Tuesdays with Dorie – Country Bread

Tuesdays with Dorie – Country Bread.

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Tuesdays with Dorie – Country Bread

Country Bread

My schedule and this bread making schedule didn’t mesh, so I could not follow the recipe as written, but I did manage to produce an acceptable loaf.  The three grains made a heavy and hearty bread. I used dark rye from the Mennonite grocery store and ground my own wheat berries for the whole wheat with white flour from Trader Joe’s.

The sponge is easy as long as you get the water temperature just right.  It rose and fell, as the directions said it would, as it rested in my laundry room for 6 hours.   Then I shaped the loaf and put it in the basket I use as a form or banneton. I don’t have a large, heavy-duty mixer, so I kneaded by hand for about 8 minutes.  The loaf rested on a towel covered with rice flour which is soft and silky and works best for me.  At that point, I had to refrigerate it overnight.  By the next morning, it had risen nicely.  I brought it back to room temperature and baked it to a bit over 200 degrees internal temperature because I got distracted the last few minutes. A cheap instant-read thermometer is very good for gauging when bread it done.

Cooling is always torture, but I was a good girl and waited patiently for an hour; then I tasted it smeared with good butter and it was delicious.  The rye and whole wheat flours give depth of flavor. I was wishing for a slab of really good cheese but that’s for tomorrow.   I usually work with a loaf that is more hydrated than this, very soft and moist based on William Alexander’s loaf from the book 52 Loaves. Check the book out of your library – it’s a fun read and you’ll learn a lot about bread baking if you need or want to know more.

I can’t wait to read the comments of others to see if their loaves were dense.  I added more water and did not use all the flour called for.  At 50 minutes I removed it from the oven.

Bread-baking is one of the most satisfying of all baking experiences for me.  My first attempt — about 40 years ago – produced a brick-bat, so I gave up for a while, but ultimately mastered the technique.  I taught my daughters to make bread and when my older daughter comes to visit, together we make a bread she loves and one I raised my children on – a whole wheat raisin bread.  Anytime I make bread and give it away, it’s appreciated.

Thanks for looking.  Marie

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Tuesdays with Dorie – Blueberry Muffins

  • The blueberry muffins from Baking with Julia  for today were good – nice, light airy muffins, even though they presented me with some quirks.  Blueberry MuffinsMy blueberries settled on the bottom even though I coated them with dry ingredients.  They baked in 15 minutes, so 18-20 minutes would have been way too long.  I found them to be like light little cakes.  A good snack with coffee, however.
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  • I used King Arthur Cake Flour Blend.  Haven’t sifted anything that much in a long time.
  • Lots of bowls – bowl for liquid ingredients, bowl for dry ingredients, bowl for blueberries, and bowl for milk and egg mixture.

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After 15 minutes, I was afraid to leave them in any longer.  They were golden brown, sprang back to the touch, were just beginning to dry around the edges, and a bamboo stick came out dry.

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See how brown they got on the bottom.  I used Pam butter spray.  Maybe that hurried the browning.

Blueberry Muffins

I would probably not make them again because of the extra work.  I have a recipe from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book that I use, and my family really likes them.   The blueberries stay scattered throughout, and I use ground wheat berries for part of the flour.  The dry ingredients go into a bowl and the wet are mixed into a well in the center – all in one bowl mixed with a wooden spoon.

Posted in baking, blueberries, blueberry, Julia Child, King Arthur, muffins, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Thank You Elana

Elana’s Pantry is a favorite blog of mine.  Elana has helped her family to enjoy good food in spite of their health problems. She is the picture of good health.

Eating bread is a real problem for those of us who are attacked by gluten, that component of wheat that prevents us from eating likr normal people.  Elana.s bread has given me a good bread to nibble when I need it. In fact, I am going out to lunch today, so I cut two little pieces and tucked them in my purse.

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RATATOUILLE

Ratatitouille

Ratatouille

The small Saturday morning farmers’ market down the street from where I live is a fun place to go.  When my friend Linda said, “Let’s go see what’s at the market this morning,”  I was ready because I wanted some eggplant.  I not only found a shiny eggplant,  but also some fleshy, luscious, red and totally vine-ripened tomatoes, zucchini, spring onions, and peppers locally grown and picked just hours before.

I have always loved ratatouille.  But, I am not crazy about the kind you cook on the stovetop because sometimes it gets mushy.  When I scooted around the net trying to find a good recipe, I bumped into one somewhere that suggested baking all the veg in the oven.  That sounded perfect.  And it was.

I cut up a zucchini into rounds, the red and green long frying peppers into 1 inch pieces, quartered the small spring onions, added some sliced baby bella mushrooms, chunked the peeled eggplant and tomatoes into cubes, and put them all on a foil covered baking sheet. (Later, I wished I had peeled the tomatoes.) I topped it all off with just a drizzle. not a soaking,  of good olive oil, some herbs de Provence, salt, pepper, and from my yard a stalk of rosemary and some rough-cut fresh basil.  Baked it at 400 degrees for about 23 minutes all together, adding some chopped garlic about 8 minutes before the end so it wouldn’t burn. I will post more pictures next time I make it.  Decided to do this post after I finished cooking.

Ratatouille With Cod Filet

Ratatouille With Cod Filet

While the vegetables baked, I cooked some quoina in boiling water in a pot and in a sauté pan, sautéed some chopped onion, celery, and mushroom mainly for color and to flavor the quoina which is rather bland on its own.  Quoina needs salt and pepper,  too. Sometimes, I cook quoina with lots of sautéed vegetables, calling it Quoina Primavera.

The ratatouille turned out perfectly.  The peppers and other veg held their shape, but the eggplant was a little mushy, though it had great flavor.  A total success for a super vegetarian and gluten-free meal.  The leftovers  will be better after the flavors meld overnight and tomorrow will be dinner with a filet of cod baked with lemon, black pepper. and basil.

The first time I made ratatouille, years ago, I didn’t even know how to say the word.  The recipe I used then called for vinegar and capers, an ingredient I never heard of in rural Florida.  Remembering that, I added a few drops of white balsamic vinegar and sprinkled capers across the top as a salute to one of my earliest efforts at “stepping outside the box” as I learned to cook.   It really perked up the flavor a notch.. A sprinkling of cheese is not traditional on this dish, but it couldn’t hurt.

When we were at the market, I told the vendor I needed these vegetables to make  ratatouille.   I asked, “Do you know what that is?”

He said, “It’s a movie, right?”

Posted in Farmers' Market, french, gluten-free, Mediterranean, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE BEST CHILI I EVER MADE

This week-end, I stopped in Ellwood Thompson, a locally owned health food store in Carytown to get some fresh spices, especially cumin, chili powder, and cardamon. In the bulk aisle, some of the best looking dried red beans called to me, so my brain started to work and plan something to do with them. I want to include more legumes in my diet since they are so good for us in so many ways (like iron in lentils) and fiber.

I remembered a time Patty and I stopped to eat at a small restaurant on the downtown square in Collierville, Tennessee one clear and crisp fall day and had the best red beans and rice anyone could imagine. They were flavored perfectly and not too spicy. I can’t remember if they had meat in them but I do remember they were delicious.

So, I bought some red beans and brown rice. I soaked the beans overnight and got out the crock pot. I know the usual way to make chili is to open a can of red beans, brown some meat, add a packet of seasoning full of salt and some canned tomatoes, but that was not what I wanted to do. It is not that hard with a crock pot and a bit of time to make it from scratch.

Into the crock pot went the rinsed beans, chopped and sauteed onion, and beef stock to cover. I cooked this mixture for a while on high while I ran to the store.

Then, the spices. As you can see, I re-use my old spice bottles but put my bulk spices in the old bottles as I refresh them. I used: cumin, chili powder, cilantro, and oregano. Later, I added some garlic salt, kosher salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp. cardamon, and 1/4 tsp. coriander and 1 bay leaf. Note to self – the heat comes from the chili powder. At the last minute, I held back about half of the chili powder I intended to use, and was glad I did. It was hot enough with about 1/2 tablespoon. I realize others may want more spice, but this was perfect for my taste as hot and spicy food is not my favorite, though I do like well-seasoned food.

I took a quick trip over to Whole Foods and sweet Joan at the meat counter got me just one fresh smoky andouille sausage and I picked up a 1/3 pound chuck patty. I slipped the sausage out of its casing and browned the meat.

I am trying to reduce the amount of meat I eat. The meat I included was about a half pound for what would be 6 servings of chili over rice. I am trying to use meat as a condiment rather than keeping it center stage as we have done for so many years. Recently I read a book about how much grain it takes to produce a pound of meat; I think it was 16 pounds. It was thought provoking, though I am not ready to be a vegetarian. I just don’t think we need to eat as much meat as we do.

The tomatoes I chose were diced organic with basil and garlic. One thing I intended to include, but didn’t have on hand, was a green pepper. Next time.

I set the crock pot on high for about 2 hours, then on low for an hour or so. During that time, I cooked the brown rice separately. My crock pot is nothing special – just an older but cute Rival I picked up thrifting for $1.00.

At Ellwood Thompson’s bulk area, I had picked up about a cup of long grain brown rice. More nutritious than white rice. I salted the rice well and also added some cumin to the cooking water.

Rice in the bottom, beans with meat (chili con carne) on top and a bit of shredded cheese in the cute little Serape dish I have is comfort food at its visual best. The spicing was just right and I will make this chili again.

My girls came to visit today and they asked what I was making (you could smell something in the crock pot all over the house). I asked them if they like beans and rice and they said, “Oh, yes!” So, tomorrow it will go to the their house.

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NEW ENGLAND FISH CHOWDER inspired by Julia Child

One of the nicest memories I have of living on the coast of Maine is a day I spent with a friend named Marilyn.  For lunch, we stopped in a small country place and had fish chowder served in an oversized mug.  

I searched for a recipe in several of my old cookbooks.  I even have PETER HUNT’S CAPE COD COOKBOOK.  Most of the recipes are based on the same ingredients: white fish, potatoes, cream, onions.  

I found the best recipe, though I didn’t use it exactly, in JULIA CHILD’S KITCHEN, a lesser known book by Julia.  Those of you who know her story know she spent a lot of time in Cape Cod, I believe, so it’s not surprising she would have a good recipe for the common, but tasty, fish chowder.

So, to make 2 large bowls,  I defrosted a cod fish fillet.  (In Maine, we used hake, a wonderful white fleshed fish for fish dishes.)  Yukon gold potatoes would be good, but I still had some locally grown market potatoes so I used 2 smallish ones.  I used shallots instead of white onions for their milder flavor.  

Start with scraps of salt pork or bacon.  Saute the bacon; when finished, remove a lot of the bacon grease.  Saute the shallot, diced, in the remaining grease. You can add a bit of flour, maybe a tablespoon and stir it in well to thicken the liquids.

Then, add 2 cups of chicken stock and the 2 peeled and large diced potatoes.  Bring the pot to a boil and cook at a slow boil for about 15 minutes.  Then, add the fish, chopped into large chunks, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.   (Remember raw fish or meat should be cut on its own cutting board.  I have some plastic ones that came with my Vita-Mix.  Keep your regular cutting board for everything other than raw meat or fish.)

At this point, add also the juice from a can of clams, or fish stock, or some clam juice.  Without adding one of these, don’t expect your fish chowder to taste as it should.  It will be dull and bland. I tipped the juice out of a can of Trader Joe’s Maine cherrystone clams.  It’s the perfect seasoning for this chowder.

Drop the bacon back into the pot. 

Finally, add whatever you want for the milk product.  It could be half-and-half, or a whole milk, or if you are brave, some cream.  You just want enough to whiten the stew – maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup.   If you like, you can mash some of the potatoes, but I don’t.  I like the chunky potato pieces.

It is Julia Child who helps the finishing of this chowder with 3 addtions. 

1. Croutons — I took a piece of gluten-free bread, chopped it up into small croutons, and sauteed them in a small pan with a dab of olive oil and some dried thyme.  They added the best texture crunch to the top. 

2. Parsley – The addition of the green parsley brightens the otherwise dull look of the soup because all the ingredients are pretty much the same color. 

3. Sour cream – I used a light sour cream, but it looks like I put on quite a bit.  

These 3 additions really made the difference.  I have never had fish chowder anywhere that is so pretty. 

Julia says to just add a good bread and a bowl of fruit for dessert.  A great lunch or even lighter dinner. 

Posted in fish chowder, Fish stew, From Julia' Child's Kitchen, hake, Julia Child, New England Fish Chowder | Leave a comment