All posts filed under: Baking

Bread Whore ~ TOAST

I’ve always loved great toast. And apparently, I’m not alone.  I read somewhere the other day that toast has become a “thing“. Affected, terribly cool people are flocking to certain restaurants where they serve big, thick,  honkin’ slabs of complicated bread (probably kneaded on the thighs of Tahitian women), hand toasted over hardwood coals, and served with rare, artisan snoozleberry jam and yak butter churned during a full moon. Probably… Maybe… but you know what I’m talking about.   It seems to be the trend these days to take something exceedingly simple – and remake it into a ritual… a process…. an ordeal. Me? I can’t be bothered. For toast to be enjoyable, it only has to have: 1.  a developed richness that comes from fermentation 2. an outer crust that stays crisp even as the toast cools 3. toast centers that are tender and soft. Toasting Bread Some years ago I came across an English Toasting Bread (or English Muffin Bread) at one of the markets in the area. So I thought for this episode of …

All That Lemony Goodness – Lemon ~ Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

  ” I want a cookie…” Generally speaking, those four words don’t usually raise shrieks of alarms in your head. But, then again… you don’t live up on the hill here at Turtle Creek; where everything tasty is filled with things that are taboo – and the list of things we can’t eat grows like that Creeping Charlie out in the garden. But, I do my best to make life here a little less sucky. I decided to try and make homemade cookies… something I’m not particularly good at. And since 100% of the really good cookies have butter – it’s not been something very high on my list… You know,  since lard cookies taste like crap. Thankfully, one day when I was griping about the lack of good butter options for the severely lactose intolerant,  someone (I’m sorry, I really don’t remember who pointed me in the right direction) asked if I had ever tried Cultured Butter. For those of you not in the know, Cultured Butter is Fresh cream butter to which lactic acid cultures have …

The Unfinished Manuscript – Focaccia

If you didn’t read about how this all came about – go back and catch up at the beginning of the story HERE. * * * Thinking I’d go for something in the beginning of the manuscript, and something tasty and easy – I picked the “Focaccia al Rosmarino” (Focaccia with Rosemary) as the first test of the manuscript’s abilities. Meh… the flatbread was tough, chewy in the center, and not terribly flavorful. The main problem with the recipe is the author has you rolling the dough – in her words – like a pizza. The thing is you never want to roll pizza dough, let along – focaccia dough. You want to pull and stretch it.  This keeps the gas pockets from the yeast high and airy which keeps the dough from being all compacted making flatbread tender, crisp and delicious. so… No Rolling… forgedaboutit! The other issue was the blandness. Bread needs seasoning. And, bread that doesn’t include much sugar, or dairy,  or egg in the mix is going to need salt… and …

Bread Whore ~ Everybody Tang – Zhong tonight!

Well, hello… So, it’s a new look. I’m all refreshed and re-energized.. and I’ve got some amazing, life-affirming crapola to sling your way… eventually… in a couple of days. But for now… It’s Bread Whore Time I wont lie, I’m a horrible baker. That doesn’t stop me from buying every freakin’ stinkin’ book that comes out in print on the subject. And invariably, the end result is the same… crappy bread… crappy crappy mood for making crappy bread… crappy crappy crappy loads of useless bread crumbs in the freezer from making crappy bread. What’s that quote? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results? That would be me and the bread business. That is… until this August. Back in Early August, a friend on Facebook (shush), who happens to be Pastry Chef Online, started talking about the Tangzhong Method for baking bread. And, that the end result was soft, moist, ethereal yeasty bread carried on the wings of angels. well, not really angels – but in my head I swear I …

Gooey Gluten-Free / Dairy Free Pineapple Cake

It’s not often that I see a food posting on some social networking thing and immediately run off to make it. But, that’s kinda, sorta, exactly what happened here. Food.Com shared a photo of a “Do Nothing” Cake. And. if you know my baking skills, that sounded right up my alley. Here’s the thing – the recipe is stupid simple. So whether you do the original from them (click on the name to follow their link) or try my Gluten-Free version – you aren’t going to have a lot of time or effort invested in it… so, in that sense, it’s definitely a doer. And, if the STUFF-MY-FACE-TIL-I-HIT-A-SUGAR-OVERDOSE actions of earlier this evening are any indication, anyone you make this for will think you hung the moon, or name a street after you, or lay beds of roses at your feet. Seriously, it’s that good. Gluten Free  Pineapple Cake with  Seriously Gooey Topping Serves 1, go make your own. Actually, it will generously serve 8 Ingredients For the cake: 2 Cups Gluten Free Baking Mix …

Peanut Butter Cookies

In a perfect world, we’d all be able to eat any type of food out there – enjoy it for what it is, and suffer no consequences. But this ain’t that kind of story. You know, it’s really a marvel that I can even function in the food world given the laundry list of problems that plague our family. My dad was allergic to mushrooms, avocados,  pitted fruit, tree nuts, peanuts… and well, corn just made him a crazy man… Really, one mis-step in a corn based product, and he symptomed as though he had early onset Alzheimer’s. You think gluten free is difficult? Try removing every trace of corn out of your diet. Jane has no tolerance for alcohol,  is freakishly lactose intolerant and she is allergic to chocolate… as in anaphylaxis… the “call 911.. and you better hurry kind.” And the one thing that would stem a normal reaction – those little epi- pens loaded with epidrine? Yeah.. they just run her faster down that light at the end of the tunnel. But, Jane craves chocolate.. …

I’ve got your Sticky Cake… Right Here

Okay.. I didn’t actually watch the UK Summer Olympics. I was pretty much Twittered into a stupor by the time the first event concluded. (and… I’m not really a “hit the ball and drag Harry” kind of guy…) But I was stoked about it being there. Because, I expected the airwaves to be inundated with Cuisine of Britain programming. I didn’t see any.. well, I take that back. There was one program produced back in 2000 aimed at convincing the world that the UK wasn’t all Bangers and Mash. Which is kinda sad, because I particularly like bangers… and mash.   That really left me with no other option than to go about looking for my own little culinary excursion. I found my first stop with Fiona Maclean (don’t you just love her name!) over at London Unattached. Fiona made Parkin! Now, I’ve had parkin a couple of times before (read that as a lot) as my across the street neighbor in Savannah was always making it and inviting me over for tea. Actually, I worked with her estranged husband and she …

Say Cheese…

I’m a pretty big cheese whore. I mean – I can tear through a block of cheese like nobody’s business. I love those deep complex flavors. Which is probably why I never really cared much for cream cheese, cream cheese frosting… or cheesecake for that matter. It’s like  munching on a pile of milk flavored Crisco… and that just isn’t appetizing. Add to that – Jane’s zero tolerance for lactose – cream cheese has no place in this house. We had a hankering for carrot cake this week, and while I could have used the Tofutti Soy Cream Cheese for the frosting – I wanted something with a little more taste to it. Don’t get me wrong, the Tofutti product are a passable substitute for dairy… texture-wise, but they lack severely in the taste department. And, if I’m going  to go through the trouble to make a cheese frosting – I don’t want it to taste like sweetened tofu. You’ve seen me write about Cabot’s Cheeses before. Their Extra Sharp and Seriously Sharp Cheddar are are …

Apple and Currant Cream Tart

My life is full of apple memories. I remember watching mesmerized as my granddad, equipped with his trusty pocket knife, cut artful, seamless spirals of apple peel sitting in his chair… My father taking huge cheek bulging half-apple bites out of his Saturday yard work snack apple… My brothers and I carefully picking our way through the crab apple tangles near the house, trying to reach that elusive, less insanely puckering fruit near the top of the tree… Eating the oddly confusing pear-apples (looks like an apple – textured like a pear – tastes like nothing) that grew in my grandfather’s unattended orchard… Busting my lip during my one and only apple bob… My first fresh squeezed apple cider at some mountain festival as a child… Some kid from grammar school blowing half-chewed apple in my face… I still don’t remember why… Endlessly feeding green apples to a mule… It’s no surprise I gravitate to the local apple barns and decorative displays at the market. The other week out shopping with Jane, I’m always trying …

Waste Not ~ Want Not

After working up the marmalade from last week, I had a ton (well, okay…it was a couple of cups) of expressed orange pulp left over. It’s a curse, but I’ve never been one to throw scraps away. My mom always trained us to use as much of a vegetable as possible, then save the scraps for stock. It wasn’t a terribly new thing to do, as chef’s have been saving cast-offs for stocks and seasonings for eons. So I would dutifully keep a Tupperware or baggie in the freezer and add the potato peelings, carrot shavings, onion skins (wilted radish and limp cucumber) to the bag for use in some future stock. At my first real hotel job, I worked with a chef that kept a large 30 gallon trash can in the freezer. I’d do my inventories… and look at the can.  “Don’t worry about what’s in the can” the chef would say. “But… what is it?” “It’s the Magic Meat Barrel” he would say casually… and leave it at that. The hotel had …