Posts Tagged ‘dough’

I’ve eaten many pizzas in my quarter century on this planet. I know most people have eaten plenty of pizza, I wouldn’t claim to be unique in that. But I’ve eaten a lot of pizza. When I was a kid, there was almost nothing better than plopping down in front of the TV for Saturday morning cartoons and a Red Baron breakfast pizza (now sadly discontinued). In elementary school, I would long for pizza day in the cafeteria, despite being subject to the rectangular, near-crustless grease bombs. High school got a little better in that regard, upgrading closer to a New York style, complete with optional red pepper flakes and Parmesan. College brought be within spitting distance of NYC,  where I could gorge myself on Ray’s while wandering the unfamiliar terrain. I’ve even spent some time in Italy, sampling the classical Neapolitan style from traditional brick ovens (I will throw it out there the the best pizza I had was at a small shop in the town square of Siena, and came topped with hot dogs and French fries).

Growing up on the east coast, you pretty much get whatever is frozen at the grocery store, or a version similar to New York-style. While delicious in it’s own right, I’m of the opinion that Deep Dish and Chicago styles are casserole and not pizza, so we won’t touch on that. Since moving last fall, I’ve been making a lot of pizza at home. This largely, if not entirely, due to the local grocery store carrying Everything Bagel pizza dough from Portland Pie Co. They have garlic dough, basil dough, Shipyard Ale dough, but Everything Bagel is the one that really grabbed me. It was months later that I discovered I had been playing in the sandbox that is California-style pizza.

California cuisine came into it’s own in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and California-style pizza follow shortly after. Popularized by Wolfgang Puck, the style builds from a personal-sized crust with similar structure  to Neapolitan. From there, we throw out the rule book; Any combination of complimentary flavors spanning world cuisines, utilizing farm fresh vegetables and local cheeses, and generally a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options. When I started making pizzas, my only real goal was to move away from traditional red-sauce-based pies, and I was also trying to work on more vegetarian dishes to save a bit of money on meat; Pretty much falling perfectly into the California style without ever really meaning to.

Mascarpone, Cured Salmon, Red Onion, Capers, Dill (I dream about bagels and lox)

Peanut Sauce, Stir-Fry Vegetables, Mozzarella, Scallion, Radish Sprouts

Curry, Cauliflower, Mango Chutney, Cashews, Cilantro

Olive Oil, Potato, Tomato, Mint, Ras al Hanout

Butternut Squash, Chickpeas, Broccoli Rabe, Red Onion, Parmesan

17333207_394041167635812_3185024146144755712_nHoisin, Marinated Tofu, Mixed Pickles, Serrano, Fresh Herbs (A Banh Mi-zza, if you will)

White Sauce, Chickpeas, Frank’s Red Hot, Celery, Gorgonzola, Ranch

Cheez, Mushrooms, Peppers, Onions, Provolone

Kansas City-style Barbecue, Eggplant, Smoked Gouda, Red Onion, Cilantro

IMG_5730Ricotta & Chevre, Sweet Corn, Maple Bacon, Arugula, Parmesan

Pizza is such a fun concept to play around with and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Apparently I’m bad with segues, so here’s 9-year-old Olsen twins rapping about pizza.

Neapolitan Pizza Dough from Modernist Cuisine
Life-Changing Pizza Dough from ChefSteps


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Since probably the mid 80’s, Thai cuisine has seen an explosion of popularity, likely due to a booming post-war tourism industry in Southeast Asia. As all popular things do, Thai cuisine was quickly adopted as the trendy go-to cuisine in America, built to excess, and generally ruined. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dish of Pad Thai as much as the next person might. But a vast difference can be found from one pad thai to another. Generally, when seeking out foreign cuisines, look for recipes that aren’t written in english.

Thailand is host to a litany of amazing dishes exemplifying the core four flavors of their cuisine: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. One thing that people don’t necessarily think about, however (maybe I can’t speak for you, but I’ve really never considered it), is what breakfast looks like in this part of the world. Rice and noodles are all well and good, but when it comes to the most important meal of the day I’ll usually reach for something a bit more familiar.


Pa Thong Ko are a Thai version of a traditional Chinese-style cruller. Crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside; They’re almost more similar to the fried bread dough you’d get from a dirty cart at the county fair. Served with coconut jam (which is really a custard), you can see the influence from French colonialism, much the same way that the Banh Mi came about in Vietnam.

According to Thai tradition, the traditional X shaped fritters represent two inseparable lovers, always seen together. In stark contrast, Chinese tradition recounts a tale of two evil men who were put to death in boiling oil.

Pa Thong Ko, adapted from SheSimmers
makes 10-12 fritters

  • Bread Flour*, 260g
  • Active Dry Yeast, 2g
  • Baker’s Ammonia, 2g
  • Alum Powder, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 8g
  • Granulated Sugar, 14g
  • Warm Water, 170g (3/4 cup)
  • Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon, plus more as needed
  • Baking Powder, 4g

Combine all ingredients except baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and lightly coat top of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and allow to rise 4-5 hours. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust flour over dough. Sprinkle baking powder over dough. Fold and knead about 4 times. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut to desired shapes.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 4-5 inches of vegetable oil to 350F. Fry dough until deep brown and crispy, 1-2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil

*Yes, you can use All-Purpose flour

Sangkhaya (Coconut Jam/Custard)
makes just over 1 cup

  • Egg Yolk, large, 4 each
  • Palm Sugar, 3 tablespoons
  • Granulated Sugar, 5 tablespoons
  • Coconut Milk, full-fat, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
  • Dried Pandan Leaf**, about 1/4 cup
  • Kosher Salt, 1/8 teaspoon

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk vigorously until thick and creamy. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk, pandan and salt in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. While whisking, add 1/3 of the hot coconut milk to the egg yolk mixture. Continue whisking until full incorporated. While whisking, add egg mixture to remaining coconut milk. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking very frequently, until sauce is thick, about 5-8 minutes. Once thick, immediately remove from heat, transfer sauce to a bowl or other container and refrigerate until cooled completely.

**If you can’t find pandan or don’t want to buy it, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

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As I’ve mentioned a few times on here, bread is subject that is very near and dear to my heart. Bread is the thing that very first got me interested in cooking at a very young age. Bread was very nearly the entire reason that I went to culinary school. Last year, during a period of heavy depression and anxiety, bread got me back into cooking for myself and back into writing and helped me start taking back my crazy-ass brain. Going into the 13th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge with bread as the theme, I was already really excited about making bread. But this week also gave me a great opportunity to do some more research on a subject that’s been inescapable for me since first reading about it in Lucky Peach.

We’ve come to live in an era where bacteria isn’t necessarily seen as a bad thing anymore. Probiotic yogurts can be found on grocery store shelves everywhere, kimchi has seen a huge boom in the restaurant world, and there are countless sites and blogs detailing how home cooks can make  a transition back to more traditional foodways by creating lacto-fermented products. Bacteria and leavened bread have always gone hand in hand; Whether you’re making a yeast-risen dough or culturing your own sourdough starter, bacteria creates the gases that that are needed to give bread its light, airy structure (we can get into quickbreads another day). While certain bacterias can be really beneficial, today we’re looking at something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

Salt-Rising (or salt-risen) bread is a traditional style of bread that was common in Appalachia during early American settlement. The word “salt” in the name can be misleading, as the bread doesn’t contain an unusual amount of salt. Salt is actually used to counteract the growth or development of yeast in the starter culture for the bread, which is were things get interesting. If yeast strains aren’t growing in the starter, other types of bacteria are free to inoculate the mixture.Lactobacillus  is the most common wild bacteria found in fermented products, and it does play a small role in leaving Salt Rising bread, but the real MVP here is Clostridium perfringens.  Clostridium perfringens is widely known to be the third leading cause of food poisoning in the United States and United Kingdom. It’s also the most common bacteria found in Gas Gangrene infections (symptoms include necrosis, putrefaction of tissue, and toxic gas production) and also produces the noxious gas emitted by dead bodies. I think it goes without saying that this is some pretty nasty stuff. While the baking process renders the bacteria inactive, it still might not be for the faint of heart. But, if you’re like me and you’re more intrigued than disgusted (or at least equally intrigued and disgusted), than Salt Rising bread is a really cool experiment. I could try and go on about the history and science behind this type of recipe, one of my favorite food writers, Harold McGee, wrote an absolutely incredible article about it (the one from Lucky Peach), which I highly recommend reading. So for now, we’ll just get into the recipe itself.

Since the bacteria  normally flourishes in a living host, a crucial part of the recipe is to keep it around body-temperature at all times. Since it require an incredibly long time* to ferment fully, this can be a pretty difficult task. However, with help from an immersion circulator it’s be accomplished without much hassle.

IMG_1841 (1)

Holding at 105F, it’s basically like a nice hot tub for your starter. Also, that’s definitely the original Star Wars trilogy in the background and you should be jealous. With a few key differences, Salt Rising bread isn’t all that different from a regular sourdough. You make a starter to culture some bacteria, add flour for it to grow into a sponge, then add a bunch more flour to form the final dough. The result?


Nice, tight crumb with a thick, crispy crust. While the bread itself didn’t taste all that funky, while it was baking the apartment filled with a not-quite-overwhelming scent of ripe cheese, with a hint of dirty feet. While the process of making the bread was really cool to learn and play around with and the bread was pretty tasty,   I would say that the finished product isn’t entirely worth the time you have to put into it. That being said, its something I would really enjoy doing again and learning more about the processes at work.

Salt-Rising Bread, adapted from Harold McGee

makes 2 loaves

  • Cornmeal, 1 cup
  • Sugar, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Whole Milk, 2 cups

Combine cornmeal sugar and salt, mixing thoroughly. Heat milk in a saucepan until just barely boiling. Combine with cornmeal mixture, mixing to combine thoroughly. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to ferment at 105F** for 8-10 hours.

  • Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Water, heated to 120F, 1 cup
  • All-Purpose Flour, about 2 cups, as needed

Add baking soda and water to starter, mixing to combine thoroughly. Add flour as needed to bake a thick batter. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to ferment at 105F** for 3-4 hours, until bubbly and spongy.

  • Kosher Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • All-Purpose Flour, about 4 cups, as needed

Transfer sponge to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add salt to sponge, then add flour as needed, mixing with a dough hook, until a solid dough is formed. Divide dough into two greased loaf pans, cover loosely with a towel and allow to proof until volume is increased by about one third, 2-6 hours. Preheat oven to 425F. Bake loaves at 425F until browned, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

*I recommend starting this in the late evening for it to be ready by about dinner time the following day. I started mine just before 11am and ended up baking it at 2am, which was kind of a pain in the ass.

**I used an immersion circulator to hold this temperature precisely, but if you can closely monitor the temperature of a water bath by other means, I would say go for it.

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The past month or so has been super hectic for me. Lots of large events at work, going on vacation, it all just adds up and I lose track of time. Two out of the past three weeks, I haven’t had time to actually write on here, and it kind of bums me out. But fear not! This week I’m back in full-force for the 42nd week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge! This week, we’re celebrating the wide range of cuisines traditional of the Native American people!

While it’s now considered a staple of Native American cuisine as a whole, Frybread only came about in the late 19th century. During what was known as “The Long Walk”, the United States government forced the Navajo tribe from the ir native land and to travel 300 miles to New Mexico. The harsh desert environment couldn’t support their traditional diet of vegetables and beans, and the Navajo were forced to rely on what little supplies the government provided them, such as flour, salt, and lard. Like most dishes around the world, the iconic Frybread was born from pure necessity.

Navajo Frybread with Blackberry Wojapi

For my frybread, I kept it traditional. Very basic dough, fried up crispy. To go with it: Blackberry Wojapi. While more typical of the Lakota than the Navajo, Wojapi is a sweet berry sauce or soup that is commonly found alongside frybread when served for breakfast. Sweetened with just a little honey and sugar, the sweet, syrupy sauce was perfect for the rich crispy dough.

Navajo Frybread

makes about 12

  • All-Purpose Flour, 2 cups
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dry Milk Powder, 1/2 cup
  • Shortening, 4 1/2 teaspoons
  • Water, about 3/4 cup
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying

Combine flour, salt and milk powder. Cut in shortening. Add enough water to bring dough together. Allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven with 2-3 inches of oil to 350F. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten dough into thin rounds. Fry each piece of dough until golden brown and puffed, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from oil to a paper towel lined plate to drain oil. Serve hot, with sweet or savory toppings.

Blackberry Wojapi

makes about 2 cups

  • Blackberries, 2 pints
  • Raw Honey, 2 tablespoons
  • Granulated Sugar, 2 tablespoons

Combine all ingredients and mash to disperse sugar. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

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First thing’s first, this is my 100th post! I’d like to thank everybody who’s followed along since the beginning, and also anyone who’s stumbled their way here from Facebook or Reddit. It’s been a blast writing and I don’t have any plans on stopping soon.

Taking a step back from ‘MURICA week, where we indulged in the grossest food we can summon, the 30th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge is all about clean eating; using minimally processed foods, fresh ingredients, and none of the garbage you can find in the freezer at the store. Contrary to most healthy eating crazes that have swept the country in the past decade or two, the idea of clean eating comes about as more than just a way to lose a few pounds. Rather than focusing on cutting out certain things from your diet in favor of other “healthier” options, clean eating is centered more on keeping food in a state as close to it’s natural form as possible. As much as people like to throw around the idea that processed food is the devil, every food is processed in one way or another before it gets to your table. Even that farm fresh lettuce you’re so proud of yourself for buying had to have been picked, trimmed and washed before making it into your salad bowl. That’s the kind of processing we want though, we’re okay with that. It makes the food easier for us to eat without demolishing the nutritional value.

For this week, I couldn’t help but think of all the gross processed foods that I couldn’t live without when I was a kid. My go-to after-school snack? Microwaved chicken patties with Kraft singles on white bread. Sloppy, tasteless food and empty calories. I didn’t have to think about where the food came from, how it was handled, or any of the other stuff that is second nature to me now. Above all else, there was one frozen box that I always loved, and still continue to love shamelessly to this day: Hot Pockets. I won’t try and make the point that Hot Pockets are actually good food, because I know that’s a losing battle. Hot Pockets are gross, probably more so than most highly processed foods. And even when just this year there was a massive recall on certain Hot Pockets for contained “diseased and unsound” meat, I haven’t been swayed from them. They’re just so gross and sloppy… and delicious.  I’m getting side tracked, where was I? Oh right, clean eating. For this week, I wanted to make a “clean” version of the most amazing/disgusting processed food out there, the almighty Hot Pocket.

hot pockets

After perusing the freezer section for longer than I probably should have, I decided that the grossest Hot Pocket had to be Barbecue Style Beef, so that was my starting point. As I’ve said the past couple weeks, I’ve been in the process of moving. Now that I’m all settled in at the new place, I’m lucky enough to have a Farmer’s Market less than a block away every weekend. This week, I picked up a nice slab of locally raised grass-fed beef from Stony Pond Farm. I braised the beef overnight with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and homemade chili powder. After shredding the beef, I discarded the liquid and cooked the vegetables down into a nice barbecue sauce, seasoning it up with just a little vinegar, salt and pepper. For the dough, I used a very basic pastry dough with local flour and raw cane sugar. The result: Juicy, tender shreds of beef wrapped in a light, flaky crust. It reminded me a lot of the store-bought counterpart, but something about it was just more… real. For the ultimate test, I froze a few of the pockets for reheating another day. After about 15 minutes in a 400F oven, my homemade pockets held true to form: crispy and brown on the outside, frozen in the middle. An additional few minutes was all that was needed to bring it to the only other option, boiling lava hot. It seems like no matter what you do, some things don’t change all that much.

Barbecue Beef Hot Pockets

makes about 5 pockets

  • Beef, 1 lb
  • Roma Tomato, chopped, 3 each
  • Yellow Onion, sliced, 1 each
  • Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded, chopped, 1 each
  • Chili Powder, 2 tablespoons
  • Instant Coffee, 2 tablespoons
  • Water, as needed
  • Cider Vinegar, as needed
  • All-Purpose Flour, 1 1/2 cups
  • Dry Milk Powder, 1/8 cup
  • Raw Sugar, 1/8 cup
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Instant Yeast, 3 teaspoons
  • Water, warm, 1/2 cup

Combine beef, tomato, onion, pepper, chili powder and coffee in a slow cooker. Set temperature to low and let cook overnight, about 8 hours. Remove beef from slow cooker and shred. Strain liquid from slow cooker and reserve solids. Puree solids until smooth. In a medium sauce pot, cook vegetable puree until very thick, about 1 hour. Thin puree with water as needed. Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper. Combine shredded beef and sauce.

Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and yeast. Add water and mix on medium speed until dough forms, about 6 minutes. Divide dough into 5 equal portions. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Divide beef among rolled out dough. Wrap dough around meat, pressing seams to seal. Place pockets seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake pockets at 350F until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm, or cool completely before wrapping in wax paper and freezing. To reheat, cook pockets in a 400F oven for 20 minutes.

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