Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Homemade Vegitable Stock

Vegetable Refuse (top left), Vegetable Stock (bottom left), Chicken Marsala (right)
You can see that I took this picture myself (without help from the wonderful Servia who has a much better eye and camera than I do).

This post could also be entitled Graduate School Soup or How Not To Waste Your Vegetables.

Not wasting food is something that is generally important to me. But I'm just one person and there are a lot of things that I have to buy in greater bulk than I can eat it (especially because, one of the nice things about graduate school, is that most events have lots of food). So, how does one solve this problem? I find that vegetables are especially tricky because they go bad so fast.

I found my inspiration for making this vegetable broth from Oh My Veggie and Poor Girl Eats Well.

Freezer Bag Vegetable Stock
  • In the weeks before you make the soup, keep a large plastic ziplock in your freezer. When you have vegetable scraps put them in there.  
  • Please note: you want your vegetables scraps to be edible (i.e. not rotting and washed), and to not include things in the cabbage family which will make your broth very bitter.  You can put in things like herbs, but they will change the flavor of your broth, so keep that in mind. I suggest things like green onion ends, carrots that have dried out, etc.
  • You want to make your stock when  you have about 12 cups of vegetables in the freezer.
  • On the day you make your soup, put two tablespoons of olive oil into a broth pot and heat on medium heat.
  • Chop about half a sweet onion, and sautee it in the bottom of the broth pot.
  • When the onion is aromatic and soft, add the 12 cups of vegetables and 12 cups of water.
  • I then simmered the broth for about 3 hours until it became medium brown and stock-like.
  • If you want to make broth, you can season your stock now with salt, pepper, and whatever other herbs you like. However, you don't need to season it if you want stock.
  • When the stock is done, strain it into a bowl. 
  • Ta da! You have your very own stock.
I made a wonderful mushroom risotto with my stock. According to Egnatius, it was the best risotto I've ever made (although part of that may have been that we were gifted some wonderful shitake mushrooms). We ate it so fast that I didn't even take a picture.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Random and Fascinating Things on the Internet

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, I am a devotee of audio books, and especially of Audible. As I was browsing through Audible today looking for my monthly book (I picked Peter Brown's Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD because I'm studying for my Roman History comprehensive and one of the writers is a Late Antique scholar). However, while I was there, I found some other interesting things.

I don't know if I've mentioned Charleton Griffen before; he is one of the narrators that reads a lot of the classics including the Iliad and the Odyssey as well as Livy, Tacitus, and many others. While his readings are conveniently unabridged and great for studying for my history of literature exam, unfortunately I am not the biggest fan of his voice. He read slowly and has an accent I'm not keen on. However, I noticed when I was there that Charleton Griffen also did the reading of the 9-11 Commission. Interestingly, when I looked at that, I realized that not the commission itself, but the audio recordings of the transcripts of the interviews are actually free for all Audible members, which I think is pretty cool.

On a totally separate side note, I have recently become addicted to the History of Philosophy without Any Gaps.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Notes from My First Year as a PhD

The year isn't over yet, but I'm closing in on the finish line. It's been a long but I have really enjoyed (at least parts of) it. I've learned more than I thought possible. Most of it is academic, but I thought that I would share the nonacademic bits.

My first installment will be on recipes-- I've learned a lot about how  to preserve veggies before they go bad.  It should be debuting when I get back from this conference.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl Fail

I went home for the weekend to visit my parents. Today I made some bread and we had a picnic while watching the Superbowl game. There were a couple of issues.

  • First, it took ages and ages to grind the Kamut flour to make this bread.
  • Then, the gluten structure on the bread didn't develop, so I ended up with a huge bunch of useless dough that it had taken hours to prepare.
  • Finally, Time Warner Cable totally messed up at Fox stopped working. During the Superbowl. Seriously lame. 

However, things ended up improving.
  • I whipped up a heavily modified version of this bread.
  • We watched the Superbowl on Fox Deportes, the Spanish Fox Sports channel. None of us know Spanish, so it was pretty funny. And the commercials were way better when you have no idea what is going on.
  • The picnic was delicious.


Have a happy Superbowl Sunday, everyone. Except you, Time Warner Cable. Go boil your head.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Simple Things: Multigrain Scones

I really have been enjoying graduate school so far. The one thing that I miss is cooking for people. And the fact that I don't have people for whom I can cook means that I need to make things either (1) in small enough portions that they only feed me or (2) make things that can be easily saved for another time.

As such, I have really become fascinated by the simpler foods: things that can be made simply, but still taste delicious. So, here is my first post on the simple things that make me smile.
Scones

I loosely adapted these multigrain scones from my favorite white-flour scone recipe. I actually cannot find where the scone recipe originated-- but it might have been something like My First Baking Book. I didn't have any currants, and, in my view, white flour scones without currents are really boring. American scones-- those wedge-shaped frosted things you find in coffee shops-- tend to have all sorts of flavors added to them to combat this problem. I, however, wanted something simple, so I rummaged through my cupboard and tried something out. It worked and I really like them.

The following recipe has many different possible variations. Play around with it! I will put the variations in endnotes so the recipe is easier to follow.

Multigrain Scones (can make between 8 and 16 scones, depending upon the size)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour [1]
  • 1/4 cup red whole wheat flour [2]
  • 1/4 cup grains (I used Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal) [3]
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar [4]
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold (1/2 of a stick, 4 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 cup milk [5]
  • 1/3 cup currants [6]
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Mix together the flours, grains, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl.
Dry Ingredients
  • Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the mixture. Use a large fork to mix the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is the consistency of bread crumbs.
  • Then add the milk (and optional currants).
  • Mix until a sticky dough forms. If it is not sticky, add more milk. Only mix until the dough forms and all the dry spots are gone. Do not overmix.
Sticky Dough
  •  Drop them onto a pan in chunks between the size of chestnuts (produces about 16) and the size of half a tennis ball (produces about 8). I do not tend to shape my scones. However, you can shape your scones like wedges, like Southern biscuits, or in various other ways.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F or until they are brown around the edges.
  • Eat within 24 hours. 
  • They can also be frozen to preserve freshness. Wait until they cool completely and then put sets in airtight containers and put in the freezer. You can warm them in a toaster oven directly from frozen (bake at around 325 until hot all the way through and brown on top-- usually 3-4 minutes in my toaster oven). Otherwise, you can thaw them for a few hours and eat them at room temperature.
I really love these scones. They are faster to make than bread and I can freeze a bunch of them and toast them fresh each day.

Endnotes:
  1. By this, as per usual, I mean whole wheat flour from white wheat (as opposed to red wheat). You can use either hard or soft wheat for these scones. The harder the wheat, the more dense the texture will be. I tend to use hard wheat because it's what is available to me (as I am restricted to the grocery stores within walking distance). However, soft wheat is generally more flavorful. Beware though, if you use soft wheat, you must reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe. 
  2. If you like the richer nuttier flavor, switch amounts for the red wheat and the white wheat in the recipe, or just make the entire thing red wheat. If you do this, you will have to add a little bit more liquid. If you want lighter/whiter scones, replace this with white flour. 
  3. You can use any multigrain mix which appeals to you (or obviously mix your own). The important thing is the courseness of the grind. You need the pieces of grain to be about the size of an amaranth grain). If you've never seen amaranth, I highly recommend adding it to breads that you plan on toasting, but another reference might be about 1/2 the size of a piece of toasted wheat germ. If it's too big, it will be crunchy. 
  4. If you like sweeter scones, you can add more sugar either into the mix or on top. I sprinkled about half a teaspoon of cinnamon-sugar on the top of each of my apple scones when I made them (replacing the currants with chopped apple). You can also glaze them, if you so desire. Sue has some creative ideas about glazing in her various scone recipes.
  5. I use nonfat milk because I like my scones lighter (and also because it has less calories). However, you can also use any other kind of milk. I made the most recent set (the ones pictured with the currants) with lowfat buttermilk because Servia had some left over from Christmas. They were a little heavier and more tender than the ones that I make at school. If you like heavier scones, try with buttermilk or cream.
  6. Currants are optional. You can also substitute raisins, fresh chopped apple, chopped nuts, dried fruit (cranberries, etc), fresh blueberries, etc. I tried them with chopped apple once and I quite liked them. However, if you want a distinctly apple flavor, you may want to try adding more apple than 1/3 cup or substituting a small portion of the milk with apple juice or apple cider.

Friday, October 4, 2013

70+% Easy Sourdough

I could have also titled this post PhD bread, since it was the first bread that I made since I started my PhD program. It was somewhat difficult adjusting to my new stone (an 18x18" piece of slate) and my new oven). I think my oven runs quite hot, which means it will be good for pizza, but I burnt the bottom of the bread. Other than that, the bread was delicious. I also made a set of English muffins. On the first day, I divided the dough into two parts after the initial set of stretch-and-folds to make one part English muffins and the other part a loaf of bread.

70+% Whole Wheat Easy Sourdough 

Ingredients
  • 556 g whole wheat
  • 240 g Unbleached King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • 400 g whole wheat starter
  • 495 g water
  • 23g salt
Method
For Bread
    Day 1
  • Mix the sourdough starter, flours, and water in a bowl. Mix until it forms a homogenous dough.
  • Let the bowl sit for a 30 minute autolyse period under plastic wrap or similar.
  • Then mix in the amarnath, salt, and water. Mix a little and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the water. 
  • Knead the bread for 2-3 minutes. Then do a stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold. (so 4 times total)
  • Cover the bowl for 45 minutes (at around 75 degrees F) and  do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Cover the bowl for 45 minutes (at around 75 degrees F) and  do a final stretch-and-fold (2 times total)
  • Cover the bowl for 20 minutes  (at around 75 degrees F) to finish the bulk fermentation.
  • Preshape the ball lightly into round.
  • Bench rest for 20 minutes. Cover them with something. If you live in a dry climate, make sure to cover them in an airtight fashion-- I usually turn large bowls over them. While they are resting, flour bannetons or similar shaping devices for the final proofing.
  • Then shape the loaves into your desired shape and place them into bannetons.
  • They need to proof for 1 hour and 45 minutes before they are placed in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Make sure they go into the refrigerator for 16 hours or less.
    Day 2
  • Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F about 30 minutes before you take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Take them out of the refrigerator, score them, and immediately place them into the oven under steam.
  • After 20-35 minutes under steam (depending upon how tightly the steam container closes. I would suggest trying about 25 minutes. It is done when it begins to be golden and the tips of the score marks are beginning to be brown.
  • Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a rich brown and the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees F.
  • Cool for 45 minutes before eating.
The crumb on the bread was tighter than I might have wished
but the crumb on the English muffins was perfect

For English Muffins
    Day 1
  • Mix the sourdough starter into the water and then add the flour.
  • Mix until the dough forms a homogenous ball. You can do this either with a stand mixer or by hand.
  • Cover the dough with plastic ad let it autolyse for half an hour
  • Then add in the salt and the last 25 of water
  • Knead until medium development (passes the windowpane test). Should take about 10 minutes by hand or about 3-4 minutes by machine.
  • I found this wasn't sufficient, so I turned it a couple of times by hand and then put it in the refrigerator overnight to let the gluten develop the rest of the way on its own. 
  • It sat in the refrigerator for 12 hours. I turned it 2-3 times in the refrigerator before I went to bed with an 45-60minutes in between each term.
    Day 2
  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator and turn onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Spread it out a little, then cover it and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Then roll the dough out to about 1" thick.
  • Sprinkle the dough with flour and spread the four over it gently with your hands
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured cookie sheet, lightly flour the surface of the dough, and cover it with plastic
  • Let it sit for about 2.5 hours at room temperature (around 76 degrees) under plastic wrap, bowls, or something else that will prevent a skin from forming.
  • Heat up a griddle or a cast iron frying pan, lightly oiled with spray oil to about medium-low heat
  • Cut muffins of the desired size. Squares, rectangles, or circles all work. If you don't mind ugly muffins, you can take the excess and push it lightly together. If you let it sit for about 5 minutes, this will make a delicious and perfectly adequate (although not aesthetically pleasing) muffin. Make sure that you dust a little flour on both sides of each muffin. Semolina is traditional, but you can use any flour.
  • When the griddle is hot, place the muffins on it and cover with a metal lid. You do not need to oil the griddle, but you may if you wish.
  • In about 3-9 minutes the muffins should be ready to flip over. They will puff up nicely and they will have a surface on top that is not crusty, but has a skin from the heat. Unfortunately, you have to judge this by your
  • Let them brown on the other side before cooling and eating. You can eat them hot, but they will have more flavor if you let them cool. You may also toast them or let them cool and freeze them.
Enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Amazingly Delicious Cookies

In my last post, I mentioned that I had tasted some of Sue's food from her blog. It was these almond butter chocolate chip cookies. They are absolutely incredible. I recommend them most highly.

I will be posting more of my own food just as soon as I get back on my feet with my work.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Forthcoming

So classes recently started in my PhD program. The last little while has been a whirlwind of orientation, meeting new people, setting up all of the administrative things, and trying desperately to navigate a new public transportation system (which seems to me to make very little sense). In fact, things have been so crazy I missed 2 out of the three trains home on Friday due to inexperience and bad luck.

I did bake my first bread in my new oven as well as a set of English muffins with the same dough.  I will be posting that in the next few days. They were very simple but very delicious.

Also, I just wanted to say that I made some pumpernickel bread with Sue today (I will be posting that bread soon as well). It was a lot of fun and it tasted pretty good for a rye bread, although the loaves were really ugly. She brought over some of her baking for the blog for Servia and me to try. I won't spoil the surprise because she's posting it later this week, but I have to say that it was absolutely delicious. I will put up some sort of alert when she posts it.

However, it may be a few days before I post because I'm buried under all of the reading that I put off this weekend (oops). For now, check out Sue's microwavable chocolate cupcake recipe, which I'll probably succumb to making some night when I'm up late studying.