Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for February, 2010

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day (for real!)

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 27, 2010

The blogosphere is rife with praise for this painless method of bread making, which a monkey could master with success. I am also in the process of trying to switch my cooking practices to include more whole grains and have heard that whole wheat pastry flour is less dense and more palatable than regular whole wheat flour. So I was delighted to get on two bandwagons at once to produce a scrumptious bread made with wholewheat stone ground pastry flour mixed in with all purpose flour. The adjustments I made were all based on suggestions on Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois’ website. If this is how easy it is, I have to get their bread making books.

So here goes:

3 ½ cups all purpose flour (I used King Arther’s organic)
3 cups stone ground whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill: organic)
2 packets (1 1/2 tbs.) fast acting yeast
1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt (use less for regular salt)
3 1/4 cups water (this includes the ¼ cup I added to compensate for the high protein all purpose flour and the whole wheat flour I used; omit if simply using all purpose flour such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury).

In a 5 qt. plastic container with a lid, the yeast, salt and warm water (about 100˚F). Stir to mix. It does not have to be perfectly mixed. Then dump in all the flour. Mix so that no dry spots remain in your dough. Cover with the lid, but do not seal it (the gases have to escape). The mix should be fairly liquidy and not hold shape. Now walk away for 2 hours.

If you are going to use a pizza stone for baking, put your oven racks one in the center and the other on the lowest rung. Turn the oven to 450˚F an hour before you are ready to bake (I have an old oven, yours might do it in 20 min or so like it is supposed to). Put the stone on the center rung. The lower rung will hold a pan of water and together with the stone will yield a lovely crust.
Alternatively, if you want a less crusty bread that you will use for sandwiches etc. I would not bake this on a stone. Instead: put the dough in a buttered loaf pan for baking.

After 2 hours, the dough should have risen dramatically. Now you can either proceed to baking the bread or stick the dough in the fridge for upto 2 weeks. According the original authors, it is much easier to shape a loaf if you have refrigerated the dough, but I had no trouble at all. So try it both ways.

If you proceed to baking, sprinkle some dry flour on the flour surface, break off a hunk of the dough (about a fourth of the total amount) and using a floured surface, stretch and shape the dough into a smooth ball. This takes about a minute. Then let the bread rise for 40 min. You might consider putting your boule on a pizza peel with some sprinkled cornmeal on it to ease the loaf onto the stone. You can also use parchment to handle the loaf. I did neither and had no trouble.

If shaping into a loaf, butter a pan and shape a hunk of dough so that it touches all sides of the pan. Let it rise for 40 min.

Sprinkle the top of your loaf with flour. Then using a sharp serrated knife, cut slits in your bread, using a delicate sawing motion. Just before you pop the bread into the oven, place your broiling pan on the lowest shelf of the oven and add a cup of warm tap water to it. Then set your bread on the stone and bake for 20-30 min. I baked the boule for 30 min and I think that was just a touch over. Then I did the loaf for 20 min and it was much better. I think you might also have to adjust these times depending upon whether you are using a stone or not.

Note: I used the remainder of the dough this morning (a week after first making it). If you take the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest 60-90 min after shaping it into a loaf. Then bake for 30-35 min (this is longer than the time required for freshly made and used dough).

Posted in Breads | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Rice and Miso Breakfast Soup (Ojiya, sort of)

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 23, 2010

If you are like me and need a salt hit for breakfast, this Japanese rice and miso soup dish is for you. Once when a snowstorm hit Chicago and I could not return home, I stayed overnight with my friend Tomomi, who made this for breakfast. Her version contained instant dashi (Japanese fish stock) granules, a strip of nori (dried seaweed) and a nori, cayenne sesame seed spice mix whose name I have forgotten. I don’t particularly like the taste of seaweed or dashi, so I have made some alterations. This whole prep takes about 5 min. and is the ultimate comfort food.

1 cup precooked rice (short grain is what T used, but I use left over basmati)
1½ cup water
1 ½ tbs. red miso
A pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 egg (Use 2 eggs if you want a less brothy soup, as in the image, or replace with cubed soft tofu, if you prefer a vegan version)
1 tsp. scallions or cilantro, finely chopped for garnish

Boil water in a small saucepan. Separate the grains of rice so that the rice is not lumpy- this is easier if you microwave the rice for 1 min). Add the miso to the water. When the miso is fully dissolved, add the rice and the cayenne (if using). Turn the heat to medium low and let the rice come to a boil. Meanwhile, slightly beat the eggs in a measuring cup with a spout. Pour the egg on top of the simmering, blurbing-gurgling rice and swirl it (the egg) gently once or twice using a fork or chop sticks. Then allow the egg to set (without stirring) so that it forms delicate threads-1-2 min. If you are too vigorous, the egg will form clumps. This will taste just as good as the threads, so don’t worry. Adjust the salt, add the scallions or cilantro. Slurp it up.

Posted in Asian, Breakfast, vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Quick Tacos

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 21, 2010

Mexican food is a favorite in our house and these easy beef tacos make a rapid weekday dinner. The leftovers are easily taken for lunch rolled up in tortillas or leftover rice from another day. This really is quick: I use the Southwestern taco seasoning pouch made by Simply Organics, and 96% lean grass fed beef (both available at Whole Foods). In addition to being not much more fatty than chicken legs, this beef is moist and delicious. Its low fat content allows you to skip the step of rendering the fat from the beef before you start to cook with it.

Here is how you do it. Sauté the onions and tomatoes, then add the ground beef and the seasonings. When the meet is thoroughly cooked, add the cilantro. Warm the taco shells and fill with the meat and sprinkle your favorite cheese on top (I use the Organic Valley Mexican Blend, but any cheese will do). Occasionally, I melt the cheese by putting the tacos under a broiler for a minute or so (no longer, or else the shells get soggy or worse, burnt).

1 ½ lbs. 96% lean ground beef (this is enough for 12-15 tacos)
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped in the food processor
4 large tomatoes (any kind), finely chopped (pulsed) in the food processor
1 Simply Organic Southwestern Taco Seasoning Pouch (or any other brand of your choice)
Salt to taste (you may not need it).
½ cup cilantro
Grated cheese for garnish (however much you like).

Heat the oil and sauté the onions till soft, about 5 min. Then add the tomatoes and sauté till they lose some water and begin to caramelize a little, about 5 min. (Turn on the oven to 350˚F at this point). Then add the beef and the seasoning and mix till no lumps remain. Cook the beef till thoroughly browned- about 10 min. Taste and adjust the salt. Then add the cilantro. Heat the taco shells in the oven for 5 min, then fill with the beef and sprinkle cheese on top. Eat immediately.

Posted in Main Dishes, Meat, Mexican | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Curried Cauliflower with Potatoes (Gobhi Alu)

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 16, 2010

Have you any idea how delectable curried cauliflower can be? Although the cauliflower is naturally bland, it is a member of the mustard family and can be coaxed to taste mustardy when stir fried. In this Indian version, it is helped along with a bold infusion (tadka/temper) of mustard seeds, dry and fresh spice and nuts. The key flavors in this dish are the mustardiness of the cauliflower and the turmeric (good quality turmeric actually has a flavor- buy it in bulk at Whole Foods). Although the spices that go into Gobhi Alu differ across regions in India, most include either potatoes or peas to add a meaty contrast to the soft crunch of the cauliflower. Try it, you will never crave a cauliflower gratin again.

1 head cauliflower
2 large Yukon gold potatoes microwaved till just done and coarsely cubed.
½ tsp minced ginger
3 tbs. vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
10-15 curry leaves (omit if you cannot find these; available at all Indian grocery stores)
10-15 cashew nuts
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika (optional)
1 dried cayenne pepper broken into 3 pieces (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt or to taste
1-2 tbs. water

Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork or sharp knife and microwave for 10 min. till just done. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Heat the oil in a large wok till smoking, then add the ginger, mustard seeds, curry leaves, whole cayenne peppers and cashew nuts. Stir until fragrant, about 1-2 min. Then add the cauliflower and mix to coat the cauliflower with the spices and oil. Then add the turmeric, salt, paprika and mix again so that the spices are evenly distributed. Cover the wok with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 15-20 min, stirring often. If the cauliflower starts to stick too much to the wok, add a little water, one tablespoon at a time to prevent sticking. If you add too much water, the cauliflower will have a steamed rather than a fried taste- so add as little water as necessary. Add the potatoes, mix again till the potatoes pick up the turmeric and turn yellow. Cook for a few minutes longer, so that the potatoes and cauliflower caramelize a little. When done, the potatoes should be soft and slightly browned, while the cauliflower should be slightly crunchy and also browned. Taste and adjust the salt. Serve with rice or any flatbread.

A word about woks: not all are created equal. A thin-walled cast iron wok that heats really quickly works best. Here is one that I like. You will also need a wok ring. Together the wok and ring should cost less than $ 20.

Posted in Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian | 4 Comments »

Chocolate Pudding

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 14, 2010

I am in the middle of reviewing grants and needed a break- nothing too distracting, just a little something. My mind weighed 2 options, a Jon Stewart episode or a quick pudding. The pudding won out. I surfed and found a recipe that looked like it would work. But it required using a double boiler- not right for the mandated small break. Then I got to thinking that if you could make truffles by boiling cream and chocolate, why couldn’t you make chocolate pudding this way? Well, you can and my whole break lasted about 15 min.

Chocolate Pudding (adapted from an adaptation by Smitten Kitchen)

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole or 2% milk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces ( I used Ghirardelli)
2 ounces dark unsweetened chocolate , broken into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Break the chocolate to bits by hand in a small bowl and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together (excluding the chocolate) in a small bowl. Pour the milk into a medium sized, heavy bottom pan and whisk in the dry ingredients making sure that no lumps remain. Turn the stove to medium (or medium low) and whisk near continuously till the pudding just begins to thicken. This took less than 10 min at medium heat. Turn the heat to low and add the chocolate. Continue to whisk till all the chocolate melts and the pudding is silky smooth-about 2-3 min. Turn off the stove and whisk in the vanilla extract. Eat immediately or refrigerate for a couple hours before serving. If you don’t like pudding-skin, place some plastic wrap on the pudding surface. I hate using plastic unnecessarily, so I don’t bother.

Posted in Dessert, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

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