• 26Nov

    My mom loves these pancakes. We found this recipe years ago in Sunset Book’s ‘Favorite Recipes 2.’

    Oatmeal Pancakes

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 cups rolled oats
    2 cups buttermilk
    2 each egg
    4 tablespoons butter — melted and cooled
    1/2 cup flour — or sub buckwheat flour
    2 tablespoons brown sugar or sucanat or rapadura
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    In a bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; stir until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until the next day.

    In a bowl, beat eggs slightly and add to oat mixture along with melted butter.

    Mix together dry ingredients and add to oat mixture. Stir until just moistened. If batter is too thick add a bit more buttermilk or milk.

    Preheat griddle over medium heat; grease lightly. Spoon about 1/3 cup for each pancake. Spread to about 4 inch in diameter. Cook until tops are bubbly and appear dry; turn and cook until the other side is browned.

    Great served with butter, warm maple syrup and a side of apple sauce.

  • 24Nov

    Batch #8 is in the oven.

    I never said I wasn’t a bit OC…But, you see, each time I make the dough I improve upon the method. These improvements are more to suit my needs (less mess) and tastes (taller loaves) not necessarily to meet the criteria of the “perfect” loaf of bread so there are compromises. Besides what is a ‘perfect’ loaf and in whose eyes? In part, that’s what good food is – what do you like rather than what the ‘experts’ say you should like. Food is so personal.

    First some details of this batch’s recipe…I only used sour dough starter – no commercial yeast, 50% King Arthur bread flour, 50% mix of Guisto’s medium whole wheat and pumpernickel/rye meal, 2 teaspoons sea salt. (Note, these tips would work just as well with the original ¼ teaspoon of yeast.) This time, I am making two smaller loaves instead of one from the original recipe – one to give away, one to keep.

    Ok, so here is what I have learned since loaf #1…

    I added less water than the original recipe so ended up with the stiffest dough so far – it’s still a very sticky dough, just not as “spreading.”

    I let the dough rise 20 hours in a bowl (didn’t want to get up at 5 am!) Then I ‘punched’ down the dough with a plastic spatula (dough doesn’t stick to the plastic and no dirty hands.) I let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl. While the dough was resting, I cut a square of parchment paper and placed on 2 aluminum pie tins – the parchment just goes to the outside edge – so an approx. 8-9″ square of parchment. I sprinkled the parchment with a light layer of semolina flour – you can use regular flour or cornmeal. I am using the pie tin to control the spread of the dough hoping to give the final bread more height – since this dough wasn’t as spreading, it might have been fine to let the final rise happen on the counter.

    In any case, after the 15-minute rest, I cut the dough in half with the spatula and using well-floured hands took the dough out of the bowl. Then I shaped the dough into a round ball by tucking the sides underneath itself until the top was smooth – pinching the bottom well to make the bottom as smooth as possible too. Since this dough was stiffer, it was much easier to handle – if the dough was ‘wetter’ it would have been harder but not impossible to shape. Lastly, I placed the ball of dough on the semolina flour dusted parchment, which was sitting in the pie tin. Then I sprinkled some flour on top and used my hand to spread it evenly. I did this so the cover wouldn’t stick to the dough while it was rising – the cover being a piece of plastic wrap lightly laid on top. Plus I like the dusty look the flour gives the final baked loaf. Hey look! No messy floury counter top to scrape up!

    Baking. I used a 2 1/2 qt All Clad stainless steel sauce pan and a 1 1/2 qt Pyrex clear glass casserole in a 450F oven (other people who bake at higher temps report burnt bottoms.) Another trick -I heat the oven up to 475 or 500, then turn it back down to 450. This compensates for the lost heat when I open the door and fuss with getting the dough into the pots, etc. Rack is 2nd from the bottom.

    Right before putting the bread into the pot I used a new greased single edged razor to slash the top. The cut should be as horizontal as possible – in other words, don’t cut down, just cut across the top as if you were cutting a flap.

    Now the fun part – transferring the bread dough to the pot. This was always the hardest part for me. The dough has been so gooey and sticky – trying to put it into a blistering hot pot without burning myself was just too much of an adrenaline rush (doc says to conserve that coritsol.) Plus the trauma to the dough of dumping it into the pot deflated the loaf so much I was getting flat loaves. Solution? I just pick up the parchment from the opposite corners (dough still on the parchment) and place the whole thing in pot – paper and all. Woohoo! The pie tins are clean so go right back into the cupboard. No mess, no fuss – and saved some cortisol.

    At the 30-minute point I took off the lids…oven spring was fantastic! The prettiest loaves so far. Now I bake for another 20-30 minutes to get the nice brown crust.

    These will be the last loaves for a while! P is happy though has been highly amused with my latest obsession especially when I walk around the house with flour dusted slippers.

    Alrighty, when I decide to do a full size loaf, I plan to use a slightly larger ‘form’ using my 10″ saute pan instead of the pie tins to control the spread during the final rise. I’ll bake in my 6 qt All Clad stainless steel pot which is 4+” deep by 10″ in diameter. Hopefully it will stay round and have a nice spring. In case you are wondering why I am using such a hodge podge of equipment – I’m improvising with what I have on hand rather than spending bucks at WS or SLT or worse yet cluttering up the kitchen with more stuff.

    So I guess I ended up with a hybrid of traditional bread making and the no-knead method.

    With previous batches, I had already made the bread a tad healthier by adding whole grain flour. To add further to it’s healthfulness, I am using a sour dough for leavening – this converts much of the sugars – enough to put this bread into the complex carbohydrate category rather than the refined carbohydrate category. Plus the great advantage to a long fermentation is that it makes the bread easier to digest. My goals with batch #8 were less mess and taller loaves while still taking little time out of my day. Success? With this last loaf, I only dirtied the spoon to mix the initial dough, the bowl and the spatula. The baking pots only needed a quick dust off. Hardly any flour anywhere!

    Just out of the oven the bread looks great.

    I did note that the crust from the loaf baked in the glass is crunchier than the one baked in the stainless steel pot…hmm, might be adding something to my xmas wish list… I will cut into them in a hour or so.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all the folks who posted tips and hints at Chowhound, eGullet and their own blogs. I sifted through lots of stuff in addition to browsing through a few books – The Cheese Board Collective Works and Bread Alone. Plus making a little bread here and there for the last 20+ years helped. Any how, thanks to all the bread bakers out there.

    With that, I see yummy turkey sammies on fresh bread for lunch today!

  • 22Nov

    Oh, yes I am still enamored with Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. I’m on loaf number 6! Lucky for me I have friends and neighbors who love bread too – otherwise I would be out shopping for new clothes rather than writing this post.

    I do love bread but am not so crazy about eating so much refined wheat flour plus grains can be hard to digest and in fact be anti-nutritive. The recipe I have been using so far is 1/3 whole grain – I do plan to try and up this to 50/50 on the next batch. If one examines native cultures – nearly all soaked or fermented grains before eating. Why would the native peoples go to all the trouble? If I asked my mother or grandmother why we soaked our rice before cooking it they would just smack the back of my head and say “Because that’s what you do, why are you asking so many questions?!”

    We now understand that soaking and fermenting grains makes the grains more easy to digest and the nutrients more bioavailable. Further, grains have a compound called phytic acid, which bind to minerals while in our gut that are essential to our health – like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. The long 18 hour fermentation of the no-knead dough certainly breaks down much of the starch (that’s what yeast like to grow on) along with some of the difficult to digest gluten. In addition, the fermentation process may deactivate the phytic acid but I wasn’t sure fermenting with a commercial baker’s yeast was enough to do the job.

    How can we convert our crusty loaf, a refined carb, into a sour dough complex carb? By using an old fashion wild sour dough starter like our ancestors did. Wild starters like these not only have yeast but enzymes and lactic acid bacteria so you get a more complete fermentation. Besides, this was an excuse to revive some critters that have been lost on my desk in suspended animation for a better part of a year. Months and months ago, I sent away for a bit of Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter. It came in a little sandwich bag and looked like some dried dough scraped up from the back of a covered wagon. No actually it looked quite benign. Sunday morning, I looked up the instructions to turn the old dust into a live sourdough starter by mixing it with flour and water. I was a little worried it wouldn’t be viable any longer as I had the starter for months sandwiched between piles on my desk – it was a miracle I even found it to begin with! Well to make a long story short – those tenacious little buggers sprang to life. On Monday I took a sniff and the cup of ‘sour dough batter’ smelled like a floury yogurt. Eureka! The Oregon Trail lives on in Oakland California! Yee Haw!

    Today’s loaf came out tasting like a mighty fine sour dough – not quite like my favorite from Bay Breads but in the same ball park. Closer than I have ever gotten trying to make my own starter or even from starters I had used from some restaurants I had worked.

    Here’s the recipe:
    Mix together in a 3-4 quart bowl:

    2 c King Arthur bread flour
    1 ½ c Guisto’s medium whole wheat flour
    2 teaspoons Redmond sea salt


    1 c Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter
    1 c + a tablespoon or so of water – enough to make a sticky dough

    Follow the rest of the instructions from this post “The Staff of Life”

    Loaf number seven will come out of the oven tomorrow in time for the Thanksgiving table…and maybe for some turkey panini on Friday!

    Next I will try upping the percentage of whole grain and work with spelt flour which tends to be an easier gluten grain to digest.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 20Nov

    According to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commision, sales of sweet potatoes a.k.a. yams peak during the month of November. No doubt many a Thanksgiving table will feature a casserole of butter and brown sugar coated sweet potatoes hidden under a blanket of (no doubt another hot November seller) mini marshmallows.

    I have to admit my family would have my hide if I didn’t make the candied yams. My family loves their traditional Thanksgiving dishes and don’t dare mess with tradition! I heard a mighty ear full during my early cheffing career while trying to ‘explore new tastes.’ Then when I decided to be more health conscious and cut back on the sugar and butter – whoa! Mom’s favorite dish was messed with! I went home with my head hung low and the dish barely touched. So I have learned not to mess with tradition when it comes to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner! …though I have managed to accidentally forget the mini marshmallows the last few years…

    If I could re-write the traditional menu, I would make this sweet potato dish that our good friend R shared with us a few years ago. For a more colorful salad, use a mix of yellow, orange and purple sweet potatoes.

    Sweet Potato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    Dijon Vinaigrette
    2 tablespoons Bragg’s apple cider vinegar or White wine vinegar or White Balsamic Vinegar
    1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    salt and pepper

    1 1/2 pounds Sweet potato or Yams — steamed and diced
    2 each scallion – thinly sliced

    Whisk together dijon vinaigrette ingredients.

    Cook sweet potato by putting halved unpeeled sweet potato in a single layer in a steamer. Steam til tender – about 1/2 hour. Remove from heat and cool. Peel and dice into 1/2 – 3/4″ dice.dice.

    Toss sweet potatoes with scallions and vinaigrette. Serve at room temp or slightly warm.


  • 18Nov

    I can’t believe I missed National Homemade Bread Day yesterday. I guess in the internet fueled New York Times No-Knead Bread frenzy I was lost in making loaf number 4…oh, wait I guess I didn’t miss it after all! I just didn’t know I was participating 😉

    It all started last Wednesday when Mark Bittman wrote an article about Jim Lahey’s easy recipe for making crusty artisanal style bread at home. The wild fire started – all across the globe hundreds of folks dusted off their dutch ovens, rummaged in their cupboards for bags of flour and woke up their sleepy stores of yeast. Zig zagging from coast to coast through America, up and down the northern and southern hemispheres, from Germany to Beijing to cities in Japan, folks were pulling out cracking loaves of beautiful crusty homemade bread from their ovens.

    I resisted for a few days but finally gave in…dear P could only step aside as I coated our kitchen and myself in flour over the past week while obsessing on types of flour, percent hydration, giving life support to a sourdough starter found in the back of the frig and our lack of a proper bread baking vessel.

    While the method described in the article is nearly fool-proof (my first loaf made a mighty fine door stop – how embarrassing being a chef and all…in my defense I didn’t follow the recipe…ok not a good defense but a lesson to you all to follow a recipe the first time!) So here are some things I found out along the way…

    First, let’s talk about the cooking vessel – you will need a pot or casserole of some sort with a tight fitting lid that can with stand 450F. It should be heavy – something that can retain heat – so a cast iron or enamel coated cast iron dutch oven or pot, heavy stainless steel dutch oven or pot, ceramic pot or casserole, Pyrex casserole, or Corning ware casserole. The size can be any where from 4 to 8 quarts. Since the dough can be quite soft and spread, the diameter of the vessel will determine to some extent the diameter and height of your loaf.

    I do not have any cast iron dutch ovens so my first loaves were made in a All-Clad 6 quart sauce pan which had a 10 ¼” inside diameter and about 4 inches high. Nice crusty loaves though rather wide and not very tall. The lastest loaf was baked in a no-name heavy stainless steel stock pot with a diameter of 9 ¼” and 6 ½” tall (sort of like this one shown here). Since this pot came with a glass lid and I wasn’t sure if it was oven safe, I used a 10” lodge fry pan as the lid. The loaf came out just as crusty though a bit taller. I suspect the height had more to do with the ‘stiffness’ of the dough (as this was the firmest dough I’d made so far) and the way I put the dough into the pot (more like dropping a sticky blob into a red hot cylinder) rather than the actual diameter of the pot. In any case, I’d venture to say you will have success with whatever covered 4-8 quart oven safe vessel you have available. I will probably go back to the All-Clad 6 quart sauce pan for the next loaf.

    So here is the recipe I have been using:

    2 cups King Arthur bread flour (the *bread* flour gave better results for me than regular all-purpose flour – should be no mystery there!)
    1 cup Guisto’s medium whole wheat flour or Guisto’s pumpernickel rye
    2 teaspoons of Redmond sea salt
    ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast (not sure of the brand – bulk bin Berkeley Bowl)

    Mix the above in a 3 or 4 quart bowl.

    With a wooden spoon, mix in 1 ½ c of filtered water. The dough should be somewhat firm/stiff but still pretty sticky. It is a ‘wet’ dough not a batter. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a 68-70F place to ferment until bubbly and doubled in volume – 12 to 18 hours give or take a few hours. It took from 18 to 20 hours for the loaves I made. On to the next step.

    The dough is really sticky by now. With flour coated hands, turn out the dough onto a very well floured workspace – a counter top or wooden board. Let rest 15 minutes. Now fold four times – as if you were making an envelope. Put the dough fold side down into a very well floured 3 quart bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for about 2 hours. The dough is ready when you poke your finger about 1/3” into the dough and it does not spring back.

    The cooking vessel needs to be preheated in the oven to 450F – this takes about 30 minutes so you will need to crank up the oven about a half hour before you anticipate the dough being ready for baking.

    Now the tricky part…hopefully the dough is not stuck to the bowl. Being careful not to burn yourself on the very hot pot, dump the dough into the pot by inverting. If the dough sticks – no big deal just get the dough into the pot…somehow (my last loaf looked like a doughy amoeba but after baking looked less amoeba like.)

    Bake at 450F for 30 minutes covered. Remove the lid at the 30-minute mark and continue baking until the top is a nice medium brown – about 20-30 more minutes.

    Dump the loaf onto a cooling rack and listen to the crust crackle while it cools. Wait at least 20-30 minutes before slicing.

    Variation – I have also tried using 1/3 c sour dough starter with a generous pinch of yeast with success. I’m still trying to waken up the starter so will play with this some more.

    From the many posts on eGullet and Chowhound this dough and method is very forgiving. But bread making is like that so if you’ve always wanted to make bread but had been afraid to try why not give it a go?

    Happy Day after Homemade Bread Day!

    Lot’s of blogger’s here with their No-Knead adventures…many methods to success:

    The Wednesday Chef

    Plate Tectonics for dinner rolls

    Chili Und Ciabatta

    Bread, Water, Salt, Oil…

    Real Baking with Rose

    The Fresh Loaf

    Life Begins at 65

    Chez Pei

    Toast with many links to other No-Kneaders

  • 04Nov

    Most people I know turn their noses up at the sight of these and in all honesty I used to too. Well, no wonder when my experience as a young impressionable child was of a sulfurous mini cabbage head boiled to a watery death. Then I learned a wonderful way to cook these little mini cruciferous gems. Julienned and sauteed in butter. Yum – how could you go wrong with anything sauteed in butter with a dash of sea salt and black pepper. The brussels stay crisp, brown a bit and develop a nice nutty flavor. These days I like to guss it up a bit so tonight I sauteed the brussels up with an apple and finished it with a splash of fig balsamic. Sometimes I will add in a bit of curry powder but sweetie had a bit of an upset tummy so no strong spices tonight. Next time some crumbled bacon might have to make it’s way into the pan – well, at least my half.

    Eat your Brussels Sprouts!

  • 03Nov

    I finally got a chance to try the Potato and Corn Tikka at the Temescal Farmer’s Market. Yum. It sure hit the spot on that particular chilly morning. As far as I could tell the ‘batter’ was mashed potatoes and corn meal with spices, corn, peas and carrots. I happen to have a few stray yukon gold potatoes in the frig so decided to experiment a bit. We enjoyed these Potato Corn Tikkas for dinner with the Green Tomato and Fig Chutney I had made last week.

    Potato and Corn Tikka

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    4 each potatoes — russets or other starchy potato
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    1/2 cup corn meal
    2 each jalapeno — minced
    1 /2 teaspoon garam masala
    1 teaspoon ginger root — peeled and grated
    3/4 teaspoon cumin seed — toasted
    1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder — (mango seed powder) or sub 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    2 tablespoons cilantro — chopped
    2/3 cup corn
    2/3 cup peas
    2 teaspoons ghee

    Slice potato and put into a 3 qt sauce pot. Add a pinch of sea salt and water until just covering the potatoes. Simmer until soft. Drain. Return pot with potatoes to heat. Add cream. When cream is hot turn off heat and add cornmeal, jalapeno, spices and sea salt. Mash with a potato masher. Mix in cilantro, corn and peas with a spoon.

    Form into 8 patties about 3 inches in diameter. Heat griddle over medium heat. Fry patties in ghee until golden brown on both sides. 3-5 minutes per side.

    Serve hot with your favorite chutney.


  • 02Nov

    The cold and rain brings back childhood memories of waking up to steaming bowls of rice congee for breakfast. Garnished with whisper thin slivers of ginger to keep the warmth burning inside, congee was the perfect way to start a cold damp day. Congee is also a great food to have when you are feeling under the weather as it is easy to digest after it’s long cook time.

    Here is a recipe where I updated it to use brown rice and lentils to add extra fiber and protein.

    The toppings listed are just suggestions. Don’t use all of them – just pick a few favorites or use what is on hand.

    Whole Grain & Lentil Congee (aka Jook)

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3/4 cup brown and wild rice
    1/4 cup lentils
    8 cups vegetable broth — or chicken stock
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    ***Toppings (optional)***
    2 each scallion — sliced
    1 tablespoon peanuts — chopped
    4 large eggs, hard-boiled — sliced in wedges
    2 teaspoons flax seed
    2 teaspoons ginger — finely julienned
    cilantro — roughly chopped
    ginko nuts, sesame oil, white pepper

    Soak rice and lentils overnight with 1T of fresh lemon juice. Drain and rinse.

    Put first 4 ingredients in a stock pot and simmer covered for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking

    To serve, ladle in bowl and add desired toppings.

    For Crock Pot – put hot stock in crock pot with rice, lentils and sea salt. Cook on high for at least 8 hours. Stir every few hours to prevent the bottom from sticking.

    Toppings may be prepared the day before.

    Add 5 g protein per serving by adding 1 oz of cooked shredded chicken breast to each serving.

    Variations: Mix various grains along with the rices – suggested: millet, barley, quinoa. Just keep the total to 3/4 of a cup and the majority of the mix should be rice.