Monday, June 27, 2011

Salted Watermelon, Monday, Magic.

I can explain. Remember how I put salt on the Pear tarts that my bog title alludes to? Remember how it was delicious? This watermelon is no different. It' s sweet, it's lovely, and it wants salt. My friend Dale put this idea in my head. Dale knows his food so we're gonna trust him on this one. Another thing about Dale, is that he is not fond of circular things. In an ideal world, Dale would use square or rectangular plates only. So naturally, if you give Dale a round thing such as a watermelon, he will cut it into... you guessed it: cubes. Well, here is the lovely thing about cubing a watermelon: you get to eat all the scraps! My grilled cheese sandwich at lunch went pretty darn well with these salty cubes of crunch. Try it!

I won't try to write out a recipe for my Grilled Cheese and Salted Watermelon (with greens), because I'm sure you can guess how I made it. What I will do though, is share some tips: if you don't have a sandwich press, cast iron is great for grilling bread. Put some pressure on your sandwich, though. My brilliant system today involved a plate and a full kettle. You could use a plate and a nineteenth century novel. Whatever works...

P.S. I tried to be really discreet about my use of Challah in making the grilled cheese of this post. I though you're so sick of this loaf of bread by now. But then I got a comment on the last post from Amuse- bouche that sent me back to the kitchen. I came back with this tiny grilled chocolate sandwich to have with my espresso. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sweet sweet conclusion to my lovely loaf of Challah.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Continuing Tale of the Challah

What does one 115lb girl do with two huge loaves of Challah? Deliver one loaf on bike to best friend. Then come home and proceed with the other loaf. Two slices at a time. Day one: Rice Crispy and Orange zest French Toast. Day Two: poached eggs and grilled tomatoes. I love brunch. You should come over and join me sometime!

Rice Crispy & Orange zest French Toast
2 thick slices of Challah (day old at least)
2 eggs beaten with a few tbsp milk
orange zest
1 tsp confectioner's sugar
handful rice crispies

Whisk the eggs, milk, zest, and sugar in a shallow dish. Soak the slices of bread on all sides until all liquid is absorbed, then roll in the puffed rice, pressing down to secure them in the bread. Fry in a few tablespoons of butter in your favorite pan.

Optional: you can peal and segment your orange and cook it down with a few tbsp honey and more orange zest as a topping. heck you could even put some Grand Marnier in the mix.

Poached Eggs and Grilled Summer Tomatoes

2 eggs
1 tomato (sliced thick)
salt pepper olive oil
2 slices Challah (try not to burn yours like mine)

I used a stove-top griddle to get the best out of my tomatoes. You can use whatever you prefer. Cast iron works best I find. Poaching eggs isn't that hard either. Just get the water to a rolling boil and the bubbles will keep the eggs afloat. One good tip though, is to break each egg in a small vessel first so you can drop them in the water with ease.

I still have Challah left. In case you were wondering...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Are You Gonna Put on that Bread?

This story starts a few days back. It was Thursday I think and everyone just seemed to do and say the wrong things. It's hard to explain. Small talk and unhealthy curiosity can really rub me the wrong way so I came home and thought, I'm gonna have a coffee, sit on the couch and do nothing for a while and then bake bread. I proceeded in that order and by the time the dough had risen twice I was starting to feel a little better about things. That yeasty smell in the kitchen was doing good things for me. By the time the Bread was baking and I was having my second coffee and scribbling in my book, I heard the ding ding of a message from a friend who asked the first good question of the day: "What are you gonna put on that bread?" By the time I'd waited for the loaf to cool and sliced into it and contemplated its fate, it seemed so obvious. Butter. So I let him know that was the decision and of course, he agreed it was a sound one. Things were feeling better already...

Recipe: Challah Loaf (makes two loaves)

1 1/4C warm water
2 tsp dry active yeast
4C (roughly) All Purpose/Bread Flour
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C Vegetable Oil
4 eggs
1tsp salt
Sesame or poppy seeds for the top

Whisk the water, yeast, one tsp sugar and 1/4c flour to get things bubbling. Set this aside for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 20.

Whisk in the sugar, oil, 3eggs (NOT 4) and salt. Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time mixing with a sturdy wooden spoon until the dough is coming together into one ball and not sticking too much. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes adding flour if needed, until the dough is round, smooth, elastic, and "cohesive".

Put the ball in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a reasonably warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk. About an hour. Maybe more.

Punch down and divide into 6 equal parts to make two braided loaves on a baking sheet that's either well-greased or parchment lined. Cover and let rise again until doubled and good looking. Preheat the oven to 325. Beat the last egg with a touch of milk or water and give the tops of the loaves a good egg wash, followed by seeds if you're into that. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom. If the tops are browning too fast cover with foil and return to the oven.

Wait till they're cool if you can. It's hard but it's worth it... There's something else I did with my Challah that will have to be the topic for the next post.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One of Those Days

Sometimes you have time to do certain things and it's amazing. I put a piece of prosciutto on my last chunk of bread early last night and thought, hey, I should make a dough that will rise overnight and in 14 hours I'll have a loaf of bread. I could do this, of course, because I'm taking the day off today to pack and run errands. So I did. Now I'm distracting myself writing this post to avoid sticking a serrated edge into my not-yet-cooled loaf of goodness. It smells really nice in here. This is not a new recipe. You've probably made it a hundred times like me. It's that no knead loaf that was all the hype a few years ago. I like it. It's a good honest piece of bread. I still like to knead and make other loaves with different flours because this one doesn't allow much variation, but it's got a good spongy crumb and it's pretty foolproof... but don't even dream of making it in humid weather. It will not work. Trust me.


3c flour (it's gotta be white guys, sorry)
1/4 tsp INSTANT yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2c warm water
cornmeal or bran for coating

I'm not gonna type up a recipe because you can watch Jim Lahey do it, himself. Here is how!