Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Carrot Salad and New Blogger

First, about the new Blogger...I'm not sure that I can stand learning this new version. I had to revert to the old version to do this post since I couldn't figure out how to do a new post! It may be that when using the old version goes away in late August that new posts will go away, too. The already written posts will stay up, but who knows if I have the bandwidth to learn the new version by then. I'm currently learning the ins and outs of Zoom so that I can be a host for two of my P.E.O. scholarship groups when they need to meet. That may end up being all the learning of tech stuff that I can handle. It's been a great run on Blogger...since fall of 2006! Fourteen years is probably enough.

Still, I have until late August to learn the new version, so maybe I'll keep going...come back in late August and find out.

Today the recipe is a lovely Shredded Carrot Salad with Orange and Pine Nuts. It's from the cookbook of Michael Volpatt, co-founder of Big Bottom Market in Sonoma County. I found it one Wednesday in June in the food section of the Press Democrat. That section of the paper has improved so much during the pandemic! Not sure why, but happy that they are concentrating less on wine and more on food.

This refreshing carrot salad makes 6 servings as a side dish and is a great, fresh dish to go with barbequed foods so ubiquitous in summer. If I were to make it for the rest of the year I think I would add some spices.  It keeps for a couple of days, too, so make the full recipe and you'll have leftovers for a nice lunch salad.

I used a bunch of organic carrots from the market that came with tops. I cut off the tops and fed them to the sheep. The carrots themselves were washed and rubbed to remove dirt, and then the top part that was greenish and the tail ends were trimmed before I shredded them all in the food processor.

Before I juiced the lemon, I made zest strips from the peel and added about two teaspoons of them because zest always brightens up dishes. I really enjoyed the citrus zing of the combined juices and the crunch of the carrots and nuttiness of the pine nuts... may have used more than 1/4 cup since I love pine nuts! This salad goes with lots of other foods. Give it a try!

Shredded Carrot Salad with Orange and Pine Nuts

1 1/2 pounds of carrots, cleaned, tops removed, shredded
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt

Prepare the carrots by cleaning, peeling if desired, removing the tops and tails and shredding. You should have about 4 cups. A food processor works well for shredding this many carrots.

Place the shredded carrots in a bowl with the orange, lemon, (lemon zest, too, if using), and salt. Allow to marinate 10-30 minutes, stirring once.

Dry toast the pine nuts in a heavy frying pan, or heat the olive oil and saute the pine nuts, stirring constantly, until golden. Just before serving, toss the nuts with the carrots.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Lentil Salad For Hot Weather

Mid-July is a good time to beef up the recipe list for warm weather. Although we are having morning fog now, so no heat wave, I know that hot weather will be coming in the weeks and months to come.

A really great dish to have on hand is lentil salad. It's great at room temperature by itself, or layered over salad greens and tomatoes as I did yesterday for lunch, or folded into a stuffing for zucchini or bell peppers, along with rice or quinoa and some extra seasonings.

You start by cooking rinsed lentils in water, with the addition of onion, bay leaf, and pepper. Once cooked just until tender, you mix the drained lentils with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings. I like to add the lentils while they are still warm because I think that helps with them soaking up the dressing. I also like to stir the mixture about every hour for a few hours and then cover the salad and let it sit on the counter overnight. This allows the flavors to meld nicely.

Although I did cook the lentils with a ham hock, you can also make them without it and then it's a vegan dish. The recipe calls for bacon, too, but I skipped it and didn't miss it a bit.

Do try this great summertime dish. It's perfect for a picnic since it doesn't need refrigeration. It supplies protein and lots of fiber and plenty of flavor. Enjoy!

Lentil Salad
based on a recipe by Alton Brown

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
(the above three ingredients can be replaced with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt (kosher salt if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground is best)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 recipe Basic Cooked Lentils (see recipe below)
2 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled, and crumbled (or more, to taste - optional)

Whisk the vinegars, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, parsley and thyme together in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm lentils and bacon and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you will be serving this much later, save the bacon in a zip-lock bag and add it 1/2 hour or so before serving. (That way the bacon stays crisp.)

Basic Cooked Lentils
1 pound brown or green lentils, approximately 2 1/2 cups
1 small onion, halved
1 large clove garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound salt pork, optional
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pick over the lentils, rinse and drain. Place the lentils along with the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pork into a large 6-quart saucepan and cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Place over high heat and bring just to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and discard the onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt pork. Stir in black pepper and taste for salt. Serve immediately or use in Lentil Salad.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Torpedo Rolls With The Babes

July is always a challenging time to be a Bread Baking Babe because there are usually hot spells that make it unlikely that I'm going to be all jolly about heating up my kitchen to bake bread. This month was no exception, but fortunately I found a brief window with cooler temperatures and made the bread. It did mean that I used the fridge some to get the timing right and I baked the rolls in the evening when it had cooled down some. Sweetie ate one while it was barely warm...I think it was about 10 pm...and he pronounced it delicious.

Our Kitchen of the Month, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, chose delicious Mexican Sourdough Rolls, or Birotes Salados, for our July bread.

She says," Birotes Salados are Guadalajaran, or Tapatio, which is what Guadalajarans call themselves. The bread is used for Tortas Ahogadas, which are sandwiches made with carnitas, pickled onions, refried beans, and two sauces, one for spicing things up, and one for drowning/dunking the entire sandwich."

You start with some sourdough starter (if you don't already have one, you can create your own first - with the pandemic, there are lots of places on the internet to find out how to do that...just Google sourdough starter!), make an expanded starter, then use a portion of that for the actual dough. I used the remainder of the expanded starter the next day to make sourdough waffles and they were delicious!

Back to the rolls. These have beer as well as the sourdough starter. I used Corona because that's what we had on hand. With the pandemic we have tried to use what's on hand as much as possible since most grocery shopping is being done by our kind neighbors.

 It's kinda fun to make the dough because you mix it up with your hands, squishing the more solid and the more liquid elements together...sort of like making mud pies as a kid, and then do the stretch and fold, returning the dough ball to the bowl a few times, with spaces of time in between. Eventually you will see the dough turn into a smooth mass.

Karen has a suggested timeline. The rolls take 20-30 minutes to bake. Here is the rest:
10:00 am - Feed your starter to wake it up. If your starter is already very active, you can skip this step.

8:00 pm - Prepare the final feed of your starter and let it rest at room temperature overnight.

Day 2:
8:00 am - Mix and knead your final dough, including a few stretches and folds.
9:15 am - Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled.
11:15 am - Shape the rolls and let them proof until puffy.
12:30 pm - Score and bake the rolls.

Of course this is an approximate timeline since the conditions in your kitchen/home can make it take longer or, a bit, shorter. If you use the fridge to store the dough between any one of the steps it will take longer but you'll be able to heat up the oven and bake when it is least likely to overheat your home.

I really enjoyed these rolls, although I didn't make the traditional sandwiches. The crumb was somewhat airy and mine were nicely moist, but not too moist. Because I was baking them on a preheated baking stone with an overturned foil roasting pan over to create a mini-oven, I had to bake these in my regular oven, unlike what I bake in my counter top high-end convection oven. I rarely get a good crust or deep brown color in my big oven unless I dry things out, so my rolls weren't as crusty nor brown as I would like, but that meant that they weren't bone dry, nor did they need to be dunked, either.

I filled them with pulled pork and coleslaw...non traditional but delicious. The rolls also were fine split and toasted and spread with non-dairy butter. I liked the slight saltiness of them, too.

If you'd like to be a Buddy, bake these and post about them by July 29th, then send Karen an email with a short description of your bake and a photo. She'll send you a badge.

Be sure to check out the other Babes to see what their birotes look like. Stay safe and healthy!

Birotes Salados - Mexican Sourdough Rolls

Wake Up Feed for Your Starter

200 grams (7 ounces) sourdough starter. Because you will be feeding it twice, it doesn't matter what hydration it is to begin with.
200 grams (1 1/2 cups) all-purposed flour
120 grams (1/2 cup) lukewarm water (90 degrees F)

Mix the "wake up feed" in a clean bowl with your fingers, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and let ferment for 8 to 10 hours.

Final Feed

20 grams (1 tablespoon) of the "wake up feed"
270 grams (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) of all-purpose flour
175 grams (3/4 cup) Mexican lager beer (I used Modelo)

Mix the final feed ingredients with your hand until well incorporated. Cover and let ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

Final Dough

430 grams (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
20 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar
18 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon) salt
All of the starter
212 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) water

Extra flour for dusting

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or dough rising bucket. Divide the starter into small pieces and add it to the dry ingredients. Add the water and blend everything together with your hands. "Stir, squeeze, and pinch" the dough ingredients together until the dough comes together. You can use your dough scraper to help incorporate everything. This process should take about 2 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and stretch, fold, and flip the dough about 5 times.

Form the dough into a rough ball and place it back into the bowl. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough, seam side up, onto the surface. Gently flatten the dough into a 2 inch thick circle. Stretch and fold the dough from all four "sides."

Flip the dough over and form it into a ball, return it to the bowl, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Repeat the stretch-and-fold process three more times at 15 minute intervals.

After the final stretch and fold, place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface with the smooth side down. Gently flatten until the dough is about 2 inches thick. Gently stretch and fold one side of the dough about half way over the dough. Turn the dough, and repeat from all four "sides."

Flip the dough over, seam side down, and form the dough into a ball.

Return the ball to the bowl, seam side up, and cover until doubled, about an hour.

Lightly flour your work surface.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces, about 150 grams each. Form each piece into a ball. Press each ball into a rough rectangle and then fold fold each "side" over each other to create a cylinder. Using your hands, roll each cylinder back and forth until you have an eight inch long roll with tapered ends.

Heat your oven to 475 degrees F with a baking stone and steam pan.

Place the rolls, seam side up, side-by-side lengthwise, between the folds of a couche or flour dusted tea towel to proof. Cover with plastic wrap or another towel for about 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy and airy, but not doubled.

You will probably need to bake these in two batches unless you have two ovens.

Place the risen rolls onto parchment paper on top of a pizza peel, seam side down with space in between. Add 2 cups of boiling water to your steam pan and close the oven door to let it get steamy.

Score the rolls with a sharp knife or lame the length of the roll down the center with the blade at an angle.

Place the loaves on the stone, along with the parchment, and close the oven door. If you like, you can also spray the oven with more water to get it extra steamy.

Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes. They should be deep golden brown and hollow sounding.

Cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the rolls.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Roasted Veggies with a Marinade

It's just crazy to make roasted veggies when it's so hot, but I did last week when it was cooler here. During the summer there are just so many wonderful things to roast. I suppose you could also marinate these and then put them on the grill. Just be careful with the mushrooms and asparagus if you grill them because they dry out so easily and are then not terribly appetizing. It may be a bit crazy to make these during a heat spell, but they are a delightful thing to eat when it's hot. We served them at room temperature and that was perfect.

You can use any mixture of vegetables that appeals to you. I used some of the yellow summer squash and the zucchini that are starting to be ready to harvest in our garden, plus veggies from the market including sweet onion, asparagus, whole mushrooms, and a mixture of red, orange and yellow peppers. The marinade includes balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard, herbs and spices. The easiest way to marinade them is to put the prepared veggies into gallon ziploc bags with the marinade, then turn them a few times so that they are fully marinated in the delicious, aromatic mixture.

A key thing when roasting...and to keep the vegetables in a single layer and not too close together. A little room between pieces will let the heat circulate nicely so that you get that delicious browning. These can be served warm or at room temperature. Any leftovers are even better the next day as is, or folded into an omelette, into pasta or a pasta salad, or into rice.

Sweetie and I are doing fine, staying home most of the time although we take the dog into town to walk him near the Laguna, and trying to enjoy The Pause, as my brother calls the pandemic. Hope that y'all are staying safe and healthy!

Marinade for Vegetables for Roasting or Grilling

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon style mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced

Place all ingredients into a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Secure lid and then shake briskly until well mixed. Use as marinade for prepared vegetables. Place vegetables in a Ziploc bag, add marinade and seal bag. Shake bag gently to coat vegetables. Lay flat. After 1/2 hour, turn bag over. Lay flat. Repeat another few times. Remove vegetables from marinade before roasting in a 425 degree oven or on a hot grill until cooked through and with brown spots here and there. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, July 03, 2020

4th of July

My Dad served in the Navy during World War II as a captain. Now he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and flags will be placed by each headstone in honor of our nation's birthday, July 4th.

When I was little it was an exciting day. We always had 'safe and sane' fireworks, starting during the day with the 'snakes' which were pellets that we lit with a match. As they burned, they left a snake shape of exploded ash. Then we would stomp on the snakes and they just became ugly dark marks on the sidewalk which we washed away with the garden hose.

There was usually a special cookout dinner with burgers or hot dogs, potato salad, and often strawberry shortcake for dessert. Once it was dark we had sparklers, hand held, which we waved around. My Dad always prepared for fireworks by having buckets of sand and water. The used sparklers went into the sand and the water was in case we had to put out small fires.

My favorite firework, besides sparklers, was the fountains. Once lit, they shot a fountain shape of sparks...WHOOSH....up into the air and the sparks had different colors.

Most of the time that I've been with Sweetie we have had dogs. Dogs are not happy with fireworks and sometimes are downright frightened by the noise. So, for a long time, July 4th has not included any fireworks and we play music and keep the windows shut to drown out as much noise as possible from the fireworks shows put on the the surrounding cities. Just to make it more interesting, the city closest to us has their show on the 3rd and two others nearby have theirs on the 4th, so two nights are spent shut up in the house, calming the dog.

This year it will be different. Due to the pandemic, none of the cities are having shows. There are still folks shooting off illegal fireworks in the neighborhoods, but the worry there is fire, not noise. It's dry enough now that even a small fire could spread. Unfortunately people are so upset about not having big shows (or perhaps they are just bored by having to stay home during the pandemic?) that they have already begun fireworks out and about and the fire departments have had their hands full.

For myself, I'll think of my Dad on the 4th of July, and I'll think of my siblings and the fun we had in the backyard with fireflies flitting around us as we celebrated...and got to stay up late! I'll be grateful that I live in a country that protects freedom of speech, even as I hope that we will progress so that there is less to protest. I love my country, even with all it's imperfections. Just like people, wouldn't it be boring if it were perfect?

If you are from the U.S.A. or just a fan, hope you have a happy, safe, and quiet 4th of July! Please stay home, practice social distancing and cover your nose and mouth so that we can have fewer folks sick in the coming months and fewer deaths. If you can find good strawberries, have some will seem sweet.