Tuesday, June 26, 2012

this is fun

Daniel sent this to me the other day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you do too. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

chad robertson's country bread

A few weeks ago, Daniel and I walked down to Tartine to grab a late lunch. Unfortunately for us, this was a popular idea- the line out the door was outrageous. We ended up getting sandwiches at Bi-Rite and eating in the park instead and it was delightful. But it got me thinking. 

Tartine Bakery sells bread for $8.25, a price I chuckled at when I saw it. $8 for a loaf of bread? Really? Could it really be that good? I started reading about Tartine's country loaf online and found that there was a copy of the recipe on Martha Stewart's website. I was intrigued- it took 15-20 days to develop the starter, followed by what amounted to roughly 6 hours of kneading and allowing the bread to rise before it was ready to bake. 

A project! I couldn't resist. And so I began, mixing bread flour and wheat flour with warm water, all precisely measured on my kitchen scale and left to rest for 24 hours before the next feeding. I've always thought that the natural process of leavening was fascinating and loved the idea that depending on where you live, your bread will taste different because there are different types of yeast in the environment. Still, the daily feedings were kind of a pain in the ass- it was like having the world's most boring pet. But once I started, I was determined to go the distance. 

The day of baking, the recipe requires you to knead the bread by folding it over on itself a number of times ever 30 minutes for 3-4 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Though I was mildly annoyed to be stuck in the house for 4 hours on what had turned out to be a gorgeous early summer day, after having invested 22 days in this bread, I wasn't about to take any chances. And the folding was actually kind of fun. The dough was pleasingly plump and smooth and it was satisfying to fold and smoosh it into shape. 

When it was finally ready, I flopped the dough into a pre-warmed cast iron pan my mother handed down to me a few years ago, covered it, and baked it in a very hot oven for 20 minutes. Then removed the lid and continued baking for an additional 25 minutes

It came out golden and crackling. 

We let the bread cool before cutting into it. While the crust wasn't quite as thick and crunchy as I might have hoped for, it was still an impressive specimen. The interior had the perfect chewy (but not gummy) texture and slight tang of good pain au levain.

On day 12 of feeding the starter, I decided that I was crazy to be making this and swore that I'd never do it again. But now? I've developed a certain fondness for my little starter. And the bread is something special. I think I'm ready to go plunk down $8.25 to see how it compares to the original. Either way, I'll be making this again.

Recipe can be found here.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

le croissant du jour

You'll never know everything about anything; 
especially something you love.
                                                                                                   -Julia Child

Saturday, June 16, 2012

david lebovitz's guinness milk chocolate ice cream

After I got home from work on Thursday, I sat on the couch with my brother and flipped through David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. He watched the U.S. Open on television and I read ice cream flavors out loud until we found one we could mutually agree on.

Normally, I go for vanilla based ice creams, but Trevor apparently prefers chocolate. And since he is my little brother and I try to be nice, I agreed to make Guinness milk chocolate ice cream. 

It's a curious thing, putting beer in ice cream. I was a little skeptical at first- I'm not much of a beer drinker and I was afraid that the flavor of the beer- especially with a beer like Guinness- would be overwhelming.

But it wasn't- the ice cream tasted like malted milk chocolate. In other words, it was delicious. The flavor of the Guinness was subtle, a background note that gave the milk chocolate a complexity it would have lacked on its own.

My brother had four scoops. I think we can count this ice cream as a success.

Recipe can be found here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

in the clouds

Have I mentioned that I've been feeling distracted lately?

Oh, yes.

There's change in the air here and it has me a little disoriented. Not bad, just a little off-center. I've had my head in the clouds.

The weather here has been beautiful and it's expected to continue through the weekend. My brother is in town and we'll be hanging out- tonight we're making homemade pizza and ice cream and watching Harry Potter movies and tomorrow I'm hoping we'll stop by the North Beach Street Fair. On Sunday, we have plans to go up to Napa for a barbecue at Daniel's parents' house for Father's Day.  It's going to be a good time.

I hope everyone has some time to relax this weekend, time to spend with family and friends and enjoy the coming of summer.

photo via The Cherry Blossom Girl

Monday, June 11, 2012

marin headlands, hike and a picnic

On Saturday, Daniel & I packed up our picnic basket and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. We were meeting our friends Rob & Shelly (and their dog Phoebe) for a short hike followed by a long lunch.

We hiked around the coast and then drove down to Cavallo Point for our picnic because we knew it would be protected from the wind. 

We ate roasted asparagus, butternut squash galette, lentil and celeriac salad, orzo with broccolini and carrots, chocolate toffee cookies. We drank prosecco. I sun-burnt my shoulders a little. It was a lovely afternoon.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

deb perelman's peach shortbread

Picnics are tricky beasts. I love them, but they require a certain amount of preparation. So when my friend Shelly suggested that we meet for a hike and follow it up with a picnic, I started planning immediately. 

I quickly settled on a few things I knew would work well for outdoor dining- lentils with celery root and hazelnuts, orzo with broccolini and feta- but I found myself inexplicably stumped when it came to dessert.  Shelly had thrown out the idea of a blueberry crumb bars, but the blueberries I saw at the store were less than inspiring. So I went back to the drawing board. After poking around through a few reliable sources, I found myself at Smitten Kitchen eyeing the peach shortbread. When I saw they included brown butter, I was sold.

It's a supremely easy dessert and the brown butter will make your entire kitchen smell like heaven.

My only comment? Our picnic was so sunny that the bars softened up and were a bit tricky to eat by hand. Still, I wasn't complaining.

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Peach Shortbread
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
3 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced

Brown the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently. Once browned, set in freezer until solid (about 40 minutes)

Butter a 9x13 inch pan and preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, baking powder, flour, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add the egg and solidified brown butter to the dry ingredients and work in with your fingertips. The mixture will be crumbly. Place 3/4 of the mixture in the pan and press it down firmly. Place the peaches over the crumb base in a single layer and top with the remaining crumbs, scattered lightly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until slightly browned. Cool completely before cutting.

Friday, June 8, 2012


{lunch: double broccoli quinoa with a poached egg}

I've been distracted lately. Summer always makes me feel restless and summer is definitely on its way. But things have been good. Lots of time with friends, good food, a few new movies and a few hours here and there spent delving into library books. I've been a negligent blogger, but I'll be back soon.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

edna lewis' busy day cake

Saturday morning, I decided to bake Edna Lewis' Busy Day Cake. No particular reason other than that I had some buttermilk in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up before its expiration date and that baking a cake sounded like a nice thing to do. 

This isn't a beautiful cake. It's simple and rather plain looking, but the taste is lovely, flavored throughout with nutmeg and vanilla. Like the poppyseed cake I made a few weeks ago, this is a cake that works for breakfast as well as dessert. I may have eaten a slice with my morning cup of tea and I'm already planning on another slice with some fresh strawberries after dinner this evening.

Should you be curious, I've seen this recipe a number of places, but I used the one on Lottie and Doof. It worked perfectly just as written- I suggest you see for yourself.

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