Don't cover that dough!

breadCouple interesting observations lately that busy parents may find interesting. The other night, I was making pizza. Toppings that night were seasoned pork, caramelized onions, mozzarella and some San Marzano tomatoes (canned). Very nice. Today, I'm making a couple baguettes. When I'm proofing the dough for these two household staples (the final rise prior to entering the oven), I'm usually cautious to dust the dough with flour (to prevent sticking) and cover them with an inverted bowl or a piece of plastic weighed down with a dishtowel to prevent the dough from drying out. In both of these cases, the dough was made the day before and placed in the fridge for the first rise. Don't know if this is a critical factor or not.*

During the final proof of the pizza, I was too busy getting the dog to pee and preventing Frankie from doing something that I didn't cover the thin slab of dough for up to 45 minutes! It was lightly dusted with flour and it didn't dry out - at all. I topped it, baked it and voila! Pizza as usual with no fuss covering it during the final proof. Same with the baguettes. Shapped the loaves, placed them in the baguette pan and let them proof for 20 minutes (since the dough had just come out of the fridge and only briefly warmed up, this proof could've been a bit longer) and then popped them in the oven. Great oven spring and great loaves. Pretty handy to know. It's not that it saves a ton of time, but covering these lumps 'o dough, involves a bit of extra care and cleaning that I no longer will do.

*One possible hypothesis is the slightly cool dough has a net flux of moisture outward (from dough to environment) as it warms to room temperature, thus preventing the dough from drying out, or maybe this temperature difference causes condensation also preventing drying out the surface.?


Tilapia, simple and good

fishAre those cobwebs on my grill?

Where have I been? Do you know how active a 3-year old can be? Just one too. So all you parents of more than one won't be sympathetic, but with two of us working full time, the daycare scramble, chasing down the kid (who does NOT like to wear clothes), and trying to help her appreciate food as much as we do leaves much less time for blogging about food than I'd like. In the past few months I have managed to smoke one darn good picnic roast on the 'ol Weber kettle; that's it for low 'n slow cooking.

But, for the day-to-day, I've gone to the dark side I'm afraid. No, I'm not a vegan but I've bought into propane and propane accesories. I now frequently use my Weber Q. I'm afraid it's the new love of my life. It's been a mighty player in the protein, starch, veggie dinner we so demand. And ... it's darn fast. Ten minute warm-up, cast iron grid and hot as the sun to sear the delicate flesh of most living creatures.

Last night, we chose Tilapia for the protein source of the meal. Started with frozen fillets (hey, we're stuck in the ample lap of the heartland here), thawed for a day in a simple marinade of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few finely chopped herbs. Ten minutes before dinner while the rosemary roasted potatoes were still in the oven and broccoli and cauliflower steamed on the stove, those fillets hit the blazing hot grill with a huge whoosh of flames. Frankie watched and told me to watch out!

The key to good fish on the grill, I've learned, is to rely on a preset time (most fillets take only 3 minutes or less per side). Spending time taking their temperature to see if they're done will ultimately result in fish jerky (which my family has suffered through in the past, bless their hearts). Last night's tilapia was sublime. Tender, flaky and Frankie ate a ton!