Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Beer Fridge

Yea! More room for ingredients, frozen meat, and a fine and varied selection of BEER. Funny photos of the move-in. If you look close, you can identify the as-seen-on-TV HumpStrap. I swear that's truly the name. They strapped on their HumpStraps, as a 2-man team, and grunted and sweated together. Don't be ashamed of your love, boys.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sourdough Bread/No New Pets

So I've been wanting to try sourdough for a while, because I love the flavor and especially the texture, but all the recipes involved beginning a "starter" which is a yeast-baby fed with water and sugar or flour. It's called a starter because it is kept alive in your kitchen through careful nurture, then lends a few tablespoons when needed to start, or rise, your next loaf of bread. Legend has it that many long-lasting kitchens have had long-lasting starters with the same bread of yeast from over 100 years back.

Meanwhile, we have 4 dogs and I don't need another mouth to feed. I also object to the logic of a thing being called a starter if it, by definition, does not end.

However, over at jemangelaville, she had the hutzpah to make a starter and finish it! Her recipe sends the whole starter off to fight the good fight in the oven and never return. I am impressed by this brave choice and decided to try it.

Below is the starter, a combo of .5 tsp active dry yeast, 1 1/4 cups white flour, and a 1/4 cup whole wheat, plus 1 cup warm water.

And now...get ready, start...and wait! This gets covered in plastic wrap and left on the counter for 2-12 hours. I'll be waiting atleast 12.

By the next morning (oops, few beers and fun made me forget the timing), here's how it looked:

And it smelled delicious, like a yeasty beer smell. Mmm. This got mixed directly into the AKAM along with 4 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon more yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, another cup of water (but I used milk, just to be a rebel), and 1.5 tsp salt. Then the first rise, about an hour, and a second rise in the pans. I tried out a baguette pan Mom gave me, and a loaf pan. Slight mistake made by trying to artifically encourage the rise (sat them on top of the oven) which caused some early yeast deaths. Although, considering the life of a yeast cell, I doubt this was much mourned.

And it was absolutely delicious for sandwich, breakfast toast, and spreads. I definitely screwed around with the recipe, but I think what resulted was closest to Schlotsky bread. More dense and chewy than the beautiful white French bread over at jemangelaville.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Honesty In Relationships

This is the seafood lasagna I was trying for the second time, the first one being quite successful--with fresh pasta, a creamy mushroom sauce, and freshly poached fish. I'd been craving it again and I wanted to try a few changes, and document it here. Rick said it was better this time, and I disagreed.

Then at the end of the meal he said, "Honey, I really love you. And I love your cooking. Please never make seafood lasagna again. I didn't like it the first time or this time."

And I think he was right. It was definitely bad this time, and maybe the first too. In fact, seafood + lasagna is just a bad combination in general. So, you won't see the recipe here, and I'm crossing it out in my cookbook in case any poor fool child ever inherits it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Carnival Corndog Bites (minus the guilt)

When I saw this idea on slashfood, I was really excited to try it. Corndogs without the frying, baked in muffin tins (preferably mini). I did a variety of veggie dogs, real franks, leftover beer brauts, and even a couple mushrooms. I didn't use slashfood's recipe because it involved a cornbread mix, and all I had was cornmeal. But the recipe on the cornmeal bag worked great, and I added an egg.

1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk (I substituted greek yogurt, worked fine)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 inch pieces of hot dog franks or veggies
optional add-ins: chopped peppers, tomatoes, herbs, go crazy! I used chile pequins, for a nice fruity burn.
My batter was pretty thick and I watered it down just a tad--maybe 2-3 tablespoons of water--in the hopes it would taste more like the batter on a carnival 'dog.

Then preheat the oven to 450, drop the filling in each muffin cup (nonstick sprayed), pour a 1/4 of cup of batter or less over the filling, and bake for 10 minutes. For better presentation, pour the batter first and stick the filling into it, that looks a lot more like a corndog.
Taste Tester is not immediately available for reviews, but I found I liked them best dipped in--what else?--plain ole mustard. Not the fancy type, but phosphorescent yellow ballpark mustard. It's a fun snack and really, not unhealthy!

New Year's Day Hike

We took our spry young Weim Molly for a hike in McKinney Falls State Park (it's in the city limits!) for New Year's Day. Gorgeous weather. Falls were a bit small but would probably be huge after a good rain.
And here's her older brother Benny wishing he could've gone too.