Monthly Archives: July 2013

Whole Wheat Focaccia

Before I forget: binteo.com, a new social networking site which puts regular people in touch with experts, is currently in beta and looking for cooking experts. Check them out if you’re interested in being an expert or finding an expert in photography, gardening, fashion and a few other subjects I can’t remember off-hand.

Anyway, in American bakeries and grocery stores, focaccia tends to be a much thicker bread so the thinness of this one may be surprising to some of you. But take heart, you can still use it to make a lovely grilled cheese sandwich. Credit where credit is due, this is a variation on a recipe I originally saw in the New York Times a few months ago, and I always stick with my King Arthur Flours.

Whole Wheat Focaccia

-6 oz. (by weight) whole wheat flour (1 1/2 cups)

-6 oz. all purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)

-1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

-1 1/2 teaspoons salt

-1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

-7 oz. (by volume) water (7/8 cup)

First things first, mix your flours together in a bowl.

Now, take a bigger bowl and your salt, yeast, oil and water. Pay attention because this is important: Some people have very strong feelings on the order in which you add the ingredients e.g. combine the yeast with the water to make sure it’s active, add the yeast to the flour to prevent clumping, add the salt at the end, etc. Unless your using a recipe which specifically says otherwise, do it however you like. And unless you haven’t used your yeast for 2 months or more, it’s probably fine.

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Stir until the salt and yeast are dissolved, then add in the flour mixture about one quarter at a time. Once the last of the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes. This will allow the starches and gluten to absorb the water in a process called autolyzation. The upshot of this is higher rising and less kneading.

Once the dough has had a chance to rest, knead it on a well-floured counter for 10 minutes. Keep a little pile of flour so you can dust your hands if the dough starts to get a little too sticky.

Now back into the bowl, oiled this time, and let rise at least 2-6 hours.

If you’ve got a cast iron griddle or 8 inch frying pan, awesome. Get it. If not, place some parchment paper (or flour) on a baking sheet.

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When done rising, flop the dough onto a floured work surface , form into a rough eight inch circle and transer to your baking sheet. Cover lightly with a damp cloth or oiled plastic wrap and let rise for one hour. Halfway through, dimple the bread with your finger tips and top. I like to keep it simple with: 1 Tablespoon olive oil, a sprinke of a big, crunchy sea salt and some dried rosemary. Lately I’ve been using Hawaiian Red sea salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 425F and let the bread rise the other half-hour.

Bake the bread in the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes. The finished product should look a little like this.

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Alternatively, you can roll the dough out very thin after rising, and use it to make pizza. Boo-yah. Top it with whatever you like and bake it at the same temp for 15-20 minutes. This one has summer squash, home-made pepperoni a buddy shipped me from Iowa, mozzeralla and leftover marinara I pureed into pizza sauce.

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Blueberries Two Ways and More!

Shout out the the University of Georgia Society of Aspiring Plant Pathologists for a) the good work they do regarding blueberries, and b) selling blueberries on the cheap. The missus and I were the proud owners of ten pints of fresh blueberries, which we’ve whittled down to about four pints of frozen. Some of my tastier and/or more fun experiments have included these two gems.

But first I wanted to let you all know that I made an entry to the Bob’s Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle contest where I could win a trip to Scotland and compete in the World Porridge Making Championship. Check out my entry video here, it’s a recipe for a simple candy made with heavy cream, sugar and toasted oats. Now without further ado:

Blueberries Preserved in Molasses

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I’ll level with you, unless you love molasses this recipe is not delicious. It is however, fun and interesting. So go for it, and feel free to switch up which sugar you use.

-1 cup blueberries

-about 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (it couldn’t hurt to experiment with other sugars)

Fill up a 1 cup jar to within an inch of the top with blueberries.

Add the molasses (or honey, golden syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, what-have-you); let it sit a few minutes while the syrup fills up all the nooks and crannies, then add some more. Enough so it’s within an inch from the top.

Cover with cheese cloth or muslin (so it can breath, but nothing can fall or fly in) and a rubber band or something. Let it sit at room temperature for about two weeks. After which time it will look like the picture and taste…interesting.

Quick Blueberry Sauce

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I just made this in a pinch to serve over waffles this morning. It turned out great!

-2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

-1 cup sugar

-1/2 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a pot and boil for ten minutes. Serve immediately.

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Update on Corned Beef and Liqueur Recipes

My computer’s been on the blink (fixed now, though) which is why this week’s post is a little late.

Today I just wanted to re-visit two of my previous posts and give some updates.

Corned Beef Revisited (original post)

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It’s been two weeks since I started corning this nice brisket, and right now I have a few options:

1) I can let it keep going for a little while longer before boiling it

2) I can go ahead and boil it now

Since my sister-in-law is coming to visit with her family this weekend, I’m going to hold off. I’ll boil it for a few hours on Friday, slice it while it’s hot, and serve it Saturday for sandwiches.

Ice Cream Liqueur (original post)

Back when I did my Leftover cake liqueur post I mentioned that I should try it with ice cream. Well I finally got around to buying some Ben & Jerry’s “everything but the…” and whipping up a batch. Wow. You have got to try this. And I encourage you to experiment. This one was good, but let me know how other flavors turn out.

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-1/2 cup ice cream (any flavor)

-1/2 cup vodka (I stick with my Tito’s)

Mix together the vodka and ice cream in a blender or a bowl and hit with an immersion blender just long enough to melt the ice cream and get the chunck broken up.

Let sit at least four, preferably six hours so all the flavors can mingle and mellow.

Strain trough a fine strainer, double cheese cloth or butter muslin to get out any grit from ground up chunks. Serve chilled, room temp or in coffee. So easy, so good.

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Potato Bread

Studies have shown that the most popular posts on Simple and Complex are the baking posts. So without further ado…

Potato Bread (from A Baker’s Tour by Nick Malgieri) one of my new favorite cookbooks

-1/2 lb AP flour

-1/4 cup potato, boiled and mashed up good

-3/4 teaspoon dry yeast

-1 1/2 teaspoon salt

-1/3 cup milk

-1/3 cup warm water

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Use a fork to make sure the potato is mashed up nice and fine, then use your hands to work it into the flour. Add the salt and yeast to the flour next and stir it around to make sure you don’t get any clumps.

Regarding flour, I usually use King Arthur but being back in The South I had to buy some White Lily. For those of you who don’t know, White Lily is highly regarded for making cakes and biscuits because it’s made with soft winter wheat as opposed to hard. This leads to a lower amount of protein and gluten, but I’m going to give it a try in potato bread just for fun.

Measure the milk into a 1 cup measuring cup, then add the 1/3 cup of hot water. This way it ends up being warm-ish, which is about what you want. Add this to the flour mixture, and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.

Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to let the flour hydrate and yeast activate.

After 10 minutes has passed, knead the dough by hand for 3 minutes. Then place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 2 hours. Go ahead and oil up your loaf pan now.

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When the dough has doubled in size, flop it onto a well floured surface and form it into a rough rectangle which you can roll into a bread loaf. You might need to fold the edges over, it’s fine. In some regards, bread is more forgiving than people tend to think. Loaf shaping is one, also baking temp (but that’s a different story.)

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Preheat the oven to 400F and place the dough in the greased up loaf pan seam-side down, let rise about an hour until it’s almost doubled (as per usual.) I could tell at this point by White Lily experiment wasn’t going so well.

Bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Immediately remove from the bread pan and let cool on a rack for about an hour. As you can see, the White Lily didn’t work for a sandwich bread. However, it is still delicious with brie and jam. I have since learned that White Lily makes a bread flour. Perhaps I’ll use that for a future experiment.

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