Monday, April 23, 2012

Long see!

Sooo, I'm living in Napa Valley now, working at one of the best bakeries in the country...hence the no time to post, erg, I don't even cook much these days!  However, I'll be going back to New York in July, so you shall see more recipe testing during my month off!  From now until then I will attempt to post some of my travel photos (since my family is bugging me about doing so) along with a few of my favorite treats from the bakery.

My first week in Cali I went out to San Francisco to Tartine Bakery; I love their cookbooks so I was dying to see the shop.  I must say that the pain au chocolate was delicious, as well as the bread pudding, however, the lemon tart and the coconut cream tart...lacking, sorry guys, I still love you though.  

Second comment is that I was there a few weeks ago and saw one of the owners, Chad, in the window while waiting in line.  When I got to the front I asked the cashier if I could get him to sign my copy of Tartine Bread (since I am a CIA gal--his and his wife's alma mater); the cashier told me that Chad wasn't there.  Granted, he might have left from the time it took for me to reach the counter, but I was a bit bummed.  Well, I told myself then and there that if I ever have a shop of my own and an aspiring baker wants to meet me and get my John Hancock, I will be more than happy to meet them and encourage them in this tough industry. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Honey Oatmeal Bread

In one month I will be "hearth breads and rolls" class in school (my first bread class) and I can hardly wait!

Ever since I learned how to make wheat bread from scratch with the Carlins in fifth grade I've been hooked.

Well, quite honestly my sister, mom, dad, aunts, etc. not only love bread but we all have a sweet tooth (hence the pastry chef was only a matter of time before one of us went over to the dark side.)

We've just touched the tip of the iceberg regarding bread at school thus far; mostly the composition of flour and how the proteins in flour combined with water form gluten and provide the structure for bread (give me a break, I'm a freshman remember).

However, I have discovered that making great artisanal bread at home is quite a different beast than making it in a bakeshop due to the sheer lack in proper equipment (i.e. no hearth)

I know that there are many methods out there for home bakers which I have yet to try and I'll certainly get around to testing those out in the coming months; I'm thinking about Chad Robertson's book Tartine Bread (a CIA grad of course!)

He and his wife have a fabulous bakery called Tartine in San Francisco.

Until then, I've been testing some of the options from my health food store favorites.

Bob's Red Mill creates a huge variety of products and this bread is not only easy and delicious but healthy for you too since it is made entirely of whole grain flour (which is why the vital wheat gluten is not omit or your bread will not rise properly.)

Honey Oatmeal Bread
Ever so slightly adapted from Bob's Red Mill

->4-1/2 to 4-3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
->2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
->2 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
->2 cups Milk
->1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Honey
->1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
->1 Tbsp Sea Salt
->1/2 cup Scottish Oatmeal

1. Combine 2 cups of the flour and salt; set aside.

2. Heat milk, honey, oil until just till warm (115 degrees). Add yeast t milk and make sure that it foams (to ensure that your yeast are alive) and then add to dry mixture in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds....stop, drop and scrap the sides of bowl. Then beat 3 minutes at high speed.

3. By hand, stir in oats, gluten and enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Here is where the workout begins...

4. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Keep turning your dough as you knead so that your gluten strands develop evenly. Shape in a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let rise in a warm, draft free place until double in size (it takes roughly 45 minutes).

6. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

7. Shape into two loaves; place in two greased 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" bread pans. Cover and let rise in warm place till doubled again (about 30 minutes).

8. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks to pull heat away from the pans and stop the bread from continuing to bake.

We are addicted to roasted chicken and we pretty much have one each week but since there are only two of us we always have left overs. Anyhow, I made the bread to be a vehicle for Agnes's Cilantro Almond Chicken Salad (I interned with Agnes...she's the best! we use lots of her recipes in our household) ; you can find the recipe here! However, those of you who know Dan know that cilantro isn't Dan's favorite herb, so I mellow it out a bit by replacing about 1/3 of the cilantro in the recipe with flat leaf Italian parsley.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Buttermilk Waffles and Maple Glazed Bacon

I have discovered that when it comes to bacon I am lazy; I don't want to babysit it in my cast iron pan so I pop them on a foil lined sheet pan with a steel rack and pop it in the oven for 20-25 min at 375F (roughly...if you have thick cut bacon it may take longer; also Dan likes SUPER crispy bacon so I let it go until it's pre-char.

For maple bacon mix some maple syrup (grade B works well here) with a splash of dijon (so that it adheres better and gives a bit of bite); pop the bacon in the oven for 5 minutes to head up a bit and then baste the bacon with the maple/mustard mixture; flip it after 10-15minutes and coat the other side.

I'm a pancake kinda gal myself but Dan (and my mom) love waffles, so on a weekend when we're expecting a hurricane I figure a big brunch of waffles and bacon is

Rich Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

->2 cups all-purpose flour
->1/2 teaspoon salt
->2 tablespoons sugar
->1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
->1 3/4 cups buttermilk* or 1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
->2 eggs, separated
->4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
->1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
->can of Product of Arthur Meyerhoff (aka PAM...yes that is what it really stands for)


1. Combine the dry ingredients. Mix together the buttermilk, sour cream and egg yolks. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla bean paste; you can use vanilla extract of course...I just like the flecks of vanilla bean that the paste gives.

2. Spray your waffle iron with PAM. Heat iron according to manufacturers directions.

3. Return to your batter; stir the wet into the dry ingredients.

4. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. (NOTE: a trick to get the best foam from your egg whites 1. make sure the whites are at room temp. 2. make sure that you use a super clean bowl...even a trace of yolk will coat the proteins in the whites and prevent them from foaming properly.

5. Fold gently into the batter.

6. Ladle batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the style of iron.

7. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

* NOTE: The buttermilk can be substituted with 1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature, mixed with two tablespoons white vinegar, left to clabber for 10 minutes; however, this will not be as good as buttermilk. I'm not talking about "cultured buttermilk" that you often find at the local wal-mart...true buttermilk made from the milk left over from the production of butter (Kate's brand is available here in the NE) just fyi...put it on your list to add to your pretty much lasts A WHILE due to the acid content.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Garden Work

This first photo is merely proof that I haven't killed mom's Hawaiian plumeria cutting (yet!) I am attempting to keep it nice and cozy with the plastic because our weather is being screwy currently; sorry for the sub-par photo mom but I was being chased off of our deck by a giant bumble bee.

These next two shots are for Court; G planted Japanese tree peonies all around the house and they are currently in bloom. I wanted to take a few quick shots before it rains here and destroys them.

We have our first berry starting to ripen; Dan and I have been carefully watching it waiting until it is fully ripe and ready to pick. G has a whole strawberry patch behind our house so there are plenty more berries to be had, though we do take great pride in our little plant.

Dan and G worked in the garden last weekend; mostly getting rid of most of the large weeds before they till the rest of it under this weekend (when things dry out a bit). We have had rain on and off; it is currently super humid but we are supposed to have a cold front coming through tonight.

If you are wondering if I just took pictures while Dan and G worked, the answer is yes, yes I did. We have a small plot of land allotted for our use by the corner of our deck and I've been working on this little plot trying to improve the soil so that it will be in good shape for next season. I feel no remorse for not helping with the large plot...I was tired!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Roast Chicken and Mashed Potatoes

Agnes Devereux from the Village Tea Room in New Paltz is my dinnertime hero when it comes to feeding Dan. Her first blog post was for her famous Roast Chicken; I have made this three times now and every time it comes out perfectly. Tonight I was a bit lazy and didn't make the accompanying gravy, just the chicken. I'm using the leftovers to make her chicken salad...more on that later...almond, cilantro, lime...sounds crazy but it's delicious!

The second recipe of hers that I've used is her mashed potatoes; are they healthy...absolutely not...are they the best mashed potatoes that you have ever had...YES!

Needless to say, Agnes' roast chicken and mashed potatoes have become our Sunday night supper staples so if you are coming to visit us on a weekend you can expect to find this dynamic duo.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring has Sprung

So, I've decided to start out small with my gardening this year. We planted a selection of herbs, strawberries and tomatoes in containers on our deck and then we are working on a fenced plot, preparing the earth for next season (we may plant a crop of beans for soil improvement but nothing more).

Also, there is a guy that I work with who helps manage a local organic farm, so next month I'll start helping them on the farm for more hands on learning.

Above is our strawberry plant; I didn't expect the lovely white flowers that are on the plant, quite lovely.

We were told by our local gardening center to plant our mint in its own container; this is apple mint but I think that we may also plant spearmint as well.

Next is fennel; I just started using fennel this year (thanks to Agnes, who showed me how to prepare it properly).

Above we planted parsley, cilantro and dill; I have no idea if these are compatible, we just crossed our fingers and we are hoping for the best. I have since been looking at our local library for a good container gardening guide for some help!

Our final pot contains sage, thyme and rosemary; we fully expect to have to re-pot these babies as they grow for I know rosemary along can grow to be rather large. I am assuming that plants, like goldfish, grow according to the size of their container...we'll see...if you know otherwise, please let me know!

G has done a great job with the landscape around the house; the beds are full of daffodils and tulips and the property is full of lovely flowering trees. Dan and I are in awe of the wonderful fragrances that we are greeted with every morning.

We spend most evenings on the deck or on the swings just breathing in the fresh air.

If we move back south I will miss Spring and Fall up here in the north.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Upstairs Lambie/Downstairs Lambie

Last week I asked Dan to stop by the pet store for a few items for Remi, mainly dog food. We had a little incident with Remi getting a bacterial infection when we switched his food and the vet could not conclusively tell us the infection was related to the food and not to him eating something from the yard so we went back to the old food. The only problem is that the old food is hard to find (which is partially why we switched anyhow!)

When Dan arrived home he came bearing a new Lambie; (Lambie is Remi's favorite toy, we have been through four I believe).

However,when Remi received his new Lambie I noticed that he kept one in the living room and one in the bedroom (downstairs no less); one is shiny and new and the other has patches of missing fur.

I was instantly reminded of the TV show "Upstairs Downstairs" and in honor of the PBS program, I thought a little Lambie photo shoot was in order. (PBS Masterpiece collection recently did three 60 minute episodes of a new version of Upstairs Downstairs a classic hit from the 1970s. My boss, who grew up watching the original in Ireland, told me about the series and I subsequently watched all three new episodes and now want the boxed set of the new and old for those who are looking for a good birthday present for me ;P)

Dan commented that I clearly have settled into the mostly unemployed life when I am photographing Remi's toys...I think it just shows my vast creativity...or maybe I just have too much time on my hands.

For those of you who have not seen the show (or who don't want to follow the link to read more about it...I know who you are) it is set in the 1930's and it is a drama about the wealthy and the hired help (to be blunt).

As droll as it may seem, we have upstairs and downstairs Lambies in our house and I just wanted to document such for my own amusement. Aunt B is likely rolling her eyes at this point but I'm okay with that, I have quite accepted my own ridiculousness!

(In case you were not able to discern a difference the top photo is "upstairs" Lambie and the two bottom photos are of "downstairs" Lambie; I found "downstairs" Lambie on the the floor one morning by the window...hence the second photo, he posed for the third.)