Sunday, October 19, 2008

DB/BB/New House and deflowering my new kitchen!

I have now closed on my house! It was a bit painful. The money transfer took all day Tuesday and then the movers showed up almost 4 hours late. But now everything is here. And a lot is unpacked.... not all... but a lot. I have pics but I can't currently find my SD Card reader.

Now I have a real kitchen! For the last week or so I've been thinking about my first real meal I was going to make in my new kitchen. I decided on Spaghetti Bolognese with freshly made spaghetti and freshly ground meat using my stand mixer and attachments that have sadly been sitting in a box for over 2 months now. They have been crying to get out of the box and make something. Maybe that's why I haven't been sleeping well. I also made fresh baked bread, based of the No Knead Bread recipe that has been all the rage for a while with some garlic butter. I threw in a salad to call it a balanced meal and attempted to make Creme Brulee for dessert.

The first time doing something doesn't always work out the way you hope it would. It can be awkward because you don't know exactly how everything should happen. I had very ambitious hopes for how it would be. Which can lead to disappoint. Well let me tell you, it was everything I hoped it would be. Although it wasn't perfect, we'll get there eventually, it was a very good and satisfying experience.

So the first thing I started was the No Knead Bread. I pretty much used this recipe, the original. Here is my version. I made the dough Friday night so that I could have it with my bread on Saturday. It came out wonderfully. It had a wonderful crisp chewy crust. I threw a head of garlic in the oven while the pan was heating and made garlic butter to spread on the bread. mmmmmmmmmm tasty

No Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cup water

Mix everything together in a bowl and let it rise on the counter for at least 12 hours. The dough is very wet.
Flour your countertop and hands generously and dump the dough on the counter. Work the dough into a ball. Flour a bowl generously and throw in the dough.
Allow to rise about 2 hours.
Heat up a cast iron dutch oven in the oven at 450 for at least a half an hour.
Dump the dough into the dutch oven, cover and bake for 30 mins.
Take the lid off and bake for an additional 15 mins until the bread is golden brown and crusty.

Next item was the sauce. I ground 2 lbs of chuck with my stand mixer. I learned that the piece I used last time for making the really thick spaghetti is actually for the meat grinder. Oops. It was still good. Well I learned something. I went a little heavy with the red pepper flake but it was good. It makes a lot of sauce. I froze 2 quarts of it and still had enough for a half a lb of pasta. The round quart containers like the ones from chinese takeout places fit perfectly in the door of my freezer. Woohoo I'm filling my fridge.

Bolognese Sauce

2 lbs ground chuck
8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 jar tomato sauce
mozzerella cheese
parmesan cheese
sprinkles of red pepper flake, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder to taste

Brown the beef in a large skillet on medium high. Remove the meat and set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and brown for a minute then add the onion. Cook until translucent.
Add back the meat and the tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and lower heat to medium low.
Taste and season as desired.
Add cheese.
Simmer until the pasta is ready.

The next item was the pasta. I learned something there too... the first time I made the dough I made it too wet and the noodles all stuck together. This time I made it too dry and it doesn't extrude. It's like trying to extrude plastic with the heats too low or off. I had to rip the whole thing apart, get the dough out, incorporate more water and re-extrude. But I got it. I made half of it and froze the other half.

Fresh Pasta

2 1/4 cup flour
1 large egg

Mix flour and egg in your stand mixer.
Add water slowly just until the dough holds together if squeezed.
Rest dough for 15 mins to let the water saturate the flour.
Extrude through your pasta maker. Re-extrude as necessary.
Add to boiling salted water until it floats.
Add to hot sauce immediately to get the sauce to integrate into the pasta.

And for dessert.... creme brule. I used something like Dorie Greenspan's recipe that people did for Tuesdays with Dorie. Of course I had my modifications. I did it in a water bath rather than low oven temp. I still tried to caramelize the sugar on top in the toaster oven, like before I moved in because I don't have a torch. It didn't work so well. I have a couple more ramekins of the custard that I will try again. I only had a couple small ramekins with me and not enough room in the fridge for the ingredients and whatnot until I got in the house.

Creme Brulee

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
sugar on top to coat

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat milk and cream in a pan to a simmer.
Mix egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl.
Stream into egg yolks while whisking to temper the eggs.
Stir in vanilla.
Pour through strainer into 4 1 cup ramekins.
Place a pan to be used as a water bath in the oven.
Place ramekins in pan and pour boiling water to create water bath.
Bake for 1 hour or until custard is firm.
Chill for at least 4 hours.
Just before eating, sprinkle sugar on top just to coat.
Use a torch or broiler to caramelize the sugar on top.
Allow to cool a couple minutes so crust forms.
Eat immediately.

Next I will try to catch up on the Daring Bakers and Barefoot Bloggers challenges I've missed for a while now. I will make as many as possible but some of them probably aren't going to happen. I have my doubts I'm going to find good enough tomatoes to make a panzanella salad. Hopefully most of the others will happen over the next couple months.

Maybe I'll get the rest of stuff put away at some point too.

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