My first batch o bacon!

It's cool to see something that looks (almost) like bacon starting from a pork belly.  It's cool, but it's a little like never having seen macaroni from anything but a blue box. See smoking apparatus used for smoking the pork belly after it brined.


Teeny weeny offset smoking box to cold smoke bacon. (Smoke Daddy smoker)

Thanks my love (finally used my xmas gift).
This rig was assembled from a standard 22 1/2" Weber kettle, a Thunderbelly stainless steel insert (don't even know the website for that anymore) and a SmokeDaddy (.com) cold smoking thingy. I smoked using some chips I had lying around (maybe mesquite?) for about 8 hrs. Ambient temp inside was low, only about 60°F. That little blue tube comes from an aquarium pump and blows smoke from the offset into the big chamber, it's all part of the SmokeDaddy.

 See finished product.


Chickpea flour (besan) noodles, the experiment (in images)

Given a kid's zeal for noodles, I wanted to try to fit some more nutrition in by using chickpea flour (ground chickpeas, purchased at Mediterranean Food Imports for the locals). Beans have a little higher protein and about the same carb count as flour, although the carbs must be more complex and better nutritionally. BUT, they lack gluten, so the extensibility of a final dough is in question at high levels of bean flour. I took an arbitrary stab at 50:50 besan:unbleached white flour.

I made a dough before work from unbleached white (150 g), besan (150 g), salt (4 g), 2 eggs (100 g), olive oil (ca. 1 T) and mashed it together. I intended on using an electric pasta machine type roller so I pick up the extra kneading there and barely mix the lump. I wrapped it in plastic and let it sit in the fridge for the day.

The lump of dough was broken into 4 pieces and I started sending it through rollers. Yup, much less gluten, lots of tearing, not much stretch. But I persisted and got to squish the dough down to a "4" setting, much thinner and it fell apart going through the rollers. Above is depicted the sheets. I let them dry out a bit before cutting into noodles, this keeps the noodles from sticking to each other.

Here's a closer view of the surface of the dough after many passes through the rollers. With all flour, the dough becomes tough and smooth after this operation. In this case, the dough is always more fragile than with only flour (or flour and semolina).

Here's what happens sometimes after a pass through the rollers. This gets folded and rerolled and eventually it comes out acceptable.

After my sheets rested and dried out a little, I trimmed them using only a pizza cutter. I like the wide uneven noodles.

How were they?  They held up to boiling water just fine, they were tougher than I thought.  I boiled them like any other pasta, in salty water and served them with butter, oil and cheese.  They had an interesting flavor, very good I thought.  Tough noodle to get right.  Need a lot of patience and no way would I hand roll these things.  I think I'd make them again.


What a fun market, La Plaza Tapatia

The other day @Hungry_Woolf tipped me off to an incredible piece on white bread.  Few topics interest me more than the baking methodology used for industrial strength pillow-soft white bread.  In that piece is mentioned "mejorante para pan blanco," or white bread improver.  Bethia pointed me to a well stocked market on Columbus' west side behind what is left of Westland Shopping Center, La Plaza Tapatia.  I went in and asked for this mejorante stuff, I had it written on an index card, but they didn't recognize the name, then I asked for baker's yeast and figured I'd find it nearby on the shelf.

This simple search for a product named yeast brought me back to Lyon, France 20 years ago, my first time out of the country on business.  Me and my little cue cards struggled to communicate the simplest of words.  Back to La Plaza, after 3 employees and finally a little kid hanging out by the meat counter, we realized the translation for yeast (levure) and I was set in the right direction.

I couldn't find the product, but I already hit a jackpot, I got to discover a community I never knew existed in my back yard.  While there, I got a bunch of beans including these killer spiced, roasted lima beans (reminded me of my expt with cannelini).

So, the hunt continues, thanks for the tip Bethia, it was a fun little adventure.