Friday, December 30, 2005

Savory Challah


Savory Challah
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Holla! - Is what I say before, during and after all Challah related experiences. So here's a Hannukah challah
to all.

Due to my career with the 7 and unders, I'm home all week on vacation with plenty of energy for some serious kitchen experimentation. We needed a savory bread for our New Year's dinner tomorrow, and I wanted to bake some Challah beacuase I like to hear myself talk (see above) and because I'm constantly working to compensate for my ethnic deficiencies in my ardent quest to be a good Jewish mother. And so- the Savory Challah was born.

First I Sauteed:
(in about a tablespoon of olive oil)
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 Cup white onion
Pinch salt
Pinch of fresh rosemary

Then I mixed:
1/2 Cup warm water
2 1/2 packages yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar

And let it sit until it was foamy (about 5-8 mins.)

During which I mixed:
Three whole eggs and 1 egg white
2/3 Cup water
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/3 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon honey (any honey will work- it's for sweetness in the new year)

And I added the garlic mixture and the yeast mixture.

And then I added about 6-7 Cups of white flour, one cup at a time. (Toward the end, just adding the flour becomes the kneading process) I removed the dough when it was smooth and elastic, and placed it in an olive-oiled bowl.

And I let it rise for about an hour (until it was BIG-you can just tell). I turned on the oven to 200 and left the door open for a while to give the bread a toasty enviroment in which to grow. Do not do this if you have a gas oven- it will not work out well for you!

I punched down the dough and let it rise for another half hour. Then I seperated it into two sections, and braided one section (out of three ropes) and twisted the other into a snail (pictured). Each loaf got it's own oiled baking sheet.

Then I went to physical therapy and let the dough rise for too long (thirty minutes would have been enough).

When I got home I reshaped my bread loaves a bit (so that the braiding/snail shell lines would be defined), brushed them (liberally) with a wash of one egg yoke and a Tablespoon of water, and placed baby rosemary sprigs all over their tops.

Then I baked them- first at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, the at 350 for about 30 more (until they were both very brown). I switched their positions (top rack to bottom and vice versa) twice during the baking time, so that each loaf would get it's due time in the electric sun.

And then I put them on rack to cool, picked up Greg, and got major girlfriend points. And said "Holla!" about 20 times. (I think he's too in love to care).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Humboldt Fog and Biscuits


Humboldt Fog and Biscuits 1
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
This morning, as I awoke, I was surprised (and pleased) to find a plate full of biscuits on my side table. Antonia got up before me and made me one of my favorite breakfasts - biscuits. Its a very simple breakfast, but Antonia makes the best biscuits I have ever had, so the simplicity does not take anything away from breakfast.

Yesterday, Antonia and I went into the East Bay to purchase a coffee table at Ikea and while in the neighborhood of Berkeley decided to lunch in our old digs. The plan was to go to A.G. Ferrari and Beanery, but much to the dismay of my bagel-loving girlfriend, Beanery was out of bagels. Just before the out-of-bagels incident at Beanery, we went in to A.G. Ferrari next door to get my lunch - the Siciliano sandwich (a roasted vegetable sandwich with ricotta salata on a seeded roll). While they were making my sandwich, I noticed the cheese case - the same cheese case that introduced me to smoked gouda and St. Andre. Today the cheese that caught my eye was the wheel of Humboldt Fog - a goat cheese made by Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove Chevre in McKinleyville, CA. This is by far the best goat cheese that I have tasted outside of France, where I was lucky enough to buy some fresh chevre for a train ride at the farmer's market in Carcassonne. It has a nicely moldy rind and some vegetable ash in the middle. It is named Humboldt Fog due to the color - which apparently resembles the color of the fog in Humboldt, CA.

Skip to lunch today - I put the two wonderful foods together. Lunch was Humboldt Fog and biscuits. Basically perfection on a plate.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Satsuma Cake


Satsuma Cake
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I was reading Slashfood a few days ago and came across a picture of this cake made by someone else. I had never heard of Clementine Cake before, but the picture and the attached description made it sound delicious (not del.icio.us). Anyway, I clicked through and found out that it was a Nigella Lawson recipe. Antonia had told me about Nigella before, and coming from such a reputable source, I figured that Nigella may have something to offer. Boy was I right.

We ended up making the cake out of Satsuma oranges (mandarins) instead of clementines becuase those are what we had. I did have to run out to get the ground almond meal that gives the cake its structure. Well, here's the recipe - I hear that it can be made with any citrus - let me know if anyone tries it with another fruit.

From nigella.com
Clementine Cake by Nigella

4-5 clementines(about 1 lb)
6 eggs
1 c plus 2 tbs sugar
2 and 1/3 c. ground almond meal/flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder

Put the clementines in a pot of water and bring to a boil for about 2 hrs. (We did 1.5 hrs and it turned out great!) Take out the little green stem parts and put into a blender or food processor. Pulse to liquify. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse to blend, or like we did, pour liquified orange pulp into a mixing bowl and whisk in the rest of the ingerdients.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter (or margarine) a 8in springform pan and line with parchment or wax paper (and butter that as well). Pour in batter and bake for 1hr. Like in the original recipe, we put an aluminum foil hat on the cake for the last 20 minutes - it was getting pretty dark.

Well, enjoy this picture, enjoy the cake. Please let me know what works and what doesn't - one day I hope to make this cake in at least 3 flavors and serve them all on one plate.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peanut Tofu


Peanut Tofu
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
This dish was made by special request today. Antonia wasn't feeling well today, so I stayed home to make sure she had everything that she needed. At around 11:30, she announced one final need before noon: peanut tofu.

I had invented peanut tofu a few months back, when trying to find something to do with a shallot and some peanut butter. Today, just like back then, I poured and mixed until I got the consistency I was looking for, so I will do my best to reproduce what I did.

Peanut Tofu.

1 block of firm tofu, pressed to remove excess water then cubed.
1 shallot, finely chopped.
1/2 c peanut butter.
1/2 c soy sauce.
1/4 c white vinegar.
2 tbs brown sugar.
2 tbs water.
olive oil for sauteeing shallots.
red pepper flakes to taste.

Heat a saucepan to medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the shallots, and sautee until browned. Turn down heat to medium. Add in the red pepper flake.
Once the shallots are browned, add in the liquid ingredients, then stir in the peanut butter. If the sauce seems too thick, add in more water.

Into a very hot sautee pan I added the cubed tofu. After giving it a few minutes and a few tosses in the pan, I added in the peanut sauce and turned down the pan to medium. The peanut sauce and the tofu were left together to let the sauce soak into the tofu a little bit. I stirred constantly to make sure the peanut sauce didn't burn on the bottom of the pan (Although a little bit of crystallizing did occur, and the texture is great!).

I poured this over some egg noodles that I had boiled up and voila! Antonia had lunch. I hope that she feels better.

I really like this peanut sauce - It was made to try to emulate the peanut sauce on a CPK pizza, so I did the best I could. I'm pretty sure that their's has some fish sauce in it, but mine still turned out tasty.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fourme D'Ambert Omelet


Fourme D'Ambert Omelet
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
10 years ago, you couldn't have paid me to eat an omelet, never mind an omelet with blue cheese. My taste for blue cheese has only developed recently though I wish that this was not the case.

I love this cheese. I was only introduced to in 2 weeks ago, and already I am in love. It is such a creamy blue cheese - almost like a blue brie. I picked it up at Nugget as the cheese lady was cutting it up and wrapping it. I tasted a piece and was sold. I had to wait until after I went down to Irvine for Thanksgiving to incorporate it into what I knew would be a great vehicle for this cheese: an omelet.

This morning after I finished studying for my now complete final in Microbiology, I decided to make myself an omelet. A couple of weeks ago I did the same thing and came up with the spinach omelet - it was great. The spinach from our backyard was wonderful in that omelet. Today's omelet was different - instead of a fresh, bright feeling in my mouth, I got an earthy, musky feeling to go along with the taste. The taste was near perfect - so good in fact I thought about it all through my tests today. In fact, I can still taste it now, 4 hours later. That gives a glimpse of the depth of the flavor.

The little block of cheese on top was the perfect finish to the omelet - half way through I received an extra bite of cheese - it was like a present from my omelet to me :)