Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pita Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
333 grams warm water
1 teaspoon salt
420 grams bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon olive oil

In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir to blend. Let the yeast stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the salt. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough gathers into a ball; this should take about 4 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it's smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Place a large pizza stone (or inverted cookie sheet) on the lower oven rack, preheat the oven (and stone) to 500 degrees F.
Punch the dough down, divide it into 8 pieces, and gather each piece into a ball; keeping all of them lightly floured and covered while you work. Allow the balls of dough to rest, covered, for 15 minutes so they will be easier to roll out.
Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a circle that is about 8-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Make sure the circle is totally smooth, with no creases or seams in the dough, which can prevent the pitas from puffing up properly. Cover the disks as you roll them out, but do not stack them up. Put 2 pita rounds at a time on the hot pizza stone and bake for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread puffs up like a balloon and is pale golden. Watch closely; they bake fast. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes; they will naturally deflate, leaving a pocket in the center. Wrap the pitas in a large kitchen towel to keep them soft

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/pita-bread-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey's recipe


  • 430 g cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1 g instant yeast
  • 12 g salt
  • 345 g  water
  •  Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
  • Preparation

  • Step One

    1. In the large stainless steel bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

    1. Step Two

    1. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
    2. Step Three
    3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a bowl with oil; put dough seam side down in bowl and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with a cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
    4. Step Four
    5. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a heavy cast iron covered pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Dump the bowl containing the dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Peter Reinhart's Bagels

Adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Yield: 12

1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour (see note below)
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar 

TO FINISH (on Day 2):
1 teaspoon soda ash OR 1 tablespoon brown sugar/barley malt syrup per quart of water for boiling the bagels (if using soda ash, add carefully to boiling water)

Two sheet pans covered with greased parchment paper

1.     To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly (I set my on the water heater). It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
2.     To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough.
3.     Using the dough hook, knead the dough for 6 minutes on setting 2 of the Kitchen Aid mixer. Remove the dough and knead by hand until the dough passes the window pane test. (The resulting dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 71 degrees F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.)
4.     Once the dough passes the window pane test, knead your add-ins into the dough by hand.
5.     Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces for standard bagels. Form the pieces into rolls.
6.     Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
7.     Proceed with shaping the bagels. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter (half of this for a mini-bagel). The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots).
8.     Place each of the shaped pieces into the cupcake carrier. When all the bagels have been shapped, put the lid on the container and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
9.     Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test.” Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

1.     When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a rack set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the soda ash/brown sugar/barley malt syrup.Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
2.     Remove HALF (see Note 2) the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit. Note: I only boil the bagels for a minute at most. I have found that the longer I boil a bagel, the more soggy, deflated it gets afterwards. 
3.     Place boiled bagels onto tea towels to drain. Sprinkle with additional toppings if desired.
4.     Place your first six bagels on the sheet pans lined with grease parchment, and place the pan on the middle rack. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees. After rotating, lower oven temperature to 425 and bake for another 8 minutes or until the bagels turn a light golden brown. (In the meantime, prepare the remaining 6 bagels)
5.     Let bagels cool for at least 15 minutes.

Note: I substitute the high-gluten flour with 24 grams of vital wheat gluten mixed into KA unbleached bread flour.

Note 2: I have found that if the bagel dough gets too warm while waiting to be boiled, it puffs up and then deflates. I have also found that I like baking the bagels one tray at a time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


2 cups flour
4 T butter (cold and cut into bits)
1/4 cup shortening or lard (cold and cut into bits)
1 t salt
1/4 cup ice water

In a food processor, combine flour, fats, and salt.  Pulse ingredients until well combined and add water, one tablespoon at a time to form a dough.  Toss mixture until it forms a ball.  Kneed dough lightly against a smooth surface with heel of the hand to distribute fat evenly.  Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll each piece into a 10-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Chill the pastry rounds for 30 minutes.

1 lb skirt steak, ground in food processor
4.5 oz diced onions
4 oz diced carrots (about a cup)
3.5 oz diced rutabaga
1 cup diced potato
1 1/3 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Combine all of the filling ingredients except the butter. Place filling on half of each round. Place a butter pat on top of each filling pile. Moisten the edges and fold the unfilled half over the filling to enclose it.  Pinch the edges together to seal them and crimp them decoratively with a fork.  Transfer pasty to silicone mat/parchment paper, and cut several slits in the top.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel, cool for 15 minutes.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles

One Quart

3-4 pickling cucumbers
1 1/2 cups vinegar (use half ACV and half white distilled vinegar)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled 
Pinc of crushed red pepper per jar (3/4 teaspoons total)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns or a pinch of fresh ground pepper

Wash and slice the cucumbers.

In a large saucepot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.

Arrange jar(s) on counter and dole out the spices to each. Pack the cucumber slices firmly into the jars. You don't want to damage the cukes, but you do want them packed tight.

Pour the brine into the jar, leaving approximately ½ inch headspace.

Tap jars gently on countertop to dislodge any trapped air bubbles.

Apply lids and let jars cool. When they've returned to room temperature, place jars in refrigerator. Let them sit for at least 48 hours before eating. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Old Camp Coffee Percolator

This poor old coffee percolator needed some TLC.
The outside was stained with what I imagine was years of delicious camp breakfasts fried up next to it:
The inside was nearly black:
"Buzz, your basket! Woof!"
First, I worked on the inside by percolating a water and baking soda mixture. This is what the water looked like afterward:
Disgusting, right?! So, I thought I'd percolate another batch of baking soda soup. It wasn't quite as bad that second time around, but that water is still a bit too gross for me:
Next, I percolated a 50/50 mixture of water and distilled vinegar. I didn't see a visible difference, so I can't say if it actually did anything. 
After all of that, it was time for some elbow grease. Using just baking soda and water, I scrubbed everything nook and cranny I could get my fat little paws into. Things started looking really spiffy! Well, except for the rag I used--that turned from white to black pretty quickly.
Here are the results:

Next, I need to learn how to use this puppy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our Chuck Box...No, Not THAT Chuck

Here's a look into my make-shift chuck box.
I've played with it, and it was fun! However, I have no clue how well it's going to work in The Real Outdoors.
To function as a camp kitchen, the footlocker has to be laid as such:

In this way, the lid can be used as work space. ...First, however, I need to secure it with some jack chain, like the lid in this Boy Scout patrol box:

placed four screw eyes: 
Now I just need to purchase some jack chain, and I will--theoretically--be all set.
Okay, now it's time to pack 'er up for a pretend camping trip!
I placed some screw eyes in the bottom of the box, so I can secure liquids with a bungee cord:
Next, I purchased a 12x24 camp grill for 10 bucks. It fits nicely in the bottom:

Now it's time for the dishpans, plates, bowls, mixing bowl, and cutting boards:

We can't forget our camp mugs for camp coffee!

And our mess kit and spatula:

There is still a decent amount of room left for another item or two, such as a frying pan, dutch oven, or percolator. Unfortunately, there's not enough room for all of those things, but that's really okay. I don't think I would be able to lift the box with all that stuff in there.

And now we are left with the two trays that rest on the top of the box. I created some dividers within the trays using paint stirrers that I "cemented" in with wood glue:

In go the trays...

The trays are even deep enough for me to add a second layer:

And, when we get to camp, we will unpack the box and put it in position (that is the one drawback of my improvised chuck box--we can't just open it up and go to work). 

Our handy-dandy trays will set on "top."

Inside the box, we have room to set supplies:

And extra work space!

Now the hard part...we have to wait until August to use it.