breakfast rolls, 42 grams each

Just a small preview before a year-end bread in review.  A major focus of my bread baking is about scale and  the adaptation of larger recipes for a small family, 2/3 of which needs to pay close attention to portion control.  These little rolls also exemplify baking on a busy schedule.  Being in work by 6:30 with a hot nugget of fresh bread to go is pretty cool.

These are made from an enriched dough:
unbleached white (Montana Sapphire) 300 g
water 180 g
sugar 5 g
salt 5 g
ascorbic acid (vitamin C,* pinch, more on this later)
soybean oil 15 g
Fleischmann's fast yeast (3 g/1 teaspoon)
... mixed, kneaded and refrigerated in a plastic bag for a few hours.  I removed 250 g of the dough, rounded it in 50 gram mini boules covered with an inverted roasting pan lid and allowed it to proof on the deck table overnight ca. 35F/10 hours.

The next morning, the baking sheet,  proofed rolls and inverted baking pan lid was placed in a cold oven set to 425F (not preheated) and let em go for 35 minutes while I got ready to go.  At the end of the cycle, I removed the lid and them bake an additional 5 minutes.

*Vitamin C (unequivocally identical to ascorbic acid) at ppm levels has been a crutch for bakers for years.  I'll have more on this in a later post. I believe it affords a greater range of textures and taste.


stir fry

The other night we joined @feedmybeast and family for dinner at Lucky Dragon and I got pushed over the edge.  I've wanted to try high temp wok cooking for a while but was a little intimidated by cooking at such high temps.  Those woks fired by high pressure propane cookers look pretty intense, I figured I might just incinerate dinner.

Forging ahead with my recent experience of briquette-fueled searing, I went to Crestview Market and got my cheap steel wok, steel spatula (perfectly contoured to the wok) and got to work.  I washed it and baked it in the oven for a few hours.  Far from seasoned, I had to start somewhere.  I decided on veggie and pork fried rice.  Simple seasoning: pork marinated in soy, sesame oil, Sriracha, ginger and garlic, veggies chopped, a couple eggs and cold cooked basmati rice all ready for sequential frying - in that order. To the outdoors!

Fuel: a 3.3 lb bag of Matchlight.  And to all the Matchlight haters, if this stuff is fully ignited, there's no residual fuel.  At greater than 1,000°F while glowing, if you think you're tasting lighter fluid,  you're wrong.  After this was lit,  I placed my wok holder (came with the oven) and wok atop the fire and let it warm up with the Matchlight (see action shots).

And that's it.  My pan went from an initial 800°F (using an IR thermometer) when I dumped the pork and marinade in for about a minute, removed it and then waited until the pan recovered to about 500°F before the next ingredients went in.  One veggie after another until the rice.   My only disappointment is the recovery from food being dumped out to 500°F took too long.  Next time, I'll use briquettes to start the fire and then short pieces of oak/ash to maintain a live fire the entire cook, this should make the recovery a little faster.

 Ignition and preheating.

 Each vegetable that went in got a tiny squirt of canola oil and then stir fried.  Then it was dumped into a waiting bowl.

 The final dish.  I may have added too much oil during the sequential additions and I think I fried the rice a little too long, but next time ...


the joy of searing

There are cooking methods incompatible with my desire to keep the kitchen clean.  Deep frying is one and searing, at blisteringly proper temps, is another.  They need to step outside.  Last night I wanted to sear/blacken some tilapia for fish tacos.  My usual prep is to cover both sides of the fish with salt, pepper and paprika.*  I let them sit prepped at room temp a while and preheated the pan.

I  use my grill most often as a smoker I also use it for a simple hot surface for fast searing (and flatbreads).  It's pretty simple and fast enough for a weeknight dinner.  I use a small pile (ca. 2 lbs) of Matchlight briquettes; light 'em and stick a cast iron pan on top while they light.  Vents on the bottom of the kettle should be full open no cover.  One time I place a perforated aluminum sheet on top of this flame, the ones used to cook vegetables, and it disintegrated.  Matchlight is intense.  If properly lit, there is zero detectable "lighter fluid smell," at this temp, it's impossible.

The ignition and preheating takes about 10 minutes.The surface of the cast iron according to my spiffy infrared thermometer is about 550F +/- 50F.  Then I ready my filets, squirt the surface with some oil (I used a low grade olive oil for this case, something that wouldn't flash so quickly) and toss on a couple  filets for a minute per side.  Cooked at this temperature, the food won't stick, it'll practically leap off the surface.  A couple images of the action:

When the flames die down and the coals are red hot, you're ready to cook.  No need to measure the surface temp of the pan, I just measured to put a number down for this post.

This is a couple  filets after a minute on each side.

*The paprika should not be the pathetic stuff from that little red can.  If it's from an Indian grocery store, should be fine.


roasted french lentil sprouts, good snackin'

I stumbled on something fun.  Roasted legumes are nothing new, the roasted chickpeas in Mediterranean markets are common although I find them chalky and unpleasant.  I roasted some cannellini and limas in the past (the limas are only fair).  In this version, I try lentils and take the pre-processing a step further, sprouting prior to roasting.

I've been making sprouted french lentils in hopes of putting them into a bhelpuri.  Once I had the sprouts in hand, I couldn't resist giving the tiny lentil a light low temp roast. 

French lentils were soaked for 4-8 hours, the water drained and the moist lentils allowed to sit a few days loosely covered.  Here's the sprouting after a day and after about 3 days.

click on this image, the big version is awesome!

Then I salted the moist lentil sprouts and tossed them in a roasting pan with a spritz of canola spray to roast at 300F until the sprouts shriveled and started to look like spiders.  Given their diminutive size,  I bet they burn fast.  I didn't time the roasting,  but it was only about 20-30 minutes.  After cooling, they're crunchy and tasty, not chalky and gooood.  Enjoy.

(I showed these first to Frankie.  She said when I retire I'll be a mad scientist.)