Saturday, March 26, 2022

Foggy Morning Along the Laguna

It was really foggy this morning but Sweetie and I both woke up right around 6 am, so by 7:30 or so we were ready to head out and walk the dog. Our favorite place to walk Pi is at Community Park in Sebastopol, right next to the narrow waterway called the Laguna. Where we ramble used to be the sewage treatment ponds (about 50 or more years ago). That use was replaced by walking paths once the joint area sanitation district was establish and a modern treatment facility set up five or so miles south of town.

One of the nice things about this park, besides being right next to the Laguna, is that is is underpopulated. This morning we didn't pass anyone on our walk until the final few minutes when another dog walker headed our way. There are fenced baseball fields and a children's play area and picnic areas but the trails are in fairly rustic areas of the park with lots of ferns and shrubs and trees and some wildflowers, too.

Above and below are two photos I took showing the fog, water, and some live oak trees. So peaceful!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Lamb Meatball Feast

There was something about this meal that made it seem like a feast. Maybe it was the delicious lamb meatballs, still faintly pink in the center but crusty on the outside and tender, too. I seasoned them with more than salt and pepper...Penzey's Greek seasoning to begin with, then some dried thyme, fresh minced parsley, and garlic powder because I love garlic with lamb. An egg provided binding and a cup of bread crumbs to a pound of ground lamb helped, too, plus gave the basis for the delicious browned crust.

With the meatballs, I served a yogurt-cucumber sauce, with about a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest worked in. It gave a tangy complement to the rich meat. It also was really good with the pine nut couscous (from a box) cooked with chicken broth. Last, but certainly not least, were steamed broccoli florets, for some green and another texture. 

I stirred all of the meatball ingredients together and them put the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavors blended. When it was time to cook them, I used a disher to make fairly uniform lumps of the mixture, then used wet hands to form them into balls. Sweetie browned them in a cast iron skillet, using olive oil spray to keep them from sticking. Then they went onto a foil-lined sheet pan and baked in a 375 degree F oven for 12 minutes. Then I just kept checking the internal temperature. Once it was over 180 degrees, I served them with the couscous, broccoli and yogurt-cucumber sauce.

I know that there are no measurements here, but I didn't really do measurements. The Greek seasonings was about a teaspoon, the thyme about 1/2 teaspoon, the garlic about a half teaspoon and the parsley about a tablespoon and a half or two tablespoons, with salt and pepper to taste...really all of it to taste. For the sauce it was about a cup of yogurt and 1/4 cup finely chopped peeled cucumber, plus the 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest.

My computer has been giving me trouble, so not sure when I'll next be able to post. Stay safe and healthy dear reader.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Glass Bread for March

Each month the Bread Baking Babes are challenged by our Kitchen of the Month to bake a new bread. This month Kelly gave us a true bake Glass Bread. Why is it such a challenge...because it is a very slack dough, meaning that it is closer to soup than bread dough when you start out...and it doesn't get too much more dough like, even with stretching sessions every 20 minutes (I used the Sourdough measurements, but the regular directions). So why do this? Well, because it's fun to meet a challenge, but also because you finish with a delicious bread that has a truly artisan look to it.

I'm a pretty low maintenance person and I tend to avoid high maintenance people and situations if I can, so I probably won't make this again. It is very high maintenance in the world of breads, and also the messiest bread I've ever made. My work area in the bake center ended up with flour on the floor, flour all over the counter, wet flour in the sink from rinsing my hands after doing the multiple stretches and folds, and once the breads began to be baked, flour in the main kitchen from those. I also rolled up my sleeves, but still got dough on one of them, wet dough on the apron, wet dough on the shirt I was wearing before I realized that an apron was essential get the idea.

I did enjoy learning how to do coil folding and it was fascinating to watch the dough try to join together again when I cut it into pieces with the bench scraper towards the end. I thwarted that by a liberal sprinkle of flour in the area of the cut, between the two 'pieces'.

I think that I also put too much flour under the dough when I turned it out to cut it up, so that resulted in excess flour being incorporated in the bottom part of the bread in sort of chunks of raw flour that baked up into white masses of cooked flour. If you make it, I think a light coating of flour would work, or even a light coating of flour on parchment, pour the dough onto that and then cut it up, then cut up the parchment instead of cutting and then moving to the parchment.

See...high maintenance, with all the stretching, folding, flouring, cutting parchment, etc. I had to bake them individually, too because I was using a smaller oven, which took a while.

It was full of larger holes at the top and smaller ones below and was like an airy ciabatta bread. Still glad I met the challenge...because it's delicious! I used my sourdough starter, which might have added flavor. Thank you Kelly for setting this bread for the March challenge. I may have sworn at the oobleck like dough, but never at you.

If you would like to be a Buddy (and I do hope I haven't scared you off!), bake and email Kelly by March 29th with a photo and short description of your bake and your URL. She'll send you a Buddy Badge created by our talented Elizabeth and she'll include you in the round-up.

Also, be sure to visit the other Bread Baking Babes to see how their experience was baking this Glass Bread...I suspect that they were less messy than I was.

Glass Bread or Pan de Cristal

From King Arthur Baking website


    500g water
    500g King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
    2.5g (3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
    10g salt
    15g olive oil, for the pan


    To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. (To measure by volume, see "tips," below.)

    In a medium bowl, mix the water, flour, yeast, and salt until thoroughly combined and homogenous. Note: The dough starts off very slack and wet. That’s OK; it will transform itself through time and folds.

    Oil a two-quart rectangular baking dish (10” x 7”) with the olive oil. If you don’t have a 2-quart dish, an 8” or 9” square pan will work. Don’t worry about any pan you use being oven-safe; you won’t be baking the bread in it.

    Pour the dough into the pan. Check the dough’s temperature by inserting a digital thermometer into the center. If it's less than 72°F, move the pan to a warmer spot, e.g., your oven with the light turned on.

    Cover the pan and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

    Start with a bowl fold: Use your wet hands to grab a section of dough from one side, lift it up, then press it down into the middle. Repeat this eight to 12 times.

    Cover the dish and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

    Then do a coil fold: With wet hands, reach under the dough and stretch the middle upward until the dough releases from the dish. Roll it forward off your hands, allowing it to fold over (or “coil”) on itself. This is called a coil fold. Rotate the dish 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat. Continue performing this folding action until the dough feels like it won’t stretch and elongate easily, usually four to five times initially. Note: You’ll be doing this three more times, each time building strength and developing the dough. See "tips," below, for more details,

    Cover the pan and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

    Repeat the coil fold. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

    At this point, the dough should be easier to handle and feel tighter. Repeat the coil fold using only two or three folds this time. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

    Repeat the coil fold one last time, using only one or two folds if the dough is relatively strong. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for about 80 minutes.

    To divide the dough: As gently as possible, turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface, maintaining the rectangle or square shape – be careful not to deflate the delicate dough. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on top of the dough, leaving no exposed sticky spots. Then, working as gently as possible, use a bench knife or other sharp knife to divide it into four pieces. Gently place two pieces on a piece of parchment, leaving space between them. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough, placing them on another piece of parchment.

    Allow the loaves to rest at room temperature for 2 hours, uncovered. While the loaves are resting, preheat the oven to 475°F with a baking stone or steel on a lower rack. (If you don't have a stone or steel, see "tips," below.) Allow the oven to preheat for 1 hour to ensure it’s thoroughly heated. The loaves are ready for the oven when there are a few large bubbles on the surface of each loaf and they feel light and airy.

    To bake the bread: Carefully slide the two loaves (still resting on the parchment) into the oven onto the preheated stone or steel. If space is tight and the full sheet of parchment won’t fit on the stone or steel, cut the parchment between the two loaves and arrange them as best you can. Allow the other two loaves to continue to rest.

    Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then transfer them, from the stone or steel, directly onto a rack in the upper third of the oven for an additional 13 to 15 minutes. (Leave the stone in place.) Moving them to the rack allows the baking stone or steel to become hot again in preparation for the next two loaves. After a total of 27 to 30 minutes of baking, remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack.

    Repeat the process with the two remaining loaves. Cool the bread fully before slicing.

    Storage information: Wrap the bread loosely and store it at room temperature for up to several days; freeze for longer storage.


Formula for four:
400g strong flour
420g water (350+70)*
10g olive oil
11g salt
100g starter (100% hydration)

Total hydration: 106%

Mix 400g flour & 350 water.
Autolyse 45min 
Add 100g starter, fold/work,
60 min rest

Combine 70g reserve COLD water & 11g salt,
add half and fold/mix.
10min rest

Add remaining water/salt & mix,
add EVO & mix,
15 min rest

Folds: Oil glass pan,
add dough and do a few large (coil) folds.
45 min rest

Folds: Large (coil) folds in thirds, then rotate 90 and fold in thirds,
rest 45 min
Folds: Repeat folds,
rest 45 min 
Repeat folds,
rest 45 min 
Repeat folds,
Overnight in fridge for cold bulk

Room temp rest 60 min

Heavily flour table and pour the dough out,
divide into 4 & place on parchment.
60 min rest

Bake on steel at 500ºF for 8min with steam,
drop to 410 and bake for 20 min

*Note that the 70g is mixed with the salt and kept aside to incorporate after initial autolyse.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Glass Bread Coming

Have baked the delicious bread for March for the Bread Baking Babes, but it won't get posted until later tonight or tomorrow. Check out the other Babes sites for their takes on this very slack dough bread! 

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Blueberry Waffles

We have been having chilly mornings with frost on the grass some days, so I decided to make waffles. I've been feeding the sourdough starter that my daughter gave me and decided to feed some of the toss off as a base for them. That was probably the reason they were so crisp on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside...good starter.

As far as the blueberries go, I made the mistake of not coating them with batter as I usually do. The result was that they stuck to the waffle iron upper plate...not fun to clean up after the iron cooled and some of them scorched a bit...see the really dark spots in the photo. Thank you Sweetie for doing that. So if you decide to go with any berry cooked inside the waffle, mix them into the batter first. You'll be glad you did because they really add to the flavor of the waffle, but you really don't need that clean up issue.

This recipe is for the Amazing Overnight Waffles that work so well with either sourdough starter or active dry yeast. I made a half batch and replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with Irish Whole Meal Flour from King Arthur Baking Company which adds a nice, nutty flavor and some flecks of whole wheat and bran, too. Delicious!

My waffle iron is one that I bought at a yard sale in Berkeley over 40 years ago. It takes a little longer to heat up than it did all those years ago, but I like my waffles crispy on the outside and it does that. Use what ever waffle iron you have and be sure to let it cook until the steaming'll probably have nice crispy waffles, too.

If you keep up with what's going on here in Northern CA, we now have three lambs. Two were born a couple of weeks ago and the last lamb was born over the weekend. It's big for a newborn lamb, all black except for a cute white tail that waves madly when it nurses.

Amazing Overnight Blueberry Waffles

1 cup sourdough starter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup water
Whisk together and let sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Irish wholemeal wheat flour
all of the sponge
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and drained

Nonstick spray
Butter (and bread) for the waffle iron
Whipped cream if you are feeling decadent or maple syrup if you prefer

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the sponge that has sat for 2 hours waiting for this moment, and whisk to combine. Add the milk and whisk until blended. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature (or put in the fridge if room temp. is over 70 degrees F.)

The next morning, preheat the waffle iron. Melt the 6 tablespoons butter and let cool a bit. Beat the egg is a small bowl (unnecessary if using egg substitute) then beat it into the batter along with the melted butter. 

Lightly spray the hot waffle iron with non stick spray, top and bottom plates, and then butter a piece of bread and use that to rub some butter on top and bottom plates.

Add the blueberries to the batter and stir gently just to coat the blueberries with the batter. Add just enough batter to cover the cooking surface…this varies by waffle iron…about 2/3 cup. Lower the top and cook until golden brown…it’s OK to check now and then. It takes about 2-3 minutes and it's usually when the steam is almost gone. You want it golden brown.

Serve hot, right away, with whipped cream or maple syrup, or toppings of your choice.

Note; If you have too many waffles for the number of people you are feeding, bake the leftover batter a little less than the ones you are eating, let cool on a baking rack, then freeze and store in the freezer tightly wrapped. Re-heat in the toaster.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Scones with Currants

Dried currants are a favorite of mine. Each tiny one of them holds a big burst of flavor, so when you have lots of them baked into your favorite scone, you have a delicious treat.

Scones are a really simple quick yeast involved. The key to the best scones is to handle the ingredients gently and to just barely mix the liquids into the dry ingredients...a few dry crumbs that can be swept up into the dough mass as you form a ball is just right.

This scone has soy milk soured with lemon juice, some lemon zest, and lots of currants. I made these with all-purpose flour, but they are delicious with a mixture of all-purpose and most whole grain flours, like whole wheat, spelt, etc. I like to use King Arthur Baking's Irish Wholemeal flour for about 1/4 of the flour. It adds nutty flavor and a bit of chew. 

Once they are baked, do try to eat your first one while it is still warm from the oven to get the best experience. Those Sweetie and I didn't eat at once were allowed to cool to room temperature, then I put them into a gallon ziploc bag and then into the refrigerator. They kept well for a couple of days and were still delicious when re-heated on low power in the microwave.

Try them with butter or a smear of lemon curd and you will never want to be without a currant scone handy in the freezer. They do freeze beautifully. 

Dried Currant and Citrus Scones
Adapted from a Ladies Home Journal recipe March ‘97

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.

3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used non-dairy margarine)
¾ cup currants
1 cup buttermilk (I used soy creamer soured with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Glaze:(optional) 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar or sanding sugar

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add diced dried fruit and pecans. Combine buttermilk and orange peel in a bowl or measuring cup. Pour over crumb mixture. Stir together with fork just until mixture comes together. Gather dough gently into a ball; knead 4 or 5 times.

Cut dough in half and transfer pieces to prepared cookie sheets. Shape each piece into a 6 inch x 1/4 inch thick circles, 2 inches apart. Using floured knife, cut each circle into 8 wedges. You will have two circles, cut into 16 scones.

For glaze, if using, brush tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 16 scones.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Golden Beet Salad

As we come to March we enter the time between seasons, still enjoying winter's sturdy and hearty foods while beginning to want the lighter food of spring, along with their zing. This salad fits that transition with the delicious golden beets of winter and the mixed greens and citrus dressing for the whispy part. Walnuts add crunch and remind me of fall while the orange segments lean towards spring. Most of all it's delicious!

We start by roasting the beets, then letting them cool before peeling them and cutting them into wedges. While the oven is hot, it's easy to toast the walnuts which brings out their flavor. Next comes the citrus and walnut oil dressing. Some mustard and finely chopped Italian parsley add savory elements that provide counterpoint to the sweetness of the roasted beets and the oranges. 

If you like, this salad would also be good with the addition of some salty feta cheese or some pungent blue cheese.

Once you dress the greens, I doubt that this salad would keep well, but we didn't find out...Sweetie had a second helping and finished it off!

This is my own recipe, but you can probably find similar ones on the internet. For the dressing I used Penzey's Spices dried orange and lemon peel, but it would probably be even better with fresh zest of oranges and lemons. Do use fresh lemon juice for the dressing. I have some Meyer lemons from my lemon bush and they were great, but lemons from the market work well, too. If you don't have walnut oil, a good olive oil will work well, too. Fresh orange segments instead of canned would be even better, but canned was what I had on hand and they were fine.

Golden Beet Salad with Toasted Walnuts

3-4 golden beets (1 bunch), tops removed for another use
spray olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts...pieces are OK
1 small shallot, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon each lemon and orange zest (I used equivalent dried peel)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt or garlic salt and pepper to taste...I used about 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves of Italian parsley; discard stems
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, seeds removed
1/3 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup mandarin orange segments, fresh or canned/drained
6-8 cups fresh, washed and dried, spring mix lettuce or arugula

Wash the beets to remove any soil, then cut in half (or quarters if large) and place on foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil. Roast in preheated 425 degree F oven for 25-45 minutes, until a skewer easily goes into center of pieces. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove skin and discard. Slice the beets into wedges. Set aside.

While the oven is still hot, toast the walnuts for 5-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until toasted. You will smell walnuts when toasted. Remove from oven, cool, chop roughly and set aside.

While beets are cooling, make the dressing. Combine the shallot, citrus zests, mustard, salt or garlic salt and pepper, Italian parsley, lemon juice, and walnut oil in a jar. Close lid tightly and shake until all ingredients are well blended and dressing thickens slightly. Set aside to allow flavors to meld. Right before dressing the greens, shake again and taste. Adjust by adding zest, salt, pepper and/or lemon juice as needed. It should be tangy.

When ready to serve the salad, place the spring mix in a large bowl. Add about 2/3 of the dressing; reserve any left for another salad or another use. Toss with salad fork and spoon or tongs to completely but lightly coat the leaves of the greens. If needed add more dressing, but less is best. Pile the dressed greens on a serving platter.

Add the beet wedges to the bowl that held the greens. Toss to coat with the dressing in the bowl. This is just to add a bit of shine to the beets...they don't need to be coated with dressing. Scatter the beets over the greens, then scatter over the mandarin orange segments. Top everything with the toasted chopped walnuts and serve at once.