Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spent Grain Bread

If you happen to be like me and have a spouse or a close friend that brews you can easily try this recipe. I first did as an experiment since I was not sure what the result would be. I realized the grain softens in the bread and give it a little sweetness and nuttiness I love. So here I am making this again.

Making your own bread is easy. There are lots of great recipes out there. Some easier than others, of course. Most of them follow some general guidelines with regard to ingredients and technique. Like everything else you become better with practice.

Spent Grain Bread
makes 1 loaf

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup water, lukewarm
2 tsp kosher salt (about 1 tsp if using regular)
3 cups flour ( I like using some whole wheat and some white here)
3/4 cup spent grain
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup of the water. Wait for about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in some of the flour - about 1/2 cup. It would be thick but still somewhat liquid. Sprinkle a little more flour on top to prevent forming a crust. Cover and let rest at room temperature until you see it has doubled or more in size.
  3. Add the salt, remaining water, spent grain and stir. Add in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time and stir.
  4. Once it becomes doughy you can start mixing/kneading it by hand. Depending on how moist the grain is you may need to add more flour here. The though should not feel too wet and sticky. It is better to be on the drier side.
  5. Knead for 5-10 minutes or use mixer with dough attachments for 3-5 minutes. You can do it even longer if you have patience. This step develops the gluten in the flour so the end result won't be crumbly.
  6. Sprinkle more flour to prevent crust forming on top. Let rest covered until doubled.
  7. Prepare the baking sheet with foil, greased and sprinkled with cornmeal or flour. I actually used a towel sprinkled with cornmeal since I baked my bread directly on a pizza stone.
  8. Punch the dough and form it into a ball. Place on the sheet seam side down, or if in a tower - with the seam side up. Sprinkle more cornmeal or flour on top.
  9. Wait another hour or so until it doubles in size.
  10. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (with the pizza stone inside if you use it)
  11. If using pizza stone - invert the dough carefully over the hot stone.
  12. Make deep slashes on the top of the bread. This will help it rise even more while it bakes.
  13. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  14. Try to resist slicing it for at least 5 minutes!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Roasted Pineapple Tartlets

I reallized I have never really cooked with fresh pineapple before. While I enjoy a good juicy one fresh as is I wanted to try something different. I found the recipe from the Epicurious web site which is a great source of recipes. It sounded exciting to combine the tropical flavors with a spicy caramel sauce and the result was well worth the effort. I used only 1 1/2 chillis without any seeds, and substituted vanilla extract for the bean. I think the best servng accompaniment for these tarts would be just plain whipped cream instead of the ice cream as these are pretty sweet already. I think next time I would make these even smaller so I get more nice crispy crust. Great flavor!

Sherried Sardine Toast

Canned fish may be boring sometimes, but this one is not! It is one of my favorites since it is easy, quick, and delicious. You won't be disappointed:

The recipe comes from a classic food show I really liked watching: Good Eats. You could certainly learn a lot from it and some (even though not all) of Alton Brown's recipes are great.

Hint: For this recipe you could use a regular toaster and drizzle the oil after the bread slices are toasted instead.

We ate these along with a nice lettuce salad!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Brussels Sprouts Cockaigne

This is the best way to cook fresh brussel sprouts. They get caramelized and crispy on one side, while steaming. The result is nothing like the mushy sides you may have tasted to far. I like them with a little parmesan on top. They are a nice side for a steak, or good on their own as an appetizer. The recipe is adapted from the Joy of Cooking - a great cookbook I would whole-hearted recommend. Here is a link.

Brussels Sprouts Cockaigne
makes 2 appetizer servings
1 T butter
1 1/2 T olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
12-14 brussel sprouts

You need a big enough saute pan with a lid that can hold all brussel sprouts.

  1.  Rinse and precut the brussel sprouts in half.
  2.  Heat the butter and oil on medium low.
  3.  Cut the garlic lengthwise and add to the pan.
  4.  Once the garlic is golden brown on both sides, take it out and turn down the heat to very low.
  5.  Add the brussel sprout cut side down and cover.
  6.  After 10-13 minutes they should be nicely browned, bt be careful not to overcook.
  7.  Season with salt and serve with a little grated parmesan. Enjoy while steam warm!