January 30, 2005

Sauerkraut update

We've had some oddly warm weather here, so the sauerkraut didn't take as long as I originally planned.

It's pretty great. Perhaps a little more caraway-flavored than would be ideal, but caraway is a nice flavor. I heated up some pierogies and had a very nice dinner.

Posted by chris at 11:00 PM

Blueberry turnovers

So Calvert has a dream. You know those dirt-cheap fruit pies that you can get 7-Eleven? His dream is that someone should make a device that allows you to squirt the filling into the pie shell, so you could have whatever filling you want.

It's a good dream, and ever since he mentioned it, I've been trying to figure out exactly how to do it. Well. Turns out that there's a recipe for pretty much just that hiding in The Pie and Pastry Bible. Their fruit turnovers aren't made with puff pastry, but rather with a pie crust shell, which makes them very much like the ones at the 7-Eleven, only better.

So these were pretty successful, although the blueberry gunk leaked out through the vent holes, but that was just cosmetic. They might have been even better with the simple sugar frosting, but we can try that next time.

Posted by chris at 10:57 PM

Biscuits

Yesterday morning I thought, "I would love biscuits for breakfast". Then I thought, "well, let's make biscuits then!" It was a good idea; I hadn't made them in a while. I decided to cut the butter into the flour by hand, since I hadn't done that in a while. It's, you know, it's fine. Takes a bit more arm muscle than using the KitchenAid.

The biscuits were ready by the time the oven was preheated. That is a good thing in a recipe. Joanie and I enjoyed them with coffee. It was a nice breakfast. (It was also afternoon, but it was a Saturday, what do you want?)

Posted by chris at 10:51 PM

New Zealand fig and almond bread

This was bread #9, and it was made for Mark's birthday party.

It came out very nice -- the crust is covered in almond slivers and a fig is pressed into the top, and the whole thing is covered with an apricot glaze, and it's very nice. It came out a bit better than last time as well, a bit less dense. And it went over well at the party. Hurrah!

Posted by chris at 01:03 PM

January 28, 2005

Sauerrye

This is bread number 8, a rye bread made with sauerkraut, of all things. The sauerkraut was intended to suggest the sour flavor of a sourdough/levain bread. Well. The thing is, the recipe suggested that commercial sauerkraut (and no, I didn't use the homemade stuff for this) would be salty enough that the bread wouldn't need salt. This turned out not to be the case, and the bread is only about half as salty as it should be.

The other bread I've made from this book was the too-salty bread with breadcrumbs. So I'm a bit disappointed. The book (Brother Juniper's Bread Book) is good, but the recipes so far seem to be a bit off.

Posted by chris at 02:46 AM

January 26, 2005

Cranberry pie

I am getting the hang of it. Also probably getting fat, but we'll see.

Cranberry pie: Well, it turns out it's just sweet enough to be enjoyable, while still maintaining all the tart cranberry joy. It's a bit odd but delightful if you're a cranberry fiend, which I admit to more or less being.

Now that I've made the blackberry and the cranberry pies, I have enough scraps to make an open-faced pie. It feels like I've saved the butt-ends of cigarettes and now have a whole new cigarette! Except that I have never smoked, so it's not quite like that. Or is it? Yes. Probably. I suspect it is.

Posted by chris at 01:06 PM

Pickle update

So the half-sours tasted a bit funny. I checked the recipe, and sure enough, I let them ferment way too long. I had conflated the recipes a bit. I could have been enjoying them all this time! But ah well.

The tea pickles, on the other hand, came out fantastic, earthy and lovely. Jake said they might be his favorite thing that I've made yet, but he is a lapsang souchong kind of guy.

Posted by chris at 12:34 AM

January 24, 2005

Blackberry pie

I am getting the hang of this pie crust thing. This time, I decided to ignore the recipe a little, which recommends freezing the flour and butter before cutting them into each other. That makes sense for a food processor, which heats food up a lot, but I'm cutting using a standing mixer, which doesn't. Also, more importantly, I was very careful about adding the liquid to the dough, so that it would get moist enough, and that the liquid would be thoroughly mixed with the flour.

The result was a dough which was supremely easy to roll out, almost effortless. Stunningly so. The opposite of the pear pie dough. I take back all the bad things I said about pie dough: It was me all the time. I was the one in the wrong. I know this now.

This was also the first time the pie didn't leak into the plate, although it did leak through the vent holes and leave a purple tinge to the rim of the crust. Someday cosmetic perfection will be mine. Or... at least it'll taste good, right?

Anyway, the blackberries were nice, although I'll admit they taste a little odd for January. Not because they were bad, just that blackberries aren't a January food. They were frozen, though, and pretty nice. I sorta wish the filling was a little more gloopy and industrial, instead of liquid and natural. But who can complain? It was pretty tasty.

Posted by chris at 04:02 PM

January 22, 2005

Pretzels

This is bread #7, I think.

These were fine, but still not really New York-style soft pretzels. Hrm.

But these were made with an interesting kind of sponge starter, one that didn't involve any flour. Just let the yeast ferment on its own for a few hours. I guess that increases the flavor (the mixture certainly smelled yeasty after a few hours)!

Posted by chris at 11:05 PM

January 20, 2005

Purest pear pie

Argh. This one was trying to do me in.

OK, I guess my first mistake was not getting the butter cut all the way into the flour. It was a very, very moist dough and it refused to come off the parchment paper I was rolling it on. It was ridiculously moist in places -- places where the butter was still visible. So that was a nightmare.

Then when the timer rang it completely failed to register for me, and the pie overcooked. It came out only slightly burnt, though.

That said, this purely pear pie -- no spices at all -- turned out rather tasty and good, if you forget about the burnt bits. The filling was very nice. (And allegedly it will fill out in flavor over the next few days.)

Posted by chris at 12:26 AM

Purest white bread

This bread is white, so white, so very white. Almost painfully white.

It would be an interesting project to try to make a perfectly white bread, a snowloaf.

This was bread number 6 and it's pretty nice as far as white white bread goes.

Posted by chris at 12:23 AM

January 16, 2005

Country crumb bread

This is bread #5.

The interesting idea here is that you take bread crumbs from bit of your old bread that you didn't manage to eat (how is that possible? and yet it happens) and you add it to the bread. Otherwise this is a really basic hearth bread.

But the breadcrumbs speckle the bread and give it an interesting texture -- it looks like seeds in the bread, but since it's actually just more bread it's not as disruptive as seeds. It also changes the flavor a bit (they recommend you use crumbs from different types of bread). In this case, about half the crumbs were from the brioche, and I think that particular bread helped with the flavor.

I thought, on first bite, that this was a somewhat boring bread, but I then ran back for more of it. I think the texture of it is particularly good, and it's a non-flashy bread, which can be nice.

UPDATE: Upon further investigation, this bread was very salty. I put less salt in than the recipe called for, but it's still too salty. Not inedibly so, though!

Posted by chris at 02:33 AM

January 15, 2005

Shoofly pie

I don't think I've ever had this molasses pie before. The secret ingredient was a little bit of coffee (it should have been espresso, but coffee worked fine). This was dark and sweet and was great comfort food, even though it wasn't nostalgia food for me at all.

I am getting better at crusts. I really like the crust-making method in the book where this came from, The Pie and Pastry Bible -- it's relatively easy and it makes a tasty crust. It even seems to roll out much better than other pie crusts I've made.

Posted by chris at 10:22 PM

January 13, 2005

Russian soured cabbage (update)

So this is indeed soured cabbage with an interesting flavor. I'm not sure it's exactly what I was expecting and I'm not sure how much I like it. I'm just not sure. It is possibly very good and possibly a bit off. I keep eating it, though.

The regular saurkraut is about halfway there, or maybe less, and is smelling like sauerkraut indeed. It has some time left, though. Cucumber pickles still have a few weeks as well.

Posted by chris at 12:06 AM

Cracked wheat sandwich bread

This is the fourth type of bread I've made this year. I've decided to try to make 50 different breads this year.

Anyway, I've made this one before, and it's still amazing. I must have eaten about 3/4 of the loaf on various sandwiches.

I was looking into bread slicing machines today -- the automatic kind that you'd find at a bakery. Obviously they're too pricey for me now, but they're all really pricey in general -- over $4000! Some are handsome, though. Although one was going on eBay for less than $1000, but it was mysteriously missing a serial number...

Posted by chris at 12:04 AM

Lemon pickles

I started a batch of Indian-esque lemon pickles today, and I think I'm doing it all wrong but we'll see how it turns out, eh? We'll see. It'll be a while.

Posted by chris at 12:02 AM

January 09, 2005

Bialys

(UPDATE: This is the third type of bread.)

I forgot to do the thing that makes them "New York style" again. I remembered to make the insanely yummy again.

Posted by chris at 12:07 PM

January 06, 2005

Pasta with butter, sage, and parmesan

This almost doesn't count, but: When I made the sun-dried tomato and thyme bread, I needed to buy some fresh thyme, and they only thyme I could find was in a "bird stuffing" packet, which included some rosemary and sage as well. So I've used the rosemary in mashed potatoes. And I finally got around to using some of the sage in this dish. The sage leaves are put into some melted butter which then browns.

And wow, this was simple but tasted fantastic. I suspect I'll be having more of this.

Posted by chris at 11:23 PM

Brioche

(UPDATE: This is the second bread of the year.)

I made a brioche for Bryan, and one for us, but I have to admit that brioche is totally not my kind of bread. So I don't know if it's any good or not. We'll see what Bryan thinks.

UPDATE: Bryan, apparently, thinks it's fantastic. So that's good.

Posted by chris at 10:57 PM

January 05, 2005

Russian soured cabbage

I'm getting a little tired of waiting for the sauerkraut to be ready. This batch of soured cabbage should be done in a few days...

Posted by chris at 07:14 PM

Half-sour pickles

I started a batch of half-sour pickles, which should be ready in about 3 weeks.

Posted by chris at 07:14 PM

Whole wheat cumin rolls

(UPDATE: This is the first bread of the year.)

These came out very tasty as well. Whole wheat and cumin, earthy and nutty. If only I had a good soup to go with them.

Posted by chris at 07:13 PM

January 04, 2005

Tea pickles

I started a batch of tea pickles, which will be fermenting with lapsang souchong tea and which should end up with a lovely smoky taste in about 3 weeks.

Posted by chris at 09:52 PM