Vermont Sourdough, part 2

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Second try on Jeffrey Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat.

This time I followed the steps for shaping the loaves (unlike last time, where I kind of just scooched the dough blob into oblong lumps). It was beautiful. Until I grabbed and pulled them out of the folded linen, completely deflating the beautiful loaves and creating worse shapes than last time. ARRRGGGG!

Also, I probably added too much extra water, making the whole thing a frustrating mess.

Clearly, the yeasties were doing their thing in there. Flavor and texture were great.

I stopped feeding the starter after this loaf. Phew! Time for a break.

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Beef Stew with Tomatoes and Olives

When she picks a recipe, she really picks a recipe.

This is from The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio, which she borrowed from the library. I believe this Beef Stew with Tomatoes and Olives is French.

It was a project that took several hours, lots of chopping and stirring, even some very, very attentive brushing of dirt off mushrooms with a paper towel.

The cookbook did a nice job of laying out the steps, and I appreciate that they clearly didn’t dumb down the recipes just because they’re for kids.

Bon Appetit!

Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat

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This is the second bread I made with Jim’s revived sourdough starter. It’s the Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

This was my first time cooking from this book (though not my first time eating from it, Jim bakes from it often). It’s not an easy cookbook. There’s a lot of cross-referencing and flipping between sections and I totally missed the part on how to shape a loaf. So I just didn’t really do any shaping. These came out pretty flat.

The wild yeasts clearly were doing their thing, though. Go little yeasties!

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Whole wheat country loaf

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This was my first attempt at Michael Pollan’s recipe for a Whole Wheat Country Loaf in the appendix of his book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, where he learns to cook four basic categories of food and, among other things, makes a case for wild yeast-leavened bread.

This is the recipe I woke up Jim’s starter for. He captured these little yeasties from the air a while back after reading the same book. (We’ve also been using the discarded sourdough starter for pancakes, but this was their big moment).

I’m extremely pleased with the result. The texture is just like he described in the book — creamy on the inside, crisp crust. It had nice oven spring. It even has “ears” from rapid expansion in the hot, steamy pot.

The only thing I was a little disappointed in is the sour flavor, which normal in a sourdough, of course, but I think I would shorten the bulk ferment next time to see if I can make it less sour. It went almost 6 hours this time, which is much longer than the recipe calls for.

The starter is still alive, so there’s plenty of opportunity to try again.

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Cinnamon raisin bread

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Kate and I went through the two-day process of baking from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads book this weekend. We made my favorite recipe from the book, the 100% whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread, with cinnamon sugar swirl.

This loaf didn’t rise as much as usual. I even kneaded by hand and then, at Jim’s urging, put it in the standing mixer to knead a whole lot longer. These whole grain breads can be really crumbly in the center if you don’t really get that gluten developed.

I think the problem with this loaf is it needed more time to rise, especially in the cold house. The high temp outside was only 32 yesterday when the dough was rising. So unusual for April.

Fortunately, it still tastes really good.

 

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Best falafel yet

Jim has tried a variety of falafel recipes. This recipe for Easy, Herb-Packed Falafel by the Food Lab at Serious Eats came out the best by far. It’s completely different — and better — than the others. It uses soaked but not cooked chickpeas, no egg and yet it didn’t disintegrate in the oil (which is what usually happens to us with recipes that lack egg). It got so crispy on the outside that it tasted like a fast food french fry or hash browns, but with so much yummy flavor inside. Perfect.

He did the variation with harissa paste from the Falafel with Black Olives and Harissa version of the recipe. For herbs, he used half cilantro and half parsley. Mint and black olives would be yummy here, too, if we had them.

This certainly wasn’t a quick process.

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We worked together to roll the crumbly batter into balls — not easy.

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He altered the recipe to fry them submerged in deep oil in a small pot, rather than one side at a time in a frying pan

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Jim cooks the falafel in batches.

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Before cooking and after.

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Hot out of the fry oil.

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Lunch is served.