The Unleavened Bread Basket

I just returned from a Thai – Fusion restaurant that served one of the most delicious flat bread pizza  *  the crust of the pizza may have had a  small amount of yeast in it, but I would not bet on it  *  it was light – soft with a thin crunch – and tasty for what is usually a mixture of flour, oil, salt and water  *  they put something else in it to make it good beyond words  *  maybe sugar – maybe whole wheat flour – maybe a touch of cornmeal, or cornstarch  *  It was delicious and considered a flatbread  *

A Sesame  Flat Bread  *  Mix 1 1/2 cup of flour with 3 cups whole wheat flour and 2 tsp of salt  *  Add 1/2 cup of sesame seeds and stir the dry mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed   *  Add 1 1/2 cups of water and turn until dough is pliable – not too soft or sticky  *  add a few drops of oil to make the dough more workable  *  Turn out onto a floured board  *  and divide into three pieces  *  wrap and let rest for 30 minutes  *  Now for the fun – roll the dough as thin as possible into a 8″ by 6″ rectangle on a floured board  *  Cut the dough into 12 circles – each one about 2″ wide and turn often so the dough does not stick  *  Repeat with the remaining dough  *  Brush the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle additional sesame seeds on top  *  Course salt may also be sprinkled as well as parmesan cheese or a special spice  *

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 8 to 10 minutes  *  take a look and if 2 or 3 minutes more are needed – let them bake until crisp  *  stack the flat wafer breads as they come out of the oven and let them cool  *  Once cool serve them with dips, cheeses, cold cuts (sopasetta is a favorite) or in a bread basket before a meal

Pancake Bread is another unleavened product that can be made on top of the stove  *  The dry mix calls for 3 3/4 cups of flour with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar  *  mix this and add a wet mixture of 1 cup water with 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp vinegar and knead until a dough ball is made  *  Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for thirty   minutes  *  Bring the dough back onto the floured board and divide into six pieces  *  Roll out 1 piece into a 9″ by 9″square *  Spread 1 or 2 Tbsp of butter over the surface *  Fold the dough in half and form a rectangle and repeat five more times  *  Place the rectangles on top of each other – cover with plastic wrap – and refrigerate overnight  *  Roll each piece of dough into 9″ circles and heat up a frying pan  *  Melt the remaining tablespoons of butter over medium low heat  *  Place 1 dough circle in a pan and cover  *  Let it cook for three minutes and place the pancake bread on some paper towels to drain excess melted butter *  Repeat with remaining dough  *  Let it cool and serve as a type of unleavened pita bread

 

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COPD ~ Eat More Fish

KIMG0082.jpgIn preparation for BB’s Banquet… a mosaic of innovation from salt water nets  *  Grilled Grouper Patties  *  Using a food processor equipped with a steel blade chop 1 pound of fresh grouper fillets *  coarsely chop the fish with one medium onion, 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley, 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro  *  Transfer to a bowl and mix in one egg with salt and pepper to taste  * Form the fish mixture into 8 patties – each one the size of a small hamburger  *  Place the patties on a plate and cover with aluminum foil  *  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or overnight  *  Broil the patties – brushing the patties with olive oil – until lightly browned  *  Served garnished (some extra cilantro and parsley can be added) with a medium peeled, seeded and diced tomato  *  If you have a grill, heat the grill to medium high and brush with olive oil  *  Grill the patties on each side for about three minutes  *  And serve with garnish  *  If you like, you can substitute sea bass for the grouper  !  *  &

Polpettone di Tonno (Tuna Loaf) comes next and cheesecloth is needed to make this recipe work  *  In essence, it is a large oval tuna sausage  *  Put two cans of tuna with oil in a mixing bowl with 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp of chives, 2 Tbsp of dill and 1 tsp of salt and pepper  *  Mash well and mix with a fork  *  Place the tuna on a work surface which has some bread crumbs sprinkled on it  *  Carefully mold the tuna into a sausage (approximately 10 by 2 1/2 inches)  *  Wrap in a piece of cheesecloth  *  Now boil about 4 inches of water in a saucepan that is big enough to hold the tuna sausage  *  Add the remaining teaspoon of salt to the water and carefully slip the polpettone into the water and simmer for about 30 minutes  *  Gently remove the tuna polpettone sausage and drain and let it cool in on a plate  *  Cover it with another heavier plate to weight it down  *  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight  *  Remove the cheesecloth and serve with a dollop of Caper-Lemon-Mayonnaise  *  This mayo can be used with other fish recipes or as a salad dressing  *  For the quick Caper-Lemon-Mayo mix pulse 2 egg yokes with 2 tsp Dijon mustard and juice from one lemon- in a blender  *  Gradually add one cup of oil in a thin steady stream until the mix thickens  *  Once thick it is time for adding 1Tbsp chopped dill,  1 Tbsp chopped chives and 2 Tbsp of  rinsed and dried capers  *  Add salt and pepper to taste  *  The mayonnaise can be dolloped onto the tuna roll (or another fish dish)  *  Or it can be used as a salad dressing  ***

A herring and apple salad just seems to work for me  *  I haven’t made it yet and suspect that too much apple, onion and pickle may make the herring to hard to find  *  Better to use less apple or onion than to create a diluted herring salad  *  Serve it at the more serious celebrations  *  Drain a 12 ounce jar of pickled herring (discarding the onions) and cut into 1/2 inch chunks  *  Place the herring pieces into a mixing bowl and add 4 Tbsp of tomato paste, 2 Tbsp sugar, 4 Tbsp white vinegar and 2 tsp oil  *  Fold in 1/2 medium Granny Smith apple – unpeeled and diced in 1/2 inch cubes  *  Fold in 1/2 cup diced Bermuda onion along with 1/4 cup diced dill pickles  *  Cover the salad and let it sit for a day or two in the refrigerator  *  Best served with rye bread or toast… as an appetizer

Don’t forget the herbs and garlic along with salt and pepper  *  large sprigs of herbs like fresh oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme can always be used to place fish on top of; when grilling  *  Mixed fresh herbs such as thyme, tarragon, basil, sage, cilantro, oregano and chives – when chopped and mixed – make fresh flavored fish  *  Remember the use of lemon juice with garlic cloves and extra virgin olive oil – they go well with salt and pepper  ***

Grilled Fish with Fresh Herbs and Garlic  *  Catch or Purchase 4 whole fish  *  Have someone clean and gut the fish  *  Remove the fish heads and tails  *  Cut the fish in half lengthwise and season with salt and pepper – spread two mashed garlic cloves and chopped herbs (thyme, tarragon, basil, sage, cilantro, oregano and chives) on the flesh  *  Squeeze the lemon juice from two lemons over the fish and drizzle on 2 Tbsp of olive oil  *  Close the fish and skewer them along the open sides to seal in the flavorings  *  Lightly brush the fish skins with more olive oil to prevent them from sticking  *  Heat the grill to medium high  *  Scatter sprigs of fresh herb on the grill  *  Place the fish on top of the herbs and grill for about 7 or 8 minutes  *  Carefully flip each fish over and grill for 4 to 5 minutes more  *  Slide the fish off the grill onto a plate or platter and sprinkle on additional lemon juice and olive oil according to taste  *  If you have had enough preparation for this dish consider this fast preparation alternative  *  Bake the fish in a 450-degree oven for about twenty five minutes  *  Surround the fish with 2 diced tomatoes  *  1 diced onion  *  And two cups of white wine or water  *  Remove and serve  ***

za’ atar

STUFFED DUCK

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This favorite duck dish goes well for holidays, birthdays and New Year’s Eve  *  Preheat the oven to 450 degress  *  Clean a five pound duck and its cavity well  *  Sprinkle 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper inside and out  *  Place a pound and one half of cored and diced apples in a large bowl  *  Add 2/3 pound (10 ounces) of diced pitted prunes to the apples along with 2 Tbsp of sugar and 2 Tbsp of brandy  *  Stuff the large duck cavity with and its neck with the prune and apple mixture  *  If you can sew it to seal in the filling  *  Place the duck on a rack in a baking pan and prick the skin several times with a fork  *  Bake for 40 minutes – pricking the skin occasionally  *  Remove from the oven and use a turkey baster to siphon away fat from the bottom of the pan  *   Return the pan to the oven and roast for 25 minutes more or until the juices run clear  *  When the duck is ready, remove it from the oven and take out the thread  *  Remove the stuffing and place it in he middle of a platter  *  Using poultry shears, cut the duck into 6 pieces and arrange the pieces around the prune and apple stuffing

Apple Butternut Soup

Saute 1 medium chopped onion – 1 chopped celery rib – 1 chopped carrot in 2 Tbsp of butter in a thick bottomed pot on medium-high heat  *  Saute for five minutes and add 1 peeled de-seeded and chopped butternut squash, 1 peeled, cored and chopped tart green apple, 2 cups chicken broth  and 1 cup water  * Keep in mind the squash and apple ratio should be kept to 3:1  * Instead of adding cream – 1 medium peeled and chopped potato can be added; also using a squash and potato ratio of 3:1  *  Bring to a boil  *  Reduce to a simmer and cover for thirty minutes or so – until the squash and carrots have softened  *  work in batches and puree the soup in a standing blender or an immersion blender if available  * Now is the time to add milk or cream if a lighter hue of color or a milder cream taste is desired   *   Add pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne  *  Salt and pepper to taste  *  This is a good soup to follow up with a salad as a start for a meal  *  my instinct tells me that lamb chops with mashed potato and sauted green beans should follow  *  if your out of chocolate ice cream for desert; vanilla makes a good second choice

Real Tomato Soup

You can always open a can of tomatoes for this recipe or you can buy some out of season tomatoes and try roasting them  *  By roasting them along with a chopped sweet onion, the flavor becomes more concentrated  *  More flavor can be added by simmering them with white wine and herbs  *  Remember peak season tomatoes are best, nut the season is short  *  Let’s start with 2 pounds of ripened tomatoes-cut in half and stems removed  *  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees  *  Toss the half-ed tomatoes together with 1 medium sweet onion, 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper on a rimmed baking sheet  *  Make sure the tomatoes and onions are evenly coated  *  Roast on the middle oven rack until the tomatoes and onions are soft but not browned – this takes about an hour  *  Now increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan  *  add 1 cup of dry white wine and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half  *  Stir frequently to prevent scorching  *  Add more water to cover the tomatoes and stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper  *  Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium low so that the soup barely bubbles  *  cook stirring on occasion until the flavors come together and the mixture begins to thicken (maybe 20 minutes)  *  Once the soup has thickened a 1/4 cup of chopped herbs such as cilantro, flat leaf parsley or basil leaves can be stirred in  *  Puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the saucepan  *  cook the soup for 5 more minutes using medium heat  * taste and add more salt or pepper as needed  *  as an added surprise, by grating 4 ounces of Gruyere cheese and placing the grated cheese on a parchment papered baking sheet in four equally spaced portions – a kind of “grilled cheese” delight called a frichi can be enjoyed  *  Roast the grated cheese until it becomes flat, lightly golden brown and crisp (maybe 12 to 14 minutes)  *  Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes  *  Using a metal spatula carefully transfer them to a plate to cool completely  *  serve with the tomato soup as a grilled cheese sandwich – without the bread or butter  *  Gruyere is a good cheese choice for frichi, but grating and roasting any cheese you have on hand will allow it to become flat, light brown and crispy – but you have to watch it closer

Student Cooking

When should students start cooking at home  **  Learning to use the microwave and toaster could be a good start  *  Boiling water and hot stoves should be avoided  *  I will never forget my first cooking lessons at home  *  I was taught how to make a grilled cheese sandwich  *  What a sense of pride and accomplishment to transfer a golden brown grilled cheese sandwich onto a plate to be served  *  Making eggs is also a good way to practice the art – scrambled eggs before other variations to set the pace  *  I have met families that encouraged their children to prepare their own meals very early in life  *  It becomes an activity with adult supervision and a built-in eatable reward  *  Mixing batter for cakes and adding a teaspoon of ground coffee for extra flavor  *  Spreading sticky things on bread to bring to school for snack or lunch before leaving on the school bus can be a good wake me up  *  I think that cooking should start at home and be encouraged for further study at school  *  Students who can create what others go to culinary institutes to learn have much to proud of   *  Is it worth a students time to learn food prep and cooking skills in a middle school or a high school – I think it is – Especially when the high cost of culinary school after high school is calculated  *  Shopping, clean up, sanitation and nutrition are components of a farm to school program that can provide nutritious meals to children in schools and families at home  *  By letting student chefs create meals in a competitive environment -menus can be changed to winning dishes for other students  *  Having student cook offs on shows such as Food Network, You Tube, Chopped, Food Network Star and other culinary arts programs bring the art to an even higher level  *  Learning the criteria for well received meals at school or at home can lead to critiquing for better results  *  Execution, appropriateness, best use of local ingredients, appearance, creativity, presentation and taste can all be used for scoring  *   Cooking skills and the weight watchers program go hand in hand for students  *  

The Ultimate Turkey Sandwich

As we say goodbye to November and the fond memories of Thanksgiving Day – some may have a small amount of turkey left over  *  Passed down from other generations and refined for fusion tastes…this ultimate turkey tribute sandwich does not represent the end of a holiday, but the beginning  *  Lightly toast 2 slices of rye bread  *  On one slice spread a small amount of mayonnaise  *  Add a tablespoon or more of left over stuffing (hopefully stuffing with walnuts) and cover the slice of rye bread  *  Place 5 ounces of carved turkey breast on top of the stuffing and set to the side  *  Take the other slice of toasted rye bread and spread a light coat of Dijon mustard with mayonnaise mixture on it  *  Add a tablespoon or more of cranberry sauce and cover the slice of bread  *  On top of the cranberry sauce add a covering of pickled ginger (key ingredient for ultimate turkey sandwich)  *  This is the same pickled ginger you would use on a sushi platter  *  Place both slices of toasted rye together and cut the sandwich in half  *  Enjoy with the last of the apple cider  *  Savor it!!!

WILD YEAST

Wild yeast culture is also called levain  *  Making it begins with a container and lid that fits  *  A quart sized deli container works  *  Weigh the container and write down its empty weight on a piece of tape  *  Attach the tape to the outside of the container (you will need this later)  *  Let’s start the seven day process  *  Day 1: mix 100g of water (100F) with 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour in the container  *  Leave it out at room temperature without its lid for a couple of hours  *  Then put the lid on  *  Day 2: evening  *  24 to 36 hours after the first feeding of the new culture (levain) add 100 g of water (100F) and 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour  *  Mix by hand until integrated and let it sit on the counter  *  Leave it uncovered for a couple hours to capture some  of the natural yeast that floats in the air  *  now cover it  *  Day 3: evening  *  After just 48 hours after starting the ne  w wild yeast culture – it should be gassy  *  Remove about half of the mixture from the container (by hand) and throw it away  *  Add to the remainder another 100 g of water (100F) and another 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour  *  Mix it all together by hand and leave it out at room temperature covered  *  Day 4: evening  *  Remove about three-quarters of the bubbly mixture and throw that away  *  Once again, add 100 g of water between 85 and 90 degrees F  *  Add another 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour to the new culture  *  Mix it together by hand and leave it out at room temperature – covered  *  Day 5: evening  *  Using the recorded weight of the empty container for reference – remove and dispose of all but 50 g of the culture  *  Add 150 g of water (85F) and 75 g of room temperature whole wheat flour and 75 g of all-purpose white flour  *  Mix by hand until fully integrated  *  Leave it out at room temperature – covered  *  Day 6: evening  *  The wild yeast culture is almost ready to go  *  Remove and discard all but 50 grams of the culture and add 100 g  of water (85F) and 100 g of room temperature all-purpose white flour  *  Mix by hand until combined and let it sit out overnight – covered  *  Day 7: morning  *  The culture should feel like it is alive – gassy and goopy – with a nice lactic- slightly alcoholic fragrance  *  Place it in the fridge  *  Tonight you can mix a starter and tomorrow morning a pizza dough for pizza in the evening (day 8)  *  Remember 2 Tbsp = 50 g,  1/3 cup = 100 g

Maintaining The Levain: Once every week (7 to 10 days) – remove all but 25 g of the levain from its container and discard  *  Add 100 g of all-purpose white flour and 100 g of 85F water  *  Mix by hand  *  Let it sit for 10 to 12 hours  *  Put it back in the fridge  *  The culture should perform well for the next week and you should have enough to make four more batches of levain dough  *  If more is needed – double the feeding to 50 g of culture and 200 g    *  flour and 200 g of 85F water  *  Remember the amount of ambient yeast in the air is subject to the environmentin  *  Wine country provides more wild yeast in the air than a desert does

MILK BREAD

Give yourself some extra time to make a loaf of this minimal crust – maximum crumb milk bread  *  Baking time is about 35 minutes, Rising time is two to three hours and the recommended cooling time is another three hours  *  Start by whisking four cups of all  purpose flour with 1 Tbsp of rapid rise yeast and 2tsp salt in a bowl  *  In a separate vessel combine 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (9 ounces) of whole milk at room temperature with 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of  water at room temperature, 4 Tbsp (2 ounces) of melted unsalted butter and 2 Tbsp sugar  *  Using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a dough starts to form and no dry flour remains (about 2 minutes)  *  Working a little faster – knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl (about 8 minutes)  *  Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter and knead by hand into a smooth round ball (about 30 seconds)  *  Place dough in a lightly greases large bowl – seam side down – and cover with a plastic wrap  *  let the dough rise until it is double in size (1 to 1 1/2 hours)  *  Turn the dough back out onto a lightly floured counter and press and stretch dough into a 10 by 12 inch rectangle with the long side parallel to the counter edge  *  Roll the dough away from you and  keep it taut by tucking it under itself as you go  *  Pinch seam closed and place in a prepared pan (13 x 4 inch greased Pullman if you have one)  * press dough gently into the corners  *  Let the dough rise again (1 to 1 1/2 hours) so that it is level with the lip of the pan  *  Heat oven to 350 degrees   * Slide the pan into the oven using either the Pullman cover or a tin foil cover  *  Bake until the loaf is light golden brown  – if a thermometer is available – it should register at 205 – 210 degrees or a baking time of 35 to 40 minutes  *  Remember to remove the lid and rotate the pan halfway through baking  *  Let the loaf cool in the  pan for 15 minutes  * Let it cool another 3 hours  after it is removed from the pan before serving  *  Before the bread is sliced and put in a toaster, let’s make a cup of spread to place on some toasted slices and share with friends  *

In a small bowl mix together 4 ounces of ricotta cheese with 4 ounces of cream cheese (or Neufchatel) and set aside  *  In another small bowl mix together 4 minced green onions with wilted portions and ends removed, 1 tsp prepared horseradish, 1 tsp Dijon mustard with 4 ounces of finely chopped smoked salmon  *  Mix until well blended by hand (try to avoid a food processor for this)  * And fold into the ricotta-cream cheese mixture  *  Serve on freshly toasted milk bread – if any salmon spreads is left over it can be used as a  fresh  vegetable dip  *

Summary – bread making takes time because you have to let the dough rise  *  Not once, but twice – the first time is after you make the dough and the second time is after you have placed it in the pan before baking  *  The rest is simple

Raspberry Cream Sieve

Here is a special flavored cream filling that can be used on cakes or served as is after it has been chilled  *  In a large sauce pan – place a 10 oz package of raspberries  *  Stir in 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp lemon zest into the pan  *  Let the berries release their juices – it usually takes about 15 minutes  *  Now mash the berries with the back of a fork until they are pulp like  *  Thicken the raspberry pulp and juice with heat at medium high and stirring until juice thickens (1 – 2 minutes)  *  Pour the mash into a sieve with a bowl underneath and run hand over the mashed raspberries to force most of the liquid into bowl  *  Discard solids and let the juices cool  *  Using a bowl and whisk – whip 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 Tbsp of sugar until peaks begin to form  *  Add 1 tsp of almond extract to the top of the peaks and whisk just a slight bit more  *  Fold berry-juice and small solids into the cream  *  Cover and chill for 1 hour  *  Scoop into small bowls and enjoy 6 one half cup servings/or fill layers in a chocolate cake  *  This recipe can be varied by placing 1/4 of the berries on the side and adding them back when the juice is folded back into the cream  *  This creates a cream with some whole fruit to bite into