Tag Archives: bread

Memories of Taco Bell

My first exposure to Mexican food was at a local Taco Bell restaurant.

I know, I know … but it’s the only Tex-Mexican restaurant locally. I had to cross the Canadian-US border before I was able to get anything more ‘authentic’. And, since my passport has been expired for some time, I haven’t been back in ages.

My last Taco Bell visit is more recent … 2 or 3 yrs, I think.

But, I DO still eat Tex-Mex food.

This weekend, I made a batch of flour tortillas and used them for beef and bean burritos and shrimp quesadillas.

Some of the changes/tips in  making the tortillas from the original recipe.

Trial 1 (10/20/2018): 1/4 cup lard, less water, made 10 8-9 inch diameter tortillas. I ended up with ~420 gm of dough so I made 10 40-42 gm balls of dough and rolled them out using as little flour as necessary to prevent sticking. My cast iron frying pan gets HOT so I preheated it over a setting of 3-4, wiped the pan with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Each tortilla was fried for a total of 1 min 15 sec … about 45 sec on the first side and then another 30 sec on the second side. Since there were lots of bubbles during baking the first side, I used the bottom of a thin metal spatula to ‘pat down’ the bubbles.

The tortillas are nice and thin and the edge was a bit fragile. A change from the sourdough flour tortillas I usually make, which are more sturdy.

Beef and Bean Burritos

Beef and Bean Burritos – makes 8 burritos, serve 2 per person

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp sauteed onion
1 tbsp dry taco seasoning mix
1 cup refried beans
1/4 cup salsa, medium or hot

8 9 inch flour tortillas

Add-ins
avocado, diced
shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)
salsa, medium or hot
sour cream
diced green onion

In a large saute pan, preheat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and the sauteed onion and fry until the ground beef is cooked through and slighly browned. Break up the beef as much as possible. Drain off any excess oil. Add the dry taco seasoning mix and stir through. Add the refried beans and salsa and cook through until the mixture has tightened up a bit.

Warm up the flour tortillas so they’re more pliable. Add about 1/8th of the filling to each tortillas as well as any add-ins. Wrap up the bottom, and then both the sides. Enjoy

I also thawed the last of the corn tortillas from my freezer and enjoyed a few spicy shrimp tacos.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

While firming/warming up the corn tortillas in the oven, I … lost track of time, and ended up with some very crisp (tostada type) tortillas. So, I decided to use some of them to make a copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. I used my beef and bean burrito filling in place of the meat but scaled down the Nacho Cheese recipe so it would make only four wraps.

I had to break the edges off the corn tortillas so I could wrap the flour tortilla around the package.

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme – makes 4

4 9-10 inch flour tortillas
4 corn tortillas, crisped up, or tostadas

1 recipe Nacho Cheese (recipe below)
1 cup Beef and Bean burrito mixture from above
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
4 tbsp sour cream
2-4 tbsp diced tomatoes (or salsa)

Nacho Cheese – enough for 4 crunchwraps

2 tsp butter
2 tsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
2 slices of American cheese, roughly torn
1/8 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Pour in the milk, a bit at a time, while whisking until you’ve added all of the milk and the mixture starts to thicken. While whisking, add in the salt and cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth.

Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla

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Sourdough Bagels

My sourdough starter jar was getting a bit full (relatively speaking, as it was in a BIG jar, rather than my usual 2 cup one) so I had planned on refreshing the contents by making a batch of sourdough flour tortillas.

And then I was inspired by a themed post on a FB group I belong to to make sourdough bagels. After posting a request for a recommended recipe, I decided on the simplest of the bunch, which I actually found by net-surfing. And it only made eight bagels, which was perfect as my upstairs freezer is getting VERY full, again. I used up the last drop of starter in the jar (though I’ve got a couple of jars of dried starter in the pantry) so I won’t have to do weekly starter feedings for a while.

The results were very tasty, dense and chewy in texture. Breaking out the stand mixer to knead the dough was a smart idea as that’s a tough dough to knead by hand. And, although the bagels weren’t shaped as nicely as I’d hoped, none of them came undone during the boiling step even though I used the “sealed rope” method of shaping. The hydration of this dough meant that the two ends stuck together during the shaping, especially as I didn’t use additional flour when rolling out the dough into a rope.

Fried Egg, Bacon and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Bagel Pizzas

Sourdough Bagel Pictorial

Dough was kneaded in a stand mixer for 10-15 min on medium speed, rested, shaped and proofed at room temperature for 3-4 hrs until puffy and then cold retarded for 4-8 hrs before being boiled and baked. The cold retarding develops flavour and lets the bagels harden enough to be easily picked up and transferred to their boiling water bath without deformation. (Especially if you don’t crowd your fridge and end up dropping a container on top of a couple of your bagels.)

Even though the bagels spread during refrigeration and I was sure I was going to end up with bagel pancakes, oven spring during the baking gave them a nice lift so they were plump and lovely.

Crumb – Sliced into while still warm, because who can resist a bagel fresh out of the oven? I know I can’t.

Sourdough Bread Bowls and a Shooter’s Sandwich

Warning: Another Picture Heavy Post

ETA (09/09/2018): Recipe for the Shooter’s Sandwich added

I rarely expend as much effort on a dish/recipe as I did for this glorified steak sandwich.

And, at the end, I didn’t USE the bun I had spent all that effort on.

The shooter’s sandwich is a relic of the shooting parties of the nobles and elite in Edwardian Great Britain, who would arrange to have the kitchen produce this sandwich to be tossed into their hunting bags, before they went out for a day of grouse shooting. The sandwich was wrapped in butcher’s paper and pressed so that the juices given off by the mushrooms and steak would permeate the hearty bun. Eaten at room temperature, it was an expensive dish if prepared with filet mignon. My steak choice was more modest. A blade steak cooked as quickly as possible in the hopes of not ending up with shoe leather.

And now the story behind the sandwich:

First, I had to research a recipe for an individual bun in which I could build the sandwich, since I knew that I was unlikely to find something suitable locally. And, once I decided on a sourdough bread bowl recipe, I had to make sourdough starter. Luckily, I had some dried sourdough starter in the pantry so I didn’t have to start from scratch. It took me two days but the result was a lovely bubbly and fragrant mixture. It took a third day to bake the buns.

Rehydrated Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Bread Bowl filled with chili

Sourdough Bread Bowls – top and bottom scooped out

I ended up with extra starter (something sourdough bakers have to deal with) so I experimented with part of it. I repeated the KAF Italian bread recipe but substituted ~200 gm of my bubbly new starter in place of the ‘overnight starter’. I was torn between reducing the amount of commercial yeast used but decided to stick with the original recipe. A bad choice as it turned out. I over proofed the dough during the bulk proof stage. And during the final proofing stage. And my kneading/shaping probably needed work.

Hybrid (Sourdough Starter and Yeast) Buns

I SHOULD have increased the baking temperature although the buns looked fine when I pulled them out of the oven. And then, the next day, after making the sourdough buns, they looked  pale and anemic in comparison.

When I cut into the buns, I was pleased with the crumb.

I froze the other two hybrid buns I made, and used the one I had cut into for my steak sandwich … after I hollowed it out.

Bun, onion/mushroom mixture, French’s mustard (use Dijon or a coarse brown mustard) and blade steak. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the steak after it had been seared off

Wrap in plastic food wrap, press, cut and eat.

Hybrid Bun Shooter’s Sandwich – cut it in fourths for an appetizer

Shooter’s Sandwich – makes 3 sandwiches

Three  12 cm/ 4 1/2 inch sourdough bread bowls, top removed and contents removed leaving 10 cm/1/2 inch rim around the edge and on the base

500 gm/ 1 lb blade steak, seared or grilled to rare/medium-rare

Mushroom Mixture

1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
227 gm/ 1/2 lb mushrooms, finely diced
1/4 tsp Worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

mustard, Dijon, coarse grained
horseradish (optional)

Making the mushroom mixture

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until the onion has softened and starts to get golden brown. Remove the onions to a small bowl and reserve. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute in the remaining butter until softened, slightly browned and fairly dry. Return the onions to the pan and sprinkle the Worchestershire sauce over the top, stirring into the onion/mushroom mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread some mustard over the base of the bread bowl. Divide the steak into thirds and fit tightly into the base. Spread some horseradish over the steak. Top with about 1/3 of the mushroom mixture and fit the lid of the bread bowl on top. Wrap the sandwich in a large sheet of plastic food wrap. Place the sandwich into a bowl. Place a flat plate on top and then a heavy weight on top. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into fourths and serve.

Repeat with the rest of the bread bowls and other ingredients.

KA Italian Bread 101 – Take 2

This post is being made as a visual record for some minor hydration adjustments of the earlier Italian bread post. The dough is shaped into the traditional loaf rather than the braid.

Trial 2: 8/27/18 … 680 gm dough. I used the liquid measuring cup for water on Trial 1 and, in retrospect, based on the ‘stickiness’ of the dough, even after incorporating ALL of the flour, wondered if my fast ‘eyeballing’ the water level, especially for the 2nd amount, may have resulted in using too much water. So, on this 2nd try, I used my dry measuring cups for the water. I held back about 2 tbsp of the flour at the end and still felt that my dough was too dry. I did a wet hand knead several times but the dough was still very firm. Bulk proofing 45 min, deflated and let rest for about 30 minutes. Shaped and let final proof for 40 minutes.

The dough was not glazed with beaten egg white nor did it have any sesame seeds sprinkled on top. (I had run out.) Instead, I sprayed the loaf with water, slashed and placed the loaf on an overturned baking sheet which had pre-heated in the oven. A metal pie tin with water was placed in the bottom of the oven onto a lower shelf. The loaf was rotated about half way through the baking and baked for 35 minutes.

Crumb compact but relatively soft

Delicious sandwich bread

I intend to make this again using the weights version of the recipe.

Sesame Semolina Bread and Soup (Two versions)

NOTE: The potato gnocchi soup below is a tomato based adaptation of the kale and sausage soup posted here.

After an indulgent last dim sum outing with my nephew, on Friday, I used the afternoon to make another bread that I had added to my ‘to do’ list, while I was flourless.

The recipe came from the King Arthur Flour web site and is called a “Sesame Semolina Lunetta”. I have NO idea where the term lunetta comes from … lunetta means ‘little moon’ in Italian but this S-shaped bread doesn’t fit. In French, lunette refers to ‘eyeglasses’ … I guess you can vaguely picture two circles of glass in the S-shape. Sometimes, names have no clear explanation.

The dough turned out very wet but I suspect that my measuring cup didn’t allow me to be precise enough. (Next time, I’d try using the weight option for ingredients. ) Since it was too wet to hand knead, and I didn’t want to dig out my stand mixer, I decided to use a ‘stretch and fold’ process (every 15 minutes for an hour, for a total of 5 S&F’s) letting it rest for a further 30 minutes. I shaped the dough into an 18 inch rope and then coiled it into the S-shape and let it proof until it got very puffy, about 50 minutes.

Since it was still such a wet dough, I increased the baking temp to 400 deg F, rather than the 350 deg F in the recipe and baked the loaf until it got golden brown, 35-40 min (NOTE: 37 1/2 min).

The crust was crispy and the crumb was relatively open. The taste was good and there was a faint scent of sesame from the toasted sesame seed oil used in place of olive oil.

To accompany the bread, I made a pot of kale, hot Italian sausage and potato gnocchi soup. For a change of pace, I divided half the soup and added whipping cream to one portion.

Creamy version served with sliced and toasted sesame semolina bread, spread with pesto and grilled long enough to melt the Parmesan cheese in the pesto.

KA Italian Bread 101 “Review” (Picture Heavy)

The national recipes for ‘French’ and ‘Italian’ breads are limited in terms of what CAN and CAN’T be used in them in order to be able to legally use those terms. I decided to make a loaf of “Italian” bread using the recipe posted on the King Arthur website.

ETA: The recipe uses four ingredients for the bread: flour, water, salt and yeast.

I followed the recipe and instructions exactly, only adjusting the timing of the steps based on the action of my yeast, as I didn’t want to over proof the dough while maximizing oven spring.

Pillowy crumb … the slice was taken from one end of the braid but the height wasn’t much greater further in from the end.

The ‘starter’ was mixed up, covered with plastic food wrap and a towel and allowed to ferment for 12 hrs at room temperature (77 deg F). The next morning, the rest of the ingredients were added, the dough was kneaded by hand (10 min, 5 min rest, additional 5 min) and let rise for 45 minutes, covered, in an oiled bowl. Then the dough was deflated, reshaped into a ball and allowed to rest/rise for an additional 25 minutes.

   
   

The risen dough was divided into three equal portions, shaped into 18″ long ropes, braided and allowed to rise, covered, on parchment paper until it was ‘very puffy’. Then it was brushed with a wash of egg white and water and sprinkled with about 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds.

   

My straight braid developed a distinctive ‘curve’ during proofing … perhaps due to uneven braiding or tension.

 

Baked for 30 minutes at 425 deg Fahrenheit.

Conclusion: Nice crunchy crust. Taste was very good even though I was afraid that it would be a bit too salty and was tempted to reduce the salt, from 1 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. Watch your dough for the timing of the proofing times.

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust and Herbs Inside and Out

Last year I was feeling a bit adventurous so, along with my usual purchase of a 20 kg bag of Canadian all purpose flour ($19.99 including tax), I came home with a 1 kg bag of imported Italian Tipo 00 flour (Camino brand, $2.99). This is a very finely milled wheat flour often used for pizza dough and pasta, in Italy. This particular bag is listed as being made from soft wheat flour, though that’s not necessarily the case with all Tipo 00 flours.

I decided that, at that price, it better make some pretty amazing pizza dough.

And I kept putting off trying it out.

Until NOW … mostly because I want pizza and I’ve got less than a cup of all purpose flour in the house, and no intention of replacing my stash until some time in August.

NOTE: I calculated the protein content (5 gm per 42 gm of flour) at 11.9% confirming, that in this case, it IS a low protein flour.

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust – makes enough dough for one 12 inch pizza

250 gm Tipo 00 flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant/bread machine yeast
140 gm room temperature water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix through. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast, water and olive oil. Mix through with your finger tips until all the flour has been moistened and then gather together into a ball.

Transfer the ball of dough to a clean working surface and knead, without adding any additional flour, for 5 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead for another 3-5 minutes until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled medium sized bowl, turning the ball in the oil to lightly cover. Cover tightly with a sheet of food wrap and drape a towel over the bowl. Put the bowl of dough into a warm place and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Degas the dough and round up into a ball, cover with the food wrap and then the towel and let the dough rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450-500 deg F about an hour before you want to bake your pizza.

Prepare your pizza baking sheet by sprinkling ground cornmeal lightly over the top. Stretch the dough onto your baking sheet. Top and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, the cheese is nice and bubbly and the underside and crust is golden brown. Remove the pizza to a cooling rack and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting so that the cheese has a chance to set.

Trial 1: The dough weighed 403 gm and it took 13 1/2 minutes to bake the pizza. I estimate that the oven had only been at temp (500 deg F) for about 15-20 minutes. The next time, I’ll start preheating the oven as soon as the pizza dough is ready for its hour of rest instead of waiting half an hour.

Review: There were only a few big bubbles in the pizza crust but they WERE there. I have a couple ideas of ways in which to get more of those bubbles. The underside of the crust was crisp, relatively thin and golden brown and the pizza crust itself was nice and chewy. It’s a good pizza, similar in taste and texture to one available from a popular local pizza restaurant and delivery place. And a lot cheaper. I’d buy the flour again if it was a good price.

And, on a side note: I like using fresh herbs in my cooking but nurturing them is a chore.

Cause … I get bored.

And distracted … so I don’t use them at their peak. In any case, this is my current inventory of culinary herbs.

Inside

Italian Basil

Japanese shiso/ perilla (3 overcrowded pots) and a sad lavender plant

Outside

Mint and Thyme – with a couple of green onion bulbs that I transplanted after harvesting the tops a few times

Thai Basil and Sage

Sweet Potato Buns (and Looking at the Dough NOT the Clock)

I recently saw a post on one of my bread making FB groups about making potato bread/buns … and I was intrigued.

So, this past long weekend, I went down into the basement for the last six Yukon gold potatoes that I had …

… only to have a second thought based on the presence of a LARGE sweet potato in the shoe caddy hanging at the top of the stairs into the basement.

The result was eight HUGE moist and tender buns. (I used “Chef John’s” Sweet Potato Bun recipe from the All-recipes website.)

Crumb of the sweet potato buns

NOTE: On line recipes are sometimes a crap shoot when it comes to the detail of the instructions given, or lack thereof. In this particular case, the proofing times were way off. It took my dough one hour to rise to the top of the bowl NOT the two hours that the recipe claimed. Only the dinner plate covering the top of the bowl prevented a spill over. And my kitchen wasn’t even particularly warm … barely 72 deg F.

Based on that, I watched the final proofing time carefully. It took half an hour for the buns to have doubled in size. Since I had something else in the oven already, I threw the baking tray with the buns into the fridge until I was ready to bake them.

Looks like ‘someone’ was nibbling on that warm buttered bun. 🙂

REVIEW: Soft and tender buns with a bit of sweetness. Beautiful golden colour. The size though … well, when they said LARGE, they meant large. I used 115-120 gm of dough per bun. I’d scale that back to 95-100 gm next time which should give me ten buns and not the eight I ended up with. And I’d definitely make this recipe again.

Here’s another case of a recipe that didn’t QUITE work as expected.

Mocha cookies sounded pretty amazing when I ran across them on a recent web search. And the pictures made my mouth water. I followed the instructions carefully. Butter at room temperature. I even weighed it. Egg at room temperature. And I have a light and consistent hand when measuring flour. My oven is calibrated properly and it was preheated long enough that I knew it was accurate. I was surprised that the recipe said it only made FOURTEEN cookies but used a soup spoon to measure out the dough. The resulting balls were about two inches in diameter so I decided to scale them back to one inch in diameter, made the fourteen cookie balls and prepared to watch the timing so they wouldn’t burn.

SURPRISE

I ended up with little marbles.

They didn’t spread AT ALL even after I gave them an extra couple of minutes of baking time.

I still had a bit over half the cookie dough left so I weighed it, and divided the dough into EIGHT (46 gm) portions. The first batch of cookie balls had all sorts of cracks and imperfections after they baked so I made sure that these cookied balls were perfectly smooth, pre-baking. I took a good look at the dough balls before I put them in the oven and they looked HUGE. Since I didn’t want GIANT marbles, I decided to dip the base of a coffee mug into granulated sugar and flatten the dough balls.

NOTE: For some reason I didn’t think to increase the baking temperature from the 350 deg Fahrenheit in the recipe to 375 deg for this second batch.

The cookies still didn’t spread but the resulting cookies were more ‘cookie-like’ in shape. And like the first batch, they were soft.

REVIEW: The cookies were tasty though I think they were missing … something … taste-wise. I don’t think I’d make this recipe again.

Gozleme or Turkish Flat-bread

Lately, I’ve taken to experimenting with various breads of the world … tortillas, fatayer, khachapuri. Not only are they tasty, but they’re filling and inexpensive and, by switching up the fillings, they’re rarely boring.

Gozleme are Turkish flat-breads, rolled very thinly, like burek or strudel dough, and then folded over or around greens (spinach or beet tops) and cheese (feta, cheddar or other hard melting cheeses), seasoned meat mixtures, sauteed mushrooms or even seasoned potatoes and then brushed with olive oil or clarified butter and sauteed in a pan.

The dough may be unleavened or leavened (yeast or baking powder) and the liquid used may be water, milk or yogurt.

For my first attempt, I decided on a simple recipe in which the dough is made with self-raising/rising flour, yogurt and a bit of salt. For the filling, I just used some grated cheddar.

The dough was a bit wetter than I expected but I resisted adding additional flour and used as little flour as possible to do the kneading. The results were successful … a smooth, silky dough that was fairly easy to roll out to the size called for (20-25 cm/8-10 inches).

The only problem was the cooking temperature. Knowing my stove, I was leery about cooking the flatbread over medium-high heat, so I turned the heat down to medium. Even after only one minute, in my cast iron frying pan, the flat-bread was almost charred black, so I decided to cook the rest of the flat-breads over medium-LOW heat, for 1-2 minutes per side, until they were golden.

I also played around with the shaping and found that the simplest method, a circle of dough half covered with the filling and folded over into a half moon was the most successful as the more elaborate folded rectangle or square packets ended up with the thicker (multi-layered) side not frying in the time expected and resulted in an underdone/gummy flatbread.

Vietnamese Baguettes (Banh Mi)

PICTURE HEAVY POST:

These tasty breads are a product of the French colonization of Vietnam and similar to the French baguette. They’re usually filled with sweet and tangy pickled vegetables and an assortment of cold cuts or warm grilled meats.

I made a trio of baguettes using the recipe posted on “Danang Cuisine” website. Though I weighed the all purpose flour and water carefully, my dough ended up much wetter than in the pictures posted or on the accompanying video so I added another 1/2 cup (~60 gm) in order to get a dough that was no longer sticky and firm enough to  shape easily.

Pictorial Recipe

Creating the sponge … just mixed, two hours later, and after addition of the reserved flour

Additional flour/kneading, after doubling and shaping

Baguettes ready for proofing, proofed, slashed and ready for baking

Baked baguettes with a shot of the underside

Interior of the baguette

 

Banh Mi filled with flaked Sriracha mayonnaise, basted and baked, salmon, romaine and extra mayo (actually Miracle Whip)

Cross-section and crumb of the baguette