Sunday, October 25, 2009

Swedish Rye Bread

I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while but never have rye flour on hand.

The original recipe, from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, called for 1/2 cup molasses. I don't have it on hand and didn't want to go buy a bottle just for this recipe. Strangely enough, The Spouse (who has been trying his hand at brewing beer) brought home a large bag of barley malt. So I made the executive decision to try subbing the barley for the molasses. I think it made for a faster rise time for the sponge (either that or the fact that my stove has been running for hours on other projects) and the initial rise, so that's something to be aware of. I listed the times I used for the bread in the recipe below.

Swedish Rye Bread

1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water, divided
1 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup barley malt
1/4 cup organic sugar
5 cups rye flour, divided
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp salt
1 cup unbleached flour

To make the sponge:
Combine the scalded milk, barley and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm.

Combine the yeast and 1/2 cup of the warm water in a very large bowl. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the milk mixture and remaining 1 1/2 cups of water. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of the rye flour and beat for 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk - about 2 hours.

To make the bread:
Add the butter, caraway seeds and salt to the sponge. Beat vigorously, gradually adding all the unbleached flour and enough of the rye flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bow - about 10 minutes.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk - about 1 hour.

Grease two loaf pans. Punch dough down and add to loaf pans. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Place pans in the oven and bake 45 minutes or until done. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cranberry-Orange-Ginger Muffins

The Spouse went for a run this morning so I thought I'd make a nice breakfast for when he got back. I pulled up this recipe and thought "Perfect!"

Except I only had 1 cup white flour, no orange to zest, no walnuts and no cooking spray. Clearly I need to go to the store today.

So, what follows is a slightly modified, perhaps healthier(?) version of what I started with.

Cranberry-Orange-Ginger Muffins

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries, drained, juice reserved
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 tbsp butter for greasing

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level with a knife. Set aside 1 tablespoon sugar. Combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

Combine orange juice, reserved cranberry juice, oil, egg and ginger in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.

Lightly grease muffin tin with butter; spoon in the batter. Sprinkle evenly with reserved sugar. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Carefully remove each muffin; place on a wire rack.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

Fall is here. The last two mornings we've woken up to frost on the grass and below freezing temps. The garden is pretty much officially done as a result - the collards can stand the freezing temps (if anything, they help improve them), but the rest is either compost or needs to be brought in soon.

So, in honor of fall, we had a tasty, hearty meal - braised country-style ribs finished in the crockpot.

This was also my first attempt at homemade polenta, which was fabulous. A bit fussy, what with the constant stirring, but I see much potential in the future.

Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

4 country-style pork ribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon each of chopped parsley, oregano and rosemary
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups Zinfandel
3/4 cup beef broth
Creamy Polenta

Season the ribs with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the herbs.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a medium nonreactive roasting pan. Working in two batches, add the ribs to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning a few times, until richly browned, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer the ribs to the crockpot.

Add the onion, carrot and celery to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and beef broth and boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour the liquid and vegetables over the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours until the meat is very tender.

Transfer the ribs to a plate. Run the braising liquid thru a fat separator, reserving the vegetables. Transfer the liquid to a medium skillet and boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 3 minutes; add vegetables back in. Plate the polenta, add one rib per plate, and spoon sauce and vegetables over the ribs and polenta. Serve immediately.

Wine pairing: we had a merlot/malbec blend with this.

Creamy Polenta

2 tbsp butter
1 large shallot, minced
3 cups water
1 cup corn meal
1 cup water
2 tbsp mozzarella cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in butter and swirl pan until melted. Add shallot and sautee until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil.

Combine 1 cup water and corn meal. Gradually add to boiling water; reduce heat to low. Stir constantly for 20-25 minutes until thickened and meal pulls away from the side of the pan when stirred. Add in salt to taste. Stir in mozzarella cheese; remove from heat. Plate.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Herb Focaccia

This is another recipe from the Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, only modified so there's no hand-kneading. Some days I just like to let the Kitchen-Aid take care of it.

Herb Focaccia

2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
various dried herbs (I used freshly dried oregano and rosemary from the garden)

Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl, stirring until yeast is dissolved. set aside for 5 minutes.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle of the flour. Pour yeast mixture into well and beat gently until incorporated into flour. Remove bowl from mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free place for 20 minutes.

Punch down dough. Replace bowl in mixer and beat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk - 1-2 hours. Punch down dough. Replace in mixing bowl and gently beat in olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs.

Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Turn dough out onto baking sheet and knead out to corners of the sheet until about 1/4" thick. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk - about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick the surface with a fork and sprinkle with salt and pepper and more herbs. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 375. Bake another 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Autumn Harvest

Things in our household are very crazy right now. It's autumn, which means, aside from our full-time jobs, we're focused with harvesting the garden and putting food aside, which tends to translate to little time for blogging. I do have several new recipes - a coffee-marinated pork loin, herb foccacia, a mexican-style white-bean soup and more, so stay tuned! I promise to try and get them posted over the next few days.

But until I can get to writing all that up, here's a harvest poem. Happy fall!

"Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields,
The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
And you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring"