Basic Country Bread and My New Bread Baking Obsession

Last year, I bought the Tartine Bread book.  There was a special on Amazon.  It was $2.99 on Kindle.  I couldn’t turn it down.

I remember I started reading it while on the plane to Philadelphia.  The photos are so amazing and the recipes so detailed that I knew I had to try it as soon as possible.   Weeks went by and I didn’t bake any bread.  The thought of making a starter was intimidating to say the least.  Then, on December 2nd (funny how I remember these dates), my friend brought me some of her starter.

bernard

Blog friends, meet Bernard.   Bernard is about 5 years old and comes from a culinary school in Michigan.  Now a part of him is with me, and through Foodologie with you too.  Here’s here to help us make bread.

I love that my friend named the starter.  It makes the process so much more fun.  Because after all, he needs to be taken care of and fed.  I feed Bernard on Monday nights and leave him in the fridge until I’m ready to bake some bread.

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Some of this glorious bread.  It’s nothing short of amazing.  It might take days to make, but it’s worth it.  And it all starts with Bernard.

The night before I want to make bread, I take a big spoonful of starter and mix it with pretty much equal parts flour and water (if we want to be specific 3/4 cup water + 3/4 cup Flour and about 1/4 cup starter will give you enough leaven, or fed starter, to make 2 loaves of bread).

starter

So I let that sit on the counter.  It gets all bubbly and smelly in the most endearing way possible.  Once it’s bubbly and ready to go (you’ll know it’s ready when you drop a bit of it in some water and it floats), I mix it with flour and water.  Once it’s all incorporated, I let it sit for about half an hour.  After half an hour, I add a bit of salt and some more water.  Then the first “bulk rise” begins.  This takes 3-4 hours.  You don’t have to do much, just turn it every so often.  That means dip your hand in water, then dip your hand in the dough and turn it a bit.  Pretty simple right?

After a few hours (assuming it’s in a fairly warm temperature, sometimes I’m too cheap to put on the heater and so I turn the oven on for a few minutes, turn it off, then put the bread in there to keep it warm), I turn it onto a well-floured surface and divide it in two.

This part is tricky.  The dough is sticky.  It sticks to everything. Your hands. The towel. The surface. Your hair.  Everything.  My first time around was rough.  I think I was a little shy with the flour, but after the next few times, I leaved that a lot of flour is necessary.  So you divide the dough into and fold it into two rounds mounds.  Then it sits for hours.    I know right? There’s a lot of sitting involved.

So those mounds sit for another 3-4 hours on the counter covered with a towel (flour that towel too, because seriously the dough will stick to it).  I’ve also tried leaving it in the fridge overnight.  That worked too.

After the dough has sat for a good while (either 3-4 hours or overnight in the fridge), you can start getting everything ready to bake.  I bake this bread in a dutch oven.  I think the dutch oven is my saving grace, because I’m pretty sure my oven is a bit messed up.  The dutch oven ensures an even bake, so you can’t argue with that.

So I turn the oven to 500F and put the dutch oven in there (empty that is, with the lid on), for about 20-30 minutes.  You want it to get piping hot.  This also gives you bread a little more time to rise (or to get to room temperature if it was sitting in the fridge).

Again, I reform the loafs into a round loaf then score to top.  Scoring apparently is important because it allows the bread to rise to it’s full potential.  I have a really hard time with the scoring.  In Tartine Bread, they suggest using a razor; I use a knife.  We made due with what we have, right?

Then the next tricky part, putting the dough in the dutch oven without burning your hands.  The dough isn’t the sturdiest.  The water content is pretty high so it’s a very sticky dough.  But it’s easy enough.  Drop it in, re-score if necessary and put in the oven with the lid on, reduce the temperature to 450F and bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove the dutch oven lid and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes or until it reaches the level of brownness you like.

bread1

Remove the bread from the dutch oven, allow to cool then serve.  You can repeat the baking process with your second loaf now.  The dutch oven doesn’t need to heat as long.  I usually just put it back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes then move on.

For the full recipe, check out this write up in the New York Times.  It has all the measurements and weights you need to get your bread making on.  I still can’t get mine to look exactly like their bread, but sooner or later, I’ll get there.  But even if it doesn’t look exactly like the Tartine loaves, it tastes amazing.

To say that I love this bread is underselling it.  I seriously love this bread.

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It’s great for sandwiches (ahem, grilled cheese anyone?).  Awesome toasted with butter.  Amazing if you spread it with jam.  The process might be time consuming.  Scratch that, it’s totally time consuming, but it’s worth it.

bread3 copy

So this is my newest obsession: bread.  I want to make it all the time and eat it all the time, but I probably shouldn’t, so gifting loaves of bread is becoming my new thing.

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Now that I’ve mastered the basic country bread.  I’m ready to move on to new varieties.  Of course, croissants and brioche are on my bucket list for the year, but I also want to start experimenting with different flours: whole wheat, rye, etc.

Let’s get our carbs on!

Are you a home bread baker or just an equal opportunity bread lover?  What’s your favorite kind to bake or eat?

Culinary Bucketlist

January is the time of resolutions.  To be perfectly honest with you, I’m over resolutions, or even resolutions masqueraded as “goals.”

I’m especially tired of all the weight loss/fitness goals I keep seeing (and considering in my head).  I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m over it.  I’m healthy.  I exercise.  For the most part, I eat well.  I’ll never be skinny and that’s cool.  It’s just not my body type.  I need to stop striving for perfection and just be happy.

I’ve decided that 2015 should be the year of happy.  And you know what makes me happy?  Aside from baby animals… this:

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and this

cauliflower pizza1

In the spirit of happy when it comes to my blog, I created a list of things I’m dying to make… a bucket list, if you will.

You know, things I want to make just for the sake of making them, just because it’s fun (in no particular order)…

1. Bitters.  Yeah I want to make my own, then make fancy ass cocktails.  Maybe I’ll make a Grapefruit Manhattan.  Wouldn’t that be all sorts of amazing?

2. Croissants. Butter.  All the butter.  I’ve made them before, but this time I want them to be even more awesome.

3. Brioche.  More butter.  And some milk.  Amazing silky bread.  I can’t find amazing brioche anywhere around Orange County, so I’m taking matters into my own hands and making my own!

4. Cheese.  I want to make cheese.  I don’t have a reason.  I just want to be a master cheese maker.  Let’s make it happen!

5. Pho.  A big, big pot of it.

6. Pavlova.  My friend’s mom makes the best pavlova on Earth.  I want to try making it.  Probably with blueberries and lemon curd.

7.  Eggs Benedict.  I want to see how all the fattiness happens, and let’s be honest, I’ll probably do some hipster version that involves arugula, but I’m cool with that.

8. Monkey Bread  (random, right?).  I told Jesse about Monkey Bread and he thought it sounded awesome.  I’ve actually never eaten it, so let’s give it a try!

9.  BBQ Ribs.  I mean, meat…

10. Jam (preferably fig jam).   I’m not sure I want to get into canning, but jam making, all about it.

11. Gnocchi.  I’m not a big fan of pasta, but I love gnocchi. I’m adding it to the list.

12. ???  What else should I make?  Suggestions are welcome!

breakfast slider2

What are you dying to make?  (aside from the above Breakfast Sliders, because I know you’re dying to make those)

And more importantly… when are you coming over so we can make it together?

 

 

 

Chocolate Dipped Dates with Pistachios and Sea Salt

Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us and like everyone else, I’m wondering what happened to 2014.  It flew by, but it was a great year.

 

I’m grateful for 2014 and excited for 2015.  This year was full of great things…

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Like pie of course and healthy things like Avocado Pesto Hummus

Avocado Pesto Hummus 2

 

and my new obsession with zucchini noodles:

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I also did a lot of things I didn’t document on the blog, like when I went to Philadelphia and ran a half marathon

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That was tons of fun.

I also went to weddings, hung out with friends, went wine tasting, got better at crossfit, got better at my job.  So many wonderful things, all that weren’t documented anywhere.  I’m ok with that.  I took a step back from blogging this year, and I’m happy with that decision.

This isn’t the end of Foodologie.  No, no.  Foodologie is alive and well, but I’m hoping Foodologie will change in 2015.

After all, change is good.

So let’s celebrate change and the coming of a new year with a treat, something simple and sweet:

chocolate dipped dates text

Dates.

Delicious and naturally sweet, dipped in dark chocolate then sprinkled with chopped pistachio and sea salt.  It’s decadent and delicious, as the New Year should be.

 

Dates Dipped in Chocolate with Pistachios and Sea Salt

24 dates
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Place your dates on a parchment paper lined dish.

In a bowl, melt together chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave.  Put it in for 20 seconds, then stir. Repeat until melted and smooth.

Dip dates into chocolate, then place on parchment paper.  Sprinkle with pistachios and sea salt.  Chill for a few hours, then serve!

chocolate dipped dates2

I haven’t had them yet but I bet they’ll go perfect with champagne.

I hope this recipe is indicative of what Foodologie will be in 2015: fun, simple and delicious.

Happy New Year!  I wish you the very best in 2015 and thanks so much for reading!

 

Cuban Roasted Pork and Cuban Sandwiches

If you watched the movie The Chef, you probably wanted to eat a Cuban sandwich the entire second half of the movie.  Maybe that’s just my inner fat kid talking but ever since watching that movie I’ve had a hankering for Cuban food.

My favorite spot, Versailles (both in Miami and in LA, different owners I believe), are a little out of reach. I decided to take matters into my own hands and roast a pork leg and make some damn sandwiches!  Isn’t that how all good stories start?

Let’s be honest. Sometimes we just need a good sandwich.

cubano

The ingredients are simple: roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard, pickles.  But simple is definitely not what I would call this sandwich.

All this started with roasted pork marinated overnight in orange, lemon and lime juice with lots of garlic, onion and oregano.  Then I roasted it on high heat to get it crispy then let it cook low and slow for about 4 hours.

I’m not sure how to make a hunk of meat look good, but here it is.

roasted pork

A hunk of meat that got lots of TLC.  Then I sliced it up thin as the base for my cuban sandwiches.  You should know they’re delicious because I’m eating one as I type this.  My keyboard is greasy and I’m ok with that.  So let’s get started.  You start with the pork….

Cuban-Style Roasted Pork

1 pork leg (mine was about 7lbs)
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup lime juice
20 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
handful of fresh oregano

Cuban Sandwiches

a few slices of cuban-style roasted pork, recipe follows
2 slices of ham
1 slice of swiss cheese
some pickles
some mustard
dang good bread*
a bit of butter (for grilling your sandwich)

In a blender, blend together juices, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and oregano.  Pierce pork as much as you can with a paring knife.  Pour juice mixture over pork leg and marinate overnight.

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 450F.  Transfer leg to a roasting dish and roast at 450F for 20 minutes, reserve the excess marinate.  After 20 minutes, turn down the heat to 300F and continue to cook 4-6 more hours.  If you want it falling off the bones tender, cook it longer.  If you want it sliceable, it should be ready around 4 hours.  If you slice it and it’s still bloody, throw it back in the oven.

While your leg is baking, transfer the excess marinade into a sauce pan and boil for about 5-10 minutes.  This will be the perfect side mojo sauce for dipping your pork in, also great with rice and yucca.

Once you remove the pork from the oven.  Let it chill on the counter for about 10 minutes on its own.  Then slice for sandwiches.  Now you’re ready to assemble your sandwiches.

*A note about “dang good bread.”  Cuban bread is delicious.  It’s soft and wonderful but not always easily accessible.  I used hoagie rolls I found at the grocery store.  It did the job.  Do with that what you will.

Spread your dang good bread with mustard (I like a good amount of mustard on there), then top with pickles, ham, roasted pork slices and swiss cheese.

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Put the sandwich together and grill it.  If you have a panini press, use that.  If you’re not fancy (like me), put it in a pan with a bit of butter then place another pan on top with a jar of something heavy to weigh it down.  And ta-da! Instant panini press on the cheap.

Allow to cook a few minutes (low and slow is the best way to go so the cheese melts), then flip and cook for a few more minutes until toasted and melty and delicious.

Slice in half and serve.  Repeat with however many sandwiches you’d like to make.

cubansandwich

A whole pork leg will yield a lot of meat, and I understand that this is definitely a process, but trust me, it’s worth it.

So invite your friends over, roast a pork leg and make some sandwiches, then go for a walk because you’ll probably need to walk this off.

What’s your favorite type of sandwich?   This is a tough one for me. This Cuban sandwich was amazing but I also love Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches.  Maybe that should be my next sandwich attempt!  But first… I’m running my first half marathon next Sunday, wish me luck!

Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Second #C2CCS

Hi friends! I’ve been on the DL the past few weeks.  I’m in a sort of blogging/life rut, so I had been taking a bit of a break.  Luckily, I have some blogger friends to help get me out of the rut.

One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to know people.  I know it sounds silly and cliche, but I’ve made a few real life friends as a result of blogging.  Real life friends are amazing (looking at you Allison and Samantha), but it’s also great to make friends online, especially when they motivate you to bake treats and send you some.

You might remember last year, I made some Molasses Ginger Apricot Cookies?  Then I sent those cookies to some ladies and they sent me some cookies back and we called it the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap.  Well here is the second installment of that! Because isn’t sending your friends cookies a good idea?  It is!

Planning what kinds of cookies to send to other foodie/cookie lovers is hard.  I brainstormed for a while and these cookies turned up by mistake.  I wanted to make some cookies for a coworker who was doing an awesome job.  I liked them so much I decided they needed to happen again.  I’ve actually made these cookies three times in the past two weeks.

Almond Coconut Choc Chip Cookies1

Trust me.  They’re worth it.

Almond Coconut Choc Chip Cookies2

In exchange for these cookies, I received a few goodies in the mail:

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White Chip Cranberry Cookies from Natalie

Delicious Spiced Cookies from Coco

Take 5 Cookies from Jazzy

Additionally, Allison made some Grain Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies that I wish I got to try!

Let’s be honest, exchanging cookies (or all baked goods in general) is an amazing idea.  You should try it.  Start by making these and sharing them with your friends.

Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 cup roasted coconut chips
1/4-1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add 1 egg, then vanilla and continue to be beat for about a minute.  Add in flour mixture.  Mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut and almonds until dough is just combined.  Be careful not to overmix the dough, if not you’ll get flat cookies!

Place dough in the freezer while oven preheats to 350F.

Once oven has pre-heated, form dough into walnut sized balls.  Place on parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until golden around the edges.

After a few minutes, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely then share with a friend and enjoy!

Almond Coconut Choc Chip Cookies3

 

What’s your favorite cookie to share with a friend?

 

P.S. Sharing cookies is awesome, but baking with a friend is even more fun!  Check out these Salted Caramel Eclairs I made with Sam at the Little Ferraro Kitchen!

Hatch Chile Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

You know how everyone has certain staples that they keep in their pantries?  I feel like for most people that’s things like canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, pasta. Basics that you can use to throw together a meal pretty quickly.

For me, it’s canned beans and tuna.  Classy. I know.

I rarely ever buy pasta.  It’s one of those things I just don’t even think to buy.  But I’m human and I love mac and cheese.  Sometimes I want that cheesy goodness, but I don’t feel like going to the store to buy pasta.

So I’ll be honest.  This is one of those things I threw together because I haven’t been to the grocery store in almost two weeks (I know, how am I surviving right?).  Spaghetti squash will last a good while on the counter, and I roasted some hatch chiles that Melissa’s Produce sent me a week ago, so we’re good to go.  But don’t worry, just because I threw this together with ingredients on hand, doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.  I’ve been eager to use those hatch chiles and this was seriously delicious.

I think you’ll love it!

hatchspaghettisquashandcheesetextHatch Chile Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

1 spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
2 fully cooked sausages, diced (optional)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheese
2 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Poke holes in your spaghetti squash with a sharp knife and microwave for 5-10 minutes.  The cook time will vary depending on the size of your spaghetti squash.  You’ll know it’s ready when you can run your knife through it fairly easily.

While your spaghetti squash is cooking, heat oil in a large pot.  Once oil is hot, add sausage and brown until crispy on medium/high heat.  Once the sausage is browned, turn the heat down to low and add flour.  Toss with sausage and let it brown a minute or two.  Slowly stream in milk while whisking, breaking up any clumps in the process.  Once the milk is incoporated, add cheese and hatch chiles.  Stir until cheese is melted, taste and season with salt and pepper to your desired amount (I only added a few pinches because I don’t like things too salty).  Turn off heat and set aside.

Now go back to your spaghetti squash.  By now it should be cooked and cool enough to handle.  Slice in half, then spoon out the seeds.  Using a fork, fluff and pull out the strands of the squash.  Add the spaghetti squash to cheese sauce and stir until well combined.  Garnish with extra cheese and hatch chiles if you’d like then serve and enjoy!

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The spaghetti squash I used was enormous.  I’ll be eating this for a few days, but no complaints there.  This has an awesome kick from the hatch chiles, but it’s cooled by the creamy, cheesy sauce.  You can also easily make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage (or using vegetarian sausage).

What I also love about spaghetti squash dishes (oh hey, remember the Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash I made a while back?), is that it doesn’t feel too heavy. While I’m not claiming that this is healthy, I feel a little bit better about eating it than a full plate of pasta.  I think you could make this a bit healthier by reducing the amount of cheese and adding some greens in there.  We all need a little more kale in our life.  I’ll try throwing some in there next time.

hatchspaghettisquashandcheese1

I’ll definitely make this again!

What are some of your pantry staples?

How to Roast Hatch Chiles

If there’s one thing you learn while growing up in a latino household, it’s how to roast chiles.

Roasting chiles is common, not just in Mexican cooking but also in Guatemalan.  A lot of traditional dishes (like pepian!) include roasted or grilled tomatoes, red peppers and onions.  Our salsa even includes grilled tomatoes.  It’s amazing.  It helps the chiles release all the flavors, and is surprisingly quick and easy.

Remember a while back, Melissa’s Produce sent me one of their produce boxes to try out and with it I made some lettuce wrap burgers?  Well, they were also kind enough to send me an enormous box of hatch chiles (they also have a cool looking Hatch Chile Cookbook in case that interests you.  I haven’t seen it but I like the idea of lots of chiles!.

hatchchiles

I’m going to be honest.  I had never eaten a hatch chile before, but I was up to the challenge of experimenting with them.  I’ve seen hatch chiles a lot on the blogosphere lately, so clearly they’re becoming more common.  But since I had never tried them, I did a bit of research.

Hatch Chiles are from New Mexico.  This is exciting because I just started watching Breaking Bad and all of a sudden New Mexico is the coolest (err most intense?) place in America.  Clearly, I was excited to give these a try.

One of the first things to do before enjoying these chiles is to roast them.  While roasting is not necessarily required (aka you won’t die if you eat it raw), roasting helps them taste amazing, so why not give it a try?

If you’ve never roasted a chile before (and you can do this with any type of chile: poblano, bell pepper, anaheim, etc), here’s a bit of a step by step on how.

How to Roast Hatch Chiles

Put them in a pan without any oil.  Turn the heat on to high.  Let them hang out there for a few minutes.  Once they start to blister, rotate them and let them sit a little longer.  Now it is a good idea to turn on your hood fan if you have one, or open all your windows and potentially turn off your smoke alarm because these babies smoke…

asando chile

Ha! That meme makes me laugh.  Once you got them good and blackened all around, you’re ready to move on.  Also FYI, you can do this on the grill outside to avoid the smoke and smell (even though I think it smells great.  Embrace the chile.) The idea is just to blacken them all around so the skin is practically falling off, like so:

hatchchile2

Put them in a plastic bag and close it up.

bag

I know.  That’s a little ghetto.  But if you live in a latino household you know that plastic bags are the way to go.  (Note: they’re also a great way to steam tamales and keep tortillas warm… clearly we’re not worried about chemicals because everyone does it.  BPA who?)

But if you’re worried about hot plastic, use a brown paper bag.  The idea is to let the peppers sweat so the skin comes off easily.  Let them chill in the bag for about 15 minutes or until they’re cool enough to handle.

Then, take them out of the bag and peel.  The skin will come off easily.  Slice them in half, remove the tops and scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  I recommend using gloves for this.  I didn’t and my hands were burning the rest of the night (granted I roasted and peeled about 30 chiles so I wasn’t messing around).

Once your chiles are peeled and seeded, they are ready to use!

hatchchile

At this point, you can store them in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.  Or you can heat up some tortillas and queso fresco and enjoy right away!

hatch chile and panela

Confession: Jesse and I had this for dinner twice.

Seriously.  Tortilla + Roasted Hatch Chile + Queso Fresco + Avocado and a bit of salt.  Delicious.

Hatch chiles are a good spice level for me.  Less spicy than a jalapeno (with the seeds removed) but full of flavor! If you’re worried about the spice level, mixing them with cheese, cream or sour cream will help bring down the heat level.

I have a few more recipes to come using Hatch Chiles.  I can’t wait to 1. take pics and tell you about it and 2. eat the delicousness that is to come.  Stay tuned for the goodness!

Have you tried Hatch Chiles before?  What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

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