I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Longing for a little magic

It is 19 unspeakable degrees F outside and doesn't promise to get much warmer today. Or for the next several days (except for it MIGHT get above freezing on Tuesday, hoo boy!)

Must keep repeating to self, over and over: "it's OK, the days are getting longer, the days are getting longer..."

Not fast enough for me, but it sure feels good to complain. So what are the upsides, if any, to the deep freeze of 2010-2011?

The apple trees in the Mid-A will be happy as clams when spring arrives. They've had lots of chill hours.

Maybe some of the garden pests won't survive? Always worth a hope.

Hibernating critters will get to snooze longer.

We will be so gosh darn happy to see spring arrive that the real estate market will stage a miraculous comeback and my house will sell in no time flat.

(Raucous laughter from the internet).

So last month or thereabouts, while longing for the new grilling season, I found this recipe online. The author owns several traditional barbecue restaurants but hey, even they must serve something veggie here and there on occasion (something? anything?)! I've already used this to season seitan, and will try on oven fried potatoes next. It's essentially another all-purpose seasoning, such as one I posted about here (but with more kick, less salt), and has several ingredients in common.

I split out the garlic granules with onion granules just to soften the bite a bit (the original recipe did not call for onion granules) and cut the recipe quantity in half. This filled an 8 oz. jar, which will supply my grilling/roasting needs for a good long time. The reader may of course choose to keep the original recipe ingredients intact, depending on individual garlic tolerance. This was pretty kicky, so I will reduce the cayenne from a tablespoon to a teaspoon next time, or take it out altogether- there's still a healthy couple of tablespoons of chili powder in there and that's enough heat for me.

4 Tbs. sweet paprika
2 Tbs. chili powder (my favorite: New Mexico)
2 Tbs. ground cumin
2 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. granulated garlic
1 Tbs. granulated onion
1 Tbs. mustard powder
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

Pulse everything in a food processor to combine and store in an airtight jar in the pantry. A recycled 8 oz. mayo jar was perfect for this quantity.

If you want a front label, just Google "Magic Dust" and grab one from the images. If you want a back label, print one up according to the ingredients you used (I printed mine 2.5" high and 2" wide to fit my jar). It's handy to have the ingredients listed on the back of the jar for quick refills (but I will need a new label for the next batch to reflect the reduced or eliminated cayenne- such a wimp!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Give us this day

Waking up to a lovely ice covered world this morning, I sighed and took the dog out while taking micro steps across the treacherous terrain that only yesterday was an innocent deck. This day was not starting out well I thought. Waiting until later in the morning to go to work proved to be a good idea though as the drive in was not fatal. OK so the day wasn't going to be a total loss after all.

Winter is once again proving to be a disgusting, worthless season in the Mid-A. Thank god the oven works and I didn't put both bread machines in the storage unit. A mess in the kitchen always makes me feel better, so here is another one of my not-quite-ready-for-artisan bread recipes using the bread machine for prep.

I include dried herbs and garlic here more just for scenting, to make the house smell terrific while the bread is baking, but they can certainly be increased (or replaced with fresh) for a more pronounced 'herb bread' effect. The recipe would also work using a food processor or just a couple of good strong hands for the first kneading/rise.

The potato flour helps keep the bread fresher longer, and the ascorbic acid and diastatic malt help with the rise. If you don't have these ingredients on hand, no worries, you should still get a very nice loaf. I also use the cold oven method to start the baking, as per this recipe, but if you want a more crackly crust you can preheat the oven first.

Daily Bread

1¼ - 1½ cups water (I used 1½ cups for the most recent loaf)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1¾ cups white whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups bread flour
2 Tbs. vital wheat gluten
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. potato flour (not starch)
1½ tsp. salt
½ - 1 tsp. mixed herbs, such as fines herbes
¼ - ½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. diastatic malt powder
¼ tsp. ascorbic acid
1¾ tsp. SAF instant yeast, or 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast

Place water and oil in bread machine. Add dry ingredients next in the order listed, and mix together a bit. Set bread machine to dough setting and start (add a bit more water or flour as necessary, if required for dough to form a good ball).

When the first rise is complete, remove dough from machine, deflate, and knead briefly to shape into an oval for a country style loaf, or fit into a bread pan for a sandwich style loaf. Slash the top a couple of times, cover loosely, and allow to rise until doubled in size, 1 - 1 ½ hours. I let mine rise in the unheated oven or the microwave with the door slightly ajar so that the light stays on, and provides a bit of warmth.

Place in a cold oven and set to 350°F. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden and done. Allow to cool before slicing.