Entries in Delicious Dish (66)


Look, Ma, No Knead!

When it comes to baking, I = LAZY.  I've relied on my Zojirushi breadmaker for almost a decade to provide my family with freshly baked bread.  When I hear people rhapsodizing about the joys of the long knead, I think, Dude, that's why I work out.

So you would assume that I would have jumped on the Jim Lahey/Mark Bittman No Knead Bread craze when it hit Manhattan almost four years ago.  There are tales told of the entire City being hit by a run on instant yeast and Le Creuset Dutch ovens.  Rose Levy Beranbaum, my personal Obi-Wan Kenobi of baking, went ga-ga as she whipped up her own modifications.  The foodie portion of the blogosphere still reels from the discussions and debates that followed Bittman's column.

But if you assumed, you would be wrong.  The bread was just too popular; I couldn't bring myself to join in.  Kind of how I will only reluctantly read an Oprah book once it's an Oprah book, and how I have taken a solemn vow never to see James Cameron's Titanic.

But then, my buddy Glen Nelson tried making the bread and raved.  Glen and his wife Marcia venerate food to the level that Patrick and I do, so I was impressed.  But still, I resisted.  

The camel-back-breaking straw came a few weeks ago.  I checked in on my idol and first blogcrush, Jane Brocket, to see what fabulous creativity she was up to.  She had just announced her lateness to the No Knead party, with fantastic results.  That did it.  I gave in.

I'm glad I waited, though; since Bittman made Jim Lahey's genius famous, Teh Webs have come up with all manner of variations and adaptations, including one using all whole wheat flour that still has just four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast.  Bring it, sister; I've got literally two tons of wheat in my basement.

I realized as I read the recipe that the whole-wheat version, in addition to being extraordinarily economical for someone in my position, also is very Weston Price-friendly.  The people at Dr. Price's foundation contend that the phytic acid in wheat and other grains--the substance that preserves grain for centuries under the right conditions--is hard on the stomach.  Getting rid of it by soaking the grains for an extended length of time will get rid of the phytic acid and also make the grains' nutrients much more bio-available.  This has been a problem at our house, however; I'm the only die-hard sourdough fan here.  But perhaps the No Knead bread would not offend everyone else's sensibilities.  I had to find out.

So last week, I got out my wheat grinder and made me some flour, then dusted off this great ceramic baking pot we got as a gift years ago.  It usually languishes in the top cupboard until I need it to hold ten pounds' worth of mashed potatoes, but no more.  Oiled and preheated, it took the load of really ugly, slack, all-wheat dough I put in it, and 45 minutes later, produced a glorious loaf of artisan bread.

We let the loaf cool, then sliced and tasted it.  Delicious.  It could easily sit on the table at Picholine or Bar Boulud as a rustic accompaniment to cheese (or simply play host to a slathering of cultured butter).  I immediately stirred up another batch, which was just as good when when it was ready the next day.  The family usually endures wheat bread, but now they're eagerly asking for it.

And yesterday I decided to give the kids a treat.  They love those $4.99 Ecce Panis boules I splurge on from time to time; I wondered whether the white No Knead bread would compare favorably.  

Yeah: pretty much leaves it in the dust.  Mouth-watering, crispy crust; complex (but not sourdoughy) flavor; delectably stretchy innards that beg for your best-quality butter. 

I cannot stress to you how easy this is, but maybe this link will convince you.  Folks, I want to be cautious about a possible break-up after so many years together, but I may well be seeking another home for the Zojirushi sometime soon.  I can't see why I would ever want any other kind of bread than Jim Lahey's miracle loaf.


Cool on a Stick

Yesterday morning, Cold Spring got even more amazing when my friend Lynn Miller and her lovely husband Greg opened The Pop Shop on Main Street.  Anne and I walked down there this morning to wish them well and partake of their fantastic foodstuffs. 

Lynn and Greg are the creators of Go-Go Pops, the most delicious frozen fruit pop you can possibly imagine.  The pops are all natural and handmade right here in Cold Spring.  Lynn and Greg use local fruit when possible and use environmentally sound practices at every level of their production and packaging processes.  But all that virtue would be for naught if the pops weren't scrumptious.  Here are some of their mouthwatering flavors:

Juicy Pops
Lime Mojito

Creamy Pops
Orange Cream
Banana Cream
Wild Blueberry-Lemon (my favorite)
Cherry Chunk
Peaches & Cream
Banana Pudding

Power Pops (made with Go-Go Boosters like protein, ginseng, and bee pollen)
Flower Power
Blueberry Buttermilk
Chocolate Cherry

I first tasted a Go-Go Pop at Cold Spring's Farmers Market a couple of years ago.  Since then, it's a rare week that goes by without our indulging in a treat from the Millers' stand.  Besides the Pops, Lynn makes terrific baked goods like Cheddar-Dill Scones, Raspberry-Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries, and (my favorite) Lemon-Iced Gingerbread Cupcakes.  They also specialize in all kinds of organic, fair-trade coffee. 

And now I don't have to wait for Saturdays for a Go-Go fix!  Come on over, friends, and I'll treat you to the best frozen treat you've ever put in your mouth.


Cherry Almond Ginger Chews

On the way home from a family day trip to Manhattan recently, I stopped by the Gourmet Garage for some car treats.  In the bakery area, the kids and I saw something intriguing: a package of Chewy Cherry Almond Ginger Cookies.  They demanded to be bought; I agreed at once.

They were delicious, and I decided that I must reverse engineer them as soon as possible.  This has proved to be one of my most challenging duplication projects, but after three batches, I have come off conqueror.  My sacrifice is your gain; I graciously accept your thanks in advance.

The key ingredient here is a homemade ginger syrup, though you can substitute molasses if you don't have the time or the inclination.

Cherry Almond Ginger Chews

2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 oz. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup ginger syrup* OR molasses
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with silpat sheet or baking parchment. 

Mix the flour, salt, soda, and spices together in a bowl and set aside.  Beat the butter and the sugars in mixer on high speed for 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and the vanilla and beat to combine for about half a minute.  Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add the syrup (or molasses) and beat until combined.  Scrape down sides again.  Add the flour mixture and mix on lowest speed only until well mixed; add the cherries and the nuts and mix for just a few seconds more--do not overmix.  The dough should be very soft.  If that freaks you out, you can add another couple of tablespoons of flour, but you shouldn't need to do that.

Put rounded tablespoonfuls of dough about two inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes.  The cookies will not look done; that's okay.  Let them cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.  Sample one and marvel at the warm, gingery goodness.  Makes about two dozen.

*Ginger Syrup

A piece of ginger root about as big as your hand (fingers included)
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water

Slice the ginger into very thin slices (most easily done in a food processor).  Put it in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan with the sugar and the water.  Boil the mixture for at least a half hour, until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  Strain the syrup (save the candied ginger in a Mason jar in the refrigerator for making tummy-soothing ginger tea).  Let syrup cool to at least room temperature before using.  Store in a Mason jar in the fridge; keeps indefinitely.  Makes about two cups--enough for four batches of cookies!

As always with my recipes, if you try this, let me know how it works out for you.


To Market, To Market

Photos by Steve Bates

A few weeks ago on Facebook, I posted about how glad I was that our local farmers market is now a year-round event.  Someone responded, "What do they sell right now, ice cubes?"

Funny, but no.  The Cold Spring Farmers Market features an amazing variety of foods that are all locally grown and/or produced.  Visiting it has become an essential part of my weekly homemaking routine.

Madura Farm offers several varieties of gourmet mushrooms; all kinds of root vegetables; and salad greens and cherry tomatoes from their greenhouses. 

Breezy Hill Orchard has apples (this year's apples kept in special cold storage until market day); apple cider; fresh turnovers and cookies; and brown eggs from happy, free-running hens. 

My friend Lynn Miller sells Go-Go Pops, her delicious gourmet popsicles; fair-trade coffee; and scrumptious weekly specials like asparagus quiche and gingerbread-lemon cupcakes. 

If I'm not in my home-baking groove, I can get lovely artisan breads at Bread Alone.  We love to try new varieties of cheese from Sprout Creek DairyThree Chicks Sugar Shack sells maple syrup from maple trees right here in my home county.  I visit White Oak Apiary's stand whenever I run low on raw honey.  Walnut Groves Farm can supply me with grass-fed beef and pastured pork and chickens.  If I didn't already have a source for local, hormone-free milk, I could get it from either Ronnybrook or Hudson Milk

There are several other vendors at the market.  Some are there every week, while others participate once or twice a month.  On any given Saturday, you can find everything from wine to salad dressing and from cheddar-dill scones to fresh spring rolls made with ground lamb and mushrooms.  As Patrick might say, "It's a veritable smorgasbord."

I believe it's important to eat locally-produced food whenever possible.   It's healthier for us, for the economy, and for the earth.  And, thanks to the Cold Spring Farmers Market, eating local food is convenient, easy, and delicious.  I truly feel blessed that there is such affordable abundance available to me every Saturday morning. 


Bacon Fat Mayonnaise

One of my New Year's resolutions is to eat more fat.  I'm quite serious.  To that end, last night I worked on refining the recipe that follows.  I ran across the original idea here, but when I tried that version, I wasn't quite satisfied.  It was too strong-tasting, and I didn't love the texture. 

So last night, I incorporated the bacon fat concept into the Mayonnaise recipe that appears in my cookbook Comfortably Yum, substituting lemon juice for the vinegar in the original.  The results were fabulous: smooth and subtly bacony.

To what use might one put such a condiment, I sense you asking.  Let me count the ways.  Last night I spooned some over freshly steamed broccoli to accompany our roast beef and scalloped potatoes.  You could add it to chopped apples, pecans, and celery for a liberated Waldorf Salad, or mix it with hard-boiled egg yolks to create the best Deviled Eggs of all time (I did this today).  Tuck a schmear into an otherwise humble Turkey Sandwich.  Potato Salad, Tuna Salad, Egg Salad--I can't think of any mayonnaise-based recipe that wouldn't be better with Bacon Fat Mayonnaise.  (Well, except for that Mayonnaise Cake my friend Deb Barshafsky is always on about.)

As I look over this recipe, I realize it is perhaps not for the faint of heart.  Personally, I'm not frightened of raw eggs, since I buy them directly from farmers I trust.

And I don't want to hear any moaning about your thighs or your hardening arteries.  I'll warrant my bacon fat from happy, pastured pigs is a far sight healthier than any tortured soybean oil in that flabby glop they sell in the supermarket.  Julia Child once said this about her heavenly Scalloped Potatoes Baked in Cream: "I, for one, would far rather swoon over a small spoonful of this ambrosia than a large ladleful of instant mashed made with skim milk!"  Amen, sister; her sentiment certainly applies in this case. 

Bacon Fat Mayonnaise

1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
The juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup bacon fat, close to room temperature but still liquid
1 cup olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
Freshly ground pepper

Put the egg, yolks, and mustard in the blender and mix it on low for 30 seconds.  Add the salt and the vinegar and mix for another 15 seconds.  Stir the bacon fat and the olive oil together.  With the machine running on medium low speed, pour the oil in the blender in the thinnest stream possible. 

When you’ve added all 1-1/2 cups, stop the blender and check the sauce.  If it seems overly thick, add a bit more oil.  Taste the mayonnaise carefully for seasoning, and add more if needed, turning on the blender for the briefest amount of time possible.  Scrape any mayonnaise you're not using immediately into a Mason jar and store it in the fridge.  Use within two weeks.