Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jack is Cooking Sourdough Bread (Again)

Well Hello Internet!

It's been a while since my last post, but i have a whole bunch of recipes to post, that have been festering for a while somewhere in my computer.  Here is the first of many!

If you have been following this blog for a while you will remember that the some of the firsts posts i did were regarding Sourdough bread.  Back then i had a weak starter that took some time to figure out exactly how to get it to work right.  Eventually though the starter died for one reason or another, and i didn't ever make a new one.

Recently though for my birthday i was given 1 cup of a starter named Bernie by my good friends Nick and Mandy.

Bernie is tried and true, and has his roots from many generations ago.  So i started again with my bread making endeavors!

Here's my new recipe for sourdough bread.  This will work with just about any starter, but as always i have notes as to what i might change next time to make an even better loaf.

First I decided to multiply the starter so I always have extra.  

I added 3 cups of flour and 2 cups of water to the1 cup of starter

Then I let this sit for actually almost 24 hours.  (A little bit longer than necessary but that's just how the timing worked out).  All those Bernie bacterias got to work in there!

I then removed 2 cups for future generations of Bernie... 

To the remaining sponge I added 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of salt.  I folded that in and then added about 2 cups of flour.  At this point I was able to handle the dough I added about stony her 1/2 to 1 cup of flour through kneading.  Knead for 5 minutes then let it rest for 5 and then knead 5 more minutes.  (Next time i think i will knead longer) Form into a ball.

I let it rise for about 2.5 hours.  About halfway through I made a kind of rising box by putting rolling up a warm damp kitchen towel and Putting the towel and the dough underneath a large Tupperware container.  This definitely helped the rising.... But i think it could still be warmer in my kitchen while rising - this would make it even better

I then preheated the oven to 450 with my pizza/bread stone in it.  After it was preheated I out the bread in and sprayed it with water (crucial step!)

After 30 minutes I rotated the bread, sprayed it with water again and turned the oven down to 375. I continued baking for another 40 minutes but it could have stayed in another 20 I think.  It needed a little bit more in the very middle..

Then I let it rest as long as I could manage before I had to eat about half of it...

So that's what I did, and it turned out pretty awesome!!

stay tuned for more

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jack is Cooking Pizza II

Well Hello Internet!

Pizza is something i happen to make quite frequently, although every time i make it i play around with the dough recipe, constantly searching for the best combination of ingredients and methods.  Last night i finally cracked it.  I made the best damn pizza crust i have ever made, and from here on out i do believe that this is the way i will make my crusts.  After all what is a pizza without a good crust, as you can really put anything you want on it.

This post will focus on the crust mainly, and i will leave it up to you as to what you put on it!  We all have our own tastes, and my personal taste as i mentioned in the previous post is my slight dislike of tomato sauce.  NOT that i won't eat it! i'll eat anything.  However given the choice, i'll just choose something else.  Like fresh tomatoes - in a non sauce state of being.

The trick i found with this crust was to use much less yeast, and a lot more time.  So make this the day before you want to eat your pizza.  the first step is pretty easy, I just through it all together right before I went to bed.  It only took about 5 minutes.  leaving the dough to rise overnight, gives the yeast extra time to ferment, and fill the dough with air.  it leaves you with a deliciously crusty, chewy, light, and bubbly pizza crust, that is soft, yet not overly bread-y.

One note i would have to say, while it is not absolutely necessary i HIGHLY recommend picking up a pizza stone for your oven.  I got one at the Kitchen Supply on bowery for $10.  It make all the difference.

Here is what you will need to make the best crust ever:

2 cups flour + more for dusting
1 cup (or less) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast

1.  in a bowl, mix together the flour the salt and the yeast.  Slowly add the water until it comes together in a ball.  don't let the dough get too wet, but if it does, just add a bit more flour.  you want to be able to pick it up as one ball of dough, without it sticking to your hands, yet without the ball falling a part.  it is a fine balance.

2.  set this ball of dough in a clean bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  let no air inside!  you want a tight seal.  Place the bowl on top of your fridge, or in another area where it is about 75° and not drafty at all.  Let it sit here for at least 18 hours.

3.  when you return, the small ball of dough should have expanded immensely!  mine was more than double the size.  it was also all bubbly on top, and smelled absolutely delicious.   The yeast had done its job well.

4.  turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter, and shape it back into a ball.   That's about it!  no kneading is required for this dough.   After you have made a perfect looking ball, dust some flour on top and place a damp towel over it for one hour.  During this hour you can preheat your oven (with a pizza stone preferably) to 500° F  or as hot as it will go.

5.  Prepare your toppings.  you can put anything you want on a pizza.  remember if you are going to use fresh greens, or fresh basil, they will not survive the oven temperatures, so put them on after you cook it. anything else is fine.  

For this particular pizza i used:
Caramelized onions,
fresh ham
fresh garlic
cherry tomatoes
goat cheese
and arugula

6.  After the oven is preheated, and the dough has rested for an hour, it's time to assemble the pizza.  i use a pizza peel since i have a pizza stone, so i find it best to arrange the pizza right on this to make the transfer to the oven easier.  First sprinkle some corn meal on it, this will allow the pizza to slide off nicely.  

Stretch the dough out until it is pizza sized. - You can get it pretty thin, as it will balloon in the oven. 

If you can do the fancy stuff they do in the pizzerias, this dough will work extremely well for that!  At this point with the toppings you are on your own!  arrange them however you want.  

Finally, however, brush the crust all the way around with some nice olive oil.  This will make it really nice and golden on the edges.  

7.  Bake it in the oven, for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned, even getting pretty dark in some spots, as all good pizza will tend to do!  Remove from the oven and put on your final fresh toppings!!

mmm mmmm delicious!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jack is Cooking Baked Rigatoni with Herondale Farm Sausage

Well Hello Internet!

I don't normally like to eat pasta dishes with tomato sauce, but there are a few that i really like.  Normally i find that i like tomato sauces if they involve meat, like sausage or ground beef and also ricotta cheese.  So i made this delicious pasta dish which i suppose could be described as a baked ziti... but i don't want to call it that as that conjures up many images of exactly what i don't like.  

So this i call a Baked Rigatoni with lots of delicious sausage and Ricotta Cheese, to add a bit of greens i also included some kale, you know... just because.

Anyway, here is the recipe:

Olive Oil 
4 Cloves Garlic (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
1 pound Herondale Farm Sweet Italian Sausage (removed from the casings)
1 bunch Kale (finely chopped)
2 14 oz cans of diced tomato
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
salt and pepper
1 lb of Rigatoni
1 lb of fresh Ricotta
2/4 lb fresh mozzarella
a handful of Parmesan cheese 

1. Preheat the Oven to 400°.  Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a pan on the stove.  Add the Garlic and Onion, and cook until slightly translucent.  Mix in the ground sausage and cook until it is nicely browned.  Once the sausage is browned, add the kale and toss to mix.  The kale will get nicely cooked throughout this, so cook it until it has only just begun to wilt.

2.  Add the diced tomato, the water, and the herbs de provence.  Season with Salt and pepper and bring it to a boil.  

3.  While this sauce is simmering, cook the pasta.  Cook it until it is very Al Dente, so its still just a little bit hard in the middle.  Its going to cook a lot longer in the oven, so the pasta will absorb the sauce and become nice and soft.  When the rigatoni is cooked add it into the sauce and mix it all together.

4. Put everything into a Baking dish, or as i have done - a trusty creuset.  Take the Ricotta cheese and add spoonfuls to the mix.  The trick here is not to mix it in entirely, but to rather leave pockets.  so take spoonfuls of it, and plunge it down, repeating over and over until you have injected all these bubbles of ricotta cheese.  Keep some leftover and put it all over the top.

5.  Top everything with the mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over along with some salt and pepper.

6.  Place the dish in the oven, and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the cheese on top is starting to turn golden.

7.  Let the whole dish sit for a few minutes so the cheese solidifies, and gains a nice crust on top, and serve!

mmmm mmmm delicious!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jack is Cooking Pannekoeken with Apples

Well Hello Internet!

Pancakes are one of my favorite things, in fact just last night i had a fantastic dream about blueberry pancakes, filled to the brim with blueberries in a way that is only possible in a dream.  This is a recipe for apple pancakes, called Pannekoeken due to its Dutch nature.  It would be possible to make this with almost any fruit, the spices can be adjusted accordingly.

Fresh out of the oven
The first time i ate a pancake like this was in Amsterdam, and have always wanted to make them at home.  It is almost easier than regular pancakes, but it involves the oven.  The batter is very different from american pancakes, and is basically just a sweet version of yorkshire pudding - or a popover.

delicious caramelized apples
You will need a skillet that can go on the stove, and in a hot oven.  Cast Iron is good, or something that is all metal and won't melt.  Nothing with a rubber grip basically.

Here's what you will need:

4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

1 apple of your choice
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum

Preheat oven to 450°

1.  In a bowl, mix the eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and milk together.  Whisk until its bubbly, cover and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes

2.  Cut the apple into slices.  if you want you can remove the skin, but i left it on.

3.  Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Throw in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.  Stir until its bubbly, and the sugar has started to caramelize a little.  Cover with the apples, so the apples are evenly distributed over the sugary butter.  Toss the rum in, careful not to let it ignite.  (you could if you want to, and have a little Flambé action going on!)

4.  Pour the batter over all the apples, but do not stir.  Let it cook for about 30 seconds on top of the stove, and then put it in the oven for 15 minutes.  Do not open the oven at all during these 15 minutes, or it will deflate.

5.  Turn the oven down to 350° and let it bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately!  You can eat this with syrup if you like, but the sweetness of the apples due to the caramelization is enough on its own, and it is extremely delicious on it's own.

a perfect saturday breakfast

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jack is Cooking Persian Rice

Well Hello Internet!

I recently discovered the deliciousness of persian cuisine.  One of the things i liked the best was the way this particular method of cooking rice creates a delicious crust of rice on the top.  Hidden inside can be all sports of delicious meats, fruits, and vegetables.  I investigated some recipes, and before long i had figured out my own delicious version of it.  There are quite a few steps to it, but each of the steps is relatively straight forward.  The rice is cooked very differently from my Perfect Rice recipe, which was an interesting thing to discover.  All together this takes about 3 hours.

Heres what you will need:
For the Filling:
1 lb Merguez Sausage with no casing (look for Jack's Merguez Sausage at Herondale farm)
1.5 Onions (sliced)
1 cup prunes (chopped up0
1 small bunch of kale (finely chopped)
3 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
a few strands of saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric

For the Marinade/Crust
2 cups Yogurt (Especially good with Greek yogurt, but any yogurt will do fine.)
9 or 10 strands of saffron - soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water
zest of half an orange
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
2-3 cardamom pods (cracked open and ground)
1 tablespoon honey

For the Rice
3 cups basmati rice (cleaned and rinsed until the water is clear)
2-3 tablespoons ghee
1/2 onion
3 egg yolks
salt and pepper.

To Prepare the Filling

1.  Mix all the ingredients from the marinade together

2.  Take the sausage and place in a pan with 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, saffron and turmeric,  cook over medium heat until the sausage is cooked, and the onions are tender.  Leaving the juice in the pan, mix the cooked sausage and onions into the marinade.

3. Heat back up the juice in the pan, and add the other half an onion plus 1 clove of garlic.  Cook until its starting to get soft, then add the kale.  Toss for a few seconds, then add the salt and pepper, plus the prunes.  cover and cook for about 5 minutes.   Set aside.

To Make the Rice
1.  Preheat oven to 375°

2.  Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  Add 3 cups of rice stir making sure all the grains are separate from each other (kind of like cooking pasta).  Cook for maybe 4 minutes, then strain the rice out through a sieve.  You want the rice to be soft on the outside, but still crunchy on the inside.  Its going to be cooked some more in a little bit.  Run it under cold water to stop the rice from cooking.

3.  Remove the meat from the marinade, and set aside.  Add 3 egg yolks into the marinade and whisk together.  Mix in about 1/3 of the rice.

4.  Take a Pyrex dish (it could be round or square), and add 2 tablespoons of ghee.  place in the oven for to heat up the pan and melt the ghee.   ( about 5 minutes)  Remove from the oven

5.  Spread the rice mixture into the bottom of the hot pan.  Try to make a nice even layer that goes a little up the sides.  Keeping mostly to the middle of the pan, spread out a layer of about half of the spinach and prune mixture.  Then a layer of all the meat followed by another layer of spinach.  Finally cover everything with the rest of the rice, fully encasing all the meat and spinach.  sprinkle with any leftover marinade and juice, salt and pepper.

6. Cover with a layer of greased wax paper, followed by 2 or 3 tight layers of tinfoil.  Press down on the rice mixture to make sure everything is good and compacted.  Place in the oven for about 1.5 hours.

7. After about an hour and a half, take a look at the underside of the rice, through the pyrex.  it should be turning a nice brown color.  At this point i like to turn the oven up to about 450° for the last 20 minutes or so.  This will make the crust nice and dark golden brown - and nice and crispy..

8. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 15-20 minutes still covered.  Remove the wax paper, and tinfoil.  carefully run a knife around the edges to separate the rice on the sides.  Place a serving plate over it, and flip the rice out onto the plate so the brown side is up.  Garnish with some fresh parsley, and serve.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jack is Cooking Sausages with Pepper and Onions

Well Hello Internet!

Today i have a simple recipe for Sausage with Peppers and Onions.  It's very easy and fast to throw together for a good lunch, or dinner.  Also it is good to eat with beer, as a good beer is one of the ingredients.

Here's what you will need:

1 lb Sausages (Herondale Farm Sweet or Hot Italian!)
1 Onion
1 Red Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 pinch Fresh Rosemary
Good Beer. (maybe a cup)  I used a Weihenstephaner.  
A Baguette


1. Slice the onion and peppers so they are the same size.  Open the Beer.

2.  First Brown the sausages in a skillet, until they are nicely brown on all sides.

3.  Using the same pan as for the sausages, heat the oil back up and add the onions and the peppers, and cook until they are a little brown.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and a little herbs de provence (maybe 1/2 teaspoon), as well as the rosemary.

4.  Add the sausages back to the pan, and just enough beer, so that the sausages are halfway covered.  let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until reduced 3/4 of the way down.  

5.  Serve on piece of baguette, with the rest of the beer.