Friday, July 25, 2008

Baking Baguettes

Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
There is something about summer that leads me to bake. One might figure that winter is an appropriate time to get into baking: its cold outside, the oven can warm the house, generate the beautiful smells of bread.

Such is not the case for me. I bake in the heat of summer. 95+ºF outside and I turn the oven on to 500ºF. I can't exactly explain why, except that summer is when I have the time to coordinate my day around the bread.

That's the thing with bread: The actual hands-to-dough work is not all that intensive, especially if a mixer is employed. It is the waiting time: 16 hours, 20 minutes, 3 hours, 1 hour, 25 minutes - that force baking to command scheduling priority.

Today I did a bit of baking using a new recipe that I found on an amazing website: The Fresh Loaf.

Last night I started with the poolish and pate frementee (two methods used as bread starters. Usually a recipe calls for one or the other. This recipe called for both). This morning I mixed, let the dough rise, shaped, and baked. I came out with three loaves, two of which are ready for photos. Above is the baguette. Below is a batard - something a little bit longer. I think the batard is going to make wonderful sandwiches over the next two days.

Now, what can I bake this weekend???

Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The closest I have come to recreating a Cheeseboard pizza

Pizza for dinner - 7/23/08
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
How can I convey to you, reader, how good this pizza was (and I say was, because it is gone - I ate the WHOLE pizza. All 8 slices.)?

As the title of this post states, this is the closest that I have ever come to recreating a pizza from Cheeseboard. Now, if you have ever heard me wax poetic about The Cheeseboard and you know me, you are aware that I do not have a large enough ego to even attempt to recreate one of their pizzas. This is just a "pizza in the style of Cheeseboard." Cheeseboard pizzas are truly a heaven on earth.

I have recently returned to bread baking thanks to Peter Reinhart, and others. 4-6 baguettes every week, plus pizza. The pizza recipe comes from the King Arthur flour website. Now, if I were able to afford KA flour, I would buy it every time. Unfortunately, such is not the case. Tonight Antonia and I had pizza made from the KA .

The routine at our house when it comes to pizza is that each of us makes our own pizza. I divide the dough recipe in half and we bake two pizza: one for Antonia, and one for me. We each design our own.

Tonight, Antonia's was comprised of: tomato sauce, meatballs, onions, mushrooms, scallions, and zucchini.

Mine, as the title of this post suggests, was good enough mention Cheeseboard in the same sentence.

My pizza was topped with: Roma tomatoes (home grown), roasted zucchini (home grown), garlic (home grown), mushrooms, sauteed red onions, scallions, Gruyere, and Mozzarella. This was a truly sublime pizza. The vegetable:cheese ratio was perfect. The crust was great thanks to 500ºF on a pizza stone for 12 minutes.

Now, with such a tasty pizza, only a good bottle of wine could make things even better, and such was the case:
2005 Hanzell Chardonnay, courtesy of our friend Wynne.

This was truly one of the nicest meals that I can remember making at home: we ate outside, it was warm, Antonia and I had great conversation - everything was perfect.

To top the whole experience off, I was fortunate enough to have Stakes Is High by De La Soul playing while I wrote this, an album which contains one of my favorite songs: Itzsoweezee (Hot).

Enjoy your dinner, enjoy your pizza, enjoy your wine!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I am going to forgo posting about our wedding and honeymoon for just a little bit longer in order to write about one of my favorite foods - the egg salad sandwich.

Why do I like egg salad sandwiches? I believe that I like these sandwiches for much the same reason everyone likes them: my mom made egg salad often when I was a young child. As a result, eating them is both tasty and nostalgic.

When Antonia and I were deciding what to have for lunch today, we were close to making a tofu stir fry over rice. This plan made sense except for one glaring oversight: I had made baguettes this morning. A brief aside:

Last night before bed, I started the poolish for a French bread. Usually, my routine is to let the poolish go for about 7 hours then refrigerate it to retard the yeast. Last night, however, I decided to let the poolish go overnight, then I would wake up early to make bread. Upon a brief back-calculation, I learned that to have bread ready for a visit to a friend this morning, I would have to wake up at 5am to start the dough. Oh, to be the type of person who plans out projects before starting them. No matter - I was going to follow through with my plan. At 5, I woke up, started the dough, and by 5:30 I was back in bed. 7:30, the dough was formed, and by 9:30 the last loaf was out of the oven. One baguette went to our friend and the other was for us.

Now, back to the story. With this fresh bread in front of us, sandwiches were just a short logical hop. Now, what kind?

Our refrigerator solved that problem for us. Eggs. That was about the only sandwich-worthy foodstuff on the shelves.

I went online to find a hard boiled egg recipe - I have used so many over the years that I couldn't even keep them straight any longer. After a brief perusal of the available literature, I settled on this one from Adam Roberts, the Amateur Gourmet.

The Amateur Gourmet's Egg Salad Soliloquy, as modified by me.

6 eggs
Dijon mustard
cayenne pepper
smoked paprika

Put the eggs into cold water and put the pot on the stove on high. When the pot starts to boil (I actually stopped at 90ºC), take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes (not about 15 minutes, but exactly 15 minutes. If one is going to be particular about the cooking time, punctuality can be expected, no?). After 15 minutes, place eggs into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Let them cool down for a few minutes, then peel.

Here is where this recipe sold me: instead of mashing the eggs, they are finely cubed with a knife. It gives the egg salad a different texture, as the yolks do not totally dissolve into the mayo.

Put all of the egg into a bowl, add a tablespoon of mayo, salt, pepper, spices, and mustard. Mix and eat.

I broiled the sliced baguettes to get them a bit crunchy, then built our lunch. I was quite happy with the outcome - the smoked paprika give it a bit of sweetness that was unexpected but nice.

I think this may become my standard egg salad. While it didn't have the spicy tang of Tabasco that my mom's has, it still produced the nostalgic pang that makes egg salad such a fulfilling dish.

I just found out that this is my 100th post. And it only took 3 years!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kitchen Still Life

Kitchen Still Life
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
A snapshot of life in our kitchen.