Sunday, February 12, 2012

Foccia Bread

This is a nice bread to use for sandwiches. Its garlic and rosemary tones are nice. It's a simple bread to make.

Basic dough

7 cups A P Flour
3 teaspoons Yeast
28 oz water 110 degrees + (2 teaspoon sugar)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Rosemary leaves

Pre heat oven to 375

Place your flour, salt, garlic, and rosemary in a large bowl.
Bloom the yeast in the water and sugar

Now you want to add the yeast to the dry mix. I make a well in the center and that's where I pour the yeast.
Using a plastic dough scrapper I work the dry flour into the wet turning the bowl as I work. Now this dough will be very sticky. DO NOT WORRY! It should be sticky.

Let It proof now till double in size. Once Proofed turn it out onto a floured surface. Using your scrapper turn the dough onto its self in a kneading motion. You will find the dough will get drier as you work it.
Prepare a sheet pan with pan spray and parchment paper. Place the dough on the pan and using your hands spread it out flatting it to cover the pan. Now using your fingers make indentation into the dough. You want lots of them. Now drizzle the top with the Olive oil you can sprinkle with extra chopped rosemary and garlic if you want. I always add extra.

Now let it proof for about 10 minutes and then bake till golden. When I take it out the oven I brush it with some butter just for good measure. Butter never hurt anything.

I cut it into squares and layer in cheeses and meats then toast open face in the oven.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bread making

Well getting settled in at new job. I work for a company that places certified chefs into fraternities and sororities. There mission is to provide the kids with better food than they have been fed in the past. We try to limit the amount of fried and preprocessed food that they eat. The house I am in said the old cook fried almost everything. Nothing was made in house it all came out of bags or boxes. That is how most of these kids eat at frats. I know this first hand my son is in a frat and he complains all the time. Yes he is a little spoiled when it comes to food.

Well I started out making fresh homemade bread for my kids. Its a basic white bread dough nothing special just a good easy recipe for white bread dough. You can shape it into dinner rolls, buns, or loaves. Spread it out on a sheet pan push some holes into it slather with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and fresh garlic and you have foccia.

The recipe:

14 cups A.P. flour
60 fl. oz water warm (100 to 115 degrees)
6 teaspoons of active yeast
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar

Place flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

I will form a little well in the center.

 Alright the yeast mixture is next. You want your water to be between 100 and 115 degrees any hotter or colder and you can kill your yeast and you will get no rise. I will usually measure out half the water and I add the sugar to it. Then I add the yeast and stir it, then you want to let it set and bloom. It will form a foamy layer on top.

 Once that foam layer is nice and thick and covers the entire top you want to add it to the flour mixture. I use a plastic dough scraper to mix the water and flour together. You may need a little more water than the original 60 fl oz. depends on your flour. Add the yeast water and the second half of water at the same time.
I pour it into the middle of the well and the start with my scraper adding in a little more flour as I turn the bowl.

You will end up with a nice sticky ball in the center of the bowl. Yes it is sticky and wet. Don't worry it will all be alright it is suppose to be sticky.

I cover it with a warm damp lint free towel and let it sit in a warm place till it is almost double in size.
Then I dust the table with a little flour and using the dough scrapper I turn the sticky dough out onto the table. Dust the top with some flour, and using the dough scraper I start turning the dough over onto it's self. Not really kneading it just folding it over onto it's self. Dusting with flour as needed. It will firm up and start to form a nice solid ball that is soft and smooth to the touch not sticky anymore.

Now I am going to make burger buns out of this batch. I take the dough scraper and start cutting off nice little chunks about 4 oz each.

These little chunks I will dust my hands good with flour and take the dough and fold it onto it's self making a small ball. Then I start working the ball into a round disk about 1/2 inch thick and about 3 inches wide. Placing these on a prepared tray and brushing the top with some beaten egg and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Once done I let the proof or rise how ever you want to call it. Once they are about double in size then into a 375 degree oven till golden brown.

 There you go let them cool and then split them and you are ready to go. Nothing better than fresh baked homemade bread.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kudzu The vine that ate the South!

You see it everywhere down here. It grows anywhere and at a rate that is unbelievable. We spray it we mow it we plow it under and yet it still keeps making gains. Its called a number of names from mile a minute vine, foot a night vine, the vine that ate the south, and it's even been called the miracle vine. 1876 at the centennial exposition in Philadelphia is one of the first recorded dates of Kudzu being introduced as a ornamental plant. Then in the twenties farmer found that animals would eat so it was sold by mail order as a forage plant for animals.In the thirties the Soil Conservation Service pushed Kudzu as a soil erosion control. Even paying farmer up to eight dollars an acre to plant it. The Civilian Conservation Corps planted it in many of their projects. Channing Cope called it "The miracle vine" and promoted it in the Atlanta Journal for soil erosion control. The U.S. government decided to stop supporting kudzu in 1953 and it took them until 1972 to call it a weed.
The plant can really grow as much as a foot day in the right conditions. Some herbicides will actually make it grow better most have little to no effect. The U.S. Forest Service recommends repeated herbicide treatment saying t take up to four years to completely kill it.
Now the plant itself has been used for food, for building, as a medicinal plant, and as an ornamental plant for centuries in Asia. Its bright green leaves and beautiful purple blossoms make it a pleasant looking plant.

Very Pretty and the blossoms have a scent of almost that of ripe grapes. Most people don't ever see the blossoms because they tend to be hidden by the large leaves. the stories of the vine swallowing houses are true.

It's said that the vine can even stop an Abraham's M1 Tank. Having tried to get through this stuff I would not doubt it. Back to the food aspect tough.
The wife makes this wonderful Kudzu Blossom Jelly. It comes out a light golden color and has a taste that is somewhere between grape and plum. She will take the same blend and not add the pectin and makes a delightful Kudzu syrup. The large leaves can be treated like any other green. Cook of some bacon ans onion then add the big kudzu leaves and cover with chicken stock and simmer just as if they were collards ot mustard greens. The large leaves can be blanched and then stuffed with chopped lamb or goat or whatever. and served as you would stuffed grape leaves. Now the new little sprouts and leaves can be used raw in salads but they need to be very young. If you can find the root and if you can muscle it out of the ground. I say that because the root can be huge up in the hundreds of pounds. It can be dried and then ground and used as starch to thicken soups and sauces and as a breading for fried foods.
 As far back as 100 AD the Chinese have used kudzu to treat a number of aliments from headache and migraines to agina. To even speed the progression of measles in children. As a demucalent to soothe mucous membranes. It can lower blood pressure and help with hypertension. Not bad for a weed that everyone hates.
 Its been used to make bales to help insulate houses. The vines being very strong and flexible are used to weave baskets and mats.
So I say The vine that ate the South should be the vine the south eats. I will try and post some photos of the jelly later

Bikers and Beer

Saw this over clip of some bikers and a couple at the movies on a blog called small dead animals. It's from a young lady from our northern neighbor Canada eh! She has some really good stuff smart, and funny. Check her out. The clip is great a little insight to how first impressions can be.