Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

How to make bagels from scratch

April 17, 2011 3 comments

My family likes bagels. So I was surprised when I read about how to make them over at Georgia Pellegrini’s blog (not related, surprisingly), and realized I’ve never tried to make them myself.  As of 8:30 this evening, bagels are one more item that can no longer make it onto my bucket list.  Here’s my photo journal.

Cast of characters: 1-1/2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 2c flour, 2/3c warm water, 1-1/2 tsp olive oil (ours couldnt be bothered to make the photo shoot, EVOO is like that sometimes ever since Rachel Ray made him famous)

First the water...

Then the sugar...

Then the yeast. Stir well, then let it proof (rest) for about 10 minutes.

After the yeast has proofed, add the oil. the original post called for vegetable oil. Olives are a vegetable in our house, therefore olive oil is vegetable oil.

Add the flour and salt. Knead by hand, or with your mixer. I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer. You may need to dribble a few teaspoons of additional water to make the dough come together - it should be a slightly sticky ball. Cover the dough with a towel, and let it rise for at least 30 minutes.

After the first rise is complete, turn out the ball onto a floured surface. Knead it 8 or 10 times.

Cut the kneaded ball into four or six pieces, depending on how large you want them. I cut in fours since this was a dinner bagel. Roll each piece into a snake about 1" in diameter - it should be long enough to wrap around your palm. Wet each end (lightly!) and press together. When all teh bagels are formed, cover with a towel and let them rise again, at least 30 minutes.

When the bagels have risen, parboil each one in boiling water. Boil for one minute on each side, then remove to a towel to wick off excess moisture. Then transfer to a baking sheet.

Bake at 450F for about 20 minutes. I put convection on about 5 minutes before the end of the cycle to get a nice brown crust.

I should get back to providing costing info with these recipes.  Flour goes for about $2.99/5 lbs, so that’s 19 cents per cup, or 38 cents for the recipe.  It requires a packet of yeast at $0.80.  Figure another $0.25 for salt, sugar and oil.  So $1.43 to make four large bagels.  That’s about $0.36 per bagel.

Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee from Muddy Dog Roasting Company.  My current favorite is a new arrival, Yemen Mohka Sana’ani.


The world’s best pork chop biscuit, from scratch

The World's Best Porkchop Biscuit. Seriously. Lousy photo. Awesome biscuit.

My work on this planet may be just about done.

After a dinner of the Best Porkchops Ever (from heirloom pigs we selected, crossed with a farmer’s hybrid boar from friend farmer Tim, grown with love by our friend Bruce at his farm), I asked daughter Courtney what she would like for school lunch tomorrow.

Answer: pork chop biscuit.

Be still my heart.

So I set about making biscuits.  Only to have Southern grandma-channeling daughter Emily hop up to coach me on my biscuit prep skills.  Because this girl can make her some biscuits.

And together, we made the World’s Best Porkchop Biscuit.  I have eaten me some porkchop biscuits in my time, including the famous ones at the NC State Fair.  And I am not exaggerating, this is the best ever.

And it dawned on me, how many of you have never had a porkchop biscuit that didn’t come from Hardee’s?  Or Biscuitville. Whatever.  This is another one of those foods that is crazy-easy to make, and everyone loves.  So here’s how to do it:

Biscuits (Alton Brown’s recipe, it’s the best):

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter (or a little bigger), being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

For the porkchop:

Obtain the highest quality porkchop you can find.  A thick one, at least 3/4″.   None of that boneless crap, either.
Brush it with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper (I like smoked salt for this).
Grill it till about 155F.  Just a little pink inside.  Yes, it’s safe.
Remove bone and excess fat. Slice it about 3/8″ thick (probably in half).  Cut such that it fits on the biscuit.

Place porkchop slices on biscuit and prepare for the magic to happen.  A little pat of butter on the biscuit first won’t kill you.  Quickly.

Try it paired with a nice of of Nicaragua El Limoncillo Pacamara Peaberry from Muddy Dog Roasting Company.

Cornbread stuffing from scratch – Part I, Cornbread

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Thankgiving is my favorite holiday.  You’ve gotta love a day that celebrates no organized religion in particular, is marked by an abundance of food (some of it actually good), and always falls on a Thursday so it’s a four-day weekend.  But there is one thing (ok, several, but just one that I’ll talk about here) about this holiday that drives me crazy: bread stuffing in a box.

Seriously?  That’s almost as pathetic as pancake mix.  If you can read, you can make stuffing from scratch.  So in keeping with the spirit of this blog, we will show you how to make cornbread stuffing from scratch.  Because cornbread stuffing is my favorite.  And since our company started making roasted cornmeal, we have a ton of cornmeal at our disposal.  If you’re interested in knowing more about our roasted corn products, read about them HERE.

Any great bread stuffing starts with great bread.  So Part I of our post will make the cornbread.  On Wednesday, we’ll turn it into stuffing.  Here are some important notes about the recipe to follow: First, this is a Thanksgiving day crowd quantity.  It’s 3x the normal recipe.  Second, I use cookie sheets (and a lower oven temperature) when I bake cornbread especially for stuffing, because it’s thinner and stales more quickly.  If you want to make just a plain old eating cornbread, modify the instructions below as follows: reduce ingredients (divide by 3), raise oven temp to 450F, and bake in an 8 x 8 baking dish.

Also, a plug for one of my favorite food books of all time: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, from which comes my favorite cornbread recipe.  Yes, I said it, I used a recipe.  The devil just shivered.  People who know me know that I hate cookbooks.  Books about food, I love.  Cookbooks, I hate.  With two exceptions.  One of course, is Julia.  The original Julia, not all that mass-market crap they talked her into doing in the 90’s.  The other one is this particular Madison volume.  It was introduced to me by a long-dead friend who was vegetarian (thanks Paul, miss you buddy!).  The book is full of great ideas and helpful techniques, one worthy of space on your shelf.  And after about 13 years of cooking from this book, I’ve come to value my margin notes as much as the book itself.

Here’s what you’ll need to do a big batch of stuffing cornbread:

3 cups flour
3 cups roasted cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP baking powder
3/4 cup oil
3 cups milk
6 TBSP honey
6 eggs (ours couldn’t make the photo shoot)

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Dump half the oil on one cookie sheet, the other half on a second sheet, and place them in the oven to warm while you make the batter.

Blend the dry ingredients well.  Mix the wet ingredients well.   Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients well.  Remove the cooking sheets from the oven.  Swish the oil around to coat the sheet, then dump the excess into the batter and stir quickly to blend well (if you’re slow the hot oil will start to cook the batter, not the end of the world, right?).  Pour half the batter onto each cookie sheet and roughly level it with a spatula.  Pop both sheets in the oven.  Rotate the sheets and switch their positions about 10 minutes into baking.  Start checking for done at about 15 minutes (insert toothpick in thickest part, when it comes out clean, it’s done).  They should be ready in less than 20 minutes.



Allow to cool, then cut into 2″ pieces and put in a bowl, uncovered, to stale for a couple days.

We’ll be back on Wednesday with how to turn it into stuffing.

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