whitebread, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I visited my mother last week. At one point, she asked if I could make a whitebread. Hmmm, pretty much dedicated most of my adult baking life trying to perfect a razor-crust on a lean dough baguette, but, sure, I guess I could whip up a simple 'merican style loaf.

One trick to a good bread cooked in a loaf pan is getting the blob of dough in the correct size loaf pan. I made approx. a 500 g dough and used a 1.5 L glass loaf dish (I think this is a standard 9x4 loaf pan, but the dish was stamped with a "1.5l" on the bottom).

Anyway, here's the recipe:
water, 200 mL (could've used milk), warm (ca. 90°F)
butter, softened, ca. 2 T
sugar, 2 T
salt, 1 t
flour, 2C
active (not instant active) yeast, 1 packet (2 1/4 t)

Add everything into a bowl and stir until a shaggy mass is formed. Dump onto counter and knead about 5 minutes. Let rise and hour or so, degas (squish it) and let rest 15 minutes, form into loaf and plunk down into buttered glass loaf pan, let rise covered (I use a slightly moist paper towel) until just bulging over the top of the loaf dish, cook in preheated 425°F oven for about 20 minutes.

Wait until cool to slice. Make grilled cheese sandwiches with it.


Pot Roast (desperation dinner deluxe)

Take note of this one busy parents!

pot roast

The other night I bought a "pot roast" (presumably, some cut of chuck) on the recommendation of the enthusiastic butcher at Kroger. Well-marbled, about $8 for a 2-3 pound piece. Last night, I dragged out a cast iron skillet and put the semi-frozen slab in, filled the pan (sides and on top of the meat) with chopped veggies: potatos, carrots, turnips, onion, a little garlic, a sprinkle of salt, big sprig of rosemary and a small squirt of oil. I tossed it in a 220°F oven from 8 pm to 6 am.

The aroma wafting through the house caused the dog to wake up several times. This morning, I removed it and let it sit. In the interest of quality assurance and protecting my family, I selflessly lunged at a morsel of the fork tender succulence. I almost portioned it out for breakfast.

Interestingly, the roots were not overcooked, still relatively firm. Took 10 minutes to toss together and will take a few minutes to warm and we will eat well tonight.

Slow cooking is the way to cook these inexpensive cuts - Thanks Wolfert (and Andrew for telling me of her book.)

My only complaint on this is the roots cooked near perfectly, BUT, they and the meat looked all the same color. Visually, the meal wasn't very appealing. We served it with a few crisp raw veggies to up the color. In the future, I'd add the veggies later in the cooking to retain their color. Aside from that, it was an amazing meal.


Turkey Meatballs (a rewritten post from 2004)

Ever since Frankie was a teeny, tiny baby, she liked turkey meatballs. We make them often but I've learned a lot since I first started making them and they're better than ever. I decided to rewrite the post.

The significant observations that have guided my new, almost finished, master recipe for Turkey Meatballs are ...

• Grind (size) is crucial. Andrew has guided me in the craft of Charcuterie and recommends a coarse grind in most sausage preparations (kielbasa, sausage, etc.); his guess is the more coarse the grind, the less likely it is to dry out during cooking. I think he's spot-on; the few sausage preps I've done have come out exceptional. Just as significant, the coarseness of the grind contributes greatly to mouthfeel. There's an Ohio brand of ground turkey sold frozen that is ground really fine. It tastes mealy when cooked. When I bought some coarsely ground 93/7 turkey the other day it was infinitely better when cooked in this recipe. A coarse grind definitely wins. Thanks for the tip Andrew.

• When I was buying that super fine grind stuff, not knowing any better, I changed the mouthfeel by adding cracked wheat or bulgur. Far from a new method, cracked wheat has been added to ground lamb in kibbe forever, but it's not commonly used in combination with ground turkey. The cracked wheat made that turkey taste good. Don't worry, the hard nuggets of grain hydrate and soften in the mixture and upon cooking. There is no discernible taste or texture of the wheat. And, it's whole grain causing the meatball to be a pretty darn complete meal with protein, complex carbs and some fat all in one tasty little nugget of goodness.

• Like any meatball (traditionally sirloin), don't handle the thing much. Compress these things together as gingerly as a biscuit. Too much man-handling and it's gonna be tough.

• Future directions. Soon, I'd like to grind my own turkey thighs. It should be outstanding - another post.

That's it. Here's the recipe. I make them, freeze them on a cookie sheet and the next morning put them in a ziploc bag for cooking in tomato sauce (I don't fry meatballs, I cook them slowly in tomato sauce - any other method is just wrong).

Turkey Meatballs
Put the following in a bowl
Coarse ground turkey, 1 lb, highest fat content you can find
cracked wheat or bulgur, 1/2 C
bread crumbs, fine, 1/4 C
milk, 1/4 C
finely minced onion, 1/4 C
a few fine slivers of garlic
reggiano, 1/4 C (optional)
eggs, 2
oregano, dried, 2 T
salt, 1 t (I almost always salt 1% by weight, here, 5 g / 500 grams ingredients)
pepper, to taste

Put everything in a bowl, using your hands, gently fold everything together without working it too much. Form into whatever size meatball you like (we like golf ball sized). That's it.

I may modify quantities of cracked wheat and bread crumbs as I remake them. Toss a few frozen ones in tomato sauce and let simmer gently an hour or so. You'll eat the leftovers for breakfast.

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Chicken n Aubergine

Chicken n Aubergine, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I was up this morning around 6 to go out for a quick coffee and remind myself a game of Candyland is more important than surfing the net.

I started the briquettes plus some hickory with a torch and let it rip during the morning. Dome temp around 250-275 in my kettle and the results look great.

Chicken was simply stuffed with rosemary and bay leaves and seasoned with s+p, eggplants were punctured once. Later today I'll turn it into a nice mild smokey baba ghanouj. Two dinners down.