Flying Flour, Splashing Spices, Roomful Aromas

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Gone, October Arrives

Ahhh, only 74 this morning here in South Florida!  I am sure the hot hot isn't all gone but it is a sign of the fabulous temps we love in fall and winter here.  It should me less bugs at dusk, more comfortable outside chats and dog walks.
Looking for recipes, they are a-comin'.

 Need a story, visit: and      

September didn't see to many posts here but October will be chocked full.  My goal is a daily post so check back in often, leave a comment, ask a question, suggest a recipe.  Looking for a long lost recipe?  I love hunting these down.  What is it that is missing from your recipe file; it doesn't have to be bread!

There will be Michael Grimm tunes playing in this baker's kitchen; that guy can make you wanna dance or bring to tears.  If you don't know what he sounds like, do a search and give a listen.  Oh yeah, I am a fan!

Book Talk Needed.  On my list for fall is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Anyone interested in book talk leave a message and we will coordinate the readers' chat and decide titles. Suggest a title for discussion.
Marjut has been quilting gangbusters on my mama's quilt from the 30's. The top was made from individual squares by neighbors, friends and relatives.  Mom was about 5 years old.  She never completed it.  It needed the traditional last corner square, the edging, the batting, the back and of course all of the hand stitch quitling.  Marjut is one of my Buttermilk Milk Sisters in Milwaukee.  She travels with the Quilt and it has its own fan base.  She has finished the quilt top, put the batting and back together with basted stitches.  She has 75% or so quilted all in hand work.  The finished quilt will have no machine work whatsoever. The squares were appliqued by friends of my great-grandmother in Folsomdale, KY, half way between Paducah and Mayfield on HWY 62.  Each square had the embroidered name of the creator. These are good old Kentucky names I grew up hearing.  I am collecting photos she has made of the traveling quilt.  Once I have a montage prepared, I will share them.  It is quite amazing and beautiful.  Marjut, each stitch is a thread in our sisterhoodfriendship.  Sending out quilted hugs!

Now, you know some of my interests and projects.  Stop by and tell me some of yours.  If you have a blog, I will return the visit!

Baking and taking pictures for the blog is a challenge and I have some work to do for tomorrow begins OCTOBER!

Ya'll come back, ya-hear,  Wish there was a way to share the front porch swing I miss so.  It still swings at 1028 Park Street, Bowling Green, KY.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie: A One Dish Meal

Chicken pot pie is one of the Combsman's favorite dishes.  I struggled for years for the right crust.  He likes a crust on top and bottom.  I make a big one so some can go in the freezer for those times when neither of us want to cook.
I make the filling first by throwing some onion, garlic and peppers into a little bit of hot oil for a good toss.  I add a few spices:  salt, black pepper, cayenne, adobo, bay leaf.  To this I add chicken broth with cornstarch for sauce thickener.  Usually, I add a cup of peas, corn and/or carrots.  But the vegetable bin was unpopulated.  I used a cup and a half of mashed potatoes and that made the perfect sauce!  I added the chunks of previously cooked chicken, about three cups.  I turn off the heat and let this cool while I create the dough for the crust.

The crust is what makes a great pie and I have been going at this for decades still not perfectly happy with the crust.  I reached for an old well used friend of a cook book, The Dallas Junior League Cookbook and looked up meat pies.  There was the answer all these years: page 246,  Pastry Dough for Louisiana Meat Pies submitted by Mrs. Larry M. Nobles.
Here is what you need:  Preheat Oven to 400
3.5-4 cups AP flour                                 2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt                                                 1/2 c.  melted shortening
2 eggs, room temperature                       1/2-2/3 cup milk at room temp.
Here is what you need to do:
Blend dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add melted shortening. Pour enough milk into eggs to make a measure of 1 full cup.  Add this to the bowl. Mix well. Pull off 3/4 of the dough to make bottom and sides.  Roll dough on floured surface the size of the pan.  (I used a large lasagna rectangle pan.)  Place dough in pan with the top edge of dough pressed to edge of pan to hold in place.  Roll the top  from the remaining 1/4 dough ball.  Gently add the filling to the pan, top with upper crust.  Fold the sides over onto top. Create a couple of steam vents.  Brush with an egg wash.
Place in 400 degree oven for 25-35 minutes.  When the crust is golden, remove.  Allow to cool 5-ten minutes.  Serve.

I float my top crust about an inch away from edge.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brochen, but Whole Wheat

Labor Day Weekend calls for burgers.  Burgers call for a great bun.  I have made a favorite German Brochen recipe for our buns for ages.  Today, I took inventory of ingredients and fell short of bread flour, the white variety.  So, I decided to go all out for an experiment.

Here is what I did for a double batch:
3 cups 2% milk, warm
6 Tbsp butter, melted with milk
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water
With these blended in a large bowl I added:
1 pkg yeast
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 cups bread four (White flour)
Beat in the flour till bubbles appear.
Knowing whole wheat flour needs more hydration I added a little at a time until
the dough made a nice ball.  It was Incredibly sticky.
I tumped the dough onto my kneading mat dusted with whole wheat flour.
I kneaded in whole wheat flour a little at a time.  I kneaded and added WW flour to keep the dough from collecting on my hands.
In the end, I had added about 4 cups of whole wheat four.
The kneaded ball was tender to touch, a tad sticky but not sticking to hands or mat.
I lightly oiled the bowl, allowed the dough to rise well doubled.  It was beautiful.
I divided it into 4-5 ounce lumps and formed the buns.  I like to flatten them before the final rise on cornmeal sprinkled parchment paper on the peel.  After a good rise, I slid them into a 450 degree F oven on the stone for about an 18 minute bake time.  The results smelled wonderful.  The crumb when sliced was perfect.  In comparison to the original recipe, the Combsman said, "They're just not as good as your other ones."  The master of tastebuds has spoken.  This recipe is great for those wanting more grain in the bread.  It will make a great burger bun, sandwich package, toast.  I will post the original brochen recipe and story soon so you can be the judge.  The previous "bun" recipe on this blog was from an Italian bread recipe I have used even longer than the brochen recipe.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sourdough, Finally, but Worth the Wait

We have all had that scrumptious crust crackling chewy tang bread.  Having lived in places where bread is spongey, foamy and a good substitute for a rubber ball when squished together, I did like the bread variety in Milwaukee, and New York.  Now in Florida, there are some bakery breads, mass produced breads, the Costco variety of breads but none is really that wonderful sourdough flavor I seek.  Studying my bread books, reading blogs of bakers online and everything on he Fresh Loaf site, I began to consider a sourdough event in my won kitchen.  A friend and fellow baker, blogger and almost famous beekeeper in Louisville, KY( makes sourdough breads, brownies, etc.  We chatted via email about sourdough starter strategies and I took the leap.  At first, it didn't look to good... but I persevered.  Followed his advise.  I split, fed, stirred and repeated for a sequence of days.  Then finally, yesterday, August 31, 2010, I had BUBBLES of LIFE!
Here is how you create a wild yeast starter: 
from Elwood at Flour Today, Bread Tomorrow
"I used Classic Sourdoughs A Home Baker's Handbook by Ed Wood for instructions.
I took 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cup warm water and stirred it well, put it in a jar with cheesecloth on the top set it outside and then stirred it every now and again.  I brought it in at night, but if you don't have any critter problems I guess you could leave it out.  After about 2 days you should see some bubbling. Add another cup of flour and enough water to keep the consistency. You might have to do that several times over a couple of days. You know you have a good active starter when there is a 1 to 2 inch layer of foam on the top." 
Mine took about 6 days.  I divided a cup of a rather thin slurry into a sterile glass  container.  I added  1 cup of whole wheat flour and a half cup water.  To get the results in the above photo.  I continued to whole wheat flour to feed the starter.
Next, I prepared the sourdough bread dough knowing a long rise time was needed.  Four hours, six hours and little happened.  I allowed more time.  Night, late night arrived so I placed the entire batch in an oiled zip bag, and placed it in the fridge.  It came out with hope of life this morning. I allowed it to come to room temperature at which time I formed two loaves. 
By the time I had the second loaf formed, the first had shown a tiny bit of rise.  Now, came the excitement!  But disaster loomed.  The dough was sticking to the corn meal sprinkled peel. MMM???  Time to call on an old friend, parchment paper.  With that placed beneath the loaves, I spritzed them with oil, covered with platic and waited.
And there was RISE! This made me happy.  I performed a careful diagonal slash on one and a full length midline on the other.  The oven was at temperature with the steam feature ready.  POOOWHWWWSSHH!  Door closed, timer set, we wait.  Ah yes, soon there was a wonderful aroma filling the house.  Wait,     w   a   i   t  .   Out of the oven they come.
You can see the difference in the size of the loaves and the slashes.  The crust is a bit pale.  The bottoms are nutty brown and crisp in appearance.  We tried to wait for the loaves to cool but that didn't happen.
The aroma was too alluring and I was anxous to see if I achieved holes.

The knife made firm contact with a crunchy draw across the crust, some crumbs popped.  I think that is a good sign.  The first piece fell away and the center looked dense.  I sliced a another and VIOLA!
HOLES!  Despite  the    l   o   n   g    rise time, that the loaf is a tad heavy, the crumb texture dense and the outer top crust a bit pale, I still count this as a sucess for the first effort is ages for a sourdough.  The Combsman's commment, "You have made sourdough many times and it never tasted this sour."  SCORE! Doing the victory dance, oh yeah, oh yeah!!  Yum and yum. . . .