Sunday, March 31, 2013

No Knead Bread

I have been unconvinced by this idea, because we have an excellent breadmaker, which reduced the appeal of no knead bread a lot.  But I wanted to try it, and eventually got around to doing so.  It makes a quite heavy loaf, with a wonderful crust, just the right amount of thick, crisp, and chewy.  Good crumb.

The recipe is the one that has been doing the rounds since 2006, from the New York Times.

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast

Mix together these ingredients, cover and leave someplace warm (hot water cupboard!) for a day or so. Fold over a couple times, let sit 15 minutes. Flour up a board (and your hands), and shape dough into a ball. Place on a floured cotton cloth, cover with another of these, and let rise for a couple hours.  Bake in a hot oven (225-230c) for about 40 minutes.  I used a ceramic dish with no lid for mine, but you could as well leave it on a tray, or use a dutch oven.

Easy. Delicious.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Daring Bakers, March 2013

Much like the Daring Cooks, the Daring Bakers run a monthly challenge, getting people to try things a little differently. Ruth from Makey-Cakey was the March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged folk to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking.  I decided that this was an opportunity to bust out a beetroot chocolate cake. So I did.

Beetroot Chocolate Cake
200gm Butter
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 Cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
3 small / 2 medium beetroot
1/2 cup cocoa

Prepare your beetroot.  You can boil them, steam them, roast them, whatever.  Make sure they are well cooked, and cool them enough to grate them.  Then, grate them.

Soften the butter, mix with sugar until creamy.  Add eggs, mixing well after each.  Add dry ingredients, stir to combine. Add grated beetroot, combine again.

Pour batter into a lined or greased cake tin, bake at 180c until done, about 30-35 minutes (or, it was in my oven).

Ice as you wish. I reserved a little beetroot, pureed it, and made icing with it, to get the brilliant pink colour seen here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Daring Cooks, March 2013

The Daring Kitchen is a wonderful online community. It hosts monthly challenges to both cook and bake things you might not have made before.  Sometimes they are very exotic, sometimes quite mundane, but the challenges are always fun, and take you out of your routines and habits.  I haven't been participating in a long while (what with the Philosophy job market, getting my current job, and moving + settling back in NZ after 6+ years in Australia).  But I'm beginning again.

This month, Sawsan from chef in disguise was the hostess. Sawsan challenged us to make our own homemade cheeses. She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious.

I decided to make Feta, because... well, Feta is delicious, and it was one of the more complicated of the offered recipes.

Original Recipe from here, modified to use cows milk, liquid rennet rather than tablets.

2 litres cows milk (I just used cheap supermarket milk, worked fine. YMMV)
1 Tbsp plain live culture yogurt mixed with 1 Tbsp milk from above.
6 drops liquid rennet
1/2 tsp salt (non-iodised, Marlborough Sea salt, finely ground)

For the brining solution
5 1/2 Tbsp salt for every 590ml fluid whey

1.Place the milk in a pot with a lid, warm it up to 30°C . Stir the milk occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning.
2.Take the milk off the heat, add yogurt-milk mixture, stir well, cover with the lid.

3.Allow it to sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
4.Move your pot to an area where it will remain undisturbed.
5.Add dissolved rennet, stir quickly to ensure even distribution of the rennet then cover the pot, and leave overnight.
6.The next morning, check the cheese. It should be set into one large block of curd with a little whey separated on the side.
7. Check for a 'clean break' by sticking your finger into the cheese. If it comes out relatively clean of stuff, you are good. If it looks like yoghurt, wait longer. (2 hours, then try. If still bad, 2 more. If still bad, you messed up, try again with a new batch)
8. Cut your curds up with a knife. Cross hatched into 1.5-2cm chunks.

9. Wait 15 mins, stirring occasionally, so the curds set and some whey is released.  The curds will shrink slightly in size.
10.  Strain the cheese.  Line a colander with a cheesecloth or a clean fabric with fine weave. Gently pour the curds and whey in and allow it to strain. Do not discard the whey.
11. Once most of the whey has been strained collect the 4 corners of your cheesecloth and tie them to form a knot that allows you to suspend the cheesecloth then allow it to strain for 2-4 hours. If you live in a very warm place you may want to allow it to strain in the fridge.
12.The next day remove the cheese from the cloth, break up the curds add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

13.Line a mould with holes in the bottom with cheese cloth, place the cheese in, fold over the cheesecloth place a heavy weight on top of the mold and leave overnight, again if you live in a really warm place do this in the fridge

14.Make the brine solution by adding 5½ tablespoons (82.5 ml) (95 gm) (3-1/3 oz.) of salt for every 20 fl oz. (590 ml) fluid whey and mix it, dissolving as much of the salt as you can.
15. Cut cheese into chunks, add to brine solution. Store in fridge. Eat. (Recipe said brine for 5 days... I wouldn't bother waiting that long before starting to eat.  If it is too salty, you can rinse the cheese to remove some brine, before serving.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dogfish Head: Midas Touch

Part beer, part mead, all good. Dogfish head have been making this one for a while, but it had been years since I had a bottle of it.  A friend of ours in Melbourne brought some to a dinner party one night, it was amazing, I hadn't seen it since.  The Hamilton Wine Company got some in, and was kind enough to hide a couple bottles so I could get them.  It is as good as I remember it.

What kind of beer is it? Hard to say. Honey and spices (saffron, they claim) make it meady, but it packs a punch at 9%, and is very easy to drink.  It has enough going on to keep the most snobbish of beer snobs interested, while not being too harsh for a casual drinker.