Friday, April 2, 2021

Fresh Bread: Success!

One of the things I've made off and on over the last year (and really, the last twelve years) is bread. I've tried different ways, but I've had great success with this breadbook Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day  which I bought in 2016 (I found the receipt in the book the other day!).  I had really missed Artisan/crusty/peasant style bread.  Oh, the days of going to Panera are long gone, but being able to make that kind of bread, and have a meal of heart bread and great cheese are back. 

When I first bought the book I did make the Mix 1 and 2 as they suggest, and then one day I used the 1:1 flour blend I make and it turned out, so I started experimenting more with my flour blend and the recipes, and tweaking them a bit for our house.   One thing I read early on in the gluten free journey was to add Xanthum Gum as you use it, not to your flour as you create the blend. This allows one to control the Xanthum Gum levels for baked goods. Generally, it's 1 teaspoon for each cup of flour for making bread, and half a teaspoon for most other baked goods. 

The Mike doesn't care for the crunchy bread unless we are having soup for dipping :)  , so I have worked on some other recipes in the book.    If you're going to make a roll, or manipulate the flour, it really does help a lot (as they say) to refrigerate the dough after the initial rise. 

One of my recent finds is a long loaf pan. This one has a small rise in the bottom, which could be used for a long pound cake or angel food cake, but I buttered it up and used it for bread!  

I made up the Challah bread with my  flour blend, added milled chia for more nutrients, and a bit more water for that. 
I skip the initial "let rise in bowl" and I simply add it to the greased baking pan for it to do the rise. I let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours depending on how warm or chilly the house is that day.  

Placed just over half the dough in the pan after mixing, the rest I scooped as rolls in a separate pan. 
Although this day was a little warm, I preheated the oven to 105ºF, then shut it off, and covered loosely with plastic wrap, and set in the oven to rise for the next 2 hours. 

I thought half full on the loaf pan would be fine. 
Then it rose in the oven. 

Removed the pans from the oven, removed the plastic wrap, applied an egg wash of 1 egg and a splash of water, scrambled and then silicone brush for applying.  I then preheated the oven to 350ºF and then baked for 55 minutes. 

The rolls. 

OMG This bread!  

POOF. It was TALL.  

It did deflate a little bit, but held it's shape remarkably well.  We managed to not cut into it until it had cooled completely. That was an endeavor!   

This loaf lasted us a week. It was great for fresh with butter, for grilled cheese, for tuna melt (The Mike requested) , and for a cold ham and cheese sandwich.

I realized I probably should have done something simple to the bread, and remembered to do that this next time.  . . . put a few slices in the top of the risen bread. 

This week I made another full batch of the dough.  I split the mix evenly among the two long loaf pans, and so they didn't rise to topping the pan. 

Risen, egg wash, and three angled slices across the top. 

Bake: 350F 60 minutes. Switched and rotated the loaf pans after half an hour. 

Oh, YUM!  

Long Loaf Pan = approximately 15x4x4. One of mine is Wilton, the other is vintage West Bend

The only problem with this, is how to wrap the second loaf to keep it!    

Bread Loaf Recipe: 

Dry ingredients. Weigh and mix together. 

920 grams / 6 cups of my Gluten Free Flour blend,* plus 6 teaspoons of Xanthum Gum 

1 scant Tablespoon kosher salt  (I generally under add salt, figuring we will be using the bread with plenty of salted things like cheese and ham :) 

10 grams of rapid rise yeast, which for me is 1 1/4 envelopes. 

30 grams/ 1 Tablespoon  of milled chia more protein and fiber) 

Wet ingredients: 

4 eggs (farm fresh large/jumbo eggs for me,  totaling 252 grams)

1/2 cup of honey (farm fresh as well. Sometimes I have to heat it up or scoop it out if it solidifies--which happens if it's real).

110grams of Olive Oil (California Olive Ranch for me), or half a cup. 

3 cups of lukewarm water (100ºF to 105ºF) 

Weigh and mix the dry ingredients together in stand mixer bowl.  Measure wet ingredients and add to a separate mixing bowl or container.  All at once, add all the wet ingredients to the dry.  Attach paddle and mix on low for a few minutes to incorporate all the ingredients, then turn to 6  speed, and mix for a couple minutes.

Grease two long loaf pans (15"x4"x4"), or one long loaf pan and one 12-muffin tin.  

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm /draft free area for two hours of rising. General temps for optimum yeast product rising is 80F to 115F.  I put my oven at 105F. 

When rising is complete, preheat oven to 350ºF.   If bread was in oven proofing, remove from oven before preheating.

Remove plastic wrap from pans, scramble one egg with one teaspoon of water, and gently apply to the top of the bread with a pastry brush, silicone kitchen brush, or a folded paper-towel that won't lint/shred.   Then, using a serrated knife, make three slices across the top of the bread.  

When oven has reached temperature, place pans in center oven. Bake for one (1) hour for long loaf pan, 40 minutes for smaller rolls). 

Remove from oven, let cool in pan ten minutes. Remove to cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing with serrated knife. 

* One reason I started making my own flour mix was my desire to have more than "just" white flours in baked goods. Mine has brown rice flour, sorghum, and teff in addition to tapioca and potato starch.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Pork Roast Becomes More: tacos, pizza, more

I love making this pork roast.  One, because it's sooo tasty, and two because it makes me smile when I think of the first time I made it and the geriatric feline in his last year perked right up after two hours of the pork roasting, his nostrils working when his appetite was poor.  (And yes, he got some from the very middle before I shredded it and completely mixed/shredded the meat). 

Pork Roast: 
Roasted Pork Butt / Pork Shoulder, the simply made roast keeps on giving in so many ways!  
In my oven, this cooks for 8 hours. In the electric roaster (large enough for those turkeys and such), this took about less time. Will lower the temp for next time, but it still turned out well.  

I used Michael Chiarello's Food Network recipe, with a few changes.  The first time I made it, I followed the recipe, but I've since adapted. it: 
6 to 8 pound pork shoulder/butt roast 
3T fresh garlic 
2T Kosher salt  2T ground Coriander 
2T mustard powder (I get mine from Penzy's spices) 
1 to 2 T ground chili powder, depending on my mood
1T dried thyme 
1T dried rosemary--mostly because I like a hint of it, but not a lot of it. Using dried, crush it or chop it. I generally use the mortar pestle for this. 
2tsp ground black pepper 
1/4 c brown sugar 

I open the package of the pork. I've only seen the large pieces in already wrapped packages at the store. Open it, drain it, and then dry the whole thing off. I put down paper towels in my large sheet pan, place pork on it, dry it with more paper towels. Dispose of paper towels. 

In my mortar pestle, I will add the rosemary first and mash it around to break up the pieces. Then I'll add the rest of the dry spices and grind them together, releasing the flavor.  In a bowl, add the brown sugar and fresh garlic, and then mix with the ground spices. 

Rub some on the side that will be bottom, flip it, and then add the rest and rub it into the meat, top, sides, and more to the bottom.  
If you have a roasting pan with a rack, place it on that. If not, placing it right into the pan is fine as well. I have also scrunched up aluminum foil to rest the roast on, for easier clean up. 

Roast for 6 to 8 hours at 275F

When done, let rest for ten to fifteen minutes, shred what you can by hand with forks, and have dinner.
Come back after dinner, shred the rest, and portion it for easy use later. I use quart freezer zip bags. Make sure to get some of the outer seasoned meat in with the rest.  
Pork tacos: 

Measure out the pork you will need for your tacos.  I dice up the meat a bit more than it was just shredded.
Prep and portion out your additions: 
queso cheese, guacamole or avocado, fresh cilantro, green onion, black olives, corn,, whatever you like. 

We use soft shell corn tortillas which I heat on the cast iron griddle we have. 

In a nonstick pan, heat up a half tablespoon of olive oil, and add in the pork. Cook for about five minutes or heated through. 
Cook up your tortillas. You can use a nonstick pan for this, or a griddle. I like to put a little butter on the iron first, then heat one side of the tortilla, after it bubbles a little, flip to the other side,  Since it's just the two of us, I set the warmed tortillas on a cooling rack, but placing them in a warm oven on a rack is a good way to keep them warm.  
The gluten free corn tortillas aren't very large, and we usually forget that when we fill them.  The simplest form would be meat, cheese, cilantro, maybe some lettuce. (like we've had at a great restaurant in McGregor, Iowa several years ago). 

Sometimes quick and simple becomes a little messy to eat. Have your fork handy!  

Pork pizza: 

We pulled down a package of pork the other day and while initially I had tacos on my mind, we ended up making pizza.  

Chebe crust, we portioned it into two pizzas. The Mike made his thin and no crimped edge, mine was a little smaller/thicker and I crimped the edge--it's pie after all, right? 

The Mike went for BBQ Pork. We mixed up Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything cookbook" BBQ sauce and then The Mike mixed the sauce with the pork (which, this is how it was done at the pizza (ahem, house) place I worked at in college. In the past we've put BBQ sauce on the crust and then topped with pork. 

I used Classico Four Cheese white sauce and topped it with pork and onions, then added cheese.  While I am very picky on my BBQ sauce, and I did enjoy tasting this recipe's (I would consume it!), I wasn't feeling bbq pork that night.

Layered up the cheese, and baked at 450F on already heated pizza stones for 20minutes.  The Mike's took about 15 minutes, mine needed a little longer as it was thicker.  

We had fresh sliced apples with it. . .does that count as a complete meal?  

As my Italian friend said "that's not pizza". It's more like an open faced fabulously tasty sandwich!  

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Thanksgiving dressing--or stuffing without stuffing it in the bird, and gravy.

What do you call the side of bread with veggies?  I grew up with it called "stuffing" but some say it's 'dressing' since it 's not cooked inside the bird.  Cooking inside the bird is often said to not be good as it can inhibit the flow of warm air through the cavity of the turkey. 

I also think it's just a loss *less* work to bake it in a pan than it is to stuff it in a turkey, then remove it to a dish before serving.  

One of my fond memories as a child was sitting at the table in the days before Thanksgiving (it may have been the weekend before), where I opened loaves of (gluten) bread and tore them apart into small pieces.  This was my first lesson in making stuffing. 

When I have time, and we can prep, I usually buy UDIs bread to dice into cubes, and let dry out a bit via placing it on cookie sheets in the oven for a day or two.  Then I put it in the off oven and let it sit for a day or two. 

For things needed for stuffing, my mom always used onion, celery, and carrots. I had some fennel in the fridge, so I added that this time as well.  Other things needed, salt, pepper, sage.   We always used milk as the wetting agent, but you can use turkey or chicken broth as well. 

The vegetables for the stuffing need to be cooked ahead of time on the stove top. This is something you can do the day or two before, or the day of. 

I know the cooking shows always talk of finely chopping onions. Guess what, they're going to be cooked and put into stuffing and I like it a little larger, and carefree/not uniform pieces.  
Plus, I'm not making a soup where they need to be very small and uniform. 
Partial onion I already had, cut the bottom off, sliced body in half, then had a flat surface for  each half to cut into slices and then dice. 
I always use the red onions when I can after watching Christina Cooks say that they have antioxidants, and they add more color to the dish!  

Three ribs of celery. I cut the bottom and top off. 

Then slice the ribs in half. Larger pieces get sliced into three. 

Then dice into pieces about the same size as the onions. 

Carrots.  Peel

Then trim off the top and the tips.

I cut the carrots then lengthwise to make narrower, and then chip into small pieces. 

The fennel got it's top chopped off, and discarded. 
I then sliced it in half and then into matchstick size pieces, as then into small pieces. 
Fennel tastes a little bit like licorice. It isn't too powerful and just adds a subtle flavor. 

The Mike always thinks I have too many small bowls. 

Do I?  
I like being able to put things into small bowls when necessary. Sometimes we only use one, sometimes we use all six. 

This all needs precooked. Preheat a skillet with butter or olive oil.  Then add in the diced vegetables.  

Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the items.  
Cover the skillet and let cook for a few minutes. 
Then stir, cover, cook some more. 

About five to seven minutes total. 

I used the Aleia's kitchen ready to bake croutons as they were on sale last week when I was at the store. Otherwise, as above, I would have just cubed bread or bread heels I had. 
I used the plain version, so I could add the seasonings we wanted. 

This is my mom's stuffing that I had gotten from her shortly after her stroke. I wish I had thought to do so before in the years, so I could have a recipe with her handwriting. 

On top of the vegetables, the seasoning is added:  thyme, sage, pepper. 

After mixing the seasoning and vegetables together, I put into a large mixing bowl to rest/cool a little. 

After ten minutes or so, I add the bread crumbs to the mixing bowl. 

Fold together well to mix the vegetables and croutons. 

I reused those vegetable bowls because I didn't need to dirty even more dishes!   Two eggs, and a cup of liquid. I used milk. You can use turkey or chicken broth, or a different type of 'milk' if you'd like.  Mix these together in the small bowl. 

Grease your pan. I used a 9x13 pan, but have also put this in a shallower jelly roll pan. I use butter, but you can use the fat of your choice if you need to be dairy free.  

Add the milk and eggs to your croutons. Add more liquid if you think it is necessary. I like it a little drier. If you like it more moist, use two cups of liquid. 

Add to the pan, smooth, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.  For the last ten minutes go ahead and remove the cover and let bake uncovered. 

One thing that I just have not been able to perfect since being gluten free (14 years) is gravy.  However, these days Simply Organic / Frontier Coop has plenty of mixes for making the holiday a little simpler!  

I make stuffing a few times a year. While we usually have it with turkey, we have it with meatloaf as well (and we will have leftovers of this with meatloaf this weekend). 

Served with sliced turkey and cranberry sauce.  

What else do you have for Thanksgiving?  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Time for Turkey

America's Thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner. I know it may seem daunting that this year of 'separate but together' we have to make our own things. Let's break it down into sections. 

One of the things to consider is that instead of having "all" of the sides that you would have at a large gathering, that you pick a few that you can eat that day,  and with leftovers. 

We usually travel to The Mike's family for Thanksgiving. We've already decided to stay home and safe for several reasons: we don't feel comfortable eating inside with the masks off in an intimate space, and we live in a county where the positivity rate is currently 26.4%. That's like an ultra marathon by numbers--and not a marathon I want to be a part of.  I also worked the election and while I had on my mask and face shield, I did help people do curbside voting who had tested positive for Covid.  

For a practice meal, I made a turkey breast, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. When I was growing up, mom would make turkey (or ham, whichever we had won at the Church's Turkey Bingo), mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing/dressing, and a butternut squash.  We would also have green beans, or sometimes (rarely) the green bean casserole. It turns out that while several of us like cream of mushroom soup, we don't actually like green bean casserole!  

Another tip is to make a list of what you want to make and serve, and the time it takes to cook, at what temperature, and if it needs to be cooled (pumpkin pie) or served warm. 

One thing that The Mike thought of a few years ago was to prep a lot of things the day before and just reheat on Thanksgiving day. Mashed potatoes or yams can go in a crockpot the day of to reheat.  Rolls can be baked ahead of time and put in the oven for just a few minutes to reheat/warm. 

First I purchased a single turkey breast from the grocer. (Sometimes in larger metro areas you can find half a bird and get the dark and white meat).  The local store has a brand that is just turkey, no additions that may be questionable with gluten or soy allergies. Best to call the packager to find out what they add to their turkeys. I've made these calls from the store before. Let people look and wonder what, but it also spreads awareness of what should be on the package, and that it's okay to ask these questions!  

I did a small amount of a brine for the turkey breast to help it keep in the juices. I used Alton Brown's version as it has worked well for us with a whole turkey before. When we have done a whole turkey, we used a new, well cleaned (before and after) insulated cooler for the turkey and brine..  I used a small kitchen container for this and submerged it. 

Salt, brown sugar, pepper, allspice, candied ginger. I used water instead of vegetable stock for this.
I let it soak for 15 hours in the refrigerator. 

The next day I got the rub ready to go:  sage, thyme, shallots, parlsey, pepper and salt. Since I was only doing a turkey breast, I used roughly a pinch of the seasonings.  
I used all dry because that's what realistically most people have on hand. Fresh is nice, not buying extra things at this time is nice too. 

After putting in a small container I ground together to break up the shallots and also mix the flavors together. If you don't have a mortar/pestle you can use the back of a spoon. 

Then I added a splash of olive oil and a Tablespoon of butter. 
If you need to make this dairy free, you can just use olive oil and not butter. 

Mixed together. 

Remove the turkey /breast from the brine and pat dry. The skin is already a little separated from the meat.  

Using your clean hands, spread the seasoning mixture under the skin of the turkey. 

I then set the turkey in a pan atop sliced onion, a cinnamon stick broken in half, and sliced apple. (best time to use that apple you forgot at the back of your fridge and that got a little wrinkled--I'm not the only one that has one of those, right?). 

Baked at 350F x 90 minutes. 

If you're going to make the dressing (recipe I will share in another post), that needs to bake for 30 minutes. Thus, 30 minutes before the turkey is to be done, place the stuffing/dressing in the oven. 

Put on a warm platter and then covered with foil to let rest for 10 minutes.  
Warm the plate with hot water before putting hot food on, to avoid 'crazing'/ cracking in the china. 

After removing the foil, you will see just a little bit of juice. This is because we brined, so the meat kept in the moisture instead of releasing a lot of moisture. This is good for a juicy turkey, but bad for wanting juices/drippings to make gravy. 

Served with stuffing/dressing and cranberry sauce. (which I will share in a separate post), and the appetizer snack of sliced bell peppers. 

**One thing that made me spazz out happened in 2012. Mom's last Thanksgiving.  It was a giant turkey: 22# [that my aunt had raised that year] was done before anyone expected it to be. Several of us chipped in, got out the crock pots we had all brought, and I carved the giant bird into sections. Each breast went in separate crockpots with some turkey broth, and the legs and thighs went into another crockpot with turkey broth. We were worried, but they were SO juicy. Maybe it was an organic/free range bird, or maybe it was the brine, or a combination of that and the crockpot with juices. My aunt had ordered the turkey chicks, but didn't get them sent to the processor when it was suggested, so all of the turkeys were much larger than expected.