Food Art

art plate, originally uploaded by Seligman's Dog.

The 12 days of xmas to us is the gap between xmas and new year's in which daycare is closed. It is a fun, yet challenging period of the year. Mom's taking the brunt of the childcare while I work. This afternoon's activity (among many) was paper plate painting.

Not especially environmentally friendly, but fun. And, I was desperate.

Today, a twist. I use a ton of grains, herbs and spices while cooking and this activity took place in the kitchen (near lots of running water and cleaning supplies). Combining the painting with the many ingredients at our disposal, we created this multi-textured piece of art.

First we applied glitter glue and then coated each section with a different material.
Hair: dried parsley. Eyebrows: steel cut oats. Eyes: blackeyed peas. Nose: arborio rice. Mouth: orange lentils. Pretty cool result.


This is a sheet of dough!

this is a sheet of dough!, originally uploaded by Seligman's Dog.

This is a sheet of thinly rolled out dough for ravioli. It started out last night looking like this. With this dough and about 20 sheets like it, Trish, Frankie and I made some of the BEST ravioli of our lives together. They were filled with spinach, ricotta and parmesan (and some nutmeg). I've never quite rolled the dough out so thin. It was quite tough too. I feared the dough might be too tough. Apparently, if it's thin enough, it just can't taste tough. Pretty good pasta experience.

For the ravioli, we used this device. Nice shape and they stay together during boiling.


xmas biscuits

xmas biscuits, originally uploaded by Seligman's Dog.

Finished product of Sunday morning biscuits. Compliments of Frankie.

Biscuits are an intriguing part of my repertoire. Everyone who bakes, makes biscuits. But, they are deceptively simple. Flour, baking powder, salt, some fat and milk, more or less.

These particular biscuits started out like most others I do. I usually make a slack batter and from that drop biscuits. Today, because we wanted to do something a bit more fun, I wanted to make a slightly drier dough, knead it a tad and cut out the biscuits.

So, I took 2 cups of self rise flour (flour, leavening and salt together), cut in about 4T butter and poured in about 3/4 C milk while a cast iron skillet warmed up in a 450-deg-F oven. I fold in the milk until a shaggy mass formed. I flopped the mass onto the counter top and began folding it in half, not quite kneading.

Then, Frankie pushed it out into a squat 6-8" disc. From that, she cut out her shapes. Christmas trees and a gingerbread boy. I separated the dough shapes and placed them in the blazing hot skillet (NOT greased) and baked it for about 15 minutes.

Mrs. DavesBeer told me cutting them with a sharp cutter, like a cookie cutter makes for a good oven spring. She was right. These were high and the texture was flaky and layered. They were amazing. I think these will be our preferred biscuit instead of the drop version.


'twas the night before the night before the night before xmas

'twas the night before the night before the night before
Tomorrow's the day before the night before xmas and we're gearing up for xmas eve dinner: ravioli, smelts, veggies and salad. So tomorrow, Trisha, Frankie and I hit the kitchen for ravioli making. Tonight, I was in the zone making dough.

Traditionally, pasta dough is a cup of flour, an egg, a pinch of salt and a ca. t of olive oil. Eggs, however, have changed in size in the past decade or so. I had to use about 9 eggs to 6 cups of flour.

I piled all the flour (6 C unbleached white and 3t salt, mixed) on the counter and made a well in the middle. I then added a few eggs, some olive oil and began incorporating as much flour as the moisture of the eggs would accept. Then I folded the resulting dough a few times and put it to the side. I kept reiterated this procedure until all the flour was used up. The dough was then cut into 6 or so chunks, kneaded and wrapped in plastic until tomorrow.

Tomorrow, Trish will make a spinach and ricotta mixture, we'll all roll some dough out, make the ravs and put them in the freezer until xmas eve. Yum!

I'm enjoying making fresh pasta these days more than ever. I made several pounds of pasta dough tonight in about 30 minutes. I'm going to continue making pasta and eventually get into some nice grainy versions.

Final dough rolled out here.

My dough tip? I use a (dedicated equipment) 8" putty knife to help me fold and knead dough. Beats a pastry blade. Bigger, easier to handle and lots cheaper.


Kneadless baguette with a trace of olive oil

baguette, kneadless
Kneadless process, olive oil, 2% w/w (20 g/kg dough).

Couple big changes to the baguette thing lately making the bread approximately the same crustiness, equivalent flavor and much less difficult. My time-tested baguette process is being rapidly replaced.

My aspiration is to make a quick video of it. But, for now, words.
The recipe for two one pounders:

1. Add to mixing bowl in this order:
water (room temp), 1 2/3 C (400 mL)
rapid rise packet of yeast
olive oil, 1T (ca. 15 grams)
salt, 2 t (10 grams)
swirl bowl
unbleached white flour, 4 1/4 C, not packed, loose, level

2. Mix with wooden spoon until it balls up.
3. Cover bowl containing shaggy mess with towel (don't let it touch sticky dough) and let rise for about 1-1.5 hours. If you use warm water, the mass will puff up rapidly.
4. Preheat the oven to 450-deg-F.
5. Flour the puffy mass generously with flour.
6. Punch down and gather the dough ball, divide in two pieces and "round it" as previously described.
7. Let rest in a ball for 10 minutes (no need to cover for this short a period).
8. Form into a baguette shape, again, as described in the original procedure.
9. Allow the baguettes to proof on the counter top dusted with flour and covered with a dish towel. No problem if the towel touches the surface, let proof for about 12-15 minutes.
10. Take the risen loaf and gently put it on the baguette pan. I use an 8" spackle knife in the kitchen and use this to gently lift the loaf with another spatula so I don't deflate it en route.
11. Dust top of loaves with flour again and slash vents in the top. Use a razor sharp knife (serrated or smooth) and cut FAST so you don't tear the loaf (this takes practice and is critical).
12. Place the pan in the lower third of the oven and close the door.
13. Open the door and toss a ca. 1/2 C of water on the floor of the oven to create a lasting plume of steam.
14. Cook until loaves are amber colored. Color is a perfect endpoint. Approximately 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes or so and cut in.




We'll eat well tonight
Every few months I take my starter out of the fridge, scrape off the mold, refresh it a few times and start a sourdough loaf. I usually never make a soudough baguette because of the logistical problem of how to do the final proof.

The final proof of a sourdough loaf needs a lot of time (usually retarded in a fridge overnight). If I use the baguette pan for the final proof, the dough embeds itself into the perforations and won't release when it cooks.

This time I let the final proof go in the fridge on top of a piece of parchment on a sheet pan, loosely covered with plastic for 24 hours. Then, without warming to ambient temp., I floured the loaf and flipped it into my baguette pan and cooked it @ 425-deg-F (convection) with a steam shot. Awesome.

The recipe I used was starter (thick, 150 grams), water (150 grams), flour (unbleached and some fresh milled from wheat berries (using a coffee mill, ca 75 grams wheat berries, 150 grams regular unbleached white). I let it rise for 2 days in the fridge. Punched down/20 minute rest. Final proof as mentioned above.

Can't wait to cut in!