I needed some gardeneira the other day for a secret family recipe. For some reason, it's hard to find. I know Marzetti's makes one, but it's never in the stores I visit.
I've been a little preoccupied with Harvest's Pizza lately. It's wonderful. Tender, very lightly topped, crust as good as the toppings. On occasion I can hit something close in my grill, but in the oven, most of my pies suck. I latched onto thickness of dough over the past year or so. I thought tenderness might derive from a super thin crust, but some observations the other night at Harvest led me to different thinking. I realize a home oven isn't a real pizza oven, so my expectations are reasonable, but I should be able to do much better than I've been.
So I veered all over the place, that's what I meant by "notes" in the title. Not a great comparison. Lucky's made one dough, I made the other, undoubtedly different flour, not only higher fat in one, but hydration different, etc. It was just an itch I needed to scratch. My goal is something as tender as Harvest, cooked in a regular oven,
This was fun and exotic, until I realized it was just a GF pancake. The best discovery on this, is one doesn't need a sophisticated wet mill to get a nice result. I mixed urad dal (20 g), basmati rice (80 g), a few seeds of fenugreek, water (150 mL), salt (ca. 1/2 t, 2 g) and let it sit an hour before pureeing with my immersion blender. I cheated and added a touch of yeast. Then, cooked 'em like any pancakes adding a mix of cilantro and green onion to the uncooked side of the pancake before the flip.
Try these, they're tasty at room temperature. Fun snacks.
Heston Blumenthal does a triple cook on his chips (fries). One boil until the potatoes are nearly falling apart, drying in the freezer, a double dip in oil. The drying in the freezer is what kills the method for me. No way it's going to be easy to prep 10 lbs of potatoes with that kind requirement.
In order to dry them out, I took the boiled potatoes and placed them at room temp in front of a fan last night. I may have overdone it. A sample of potatoes indicated I had a loss on drying of about 50% (sample of potatoes went from 50 grams to 27 grams). These were placed in a tub and I'll fry them tonight for kicks.
Food bloggers have a funny twitch. If something can be done, it's a great method.
The other day I saw a microwave potato chip maker at the thrift store. It was a round plastic carousel in which potato slices are placed and the loaded ring tossed in the microwave. What emerges is a slightly colored, crisp chip - As Seen on TV. There's a million posts about this method, without the carousel thingy.
Still, intrigued by the idea, I had to conduct this one myself. I would easily swallow my pride and fancy theories and happily eat chips if it worked well. I sliced russets, rinsed them of residual starch, dried them lovingly, sat them on paper towels and tossed 'em in on HIGH. And watched closely. As the fine stream of smoke that precedes a fire started to rise from the chips, I stopped the microwave and rescued my starch nuggets from the (almost burning) microwave.
The chips had some reasonable color, were crisp but would not accept salt since they had no means to cling to it. They were not objectionable. A fun party trick at best. Real chips are deep fried.
The other night, the wife and I wanted to eat a special chili gifted to us by a friend, a special Indian vegetarian chili in limited supply. Given the child's finicky nature when it comes to chili, we coveted it and gave her spaghetti. Side dish of spaghetti coming up!
Rolling pasta by machine can take a lot of time if the initial hydration of dough isn't correct. Too wet and the dough requires running it through rollers, dusting with flour, and repeating that until it absorbs enough flour to get to a fine texture and dry enough not to stick when the noodles get cut. I also wanted to use a coarse wheat as part of the dough makeup. Here's what I came up with: 1 yolk + 1 whole egg, 65 g, salt 2 g, olive oil 5 g, unbleached white 110 g, coarse whole wheat 20 g. I mixed this quick by hand, dumped it on the counter and folded the stiff crumble a few times. It eventually gathered into a ball after some work, but it was tough. I resisted adding more water. The rollers would finish the kneading. I let it rest at room temp only about 10 minutes, passed it through coarse rollers and then down to 4 using a roller on a KitchenAid. Then the strips were cut to fine noodles which turned out to be a nice looking spaghetti. Because the dough was on the dry side, it flew through the process without too many passes and was silky smooth by the end. We got our chili and the kid her spag.
"Oven fried" is an expression commonly seen in the doctor's office copy of Family Circle. Potatoes or chicken skimmed with oil (because low fat food makes us all thin) and baked will make food that tastes "just like it's deep fried" claim the recipes.
These methods are an insult to the beauty of deep frying. With one exception. Mayo. Frankie and I will take thin pieces of chicken breast, coat with mayo and cover with seasoned bread crumbs and bake in a 400F oven. They're really great. It's not deep frying, but it's really a great coating that doesn't flake off. The mayo sticks to the flesh and holds the breading better cooking with just a skim of oil. It's like oil fixation .. or something.
I used this the other night on some frozen, poor quality shrimp in an attempt to salvage them. I thawed the shrimp, air dried them a while, plopped a bunch of mayo on the floor of the sink (I frequently use the floor of the sink as a workspace for messy jobs), dumped the shrimp and worked the mayo over the outside of the shrimp with my hands leaving as much on the surface as would stay on. I took the coated shrimp and dropped them in a mixture of 1 C bread crumbs and 1C sweetened coconut (and about 5 g salt) to coat them. I baked them in a 425F oven (a little too hot) on top of parchment. Next time I'll cook them a little lighter in color. Fun appetizer for the gang.
I'm a Jif super crunch guy. I lived on it during grad school. Almost everyday, lunch was a quick sandwich at my desk.
When I'm not eating the maligned processed peanut butters, I love the peanut butters made before my eyes with peanuts ground in the hopper before my eyes. The style/peanut-crunching-machines are in most fancy supermarkets. The peanut butter has got great texture, doesn't separate for a long time, about a few weeks and tastes great.
Today's question: Why does each and every "natural," no additive peanut butter taste like shit and absolutely nothing like the stuff crushed just prior to eating? Sorry locals, even @KremaNutCompany. The pre-ground peanut butters have some texture, kind of runny, separated and above all, the deal breaker, with a bitter aftertaste?
Ingredients tossed together, mixed, rested and rolled. That's my quick fix for fresh pasta. It's not quite as fine as that derived from machine rolling, but it's pretty good for a weeknight and a few servings barely takes an hour.
Validation has many meanings. The most interesting context for this word from my experience was in big pharma. When scaling up a process, bringing a chemical reaction from research to manufacturing, a reaction procedure goes through a process of being tried by many others to see if it works as described. If you're the first chemist in line, the innovator, it is a humiliating process. You see your personal touch get shredded with vigor by others until it becomes reproducible. It's one of the fastest ways an experimental chemist matures.
This is what I think about when @TestKitchen or the ilk call something "Master Recipe." It rarely is. But this poached egg method, it's perfect.
So, this post is only my experience with someone else's method, a validation of sorts. The only thing - I don't know where ground zero is, feel free to chime in via comments. I don't know who created this method. I'd like to have a beer with whoever it is.
Inspired by the little industrious guy at Curry and Hurry who makes a killer chicken tikka biryani that we all love, I tried a few recipes to make something similar, failing miserably each time. I thought about the flavors I liked and took a stab at creating it from scratch. It didn't come out like Curry and Hurry's but I found a general prep for veggies and Indian spiced chicken and rice. What I like is the rice is cooked well, not mush, like what happened with oven versions. It's flexible and the "recipe" below is just an illustration of a general scheme - have fun with it.
Served with raita (yogurt, green onion,cumin seed and salt) on the side.
The learning curve on my flatbreads has flattened out; I'm giddy with my results. They've become a regular accompaniment to our Indian fare and Frankie's lunches. Whenever I spin off into a niche, I inevitably learn a new albeit subtle technique and am able to apply it to other areas, parlaying a history of nifty personal tricks.
What I learned most recently is the value of baking on a cast iron surface while using my 15" diameter low ridge cast
With that in mind, I meandered back into the crusty, lean, free form loaf. I've always admired the gods of slack doughs and natural starters - alas, that is not me. I've dabbled many times unsuccessfully in this area and failed. My bread today is a simple straight dough (entire dough mixed at once) but reasonably high hydration, low yeast loading and long retarded rise. Gods of bread, kill me, I'm a commercial yeast guy. Also, I'm not a fan of cooking in preheated cast iron, it's a great trick, but a little risky for a clutz like me and shape-limiting.
Today's loaf was mixed from unbleached white (Montana Sapphire, 360 g), atta flour (an Indian whole wheat, commonly available from local stores, 40 g), water (300-310 g, ca. 75% hydration), yeast (Fleischmann's instant active, 1/2 t), salt (7 g). I've found that 10% or so of whole wheat and its ability to absorb more water, makes a high hydration dough more manageable.
I mixed with a wooden spoon, then used my wet hand to squish it around. I did a few turn and folds for the first hour at room temp. A few more turn and folds and let it rise about 6 hours. Another turn and fold, bench rested for a 20 min or so (dog walk), loaf formation into a boule, placed it in a banneton, placed the banneton in a plastic bag and tossed it in the fridge overnight (ca. 8 hours). Removed it, let it warm and finish the proof about 2-3 hours.
Baking. Oven preheated with the cast iron in there at 500F for an hour (your oven needs to be clean to sit at 500F empty). I dusted the proofed loaf with atta, inverted it onto a peel, slashed the top and slid it on the cast iron. Then I opened the door and misted the crap out of the oven using a hand pumped water sprayer (from Lowe's). I sprayed the walls and the actual cast iron the bread sat on. I repeated this a few times for the first 10 minutes of baking. Then turned the oven to 425 and let it go for 30 minutes. The loaf came out and the crust slightly fractured on cooling (the singing). Not a lot, but it happened. The fractured crust means a lot to me.
i. tightened up the dough with a small addition of wheat
ii. long slow rise
iii. baked on cast iron with steam at 2 temps
It's a keeper.