Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ciabatta , my new version

I have a version of this on the blog already with pictures,
this is the new way I do what I do, no pics at the moment...

Ciabatta (my new version)

500 grams a/p flour
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (if you want)
squirt of olive oil (if you want it soft)
2 cups water

Dump it all in the bowl of the kitchenaid, with the paddle beater and high speed, let her rip until it starts to climb the paddle... you'll be able to see it climb even at high speed.  When it starts to climb the top portion stop the mixer and with a very wet hand, slide the goo off the paddle and switch to the dough hook.

On HIGH let it go until it completely clears the side of the bowl and isn't stuck at the bottom at all.  just let it go!  Do NOT add additional flour, give it up to 15 minutes...  seriously, it'll work.

Dump/pour the slimy, shiny, slick, STICKY, crazy, 'this is not going to be bread' dough mixture, you'll see what i mean, it's shiny and you can NOT touch it, into a vessel to rise.  I use a 6qt plastic container.  You HAVE to let this TRIPLE in volume.  It takes about 75 minutes for me.

I put the container in the oven with the light on.  It can take up to 2 hours.  I make a lot of bread and everyone thinks there's yeast in my air.

Anyway, when it's tripled, it'll be a gigantic jiggly breathing mass of goo... that's perfect!

Pour it onto a VERY well floured surface and with your fingertips stretch it to about 24 inches square and fold it in thirds like a letter.. I cut it at this point with a bench scraper into however many loaves I want.

Flip once and flour the tops of whatever you make.  cover with a towel and leave to relax about 45 minutes.

CRANK the oven to 475 and preheat a stone if you got it.

When the dough looks slightly risen and more wobbly than it was (there's not a lot of rise at this point) Transfer the dough in one quick motion (one loaf at a time) onto a peel with cornmeal or onto the back of a cookie sheet or onto some other transportation method and slide it into the oven.  Throw 4 ice cubes on the bottom of the oven and close the door.

Bake for EXACTLY 15 minutes, feel free to open and spin the loaf at 10 minutes.

Remove from oven onto rack.  Repeat with rest of loaves.

EAT!  Take to parties!  EAT!  ENJOY!!!

This stuff is killer good.
Here's some I made today



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

This is the best thing you will ever eat.
This is the best value you'll get from any food you cook.
This is reason 1 of 8,583 of why I love my electric pressure cooker.
You're welcome.  O_o
Tracy cooks a
Whole Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

1 carrot, broken in a couple pieces, unpeeled
1 stick celery, broken in a couple pieces, leaves are fine
1 onion (with skin!), cut in half if it's small, quarters if it's big, remember, leave the skin on!
pepper corns (or pepper, we don't need to be chefy here)
1 bay leaf
herbs you like, fresh or dry parsley + stems, herbs d'provence, thyme
1 3-6 lb chicken, whole, (empty the innards!)
water, as much as your machine will hold
a couple sprinklings of salt, maybe 1+ tsp?

Ok, I am not kidding when I tell you this is the best thing you'll ever cook in this machine.  If you don't have an electric pressure cooker and you are thinking of getting one, this is the reason you must go now (after you finish reading my blogs and commenting on how fabulous and useful they are) and buy one.  I am doing a little hard sell here because they are changing my culinary life and I don't know why or how but this cheap little Nesco that I bought from Walmart, on a lark, for $60 is the second thing I'd rush into a burning building to save from my kitchen.  We know I wouldn't leave the Big Red Kitchenaid behind ;)

I digress, as per usual. We need to return to the chicken.

This is as hard as it gets, put everything in the pressure cooker in the order they're listed.  Put the chicken in upside down (breast down, backbone up). It will float, don't worry about it.

**You need to follow the manufacturer recommendation for your own machine on how much liquid you can put in, mine has hash marks up the side so I know.

Lock and load the pressure cooker, 30 minutes.  Go do something fabulous.
You can open immediately or just leave it to come down from pressure naturally, I usually let this come down on it's own because I generally have found something else to do and forget about the bird.  It's fine in there for hours actually, I have gone shopping while this cooks.  The machine switches to WARM so it just holds it all for the day.

You will need a spider or other gigantic tool to remove the chicken from the broth.  It is falling apart and so tender and juicy and flavorful!

This is how I deal with all this.

I transfer the bird to a big bowl and put aside to pick later then scoop the solids from the liquid and toss them, they've given up all they have, thanks veggies, great job.

I add about a cup or water to the stock to extend it then transfer the stock to either a giant container (I have 8qt containers) or divide it between measuring cups and put in the fridge to jelly up.  The fat rises to the top when it's cold and I scoop that fat into a mason jar (conveniently labelled "chicken fat") and keep it in the freezer to cook with.  *there is NO waste in my world  I simply dig into the frozen fat with a fork to break off chunks when I need it.

After I get the fat, I divide the liquid/jelly into separate, smaller, containers and freeze them to use whenever I need.

I pick the chicken meat for whatever uses I have.  I freeze some, fridge some, eat some.  I use the small dark meat bits for jambalaya, a mix of dark and white for chicken divan, I slice the large pieces of white for dinner with gravy and vegetables.  I make chicken salad, chicken and pasta, chicken and rice, combine it with roast potatoes and hot sauce and cheese and bacon with a salad.  I make soup and chicken and dumplings with the broth.  I use the broth everywhere!  One chicken, 10+ meals.  Seriously.

Oh and if I haven't already said, this is the best stock you'll ever eat/drink/use.  There's no need whatsoever to buy broth in a box at the store.  Really.  In Austin, I can buy a rather large (5 lb) chicken for .77/lb so my standard chicken for this method is under $4 when they go on sale.  I load up!

There you have it.  My ode to the two perfect things in my house at any given time, a chicken and my electric pressure cooker.

Here is a video of the reveal, the portion of me putting the stuff IN the pot didn't convert...  anyway here is a video instead of a thousand pictures:


Lentil Soup Pressure Cooker Style

I love thick, rich, stews and soups.  I love rib sticking stuff that makes your nose run.  Anything you can eat with an enormous, crunchy, crispy, hot, homemade roll slathered with butter makes me happy in the depths of my soul.  I live in Austin, Texas, the days cold enough to truly enjoy said culinary exultation are few and far between but when they hit, they hit hard!  I have a finite period of time to shovel said giant bowls of goodness into me.  The temperature dropped from 81 to 40 in 90 minutes, GO GO GO!  I dash to the cupboard, lentils!  I need to hurry, the temperature could climb!  

Hello Mr. Pressure cooker... how YOU doin.?

Tracy's Speedy Lentil Soup *in the pressure cooker* 

2-3 slices of bacon, sliced thin
1 onion
2 carrots
1 bay leaf'
stock or water of your choosing
herbs of your liking (I use dry thyme and Herbs D'Provence)
1 bag of lentils, picked over for rocks or other mysterious things you don't necessarily want to ingest. 

I have a 'brown' setting on my pressure cooker so I can fry things in there before I pressure them.  If you don't, go get one that you can, it makes life easy.  If you can't go get one then use a fry pan and fry your bacon and onions then dump them in your pressure cooker. 

Brown the bacon and just leave that fat in there!  Cut the onion and carrots into small pieces and toss them into the bacon fat to fry for a few minutes, we don't want too much color but we do want softness before we cook, it adds a surprising amount of flavor all the way around.

Throw in your picked lentils, the bay leaf, herbs, pepper (salt at the end!) and then cover it all by a few inches with water or stock. 

Lock and load, 10 minutes. 

I used this time wisely, I found a few rolls in the freezer I'd made

and popped them in the toaster oven, frozen, on the 'toast' setting.  In mine, it thaws them and crisps them up to perfection.  

DING!  Time is up!

My electric pressure cooker, the NESCO,  comes to pressure then starts timing.  When the time is done, it DINGS and switches to "warm".  I generally release the pressure manually because I have no patience whatsoever. 

Release the pressure, carefully!  and stir.  Add water if it needs it, depends on how thick you like it.  THIS is the time you taste for salt.  

Now then, you can eat it like this, DELICIOUS but I shove a stick blender in it and whir in one spot for about 5 seconds. (yes, I did time it for you)  It blends a little bit of the soup and when you stir that around, adds richness and a thicker consistency.  Remember, I have so few hours of truly cold weather where we need rib sticking fare, I have to go to the maximum opportunity immediately.  

Ok, I just realized, this is the ONLY picture I took of the meal...  that has to tell you something about the level of deliciousness.

You can drizzle a little olive oil over it, plop a joyful spoonful of sour cream on it.  You can sprinkle fresh herbs or just have it plain,  You can transfer it to a blender and completely blend it to a smooth soup like split pea.  There are so many options with this base.

I like to serve it in giant bowls with said crispy, heavily buttered, rolls and curl up on the couch with a fire or a great movie and eat.  

I confess, I have never been able to have only one bowl of this stuff. On this night, I ate 3.  

If you use a little less water, it makes a killer side for roast chicken or even with rice as a North American version of Dal.  I think this is one those perfect foods.  If you have a hankering for a protein, make this and shred some simply roasted (or pressure cooked!) chicken on top.  You can also shred ham or slice sausage on top.  I don't like this with beef for some reason but all the others work great.  

Go now and make this.  You and your tummy will be delighted and the subsequent warmth that will be travelling around your soul will fix whatever may be ailing you.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boiled Eggs in the Pressure Cooker YES WAY!

Ok, don't mock me or look away or turn to another channel... but seriously, you have to do this.  It shouldn't work, really, I know, this is stupid!

IN your electric pressure cooker, put 12 oz of water then put a steamer basket in there.  Put as many eggs as you want on the basket

Lock and load

Set timer for TWO minutes on LOW pressure and go make toast. There is no way this is going to work, seriously, what a colossal waste of my (and my chickens) time...  wasting eggs  *mutter mutter mutter*

DING  when the timer goes off, release the pressure quickly, use tongs and take the eggs out and put them in egg cups.

Butter your toast and cut it into soldiers.  You are NOT allowed to eat eggs without soldiers.  Cut the top of the egg off and look inside! LOOK!  The white is firm yet still tender and the yolk is solid looking until you push your toast soldier into it and then LOOK!  LOOK!  It's RUNNY and PERFECT!

It's PERFECT!  It shouldn't work but it DOES!


I will get better pictures but really, I just had to get this out here so everyone starts making their eggs in a pressure cooker...  CRAZY! 


OK OK OK  so I made them again, actually I've been making them every other day because the fact that it works, freaks me out.  I've made one egg, perfect.  I've done 2, 3,6 eggs...perfect.


Well, here's the pressure cooker with a little water in it, i didn't measure this time, rebel.  There's 1/2 inch maybe in there.  Here's a lovely picture of my steamer and 3 of my backyard eggs.  Well not MY eggs, eggs from my chickens.  You'll notice said eggs are no where near said water.  I have a LOW pressure button on my Nesco so let's press it and lock and load for 2!

Ok, another exciting shot, there are the eggs, 2 minutes later.  Well, 2 pressure minutes later, it was probably another 1 or 2 to get there.  I released the pressure with my "get me out of here, release the pressure now now" switch.  Ah, Sunny's Egg (Sunny is one of my chickens) placed perfectly inside lip licking egg cup with waiting soldiers, toasted and buttered.  Cut off his head and VOILA!  perfect!  (this bugs me, it should NOT  work but it does and it keeps working~! every.single.time.)

I did the same to Martini's egg (Martini is yet another of the girls who live in the backyard and supply me with fresh eggs) as is evident by the pencil "M" on the side of the egg) and it's also, perfect.  YIKES, overflow... luckily there's buttery toast soldiers to sop that up.  Mmmmmm

Well, every time I do this, they work out exactly the same, exactly perfectly and this is reason 4,829 as to why you need to go out and buy an electric pressure cooker. 

I'll keep playing and finding things to try, you just keep making them. 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Broccoli Casserole Quiche (!) YES, really!

Broccoli Casserole Quiche, oh yes I did...

Ok, this is a quick/easy/delicious/fast/tasty/fabulous quickie. 

I wanted Broccoli Casserole like my Nana made. I wanted quiche.  I introduced them to each other in my head and they became the best friends ever.  This is my new go to luncheon piece.  Sure there's frozen broccoli but I always have it for adding to anything so I will always be able to make this when I'm having friends here or going somewhere I have to feed them. 


1 unbaked pie shell, make it/buy it, either works!  *my mom made me batched of pie dough for me to keep in my freezer so I can make 4 more of these before I have to start making my own dough again or go to buying it.  I have no shame buying! 

1 15oz bag frozen broccoli (cuts)
1 can cream of chicken soup (yep!)
1 scant cup mayonnaise (use real or don't make this)
1 cup shredded cheddar (shred your own if you can)
4 eggs (mine are various sizes because I have chickens in my backyard)
salt, many grates of pepper
squirt lemon juice
I add a teaspoon of curry powder, you don't have to
a few scrapes of nutmeg
A few Ritz crackers. 

Heat oven to 425, put rack on lowest level.  I cook anything with pastry on the bottom of the oven, the crust cooks through and browns without getting soggy!  I do hate a soggy bottom. 

Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and dump them into a 9" lined pie shell.  *exhausting, isn't it?  Sprinkle with a handful of crushed Ritz crackers.  Not too many, just enough to add a little salt and crunch to the top.  

Bake for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 and cook until it's just JUST set in the middle and puffy and browned, about 30 more minutes.  

Remove from oven with JUST set and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes. 

Cut, serve with a gigantic salad and you've got yourself dinner!  lunch!  party piece!  

Make it, you'll love it! 

Now then... **IF you want to make just the broccoli casserole without the crust, just reduce the eggs to 3 and bake in a buttered casserole at 375 for 30-40 minutes and use an entire sleeve of ritz crackers crushed with a tbsp of melted butter ... Ahhh, just like Ivy used to make.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Orange Jam, or Ok, it's mostly marmalade

Orange Jam (marmalade to purists)
I don't like marmalade but I do like jam. There's a big discussion happening between my mother and I about what exactly constitutes a jam versus a marmalade. I like jam and so I made some. Some people will assume this is marmalade but it's mine, so it's jam.


I had exactly one orange, 3/4 cup of sugar, a lemon slice, a pinch of salt and some water so this is what I made because I wanted something for my currant scones that was more than butter and less than strawberry jam.

Zest the orange and put it in your Ninja blender! Add about 3/4 cup (more or less to taste) of sugar and whirrrr it around.

Peel the orange and cut the segments into the processor
Squeeze all that juice out!
Add a little water, whirr it around and pour it into a saucepan
BOIL like crazy until it's thick and jam like!  About 8-10 minutes.  *OOPS, add a squirt of fresh lemon
After a bit of boiling, when it looks thick, get your little glass ramekin (or little plate or bottom of a jar or a heatproof glass) and put a little of the molten orange liquid on the back of it.  
Pop it in the fridge for a minute and see if it's thick enough for you. 

When it's cooled down a bit, do the wrinkle test, push your thumb through it, if it wrinkles, it's jam!
Another test is that it leaves a trail when you pull a spatula through it, just briefly

Ok, pop it into two little jars, leave it to cool to room temperature, throw lids on and lookie lookie, you have orange jam... ok ok you really have marmalade but we've already discussed that.
I think is the perfect amount to make at a time...

Ok, off you go and make some jam, make some marmalade.  Coat your toast and bread and scones and baked goods in your own, homemade, yummy fruity goodness, all natural, no pectin and totally completely yummy!