Sunday, January 29, 2012

Multigrain Bread

I'm a sucker for blogging challenges....currently I am playing along with the Dark Days Challenge (although I have been faltering as of late) where participants make a meal of local foods and blog about it each week.  I make plenty of local foods, but my schedule the past few weeks has prevented me from hitting the farmer's market on Saturday mornings, which makes it hard for me to easily find some ingredients.    I can do better with the challenge - I have lots of local meat in my deep freezer, and there's plenty of Michigan ingredients at my local Meijer store.  Also, the People's Food Coop in Ann Arbor has lots of locally sourced food.   I just hate having to find a parking space when I shop there. 
BYOB Badge

I am also signed up for the Bake Your Own Bread challenge, where once a month, I am supposed to bake my own and blog about it.  Since it's once a month, it should be easier to do, but last year I signed up and never managed to post even once, even though I did bake bread.   This year, I am kicking 2012 off right by baking bread AND blogging about it.   My January effort is this multigrain bread, based off a Martha Stewart recipe.   The first time I ever baked bread that turned out well was one of her recipes, so I often choose Martha first for my first try at a bread before I go off experimenting.    I have made a lot of bad bread in my lifetime - loaves that would make great doorstops, dinner rolls that could be used by Justin Verlander for spring training down in Lakeland, FL for his next no hitter, etc.

That's actually one of my dinner rolls in his hand

However, this bread came out wonderfully and I have been enjoying eating it in toasted form in the morning for breakfast.   It's a great source of fiber - by my math, it's about 5 g fiber per slice for a 10 slice loaf.

Multigrain Bread

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine (a.k.a. instant) yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
4 teaspoons coarse salt
1/3 cup bulgur
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ                                       
1 egg white

Soak 1/3 cup bulgur in 1/2 cup warm water for 20 minutes; set aside. Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup water. Add 2 teaspoons honey. Whisk until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups water and 3 tablespoons honey. Whisk flour with salt; add 3 cups to yeast. Mix on low speed until smooth. Mix in soaked bulgur, 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1/4 cup wheat germ. Add remaining 4 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough comes away from sides of bowl and forms a ragged, slightly sticky ball. Spray a large bowl with non stick cooking spray

Set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes.  Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball. Transfer to prepared bowl; cover with plastic wrap.  I like to use my microwave oven as a proofing box, a trick I learned from Christopher Kimball in his great cookbook, the Yellow Farmhouse Kitchen.   I put the bowl in my microwave (don't turn it on) with a coffee mug filled with an inch or two of boiling water.   The most warm air really makes the bread rise well.   Let dough stand until it doubles in volume (it should not spring back when pressed), about 1 hour.

Spray two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Punch down dough; divide in half. Shape 1 dough half into an 8 1/2-inch-long rectangle (about 1/2 inch thick). Fold long sides of dough in to middle, overlapping slightly. Press seam to seal. Transfer dough, seam side down, to pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush tops of loaves with egg wash (beaten egg white mixed with water),and sprinkle with oats. Dab tops with egg wash to help adhere. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drape loaves with plastic. Let stand in the microwave until dough rises about 1 inch above tops of pans, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake, rotating pans after 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool slightly; turn out loaves. Let cool completely before slicing.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pickled Brussel Sprouts

I just love winter canning projects!  There's usually no sense of urgency caused by the need to get the half bushel of perfectly ripe peaches in the jar or the box of tomatoes made into salsa before they spoil.   Winter canning projects call for winter vegetables that are usually very patient and can wait around for a while until there's time to get to them.  Winter is the season for citrus and since we can't grow citrus in Michigan,  I've got no qualms in getting storebought when my schedule permits putting up some crimson honey grapefruit when big bags of Florida produce show up at the grocery store, priced right, or some Major Grey's chutney when mangoes are plentiful.   During winter at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, Brussel Sprouts are plentiful.   I pickled a batch on Christmas Eve morning this year - the combination of the green sprouts and red peppers looked festive.   I did have to buy the red peppers at the store - but next year, I could make this recipe completely local by drying some red peppers in the summertime, and adding some to each jar.    The sprouts go great with winter meals - I especially enjoyed them with this New Year's batch of Hoppin' John.

Pickled Brussel Sprouts
12 cups small brussel sprouts - cut large ones in half
4 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup diced sweet red peppers
2 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp celery seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes

Wash brussel sprouts  and remove stems and blemished outer leaves and boil in salt water (4 tsp canning salt per gallon of water) for 4 minutes. Drain and cool. Combine vinegar, sugar, onion, diced red pepper, and spices in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Distribute onion and diced pepper among jars. Fill jars with pieces and pickling solution, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (for altitudes <1000 ft).  Makes about 5 pints.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Dark Days Challenge Week 7: Whitefish Dinner

One of the great things about living in Michigan is our abundant lakes - we are the Great Lake State after all.   This week, I made some of the whitefish I purchased from Bay Port Fisheries,  which has been in business on the shores of Lake Huron since 1895.  I did use thin lemon slices as seasoning, which will never, ever be local in Michigan, but citrus is in season right now so that's all right with me.   As sides, I had some pickled brussels sprouts I put up on Christmas Eve that I bought from Goetz Farm, and good ole Michigan potatoes I bought at Meijer made into Potatoes Anna.  

Potatoes Anna

8 medium Michigan potatoes, peeled
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using a food processor with a slicing blade, slice potatoes as thinly as possible, 1/4 inch thick or thinner. (Do not place sliced potatoes in water; the starch is needed to bind the layers.). Brush bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with some of the butter. Starting in center of pan, arrange potato slices, slightly overlapping, in circular pattern, covering surface. Brush with some more of the butter; season well with salt and pepper. Repeat for two more layers. Place over  the stove burner on high heat until butter in pan sizzles, 2 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to oven; bake until potatoes are fork-tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Run a small spatula around edges of potatoes; slide large spatula underneath potatoes to loosen. Carefully invert onto a plate, and cut into wedge

I cleaned out my kitchen closet over the break and noticed how many small kitchen appliances I have, such as a food processor and a stick blender and all their attachments.  I also just got  a brand new blender.  Now that I can find everything, I need to make better use of them!    While you could use a knife for this recipe, slicing the potatoes this thinly and consistently would be tedious and a challenge.   It's the perfect job for a food processor - so dig it out and use it.  What else can I use my food processor for?  Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Madras Meat Loaf

Over the weekend, I had fantastic meatloaf at Detroit's Traffic Jam and Snug restaurant.   I can't stop thinking about it, so I tried to make it for dinner.   I think I've got it mastered! Here's my attempt at duplicating it:

Madras Meatloaf (printer friendly)
2 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced in half and thinly sliced or 2 onions chopped fine
2 apples, diced fine
2 tablespoon melted butter
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground veal
2 slices (white) bread, soaked in milk
3 tablespoons Madras-style curry powder
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1/1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
3 eggs, beaten
2 lemon, cut into thin slices (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown the leek or onion and apple in the butter, let cool. Mix the ground beef, incorporating the spices, sugar, raisins, soaked bread (that has been squeezed out and torn into small pieces) and eggs.  Add the onions/apple to the beef/spice mixture. Press into  2 loaf pans.   Garnish with lemon slices.   Bake for one hour.  Serve with Major Grey's chutney....either store bought or can some using this recipe.  Mangoes and citrus are in season right now - it's a great winter canning project.

Most popular posts of 2011

I had a hard time trying to figure out how to measure my most popular posts of 2011.  I finally settled on using Google Analytics and setting the date range for all of 2011, and then using the advanced search function and searching for the phrase "2011".    I had to do a little clean up - Google Analytics counts people finding my blog because of pictures or graphics I have used in it, but not the actual content.   Here's what was read the most in 2011:

Ribbon Jello - a retrospective on all I have learned about making jello. 

Under Pressure - a post I wrote for a cooking class I taught that has 2 great pressure cooker for beef and the world's easiest risotto.   Make 2012 your year to get a pressure cooker....they totally rock!

Make Your Own Sauerkraut - I usually write about making kraut every year, and this year, I got creative with it.

Pulla - this Finnish bread recipe was one I tried out to use cardamom.   I think I need to bake some more - it makes fantastic french toast.

Hypertufa - my experiments with making my own planters didn't work as well as I had hoped.  Many of them broke....while on vacation in Maine I saw some hypertufa planters for sale that had way more cement in them than I was using.  If I try again this spring, I might go with adding a higher ratio of the Portland cement.  

Spoon Fruit - I loved coming up with this recipe and technique for making preserves.  This post is my favorite of 2011.

Kitchen Gadgets - My list of my personal favorites!

It's been a fun 2011 and I am looking forward to another great year of blogging - I am starting my 7th year.   I'm glad to still be here!

Spice Rack Challenge - End of Year Addition

When we started off this challenge last January,  we had 33 bloggers along for the ride, and at the end, just one.   Karen at Prospect: the Pantry blogged about Winter Squash Risotto - Love the idea of sage leaves browned in butter.  I am going to try that for a topping for potatoes.  So many of the bloggers who started out out journey aren't even blogging anymore.   It's really easy to start a blog - it's more difficult to keep one going.   I am wondering if more people are deciding they only have time for Twitter, which I never seem to find interesting.   Anyway, thanks to all who participated and happy 2012!