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November 2011

November 30, 2011

FoodBUG: Thoughts on a Failed Recipe...


Isn't that a lovely loaf of sweet bread?

I was experimenting one night and swapped a single ingredient around in a quick bread recipe that I use regularly with great success. It wasn't even a big switch, damned near the equivalent of changing beer brands in beer bread, but it was apparently the exact wrong thing.

An overwhelming yeasty one-note 'aroma' gave way to a crumb that was somehow both gummy and dry and a profoundly bitter taste. There was no yeast and nearly a cup of sugar in one loaf, and the gummy/dry thing is just baffling. I literally took one bite and threw the rest away.

A blogger friend saw the photo and said, "You know, some people would just post the recipe...I mean it looks good." I got another note moments later saying "JUST KIDDING! Please don't tell anyone I said that." so I am not naming names.  glares at @redacted

This got me thinking about the less deliberate recipe failures that hit print and what heck is the bar for publishing recipes (and other things) anyway and what happens when the inevitable screwups happen. And they will...

Continue reading "FoodBUG: Thoughts on a Failed Recipe..." »

November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Note to Parents

Thanksgiving preparation is in high gear across America this evening. Most of those people are also on twitter so my twitterstreams are full of people, many of whom are parents—mostly moms, but that's another rant—working to get the pies baked, clean house, cook some side dishes and do something with kale. (Seriously, every fourth tweet is "Sous-vided bacon-wrapped kale infused with baby, free-range...") I am getting hungry reading and knowing that there is turkey tomorrow isn't helping much at the moment.

But that's not why I am here. I want to talk to the parents...

I keep reading a variant of "Kids SUUUUCK! Can't get anything done. Crap! I'll wait until they go to bed."

What the hell, y'all?

You had children so they could participate in your family life, right? So let them.

When it comes to helping with party prep (and general household chores) I believe in No Child Left Behind, aka Being a Slavedriver. No wait, make that SLAVEDRIVER. It's a job title more parents should embrace from time to time. Your kids will thank you when they are all grown up and coping with the activities of daily living without undue vapors.

  • Tweens and older are treated like almostAdults when it comes to work.They are fairly independent, getting some directions to get started but no hovering like I might with a smaller child.
  • School-age kids are extremely helpful sous chefs. They can read recipes, gather and prep ingredients and do a lot of the actual cooking.Teach them to work with heat and blades safely and
  • Kids love to stir things. If all your stirrables are simmering away, give the toddler a bowl with a fistful of rice and dried beans and ask them to stir that.
  • Small kids can do a lot of stuff if you give them a nudge and a wee bit of direction. Get them to pick up toys and other clutter, collect dirty laundry, wash vegetables, shell beans, set the table, load/unload the dishwasher and a thousand other things.
  • Taster. This one is a double hit because your child is busy and happily eating (mostly) healthy treats. Do it right and you don't have to make them dinner tonight. Triple win!
  • If all else fails, give your monstrrr a stack of paper napkins and ask them to fold them in Thanksgiving shapes. Praise whatever they do.
  • Babies are tougher but I decided their job is to be adorable and provide toes to be nibbled. If you have a better job for them, please share it in comments.

How are the kids in your house helping? Give other parents a hand by sharing your secrets in comments.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


November 21, 2011

Rosemary Fan Dinner Roll Recipe ~ v.Simpler


This is a slightly simpler, straight dough version of these Rosemary Fans. (Straight dough is mixed at one time, versus recipes using starters, etc.) If you have the time to do the original version, which requires an extra few hours for the starter to ripen. I encourage you to do so, the bread flavor is a bit richer, somehow more "grainy" in a good way. It's all those lovely enzymes and tasty bits...

Rosemary Fans

These rolls bloom in the oven into charming little fans, each with its own look. The bread dough is simple to make and shaping the rolls is quick, easy and (happily for small hands) not an exact science. You can substitute almost any other savory herb for rosemary, though fresh herbs really do work best for this.

Makes 12 large rolls

1 1/2 cups water (at body temperature)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups flour (bread flour is better, but all-purpose will work)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon rosemary fresh, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)

  1. Put the water, yeast, whole wheat flour, three cups of the bread flour and the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. (Use low speed on a stand mixer.) Sprinkle in the last cup of flour while mixing, stopping when the dough clears the bowl and stops absorbing flour. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Turn the dough out on a well-floured counter and sprinkle the salt on it. Knead the dough 5-10 minutes (stand mixer: 5-6 minutes on medium) until it is firm yet supple and smooth. (You may need to use a bit more flour on the counter.) Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. (Use the rising amount, not time, to determine if dough is ready for next step.)
  3. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on a lightly floured counter and flatten into a rectangle with your hands. Let the dough relax for a minute while you prepare a muffin tin by lightly coating each cup with olive oil.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x18 rectangle. If the dough starts resisting and springing back, let it rest for a few minutes and then finish rolling. Brush the dough with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle liberally with chopped rosemary.
  5. Cut dough in half crosswise and lay one piece on top of the other. Cut that stack in half and stack the pieces to make one four-layer stack that's about 6x9 inches in size. Make three cuts crosswise and 4 lengthwise to give you 12 rolls about 1 ½ by 3 inches. It doesn't matters if the sides are uneven, it's what gives them their charm.
  6. Place in oiled muffin tins, one stack per cup with a short edge facing up. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. When the rolls have increased in size by about half that amount, turn on the oven to 425 to preheat.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in pans for 15 minutes and then gently turn them out onto a rack to finish cooling. Don't handle the rolls too roughly; they occasionally fall apart when warm.

Welcome, More magazine readers!

Welcome to kitchenMage!

I was chuffed when More asked me to contribute a recipe to their Best-loved Christmas Recipes article. The Rosemary Fan recipe they posted is a simpler version of these Rosemary Fans — which uses a starter and has step-by-step photos if you find them helpful.

If this is your first time at kitchenMage, let me show you a few things you might find interesting:

Here are a few other recipes you might enjoy:

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November 19, 2011

8 Things You Can Do For Thanksgiving Dinner Right Now

If you are like many Americans, you are probably buried in Thanksgiving recipes and wondering why you bother to look at new dishes since the family will boycott if you don't make every traditional bit of dinner. Personally, I am a child when it comes to sweet potatoes (with marshmallows please) but I have never understood that green bean thing. What is up with that?

This weekend is a good time to check on some critical, and often overlooked, things so you have a chance to fix any problems you find before Thursday. You should actually get the dishes out and do this exercise; of course you think it all fits, I want you to know. Make notes as you go so you don't find yourself trying to remember what you figured out.

Continue reading "8 Things You Can Do For Thanksgiving Dinner Right Now" »

November 02, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A Moment of #!*@ing Silence


My oven has decided that now, with money impossibly tight and the holiday cooking season closing fast, is a good time to die. The picture above is not it. That picture is what I am taunting my increasingly erratic beast range with. "Work or I'll replace you with this sexy thing!" does not seem to be working.

I have, however, developed a new technique for roasted chicken that involves heating the oven up to 350, letting the temperature fall to 190-270, reheating the oven to 350 and repeating. (All temperatures are +/-75 degrees. Seriously.) It takes about three...or maybe it was four hours and the chicken was remarkably moist yet cooked through. How that happened I have no idea.

Guess that's where the magic comes is.

I am biting back everything I want to say about the range in honor of Wordless Wednesday (and be glad it's not Swearing Saturday because holy #!*@balls, Batman would I ever be going for it) and simply quietly dream of something like that pretty thing up there .

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