the dish, I know people are really particular about what to call chili, and I don’t feel like offending anyone today.

There’s a whole lot of delicious though, and it was a pretty good way to slightly empty out the freezer and pantry, which is always appreciated in this household.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Agnolotti Again! Stuffed with Chicken Mousseline, topped with Spicy Red Sauce.


We’ve done this dance once before, but I saw enough potential in the agnolotti method that I simply had to give it another go with different ingredients. Specifically, something with more protein. I also thought that this attempt would be a good time to  knock out another ratio from Ratio. With this post I have currently used 7 out of 31 ratios. For anyone trying to keep count here’s what I’ve done so far: fritters, pasta, pie dough, sponge cake, brine, mayo, mousseline.

Chicken mousseline is typically made with the dark meat, but I decided to chance it with chicken breast meat this time. For the record, it worked out just fine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Appropriate Fried Treat for President’s Day!

Let’s see, mashed potatoes, egg, and breadcrumbs. What could possibly be made from this assortment of goods that would be appropriate for President’s Day?

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How about croquettes? Now you might be thinking, why the hell would the founding father’s eat croquettes, that’s quite a stretch Brian. Well, hear me out.

According to the Food Timeline, croquettes were “born” in 1706, or at least came into fashion or were recognized as good cooking, well before the founding of our nation. Furthermore, as much as some Americans would prefer to forget it, we were on pretty good terms with the French at the end of the Revolutionary War. Well, for a short period anyway. And croquettes are probably a French invention, thought Wikipedia refuses to give me a source on this.

At any rate, relations with the French aside, who can say no to breaded and fried mashed potatoes? No matter what your opinion on France, it seems like a pretty good fried celebration food that the founding fathers would have been able to enjoy in their time. And heck, had they despised the French they could call these Freedom Fried Frites, or maybe Liberty Logs.


Better Not Overlook Butternut for Dessert!


For the last post, I showed an experiment in stuffing pasta, with the experience gained that with the making of a savory pasta filling, one should moderate the addition of sugar, especially to a winter squash that already has quite a bit of natural sugar in it.

This post, a part two to butternut puree if you will, is a demonstration of how to take something gone wrong and making something that really takes advantage of the idiosyncrasies of your prepared ingredient. As butternut squash is pretty darn close in texture and flavor to a pumpkin, and overly sweetened one would make for a fantastic pie I surmised.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Experiment with Butternut Agnolotti: Recipe Creation in Progress.

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It’s not bad, but I want to work on it a bit more.

I’m going to try something new for this post, something a bit incomplete, but working well. So don’t expect a recipe at the end like usual, what you see is what you’ve got, a collection of pictures documenting a process that I’d like to spend more time on. I think I’ve made enough progress that it’s worth sharing however! If you disagree, feel free to let me know.

This was also my first foray into making stuffed pasta, an agnolotti in this case. It is sort of like a ravioli, except the stuffing methodology is a bit different, with a bit more folding involved, at least for some practitioners. It hails from the Piedmont region of Italy, and is typically stuffed with a mixture of meat and vegetables.

I decided to make a butternut agnolotti because A: I had butternut on hand and we rarely eat it, and B: it was one of the suggestions for what to do with pasta dough in Ratio.

For the butternut, you have to roast it, and there are any number of recipes for it online. I don’t know exactly which one I used, but the process is pretty much the same.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cut your butternut in half, season it with salt (and maybe pepper), coat with a fat such as butter or oil, and maybe sprinkel on some brown sugar, and optionally some of the “sweeter” spices, that is to say cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Scoop out the seeds of course, reserving them if that tickles your fancy.

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Yes, very attractive and uniform buttering. Or not. I had balance issues and should have cut  some more of the squash off the sides to keep them level. Anyway, roast these in a hot oven, probably about 40 minutes, or more. I saw a recipe that said 25 minutes and that is just wrong.

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When the butternut is easily pierced by a knife, it’s ready for use. Could be served up as is almost right now, perhaps cut into cubes and sauteed quickly in a hot pan with even more butter. For my purposes, I would have reduced the brown sugar dramatically for the use of stuffed pasta.

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For my purposes however, I scooped out the flesh and used my food mill to turn it into a nice puree.

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Season with more salt to taste. Don’t be shy. I was, and I think it needed more salt.

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Touch of cream to these things rarely hurts either.

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I actually made the pasta while roasting the butternut for what it’s worth, but in the interest of simplicity here’s the pasta section.

Making pasta dough is incredibly simple if you have a food processor. Two eggs, conveniently 2 ounces each, and 6 ounces of flour. Since a cup of flour is roughly five ounces, maybe a cup of flour and a very scant quarter cup, seeing as how 1/5 cup measurements aren’t typically available. Basically I recommend you get a scale. They’re fun.

So, throw the eggs and flour into a food processor, pulse a few times to combine, and when it starts coming together dump the shaggy mass onto a floured surface and work it together with your fingers.

There’s always the traditional swirling the egg in the bowl of flour methodology, and you are a badass if you do it that way. Me? I don’t have time to be a badass right now, I’m hungry.

Ok, once again, with pictures.

Two eggs, just shy of four ounces.

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I’ll go with a bit less than six ounces of flour in that case.

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Pulse process until it becomes a shaggy mass.

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Dump it out, mush it together.

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And there you have it, an attractive ball of pasta dough.

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Wrap it and let rest for at least ten minutes. If you are going to let it rest more than an hour, refrigerate it.

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Here is my relaxed dough, ready for rolling.

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This here is the Imperia pasta machine. It’s pretty good at rolling out pasta but the handle has a super annoying habit of falling out at certain angles when you let go of it. I can’t complain because it was given to me for free by a great friend, but I can see why he switched to the Kitchenaid attachment for his own purposes.

But yes, much more convenient than using a rolling pin.

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Sorry for a lack of pictures by the way, wiping off flour covered hands between shots and getting dirty again just gets repetitive. This is one of the stages of rolling.

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And here is a sheet of it at its thinnest shape. Oh protip, parchment paper is fantastic for handling this stage, otherwise you will probably want to do this on a very well floured surface.

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Fill up a piping bag with some butternut puree, or perhaps a huge ziploc bag with the corner cut out and a piping tip stuck in the end.

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Squeeze out a line.

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Brush with beaten egg and fold, then use your fingers to make the line of squash into rectangles. 

Just check out this guy for a clearer idea of what to do.

What a pro!

Ok now that you’ve seen how a master does it, here’s my way.

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And fold once more.

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Cut with a knife like me if you don’t have that cool frazzled edging thingy. Anyway, these are my agnolotti, and I am proud of their shape.

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Boil for about three or four minutes and drain.

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I tried them plain for quality purposes. Not too bad, but definitely needed more aggressive seasoning. Or a nice sauce!

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I think a good red sauce would have been best, but being a bit short supplied in the kitchen, went with sauteed mushrooms.

Hot butter.

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Mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper. A roux might have been better, along with some of that cream. Ah, hindsight.

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Still, I can’t really complain that much can I?

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Not bad at all. Still, I’m not too sure about sharing this recipe until I’ve got it down pat. It needs a bit of something, perhaps more vegetables or fresh herbs in the puree.

I also pan fried the boiled agnolotti with some chopped onion, as seen in the first image, which actually was quite pleasant like a potsticker almost.

I hope this was interesting to read, and that it keeps you wanting more!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nothing Says Love, Like Garlic and Spuds: Roasted Garlic Potatoes. 52 WOC#7–The Theme is Love!


*A rather somber intro, but don’t worry, it gets better.

Ah, Singles Awareness Day aka SAD. I honestly do not hate or even dislike Valentine’s day. It’s just another day. Actually maybe that’s even worse, it’s worse to be ignored than hated. Well, I don’t ignore it either, I am aware of it, but like so many other single people who have grown jaded towards holidays in general, it’s just another day.

So perhaps this muted sense of apathy suits the rather rather humdrum nature of my chosen ingredient, the potato.

Actually, a pox on this humdrum mood. The theme is love, not Valentine’s day, and love comes in many shapes, sizes, and degrees of magnitude. Just like potatoes (Actually, does that metaphor even work? If you love me, you’ll humor me.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Week 6 of 52WOC: Brazilian Theme. Brazilian Chocolate Drink, Perfect for Valentine’s Day Wake Up.


Not the most impressive thing in pictures I’ll admit.

I’ve been a bit slow to get started posting this month, so I’m thankful to have the motivator of 52 Weeks of Cooking to keep me from falling too far behind. And none too soon too, tomorrow is Sunday after all, and I rather not be too much of a last minute person.

Unlike the last weeks where I had a pretty good idea in mind for what to do off the top of my head, this week actually required some thoughts. The perusal of the Wikipedia article on Brazilian cuisine lent some pretty delicious ideas. The caipirinha was a strong contender, being a cocktail and pretty quick to assemble, but I wasn’t feeling quite luxurious enough this week to go out and buy a bottle of cachaça for one week’s post. Another choice I gave a lot of consideration was coxinha, a fried finger food filled with chicken and other goodness, which I definitely would have made for a super bowl feast… if I actually had one to go too. Which fell through, so that too, was scrapped.

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In the end, it was the arrival of my copy of Joy of Cooking that gave a solution to the quandary; in a fit of inspiration a day after the book arrived, I flipped to the index and looked for anything “Brazilian.” There was only one entry, Brazilian Chocolate, a hot drink that involves coffee, chocolate, cream, cinnamon, and a few other goodies. I was sold.