Thursday, March 26, 2009

Almost No-Knead (SOURDOUGH) Bread x2 (3 Variations)

After bringing to life my colony of bacteria*, and naming it Edwina, I wondered, "Could I make bread using Edwina and the fabulous "almost no-knead bread" method? It sure would be swell if I could. The ANKB recipe from Cook's Illustrated approximates the flavor of sourdough, but I wanted the ease of that method with real sourdough flavor. They say good things come in "three's", and as it turns out, they're right. Here are three variations of no-knead sourdough bread: Rustic Sourdough, Brown Rice & Flax Seed Sourdough, and Maple Oatmeal Sourdough. Great article, great recipes, and more great advice available on the author's blog** (another set of 3 good things!).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quoting... Sydney Smith

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea?
How did it exist?
I am glad I was not born before tea!"
- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845
(from: A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith by Lady Saba Holland 1855)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Parmesan Herb Puffs

Everyone should have a "go-to" appetizer. Something you can make for a party that you know will turn out great without a lot of fuss, and tastes great too. This here's mine. Easy, versatile, and party-licious...

Parmesan Herb Puffs 
adapted from Sesame Seed Puffs, page 76, Williams-Sonoma Outdoor Entertaining, 2005

1 pkg frozen puff pastry sheets
3 Tblsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper, ground
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
2 tsp fresh herbs, minced (rosemary, thyme, etc)

Position racks in middle and upper-third of oven and preheat to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.

On a lightly floured work surface, unfold 1 sheet of the puff pastry and brush the top with 1-1/2 Tblsp of the olive oil. Using a pizza wheel, cut the pastry sheet into 16 squares. Without moving the squares, cut each square in half on the diagonal into 2 triangles, for a total of 32 triangles. Sprinkle the surface with half of the salt, pepper, cheese and herbs.

Separate the triangles and using a spatula transfer them to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Prepare second puff pastry sheet and bake until golden brown and nicely puffed, about 16 minutes. After the first 8 minutes, switch the baking sheets between the racks and rotate them. Transfer the puffs to a wire rack and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

The puffs can be baked up to 1 day in advance, cooled to room temperature, and stored in an airtight container. Re-crisp in a 450° oven for 3 minutes before serving.

Makes 64 pieces
Serves 10-12

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Almost No-Knead Bread x2

Bake two loaves of Almost No-Knead Bread at the same time
I didn't plan to have two dutch ovens. A few years ago, while doing some last minute Christmas shopping (literally, I mean it was Christmas eve) I saw it. It was: just like the one my friend had, on sale, the only one left, and a happy apple-green color. I felt so lucky to have been at the right place at the right time. It came home with me of course. Two days later, some good friends gave me another one as a Christmas gift. This one was ombre-blue with straight sides. I liked them both. I kept them both. Neither of them are Le Crueset, nor did they cost anywhere near that. Both have metal knobs on the lid that handle any temperature my oven can dish out. They are fantastic. For a long time I thought it was silly of me to keep both. Our kitchen at the time was an architect's after-thought, it was so small. But I kept them and I'm glad I did. Not only are we now in a house with a wonderfully big kitchen, but then I come across someone so brilliant as to double the CIANKB* recipe. Twice the payoff without twice the work. Gotta love that.