Saturday, September 25, 2010

Joshua Makes Bread or How I Get Fresh Rolls for Saturday Supper

After a long week of writing, cooking, baking, directing, practising and dogsindogsout/getthecatoutfrom underneath that stairway, it's just cool to kick back and grill a few lamb chops for dinner.  Maybe steam some cauliflower and add a little gouda on top.  Open a Christom Syrah.

What's better?  Maybe add a good friend and baker to the mix.  Enter Joshua.

Bread Baker Par Excellence
And, wow, he gets kneading
And kneading
And kneading...

Really, not so much kneading for this recipe, because it's mostly done in the bread machine.  Mixed and risen (1.5 hours) in the machine, taken out and shaped, put in buttered pan, left to rise just a bit (I threw it in a 200 F oven for 3 minutes to push the second rise), covered and left to sit and amuse themselves while they got bigger for about and hour, baked for...oh, 20 minutes+/- at 350F.

Pretty handy fellow to have around, eh?

Making the tiny buns....

Pinching each roll...

Brushing the butter on the rolls...

Whole Wheat Rolls in the Bread Machine
--adjusted here for making at altitude--*

Adapted from a recipe by Bill Kalbus, Montana Hotelier and Baker
Bill may have developed this from an old Betty Crocker recipe, but I'm unsure about that.
1 c water plus 1-2T at room temp
1/4 c honey
2T butter, soft
2 eggs
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
2 c bread flour (all-purpose white will work, too)
1t salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast (1 pkg), NOT fast-rising--you can use fast rising yeast at sea level, but just not at altitude
1T wheat germ

 In a medium bowl, whisk together water, honey, butter and eggs.  Set aside.  Into the bread maker (mine makes 1 or 2 # loaves and there's plenty of room), place the flours, salt, yeast and wheat germ.  Pour the liquids on top and turn the machine on the "Dough only" or Mix and rise setting.  My old Oster takes about 1.5 hours to mix and rise this dough. My new Zorjirushi takes 1 hour, 28 min.  As dough is quite forgiving, you can mix it by hand, by electric mixer w/ dough hook or in your bread machine, which I think does the best job mixing. 

After the dough has risen and about doubled (over an hour usually), punch down dough and remove it from the machine onto a well-floured counter.   Knead a bit to take away the sticky and add a dusting of flour as needed.  We needed probably another 3-5T and had to knead about 2 minutes total. 
Divide the dough in half and in half again and in thirds so that you have 12 fairly even pieces of dough.  Roll each one into a ball, pulling together at bottom like a  purse and pinching together.   Place seam-side down in a buttered 9x11x2" metal cake pan.  Brush with about 2T melted butter. 

Rolls after the second rising.
  •   Let rise another hour or so (stick it in a warm oven for a couple of minutes if you want to "push" the rise), covered by a heavy towel or a buttered piece of plastic wrap. 

  • Preheat oven to 350 and bake on center rack about 20 minutes until quite brown.  Let sit a minute or two (or longer) before eating with honey and butter or as you see fit. 

  • These keep, well-wrapped for a day or so and freeze very well for up to 2 weeks.  Lovely to make ahead for Thanksgiving.
*When I make these rolls at sea level, I raise the yeast to 3 teaspoons and eliminate the extra tablespoons of water.  The wheat germ is optional, but gives the rolls a bit more depth of flavor and makes them look more brown and quite lovely.

Nice combination
Sing a new song,

additional photos added november, 2012

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Hahd a Fahm een Ohreegahn...or..How I Fell in Love with Pinot Again

Every once in a while, God throws you a, no, not a hardball...  not a softball...  maybe just "a ball."  And folks go around saying things like,

"Life has loveliness to sell."   or

"Damn, I'm good."  or

"Ya gotta have frehhhhhhends.." or

"Do not be anxious."  (Sound familiar?)  or

"Is that stuffed French Toast for breakfast?" or

"What is duck confit anyway?" or

"Don't ask; just pour." or

"What is harrissa anyway?  or

"Do you know the way to ______________"  after one more u-turn. or

"Will you order me 6 of those to make a case?"

If you had the time, the friends, and the money...  You might grab them and go to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  Maybe at the end of the summer when the grapes were trying oh-so-very-hard to ripen.  Before harvest, before crush.  While the wineries were all spanking clean and winemakers still had time to talk to you a little (or a lot).

We had three full days to see -and taste at- a number of fine, fine wineries and had three top-flight dinners, two with winemakers and the other where the winemaker had had a word with and bestowed  a blessing on the owners of the restaurant.  (Hence the cassoulet with the duck confit.) We tasted somewhere around 120 wines.   And spit we did or we wouldn't be here to tell the tale.  Lord, it was hard to spit sometimes.  By dinner, we could actually REALLY drink a glass of wine.  And, sometimes it was hard to look at it.  Well, we suffered through the experience as best we could.

The winners?  For me, Tony Soter's Brut Rose. ($48)  For most everyone else, Scott Paul's Dom Denise...but, then again, I loved nearly EVERYTHING at Sineann (Thanks, Peter) and WillaKenzie had just a phenomeneal line-up over all.  WK's whites knocked me out of the ballpark.   My favorite 08 Pinot?  Really hard to say, but I might choose Prive's Nord.  Prive is a two-person vineyard and winery and is boutique in the best sense.  Tina and Mark... a very low bow.  My favorite older vintage Pinot?  Ah, I'd have to dither amongst the Ken Wright bottles.  No doubt.  Favorite zin?  Sineann.  Favorite table wine?  Ditto.  At $13 bucks a bottle; it rocked.  Syrah?  Cristom.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?  (For a full line-up of pics, go to my fb page; I'm still uploading, but lots are there.  Friend me if you haven't!)

Our B&B, Wine Country Farm.  Call Joan.  She'll set you up with a room & BREAKFAST. (with a "B")

A view from the B&B

Hazelnuts in the nearby grove and Gris, one of the farm's Australian shepherds, who herded us on our daily walks in the country.

Starting out the day in front of WillaKenzie...  wine for breakfast?   pic by Barb Alexander

  Pinot grapes--most weren't this ripe. And:  How much stuff is on top of the grapes in that vat?

Scott Paul Winery, where we tasted both Oregon Pinot Noir and some French Burgundies.  The pick here was a local wine, Dom Denise...  The pick of the trip for our resident geeks and somm.

Dog fix with Big Mac and tasting with Courtney at Tony Soter.  My fave of the trip was Soter's Brut Rose, and Courtney greeted us at the door with a glass.  Maybe that did it.

In Tony's garden...

At the Depot in Carlton, tasting 08 Ken Wrights (for the cellar) and Ken teaching us all about terroir in Oregon.

Tasting at Witness Tree and Bethel Heights
Great lunch for $12 available at Bethel Heights:  freshly-baked baguette, charcuterie et fromage avec vin--mais oui! 

(below)  I had hoped they'd leave me behind here, but no such luck.
This should be my obituary picture.  Oh, and this is how wine is stored at the winery (St. Innocent)

(above)   And just in case you forgot what black-eyed susans looked like.
I don't think there's anything that doesn't grow in Oregon.  Blueberries, a few, were still coming on.

(Above and Below)  In the tasting room
and barrel tasting at Christom
with Steve Doerner...who was the perfect host.

I hahd a fahm in Ohreegahn.
Loving Sineann.  (above and below)

Sineann produce and Dave and I in the parking lot at Sineann. (below)

(Below)In the Prive winery with Tina.
We were all convinced we'd like just a couple of acres of vines for Tina and Mark.
Sounded like fun when she talked about it.
Until the subject of weather came up.
And how it was going to affect the year's income.  EEk.  Well.
But, whatever.  They DO get to have pizza parties with their outdoor wood oven.  Maybe that was part of the draw?

At dinner with Sineann winemaker, Peter Rosbeck, and also another piece of duck we were forced to eat.
This time with a little risotto and a gorgeous carrot.

Wine talk over part of Sineann's lineup.  Note the vineyard maps behind. (above)

Last gasp:  stopped at the Ponzi wine bar (something like 150 OR wines to taste there) and had a tiny bit of breakfast wine on the way to the airport.  Arneis was LUUUHHHHvely.  Best buy?  Ponzi's Rosato, a dry rose good enough for any table at $15.  (above)

A final pic... my favorite.  Best wine dog= Poor old Big Mac. Relegated outdoors during tasting at Soter's.
I like you.  You'll like me.  Why can't I be in there?  I'll only kiss you one (or five times).
Hey, Hey, Heyheyheyhey heyhey  Hey!!!  (Are you gonna eat that?)

Sing a new song; sing of OHREEGAHN,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Help, It's September or Make These Two Great Grilled Chicken Salads

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad.  Sweet, indeed, with a little Beaujolais.  Ok, Ok, get Greek wine if you must.

I hate hot weather.  I can't say it any other way.  I'm  a 56 year-old post-menopausal woman who starts dreading summer and reading the morning temperatures in March every year.   By April, I'm beginning to tear up.  Soon,  the air conditioning is on as low and for as long as I can afford the bill.  I don't care if I have to put on covers at night.  This is my life, for goodness' sake.  And I cannot bake in the summer.  My oven stays off for three months (except for Dave's birthday, when I get up at 5 to bake a NY cheesecake.)  Who made summer? I AM A BAKER.

On the other hand.  I adore summer fruit, salads, grilling, putting up jam (with the AC on ohdarklowly), eating outdoors (which we do every night unless it's storming).  I lovingly plant, fertilize, water, water, water, water (for 90 days unless it snows first) my tomatoes.  I stand outside and curse the squirrels who chew the ripe ones before I can run out and rescue them. (the tomatoes, not the squirrels)  My herb garden is touched daily, and I now have one permanent bedded garden as well as my portable winter herb garden that makes its way to the front porch to blossom and grow in the sun all summer.  When I travel, the potted herbs are all moved to where the sprinkler system can water them.  Baseball?  Hot dogs?  These are my things, too.   (Actually they're Daves, but, hey, I'm a CUBS fan.)   Making ice cream?  Of course.  Porch wine with the neighbors.  Natch.  (Strawberry margaritas tomorrow night in honor of the waning light..)  The hot tub on cool summer nights overlooking the city? 

Of course, I'm blessed.  But, by God, I can't stand the heat and that's why I should and do get out of the kitchen.  I'm a slave to chopping vegetables, spinning up vinaigrette, finding new summer dry roses or whites, and asking Dave what he wants to grill.  Eating after 7pm OUTSIDE in the breeze.  To that end, I sometimes am not as creative as I long to be in summer.  So I decided to fix that.  Witness these two scrumpt salads.  Hard?  No?  Truly original?  As far as I know, they are.  But, in food, as in life, nothing is original under the sun. 

My goal was simple:  Make a few 2DI4 salads using grilled, boneless chicken breasts and not too many other ingredients to create meals that could be put together during the week after making a big batch of the breasts over the weekend.  Did they fill the bill?  You decide.  I'm making them and eating them forever.  Hey, you can also just pull meat from rotisserie chicken from the store.  Or make whole breasts with skin in the oven.  (Brush with olive oil and thoroughly dust with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 F for 45 min.)

Here  are a couple out of the ones I tried:  Greek Grilled Chicken Salad and Chicken Guac Salad

Greek Grilled Chicken  after waiting for its closeup...topped with fresh basil from my garden.

Chicken Guac Salad with a Big Squeeze of Fresh Lime...  Kinda like a margarita to eat.

The recipes:

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad 4 servings
1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/2" chunks

1/2 large green sweet pepper, same drill

2 large tomatoes, ditto

6-8 oz bulk feta cheese, drained well, cut into 1/2" chunks

2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" chunks

1/2 c pitted kalamata olives

1/4 c red onion, sliced as thinly as you can slice it

1 c shredded lettuce or greens

2T chiffonade basil (fresh basil very thinly sliced or julienne)

2T dried oregano

Kosher salt and pepper

1/4 t crushed red pepper, optional

1 lemon, cut in half

Dressing (In a jar, shake well 3T olive oil with 1T red wine vinegar and a pinch each of salt and pepper)

Mix cucumber through lettuce in your big bowl, but be kind and just barely toss it together. You don't want things to mush up. Top with dried oregano, and a dusting of kosher salt and maybe 1/2 t freshly ground pepper. Add the crushed red pepper if desired. Toss gently. Squeeze fresh lemon over all and toss again.  Drizzle dressing over all and toss a bit more. Garnish with fresh basil. (Note: be careful with all salt additions to this salad; the feta and the olives are already salty.)

Chicken Guac Salad  3-4 servings

1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped roughly, divided
1/2 c fresh green pepper, chopped in 1/3-1/2" pieces
1/4 c red sweet pepper, chopped in 1/3-1/2 " pieces
1-2 t jalapeno, very finely minced (to taste)
1/4 c red onion, minced
 1 c tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 ripe avocados, roughly chopped
1 c cooked rice
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Lime, cut in half,  and the other half cut in half again
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
2 c baby spinach leaves
1/2c sharp cheddar grated

Mix cilantro through tomatoes, reserving 2 T cilantro.  Mix that reserved 2 T cilantro into the cooked rice and add to the salad.  Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Squeeze half of the lime over the salad.  Add chopped chicken breasts and spinach and stir gently.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Serve mounded, with a piece of lime on each plate to use at table.

Two-Dog (and cat) Kitchen and Around the Hood and Life

Emily--at home to rest! between semesters.

                            Gabby:  Are you gonna eat that?

                               Skippy grows up a little.

Mom snaps a quick pic while we go to Briarhurst Manor for a Murder Mystery Dinner....

Getting closer...

Blog to come:  Minute Marinara.  Looks good, huh?


In Memoriam... My friend Max...