March 31, 2009

The thing I like about baking bread

The thing I like about baking bread is, after enough practice you can mess around with no recipe at all and still produce something tasty.  Bread is stupid easy, which I guess is why humans have been making and eating it for millenia.

This is kind of like ciabatta in that it was a very wet dough that produced a very flat loaf with a rather open internal structure, but seeing as how I have never taken the time to read a recipe for real ciabatta, I shall call it fauxbatta.

I made colcannon last night, so I saved the water left over from boiling the potatoes and used some of it to make this bread.  The water was already salted from potato-boiling, so I didn't add any salt to the bread dough.

The dough was mixed and kneaded and put in the fridge overnight, taken out in the morning and punched down, and then shaped, proofed, and baked after I got home from work.
I think I shall use it to soak up bits of stew.

March 18, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Part II

True to my/our word, I made Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes tonight so I could try getting buzzed off of cake.
In the course of gathering ingredients and such, I discovered I am a squirrel yet again:

On the left: the existing cupcake liners in my pantry. 
On the right: the package of cupcake liners I bought today because I couldn't remember if I had any.

My cupcake pan is AWOL so I just put the foil liners on a baking sheet:

Right. On to assembly!

The first thing you do is stir a cup of Guinness and a cup of butter together in a pan which is kind of weird but okay.

Looks scary.

Then you measure out cocoa powder

And add it to the simmering fatty-Guinness:

And you whisk it until it looks like pudding, which it almost is:

I have no pictures of the rest of the batter assembly but you basically beat eggs and sour cream, add the fatty-chocolate-Guinness mixture to make what is essentially Guinness chocolate pudding (minus the sugar), then add flour and sugar and baking soda and suddenly it's not scary chocolate beer pudding anymore, it's cake batter.  
The one thing I did differently from the smitten kitchen recipe was to decrease the sugar from 2 cups to 1 2/3 cups, because seeing "2 cups flour" and "2 cups sugar" together in a cake recipe is terrifying.

Anyway this is what the cupcakes looked like naked:

I used a clean cheapass vegetable peeler to core the cupcakes:

You can see clear down to the bottom!

There were 24 cupcakes, but only 23 made it to this stage. One got kind of smushed during the transfer to cooling racks. Sad.

Here are all their guts.  I ate them, as it was my perogative.

I was expecting the cupcakes to be quite dense and rich due to the heaviness of the beer and all, but the texture turned out to be light and fluffy, and they all had perfect lightly crisp tops. They were quite chocolatey without being too rich, because the Guinness added body and flavor.  I didn't miss the 1/3 cup of sugar I left out (but then again, I like semi-sweet chocolate so your mileage may vary).  I would totally make these again any day of the year (except maybe tomorrow).

But enough about the cupcakes themselves, let's keep violating them!
In order to do it properly, I needed whiskey and dark chocolate ganache. Here is a picture of Nick's bottle of whiskey that I borrowed:

Here is a picture of a lovely tempered chocolate ganache with cream and butter and Jameson in it. It's about half Valrhona, half Toll House, because I was too lazy/cheap to run out to a fancy food store to make up the difference in nice chocolate.
Nick thinks "ganache" sounds like an STD.  Say it out loud.

The resulting pile of reamed cupcakes, filled with ganache.  Ewww.

Foreground: the large freezer bag I sacrificed in the name of ghetto piping technique.

Alas, I have no pictures of the finished cupcakes, since final assembly was done at Emily's. It's easier to transport a bowl of frosting + tray of unfrosted cupcakes than it is to wrangle 2 dozen frosted cupcakes into a car without making a mess.  

I am hoping Emily took a photo, but for now, just imagine the cupcakes topped with a thin layer of white buttercream with a shot of Irish Cream in it, because that's exactly what they looked like before we ate them.

The ganache was quite alcoholic and I think I got buzzed from eating two.

TAKE HOME LESSON: Pastries are a prime vector for alcohol delivery, if you are a wimp like me who can't metabolize alcohol.

March 17, 2009

St Patrick's Day

Yeah that guy. Sweet. I am the opposite of Irish but you know what. An excuse for this

Makes me happy.

Ok. SO. On Saturday we bought a giant piece of beef and parcelled it into three chunks and marinated it in a solution of sugar salt and random pickling spices that I think are cloves allspice cinnamon and mustard and stuff. I guess you can nitrate it. but. yes

to this three days later

And one got braised in

and one got baked

It is dotted with cloves and has dijon mustard spread on it and then covered in brown sugar. The whole mess is bundled up in foil and baked at 350 for a couple of hour. and then uncovered and broiled until the sugar bubbles up.

And to go with the corned beef is colcannon! Which is my favoritest thing to eat. Because it's um. Mashed potatoes. With bacon and sauteed cabbage. all mixed together. it's what irish second graders eat. oh and a stick of butter. that usually helps.


Cabbage cooked with bacon and a little salt!

And then you take potatoes

And you mash them and you put the bacon and the cabbage in them and get this mushy stuff that's awesome

And now I am tired and blowing a .05 so it's time to sleep I think. Carbomb cupcakes from Steph later. OH OM NOM

Happy Excuse to Make Food Day!

Mmmmm. Yes. Excuses to make food. This is a preview post since I made corned beef two ways and one of the ways involved braising in Guinness but I didn't need the entire can in the actual braise soooo the rest is an offering to the cook. Who is me. Yes.


March 13, 2009

It's not a need, but...

I just discovered that one of the authors responsible for writing That book that tells us what to do has written a book that tells us what to do with animals to turn them into meat, and then tells us what to do with the meat:
The River Cottage Meat Book.

I kind of want it.

The thing about cookbooks is, I don't use 90% of mine because they're about processes I am already familiar with, plus I have a zillion bookmarks to more interesting recipes on my computer, and I am far too lazy to go dig through a pile of books when I could just search the tags in my RSS reader.

But this is not a cookbook, it says it is a Meat Book.

March 10, 2009

Curried Roasted Cauliflower

I feel a little guilty about all our meat posts, so I've started a "veggies" tag and I will try to fill it with delicious.

For starters, this is possibly the most delicious preparation for cauliflower that I know of, and it's quick to throw together on a weeknight if you're roasting something else as well.

Curried Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower (fresh!)
curry powder
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Wash and hack up the cauliflower into florets, then toss with a drizzle of olive oil.  Sprinkle with curry powder and turn to coat.  You don't have to get the coating completely even, but make sure every chunk has contact with the curry powder.  
Throw the mixture into a baking dish and put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until just tender.  
Season lightly with salt (use a coarse salt to get nice little bursts of salty flavor).

March 8, 2009

Parsley root

The result of some gardening:

Parsley root is supposed to have a nutty flavor, like a parsnip/carrot/celery.  I took a cue from iheartkale tried their recipe for parsley root potage, but in miniature because my parsley roots are barely finger-sized.  Also, I didn't so much try their recipe as just mess around in the spirit of the recipe, because I hate following directions.

I started with a knob of butter and some garlic:

The purest form of love.

Mise en place looks fancier from above.

Parsley roots, chopped...

...and thrown in the pot.

I tasted a bit of parsley root.  Indeed, it tasted like something between a parsnip, a carrot, and celery.

I tasted a bit of the garlic.  It was garlicky.

I would eat a whole bowl of this.

I poured some chicken stock in the pot to cover the solids,

And while that was simmering I turned my attention to the parsley greens.

Picking the leaves off the stems is boring.

Rough chopped:

And plopped in the soup.

I must pause now to thank Dan for rearranging our small kitchen so that the blender is set up in the kitchen and not on the dining table like it was before.  I am gonna blend SO MUCH MORE STUFF now that I don't have to walk an extra 8 steps to the blender.


I threw some cornstarch in the blender to thicken the soup.  Just 1/2 a teaspoon or so, since this was essentially a single-serving preparation.

So very green.

How'd it taste?

Green, nutty, sweet, earthy, on a creamy base of garlic and butter.  The big gobs of parsley leaves make it taste fresh, while at the same time the texture is perfect for winter comfort food.  Given that parsley root is pretty much unavailable at most grocers, I would totally do this again using parsnips.

March 3, 2009

Adventures in Sourdough Day 1

Meet Pistol

Inside this jar is a cup of warm water and a cup of all purpose flour. We're going to see what it does.

The bubbles aren't anything but air bubbles. I mixed it fairly vigorously in a vain attempt to incorporate as much oxygen as possible into the mixture. For now it's covered with a paper towel over the top and a rubberband.

I guess we'll see where this goes.

Poor neglected blog

I'm sorry blog. I will take care of you better in the future. I got eated by the work monster and have just not been very attentive to your needs.

I really want to make a sourdough pet. I think I will start that tonight.