Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This is a pretty basic recipe, I just wanted to document it because every recipe I have encountered for fermenting your own sauerkraut was vague and had a lot of unaccounted variables. This one is accurate to the gram, which I think(should be right?), is helpful.
700g cabbage, thinly sliced
210g water
14g salt
5g garlic, thinly sliced
1g black pepper, freshly ground
Toss everything until it is evenly mixed in a large bowl. Pack everything into a bowl(probably a new, smaller one) that will be half full after pressing the cabbage very tightly(you really want to press on it).
Place a bowl that fits snuggly into the bowl holding the cabbage, directly on top of the cabbage. Place a weight in the top bowl so that some of the brine is displaced upwards. You want the brine to come up a few inches below the rim of the bowl, with the cabbage being left a few inches below that. It should look like this:
The bottom bowl holds the cabbage, with the top bowl pressing down hard. This forces the brine above the cabbage, protecting the cabbage from the air and only allowing a small amount of brine in contact with oxygen.
Let this contraption sit out for 4 days at 75F-85F(temperature is important for the speed and type of fermentation that will occur), checking on it every other day. You do not need to stir during this process, just make sure it doesn't look spoiled. After 4 days, and as long as no mold has grown and the brine hasn't thickened into a gloopy mess(if that happens or anything else happens that makes it look like you shouldn't eat it something has gone wrong, but I've done this method many times(not just with cabbage) and never had a problem), taste the sauerkraut and decide if you want it more acidic. If you do, let it sit out longer, it will keep fermenting. If you like where it is, transfer to a fridge friendly container and place it next to the milk.

The finished product

I've eaten some of this stuff 10 months after making it, and I would bet that it could last much longer.
I love tasty preservation.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gram Hot Dog Buns

The texture of these is not exactly like that of store bought. They will remind you of the packaged stuff, but then, hopefully, make you think twice about buying them. This recipe can make three small buns.
200g bread flour
3g salt
3g yeast
15g sugar
40g water, room temp
30g milk
22g butter, melted
10g egg wash
Combine everything in a bowl and mix with a spoon until it starts to form a dough and gets hard to stir. Once it is difficult to stir, mix the dough by hand until it is evenly mixed(do a thorough job of getting it mixed, you do not need to knead this dough for more than a minute, but evenness is important). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size. Fold the dough over and portion into how many buns you want to make. Form each portion into a tight ball and then roll into a cylinder the length of your dog. Place the cylinders so close together that they are almost touching and let rise, covered, for 45 minutes, or until they double again in size. Coat with egg wash and sprinkle with whatever you want, or nothing at all. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes with steam(I talk about how I steam in my oven at home here), rotate the tray and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Take out of the oven and cool on a rack.

For pictures of how to space and proof these buns check out this site.
Here is a picture of two buns being separated after cooling:
Spacing the buns so they rise into each other is important for the final texture and shape of the bun.
Here is the crumb:
Soft, and creamy. Probably perfect for hamburgers as well.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bread Basket Pt.2 Kneading

This is the first of a few tests involving kneading dough. For this test I made 4 identical doughs, all of them comprised of 100g bread flour, 60g of water, 1g yeast, 2g salt. The first, I stirred with a spoon and then worked with my hands until it just came together; a no knead loaf. The second was mixed and then kneaded for 3 minutes; I did not think that I reached full gluten development, but I stopped anyway. The third, I kneaded for 7 minutes, where I thought full gluten development was. The final loaf was kneaded for 20 minutes, hopefully soundly in the realm of overdeveloped. Here are all of them waiting to start fermenting.
You can see how they all have different textures. The no knead is a shaggy mass compared the the super tight 20 minute dough. The 3 and 7 minute doughs are very similar, but I was able to pull the smoothest ball shape out of the 7 minute dough. These sat out for 5 hours. Here is what they looked like after that.
This is where things start getting weird. At this point there is no noticeable difference between the 0, 3, and, 7 minute doughs. Only the 20 minute dough is quite different, it was having trouble rising compared to the others. I took each of these doughs, gently folded them over and then shaped them into balls. I didn't work them at all, only manipulating them enough to fold over once and then shape the ball. Again, the 0, 3, and 7, minute balls all pulled the same and looked the same. The 20 minute dough was a little more difficult to work with and made a tighter, smaller ball.
The only one that is a little smaller than the others is the 20 minute dough, the other three are practically identical.
I let these sit in my oven, which was off, with a pot of warm water in the bottom to warm the air to around 98F and provide some humidity. They rose in this shape for 2 hours, doubling in size over that time. Just before cooking I cut a slit into each one, it looked like this.
I baked them all at 435F for 20 minutes. When I put any loaf into the oven I place a few large ice cubs into the racks below the bread(they drip until they get small enough to fall through, and then they hit the bottom of the oven and turn to steam, and scare your roommate if he doesn't know what is in the oven), which is sitting on the top most rack. I also place a sauté pan, which I preheat on the stove top until it is wicked hot, into the bottom of the oven and throw some water on it, and then immediately close the door. This, along with the dripping ice, creates steam in the oven for the first 10 minutes of baking. After this, the oven dries out and they bake another 10 minutes.
When they come out they look like this.
From left to right, no knead, 3 min, 7 min, and 20 minutes of kneading.
The results were three pretty good loafs and one not so good one. The over-kneaded dough browned faster than the other three, more free protein or simple sugars? I'm not sure why that happened. The winner was the no knead. It rose the most, slightly more than the 3 and 7 minute doughs. It seems to me that 5 hours of sitting at room temperature develops all the gluten you could want in a loaf of bread and more kneading results in denser, heavier, and browner breads.
This is what the crumb looked like.
Clockwise from the bottom left: no knead, 3, 7, and 20 minute kneading.
All but the 20 minute dough produced and awesome crust, check it out:
Crusty, but not too thick!

I need to do some more trials, but basically what I used to know about gluten and kneading seems to be wrong. I'll add to the basket soon.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Savory Soil

This preparation starts out with, what I call, a crumble(e.g. hazelnut, almond, chocolate, milk).  When they are dark I call them soils, or dirts. They are usually sweet, but savory crumbles are just as easy to make. This crumble is then re-hydrated with a mushroom puree to make it a little bit moist, just like real soil.
100g water
55g almond, roasted
42g olive oil
32g shiitake mushroom, stems removed
11g black trumpet mushroom, dried
20g sugar
4g salt
74g butter
57g egg
170g flour
6g squid ink
30g Mushroom Puree, amount varies depending on how moist you want the soil

Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the almonds. Let the almonds sit in the boiling water at room temperature until they reach room temperature. Let this sit in the fridge overnight. Slice the shiitakes 3mm wide and lay them on a silpat. Bake at 170F for 1 hour. Remove the mushrooms from the silpat and saute in the olive oil. Once they are lightly browned, remove the mushrooms and place them back onto a silpat. Bake at 200F for 2 more hours, or until they are dried out. Place the shiitakes into a blender. Remove the almonds from the water(you can use the water for something else) and place them, along with the olive oil from cooking the mushrooms, the black trumpets, sugar, salt, butter, ink, egg, and butter into the blender with the shiitakes. Blend on high until smooth. Remove this mash from the blender and place into a bowl.  Add the flour and mix into a dough. Rest the dough in the fridge for 2 hours. Roll the dough out 1mm thick on a silpat and bake at 250F for 1 hour. Let cool and crumble into what looks like soil. Add the mushroom puree little by little until you have the consistency you want. Season with additional salt, lemon juice, or truffle oil if you are into that sort of thing.

Plate it up!
Carrots, sunflower sprouts, borage flowers, buna-shimeji mushrooms, and torchon of foie gras in a mushroom soil

I'll have a pimms cup please...


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Smoked Ricotta Spätzle

I like my spätzle to be tender, but also firm.  Soft and mushy is not a good thing here. Adding ricotta cheese helps create a tender noodle, without making it too soft, so long as the dough has enough gluten development and not too much moisture or fat.
175g smoked ricotta
110g whole eggs
65g egg yolks
4g salt
200g bread flour
Mix everything with a whisk, except the flour, in a bowl until it is uniformly combined. Stir in the flour with a spoon and work it for a few minutes until it is evenly integrated, stretchy, and elastic. Cover the bowl tightly and place under refrigeration for at least 3 hours(It can sit for at least two days if covered well, I have never tried longer). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and shape the dough into noodles as
you place it into the water. This can be done by hand, individually, or with a spätzle press, or with anything that has holes that you can press the dough through(check out the picture to see how I chose to do it). Whatever method you decide on using, boil the noodles for 1 minutes and then place in ice water, remove, lightly oil, and store until you want to reheat and eat them.

I smoked the ricotta myself using two 6 inch half hotel pans clam-shelled around a 2 inch perforated hotel pan that had the ricotta sitting on it. I did all of the smoking on my stove top. Smoking at home requires adapting to each unique environment. I did find that in order to get a distinctive smoke flavor to come through in the finished product you should stir the ricotta at least once. Leaving it in its starting position limits the amount of total smoke flavor it can absorb. Stirring gets ricotta in contact with smoke that otherwise would not have. Here is a picture of what mine looked like before stirring.
Plate it up!
Braised pork belly with smoked ricotta spätzle, fiddlehead ferns, homemade sauerkraut puree and pickled ramps

Sauerkraut, pork, alium and spätzle is a tough combination to beat.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Lapsang Souchong Tea Cake

This cake is designed to be soaked with more of the same tea that is baked into it. The crumb is slightly dense and dry, making it a great carrier for some heavily sweetened and enriched(with cream) tea. Soaking it with hot tea right before serving creates a slightly warm cake that is moist and smokey.  This cake also uses some unsweetened condensed milk that I covered in this post.
66g sweetened condensed milk
133g homemade condensed milk (see unsweetened condensed milk post)
80g butter, melted
1 extra large egg
50g dark brown sugar
60g granulated sugar
2g salt
40g strongly brewed Lapsang Souchong tea
3g baking soda
4g baking powder
200g ap flour
Add the milks, butter, egg yolk, sugars, salt and tea to a bowl and whisk until uniform. Mix the baking soda, baking powder, and flour in a separate bowl and add it all at once to the wet ingredients, don't stir it yet. Whip the egg white in a separate bowl until it reaches medium peaks. Now fold the flour into the wet ingredients until it is almost uniformly integrated. Add the whipped egg white and fold everything together until it just comes together. Spoon into whatever container you want to bake in, making sure it is well greased, and bake at 350F until the middle is set and the outside is slightly brown(the time depends on what shape you choose).
This is what it looks like in loaf form:
Here is a small half sphere mold:

Plate it up!

Soaked Lapsang Souchong tea cake with orange blossum-yogurt ice cream, marinated cherries, and condensed milk puree
Same same

The unsweetened condensed milk is in the cake and on the plate. So, just like the tea, you can taste it baked into the cake and applied to the cake after baking... layers.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Potato Gratin

When I first learned to make a potato gratin it was with russet potatoes. A few, some may call "progressive", chefs used yukon gold potatoes(or similar varieties), but mostly it was all about the potatoes with a high amylose to amylopectin ratio(more on these starches here). I like both approaches, but here is a recipe using freshly dug red new potatoes. They aren't like russets or yukon golds. The result is a soft and creamy gratin throughout.
1250g new potatoes
284g cream
12g thyme
4g fresh bay
38g shallot, sliced
16g garlic, smashed
1g black pepper corn
5g +7g salt
76g Berkswell, grated
140g Pyrenees Brebis, grated
30g water, depending on evaporation (see method)
Bring the cream, thyme, bay, shallots, peppercorn, and garlic to a boil. Keep the infusion on very low heat for 30 minutes. Pass the cream through a fine strainer, but keep whatever doesn't pass through in the strainer, you will need it soon(don't let it drip all over the place). Weigh the cream and subtract this weight from 290g. Add the difference, in grams of water, to a separate container and then pour the water over the leftovers still in the strainer, being sure to mix this water with the already passed cream. I know this seems like a lot, but I(and I think you) want this extra water during the cooking process and pouring it over the aromatics in the strainer gets out any little bits of flavor or cream you would have otherwise left behind(I'm positive no one wants to throw away free flavor). Press all of the liquid out of the strainer that you can, and then discard anything that doesn't go through. Add 5g of salt to the cream.
Work quickly at this point or the potatoes will start to brown. Peel and slice the potatoes 2mm thick. Once sliced, do not place the potatoes in water. Place the potatoes into a large bowl and toss with 7g salt. Coat the bottom of the a baking pan with infused cream and shingle the potatoes in one uniform layer over the cream. You want to leave behind any liquid or salt that runs off of the potatoes during this process(i.e. the bowl should have a few tablespoons of brine left when you are done).
Coat the potatoes with cream and a small amount of both cheeses. Repeat until you run out of potatoes. Any left over cream or cheese should be applied to the top layer.Bake uncovered at 300F for around 3.5 hours, until the top is dark brown and enough moisture has evaporated so that the potatoes are not swimming in cream.
The cross-section
The plate it up
Lamb rack, flap, and sausage with Berkswell and Pyrenees Brebis new potato gratin, fava bean and morel mushroom stew, mustard greens, and lamb jus

If you keep baking until fat starts to collect on top of the gratin you have evaporated too much water, broken the cream, and separated the cheeses. You want to bake it slow for a long time, but not too long. Adding water back to the cream after infusing should prevent this from happening, but if it starts to get fatty take it out, unless it isn't brown, then you should broil that thing hard and fast before removing from the heat. Making this days in advance and letting it chill completely will allow you to cut uniform, accurate portions. It tastes great freshly baked, but it doesn't look pretty out of the pan it was baked in. The cheeses I used are expensive, the Berkswell especially. I think it was worth it, but I can't be sure until I do a side by side, blind, tasting. I just used them because they are both delicious sheep's milk cheeses and I was serving it with various delicious sheep parts. It made sense at the time.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Condensed Milk - Unsweetened

Commercial condensed milk is delicious. Browning it to make dulce de leche is also delicious. However, that stuff has additional sugar, making it sweetened and condensed; this milk is just condensed(and browned).
Place the milk in a non-stick pot(for cleaning purposes). Bring the milk to a simmer and turn down the heat low enough so that it simmers hard, but does not boil over. Stir every 30 minutes until the milk has separated, turned brown, and reduced to about 1/5 of it's original volume (how long depends on the pot, heat,and amount of milk). Blend the condensed milk until smooth and add salt to taste.
This method produces a different flavor than browning sweetened milk. I will be trying out some recipes using this homemade, unsweetened condensed milk, but I wanted to document how it was made first.