Kind of like Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Cake

But not quite.

I love thyme

I am not really that familiar with Yotam Ottolenghi’s work, but he is apparently pretty buzz worthy these days.  Especially if you are a vegetarian and/or a follower of the British culinary scene.

We, however, were introduced to him via the gift of a cookbook.  Specifically, Plenty More.  It is a fascinating book.  Fun combinations of ingredients often with interesting preparations and presentations.  Not too mention some really mouthwatering photos, which are laid out in the food paradise manner.  Mine, in contrast, are photographed in the little-kitchen-that-could.

We pretty much want to make (or at least eat) everything in the book, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.  So, after talking about making the cauliflower cake for weeks, I decided, rather randomly, to make it after work.

Cauliflower Cake 3

Turns out, I did not have basil, the rosemary I thought I had was a sad sight and there was only a small chunk of Parmesan… (oddly enough, I did have Nigella seeds…)

Rather than scrap the whole idea, I decided to take the base concept and just use what I did have.  Here’s what I did.

Ingredients 1

Cauliflower Cake

1 Smallish Cauliflower, broken up into bite size florets (I also chopped up and used the stem bits)

1 Medium Red Onion

4 Cloves Garlic

1 Bay Leaf

5 T Olive Oil

1 Bunch Chard, rinsed and stems removed (we’re going to use the stems)

8 Sprigs Thyme

7 Eggs

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Turmeric

1 Cup Cheddar, grated

1/2 Cup Parmesan, grated

2 T White Sesame Seeds

2 tsp Nigella Seeds (Poppy Seeds or Black Sesame Seeds will also work)

2 tsp Mustard Seeds

Salt and Black Pepper

A bit of Butter

You’ll also need parchment paper and a 9 1/2 inch spring form pan

Alright preheat your oven to 400 F.

Cauliflower

Take the cauliflower pieces and place them in a pot.  Sprinkle over them 1 tsp or so of salt then add enough water to cover.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until they are quite soft, but not disintegrating. Strain and leave them in the colander to air dry while you prepare the rest.

Red Onion

With the red onion, we want to slice off some nice rings about a quarter inch thick.  Set those aside.  We’ll be using them for decorative effect later on.  Deeply colored rings are going to look best here, no harm in being selective.  The red onion I had was a lighter purple color and the end look was a bit washed out.  Give the rest of the onion, along with the garlic and chard stems, a rough chop.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium until it shimmers.  Then add the onion, garlic, chard stems, bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute for about 10 minutes until soft.  The remove from the heat to cool and discard the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.

Eggs with Dry Ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add the roughly chopped chard leaves, and the onion mixture.  Remove the thyme leaves from their stems and add the leaves to the bowl as well.  Whisk it all around again.  Add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, a tsp of salt, and a tsp of black pepper.  Whisk it until smooth.  Add in the cheese, reserving about 1/4 cup cheddar.  Whisk to incorporate.  Gently stir in the cauliflower.

Seeds

Now let’s prep the spring form pan.  Cut a parchment circle to fit the bottom of the pan.  Then cut a strip of parchment long enough to run the circumference of the pan and overlap itself by a couple of inches.  This overlap will help stick the parchment ends together and keep the strip in place.  Lay out this strip and rub with liberally with butter like your buttering a pan.  Fit that strip around the sides of the pan with the buttered side facing inward.  In a small bowl, mix the sesame, nigella, and mustard seeds together.  Toss the seeds around evenly on the buttered side-strip of parchment, we want them to stick.

Seeds on the Side

Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan.  Spread it out evenly and sprinkle around the reserved cheddar.  Then arrange the red onion rings on the top.

Ready to Bake

Pop it in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cauliflower Cake 2

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Please Bring Me Some Figgy Pudding

“like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. Oh, a wonderful pudding!”

Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’

Lemon Zest

Craisins

Our Christmas dinners for the last 10 years or so have found inspiration from cultures all over the world.  China, Italy, Sweden, Mexico, Germany…  Some of these cultural traditions have stuck around and carried over year after year.  Slowly, a new tradition has started to emerge, an “our” tradition, curated from our global holiday explorations, and a few things that have been passed down to us.

About four years ago, our Christmas season found us exploring England.  There were two key elements of a classic English Christmas that we embraced more than the others and have added those traditions each year after.

1) Christmas Crackers – fun filled decorative paper tubes that give a little pop when the two ends are pulled apart.  Perhaps the best part of these would be the colorful paper hats (crowns) that are inside.  Everything feels so much lighter and more festive while wearing a paper crown!

2) Christmas Pudding – A sort of cake created with an assortment of ingredients, hours of steaming/boiling, days of waiting, more boiling, and then, flaming whiskey.  We love it!

Spice

The “pudding” is often stirred up and cooked at least a month before serving.  This stirring is traditionally done on Stir-Up Sunday (it totally sounds like I just made that up, but I didn’t, seriously), where each person in the household gives the mixture a stir for luck in the new year.  The pudding is, then, hung in the cellar (or other cool dark place) until the big day.

In a pinch, I suppose the whole recipe could be done in two days, but it just wouldn’t be the same…  The resting period helps all of the flavors come together to develop complexity and unity.  I would try to give it at least a week.  (Last year I didn’t get to making it soon enough, so we postponed eating it until New Years.  Just sayin’ that it’s not too late for you all to make some…)  You could also mix it up months in advance.  I’ve read about puddings being mixed up in June!

Today, In the spirit of giving…  Here is my Christmas Pudding recipe.

Christmas Pudding Ingredients

Christmas Pudding

6 oz  Dried Currants

6 oz  Raisins, chopped

8 oz  Sultanas, chopped (Golden Raisins)

2 oz  Dried Cranberries, chopped (Craisins)

6 oz  Dried Figs, stems removed and chopped (I like a mix of Mission and Turkish figs)

5 Tbs  Whiskey (We use bourbon, but brandy, rum, scotch, or other whiskey would all work well)

6 oz  All-purpose Flour

3 oz  Plain Bread Crumbs (We use Panko)

1/2 tsp  Nutmeg, ground

1 tsp  Cinnamon, ground

1/4 tsp  Ginger, ground

1/2 tsp  Allspice, ground

1/4 tsp Clove, ground

1/2 tsp Salt, kosher

3 oz  Brown Sugar

1  Medium-Large Carrot, peeled and grated

3 oz  Almonds, finely chopped

1  Apple, cored and grated

Zest and Juice of 1/2 an Orange

Zest and Juice of 1/2 a Lemon

4 oz Beef Suet, grated (It is easier to grate if it is frozen)

4  Eggs, beaten

150 ml of Beer (Darker English ales work great for this)

Now that’s an ingredient list!  Yes, there are simpler, more minimalist versions of this, but this one is awesome in all its ridiculousness.

In a medium bowl add the dried fruit along with 5 Tbs of whiskey.  Stir it around and let macerate while you prepare the rest of the mix, or let it sit overnight, covered and at room temperature.

Carrot and Zests

In a large bowl stir together the flour, bread crumbs, sugar and spices.  Add the carrots, almonds, apple, suet, and citrus peels and juices.  Give it another stir.

Now add the dried fruit along with any residual steeping liquid.  Stir.  Add eggs and beer.  Now is the time to give everyone else a turn at stirring!

Pudding in the Mold

Grease or spray two pudding basins and then fill each with the pudding mixture.  Cover with a layer of parchment paper and then a layer of foil.  Securing them with kitchen twine.

Making a twine handle helps to lift it out of the pot.  It is also a handy if you were wanting to hang your pudding off the ground.

Making a twine handle helps to lift it out the pot. It also comes in handy if you were wanting to hang your pudding off the ground.

Pudding in the Pot

Place each pudding into a separate pot and add water until the levels reach about half way up the basins.  Bring water to a boil, reduce to a lively simmer and cover.  Simmer for 6 hours, periodically checking the water level.

Post Boil

Remove and allow to cool.  Store in a cool, out of the way spot for a month or so.

On the desired day, replace the parchment paper and foil with fresh wrappings and boil again for 2 hours.  Turn it out of the mold after it has cooled a bit.  Then, when ready to serve pour an ounce or so of whiskey over the top of the cake and light it on fire.  Serve with brandy butter or a simple icing.

Circa 2011

Circa 2011

Merry Christmas!


Pumpkin Beer to the Rescue

Thanksgiving feast was laid out in all its delicious magnificence.  Days of culinary dabbling had finally culminated to this moment.   After hours of toiling and waiting…were all quite hungry.  It was at that moment, we realized that something was missing…

Pumpkin!

Pumpkin!

Where is the Pumpkin!

We remembered that cute little rouge-ish pumpkin from the CSA.  The one we had kind of been saving for such an occasion as this.  It was still sitting there.  Not anywhere near cooked to perfection.  So there it was: We had made nothing with pumpkin.  No pumpkin pie, no pumpkin breads.  Not even a squash (or sweet potato for that matter.)  It didn’t seem right to have Thanksgiving without pumpkin and just as it seemed all hope was lost…  Pumpkin beers to the rescue!

In honor of their late arrival to our holiday menu, we’ve put together another round-up of the sometimes awful and sometimes marvelous, celebrated and/or maligned seasonal beverage.

(Previously on pumpkin beers we tasted these, click here to revisit.)

For 2014, we have 13 new beers to try!  Well technically, we’ve had a couple of these before, but whatever.  Let’s start at the bottom and work up.

Long Trail Pumpkin Ale

Long Trail Pumpkin Ale

#13 Long Trail Brewing Pumpkin Ale  – Score 1.5

I can only imagine that this beer was tainted somehow.  Sour, musty aromas lead to astringent bitter flavors, heavy on the spice.  The body and carbonation were nice, but the flavor was just not pleasant.

Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream

Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream

#12 Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream – Score 2

This was at least one of the most unique renditions.  The aroma was very earthy and vegetal.  It tasted like raw squash with hints of baking spice and a touch of demerara sugar.  Finishing lightly astringent with a fresh grind of black pepper.  We just couldn’t get into that vegetal assault.  Not really into drinking raw pumpkins, I guess.

Pumple Drumkin

Pumple Drumkin

#11 Cisco Brewers Pumple Drumkin – Score 3

It’s too bad it doesn’t taste as cute as the little pumpkin critter on the can.  There just isn’t that much going on here.  Lots of carbonation and a creamy mouth-filling body, but there is also too much bitterness.  Some light sour notes and a biscuity finish pretty mush wraps it up.  The faint spice and pumpkin notes are almost totally lost.

Traveler Jack-O-Shandy

Traveler Jack-O-Shandy

#10 The Traveler Beer Co. Jack-O-Shandy – Score 3.5

So this could arguably, not qualify for a pumpkin beer since it is really a shandy. A shandy is half beer and half lemonade.  The Jack-O-Shandy tasted like an Arnold Palmer with a sprinkle of cinnamon, ginger, and raisin.  Fuzzy carbonation, light pumpkin essence, and a bit of malt flavor on the dry finish.  The cloudy, brownish appearance was not very appealing.  Over all, the lemon tea flavors were somewhat refreshing, but this is definitely not something I’d buy again.

Red Hook Out of Your Gourd

Red Hook Out of Your Gourd

#9 Red Hook Out of Your Gourd – Score 3.75

I really like the idea of a pumpkin porter and still hold out hope that there is a truly rockin’ version of it.  I will try to seek one out for next year…  This wasn’t a bad beer, just not very good one.  The porter characteristics dominated with roasty flavors of coffee, dark brown sugar, and black pepper.  The finish was bitter, dry, roasty, and lightly sour.  The pumpkin and spice notes were very subtle, which for some might be preferable, but when evaluating pumpkin beers, those attributes should be more noticeable.  Admittedly, had it been a better porter underneath, I would have put less emphasis on that short coming.  There were slight hints of cinnamon, clove, but no pumpkin.  The body was lighter than I would have liked.  All in all, it didn’t start with a particularly stellar porter base and the “pumpkin beer” attributes were too subdued to cover that up.

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

#8 Smuttynose Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale – Score 4

Very nice aroma: floral, bright lemon peel and spice.  Warming on the palate with cinnamon and clove spices, but bitter.  Medium body.  Unfortunately, I liked the way it smelled more than the way it tasted.  An okay beer, but nothing special.

Uinta Punk'n

Uinta Punk’n

#7 Unita Punk’n – Score 5

Pumpkin and spice aromas and flavors are present, but not over-whelming or particularly defined.  Light musty, fermented fruit aromas.  Some additional sour (Meyer lemon) flavor with a bit of red hot and Smarties candy on the finish/aftertaste.  Easy drinking, but definitely not tradition worthy.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

#6 Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Score 5.75

Cardamom is big in this beer.  Nutmeg and black pepper are also present along with fried sage, demerara sugar with a hint of roasted squash.  The cardamom intensity was a bit more than we liked.  A decent pumpkin beer, but not one that we would seek out for next year.

Waterfront Spiced Pumpkin

Waterfront Spiced Pumpkin Ale

# 5 Waterfront Spiced Pumpkin Ale – Score 6

I’m actually surprised that this beer ranked as high as it did.  It was the first one we tasted and it was brewed by Shipyard.  We are typically not big fans of Shipyard brewed beers and we certainly didn’t care for their namesake pumpkin beer.  However, this was a balanced, nicely carbonated beer with the right holiday aromas and flavors of cinnamon, pumpkin (most notably in the aroma).   There is even a little hint of pastry crust.  I wouldn’t commit to purchasing a full 12 pack… we didn’t like it that much.  However in a mixed 6-pk, I would consider adding a bottle or two.

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

#4 Long Trail Brewing Co. Imperial Pumpkin – Score 6.5

This beer is part of the Brush and Barrel Series.  We’ve sampled a few beers from this series and they were all pretty good.  We really enjoyed this beer last year and while we still liked it this year, we were a bit less impressed.  Circus peanuts dominated the aroma / flavor.  Along with candied yams, marshmallow cream, and Banana Runts candy, this beer seemed less like a pumpkin beer and more like a Halloween-candy-bag beer.  It had a nice creamy full body with well integrated spice notes and a dry finish.  The hops, however, were a bit much and seemed to clash with the rest of the beer.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

#3 Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Score 8

This beer has been a regular addition to our holiday season for some time now and it continues to deliver the right balance between solid beer making and additions of pumpkin and spice.  It starts off with sweet notes of brown sugar and caramel malts.  Then comes the spice: cinnamon and allspice with hints of hops and pumpkin on a creamy, medium to full body.   It finishes pleasantly hoppy and dry.  Leaving you ready for another sip!  This is a tradition that will continue for sure.

Southern Tier Pumking

Southern Tier Pumking

#2 Southern Tier Pumking – Score 8.25

I suppose one could say that this isn’t a pumpkin beer, but rather a pie crust beer.  Either way, it’s definitely seasonal and definitely delicious.  Biscuity aromas lead to flavors of pie crust, graham cracker, gingerbread, baking spices (cinnamon and ginger), and vanilla custard.  Hints of hazelnut and pecan pie.  Pumking is the beer equivalent of a soft, warm blanket.

And for our favorite pumpkin beer of all… so far…

New Belgium Pimpkick

New Belgium Pimpkick

#1 New Belgium Pumpkick – Score 9.5

Nearing perfection, the Pumpkick delivers it all plus a little bit extra that tips it into the outstanding category.  The nose is like pumpkin pie: full of spice (allspice), biscuit, mild pumpkin, and a hint of cranberry.  It all happens again on the palate with flavors of pumpkin butter, brown sugar, allspice, and cinnamon.  It’s that juicy tart cranberry twist at the end that kicks this beer to the top.  That tart pop balances the sweetness and richness of the other flavors keeping the beer lively and engaging.  The spices and pumpkin taste fresh and are well integrated into the malty backbone of the beer.  A complex brew that evokes the season!  We only wish it was available in Maine.

Pumpkin Beer Line Up 2014

Pumpkin Beer Line Up 2014

Until next year, Happy Holidays and bring on the Winter Warmers!

 

 

 

 

 


A Passage in Time

Long time, no post…

Maine (our new home).

A Passage in Time

A Passage in Time

Etching on the Wall - Pettengill Farm

Etching on the Wall – Pettengill Farm

Evening Paddle

Evening Paddle

Camp Coffee

Camp Coffee

Bard Coffee – Portland, ME

It just so happens that I am the roaster of this coffee.

Day

Day at the Beach

Bite into Maine – a food truck at Portland head light – offers some of the best lobster rolls we’ve tasted, so far…

Lobsters!

Lobsters!

Harpswell

Harpswell

Cathance River

Cathance River

Sunset

Sunset

Autumn

Autumn

The Forests are full of Magic

The Forests are full of Magic

Mossy

Mossy

Mushroom

Autumn 1

Forest 2

Apple

Apple Picking at Ricker Hill Orchard

Freezing Rain

Freezing Rain

Winter

Winter

One year nine months and counting…

 


Spanish (Iced) Coffee: Mixology Monday LXX

I had this great idea for an inverted cocktail after reading the Mixology Monday announcement.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped, but I didn’t have to walk away empty handed.

Putney Farm, the gracious host of this month’s mxmologodecided to challenge everyone with inverting a classic cocktail or at least something to that effect.  Here’s what they said:

A while ago, while researching Julia Child’s recipes, we noticed that she was well-known for enjoying “upside-down” or “inverted” Martinis. This is a version of the classic cocktail that swaps the ratios of gin and vermouth, turning the Martini into something of a “long drink”… We wondered if we could apply the same “inverted” approach to Mixology Monday and, at first, didn’t think it would work. But then we asked ourselves, what does “inverted” really mean? Well, here is the definition, “To turn inside out or upside down; to reverse the position, order, or condition of.” Hmm…it appears that the definition is pretty broad. It seems that “inverted” really just means something “flipped on its head”. And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity… You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and “invert” whatever you want. Spirits, name, ingredients, proof, color, geography, garnish and glassware are all fair game.  An apéritif made with Navy-Strength booze? Give it a try. A beer-based cocktail that tastes like champagne? Sure. A clear Manhattan? Worth a shot (and good luck with that). The only thing we expect is the unexpected. Have fun.

The Booze

The Booze

I pondered it for a minute and then had the idea of inverting the Spanish Coffee recipe from Huber’s Café in Portland, OR.  I ran across this recipe on the Imbibe website while researching coffee cocktails.  I had been working on cold brewed coffee / tea in cocktails project recently (more on that in a future post.)  Remembering the Spanish Coffee, I decided I would swap out the hot brewed coffee with the cold brewed.  Since the cold brew is concentrated, I figured I could invert the amounts of coffee and rum.  Three ounces of rum is a fair bit and at 151 proof seemed dangerous.  Well, that wouldn’t really stop me, but I had a couple types of rum available in my arsenal, but not 151 so figured I would balance the increased volume with a lower proof spirit aka use what I had.  That and lighting it on fire should allow for a pleasant, but not overly boozy cocktail.  The fireworks, in blue blazer style, would serve several purposes – it would burn off excess alcohol, heat the cold brewed coffee, and be theatrical!  

Putting a Flame to Rum

Putting a Flame to Rum

I started the week before by brewing up some coffee liqueur.  This time, I started by cold brewing a nice medium roasted Guatemalan coffee.  Then, I made a simple syrup with Turbinado sugar.  Once the sugar was all dissolved in the water, I let it simmer for a bit before adding in the coffee concentrate.  Over lowish heat, I reduced the coffee and sugar syrup together by a third to a half careful not to boil or even vigorously simmer the liquid.  Just kept it steaming. Took about an hour.  When it had reached a consistency that I liked, I turned off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.  I then filtered it into a bottle through a fine mesh strainer, added the rum and half of a vanilla bean split lengthwise.  Gave it a little shake and refrigerated it for a week.  This liqueur turned out much better than the last time I made my own.  I do, however, have a few tweaks for next time, but this is not a coffee liqueur post, so, on with the cocktail!

It was all ready to go.  I cold brewed again, this time a natural processed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe bursting with dark berry and chocolate notes.  I had it in a mug with the coffee liqueur.  In the other mug was the 2.5 ounces of Pyrat rum.  The idea was to light the rum on fire and pour it into the coffee/liqueur mixture which would start to burn the rum in the liqueur.  Pour it all back into the other mug and then pour back and forth in a stream of blue flame a couple more times to mix and heat the drink.  Finally, pouring it all into a sugar rimmed glass swirling the burning liquid to lightly caramelize the sugar and then, douse with the curacao.

All Ready to Go

All Ready to Go

Didn’t happen.  Couldn’t get the 80 proof rum to ignite.  Go figure.  Okay well maybe if I added a half ounce of 100 proof Captain Morgan.  Nope.  Still no fire. Okay, okay… What if it was just the 100 proof?  Nothing.  Match after long match.  No fire.  A tiny blue flare up that disappeared before you even realized it happened, sure, but no stream of blueish flaming booze.  Not sure why, at this point.

Well, if it doesn’t want to light on fire, fine.  Spanish coffee is typically served hot so, I’ll invert that and serve it iced.  Take that, amazingly non-flammable alcohol.

Shaken not Flamin'

Shaken not Flamin’

Shaken together with ice those ingredients provided a delicious, frothy cocktail.  One which I would have no issue consuming…I just better not have much planned for the rest of the day.  It was a boozy concoction.   Almost went with that, but there was this nagging.  I knew it could be better.  What if I inverted the inversion?  Bring it back to the original ingredient quantities?  I gave it a go.  It was the weekend so why not.

Spanish (Iced) Coffee

1 ounce Rum (I used Pyrat)

1/2 ounce Curacao

2 ounces Coffee Liqueur

3 ounces Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate (Nat. Ethiopian Yirgacheffee Gelana Abaya)

Fresh grated Nutmeg for garnish

Sugar Rim

Sugar Rim

Shake, with some vigor, the above ingredients together with ice.  Strain into a small snifter glass, run the rim with a bit of lemon and sugar it.

This was better.  This was good.  Less boozy and the coffee came through more.  The shaking helped to create this foaming action that cascaded just like a Guinness.  Much better suited to a breakfast cocktail.

Cascading

Cascading

Garnish with freshly grated Nutmeg.

Garnishing with Nutmeg

Garnishing with Nutmeg

So that’s my Spanish Coffee inverted to become a Spanish Iced Coffee.  Not too shabby.

Spanish Iced Coffee

Spanish Iced Coffee


Pain à l’Ancienne (It’s Bread #5)

Bread #5

Bread #5

My journey into bread baking is far from over.  However, I have come across a recipe and method that has yielded exactly what I have been aiming for up to this point.

Big bubbly crumb – check

Chewy moist interior – check

Crisp and crackly crust – check

Nuanced and deep flavor – check

I shall continue to refine this recipe to my equipment and taste preference.  I will also delve back into the land of wild yeast and sourdough starters.

For now, though, my latest and greatest comes from the venerable Peter Reinhart via his book The Baker’s Apprentice.  It is also, as I’ve come to find out, featured in numerous other posts with slight variations across the blogosphere.  This is a great book providing me with some new and interesting information to take my bread onto the next level.  If you like to bake bread or want to bake bread, I would recommend this book to you.

So here it is:

Pain à l’Ancienne

Flour, Salt, Yeast

Flour, Salt, Yeast

27 oz  Bread Flour (I mistakingly used an Organic All-Purpose flour from the bulk bin at Whole Foods instead.  I really like the flavor of the finished bread so I’ve kept using that flour in place of or for at least half of the called for bread flour.)

.6 oz Kosher Salt

.2 oz Instant Yeast

19-24 oz  Cold Water (I usually use 20 ounces)

The evening before you plan to bake:

Weigh out the water in a quart measuring cup, then add some ice.  8 cubes?

In a medium bowl combine flour, salt, and yeast.  Then, add 20 ounces of water.  Stir it around to combine.  When you’ve got a dough ball of sorts (it is a wet dough), continue to stir/fold for another few minutes.  I think of it as kneading with a spoon.  You’re looking for the dough to more or less easily pull away from the sides of the bowl when you’re stirring it.  It will stick to the bottom.  If the dough is not coming away from the sides add a bit more flour and work it in so that it is a little less sticky.  In the unlikely event that  your dough forms a non-sticky ball that holds its shape really well, add more water, a couple tablespoons at a time.

Spray another medium/large bowl with a cooking spray or rub with a little olive oil.  Transfer the dough to this bowl and spray the top of it or if using oil, you can attempt to roll it around or just not worry about it.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Ready to Refrigerate Over Night

Ready to Refrigerate Over Night

The next morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator.  It might have puffed slightly.  Let it rest at room temperature for 2-4 hours to take out the chill and allow the dough to swell to about double it’s pre-refrigerated volume.

Ready to proceed to the next step?  Then, position your bread stone and a pan for a steam bath in your oven.  Preheat it to at least 500F, if your oven goes higher then feel free to preheat as hot as 550F.  My oven goes to 525, so that’s where I charge it.

Dough on a Floured Surface

Dough on a Floured Surface

For the shaping, gently turn the dough out onto a well floured surface.  Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and lightly roll it around to coat it thoroughly while trying to degas the dough as little as you can.  Stretch and lightly shape into a rectangle 8 inches x 6 inches.  Using a pastry cutter dipped in cold water, press down into the dough to cut it in half width-wise.  Let the it rest for 5 minutes.

Line the back of a sheet pan with parchment paper sprinkled with semolina flour.

Cutting the Dough

Cutting the Dough

Cover one half loosely with plastic wrap.  With the other half, lightly press it into a rough rectangle of relatively even thickness, cut length-wise into 3 strips with the same pressing down of the wet pastry cutter technique.  Gently transfer the strips onto the parchment stretching/pulling them to about the length of the pan.  If they shrivel back up right away, let them rest for another 5 minutes and pull them out again.  Score the tops of these if the dough cooperates with you.

Stretched and On Parchment

Stretched and On Parchment

After the oven has preheated for at least 45 minutes, slide the parchment off of the sheet pan onto the bread stone.  Add a cup of hot water to the steam bath pan and close up the oven.  3o seconds later spray the walls of the oven with water from a spray bottle.  Do that another two times at 30 second intervals and then lower the heat to 475F.

While those are baking, prepare the other 3 strips using the remaining half of dough.

Check in 8-9 minutes of baking to see if the loaves are browning evenly.  You may want to give them a 180 degree turn.

Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 205F.  Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.  Turn the oven back up to 500-550F, let it heat for at least 20 minutes before proceeding with baking the remaining loaves.

Mini Baguettes plus Ciabatta

Mini Baguettes plus Ciabatta

Crumb

Crumb


Shrimp and Goat Cheese Tart

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Tart

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Tart

Our little tart here was inspired by Five and Spice’s beet and fig tart (which we have also made, and it is fantastic as well).  While eating the aforementioned figgy tart, I had this mini revelation:  I love savory tarts!  I also made this unofficial pledge to make and eat more of them.  The crust is the foundation upon which all else is built and Emily (at the above mentioned Five and Spice) rocked out an excellent crust recipe.   From there, you have seemingly infinite topping possibilities.  Granted, one cannot help but mention the odd similarity between the tarts proposed here and my other favorite food – pizza.  Be that as it may, I’ll not be drowning any tart in mozzarella and the two crusts are decidedly different.

These are the Ingredients...minus a thing or two

These are the Ingredients…minus a thing or two

The first savory tart to come of my unofficial pledge was a shrimp and goat cheese tart.  My wife came up with this one, and it was wonderful.  I’ve recreated it below so that we might once again joyously devour it.  When my wife decided to make this tart, we were out of goat cheese.  Unfortunately, the selection of quality cheeses at the nearest grocery store leaves something to be desired, so, we ended up getting a goat cheese that as it turned out was not crumble-able.  This ended up working out rather well since we were able to spread a nice layer onto the crust which had the benefit of allowing the cheese to be more evenly dispersed.  We were also able to avoid the occasional mouth-full of chalky goat cheese from a crumble left a bit too large.  This might not bother everyone, but it was a slight issue I had with the beet and fig edition.  So for this time around, I’m using that cheese again.  Feel free to crumble, if you like.

The quality of the shrimp played a big role, I’m sure.  10/15 count wild caught, flash frozen Gulf Shrimp.  These are very delicious.  A pre-cooked cocktail shrimp is not going to do this justice.  Just sayin’.

Pulse the Butter into the Flour

Pulse the Butter into the Flour

Alright, here’s how you work the crust.

1-1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt

6 T  Butter, Cold (the quality of your butter does matter, particularly with baked goods)

1 T  Distilled White Vinegar

3-4 T  Ice Cold Water

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and the salt.  Remove the butter from the refrigerator and cut into pieces (8-12) and add them to the food processor.  Process until there are no more chunks of butter and the flour reaches a coarse texture similar to corn meal.  With the machine still going, add in the vinegar and then, 1 tablespoon at a time, add the water until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

The Dough Ball has Formed

The Dough Ball has Formed

Remove from the machine and reform it into a ball then press it down to form a thick disc.  Wrap that in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

And that Wraps up the Dough...Ha Ha

And that Wraps up the Dough…Ha Ha

On with the tart:

While the dough is chillin’, we prep the rest, starting with shelling and deveining the shrimp.  Give them a chop, 3-4 bit sizes pieces per shrimp (give or take, our shrimp were very large).

Bacon and Garlic

Bacon and Garlic

9  Shrimp, 10/15 count is what we used

4  Thick Cut slices of Bacon, cut into cubes or small strips

4- 5  Cloves Garlic, roughly minced

2-3 tsp.  Fresh minced Rosemary

2.5 oz  Goat Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Saute the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon keeping that fatty goodness in the pan.  Turn the heat down slightly, wait a minute, then add the garlic.  Stir it around constantly for 30 seconds to a minute, careful not to let it burn.  Next add the shrimp and rosemary.  Cook for another 30 seconds or so.  We want the shrimp to start taking on a bit of color, but not to fully cook.  Turn off heat and set aside while you proceed with the crust’s next step.

Roll it out

Roll it out

Remove the crust from the frigo.  Roll it out on a lightly floured surface in a rough circular shape to about a 1/4 inch thickness.  You can certainly rustic this up a bit more and decorate it on a baker’s peel and bake it on a pizza stone.  Or use a tart pan like we did.  (Feel free to prick the crust all over with fork, pre-bake for 10 minutes or so, just before it starts to color and then continue.  I didn’t do this this time, but I probably will next time. )

Spread the goat cheese on the dough.  Now, fold over the edges, or roll them if you prefer.

Sprinkle the bacon on top of the cheese and then the shrimp mixture.  Pop it into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (less time if you have pre-baked the crust) until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Ready to Bake

Ready to Bake

Salad Fixin's

Salad Fixin’s

For the salad:

A couple handfuls of Greens: Arugula, Spinach, Mache, Watercress, or a Spring Greens Mix, etc.

Juice of half a Lemon

2-3 Tablespoons  Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt and Pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper until somewhat emulsified.

When the tart is done baking, let it cool for a few minutes.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top followed by a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  If your balsamic is not a nice and syrupy vinegar, then reduce it down a bit in a small sauce pan.

That's the Balsamic We Used

That’s the Balsamic We Used

Toss the greens in the lemon vinaigrette and arrange on the tart.  It is easier to arrange the greens once you’ve plated the tart.  You could also serve the salad on the side just note that the lemony flavor of the greens adds a brightness to the tart that really ties the whole thing together.

Enjoy!

Encore!

Encore!


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