16 August 2014

canelés, attempt nº 3

It's been a while since I made canelés. Used Paula Wolfert's recipe again, using a vanilla bean in place of extract, AP flour in lieu of cake flour, and brandy instead of rum (didn't have any rum!)

The "white oil" that I used is sunflower oil and beeswax. It's messy, and beeswax is highly flamable, so I heated the wax and oil in a glass jar. This meant no messy pans to clean up (even solid, beeswax is sticky), and you can pour the oil into the moulds and dump the excess back into the jar, and then move into the next mold. These then sat overnight in the freezer.

The batter (2 c milk, 2 tbsp butter, ¾ c AP flour, pinch of salt, 1 c minus 2 tbsp sugar, 4 egg yolks, 1 tbsp brandy [or rum], 1 split vanilla bean) also sits overnight as to settle and be (almost entirely) free of bubbles.

I baked them at 400ºF for 30 mins, 360º for another 30 minutes. Soft inside, crusty and caramelized outside. Really fantastic.

28 May 2014

rhubarb daal

This is a wonderful way to enjoy rhubarb as a vegetable, and a tart and refreshing meal for a spring evening.

Start with some oil in a heavy pot, and heat up ½ tsp. (whole) cumin, ½ tsp. (whole) coriander, and 2 tsp. each brown and yellow mustard seeds until they start popping. Then add a very thinly sliced onion, a small fragment of cinnamon bark, and chili peppers (to your taste, I added three whole chiles de árbol). Stir until the onions are translucent. Then add a bunch (about a pound) of rhubarb chopped into ½-inch slices. Stir, and season with a bit of salt. Add two cloves of crushed garlic, ½ tsp ground turmeric (dried, or thrice that if fresh), and a knob of freshly ground ginger.

Then add 1½ cups of red lentils. Cover with stock (chicken, or vegetable — or plain water and another but of salt) and stir. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are done and the rhubarb has dissappeared into the daal. Serve with saffron rice (or your choice of other starch), a dollop of yogurt, and some fresh cilantro.

26 May 2014

roasted, marinated asparagus

This is refreshing on a hot and stormy evening after a long day outside: in the morning, roast a bunch of aspargus with olive oil under a broiler, or on a grill, until warm. Drain the asparagus, and toss with lemon juice and zest, capers and a bit of brine for some salt, and a thinly sliced onion. Finish with a splash of good olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until dinner, and it's lightly picked and very refreshing.

Also, I've been using Instagram, and making bread.

11 February 2014

rye waffles with orange flower water

These waffles are half-rye, half whole wheat, with a dash of orange flower water. They are fantastic with yogurt, mandarin orange segments and pomegranate seeds.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ c. yogurt (you can use buttermilk as well)
  • ⅓ c. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. orange flower water
  • 1 c. rye flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking power
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, combine the dry in another. Mix together, and bake according to yout waffle maker. This made sixteen waffles as pictured above (eight pairs).

28 January 2014

something bright for a cold january


This is a really simple salad form the Ottolenghi cookbook — I've been making this salad with English cucumbers (pictured here but those small Mexican cucumbers are even better), poppy seeds, Fresno peppers, salt, sugar, rice vinegar, and sunflower oil. It was fantastic paired with the Korean tacos that Miss Fats made me last weekend, and it's fantastic with a simple sandwich on rye.

26 January 2014

seeded rye — returning to bread

As the "Polar Vortex" descends upon Chicago again, I decided that I needed a good, hearty bread for lunches this week. I made Dan Lepard's seeded rye (from Short and Sweet), using anise seeds, coriander, caraway, and lemon zest as its spice; I substituted apple cider for the recommended malt vinegar (which I didn't have), and I added a bit of diastic malt for good measure. The recipe calls for honey or molasses, so I used a very dark buckwheat honey.

The dough is a thick paste, foreign even to someone like myself who has made breads with a lot of rye (and even Vollkornbrot, but the texture is very different with all the rye chops, which are nearly impossible to find). It rose slowly, and baked beautifully:

Making bread is something I've just started again after a hiatus of four or five years — I developped baker's asthma, a common form of occupational asthma, and I've only recently begun baking bread (pastry, quickbreads, and the like are less of a hazard). I haven't worked in a bakery in about five years, and have since started a PhD in literature.

Now that I'm returning to bread, I've been avoiding the phenomenal Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, partially out of the trauma with which I associate his phenomenal book (the book was an inspiration, and having to leave my career as a baker because my work was literally suffocating me is something I'd never wish on anyone).

And here I am, returning to bread, more careful than ever, and my apartment smells glorious.

18 January 2014

Pining for a coast?

I've been eating less seafood in Chicago than I might have eaten back in Massachusetts — I know that much food travels way too far either way — but some fish (sardines, mackerel) really don't travel. And then I realized that we can get decent mussels.

I made a basic egg pasta recipe ⅓ all purpose flour, ⅔ semolina.

I sautéed onions, whole chiles de árbol, and celery in butter with olive oil. To this I added garlic and cherry tomatoes, and then a splash of white wine and the mussels: it cooks in a couple of minutes, just the right time for fresh pasta to cook.

Garnished with salt, pepper, and parsley, it's simple, quick, easy, and delicious.