20 October 2011

rosemary parmesan foccacia

Hey everyone! Guess what? I've been blogging for a whole year now! Today is my one year blogiversary, as observed by my first recipe post (my first post totally does not count, since it was more of a "uhhh, is this thing on??" *taps mic*). Who knew some random hobby of mine would last so long and that I'd like it so much! Honestly, I'm still a shy blogger. I'm really just starting to put myself out there, and it really takes just the right moment (wine?) for me to even confess to my friends that I have a food blog. I'm still really nervous about it, but I keep posting and folks seem to keep reading it (Gotcha! You folks preferentially click on posts about baked goods! I've seen the numbers!!). Good deal.

My blogiversary resolution: Better photography! Because really what is a food blog with mediocre photography? Lame, that's what! Anyone have experience with building a little lightbox?

So while I'm waiting for my dinner to bake up, I'll tell you about some amazing bread that I like to make -- mostly because one batch is two loaves. I'd also like to make sure you realize that this is pretty hands-off for breadmaking, and people think it is pretty impressive nonetheless. Even more so if you are eating a hunk of it while you are, say, standing on a frozen lake. :)

Rosemary Parmesan Foccacia
ever so slightly tweaked from Cooks Illustrated magazine, September 2010

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1/4teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for shaping
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rosemary
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
coarse black pepper

1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.) Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.)

2. FOR THE DOUGH: Stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.

3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

4. Gently transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into 5-inch round by gently tucking under edges. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Place round of dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.

5. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.) Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle rosemary, parmesan, and black pepper evenly over top of dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Place pans on baking stone and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, switching placement of pans halfway through baking. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and return to wire rack. Brush tops with any oil remaining in pan. Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

16 October 2011

yogurt spelt biscuits

Oh hi there, my dear friends over at my little corner of the Internet. Long time no see, eh? Apologies. Turns out there was a big meeting of geology nerds in town last week. I had been excited for this week since I moved here in August of 2007. I never realized how deeply involved I would get with organizing things for the meeting as I did. It was an awesome conference, and I rallied myself socially for FIVE days in a row! I then helped out with a post-conference workshop in my lab. All in all, the week was educational, intense, and nerdtastic. At times, I felt like a real scientist, which is weird, because I generally feel like too much of a noob to really be a part of the scientific community. All part of growing up, maybe?

I was also totally exhausted afterwards. I usually get all stressed out if I invite a dozen people over to our apartment, and as it turns out inviting all the geoscientists to my beloved city was just as proportionally stressy. There was also no time for cooking and/or blogging. As you may know, after about two days of travelling or whatever, I get pretty antsy if I'm not cooking. This past weekend has been spent reacquainting myself with my kitchen and participating in a little social detox. I've probably talked more to my dog and cat than any human in the past two days (husband included -- he was at the lab all day Saturday). I made a curry, pancakes, and spent way too much time trying out bulgur wheat for breakfast.

I also made biscuits, and photographed them for you! So let's get back to our regularly scheduled blog post, shall we? Turns out we go through yogurt in this household at a pretty unreasonable pace. For once, we've accidentally overbought it (unprecedented!), and I wanted to try and use up the embarrassingly large quantity of plain yogurt taking up space in my fridge. This is another creation from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. They are surprisingly soft for a biscuit, and I love the flavor of the spelt. I would say they are almost salty too, so consider the salt added here as an upper limit. I would also like to let you know that bench scrapers are totally the bomb. The Oxo one is a favorite of America's Test Kitchen, and I agree that the engraved ruler on the side of it is totally critical. I don't know about you, but if someone tells me my biscuit dough should be 3/4" tall, I will be totally vigilant about it. And while I've got your attention, I want you to know that weighing your flour is the way to go. There are so many slick little kitchen scales out there (In other words, all the new ones that look like iPads. Oh man! Can there be an app for this??), so why not be super accurate about it?

Yogurt Spelt Biscuits
makes 12 biscuits

5 oz. spelt flour
5.5 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 T. baking powder
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cold and cut into little cubes
11 oz(~1 1/3 c.) Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 450 F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place an ungreased baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well.

Combine the flours, salt, and baking powder in a food processor. Sprinkle the butter across the top of the dry ingredients and pulse about 20 times, or until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles on a sandy beach. [The words of HS, not me! Such romantic food processing!] Add the yogurt and pulse a few times, or until the yogurt is just incorporated. Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead five times and press into an inch-thick square. Cut in half and stack one on the other. Repeat two more times -- flattening, stacking, and cutting. [This encourages a layered biscuit that's easy to pull apart] Add more all-purpose flour to prevent sticking when needed. Press or roll out the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle, but no thicker; if the dough is too tall, the biscuits will tilt and tip over while baking. Cut the dough into twelve equal biscuits.

Transfer the biscuits to the preheated caking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between biscuits. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply golden and the biscuits are cooked through.

Don't know what to do with your biscuits? I decided to wilt some kale and toss it in with some delicious scrambled eggs. Breakfast for dinner, yay!

06 October 2011

farro soup with butternut squash and kale

There are a lot of food bloggers that I admire. In particular, Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks continues to knock my proverbial socks off. After my birthday I found myself wondering around in a bookstore (noooooo!), and they just so happened to carry her brand new cookbook. I took a peek at it, and totally fell in love. I wanted to make all of it, right then and there! It's pretty cool when you find a vegetarian blogger that has a similar cooking style (and I aspire to cook more like her too). I like food that is warm, solid, and healthy, and generally I like it most if it gets made in one pot. One jerk of a reviewer called it "roly-poly vegetarian". Do you just walk around gnawing on carrots straight out of your organically farmed soil? Sorry sir or ma'am, if you are that jerk and you are reading this, but I think you could find a better word for it. It's damn good food. I like it. I dig that I enjoyed a delicious dinner (and leftovers!), and it didn't occur to me until I was cleaning up that it was totally vegan. Pat on the back.

So farro. It's hip and trendy. From what I gather, it's a whole kernel of wheat. It cooks up pretty quickly and has a nice chewy texture. You can also substitute for it with barley (cheaper!).

Oh, and for the record, I also bought a book on Homemade Sodas. Between my newfound love of hoarding glass jars and filling them with simple syrups, and my darling new SodaStream, it was the right thing to do. More on these developments later.

Onto the soup!! I made a few adjustments, mostly to use what was in the pantry...

2 T. olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 c. peeled and diced butternut squash
kosher salt
2 T. curry powder
1/4 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. garam masala
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. ground turmeric
2/3 c. farro
1 1/4 c. green lentils, picked over and rinsed
5 c. veggie broth
2 c. coconut milk
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 bunch of kale, large stems removed and cut into ribbons (I like dinosaur kale best, but that's probably just because it is dinosaur kale! RAWR!)
1/4 t. coarsely ground white pepper

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and squash. Add a big pinch of salt and saute until the onions soften a bit, a couple of minutes. Add the spices and stir until the onions and sweet potatoes are coated and the curry is fragrant, a minute or so. Add the farro, lentils, broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 minutes, or until the farro and lentils are cooked through (now's a good time to prep that dino kale). Taste and season with more salt if needed. 10 minutes before the simmer finishes up, add the kale so that it wilts and cooks down. After the 50 minutes, off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice and white pepper. You can serve it with a dollop of plain yogurt (or plain + salt + lemon zest), but the soup is mighty fine all by its lonesome.


Oh yeah, and one other thing... I think I might be a little bit more like a real blogger now. I've joined forces with the mighty MN Food Bloggers group -- check me out, I'm listed on the website alongside some serious bloggers -- Zoe Francois, anyone? I'm merely ten lines above her on that righthand sidebar. :) I totally did a little Snoopy dance when I found the site, and even more so when I realized what a great resource the group is, and I can't wait to really be a part of its community.

Now I'd better hurry up and learn to use my camera like a big girl blogger.