Tag Archives: sourdough

Victoria Day Weekend and Palak (Spinach) Paneer

Between taking time off for a bad cold which started with the sore throat from …. well, you can guess, and a Friday without any calls, I’ve been home for six days. And doing very little cooking that I can post about.

So, this palak paneer is a stretch to be creative with very little energy.

Palak, means spinach, but the more broadly defined saag paneer, which refers to various ‘greens’ including spinach, mustard greens and fresh fenugreek leaves, is the more commonly served vegetarian dish found on Indian menus. Paneer refers to a fresh cheese which you can buy in Indian grocery stores but make, quite easily, at home.

I combined a couple of different recipes I found on line for the recipe below.

Palak (Spinach) Paneer – serves 3-4

250 grams / 8-9 oz cooked spinach*
250 grams / 8-9 oz fresh cottage cheese (paneer), cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp vegetable oil

For the gravy or sauce:

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 bay leaf (medium to large)
1 onion, medium, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 or 2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
1 pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), use 2 tsp if you want a more bitter taste
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup whipping cream or drained plain yogurt**
a pinch of sugar
salt as required
1-2 fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)

*  I used a 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and cooked according to package directions.
** I would have used the yogurt but I didn’t have any this time.

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water with 1/2 cup of ice cubes in it and leave for 1 minutes to cold shock (stop the cooking). Drain the spinach well and puree in a food processor or blender if you want the spinach to be a fine puree. Otherwise, just chop as finely as possible.

Optional: Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Pan fry the paneer cubes until golden brown on several sides to add additional flavour and texture. Remove the paneer cubes and drain them on paper towels.

Making the gravy or sauce:

In the same oil in which you pan fried the paneer, add the cumin seeds and the bay leaf and saute over medium high heat until the cumin seeds crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and stir well cooking until they turn a light golden colour.

Add the ginger paste, garlic paste and finely chopped green chilies, stir and saute till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away. (If using the tomatoes, add them now.) Now add the spice powders – turmeric powder, black pepper, and dry fenugreek leaves, crushing the leaves before adding.

Stir well, reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach puree. Season with salt and sugar. Stir well, simmering the gravy for 5 to 6 minutes or until it thickens slightly and the spinach is cooked well.

Add the whipping cream along with the garam masala powder and stir very well. The cream should be mixed thoroughly with the spinach gravy.

Turn off the heat, add the paneer cubes and stir them gently with the rest of the gravy so as not to break up the cubes.

Serve the palak paneer hot with various Indian breads ie. rotis, naan, chapatis, paratha or cumin basmati rice or biryani rice.

I had to eat even though I was sick so I made some other quick and easy dishes …

pan-fried boneless pork chops with leftover enchilada quinoa and

roasted chicken drumsticks which had been marinated in Italian salad dressing, steamed broccoli dressed with sweet Thai chili sauce, vanilla bean panna cotta topped with a compote made with frozen blackberries, blueberries, orange juice and some orange zest.

I even made another sourdough tartine loaf with dried dill weed and minced onion. Great as a snack with some butter or toasted and spread with cream cheese.

Oh, and there was a sourdough pizza and sourdough pancakes with macerated strawberries and strawberry coulis.

Tri-Colour Quinoa Honey Whole Wheat SD Loaf And SD English Muffins

Recently, I had a craving for English muffins and this weekend I tried a new recipe I found on line, which used sourdough starter. It ended up being a bit fiddly to execute and the finished muffins were much bigger than I liked. I split and toasted the muffins and ate them with butter, honey and peanut butter. I even had a hearty ham and peanut butter sandwich. Tasty, but not remarkable.

Sourdough English Muffins with honey

 

 

On a recent trip to Bulk Barn I picked up some tri-colour quinoa and riffing on my previous honey whole wheat sourdough bread experiments, I made a lovely sandwich loaf with some soaked quinoa.

Tri-Colour Quinoa Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf

Tri-Colour Quinoa Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf – 860 grams of dough, makes one 9″ by 5 1/4″ loaf

1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed 3 times and soaked overnight at room temp in fresh water**
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground garlic powder (optional)
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm milk
1 large egg, room temperature, slightly beaten

** You may find that some of your quinoa has sprouted the next morning.

 

 

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the AP flour, the WW flour and the salt, stir well.

Add the quinoa, honey, olive oil, garlic powder (if used), starter, milk and egg and beat well with a large wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter. Gradually stir in the rest of the all purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a ball around the spoon.

Turn out the dough onto a floured working surface and gradually knead in the rest of the flour until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Knead for 5 minutes, let rest for 5 minutes under a bowl and then knead for another 5 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a sheet of saran wrap or a damp towel and place in a warm place until doubled. (This took about 1 hr 45 min in my oven with the light turned on.)

Shape the dough and place into an oiled 9 by 5 1/4 inch loaf pan. Cover again with saran wrap or the towel and let rise until doubled, another 1 1/2 – 2 hrs.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and bake the loaf for 25-30 minutes until well browned and the bottom is firm and sounds hollow when knocked. You may need to cover with a sheet of aluminum foil if it gets too brown before it’s finished baking.

Turn out and let cool on rack. Don’t cut until it’s cooled to room temperature.

Honey Whole Wheat – Trio of Experiments

An early pair of experiments in which I transformed a yeast mini loaf recipe into one with JUST sourdough was a success so I repeated it here, in reverse, starting with yeast and sourdough (SD) starter and gradually reducing the amount of yeast used. I baked the bread in an actual loaf pan … something I rarely do … just because I’m bored and this will at least make me feel like I did SOMETHING productive. The bread was pretty good too, though next time, I’m only going to use whole wheat in the starter, as I’m not very fond of the taste in the finished loaf.

Nice bubbly starter fed with all purpose and whole wheat results in a ‘poofy’ dough after bulk proofing. Don’t you just love the technical jargon of bread baking?

Experiment 1 – 2 tsp of dry yeast and <1 cup of SD starter, mostly all purpose (AP) flour but with some whole wheat (WW), 2 lbs of dough all baked in one 9×5″ loaf pan, at 375 deg F.

I learned not to trust internet sources too much as 2 lbs of dough were obviously too much for the 9 by 5 inch bread pan and I ended up with a mushroom topped shape. Over proofing probably didn’t help. Oh, and the cracks in the crust? I dropped the pan as I was transferring it to the cooling rack. (sigh)

Experiment 2 – 1 tsp of dry yeast and <1 cup of SD starter, as above, 1 1/2 lbs of dough baked in loaf pan and the other 1/2 lbs of dough were baked in a smaller disposable aluminum foil pan. The resulting mini loaf was quickly sliced and devoured … for quality assurance, you understand.

Using only 1 1/2 lbs of dough in my pan gave me a much nicer final loaf shape after baking. I proofed the loaf a bit longer as I had reduced the yeast to 1 tsp, rather than 2 tsp, while still keeping the same amount of starter.

Experiment 3NO YEAST, only <1 cup SD starter, as above, 1 1/2 lb of dough baked in loaf pan, rest of the dough (>1/2 lbs) shaped into crescent rolls. I used 1 cup of  WW flour to ~ 2 1/4 cups of AP flour in this final trial.

Shaping the crescent rolls – > 1/2 lbs dough rolled out into an 8 x 14 inch rectangle. Triangles had a base of 7 inches resulting in 3 perfect triangles and a 4th triangle pieced together out of the two end halves.

PS: Gave away the loaves from Experiment 2 and 3, as well as the 3 crescent rolls, so I only have the brioche buns I made a while back and some of the bread from Experiment 1 left in the freezer.

I may write up the recipe of a basic version of this loaf but it’s pretty repetitive of previous ones I’ve posted.

Sourdough French Baguettes, Naan and Popovers

I know … you’re probably thinking I should rename this LJ/blog “The Sourdough Fanatic” with all the sourdough baking I’ve been doing. It’s addictive even though, as I’ve said before, I don’t actually like sourdough bread that much. At least not the ‘artisanal’ high hydration doughs with the big holes. However, feeding that jar of starter on the top of my fridge and watching it double in a couple of hours, and then triple, before finally collapsing as the gas produced stretches the gluten strands past their limit is something that must be experienced.

And I really liked the sourdough tortillas I made so, when I ran out, I had to make more on which to serve the chicken fajitas from a recent purchase of boneless, skinless breasts.

And, let’s be honest. Baking bread is cheap.

Even if it’s not the greatest bread in the world, you can turn it into croutons or bread crumbs, or dressing as I did with some of the jalapeno-old cheddar cheese sourdough I baked recently. Not that it wasn’t good, I just needed some bread to go into the giblet and rice dressing I made to serve with my roast turkey.

Did I post a picture?

No?

Well, just one of the outside of the loaf.

I tried making French baguettes out of Carole L’s no knead sourdough using the shaping technique I used in my previous attempt at sourdough French baguettes. They tasted great and the crunchy, chewy crust and toothsome interior can’t be beat fresh out of the oven. But they don’t hold up. By the second day, the crust has softened and the interior is dense. You can warm it up in the oven and it’s edible, but no where close to its previous state. Still, it was an interesting experiment. And I had fun practicing my slashing technique.

I also used some of my sourdough starter to make Indian naan or flatbread. The first batch was plain but I fancied up the second batch by adding dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and powdered garlic. A bit of melted butter on the warm naan and it’s a wonderful snack or vehicle with which to pick up and eat a saucy curry dish.

And, before I dried the last of the sourdough starter I had revived this time, I used the King Arthur recipe for a quick batch of eggy sourdough popovers. Whether you serve them with a roast beef dinner or enjoy them with honey and a cup of coffee for breakfast, it’s a great way to use up some of that sourdough starter.

Well, that should satisfy my craving to nurture sourdough for a while

Visual Guide to Baking Carole L’s No Knead SD Bread

This easy no knead, sourdough bread recipe was shared by Carole L on FB. I took a number of pictures at different stages during the bake as a visual reminder of what one would expect when making it.

Dough 1 – just mixed                            Dough 1 – 6 hrs later, room temp (70 deg F)

Dough 1 – 15 hrs later                        Dough 2 – mixed, shaped and put in bowl  to rise

Dough 2 – after 2 hrs of proofing           Dough 2 – turned out onto parchment paper
at room temp

Slashed and ready to bake                     Baked

Loaf cut in half to see the crumb

French Baguettes 2 Ways

ETA: The 2nd version, with sourdough, would be considered the ‘best’ of the bunch. I like the first version.

I’ve made ‘baguettes’ before using regular bread dough, and even sourdough, but the attempts didn’t really conform to the traditional recipe (no sugar, just yeast or starter, flour, water and salt) and shaping of the real thing. I wanted to join a recent sourdough French baguette event on a FB group I belong to but didn’t have any active starter as it’s been either frozen or dried.

An attempt to thaw and build up some of my first sourdough starter from the freezer was a failure as I rushed things and overfed the small amount of live yeast in the frozen starter. I ended up adding some of the failed starter to a regular yeast bread recipe because I didn’t want to waste the flour. I even made a “lame” with a razor blade (package of 5 for $4) and a bamboo skewer so I could I could do proper slashes. I rehydrated some dried starter for the second try.

Lame

Comparison between the two baguette trials … the baguette on the left of the picture (yeast one) was pulled from the freezer so it looks a bit shriveled.

French baguette Trial #1 – yeast (plus failed starter from the freezer so as not to waste the flour). I used Kat’s French bread recipe from FB as a base but omitted the Vital wheat gluten.

 

The slashes opened up during baking but the placement was a bit off.

French baguette Trail #2 – sourdough using the recipe here and referring to the YouTube video for shaping

Crumb of the yeast (left) and the sourdough (right) baguettes

  

December 2016 Cooking Wrap-Up

Cooking wise, if not in other respects, 2016 has been a successful year.

I made a second sourdough starter with canned pineapple juice and whole wheat flour and then made some great breads with it. I thickened it up quite a bit compared to the one I made in 2105 and that may have accounted for some of the success. Experience helped as well, as I’m less hesitant about trying new sourdough recipes. I did revisit the old stand-by, regular yeast, and made a delicious honey challah just before Christmas. Definitely something I’ll be repeating next year.

Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper Sourdough loaf and round Honey Challah

Crumb of the challah

Cooking on an even stricter budget than ever before resulted in having to be creative with simple ingredients bought on sale, like chicken, pork and ground beef, or leftovers, and the results were mostly successful. You’ll have to scroll back through the posts to see them. I do miss fish, seafood and steak however. I’m also grocery shopping less often and there’s less wastage as I try to use up what’s most perishable first. I’m also going back to basics with the dishes I’ve been making such as cookies and fudge. I haven’t been buying as many jarred sauces as in the past, while using up the ones I already have in things like stir-fries.

The meat sauce I made recently with a simple spaghetti sauce base was delicious as well as economical.  One pound of ground beef was stretched to make eight cups of sauce.

I turned some leftover mashed sweet potato into muffins with raisins for added sweetness using a recipe found on Rachel Ray’s web site.

And because I missed seafood … I bought a package of mussels in garlic sauce on sale, and one of cooked shrimp, and made this pasta dish with the spaghetti sauce.

Sourdough Flour Tortillas

I have a package of flour tortillas in my freezer for when I want to make wraps or quesadillas but a recent post on a sourdough baking group on FB inspired me to make my own with discard sourdough starter.

The recipe below has been scaled down from the original and the directions have been rewritten with a bit more detail.

Samantha Sunshine’s Sourdough Flour Tortillas – makes 8 x  6-7 inch diameter tortillas

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp vegetable oil or melted lard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix all the ingredients above together in a large bowl and knead to form a soft dough. You may have to add a bit more flour so it’s not sticky.

Wrap the ball of dough in a sheet of plastic food wrap and rest on the counter for a few minutes.

Divide into 8 portions and roll into balls. Pat each ball down gently to flatten and then roll out to a diameter of 6-7 inches.

Heat a cast iron frying pan or grill pan to medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan, add the tortilla and cook for a few seconds on each side. If you’re concerned about burning, lower the heat a bit (to between medium and medium high) and cook the tortilla for 20-30 seconds on each side. You’ll find the tortilla puffs up in places and the bubbles may char.

NOTE: According to a comment on the FB group, if you let them rest 24 hours wrapped at room temperature, you’ll have a true fermented flour tortilla. I only waited about an hour.

Post Thanksgiving / Pre-Christmas Doldrums in Cooking

If it weren’t for bread and soups, I wouldn’t be doing much new cooking at all these days. I’m not counting the six kinds of fudge I’ve made since Thanksgiving.

These are no knead sourdough breads where gluten development comes about from letting flour, water and starter autolyse for a long time at room temperature. Unlike high hydration doughs, which develop their gluten through a series of stretches and folds, and produce artisanal loaves full of large holes, the crumb of these loaves is more dense and you get lovely sandwich type breads as a result.

SweetDried Cranberry, Honey and Orange Zest

You can use various fresh or dried fruit, nuts and zest to make each loaf different.

SavouryBacon, Old White Cheddar and Cracked Black Pepper

I decided to stick with just a few ingredients so as to let them stand out in this loaf but dried herbs, and inclusions like black olives, pickled or fresh peppers (jalapeno or serrano), seeds and grains and even caramelized onion can be added.

A basic soup includes a liquid like a stock or water, a flavourful vegetable mixture, a starch (potato, pasta or rice), a protein (meat or dried bean or lentil), herbs and seasonings.

Italian sausage tortellini in a marinara broth and Turkey and wild rice in a light chicken stock

Beef and pot barley soup and Creamy turkey, potato gnocchi and veggie soup

Odds and Ends

Breakfast of sunny side up eggs, bacon and toasted sourdough bread

Pan-fried pork chop, mashed potatoes and coleslaw and home made ricotta filled beet (root) pasta ravioli in browned butter, sage and pine nut sauce with garnish of grated Parmesan cheese

Eye of Round Roast – a bit overcooked but I made a lovely gravy with the drippings/au jus

Purchased mititei/mici (skinless Romanian sausages) as part of a quick meal including several dips … marinara sauce, tzatziki sauce and hummus

Sourdough Duo – Carole L’s Bread and Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia

ETA: A quick picture of a holiday loaf version of Carole’s bread … Dried Cranberry, Honey and Orange Zest.

Add-in: 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp orange zest.

I decided to combine two sourdough bread posts into one to reduce the post overload. I’m putting Carole L’s bread (two versions) first because I’m including the recipe with it (it’s only available on FB and I’m rewriting the instructions with more information). I’m also going to make it again while I’m unlikely to repeat the focaccia one. It was good but not amazing.

Carole L’s No Knead Sourdough Loaf

Trial 1 – plain, baked at temperatures and times given

I over proofed the bread before baking so my slashes weren’t very effective

Trial 2 – Parmesan, basil pesto and pine nuts, baked at higher temperatures, with time adjustments

Crust is nice and crunchy … a bit of pressure and it cracked

Parmesan, Pesto and Pine Nut Small Sourdough – makes one 1 1/2 pound/ 700 gm baked loaf

Dough 1

1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or bread flour)
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/2 cup sourdough starter

Dough 2

1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or bread flour)
1/2 cup room temperature water
1 tsp salt

Optional add-ins:
For the 3P version above, I used 2 tbsp each of grated parmesan cheese, basil pesto and pine nuts. I’m thinking of doing a cranberry and orange version for Christmas.

In a large bowl with a lid or a container that you can seal well with saran wrap, mix together the ingredients for Dough 1 and form a ball. Cover the bowl and leave on the counter at room temperature (~70 deg F) for at least 12 hours. (Longer is fine. I left the first attempt for over 20 hrs which helped develop the ‘sour’ taste that gives sourdough its name.)

The next day, add the ingredients for Dough 2, including any add-ins you might like and knead for 2-3 minutes.

Shape into a boule (ball) or batard (torpedo shape) using a bit of flour and place into a banneton or a bowl lined with a flour dusted linen type towel. Make sure your bowl is large enough for the dough to double in size. If the bowl has a lid, use it, otherwise, place the bowl into a large plastic bag and tie it close. (Some heat is generated during the rising process. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. Keep it in if you can.) Place the bowl in a warm place for about 2 hours.

After an hour, preheat the oven with a dutch oven, including lid, to 500 deg F/260 deg C.

NOTE: Test the dough for rise (it may not double) after about 1 1/2 hrs to see if it’s risen enough by pressing lightly with your finger tip to about 1/2 an inch in depth. You want the dough to spring back a bit … not immediately, cause that means it’s not proofed long enough. If you press down on the dough, and the shape of your finger remains, you’ve over proofed it. Oh well.

Turn out your dough into your hot dutch oven. If you’re afraid to burn yourself, line a large baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper and turn it over onto your rising bowl. Then flip the bowl so your dough ends up on the parchment paper. Transfer the dough including the parchment paper sling into your dutch oven.

Place the dutch oven lid on top and bake for 30 minutes. You may want to throw a couple of ice cubes into the dutch oven before you add your bread, but that’s not essential.

Take the lid off the dutch oven, reduce the heat to 425 deg F/220 deg C and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.

Remove the dutch oven from the oven and cool the bread on a cooling rack for at least 2-3 hours before cutting.

* * *

I was going to bake another tartine loaf but then I saw an amazing focaccia on a FB sourdough group and gave it a shot. I still cut my breads too soon after baking but, as a new sourdough baker, I just can’t wait to see what that crumb looks like.

The recipe I used was found here. I steeped minced garlic and finely chopped fresh rosemary in warmed extra virgin olive oil and then basted the oil over the top of the dough before I baked it. I think I went a bit overboard on the rosemary for my taste but otherwise, it’s a tasty bread to split and use as a sandwich bread or for dipping into stew, marinara sauce or seasoned extra virgin olive oil. The texture of the bread is quite similar to a loaf of ciabatta bread, but shaped into a flat sheet so there’s no ‘wastage’ with the taller areas of a loaf.

Before and after baking

Cut into strips and dip into marinara sauce or split in half and toast for sandwiches.