Friday, February 24, 2012

White Bread, A Pictorial Journey

It's bread, it's the stuff of life.

I'll admit, I do this well.  It's easy, it's tasty, it's CHEAP and it's fresh and it's infinitely better than any $7 "artisan" loaf you'll buy.

I make this loaf every few days.  More often when Connor was in school but since he's been home schooled, we don't eat so many sandwiches mid day, hopefully that'll change, full kitchen duty 3 times a day, although fun, isn't necessarily the way I saw my day being spent.  I have, apparently, turned into a diner.

That being said, I have been asked many times for the play by play of the daily white bread.  I may have done it before, here and on other sites, but here's a new one. 

 I use 3 cups of a/p flour for this.  You can substitute up to 3/4 cup whole wheat, much more and it gets a bit stodgy and you have to futz with the liquid levels so really, just use another recipe. 


This is my tried, true and I make it in my sleep bread.  I only ever make it in the Kitchen-aid.  I CAN make it by hand, I just don't want to :)

COMBINE and allow to bloom: 
1 cup milk, body temperature
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast

ADD, MIX to beautiful soft dough.
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg
3 cups a/p flour (or a/p whole wheat blend)

RISE till doubled

DEFLATE, SHAPE, put in loaf pan, RISE till doubled

BAKE 375, 25 minutes

REMOVE from pan, leave to cool on rack

Yeast blooms in about 3 minutes.  The first rise is about 1 hour, second is the same. I beat the heck out of the dough for 5 minutes from when it starts to come together.  IF it's too sticky, like this day, add a little flour just to keep it off the sides. Sometimes it sticks, that's fine.  

I put the plastic container, with lid, in my oven with the light on purely to keep it off the counter.  My house is full of yeast in the air and things tend to rise faster now ???  so here, the rises are each about 45 minutes. 

Usual bread making rules/system apply.  Here's the shots: 














Pot Roast, old style

Sure, gadgets and food fads are the solid way to go, a lot of the time.  Sometimes, however, you want to go old school because the reason something is a classic and has been made the same way forever is because, simply, it's delicious.

Take a day, a cast iron dutch oven and a few ingredients and you will be in culinary comfort food nirvana in, well, hours and hours but really, even though it takes all day, you don't have to DO anything so...c'mon, let's get comfy! 

In an oval dutch oven throw in some potatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaf, garlic clove, salt and pepper, parsley stems, tyme leaves, herbs of choice, an onion chopped into 4, drizzle some olive oil over it all.


 Plunk (it's a culinary term) a 5 lb chuck roast (that's been salted and peppered) on top.  Pour in chicken stock or water to barely cover the vegetables.


Put into 275 degree oven, go have a life, come back in 5 hours. WOW that'll work!


Take your roast out and put it on a plate, in the oven to keep warm.  Pull out the carrots and potatoes and drain the rest of the juice.  Put the juice in a sauce pan and boil like crazy... add a slurry (flour+water) or cornstarch mixed with a little water or a beurre manie (butter+flour) to thicken the sauce to your liking. 

I put the potatoes to the side for another day and nuked some peas and mashed some potatoes for tonights version.

Serve meat, potatoes and vegetables. OR you can do the potato valley gravy holder


OR, like me, flood it all... eat with abandon and be happy in the depths of your soul.

Go make a pot roast, old school, fabulous.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Perfectly Poached Eggs (for 1 or more than 1)

There are few things so simply lovely as a perfectly cooked poached egg.  Really, a soft yet firm white and a runny but warm yolk that runs over your toast when you break into it.

In my humble opinion, I'm a rock star egg for 1 cooker.  Seriously, it's one of the short list items I am proud of.  I have found the perfect cup, ratio and time on my microwave to produce, consistently, the most perfect microwave poached egg on earth.  Truly. I'm more proud of being able to do one simple thing equally as well every time than being able to do a major holiday meal with all 9 veggies and meats.  Sometimes simple is more important.

For my easy microwave egg for me.  I break 1 extra large egg into 1/2 cup of water in a small glass cup, it has to be straight sided for some reason, the slanty ones don't cook so evenly.  Oh and I know, I've made a zillion.  I also don't like them cooked in ramekins, too shallow.  I'm rather persnickety about it I guess.  Back to my egg, I poke the yolk with a needle, cover loosely with plastic wrap and cook for 1 minute on High (I have 1,000 watt microwave.  I drain it with my tuna can strainer, tip it onto toast and eat.

Now then, on those days I simply have to eat more than 1 egg (they happen) or if I have a friend here who wants an egg at the same time as me or if hubba or offspring want one, well that's where the problem happens.  I haven't mastered multiple egg poach cooking in the microwave.

Enter, my mother's brilliant throw away comment... 'oh, hi, yeah, I got the knife, I'm going dancing this afternoon, I made myself a perfectly poached egg in a jar this morning, I don't know what pants to wear with this sweater, oh and how's your day?"  WHAT?  You made an egg in a jar?  When did you think of that? Oh, d'uh.  I cook everything in jars, chicken pie, apple pie, molten lava cakes, cold pork pie, mince pie, apple crumble - why not eggs?  She used to coddle eggs when I was a kid in cool little egg coddling jar thingys with silver lids, I hate them.  But calling it poached eggs, and doing it in a jar, that's got to be tastier!

It's silly simple and I'm almost embarrassed to post it as a recipe.

You need 1 egg per mini mason jar.  Butter the jar and crack an egg into it, salt and pepper lightly and put the lid on.  Shove it in the fridge until you want to eat.

Bring the jar/jars out to room temperature so you don't have an explosion, only a couple of minutes. Take the lids off the jars if you are going to freak out about a sealed jar in the water, I cooked mine with the lid for these pictures but then did another sample cook without the lid, they cook slightly faster without the lid.

Bring enough water to come 3/4 up the side of the jars to a solid boil, throw a piece of paper towel in the bottom to prevent clacking and very loud jiggling of glass against metal.

Put the jars into the water, (IF you've taken the lids off the jars then cover the saucepan)  Cook them for 8 minutes. The beautiful thing is that you can see how cooked they are, easily, and cook them longer if you want or less if you're really into soft whites.  I am not.

Carefully remove them from the water, use a tea towel to hold them.  Run a knife around the side to loosen and plunk on a piece of very crispy buttered toast. 
Break it open, add salt and pepper and eat.  Oh and feel free to repeat, often.


OTHER RECIPES that I make in my beloved little jars are: