An everyday batter bread (recipe post)

Fact:  I can’t buy bread from the market anymore.  Specifically, I can’t buy bread from the bread aisle.  If it’s from the bakery section of the market, that’s ok.  But manufactured bread?  I just can’t!  Even the smell of the bread aisle has become unappealing to me.

I’ve been making my own bread fairly consistently for the last four years.  Manufactured bread just doesn’t measure up in fragrance and flavor.  I used to post about my bread attempts but eventually stopped because I only make the same two recipes nowadays.  First and foremost is a spelt version of Richard Bertinet’s basic bread recipe.  I’m very capable of making this.  I don’t even need the recipe on hand anymore.  Mix four ingredients together, work the dough for about 10 minutes, let it rest and rise until doubled in volume, shape, let rise again, and bake.  Simple.

I am still bad at shaping this dough, but that’s another story.

The second bread recipe I use a lot is a white batter bread from Bread Made Easy by Beth Hensperger.  What makes a batter bread recipe different from a basic bread recipe?  Laziness Time.  A batter bread is just that – you mix everything into a batter.  There’s no kneading.  There’s no working the dough for 10 minutes.  You just mix it until it’s a shaggy thing (like dough with a bad hair day?  or like oatmeal gone very wrong?), plop it in a loaf pan, let it rise just the one time, and then bake.

Batter breads lack complex flavor without help.  Basic bread recipes can attribute part of its flavor from the double rise.  I’ve read that three or four rises total taste even better, but who has the time for that?  Beth Hensperger’s version adds a touch of ground ginger which is deliciously amazing and you might not know it was there if you hadn’t been told.

But… I only like it in the white bread version.  I’ve tried making a whole wheat version, a spelt version, and a spelt version without ginger.  The variations didn’t satisfy me much.

And then I came across Home Baked by Hanne Risgaard.
DSC00853 Continue reading

Pictures, Jan-Feb 2013

My mom came over and made me fried rice. I was obnoxious by taking photos and a video of her cooking. The video is for my own reference, but here are a couple of pictures.

DSC00825
DSC00826
Last weekend was the blizzard. One side of my house had a dusting. The other side of my house (where my driveway is) had four foot drifts.

DSC00829

DSC00830
And today, I was experimenting with black rice. I boiled 1/2 cup of black rice in lots of water for about 20 minutes. And then, to the boiling rice, I added 1 red bell pepper, cut up. After a few more minutes, I added slices of Chinese sausage (leftover from my mom’s fried rice visit) just to warm through. The whole small pot of rice, bell pepper, and sausage was drained, and then left to rest 10 minutes. I garnished with sliced kumquats, and called it lunch. Not bad for someone who couldn’t think of anything better to make! (^_^)

DSC00833

Not bad looking, right?  You can barely see the sausage.  It absorbed the coloring of the rice.  (That is one potent purple!)

Warming grapefruit tea, for people who hate grapefruit

I’m coming down with a cold. meh.

So, all I want right now is is something that is warm, soothes my throat, and is full of things that’s supposed to be good for you. I don’t know why, but I rarely crave orange juice when I’m sick. Apple cider is nice but sometimes it tastes too sweet to me. Grapefruit is on sale at my local markets, so that’s what I brought home.

DSC00749

The problem? I don’t like grapefruit. I very nearly hate it. So why did I come home with grapefruits? To make grapefruit tea! Ok, I guess this is more like a spiced grapefruit cider than tea but the original recipe calls it tea so I’m leaving it like that. The original recipe called for 1 stick cinnamon and 1/2tsp allspice berries for about 2 cups grapefruit juice to be heated on the stove. However, I have a jar of chai masala that I made recently, so I went with that instead. Plus, the black pepper in the chai mix feels nice on my sore throat.

Continue reading

Mystery experiment, part 2 of 2

So! Hi. Yeah, this follow up post is much later than it should be. Part of it was because the fermentation period in my cold New England apartment ended up being ten days. And then I wanted to experiment with it before posting anything.

The original post?
https://awesomesauceeats.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/mystery-experiment-part-1-of/

Continue reading

Harvard SEAS lecture, 11/5/12, Joanne Chang

Joanne Chang is a food celebrity around these parts.  She’s the owner of Flour Bakery, which originally started in the South End of Boston, and then opened up branches at Fort Point Channel (Boston) and Central Square (Cambridge).  She’s been on the food show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” (Chang’s sticky buns won against Flay’s).  She’s married to Christopher Myers, and together they own the restaurant Myers+Chang.  She’s written a cookbook, aptly named “Flour:  Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery+Cafe” and I believe she’s finishing up Flour cookbook #2.

I’m not a 100% sure, but I think she’s spoken at Harvard before. She’s just never spoken at the SEAS public lectures until now.

But, let’s back up and bit and talk about the amusing, hilarious brilliance that is Professor Mike Brenner’s “Bakery Phase Diagrams.”

This is what happens when a mathematician decides to plot a recipe by way of ingredient ratios.

Continue reading

And when a hurricane comes along…

I did a little bit of tidying up in the backyard on Saturday (but I realize now it was not enough) – things like moving the grill into the garage in preparation of a hurricane. While I was out there, I realized that my cherry tomato plant still had fruit. I plucked everything that was red or starting to change color, but I initially left all the tomatoes that were green. Further storm warnings encouraged me to pluck all the green tomatoes or risk losing them altogether. I ended up with one pound of green cherry tomatoes, more than I thought I was going to end up with.

Continue reading

A taste of izakaya fare (or why I didn’t see Wylie Dufresne tonight)

I did not go to the Wylie Dufresne lecture at Harvard tonight.

Why?

Because I was too busy attending an izakaya cooking class at Cambridge Center for Adult Education on the other side of the square. An izakaya is a Japanese bar. Not the kind of bar that you’re thinking of, but generally a small hole-in-the-wall  where you go after work to grab some beers and nibble on food. I’ve been to Japan a few times, but I’ve never stepped into an izakaya, mostly because I don’t drink. However, after watching clips of Kodoku no Gurume or episodes of Shinya Shokudo, and hearing my friends who have lived in Japan rave about izakaya foods… I started getting curious. Luckily for me, CCAE held an izakaya cooking class for the first time ever, under the title “Japanese Small Plates” and taught by Yoko Bryden.

The only bad thing about the class? The pacing is a little weird. Class started at 6:30p, but two hours were spent making sauces, marinating, soaking rice, and answering questions. I started wondering if we’d be done before class was supposed to end. But then in the last hour, cooking and eating went fairly quickly. In fact, we finished class fifteen minutes early.

As for the food that was made:
1) raw tuna with grated Japanese mountain yam
2) lotus roots stuffed with seasoned ground beef, served with ponzu sauce
3) smashed cucumber
4) rice with scallion/miso
5) fried tofu skins stuffed with scallions and katsuobushi
6) grilled chicken and scallions on skewers

Yoko also served some hiyayakko but I didn’t partake in that because I’m allergic to tofu. (Yes, this Chinese American girl is allergic to tofu. The universe laughs at me.)

Everything tasted really good. The grilled chicken was probably my favorite.  The fried tofu was probably the second favorite.  I’m not posting any pictures or any recipes out of respect for the instructor and for CCAE, so you’ll just have to sign up for the class if possible and discover everything for yourself… and then discover that you are suddenly in the mood to gorge on Japanese food but can’t because there was only-oh-so-much food made!

^_^

Reference Links:

http://www.yokodesign.com/

www.ccae.org/

(edit to add – Yoko’s blog is currently in Japanese only.  She is working on an English version.)