Sunday, November 9, 2008

Froggy's Kitchen

I should probably be working on my NaNo Novel right now (Wordcount: 16,284, hope to be at 20k by the end of the day) but instead I thought I'd fulfill your requests for recipes and other foodie goodness!

The Kaiser Rolls

First, a disclaimer on bread baking in general. I've been doing this for awhile. Bread-baking has been a hobby of mine for years, and in the last year or so I've started doing it quite often. It's not too terribly difficult, but it is time-consuming, and does take some practice. You may want to start out with a more basic loaf before diving into things like rolls and bagels. Let me know if you're looking for recipes!

Right, on to the rolls.

I found the recipe here, which has recently become my go-to resource for bread recipes--these people know their stuff! I'm not going to cut and paste the recipe, as the linked post is quite detailed with lots of helpful pictures, so you can check it out there!

That being said, I think I did alter the recipe to use a poolish, which is basically a small portion of the dough that is made the night before and left out to proof at room temperature. It gives the dough a richer flavour.

Shaping these was a little tricky, but I did a bit of research and gave it my best go. The rolls puffed up a bit more than Kaisers are supposed to, but the end result tasted great, so for a first attempt I was pleased.


Bagels

These were tricky, and some of them came out better than others. Once again, I found the recipe on The Fresh Loaf. This recipe came from a book which is totally going on my Christmas list, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and as such I stopped into Barnes and Noble and read over the book's version of the recipe before embarking on this particular mission. The shaping instructions in the book were a bit clearer, which helped.

Based on information I found on another website (I think I'm going to try this recipe next time), I boiled the bagels longer than indicated in the BBA recipe--2 minutes per side--and also added malt syrup to the water rather than baking soda. Unfortunately, I over-baked a few of them afterwards. Definitely a timing issue that needs to be worked on!

Oh, and my "Everything Bagel" topping consisted of: coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried minced onion, and dried minced garlic. Tasty!!


Pizza

Oh, the neverending search for the perfect, NY style pizza dough! It is a long and arduous task, and one that has resulted in many a pizza dinner, some better than others.

I'm not sure which recipe I pictured in the last post, but the most recent candidate was found here. While the consistency of this dough was not exactly what I had in mind, it has the best flavour of any recipe I have tried so far. However, the consistency problem could be chalked up to two factors.

1.) This recipe gives a baking time that is WAAAAAYYYY TOO LONG! I pulled it out at exactly 20 minutes and my cheese was about 2 seconds away from being burnt. Of course, it's technically my fault for not checking on the pizza sooner, so next time I'll be more careful.

2.) The yeast. This recipe differs from every other pizza dough recipe (and nearly every bread recipe) I have tried in that, rather than dissolving the yeast in the water as the first step, all of the other ingredients are mixed together and then the yeast is sprinkled over the dough and kneaded in. Being that I used Active Dry rather than Instant yeast (I just learned the difference a few days ago, oops!), the yeast might not have activated properly. I'll have to get a different type and try again.

Another key to good pizza is a pizza stone. They're a bit on the pricey side (or so I'm told, mine was a gift), but I hear that unglazed/untreated quarry tiles work just as well. Learning to get a pizza onto a pizza stone without launching the toppings across the back of the oven takes some time--I'm still learning myself. Though this last attempt was the most fruitful to date.


Herbed Chicken with Roasted Savory Sweet Potatoes

This meal was insanely easy to throw together.

First, the chicken.

Preheat oven to 350.

Take a large chicken breast--or more sections of bone-in chicken if you're feeding multiple people--and trim off any excess fat or skin, but leave most of the skin on. Rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel.

One side at a time, sprinkle liberally with salt, fresh ground pepper, sage, thyme, and paprika. Use your fingers to lightly rub in the spices.

Place chicken in a large baking dish, uncovered, and bake for one hour.


Now, the sweet potatoes.

Peel and dice as many potatoes as necessary, based on the number of people you are feeding. Place diced potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme (if I'd had any rosemary, I would have added that too). Toss for a minute to evenly coat potatoes with oil and spices.

Spread potatoes on a large baking sheet and place in oven on lower rack. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, turning once about halfway through baking time.

Voila! Serve with a chopped salad or other veggie and you are good to go! I like Annie's Naturals Organic Ketchup for dipping the potatoes. Tastes better than Heinz AND no high fructose corn syrup! I've tried making my own ketchup several times, but it always comes out tasting like tomato sauce. Now that I've found Annie's, I stopped.


Pumpkin Ravioli

I found this recipe here, an excellent resource for user submitted and reviewed recipes. If you make an account, you can save recipes to your recipe box and have them on hand anywhere that you've got an internet connection! (Side note, my BFF turned me on to this one which is totally rockin' and adored by anyone I've ever made it for!)

The only significant change I made to this recipe was adding some freshly ground pepper to the filling to give it a bit more bite. Otherwise I made everything as-is.

Rolling the dough was a bit tricky. In the end, I went to my fabric stash and found some muslin, which I cut into a rectangle and attached to my giant butcher's block cutting board with duct tape. I then liberally floured the muslin and rolled the dough out on that. The dough tried to stick to my rolling pin, but if you keep some flour on hand you should be fine. They do make cloth sleeves for rolling pins (my mom has one) for rolling out sticker dough, but alas I do not have one. Hey, work with what you've got, right?

My chief warning is: Do Not Overfill Your Ravioli! I did, and it made it a pain in the arse to seal them up. Fortunately, none of them exploded while boiling, but I thought they would.

Now, I served them with a Garlic Pumpkin Cream Sauce that I sort of made up as I went along. The sauce itself was decent, but was a bad combination with the ravioli for two reasons: first, the sauce was too rich and overpowered the flavour of the ravioli itself; and second, the sauce was a yellowish-orange colour, which clashed horribly with the reddish-orange of the pasta. Read: it did not look pretty, and in case you hadn't noticed from the photos, I like my food to be pretty.

That being said, I would recommend serving these simply with butter or oil and salt. Save the rich sauces for a simpler pasta.


And there you have it! Notes from Froggy's Kitchen! Tonight I will be making a chicken using this, which is super-easy and makes a fabulous bird!

Photos will be forthcoming, I am sure.

2 comments:

EcK said...

The study's conclusions: People react to pictures.

Hope said...

Thank you, thank you. It is incredibly difficult to find bagels in Greece. Now you've inspired me to make my own.

That and the roasted sweet potatoes.

Yummy! :)