Friday, April 16, 2021

Finally Posting...With An Olive Oil Wreath


I know it's been a long time since I posted, but the garden has been calling me, plus I've been hard at work on the farmhouse, painting trim. One day soon the extra bedroom/office will be finished, but there is still much to do. Maya left Charlie a beautiful maple desk, but it is in need of some TLC of the glue and clamp variety, plus some cleaning and waxing before it can be used for an office desk. We also walk our dog most mornings near the Laguna de Santa Rosa. These cows graze right by the walking path. Very bucolic!



Anyway, enough excuses! Today we have a beautiful bread, selected by Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, our Bread Baking Babes Kitchen of the Month...say that quickly three times! The Olive Oil Wreath is from Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber. The Della Fattoria store is in downtown Petaluma, a short jaunt from here. Their bread is wonderful! For this recipe you start by making a biga...a fairly stiff one as it turns out. I decided to use some sourdough starter for part of the biga to get added flavor and it worked. The dough was easy to work with and the bread was delicious. On a side note, I sent a small jar of my starter to Phoenix with my daughter after her visit and she fed it for a few weeks, then made an outstanding simple sourdough loaf...great crust and perfect crumb and good rise. Another sourdough fan is born.

The shaping of this wreath is fun. You form a snake of dough, set it in a circle and pinch the ends together, then let it rise. The puffy circle is then cut with scissors into epi' sections, with each cut piece alternately put toward the center or the outside to form the wreath. I shaped mine on a piece of parchment sitting on a bread peel so that I could slide the parchment right onto the preheated cast iron grill that I was using for baking. That way I had a very nice crust on the bottom, too.




Do try this lovely bread. Use the best olive oil you can find because you do taste it in the bread. If you want to be a Bread Baking Buddy, be sure to send the URL of your post, plus a photo of your bread to our Kitchen of the Month and Karen will include you in the round-up and send you a Buddy Badge. Check her post for the date to have it to her by.

Also I encourage you to visit the other Bread Baking Babes to see what they did with their wreaths!




Olive Oil Wreath

Makes 1 large wreath
from Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber. 

 Biga
83 g 100% hydration sourdough starter
42 g all-purpose flour
1.5 g (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast

 Stir all together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean shower cap and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours. Use 1o0 g of the biga for the wreath. Remaining 109 g can be reserved for another use in the fridge.

 

The Wreath

100 g of the Biga (above)
285 g tepid water (75-80 degrees F/24 - 27 degrees C)
60 g olive oil, extra virgin if possible
10 g instant yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
500 g all-purpose flour
15 g fine gray salt

 Put the biga in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the water, olive oil, and yeast and mix on low speed until the biga is broken up and the mixture appears frothy, about 30 seconds.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the biga mixture and mix on low speed for 3 minutes to combine. Remove the paddle attachment and scrape dough off paddle into bowl. Scrape down sides of bowl with a bowl scraper. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. (I stirred some in - about 1 cup - with a wooden spoon, then mixed in the rest at the lowest setting for about a minute, then switched to the dough hook and gradually added the remaining flour, then let the dough hook knead the dough another 5 minutes.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, scraping all the dough out of the bowl with a dough scraper. Knead a few times. Spray a dough bowl or other rising container lightly with oil (I use spray olive oil), add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean shower cap. Let rise until doubled in bulk about 1-2 hours.

 Turn the dough back out onto a floured work surface and deflate the dough. Gather up the edges and preshape the dough into a ball. Flip the ball and place it seam side down on the work surface. Push the dough against the work surface in a circular motion to tighten the top. Pull the dough toward you to elongate the dough into an oval and let rest for 10 minutes. 

 Shape the dough into a 1 1/2 inch by 42 inch long piece. To do this, turn the dough over, seam side up and pull the dough into a rectangle shape. Wrap the longer sides over each other like an envelope. Gently rock the dough with your hands to elongate the dough. Let it rest for about 10 minutes if the dough resists. 

 Prepare a 14 inch cast iron pan, pizza pan, or large cookie sheet with spray oil. (You can also use good quality parchment paper and a pizza peel to directly transfer the loaf to the baking stone as I did.) Gently place the dough on the pan or parchment and form it into a circle, overlapping the ends. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and set the dough in a warm spot and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it passes the finger dent test. 

 In the meantime, heat your oven, with a rack on the lowest level with a steam pan, and a rack in the middle above the steam pan and fitted with a baking stone if you have one. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

 Using scissors, cut partially through the dough at a 45 degree angle from the top and move the cut dough to one side. Cut almost but not all of the way through. Continue to make more cuts, every 3 inches, and move the cut dough pieces to alternating sides until you go around the wreath. Don't cut from the sides, cut from the top. 

Place the pan or parchment (using a peel) with the shaped dough onto the stone and add 1 cup of ice cubes to the steamer pan. Immediately close the oven door and reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. 

 Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. 

 Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and let cool slightly before serving. 


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Blogging in 2018 at FME

Yes, that's Feeding My Enthusiasms...I used to use FME as the starting letters of any saved photo I planned on using on the blog. Now I just file them under the year and if they are savory or sweet.

2018 - most of the months had between six and eight posts, right around normal, except for November, which had 30 since I decided to do the challenge where you write something every day in November, this time with a theme of food memories. So you could just go straight to November and have a whole bunch of recipes and links to recipes! Of note is the fact that in early January the blog hit the million pageviews mark. It took a bit over 12 years to get there. Now we are up to one million, three hundred nineteen thousand five hundred forty pageviews in an additional three year, plus a few months. Guess it will take about another 12 years from the first million to the second million.

Since I'm still baking with the Bread Baking Babes, we'll start with bread from 2018. The Bread Baking Babes celebrated our 10th Anniversary in February by baking the Royal Crown Tortano that was baked the first year. 



Some other BBB delights include Tartine Polenta Artisan Bread,



and Red Pepper Coques with an alternate topping that has figs and walnuts instead of red pepper and pine nuts (although I did both toppings as you can see),




  Lariano Style Bread for those with Sourdough Madness (which happened to some well before the pandemic!), 


and Egg Bagels which were delicious but not my favorite version of bagels. 


Some sweet ones including perfect-for-tea Singing Hinnies (which you really must check out to see why they have that name) and


Baked Yeasted Currant Doughnuts. 



I also made some delicious quick breads including Almond and Fresh Raspberry Muffins 


and classic Blueberry Muffins


Last, but not least, is the post in November where I'm exploring food memories...as I do throughout most of November and this time I posted my Dad's recipe for Sunday White Bread.



Since I'm still baking cake with the Cake Slice Bakers, let's see what cakes I posted in 2018. While we were baking from the Perfect Cake book I didn't include recipes. I'm thinking of going back to add them, but that might no happen by the time this look at 2018 gets posted. Probably my favorite is the Queen Mother Cake with Cherries, a flourless chocolate cake enriched with cherries and enrobed in a deep chocolate ganache...sooo good. 


Continuing with the chocolate flavor, we have Chocolate Beet Cupcakes, which were so good I didn't need frosting, 



plus an old fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake with a 'pudding' base which was delicious, although the frosting wasn't - too sweet. 


Two other cakes I enjoyed were the Gateau Breton from Brittany 


and the Lemon Sheet Cake which feeds a crowd.



Pies, tarts and cobblers are always enjoyed, especially by Sweetie and there were a few memorable ones this year. My favorite was the Frangipane Apricot Tart with complementary flavors of apricot and almond. 



Sweetie really enjoyed the Spiced Apple Caramel Pie baked in a cast iron skillet. 


Then there was the Rhubarb-Strawberry 
Streusel Pie that had the different parts cooked and baked at different times, then put together. It was awesome. 



Last, but not least we had a delicious
Blackberry Cobbler in the summer when the berries were ripe.



Before we leave Sweets, let me share some great cookies of 2018. There are two kinds of Blondie bar cookies - Mixed-up Blondes with 2 full cups of sweet and salty mix-ins, 



and darker Dusky Blondes with coffee in them. Both are well worth making. 



Three cookies are classics - Zingerman's Oatmeal Cookies



Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies with Nuts 



and Jana's Almond Biscotti

For our gluten free friends, here is a wonderful cookie that everyone will love - Gluten-Free Chocolate-Dipped Almond Cookies.



Because I love quiches, I want to share the Chicken and Broccoli Quiche 



and also the Crostata that wasn't a quiche but had similar mealtime qualities and boasted two fillings - a chicken filling on one half and a sausage filling on the other half.



Entrees and veggie side dishes are always fun to try. In 2018 after I visited Kate in LA and tried Jerk Pork in the InstaPot, I decided to try making it at home as a braise in the oven. Slower but just as delicious.


While I was visiting, we also made Baked Salmon, seasoned with Kate's favorite Penzey spice mix.



Kate and I met Kayla for brunch near the beach and  up the coast and I really enjoyed the lentil dish they served for brunch. It came with an egg in it and I made something similar once I returned home; Lentil and Tomato Stew with Eggs and Spinach.


Another main dish that is great in the cooler months is Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Herbs. I like to serve them with mashed potatoes to soak up the flavorful juices.



Sometimes I try to get more vegetables into the main dish and that works well in Yam and Pork and Veggie Hash.


During the warmer months Sweetie likes to cook out back on the BBQ grill. This Shrimp BBQ with Citrus Marinade was delicious.



In November as I was writing about food memories, I did one post on oysters, particularly Fried Oysters. This recipe is the family one as improved upon by my brother Phil and his sons.



Another food memory was of making Hot Cocoa from scratch, using Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, salt, water, milk and vanilla. It's still my favorite cocoa, although now I use soy milk.


Breakfast treats include fresh Strawberry Tartines. 


This recipe uses ricotta cheese, but you can also use Zesty Lemon Curd Trust me, it's worth the effort to make it yourself - you end up with a silky, deep yellow, tangy, sweet but not too sweet spoonful of deliciousness. You can use it so many ways, too, including as a filling for cakes, tarts and macarons.



You can also use Quince Jelly to fill cakes or doughnuts or slathered on toast. Finding the fresh quince is the challenge, but sometimes you can find them at the farmers market.




Last of all I'm linking to the recipe for Non-Dairy Pesto. You really don't need cheese to have a delicious pesto!


If you have enjoyed these links to posts with recipes, feel free to visit the blog and explore other posts, too. You'll find lots more yummy recipes in the 2018 posts. Nice food photos, too, including the one of sliced tomatoes at the top of the post.



Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Asparagus Tart For Spring


One of my favorite early spring foods is asparagus. Those bright green spears not only taste delicious, but their green color welcomes the season. Right now where we live they are also fairly inexpensive. If that is true for you, too, then you might want to make this tart for a meal, even for Easter. The only part that takes any real time is caramelizing the onion. The rest is quick and easy if you use store-bought puff pastry.

We had our tart for dinner along with some lamb chops that our neighbor gifted us with. Both of those foods are spring time treats for me. Now we only need our strawberry stand on Hwy 12 to open and I'll be a happy camper.



Asparagus Tart with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Serves 4-6    An original Elle recipe

1 large yellow onion, peeled, ends removed, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup ricotta cheese (I used Kite Hill almond milk ricotta)
1 medium to large egg
grated zest from half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farm)
2 slices bacon, cooked until crisp (can be done in the microwave using scrunched paper towels above and below)
6-8 fresh asparagus stalks, washed, dried and trimmed
egg wash (1 egg combined with 1 tablespoon water)

In a large skillet caramelize the onions in the olive oil by cooking them slowly, stirring often, over medium-low heat, until the onions are golden brown or a been deeper brown. There will be leftovers for another use. Once cooked, remove from pan, spread out on a plate, and cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Set aside.

On a baking sheet place a piece of parchment paper or foil or a Silpat silicone mat. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Sprinkle a clean work surface lightly with flour and spread it to a thin layer. Open the thawed puff pastry to one layer on that prepared surface. Use a sharp knife to cut a one-inch strip off the puff pastry on two facing sides. Dampen that edge in for an inch with water, then place the cut strip on top. You will have a rectangle with facing ends that have an extra layer one-inch wide and the opposite facing ends without.


Spread the ricotta cheese mixture in an even layer between the two built up ends. Using a small offset spatula works well. Leave about an inch without cheese at the un-built up ends, too. Place about 1/3 cup cooled caramelized onion on top of the cheese mixture, spreading it as evenly as possible. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle evenly over the onion. Place the asparagus in a row, starting at one of the raised ends and finishing at the other raised edge. Brush some egg wash, using a pastry brush, on top of the raised edges and at the exposed ends of the other sides, being careful to not let the egg run down the sides.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree F. oven until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm.