May. 2nd, 2014

kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Are people still doing Recipe Friday? Regardless, it's Friday and I wanted to post about cooking.

I haven't been doing a lot of elaborate cooking lately, because I'm still getting used to my new work schedule (up at 4 am every day to be at work at 6 am). Also, as the weather warms up I mostly lose the urge for stews, etc. and get more in the mood for pasta and noodle dishes and such simpler things.

1) One of Nigella Lawson's books mentioned that the best thing to do with storebought gnocchi is not to boil them, which makes them gluey, but to pan-fry them. She is so right. Panfried in oil (or clarified butter if you like) they become golden, crisp on the outside, and generally gorgeous. They work best, I think, with sauces that are fairly dry and chunky, not too buttery or oily but full of strong flavors. Most recently I made a sauce by frying about 2 ounces of diced Spanish-style chorizo and a diced shallot in some olive oil, then added a couple cloves of minced garlic, then a partially-drained 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes. I simmered that until the flavors had melded and the sauce was fairly dry, then topped the gnocchi with some sauce and some grated Asiago cheese.

There was leftover sauce, which was lovely the next morning as the base for baked eggs. I put a couple of tablespoons of sauce apiece into 2 small oiled ramekins, added an egg to each, baked until the white was solid and ate happily with bread.

2) I've finally found a bread book that has most of the characteristics I want. Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza gives its recipes by weight (in grams, no less), explains each step and technique thoroughly, offers multiple types of recipe (same-day breads, overnight no-knead breads, breads with pre-ferments such as poolish and biga, and levain/sourdough breads), uses the technique of baking in a Dutch oven (so no futzing around with baking stones or spraying water into your oven, which doesn't work well and can damage the oven), and uses the stretch-and-fold method for developing the gluten rather than extensive kneading. The only thing missing, I think, is delayed first fermentation (i.e. refrigerating the dough immediately after mixing, which allows enzymatic development that creates more flavor) but that's easy enough to insert into the recipes. Oh, and I wish his recipes were scaled for one loaf rather than two--in theory you can halve the recipe, but then you start getting yeast quantities of .2 grams aka a scant 1/16 of a teaspoon, which is tricky to measure.

Yesterday I baked Forkish's White Bread with Poolish, the most basic of the poolish recipes, and had very encouraging success. The poolish, which is basically a very wet starter dough that ferments overnight and then forms the basis of the final dough, creates flavors similar to those No-Knead Bread develops, but the final dough is not quite as hydrated as no-knead bread and therefore easier to work with. I got a better rise with this dough than I've gotten with no-knead bread, which is so slack that it tends to lose gas.

I made one of the two loaves in the "fendu" shape, in which the dough is divided down the middle with a dowel into two lobes just barely attached. But then I forgot to sprinkle flour in the division to keep the lobes apart, and after baking I discovered that a round fendu loaf in which the two parts have mostly fused together again . . . looks a lot like an ass. (Note for Brits and others: backside, not donkey.) Ass-shaped bread! The mind boggles with marketing possibilities.

I'm not sure whether to try making biga (another starter, less wet than poolish) next or jump straight into levain breads. Perhaps levain, because it won't be too many more weeks before it'll be so hot here that I won't really want to bake.

3) Today after work I cooked poha, an Indian dish of beaten rice cooked with spices and vegetables (the rice itself is also called poha). The linked recipe is basically the one I followed, although I parboiled the potato dice until tender, used more mustard seed and 3 chiles, and added some frozen peas at the same time I added the beaten rice. Yum. It's extremely similar to upma made with sooji, which I also like, but a little easier to make; it's also fluffier-textured and uses less oil/ghee. Three cups of poha makes a big batch, so I have some tasty breakfasts to look forward to. (Yes, I do like spicy things for breakfast. And I much prefer savory breakfast foods to sweet ones, although I love sweets the rest of the time.)


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

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