Wheat Sandwich Loaf

February 14, 2016

For over 5 years I have been baking my son’s sandwich bread, adjusting and adapting to my changing kitchen and lunch needs. Today’s recipe re-ingrates whole-wheat flavor back into the loaf. I looked at this old wheat sandwich bread, recipe from Chris Kimball; but reduced the wheat germ by 50% to soften the over-powering flavor of wheat germ (a flavor my kids don’t enjoy). Also, I adapted the recipe to skip the 24-hour timeline; this recipe finishes in about 2 hours. 4-1/2 stars; still working on getting seeds to stick to the top.

Wonderful wheat flavor

Wonderful wheat flavor

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $1.30.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 6:00 PM. Dinner time 8:10 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared them today are given below:

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup water (4 ounces)
1-1/4 cup milk (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons wheat germ

Dry Ingredients:
4 cups bread flour (1 lb)
4-ounce whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 to 3/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid; fruit fresh or other powdered Vitamin C. (Alternatively mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar)
Seeds for top; e.g. toasted and chopped pepitas

  1. Adjust an oven rack to low-middle position, and pre-heat oven to 200-degrees, then immediately turn it off. You will use the residual heat of the oven to speed the first rise in a cool kitchen.
  2. Add water and milk to a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity); heat in microwave for 1m until mixture reaches 105-degrees. Mix in yeast, sugar, wheat germ, and olive oil; allow to hydrate for 5 minutes.
  3. While the yeast hydrates, add the dry ingredients to the bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
  4. Turn on standing mixer to lowest speed and slowly add liquid; use a rubber spatula to scrape out anything left at the bottom of the measuring cup. After the dough has come together, increase speed to 4 on KitchenAid mixer (medium-low on other models). Continue mixing for 10 minutes. The dough will become smooth, add a little more flour or water if necessary.
  5. Spray bowl with non-spick cooking spray, put dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm, but turned off, oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The dough will double in size. (Never allow dough to rise into a turned on oven)
  6. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. (I nearly ruined my first beautiful loaf by forgetting).
  7. Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a rectangle so that it corresponds to the length of your loaf pan. Spray top of dough with tap water and roll up into a tight log. Move dough into pan and softly press so that it touches all four sides of the pan. Spray top with dough with non-stick cooking spray to prevent the dough from deflating in Step 10.
  8. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (realizing that the loaf will grow above the top of the pan). Place it in a warm spot in your kitchen for between 25 minutes to 35 minutes; until the dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when you poke it with your finger.
  9. About 20 minutes prior to baking, begin pre-heating your oven to 425-degrees.
  10. Carefully remove plastic wrap, spray the loaf three times with tap water from a spray bottle, and place loaf pan in 425-degree oven. Set kitchen timer for 25 minutes corresponding to the total cooking time. After 8 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375-degrees and turn loaf 180-degrees. Bake uncovered for 9 additional minutes until the top crust reaches your desired color. Tent with aluminum foil to keep the loaf top from over browning; baking for remaining 8 to 10 minutes.
  11. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will reads 205-degrees when the loaf is done. Carefully remove bread from pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack for 3 hour before slicing (ensure that loaf is no warmer than 80-degrees).

Shrimp Scampi

February 6, 2016

Finally! Chris Kimball has badly needed to update his 16-year-old Shrimp Scampi recipe, which used just 1 tablespoon of vermouth and lacked lemon flavor. Over those 16 years I have adapted his old recipe, and published my own personal updates about 6 months ago. I felt that that recipe was much more well-rounded.

After adding them back to the reduced sauce

After adding them back to the reduced sauce

Today’s recipe is an even greater improvement. The biggest news with this recipe is a change in cooking technique; poaching the shrimp in homemade stock rather than sauteing them. By replacing the ever-so-slight caramelization of the shrimp, with a much more aggressive caramelization of the shells. Today’s recipe offers more tender shrimp and better flavor of the sauce; a win-win. 5-stars.

Caramelization from the empty shells; not the shrimp

Caramelization from the empty shells; not the shrimp

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball recommends serving with crusty bread. But to make a meal out of this I recommend serving with pasta, potatoes or rice.
  2. Extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound) can be substituted for jumbo shrimp. If you use them, reduce the shrimp cooking time in Step 10 by 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Chris Kimball says he prefers untreated shrimp, but if your shrimp are treated with sodium or preservatives (such as sodium tripolyphosphate) then skip the brining in Step 3.

Rating: 5-stars
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 5:10 PM.  Ready:  6:00PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Brine Ingredients:
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds shell-on jumbo shrimp (16-to-20 per pound)

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  1. The best way to defrost shrimp is to leave them in a covered bowl overnight in your refrigerator; The next day rinse then with cold water. If you didn’t defrost your shrimp last night, fill a large bowl of cold tap water. Put shrimp in colander and submerge in cold water. After 10 minutes change the cold water and allow another 10 to 20 minutes to defrost. Peel (and devein) the shrimp, reserving the shells for Step 2.
  2. Start to boil water for pasta, potatoes or rice. Starting at the beginning is imperative because it can take longer to prepare than the actual scampi.
  3. If your shrimp are treated with sodium or preservatives (such as sodium tripolyphosphate), skip the following brining steps (and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the sauce in step 12). To brine your shrimp, add 1 quart (4 cups) water to a large bowl and dissolve 3 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add shrimp to brine, cover, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Remove shrimp from brine and use paper towels to pat them dry.
  4. Put a 12″-regular skillet over high burner and pre-heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add shrimp shells and cook for 4 minutes, stir frequently, until the shells and skillet start to brown.
  5. Briefly remove skillet from burner; reduce burner to medium. Add 1 cup white wine and thyme springs. Once the bubbling is over, put skillet over medium burner and gently simmer for 5 minutes; stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, thinly slice 8 cloves of garlic. Chop your 1 tablespoon of parsley. Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into 1/2″-pieces.
  7. Strain mixture through a colander into a medium bowl; discard the solids. You should be left with 2/3-cup of liquid.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.
  9. Wipe out your skillet using paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, sliced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to skillet, and set over medium-low burner for 3 to 5 minutes; until the edges of the garlic begin to brown.
  10. Add the 2/3-cup of reduced wine to the skillet and increase burner to high until it comes up to a simmer. Reduce burner to medium. Add raw shrimp to liquid, cover with lid, and cook for about 5 minutes; stir occasionally. When the shrimp are opaque, use a slotted spoon to remove shrimp to a medium bowl.
  11. Continue to cook sauce over medium burner and add lemon juice (from Step 8). Cook for just 1 minute to allow to slightly thicken.
  12. Remove skillet from burner and add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.  If you did not brine your shrimp than add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and adjust according to taste. Return the shrimp to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Toss to combine, cut 1 lemon into wedges, and serve with the lemon wedges separately.

 


Easy-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

February 4, 2016

Today, I gave a hungry co-worker a hard-boiled egg; mentioning that I made it using a new recipe. “Hard-boiled eggs don’t have a recipe,” they laughed. While 5-years ago I would have agreed; I have marveled at the perfectness of each hard-boiled eggs that I have cooked for the past 5-years (following this recipe). Look closely at the photo below; how often do your eggs look like that? Before I began following that recipe, my answer was never.

Perfectly cooked and a notable difference in peeling

Perfectly cooked and a notable difference in peeling

While extremely simple to make, hard-boiled eggs have two perennial problems. First, there is the green coating surround the yolk, which comes from overcooking. While green eggs are perfectly harmless to eat; it smells a bit like sulfur and usually turns slimy after a day or two in the refrigerator. Why is it so easy to overcook your eggs? Because adding eggs to boiling water requires a different time depending upon how many eggs you cook. Each additional egg delays the moment when the water comes back up to a boil. Getting the timing right is key; an issue that Chis Kimball solved 5 years ago. (and continues to solve using today’s recipe).

The second problem with eggs are their sticky shells. Nearly six years ago I did a comparison of different methods for peeling hard-cooked eggs. The winning method is best, but still is perhaps 90% (at best). I usually found myself peeling eggs while they were still warm and storing them in a tightly sealed container. Chris Kimball has claimed to have solved the problem; “There’s no need to peel the eggs right away. They can be stored in their shells and peeled when needed.”

Issues:

  1. The timing is for large eggs that are cold from the refrigerator.
  2. The recipe uses a steamer basket. But if you don’t have one, Chris Kimball says that you can place the eggs directly into the 1″ of water; using a spoon or tongs.  The smaller amount of water will come back to a boil more quickly that a fuller pot; which will work on 6 or few eggs without altering the timing.
  3. If you are using a steamer basket, this recipe will work on any number of eggs that will fit into a single layer.
  4. The prior cooking technique I had been using for the past 5 years is given by Cook’s Country is here.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: 60-cents.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start time 6:00 AM. Ready at 6:30 AM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

6 large eggs

  1. Add 1″ water to a medium-saucepan. Set over high burner and bring to a rolling boil; about 5 minutes.
  2. Carefully set eggs in steamer basket and move into saucepan with boiling water. Cover and reduce burner to medium-low; maintaining a boil; and cooking for 15 minutes.
  3. When eggs are almost done; combine 2-cups of ice cubes with 2-cups of told tap water into a medium bowl.
  4. When eggs are ready use tongs or slotted spoon to move eggs into the ice bath; allowing to stand for 10 minutes before peeling.

Tuscan Roast Pork with Garlic and Rosemary (Arista)

January 30, 2016

This roast is perfect for mid-winter when its cold (and rainy) outside. As the roast slowly warns the kitchen, the anticipation slowly build and the delicious aromas permeate the house. That’s why this is my favorite time of year to spend the entire day cooking. Today’s Roast Pork is good; stuffed with pancetta, garlic and rosemary; but I thought that the flavors could have had more depth. The dominant flavor was rosemary; with only a hint of garlic. The lemon-oil helped to brighten the flavors a little; but didn’t go far enough. Good, solid weekend meal. 4-stars.

Well cooked, but a little unbalanced

Well cooked, but a little unbalanced

I did have a few minor technical issues with the recipe, which I’ve described below.

Issues:

  1. When I got to my supermarket on Saturday afternoon, there was only 1 roast to “choose” from. It was 3.1-pounds, which I thought was close enough (recipe calls for 2-1/2 lbs). However, the consequence was that the roast did not fit into my 10″ skillet. Instead I used a 12″ skillet, but because of all the extra space I had a little trouble browning the fat cap on all sides, as the roast rolled around. I should have either trimmed down the roast to fit in the 10″ skillet’ or stood over the pan as I cooked it in step 13.
  2. I had an issue with my paste not spreading evenly (see photo below). It clumped together and was not nearly as manageable as in the Cook’s Illustrated video. I am not sure if it is because I used 3-oz of pancetta (the recipe called for 2 ounces; but my roast was a little over-sized). Also I am not sure if it is because my slices were very thin (and pre-packaged, shrink-wrapped). Not how I imagined that I was going to buy the pancetta; but that’s all that was available.
  3. Chris Kimball gives one final warning; if you are only able to find enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution), then your should reduce the salt to 1 teaspoon per side in Step 7.
Paste clumped' I had trouble getting even layer

Paste clumped; I had trouble getting even layer

 

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $14.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 3:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1 lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 ounces pancetta slices
2-1/2-pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast
Kosher salt

  1. Chopped fresh rosemary, but be careful not to include any woody stems.
  2. Grate zest from one lemon, and add to a 10-inch non-stick skillet. Add 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 8 minced garlic cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Set over medium-low burner and cook for 3 minutes; stirring often; until garlic sizzles.
  3. Add in chopped rosemary and cook for just 30 seconds. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl, press down on solids to extract as much oil as possible. Set both oil and rosemary-garlic aside to cool. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel.
  4. Cut pancetta slices into 1/2″ pieces and add to food processor. Process for 30 seconds until it forms into a paste. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in cooled rosemary-garlic mixture  and process another 30 seconds.
  5. Set roast on cutting board with the fat side up. You will double-butterfly the roast. Begin by cutting horizontally one-third of the way up (just where the fat-cap begins) and cut along the entire length of the long-side of the roast; stopping 1/2-inch before you cut all the way through. Open up the flap.
  6. Again, keep your knife level with the first cut, cut through the thicker side of the roast again stopping 1/2-inch before you cut all the way through. Open up the flap and lay your roast flat. If portions are uneven, cover with plastic wrap and even out with a meat pounder.
  7. Sprinkle each side with 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt and rub into the meat.
  8. Evenly spread the inside of the roast with pancetta-garlic paste from Step 4; but leave 1/4-inch border on all sides.
  9. Cut seven or eight 12-inch lengths of kitchen twine. Roll up roast; keep the fat cap on the outside’ and tie with kitchen twine.
  10. Put a wire rack over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Spray with vegetable oil spray, placing roast (with fat cap upward) onto rack and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  11. With 15 minutes to go, set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 275-degrees. After an hour in the refrigerator, move roast (already set up on rack) oven and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours; until the internal temperature of the pork is 135-degrees. Remove from oven and tent with aluminum foil for 20 minutes; during which time the temperature will continue to increase another 10-to-12-degrees.
  12. While the roast rests, set your skillet over high-burner; at 1 teaspoon of oil (from Step 3) and pre-heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Cut lemons in half and set into skillet with the cut-side down. Cook for 3-to-4 minutes until browned and softened; remove to a small plate.
  13. Use paper towels to pat the roast dry. Pre-heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil in the skillet until it just begins to smoke, then brown the roast on the fat-cap side and the sides for a total of 5-to-6-minutes (but don’t brown the bottom of the roast). Remove to a cutting board and remove the twine.
  14. When lemons have cooled slightly, squeeze them through a fine-meshed strainer over a small bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Add 2 tablespoons of the juice into the reserve oil and whisk together. Cut the roast into 1/4″-thick slices and serve passing the vinaigrette separately.

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