Tartine Sourdough Bread

Well, after about 3 weeks of prepping our starter my roommate and I successfully cranked out our first 2 loaves of Tartine bread. The instructions that we followed in the book were pretty straight forward and as a novice bread baker I can say I learned a lot about how to create great dough using this book’s methods.

Also, we noticed that the second batch of loaves we were making benefited from the rise in temperature in the kitchen from running the oven while we were baking our first 2 loaves. During the day the kitchen was about 70 degrees and while baking it was near 80 degrees or so. Moral of the story, bake more delicious things during the first hour of your initial rise to kill time and help your bread along.

Here are some photos starting from the leaven state, to the first few turns, to shaping, and then all the way to the final product. All in all it took about an hour of reading, turning, and shaping from start to finish for two loaves although I doubt the time would go up much more to do four at a time. If you want to eat bread tomorrow you’d need the evening to prep you leaven followed by about 9 – 10 hours of time the next day for making the actual bread. 5 hours or so with about 30 minute intervals of turning, shaping, and prepping plus about 4 hours for the final rise and then an additional hour for pre-heating and baking. And then about 5 minutes for eating it all.

I highly recommend getting one of these bad boys, which is what I used repeatedly. It just makes life easier.

Oh, and finally, if you decide to use bread clothes like we did for the final rise, make sure you flour the crap out of them. I didn’t and we lost a bit of our dough/had to make some repairs to the loaves as they were both stuck to the towels when it came time to get them in the dutch oven. Probably going to go without protection next time as the dough by the end is easy to peel away from the bowl. Also, to provide moisture we heated a cookie sheet in the oven while we baked for about 25 minutes with the dutch oven lid on, then when we removed it to brown the crust for about another 25 minutes we poured water onto the sheet instantly creating steam. Not rocket science, but that may be a useful tip for a complete nOOb. Also, times are subjective, and differ depending on the oven, humidity, dough, etc, I take no responsibility if you burn the crap out of it.

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The Pursuit of Bread Making(aka Happiness)

I’ve lately been intrigued by both my co-workers’ and training buddies’ talk of bread making and have decided to give it a shot. I love bread, its even above Cheese, Beer, Coffee, and Balsamic Vinegar on my list of foodly obsessions. I normally burn through about 2-3 loaves a week of French bread alone with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil and figure that I could probably redirect the weekly cost into a steady stream of baking ingredients and great general satisfaction.

I was first intrigued with bread making over a year ago when I been making my own pizza doughs as they are much cheaper and tastier than pre bought crusts, and provide the satisfaction of making them from scratch. While this is fine, I can only handle making pizzas every so often. I have been using Peter Reinhart’s Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough recipe which  has served me really well so far although I am sure that there are many things I am doing incorrectly. I realized today that the version I had been using all this time was not the authentic version and called for no sugar, which I am assuming would have a large impact on how the dough turns out. Once I make it through these last 4 crusts I’ve made I’ll have to give it another shot with  the added sugar. Anyways, if you are interested in making dough from scratch pizza doughs have been fairly easy to make and quite rewarding. My only suggestions would be to invest in a pizza stone for the oven, and also corn meal to help make sliding your pizzas on and off the stone easier. On the topic of Peter Reinhart, I just finished watching his TED talk on bread making which I really enjoyed. It examined both a bit of the food chemistry behind the baking process and also the importance of bread from a philosophical/cultural point of view. I’ve linked the video below.

Anyways, to support my recipe book collecting/Amazon purchasing addictions I’ve ordered Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking and a dough scraper to make life easier. The book was highly recommended and has an introduction that speaks about the basic techniques you’ll need to get started with bread making as well as featuring great recipes, or at least that’s what the internet is telling me. Once my gear arrives and as I learn more tips and tricks and begin cranking out loaves and I’ll probably throw pictures/what I’ve learned up on here.

As a side note I was also really intrigued by the end of the TED which taught me that you can add Spent Grains to your baking which is a by-product from home brewed beer, UH-OH! Maybe once I’ve graduated and have some more money to throw around I’ll consider it, but in the mean time, I’ll have to stick to breads.

Home Made Chicken/Pork/Turkey Burgers

Alright so I thought I’d post this great recipe I have for burgers while I have a moment. This recipe makes about 6 large chicken burgers and contains a bunch of vegetables.

Ingredients:

500g package of either Ground Chicken, Pork, or Turkey

1 Large Yellow Onion

1 Red Pepper

1 Large Carrot

1 Cup of Mushrooms

1 Tomato

3 cloves of garlic

2 eggs

1 cup of bread crumbs

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise

Optional

Spinach or Lettuce

Red Onion

Instructions

1. Dice the onion, pepper, mushrooms, grate the carrot and crush the garlic into a large mixing bowl. The finer you chop these things, the easier it will be to make the burgers and the better they will survive on the barbecue.

2. Scramble two eggs in a bowl and add them along with the ground meat of your choice and the olive oil to the vegetables. I recently started adding the olive oil to the burgers and it seems to make big difference in the tops/bottoms not sticking to the barbecue and also helps stop the burgers from drying out and crumbling.  Now mix thoroughly until everything appears to be evenly distributed.

3. Add the bread crumbs and mix again. From here you might need to add more bread crumbs if it appears that your mix is kind of runny.

4. Make patties out of the mixture. I normally just kind of wing it and make them like you would a small packed snowball, but here is an interesting link I just found that I need to try next time I make burgers.

5. Put patties in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This helps your patties to stick together I find.

6. You can pan-fry them if you don’t have a barbecue but you need to do it on really low heat so that the centre of your patties get cooked. If you are using the barbecue, I generally try and get it as hot as possible before putting the burgers on then, cranking the heat all the way back. This is so that the burgers don’t burn to the grill which has happened to me a couple of times. I generally flip at about 7-8 minutes or once the burgers seemed decently brown on one side and won’t crumble apart. Then I let them sit for about 10-12 minutes on the other side until the other side is browned or crisped as well.

7. Serve how ever you like. I normally serve them on a bun with spinach, sliced red onions, and Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise on the bottom, then Teriyaki poured over the burger, topped with tomatoes.

If all goes well, they should look something like this!

Another cool looking recipe I found while searching for pictures, were chicken rissoles. The idea of brown rice and sweet potatoes in a burger sounds very appetizing and healthy definitely might have to try it out! I also think I’m going to try and make super chicken burgers by combining rice, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and quinoa with my normal mix. Not sure if it will work yet!

Easy Dressings and Sauces

The best thing about cooking is that once you start accumulating ingredients, you can make next to anything. One of the most expensive things you can do is to buy salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. Granted, I still do buy some of the speciality ones for stir-fries and as ingredients in other dressings, but I have not bought salad dressing for a long time. Here are three really quick ones I make on quite a regular basis:

Sweet Chili Mayonaise Sauce/Spread

This one is dead simple and tastes delicious. You often see it served with yam fries, chicken burgers, or wraps.

For every 1/4 cup of mayonaise,

add 1 tbsp of chili garlic sauce

optional: add 1 tsp of sriracha hot sauce(careful, has some kick)

Then stir with a spoon.

Simple Balsamic Vinagrette

For a medium size salad, combine in a sealable container:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

Close container, shake, pour over salad once mixed.

Goes good on Greek style salads(tomatoes, spinach, red onions, cucumbers, broccoli, green peppers, feta), or basically things that absorb a runnier dressing.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

For a medium sized salad:

In a bowl, mix:

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp honey mustard

Goes good on garden salads (lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, marble/cheddar cheese cubes), or anything where the dressing doesn’t get absorbed, but rather coats the ingredient(carrots).