31.1.12

Vindaloo Basa

Basa is so cheap and it readily takes on any flavour you want to add.  Tonight I used some of my Premala's Vindaloo Curry Sauce.  Saute celery, onion, plantain and sweet pepper in canola oil.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add 3 - 4 tablespoons of the curry sauce.  Add basa and brown on both sides.  Add back the vegetables.  Saute until the basa flakes easily.  Serve immediately.

29.1.12

Pomegranate Sorbetto



Remember all that pomegranate juice I made awhile back?  I have the juice frozen and took out a liter and made this amazing sorbetto.  It is so rich and flavourful that only a little scoop satisfies the craving.  Pomegranate has a sweet tart puckery quality about it that makes it ideal as a palate cleanser.

Pomegranate Sorbetto

Makes about one quart

    4 cups freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice (from 7 large pomegranates)
    1+1/4 cups (250g) sugar
    2-3 tbsp lemon juice
    2 tbsp Grenadine (pomegranate syrup, optional)

    Juice the pomegranates by hand.  See my link above for Pomegranate juice for instructions.
    Stir 2 cups of pomegranate juice and sugar over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat and combine with the remaining pomegranate juice. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice and Grenadine (if you’re using) and stir to combine. Taste and see if the mixture needs more acidity. Depending on the sweetness of your pomegranates, you might want to add another tablespoon of lemon juice.
    Chill the mixture thoroughly then freeze it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

28.1.12

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger

I have been holding on to this recipe for at least 4 years.  It was highly recommended by my neighbour, Eileen, in Calgary.  I have never eaten ground turkey and even though I trusted her that this would be delicious, it didn't make it to my dinner table until now.

This is a discovery by Oprah at the Mar-a-Lago Resort owned by Trump.  I love being a name dropper.

I would never in a million years have thought to pair Granny Smith apples with ground turkey.  I just love how moist and juicy this is.  I serve it with my homemade apple chutney.  I will be making more chutney this summer just to have with this burger.

This is satisfying without leaving you feeling as though you have over eaten.  I will be adding this to my barbecue menu this summer.

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger

Oprah found a new favourite food when she tried this turkey burger at Mar-a-Lage, Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach.  "I believe it may be the best turkey burger in the entire world," she says.  The Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger will be permanently available at the Trump Bar and Grille in Trump Tower in New York City, open to the public for lunch and dinner.  It will also be served during lunch in Chicago at Sixteen, the Trump International Hotel restaurant.
Serves 6

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1/8 cup canola oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
1 lemon, juiced and grated zest
1/4 cup Major Grey's Chutney, pureed

Saute the scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender.  Let cool.

Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl.  Add sauteed items and the remaining ingredients.  Shape into eight 8 - ounce burgers.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Season the turkey burger with salt and pepper.  Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill.  Grill each side for 7 minute until meat is thoroughly cooked.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Serve with chutney and your favourite toasted bread, pita or hamburger roll.

27.1.12

Southern Style Chicken Stew and Biscuits

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens! 


In all the time I lived in Tennessee I never did have Chicken and Biscuits.  I have been wanting to make it for a long time.  Chicken pot pie was one of the very first dishes I learned to make in high school home economics.  This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's recipe in Barefoot Contessa Family Style.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits


  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken boullion cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • rind of 1/4 of a preserved lemon

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups stoneground all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons rendered duck fat
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 egg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast  for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, preserved lemon and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, dried tarragon and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and duck fat.  Work with your finger tips to break the butter into pea sized pieces.  A variety of sizes is ideal to create a tender and flaky biscuit.  Whisk one egg until foamy and add to the milk and quickly mix into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon.  Drop these biscuits on top of the stew by using two tablespoons.

Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Note: To make in advance, refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, then place the biscuits on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until done.  Biscuits can be frozen unbaked until needed.  Drop onto parchment lined baking sheet and freeze.  When frozen package and wrap tightly.

24.1.12

20 Mile Dinner

I have duck breast in my freezer along with vegetables from my garden.  In keeping with the theme of the 100-mile diet, I am enjoying a 20 mile dinner tonight.

The duck breast is from one of the local Hutterite colonies.  The legs were used for confit.  These yellow beans were from the Farmer's Market and I grilled them before freezing.  The sauce for the duck is red wine poached rhubarb that was water bath canned.  I only had to go as far as my freezer and cold room for this satisfying meal tonight.

23.1.12

I Made Pretzels Today

 Warm, salty and chewy pretzels are my treat today!  My 'go to' blog for easy and failproof recipes is The Pioneer Woman.  She actually got this recipe from my other 'go to' blogger Smitten Kitchen.  So this is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman via Smitten Kitchen via Martha Stewart.  Three great women who know their way around a kitchen.  If you have not visited these blogs, you should just click and check them out.  You will be addicted.

Soft Pretzels  From Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Martha Stewart


Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse kosher salt
Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchmen paper. Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip.  Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

22.1.12

Garlic Tasting

A while back, my friend Val brought some organic garlic to a cooking class - "farm grown garlic from a friend's garden".  Three different kinds were on the menu.  "I would like to hear what you think,"  she commented upon giving me three little bags labeled Susan, Kazakhstan and Lorz.  "My friends think they all taste the same."

I created a little chart for comparison purposes.  I compared appearance, aroma in the raw state, flavour - sauteed chips and roasted.

In addition I also tasted garlic that I had purchased at the Salt Spring Island market when I was on vacation last summer.

I have often dreamed about being a 'taster'!  However, garlic was not on my radar!  It is interesting.  Cleansing the palate between tastes is a challenge.  I made naan yesterday and ate a small piece of it along with a drink of water.  Plus I waited awhile between tastes.

Researching garlic is fascinating but it is difficult to know if you are comparing apples with apples with all the different names they are given.  Lorz is an Italian garlic.  It is touted to be sweeter and milder.  Susan is probably Susanville.  It is grown in California.  It is probably what we are usually buying at the supermarket.

The farm garlic varietals I am tasting are Susan, Kazakhstan and Lorz.  Here is what I thought -

The Susan was white with purple in the papery covering.  The raw flesh was yellowy white.  The raw state had a very mild aroma.  It was the  mildest of all the garlics.  After sauteeing the sliced garlic in olive oil, I found the flavour to be strong and bitter.  After roasting, it was also the strongest of the three.  The individual cloves were the largest of the three.

Kazakhstan had a papery covering that was mostly purple.  The cloves were of medium size.  The flesh was the yellowest of of all.  The sauteed garlic chips were mild and sweet.  After roasting it was mild and sweet.

Lorz was all papery white.  The flesh was the whitest.  The cloves the smallest.  After making sauteed chips, the flavour was mild with a bitter aftertaste.  After roasting, it was very bland.

The Salt Spring Island garlic had large cloves, purple papery covering, slightly bitter when made into chips and sweet when roasted.  They seemed ideal.  But I don't know which type they were.  With the purple papery covering, they might have been the Kazakhstan variety.

This is the garlic from the Salt Spring Island market.



After all this garlic tasting I had to make something with it.  I mixed all the roasted cloves for this recipe and made the mushroom caps as an appetizer.  The earthiness of the mushrooms married well with the earthiness of the garlic and blue cheese.

Garlic and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Caps

10 cloves of roasted garlic
2 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
1 dozen crimini mushroom caps
olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmesan
lemon zest
fresh parsley

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop finely.  Toss them in a pan with a little olive oil and the mashed cloves of garlic.  Saute until tender.  Ad the panko and continue to cook until they are toasted.  Remove from heat.  Grate in some parmesan cheese and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.

In another pan, saute the mushroom caps in olive oil for a few minutes then fill with the mushroom stem and panko mixture.  Top with crumbled blue cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Garnish with lemon zest and fresh parsley.  Serve immediately.

16.1.12

Making Horseradish


I have had many cooking 'firsts' this year.  This is another.  Horseradish!  I have had offerings of this root and kept some of it in my cold room until now.  I swear I can smell it through my house so I had to deal with it.

Making horseradish is relatively easy.  The most difficult part is peeling the root and preparing it for processing.  After peeling, cut into small cubes and chop in a food processor.  The longer the root is exposed to the air, the stronger the flavour.  When it is as strong as you would like add white vinegar to cover.  Process again and then strain.  Bottle the horseradish.  You can mix it with sour cream to make horseradish cream.  Otherwise, use 'as is'.

Healthy Steel Cut Oats for Breakfast


I love the nutty flavour and the texture of steel cut oats but the 25 minutes it takes to cook them is sometimes too much for me.  I get lazy and fry an egg.    Here is a trick for you!  Soak them overnight in water and they cook in 5 minutes the next morning!  I use one part oats to 2 parts water.  Top them with chopped candied ginger, dried papaya and coconut for a tropical twist.  Satisfying, healthy and quick.

15.1.12

Vegetarian Paella

Paella is one of my favourite one dish meals.  I had friends come over last night and one is vegetarian.  So I made the vegetarian version of this.

There is a formula for this dish.  Make a sofrito with diced onion, green pepper and tomatoes.  To this add the rice.   I use 1/2 cup of bomba rice per person and as many vegetables as I have on hand.  Sweet peppers, asparagus, corn coblets, frozen peas, artichokes and olives are a sampling of what you could use.  For each cup of rice, I add 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock.  Seasoning is saffron, smoked paprika and sea salt.  So easy.  Top it with lemons and you are ready to go.

Saute the sofrito with the rice.  Add the water and bring to a simmer.  Add all the vegetables.  Saute for about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender.  Do not stir.  It is desirable to have a crusty bottom.

14.1.12

Braised Duck & Wild Mushroom Tamales

After several months of not participating I am back cooking with The Daring Cooks.  This month's challenge is tamales.  I have made them a few times before and love to have them as a treat.  Thank my lucky stars that I met a very supportive group on Chowhound a few years ago that said, "Yes you can!"

One young man of Mexican heritage passed on his mother's best tips for making a light and fluffy tamale.  It works!  These are not for the diet conscious so I have made mine tapas size.  We can enjoy them without over indulging.

Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year! 

Braised Duck & Wild Mushroom Tamales

Filling

1 cup of duck meat (breast, leg doesn't matter)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon anchilo chile powder
2 tablespoons dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
duck stock

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil and add the dried mushrooms.  Let them sit in the hot water for 20 minutes.  Remove and reserve the soaking liquid.

Brown the onions in a little olive oil.  Add duck meat and continue to saute until meat is browned.  Add the rest of the ingredients including the soaking liquid from the mushrooms, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until fall apart tender.

 
Tamale Dough
4 c.                  instant corn masa mix
4 c.                  lukewarm water or broth
2 t.                  baking powder
1 t.                  salt
1 1/3 c.          lard or shortening

Combine Masa Mix, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Work in the water or broth using a stand mixer, if possible, or otherwise your fingers to make a soft, moist dough.  Beat this masa mixture until it is light and smooth and resembles a cake batter.  Let sit for 20 minutes.

In another bowl, beat lard or shortening until fluffy.  If you have a stand mixer, this is ideal.  Beat it until very light and fluffy and until it almost triples in volume.  This will ensure a light tamale.

Slowly add the whipped lard to the dough a little at a time and mix in gently until well combined.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.  At this point you can test the dough to see if it has been beaten enough.  Drop a small amount, about the size of a raspberry into a glass of cold water.  If it floats, you will have a light and fluffy tamale.

10.1.12

Hearty Winter Black Bean Soup

This is another hearty winter soup.  Black beans are so delicious and work well with pork.  I used my sister's spicy venison sausage for this.  I squeezed the meat out of the casing and browned it before adding to the soup.  Corn adds a little colour.  This freezes well and you can put it away for single servings.  The only addition I might make next time would be some barley or rice or potatoes.

Black Bean Soup

1/2 lb turtle beans
1 meaty ham hock
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped & sauteed with the garlic
6 cloves garlic, squashed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 cups frozen corn
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley

Soak the turtle beans overnight.  Drain and rinse.

Fill a stock pot with about 8 cups of cold water.  Add ham hock, soaked black beans, sauteed onion & garlic and all herbs & spices.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours or the beans are tender and ham falls off the bone.  Remove the ham hock and shred the meat.  Add the meat back to the soup.  Sautee the sausage and add to the soup.  Add the corn and flat leaf parsley.  Serve.  This would be nice with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.

This freezes well.  Put it away for instant lunches.

9.1.12

Launching my Newsletter - CurrentCravings

 Welcome to my newest project.  I am publishing a monthly foodie newsletter featuring local news.  This is the first issue.  If you would like to be on my mailing list, please email me with your email address.
CurrentCravings     

  
                  
Sarah’s newsletter about the local food scene

Welcome to the first issue of my Current Cravings newsletter.  I will send this out monthly until I get so crazy busy with the Farmer’s Market that I get behind!   I will pass on to you all the interesting food related information that I come across during my daily routine.  If you have something noteworthy to share, just email me and I will pass it on.
 
Panettone at Shopper’s.
            My hands down favourite Christmas bread is panettone.   When I was in Regina I was delighted to find it at the Italian grocery, The Star, on Victoria.  I bought a few and brought them home.  Then I was in Shopper’s here in Swift Current and they had my favourite label, Tres Marie.  After sampling a few I still love Tres Marie the best.  The pieces of candied citrus peel are so fresh and flavourful.  In addition, they had Tres Marie pandoro.  Pandoro means golden bread.  It is the same thing but without the peel.  Make a mental note of that for next Christmas.  Regular price was $12 and it was on sale after Christmas for $10.

Wines and Libations
I am no sommelier but I do enjoy wine.  New Year’s Eve is behind us but we can look forward to Valentine’s Day to enjoy some bubbly.  The best buy on a nice sparkling wine is a French blanc de blanc that is on the shelf here.  It prices out at around $25 which is a bargain compared to the Piper Heidsieck at around $50.  I love them both but when price is a consideration, buy the blanc de blanc.  It is a chardonnay of the champagne style.

In the meantime, if you would like to try something different Alvear Amontillado is a wonderful aperitif, or before dinner drink.  It is an amber coloured dry port with lots of flavour.  It prices out under $16.

Tip for Singles
            I bought  a Leg Tip Ham at Superior Meats.  I have never seen this cut before.  It is about one pound and cost about $5.00.  It is smoked ham just like the big ones.  What a great way to enjoy real ham without having to buy a lot.


Feature recipe
            Soups taste best when it is cold outside.  We are having such a wonderful mild winter but I still enjoy my soup.  This is a great recipe and considering we grow field peas right here it should be on your ‘favourites’ list.  Find a farmer and get a gallon!  Just remember, when you are cooking whole peas the skins come off as they cook and should be skimmed off and discarded.  They are indigestible and can cause gas.  Oops!  Did I say that out loud?  They can cause digestive problems so you may as well scoop them up and discard them.

Dried Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa, in Swedish)

    1 lb. dried yellow or green peas (whole if you can get them, but split ones work just as well)
    8 cups water
    2 finely chopped onions (2 cups)
    1 peeled whole onion studded with 2 cloves
    1 meaty ham bone -or- 2 to 3 ham hocks
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    1 tsp. ground ginger
    1 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. pepper
    1 tsp. grainy brown mustard
    1 large carrot, diced
    1 stalk celery, finely diced
    3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1" pieces
    1 pound Danish Canadian-style bacon (pork loin) or Canadian bacon

Rinse and pick through 1 lb. dried yellow or green peas. If using whole peas, soak the peas overnight in their soup water (this isn’t necessary if using split peas so long as you can let the soup simmer for 2 to 3 hours).

Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water (or 6 if you like a thicker soup. You can always thin it with water as you go along if it looks too dense). Add the peas, 2 finely chopped onions, 1 peeled whole onion studded with two whole cloves, and a meaty ham bone (-or- 2 to 3 ham hocks).

Bring to a boil, then cover pot and reduce to a simmer over low heat for 90 minutes.

If using whole peas, skim off any pea skins that have risen to the surface. Remove 2 to 3 cups of the soup, puree in a blender or food processor, and return puree to the pot (this helps to thicken the soup).
.
Add celeriac or celery, potatoes, diced carrots and Canadian bacon to soup during last 45 minutes of cooking time. Stir soup occasionally and check for desired consistency; if necessary, add a little hot water.  30 minutes before serving, remove the studded onion and the meat. Chop the meat (it should amount to about 1 cup) and return to pot.  Season the soup with 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Simmer 15 more minutes.

Serve, passing around grainy brown mustard to stir into soup to taste.


20120109

8.1.12

Cheddar & Jalapeno Biscuits

Tonight I am attending a pot luck supper with my photography group.  Oven roasted ham is the main course and the rest of us bring the side dishes.  I have opted for cheddar and jalapeno biscuits.  I think they will compliment the menu nicely.

I always refer to Dorie Greenspan when I make biscuits and scones.  Her recipes work.  Because it is post-Christmas and all that goes with the over indulgence of the season, I have opted for the basic biscuit dough rather than cream scones.  I hope they are just as good.

For added flavour I cubed some cheddar cheese and diced pickled jalapenos.

Cheddar & Jalapeno Biscuits            adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cake flour
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold milk
3 ounces aged cheddar, cubed
2 pickled jalapenos, finely chopped

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 425F.

Whisk the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.  Drop in the butter and work with your finger tips until the mixture is pebbly.  Add the cheese and toss.

Stir in milk and peppers.  Knead a few times until all the flour is incorporated.  3 or 4 turns should be enough to work it all together.

Divide into 2 circles.  Press each circle flat to about 1" thickness.  Cut each circle into 6.

Bake the biscuits for 14 - 18 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

7.1.12

Dried Yellow Pea Soup

One day last fall during harvest season my back door neighbour had a 5 gallon pail of freshly harvested dried peas.  "Would you like some?"  he asked.  Never one to turn down food, especially local food, I accepted a coffee can filled with the dried yellow peas fresh from the field.

This recipe can be made either with the whole yellow peas or split peas.  If you have never cooked with whole peas then you must know that all the skins come off the peas as they cook.  All these little skins should be skimmed off the surface of the soup as they appear.

This is a wonderful warming winter soup traditionally made from dried yellow peas and served on Thursdays in Sweden.  Try a dab of grainy brown mustard on top of each serving to enhance both the presentation and the flavor.


Dried Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa, in Swedish)

    1 lb. dried yellow or green peas (whole if you can get them, but split ones work just as well)
    8 cups water
    2 finely chopped onions (2 cups)
    1 peeled whole onion studded with 2 cloves
    1 meaty ham bone -or- 2 to 3 ham hocks
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    1 tsp. ground ginger
    1 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. pepper
    1 tsp. grainy brown mustard
    1 large carrot, diced
    1 stalk celery, finely diced
    3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1" pieces
    1 pound Danish Canadian-style bacon (pork loin) or Canadian bacon

Rinse and pick through 1 lb. dried yellow or green peas. If using whole peas, soak the peas overnight in their soup water (this isn’t necessary if using split peas so long as you can let the soup simmer for 2 to 3 hours).

Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water (or 6 if you like a thicker soup. You can always thin it with water as you go along if it looks too dense). Add the peas, 2 finely chopped onions, 1 peeled whole onion studded with two whole cloves, and a meaty ham bone (-or- 2 to 3 ham hocks).

Bring to a boil, then cover pot and reduce to a simmer over low heat for 90 minutes.

If using whole peas, skim off any pea skins that have risen to the surface. Remove 2 to 3 cups of the soup, puree in a blender or food processor, and return puree to the pot (this helps to thicken the soup).
.
Add celeriac or celery, potatoes, diced carrots and Canadian bacon to soup during last 45 minutes of cooking time. Stir soup occasionally and check for desired consistency; if necessary, add a little hot water.  30 minutes before serving, remove the studded onion and the meat. Chop the meat (it should amount to about 1 cup) and return to pot.  Season the soup with 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Simmer 15 more minutes.

Serve, passing around grainy brown mustard to stir into soup to taste.

4.1.12

'Picture a Day' Favourite

If I was participating in the "Picture a Day" group I think this would be my selection for my favourite picture of the year.  I do not even remember taking this shot and the play on light had me confused.  I didn't see the fence as a fence!  I like the weak little daisy flowers trying to grow in the shade.  I like the steely colour of the fence and the sunlight sneaking in at the bottom.  I would think this was a bright and hot summer day.

3.1.12

Making Naan at Home

As it seems to be the norm, my Market clients are continually pushing me to try new things and learn.  First it was pumpernickel bread!  I had never made it.  Then it was healthy hot dog buns!  Too much work, I thought.  Now it is naan.

There is a special Tibetan dinner for a woman who will be going to that county as a missionary.  They want a special way to honour her and show their pride.  So here we are!  I am making naan.

My sister, Trish spent more than 15 years in India and I am hoping that I can have success by association!  My first lesson was to not call it 'naan bread'.  NO, NO, NO," she implored, "Naan means bread."

Trish did not have any recipes.  If you know Indian cooks, they rarely use a recipe.  It is learned.  I found my recipe in The Joy of Cooking, of all places.   I made it exactly as written and was happy with the end product.  However, I will make one change the next time.  The recipe calls for active dry yeast and it is not hydrated before incorporating into the dough.  As a result it hardly rose at all in 1 1/2 hours and also there were little specks of colour throughout the dough.  It was the undissolved yeast.

I will be using instant dry yeast next time and I think it will be delicious.  Another change to the recipe will be to skip over brushing the dough with melted butter before baking.  I don't want to make a mess of my pizza stone and create a lot of smoke from burning butter.  I usually see the chefs slathering butter on one side of the naan and rubbing two of them together to achieve a nicely oiled surface.

They will then be stacked oiled sides together and wrapped in a towel, or in my case for this group, heavy aluminum foil.  I am opting for salted butter in this case because there is little salt in the bread recipe.  I will also use 30% red fyfe flour for added flavour.  I can hardly wait.  I will be baking naan for 60 people!

This is my test run.

Naan               adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole red fyfe flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast

Mix in a large bowl or the mixer bowl of a heavy duty mixer.

Add
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk, at room temperature

Mix by hand or on low speed of your mixer until all ingredients are incorporated.  Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the mixer using a dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover well with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat a pizza stone in a 475F oven.

Punch the dough down and divide equally into 4 pieces.  Roll into balls, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each ball into an oval about 8 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.  Place the dough directly on the baking stone without touching each other.  Bake until each oval gets puffy and just begins to turn golden, 6 to 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and butter one side of each piece.  Place buttered sides together and stack in a cloth lined basket.  Keep covered and serve warm.

2.1.12

Making Sourdough with Wild Yeast

I have not participated with The Daring Kitchen for several months!  I have been so busy with all my other cooking but I am wanting to get back and try a few things.  I am making bread all the time but have never made it without yeast.  There is yeast naturally in the stoneground flours and in the air and this is captured to create the leavening.  This was fun!  I followed the directions exactly and made both the rye leaven and the wheat leaven. 

I was a little less fussy once the leaven was made.  I was casual with the recipe and they turned out very well.  It is cooling in the kitchen as I write and can hardly wait to cut a slice.  I am especially happy with the rye bread.  This is 100% dark rye bread and although heavy, it has risen nicely.

I had to cut into the wheat loaf.  The texture and flavour is wonderful and the crust is very nice and toothy.  I can't believe I have made bread without yeast.   I will let the rye bread cool until tomorrow before cutting into it.

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!


Russian Rye Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves and excess rye starter to keep for further baking.
Rye Starter - Day 1:
Ingredients
1/4 cup whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup  water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total scant ½ cup 
Directions:
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86°F/30°C if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer. It should be a very sloppy, runny dough, which will bubble and grow as it ferments.
Rye Starter - Day 2:
Ingredients
1/4 cup whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1/2 cup starter from Day 1
Total scant 1 cup 
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.

Rye Starter - Day 3:

Ingredients
1/4 cup whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1 cup  starter from Day 2
Total 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons 
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place. If you notice it has a grey liquid on top, just stir this back in and continue as normal.
Rye Starter - Day 4:
Ingredients
1/4 cup whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup water (at 104°F/40°C)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons starter from Day 3
Total about 1¾ cups
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

Rye Starter, ready for baking.


Russian Rye Bread - Step 1: Production Sourdough
Ingredients
1/4 cup rye leaven (starter)
1 cup whole (dark) rye flour
1 1/4 cups water
Total 2½ cup
Directions:
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. Cover and set aside for 12-24 hours, until bubbling. Set aside the remaining starter for further loaves – see the Notes section for tips!

Russian Rye Bread - Step 2: Final Dough
Ingredients
2 cups production sourdough (this should leave some (½ cup) to become your next loaf of bread!)
2 1/3 cups rye flour (light or whole)
1 teaspoon sea salt or ½ teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total 5 cups
Directions:
1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. With wet hands, scoop the dough up and put it in a well-greased loaf tin.

2. Put the tin inside a large plastic bag, blow it up, and seal it. This should make a good little dome for your bread to proof inside. Set aside somewhere room temperature to warm.
3. The dough should be ready to bake with in anywhere between 2-8 hours, depending on how warm it is. I proof mine by a sunny window in about 4 hours. If the dough was halfway up the tin when you started, it will be ready when it reaches the top (i.e. almost doubles in size).
4. Preheat the oven to very hot 470°F/240°C/gas mark 9. For a large loaf, bake for 50-60 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after about 10-15 minutes. If baking in small loaf tins, bake for 35-45 minutes, reducing the temperature after 10 minutes. If you are unsure about whether it is done, give it a few minutes longer – it is a very wet dough, so the extra time won’t hurt.
5. Leave to cool on a cooling rack, and rest the loaf for a day before eating it.


French Country Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter for further baking
Wheat Starter - Day 1:
Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons  stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons water
Total scant ½ cup 
Directions:
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86 F if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer.

Wheat Starter - Day 2:

Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons water
scant 1/2 cup starter from Day 1
Total scant cup 
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.
Wheat Starter - Day 3:
Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
4 teaspoons water
scant 1 cup  starter from Day 2
Total 1⅓ cup 
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place.
Wheat Starter - Day 4:
Ingredients
3/4 cup  unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  water
1⅓ cup  starter from Day 3
Total scant 2⅔ cup
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

French Country Bread
Stage 1: Refreshing the leaven
Ingredients
1 cup less 1 tablespoon wheat Leaven Starter
6 tablespoons  stoneground bread making whole-wheat or graham flour
1 cup  unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup  water
Production Leaven Total approximately 2¾ cups
Directions:
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. It may be fairly stiff at this stage. Cover and set aside for 4 hours, until bubbling and expanded slightly.
French Country Bread
Stage 2: Making the final dough
Ingredients
3/4 cup stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons sea salt or ⅔ teaspoon table salt
1 ¼ cups water
1 ¾ cups production leaven – this should leave some (1 cup) for your next loaf.
Total 6 cups
Directions:
1. Mix the dough with all the ingredients except the production leaven. It will be a soft dough.
2. Knead on an UNFLOURED surface for about 8-10 minutes, getting the tips of your fingers wet if you need to. You can use dough scrapers to stretch and fold the dough at this stage, or air knead if you prefer. Basically, you want to stretch the dough and fold it over itself repeatedly until you have a smoother, more elastic dough.
3. Smooth your dough into a circle, then scoop your production leaven into the centre. You want to fold the edges of the dough up to incorporate the leaven, but this might be a messy process. Knead for a couple minutes until the leaven is fully incorporated in the dough.
4. Spread some water on a clean bit of your work surface and lay the dough on top. Cover with an upturned bowl, lining the rim of the bowl with a bit of water. Leave for an hour, so that the gluten can develop and the yeasts can begin to aerate the dough.
5. Once your dough has rested, you can begin to stretch and fold it. Using wet hands and a dough scraper, stretch the dough away from you as far as you can without breaking it and fold it back in on itself. Repeat this in each direction, to the right, towards you, and to the left. This will help create a more ‘vertical’ dough, ready for proofing.
6. Heavily flour a banneton/proofing basket with whole wheat flour and rest your dough, seam side up, in the basket. Put the basket in a large plastic bag, inflate it, and seal it. Set aside somewhere warm for 3-5 hours, or until it has expanded a fair bit. It is ready to bake when the dough responds to a gently poke by slowly pressing back to shape.
7. Preheat the oven to hot 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then carefully invert the dough onto the sheet. I like to put the baking sheet on top of the basket, then gently flip it over so as to disturb the dough as little as possible. Make 2-3 cuts on top of the loaf and bake for 40-50 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after 10 minutes.
8. Cool on a cooling rack.