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Archive for April, 2009

ramen alternative

ramen alternative

So I despair of Pat’s love of ramen. We were out of it the other day so I offered to make him dinner with the udon noodles I had leftover and some chicken stock hoping to convince him he didn’t need to buy it.

I pulled a cup of chicken stock, broccoli, and spinach out of the freezer and began heating them with a little water. I threw in some red pepper flakes, a little soy sauce, and red chili paste, too.

After everything was brought to a boil, I added the noodles and let them cook for 4 min.

Pat said he liked this a lot but he still loved ramen…I didn’t quite succeed in replacing ramen with regular food but I am headed there.

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slate from scratch

Slate has an article on making staples from scratch. The author finds some (making bagels) are cheaper and taste better, some don’t work (making cream cheese), and some (making jam) just taste better.

After a failed experiment in bread, I know making things you normally buy can be harder than it seems.

I do refuse to buy pasta sauce. I either make tomato completely from scratch or start with crushed tomatoes. For cheese sauces, I start with a roux and go from there.

I will be trying bread again and maybe bagels, too.

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I decided to try the country bread recipe from the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook and it didn’t really work so well. To be fair to the book, it called for whole wheat flour, bread flour, and rye flour and I just used whole wheat. In my defense, I have made bread before with just all purpose flour so I didn’t think it would be a big deal.

The recipe gives an option to have an extra rising overnight in the fridge. This is supposed to result in more fermentation and a more complex flavor. I decided to try both ways and compare them.

I started off on day 1 making the starter. I’ve never done that before because the idea of having living yeast in my fridge that I am feeding with flour and water is kind of gross.

yeast in 100F water

yeast in 100F water

But I put that out of my mind and mixed together water, yeast, and flour.

starter

starter

I let the starter rise and then put it in the fridge overnight.

I started loaf A by bringer the starter to room temp and mixing it with water and yeast.

2 oz of starter

4 oz of starter

I even weighed out the flour

I even weighed out the flour

The four went in next and everything was needed. The dough rose for 3 hrs, was punched down and put in the fridge overnight.

kneading dough

kneading dough

The next morning I brought the dough for loaf A out of the fridge and let it sit out while I made the dough for loaf B. Both doughs rose for 3 hrs. They were punched down and shaped into loaves, and left to rise for about another hr.

rising bread dough

rising bread dough

Both loaves went into the oven and were taken out after they sounded hollow when knocked on.

bread and butter

bread and butter

I tasted both loaves and was disappointed in how bland they were although I thought the one that had an extra night in the fridge was more complex.

My sister tasted both without knowing which one had extra fermentation time and she also preferred the one with more risings. She said thought overall ‘they tasted like something trying to be rye bread.’

Pat tried both and he said he equally disliked them. I asked if he thought they tasted the same and he said no but he didn’t ‘really care about the differences in their blandness.’

Ouch.

In conclusion, overnight fermentation makes a difference but it can’t save bland bread.

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I love Sunday Suppers at Lucques but there are 6 other nights a week. The recipes tend to be involved and perfect for Sunday afternoons.

For last Wednesday night, I took one of the recipes and used it as a good with a few short cuts. Instead of fresh, shelled beans I used canned cannelli beans-rinsed to remove some of the sodium, a trick from Ellie Krieger. I couldn’t find fresh mushrooms so I used dried. My pasta was also dried pasta instead of fresh.

dried mushrooms

dried mushrooms

I rinsed the 16 oz of cannelli beans and started to rehydrate and then drained the mushrooms.

canned not fresh shelled beans

canned not fresh shelled beans

I heated about 1 tbsp of olive oil and butter in a skillet while I started the water boiling for the pasta. The mushrooms went into the skillet after the butter foamed. As the mushrooms cooked I added the beans and a few tbsp of panko bread crumbs-they should have been toasted but again Wed night after work.

green onions and garlic

green onion and garlic

One chopped green onion-couldn’t find scallions-and 2 cloves of garlic went in next with a few tsp of dried thyme.

The pasta went in the boiling water and I added a cup of chicken stock to the skillet. I should have also added a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves that were in the fridge but I completely forgot. The sauce simmered in the skillet while the pasta cooked and was drained.

I tossed the pasta with sauce in the skillet. Parmesan should have gone on top but I was out-I was horrified. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have any in the fridge. I usually have parmasen, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter but lately I’ve been running out of these staples. I blame wedding planning.

pappardelle with mushrooms and beans

pappardelle with mushrooms and beans

Delicious! And alot less work than pappardelle with wild mushrooms, shell beans, and parmasen-which I will save for a Sunday dinner after the wedding.

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Besides stress baking, I stress shop so after talking to the bakery about the wedding cakes, the reception venue about the number of guests, and various work things, I hit the stores. I bought some clothes (boring but necessary), some flats for the wedding reception (I already have heels for earlier in the evening), and then I hit William-Sonoma.

I didn’t want to buy any pans-or anything too expensive. I stood in front of their wall of sauces and rubs for a while. I considered the truffle butter but it seemed a little expensive after all the other things I bought. One of the salesperson recomended the peanut sauce and I went with that and the soba noodles.

I didn’t really have a recipe in mind but I knew I wanted a dish with the soba noodles, the sauce, some vegetables, and chicken.I started by cutting about 6 oz chicken breast into pieces and browning them in a little olive oil while boiling water for the noodles. At the same time, I defrosted my stir fry vegetables in water.

I added the vegetables to the chicken, 2 tbsp of the peanut sauce, 1 tbsp of chunky peanutbutter, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of chicken stock. I let the stir fry simmer.and and cooked the noodles for 4 min. I pulled the noodles out of the water and into the stir fry.

peanut sauce stir fry

Pat and I both liked it but it could have been a little spicier. Maybe a little more sauce or red pepper flakes next time but still a good meal.

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tweet recipes

The NY Times has an article on a women who tweets recipes. Like the author, I am not sure we need them, but they are cool to look at. The author made a few and they turned out well. Concise and effective. Got to like that.

In the Diner’s Journal Blog, they are asking readers for their 140 character recipes.

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foraging

The UK Gaurdian has a story about going down to the sea to get ingredients for free. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is encouraging readers to make sea food with things they forage and scavenge for.

This reminds me a little of The Omnivore’s Dilemma where Pollack scavenges and hunts for the ingredients for his last meal in the book. It just seems very romantic and quixtoxic.

I think it’s hard to find a middle ground between ease, philosophy, and deliciousness…

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