Risotto!

Last night I made my first attempt at Risotto, that classic rice dish with the creamy creaminess. It was delightful. And – no onions!

Guess what? Everyone loved it anyway. The main flavor of the dish really comes from the broth/stock. Which has onion flavor because you use it to make it. There was a lot of parmesean as well stirred in.

Risotto is extremely simple. It just takes a bit of time. I really think the rice does most of the work for you and you just have to watch it to see when it soaks up the moisture. I think I could have gotten more broth into it, but I had to defrost it since I’d used up all the recipe called for.

The only downside is that I had no mushrooms. I think the juxtaposed textures would have really played a great role in this dish. Plus, mushrooms are delicious.

Published in: on December 20, 2008 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why?

I made my turkey and wild rice soup today and it is delicious. The stock turned out amazingly well, all gelatinous and thick after it’s night in the fridge. I regret not saving the fat, but I have little time to utilize it before rancidity ensues. I suppose I could have frozen it, but I didn’t even think about that until much later.

I was reading through the BHG recipe and it calls for making a mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery) prior to adding the broth/stock.

Wait, what?

The mirepoix concept is crazy to me for a few reasons. The main one being that I utilize carrots, celery, and onion when I make the broth. Those flavors are already present in the broth – why do I need to make them appear again? Another thing I fail to see reason behind is the sweating prior to broth addition. If the boiling and simmering doesn’t release the flavors and soften the vegetables, I can sort of grasp it. But it totally would.

I stuck with carrots only because I enjoy the added color and I don’t like celery or onion bits in my soup. Guess what? It tasted amazing anyway. I generally will add a little dried minced onion and maybe some chopped celery leaf to a soup, but I didn’t this time.

So, I will continue venturing into onion-less territory. Yes, I use it in stock and broth, but it gets strained out before use. And that’s how I roll.

And I know it’s good when I could eat the whole pot of stock without making soup first. Delightful.

Published in: on December 7, 2008 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stock

Despite troubles with the interweb, I am still online in the office. Today I thought I would actually update my cooking blog because I’ve been thinking about it. I am making turkey stock today with the leftovers of the thanksgiving turkey. In full disclosure, I am using onions for the stock but they will be strained out of the finished broth. Today’s goal? Turkey with wild rice soup. I will be adapting the Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

I think most soup recipes are adapted as opposed to followed. There’s such a gamut of taste in broths and stocks that its silly to assume people make dishes exactly as the paper says. Stock is one of the easiest things in the world to make. Boil bones with veggies and herbs and spices for a long time. That’s about it. People who throw out chicken carcasses shock me heavily.

Anyhow, I was thinking about this here blog and wondering what I really want to do with it. I think it would be great to post culinary exploits, but I never think to take pictures of the food. Which is kind a vital part of blogging about food, really.

I would like to touch on that oft-neglected college world. I have seen tv shows and read books on college cooking and all seem to assume a college kid has a full service kitchen at their disposal. No. No they do not. Who does this stuff?

Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Quest: Pizza IV

Well, we used Alton Brown’s crust this week.  It is available on the Food Network website.  It uses bread flour instead of AP and recommends a long cool time in the fridge to mellow out that yeast flavor.  We like RLB’s better.  I think AB’s would have done better had I given it some time to rise after forming, but we were hungry.  So I might retry it later on.

Right now, I will probably roll with Rose’s crust for a while.  There are several factors I still want to check out – adding beer, using bread flour – before I am satisfied.  Experimentation!

The best thing I did, however, was make my own sauce this time.  And it was terrific.  I made two pizzas.  One was just sauce and cheese and the other was Hawaiian with store bought.  The differences were obvious, no surprise there.

I am also developing better and better peel technique.  I still prefer RLB’s method of oiling a pizza pan, since it is a lot easier.  But mastering the peel is definitely something I want to do.

Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Latest Pizza

This is the latest pizza.  Look at that crust!  It’s absolutely awesome.  The only problem with this one is the toppings amount.  More than two and it has a harder time heating up well.  Sam always wants toppings, though.  Which I don’t mind because it’s delicious.

I really need to get out of the bottle as far as sauce is concerned.  The bottled stuff is okay – but I know it can be better.

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Quest: Interim

I made pizza today to make up for the disappointment of Friday’s flour-full dough.  Instead of making a wholly new dough, I used Berenbaum’s with tweaks.  Since one pizza was not enough for Sam and I, I made two.  One using bread flour instead of AP, the other using beer instead of water.  The problem:  I forgot which was which.

Both crusts turned out fantastic, however.  Though, neither really stuck with me as well that first crust we had.  These doughs were given zero time to ferment slowly in the fridge.  That’s a big difference.  Great pizza (which we already knew) takes a long, long time.

Now, the big difference (and I wish I could remember which was which) was that one of the doughs was very slack and loose.  I think this was the beer.  It flowed very well.

The best thing about Berenbaum’s crusts – something I think I will apply to all – is that she adds no oil during mixing.  Instead, she adds extra oil to the rising vessel and pours that on a pizza pan.  The crust can then be formed on the pan and won’t stick.  Par-baking the crust gives you a firm surface for toppings.  The crust can then be put right on the stone easy as pizza pie.

So, we are doing quite well.   The Quest may take a decidedly different turn, however.  The only crust I really want to try is Alton Brown’s.  I think it will be pretty good.  We’ll have to see.  But the crust is about hammered out – we have what we want here.  I just need to simplify it somewhat for ease.

There is also this page which I found.  This guy has already had quite a quest of his own.  I think I may start questing elsewhere.  What he does recommend is the classic high protein bread flour most of the pros seem to use.  However, I really think I enjoyed the AP flour used by RLB.  I’m not naive enough to try cake flour or anything, but I have reached a personal opinion that high protein is no where near as crucial as some would lead us to believe.

Pictures of the pizzas to come later.

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 2:04 am  Leave a Comment  

The Quest: Pizza Three

This time from Better Homes and Gardens.  (BHG)

What can be said except, bah.  This crust was nowhere near as good as Berenbaum’s (RLB), and I almost like the canned stuff better.  It was too hard – like eating a rock.  A hallmark of great crust is that the “handle” crust gets eaten.  No dice here.  Even I didn’t want the handles.

The differences between this and the previous pizza dough are fairly apparent.  BHG’s has no prolonged rest time and no rise time.  Instead, the crust is to go straight from formation to a hot oven.  The cook time is 20 minutes, while RLB’s is only ten.  If that.

They both use AP flour – which is quite different from most hardcore dough recipes I’ve found.  I will be using a recipe which calls for bread flour next week to see what the difference is.

This recipe has yeast in it, but I can’t imagine why.  There is little to no time for it to rise.  Unless it is added as a flavor agent, which is useless since there’s no time for it to mellow.

BHG has let me down pizza-wise.

Now, I am looking at my recipes and thinking the crust quest will be over by the end of the Month.  I have Alton Brown’s to still try as well as a beer crust recipe.  I am thinking the ultimate crust to be amalgamation of AB’s, the beer, and RLB’s.  We shall see what happens.  And then we will move on to sauce.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 10:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Make Coffee

I just published a coffee guide on Instructables.  Thought I’d mention it.

Published in: on October 2, 2008 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Shabu-Shabu: The Tokyo Pot

Sam and I ate out last weekend in a fit of foolishness since we are poor as can be.  What we discovered was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called The Tokyo Pot.  It features shabu shabu, a type of eating we were unfamiliar with.  I don’t know anyone who has tried it, but if you haven’t, it was definitely worth it.

The owner/manager was very cool.  He offered to demonstrate how to eat so we could enjoy it.  A friendly fellow named Dean.  Atmosphere and good food; that’s what all restaurants really need.

So now we have a new restaurant and a new way of cooking.  Hmm…

For homemade shabu shabu, all one would need is an electric skillet on the table.  It sounds pretty simple – although I’m not sure how thinly I could slice the meat.  I will be getting back to you all on this one.

Published in: on October 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Quest: Pizza Two

Rose Levy Berenbaum's Crust

Rose Levy Berenbaum

Well, tonight we had Rose Levy Berenbaum’s crust.  Berenbaum has authored The Bread Bible from which the recipe is taken.  She has a couple of “Bibles” involving the art of baked goods.  Her recipes are unique in being really damn hard to make sometimes.  You’ve got to love this bread you are baking.

But it is worth it.  Her pizza crust is amazing, thumbs up from both myself and Sam.  After dining on this I am not sure if I can eat another pizza anywhere ever.  It was crispy, yet soft and chewy.  Kind of like a soft pretzel, only not that hard on the outside.

This was also the first chance I got to use my pizza peel which was pretty awesome.  Also the pizza stone, which really helps crisp up that crust.  Wicks away moisture.

Rose uses all-purpose flour and advises a long cool rise.  This allows the yeast to impart some flavor to the dough.  The longer, the better as far as rising is concerned.  It’s more of a ripening than a rise.  After you shape it, you let it rise once again.  Then, cook it!

This is similar to the Better Homes recipe in that you par-bake the crust prior to applying the toppings.  I don’t know what difference it would make.  But I followed the recipe.  I have decided to switch up the toppings after all.  Tonight we had ham and pinapple which was great.

Only crust 2 and it could be the winner.  Next week I am thinking the cookbook or beer crust.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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