…and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
The Northern California Rennaissance Faire was fantastic. I have been spending all my weekends there since the end of August before the gates even opened to the enthusiastic throngs of patrons. In that time I was building the village of Willingtown, buffing up on my Elizabethan language skills and mostly shepherding children in and out of the Funny Farm petting zoo. Now, a week after our final days there, our apartment still hasn’t recovered, but I’m starting to get back into my normal routine, and that means recipes!
With holidays approaching and family visits already being planned, it’s important to load up on recipes that can feed a big group without breaking the bank or a sweat. This chili is an old standby that I learned to make from my mother when I was in elementary school. She never wrote down a recipe, but I learned to make it by feel and have since then taken down the recipe. It takes time when you start with dry beans, but the actual work involved in making it is minimal and the results are woth the wait. Just beware, the batch size is rather hefty. We often brought it to potlucks because it is vegan yet tastes as hearty as any classic meaty chili so its sure to please anyone. It’s also delicious, filling and incredibly cheap to make bucket-loads of!
Black Bean Chili
- 2 1/2 cups dry black beans soaked overnight
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups vegi broth
- 2 cans fire roasted tomatos
- 1 can corn with liquid
- 1 can tomato paste
- 2 onions
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 dried ancho chilis, chopped into 1cm squares
- 2 dried chipotle morita peppers, ground (sub chipotle meco for more heat)
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
The Cheddar Cornbread is a recipe I developed myself from the ones published by Alton Brown and Epicurious. It is the most tender and moist cornbread I have ever had! I have the bad habit of not following recipes, which drives Colin nuts, but produces amazing results. I look at around a dozen different recipes for the same thing and then narrow it to the two of three best looking ones. Then I play with the proportions(and the ingredients I have available) until I find exactly the product I want. It’s an artistic take on what is science side of cooking.
- 1 cups corn meal
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon gluten
- 1/4 cup cream
- 3/4 cup full fat yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 can of corn, lightly drained
- 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar
- 3 green onions
- 1 tablespoon butter for greasing the pan
Two weeks ago I mentioned gathering huckleberries in the Oakland Hills. I’m happy to say that despite the injury, our bounty went into a beautiful product. Kitty Sharkey and I made jam from free nectarines given to me by a booth at the farmers market and our foraged berries. Below is a recipe you can use!
Nectarine Huckleberry Jam
9 1/2 cups coarsely sliced nectarine
2 cups huckleberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar
2 packets Sure-Jell Pectin
(optional: 2 tbsp butter)
In a pot, heat nectarine pieces until soft and boiling. Add huckleberries, lemon juice, sugar and pectin while stirring constantly. You can add butter to prevent scummy foam. Substitute blueberries if you do not have access to huckleberries. Bring the jam to a rolling boil (continues bubbling while you stir) and let it boil until the jam thickens on the back of a cold spoon. If you did not add butter, you will have a layer of scum at the top. Skim this off before processing for 20-25 minutes with the boiling water bath method.
Tip: This is a low-sugar recipe. If your jam doesn’t thicken, add more sugar and bring it back to a boil and check again. Most jam recipes call for at least as much sugar as fruit but I always find that to be too sweet and our Nectarine Huckleberry Jam thickened very well with only half the sugar.
I’ve been wanting for a long time to brew my own beers. The house I lived in a few years ago was full of students and post grads, several of whom loved brewing beers and ciders (with mixed results). A friend of mine from the renfaire is also a homebrewer, though he’s much more serious about his craft than most of the hobby-brewers I know. Seeing his apartment full of everything brewing, stilling and steeping really got my juices flowing and last week Colin and I finally started our own project.
It took us a while to collect all the supplies: carboy, airlock, racking cane, siphon hose, blow-off tube, grain bag, giant pot, and giant whisk. Brewing takes a bit of an investment. Fortunately Colin is as enthused by the project as I am and he was happy to procure the necessary equipment for us. By the way, Smart and Final sells huge pots for a lot cheaper than any brewing store I’ve seen so far.
Our friend tipped us off to a big sale and brewing event at the MoreBeer! store in Los Altos and we headed down to see what we might learn there. It was very crowded, but the staff was helpful and the firt thing I grabbed was Brewing Classic Styles by Zainasheff and Palmer. The book came highly recommended and was helpful in choosing our first project. Originally we’d been told to choose something easy like an IPA, but becasue neither Colin nor I like IPAs, we started looking for something else. Among the book’s recommendations was to begin with an extract recipe or a partial mash recipe. The shop had a wide variety of interesting kits which included all the necessary ingredients for many different beers and were all rated by difficulty.
The batch we have underway now is a Honeyweizen made with grain extracts. The hardest part was honestly cooling thewort without a chiller. We started the project a lot later in the day than we intended and it took us til past midnight to cool our wort to an acceptable temperature for pitching the yeast. Next time we start before 8pm, okay?
Its a week later now and we took a gravity reading- a measure of the dissolved sugars/alcohol. (The wort had an OG: 1.053 and the sample we took at 7 days was at 1.016 for those who care) Fermentation is progressing well and its already pretty tastey. It has a little more of a banana flavor than I’d really like, which might be becasue the temperature is holding closer to 70°F than 68°F like we actually want it to. Reading into wheat beers we’ve found that lower temperatures are supposed to help prevent that, but since we have no cooling for either carboy alone of the room it is in, there’s nothing to be done about it.
Since its our first batch we’re not sure if it’ll need to go as long as the recipe calls for if we want a Finishing Gravity of 1.010, but we have a friend coming over on Thursday to take a look at it and help us with our second kit: a partial mash oatmeal stout.
Other projects in the near future are a peach beer, a blackberry melomel, Nocino(also known as walnut wine) and a Mandaricello already on the liquor. Look for an update on this project and others in my next entry. Cheers!
Again, I am sorry for the late release! My school schedule is interfering with my blog much too efficiently. The worst part is that I had the post written earlier today and just needed to add photos before posting and noticed as I was about to get into bed that I had forgotten to complete the entry. Without much further ado, please enjoy my first sourdough post.
Since I love sourdough and have a breadmaker, I figured I needed to get to where I can stop buying San Francisco Sourdough from the grocery store. About 5 days ago, I got a dry sourdough starter from Kitty Sharkey. It had been sitting in her kitchen for a while but she’d never
I’m working off of this recipe from King Arthur Flour.
July 5, 2011: Attempt No. 1
First, I cut the recipe in half. I(not knowing any better) used whole wheat flour not white. The dough was very dry and I added an unknown quantity of water to get better texture. I think the dough was still too dry but i didn’t want to deviate that far from the recipe. I think I mismeasured the flour or something becasue it shouldn’t have been so dry. I set the dough to rise in a pyrex bowl for one hour and was thrilled when it seemed to have doubled in size. I pulled it out of the bowl and all the air when right out of it. Crap. The recipe calls to let it rise again so I put it on a baking sheet and let it go for another 45 minutes. One problem. It didn’t really rise again. Nope, it spread laterally though. Didn’t get any flatter, just spread out. Weird… but I decided to bake it anyway. It needs more gluten for sure if I’m going to use all whole wheat flour. The loaf turned out very flat, dense, chewy, and not very sour but hearty. I ate some with butter and jelly and it wasn’t too bad. It tasted a little yeasty though which makes me wonder.
July 7, 2011: Attempt No. 2
Same recipe but this time I used half whole wheat flour and half white and added 1tbsp vital wheat gluten. I didn’t feel like heating the whole house to bake what might well turn out to be a brick, so I’m baking in the bread maker. The dough turned out a MUCH better texture this time and I was very hopeful. I put it to rise in the bread-maker pan and decided I wouldn’t try to move it for fear of deflation. So much for that. In trying to get it into the bread machine the jerk from getting the pan into the clamps deflated the dough substantially. I actually HEARD the air go out of it. Sadface.
But, miraculously, the bread worked! It could still stand to be improved, but it’s much less dense and isn’t too crumbly. It didn’t taste as yeasty as the first loaf and rose much more. It’s still chewy, but I like that in a sourdough loaf. The crust didn’t turn out particularly nicely but its got a good crunch to it which is a goooood start.
July 10, 2011: Attempt No. 3
This one was another half and half loaf using the same ratio as before but I did I full recipe instead of a half. I added two tablespoons of vital wheat gluten and gave it a single rise of an hour and a half. I did this one in the breadmaker again since that seemed to work well last time and I’m really happy with the results! The crust looked much better since I was able to keep it moistened while rising and turned a beautiful golden color. The bread was still a touch crumbly on the inside, but it was nice and moist and light.
My mother was a baker for many years. She Delivered bread of Bread Workshop in Berkeley when I was very young and got hooked on baking. I just got hooked on fresh bread. She then worked for the Cheeseboard until she helped found the Arizmendi Bakery Cooperative in Oakland in 1997 and worked there until 2004. Sufice to say she’s got a lot of experience with breadmaking and sourdoughs.
She came over last weekend and gave me some tips for improving my starter and bread and I think it worked. Turns out I’d been feeding it too often but the goo(flour and water mixture) I’d been giving it was too liquidy and not enough of it. I’m now feeding it about two cups of goo per one cup of starter and the good is very thick; I’m calculating the ratio by equal weights instead of equal volumes which is what my starter recipe had called for. Clearly it’s not the best recipe. Once I started halving the starter at every feeding, giving it a thicker goo and doing so less often it got waaay more active. The whole thing is permeated with bubbles and it tastes nice and sour but in the right way. Not like yogurt or cheese, but like SOURDOUGH! :] Now I’m not afraid it’ll die in the fridge!
The recipe I had been going off of had also stressed that using metal utensils or containers for the starter would somehow weaken or even kill it. I think this might be an old wives tale. I’ve been mixing up my goo with a fork and stiring it into my starter with the same utensil and it’s doing really well. I’m not going to get a special small wooden spoon just for stirring my sourdough starter and I doubt most people do.
July 15, 2011: Attempt No. 4
Potluck! Time to try out my bread on a bunch of friends and strangers! I made this one with onion kneaded into the dough before letting it rise for an hour. Again the same recipe as above, but I used all white flour this time becasue I was in a rush to get it done. It was lighter and rose more than any of the others had. The slices were tender but stable and didnt crumble despite being handled roughly. The sour flavor was a little better, but I’m hoping it’ll get even stronger as the starter matures.
July 17, 2011: Attemp No. 5
I’m running out of the whole wheat flour so I’m using all white again. Made another full recipe based on the King Arthur Flour site. I think I added a little too much water since the dough was a little wet. I did a one hour rise this time and used a spatula to stir it in the pan it was rising in before giving it a second half hour rise. The starter is definitely getting much better. When I pulled it out of the fridge last night, I was a little worried becasue I saw no bubbles. I left it out overnight to come up to room temperature and this morning it was gorgeous again! Completely bubbly and had grown since the night before when i pulled it out. The bread was a little denser, but still very tender with a really crunchy crust. The texture was great and flavor even better than before. I’m thrilled with the way this bread just keeps getting better and better. I’ll try a new recipe soon and maybe I can go back to experimenting with whole wheat flour now that I’m getting the hang of white flour sourdough.
I hope my adventures in sourdough have given a little insight into making sourdough at home. I’ll be sure to add updates on the blog as I learn more. And if anyone wants a bit of starter in the San Francisco East Bay, I’m more than happy to share. Just let me know!
Sorry for the late post folks. I started classes a couple weeks ago and was studying for my first test when I realized that I had fallen behind on my blog. Luckily I have a delicious recipe that I’ve been wanting to share with you. The other night, I was walking through our Berkeley Bowl, the local independent grocery store when I got a craving for fish. The hot weather had me shying away from heavy foods, but I still wanted some protein, so I picked up some tilapia and fava beans to throw together a light and yet satisfying dinner. Though blood oranges are scarce this time of year, I had some in my fridge that needed to be used. You can easily substitute them with Valencia oranges, but avoid navel oranges as their uneven segments can be hard to supreme.
Citrus Fava Bean Salad
*Note: Make the salad first because it will take longer to prepare than the fish(done in under 20 minutes), which will get cold if you reverse the order.
1lb fava beans
3 large blood oranges
½ red onion
5 sprigs cilantro
1 head butter lettuce
1. Shell your fava beans, and par boil the beans. This only take a minute or two and you don’t want to overcook them. You just want to cook them long enough for the tough and bitter membrane around the beans to loosen and wrinkle. Remove the skins from the beans, and be careful not to crush them. Put the skinned beans into a salad bowl to cool and continue with the rest of the salad.
2. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the skin from the grapefruit, including all of the white pith and the outer membrane of the segments. Over the salad bowl with the fava beans, cup the fruit in your non-dominant hand and use the paring knife to cut the segments out of the membranes. drop the skinless segments into the bowl. Do this until you have nothing but the membrane in your hand. This method is called a supreme. Squeeze the remaining juice out of the membrane into a separate bowl and save it for the dressing. Repeat this step for the oranges as well.
3. Finely slice the red onion and mince the cilantro. Add these to the bowl. Serve the mixture over butter lettuce and drizzle generously with the dressing below.
Blood Orange Salad Dressing
½ c fresh blood orange juice
¼ c white vinegar
¼ c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp honey
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
Wisk together ingredients in a bowl or put them all in a jar to be shaken. I prefer the latter method, because then I can conveniently store the extra.
Preheat oven to 400°F
1lb tilapia fillets (~4)
1 Meyer lemon
¼ tsp thyme
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Cover two baking sheets in aluminum foil (to make clean up easier) spread olive oil evenly across both pans and lay out tilapia fillets evenly. Sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, and thyme. Be careful not to over-salt and remember you can always add more after its cooked.
2. Thinly slice garlic and lemon. Spread the slices across tilapia and try to cover as much of the fish as possible. Make sure the garlic is underneath the lemon slices otherwise it will burn. I also coarsely chopped the rest of the red onion from the salad and dropped it on the tray to bake. Just an idea!
3. Bake the tilapia until the edges start to brown and crisp (about 5-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish).
I hope you enjoy the recipe in the hot summer days we’ve been having. I’m certain I’ll be making it again before too long!
I have always wanted to host a formal cocktail party with tons of tiny, beautiful hors d’oeuvres. This past weekend, I got my chance! Three weeks ago we got a new place in Berkeley (with enough space for a craft room!) and we used the opportunity to properly warm the place in high style. As someone with no steady income, buying catered food was out of the question, but I have a lot of time, which means it’s DIY time! The product of my toils was 72 Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream frosting, 30 mini apple-onion quiches, 36 mini bacon-apple-onion quiches, 24 mini broccoli quiches and one baguette’s worth of bruscetti. Below are some of the recipes I created or adapted for the event.
The cupcakes were made using Orangette‘s Far-From-Disaster Cake, by far the most delicate and moist chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever come across. A half recipe made 72 miniature cupcakes which I frosted with a Raspberry Buttercream adapted from Mommy23Monkeys.
Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed raspberries (Don’t worry about bruising them.)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp citric acid granules
- 16 oz. powdered sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 to 8 Tbsp ice water
- 1 granny smith apple
- 1 onion
- 2 strips thick-cut bacon
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago
- 2 oz. unsweetened pomegranate juice
- 1 oz. dark rum
- 1 oz. triplesec
- 1 oz. sweetened lime juice