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November 2007

November 26, 2007

post-Thanksgiving debrief

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink and take a moment to consider what you loved about last week and what you weren't so fond of. Yes, I know you just finished cleaning up and there are still leftovers in the refrigerator. I understand that the last thing you want to contemplate is how to roast the turkey next year, but, like childbirth, you will utterly forget the pain of this year by next November. This will make you believe that brining a turkey in a lot of salt is good idea – it's not – and that you can have too many kinds of cranberries – you can't, we had three...and five people.

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November 16, 2007

Bread 101: How to cut an epi

baked epi

With the holidays coming up, dinner rolls take a step forward over at A Year in Bread. Susan, Kevin and I have posted recipes for three different takes on rolls suitable for your holiday table. We've got three tempting options for your holiday table, soup bowl or your Friday turkey sandwich.

  • Farmgirl Susan's Carrot Herb Rolls are absolutely gorgeous! Full of carrots, parsley, fresh rosemary and thyme, this recipe is from a new book that Susan got her hands on (and about which she has been taunting me) Bread:Artisan Breads from Baguettes and Bagels to Focaccia and Brioche. It's going on my seemingly endless wish list!
  • Kevin' Seriously Good Beer Rolls are not your grandmother's beer rolls. Dark porter plays off honey in a beer bread that, rather than the quick bread approach of most beer breads, has two rises and a starter! Golden brown and earthy looking, I am planning on making a batch of these for turkey sandwiches. (If it's a recipe from Kevin, I am guessing it makes great sandwiches!)   
  • kitchenMage's Rosemary Fans are a simple variation on a baguette recipe but the rolls are a big payoff for a little extra effort. The dough is very forgiving and shaping the rolls is an imprecise science at best so it is a great recipe to let the kids help with.  

Another option when individual rolls are called for is an epi, a traditional shape that represents a sheaf of wheat. While it is technically still a loaf, they have almost as much delightfully crust as a roll and individual sections break off easily in a perfect union of form and function.

Epis are also surprisingly easy to make. You start with a baguette shape and make a series of cuts with scissors. Since the implement of destruction is scissors rather than a knife, small people can help too. Speaking of children, you can start with a mini-baguette to make a child-size epi so the monstrrrs at the table get the fun of ripping off their own piece.

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November 09, 2007

Rosemary fan rolls recipe

rosemary fan roll

I think every baker needs a few never-fail recipes in their back pocket. Recipes that they can play with endlessly with a fair degree of certainty of success. This recipe is a variation of one of my standby recipes: a poolish baguette from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. If I had to pick just a few breads to bake all the time, this would be one of them. In its original form, it makes chopped rosemarywonderful baguettes and is well suited to being shaped for breads like epis and I have been  able to corrupt... err, vary it pretty endlessly over the years.

In fact — confession time — I once made a double batch of this bread. Except I didn't double the yeast. And I tripled the oil. (don't ask, it was late, I was rushed and had no business driving a KitchenAid...) As I kneaded the dough, stumbling my way through a series of "this feels all wrong" corrections, I slowly figured out how badly I had screwed up. Ever the good food writer, I trudged on, determined to take photos for an article titled "How to waste two pounds of flour" that I would write someday. Except for one problem: the bread was fine. It wasn't great, but it was good. This recipe earned its place in my back pocket that day.    

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November 07, 2007

What the Hell's Kitchen?

When one examines the pantheon of cooking video games, from BurgerTime to Cooking Mama and the almost inevitable sequel Cooking Mama: Cook Off, to Happy Cooking...well, one discovers it's a very small pantheon indeed.

The next thing one discovers is that there is much fun to made. (disclosure: I have not played any of these games...mostly because I have a real kitchen if I want to play with food. Also, no dragons to slay or tame so what kind of game is it?) Anyway, on to the digression: Happy Cooking, which is described thusly:

Lisa, a little girl, is having a hard time trying to cook dinner before her father comes back home. Hopefully, an unexpected angel from the Moon will make her meet a famous chef who will help her.

There are so many things wrong with this. Like: Do they have angels on the moon? Really?

But let's start at the beginning with Lisa, the little girl whose adventure we share. There's a picture of Lisa on the box and I kind of like her look. Attractive, but not overly so (if you know what I mean), kind of spunky looking, she's cradling that mixing bowl like she knows what to do with it (although the grip on the whisk is iffy),

Have you looked at that box cover yet? No? And you are waiting for what? Geez! Go look already, I'll wait.

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