Monday, August 29, 2016

Tomato Rolls with a Herb and Cream Cheese Swirl

Let's just get this out there. I love tomato powder. I use it sort of like tomato paste or tomato sauce, but it's more concentrated, and it doesn't add extra liquid, so it's easy to work with.

So, when my buddies at 37 Cooks hooked up with The Spice House and we could pick anything we wanted, of course I wanted the tomato powder. Along with a few other things.

Well, actually a lot of things. I stocked up on things I use all the time and I also picked up a few new things to try, like the ancho-coffee rub and the porcini salt.

Even before the tomato powder arrived, I knew I wanted to use in in bread, somehow. I've made breads before with tomato powder and cheddar cheese, with tomato powder and olives, and I've made flatbreads with bits of sundried tomatoes.

I even made rolls with a swirl of tomato bread along with white bread.

After I pondered a while, I decided on tomato swirl rolls, and I decided that the swirl would be filled with cream cheese and the Sunny Greek seasoning that I also got from The Spice House.

And then I got to work.

I don't know what it is about swirl rolls, but I love making them, no matter if they're sweet or savory. They're just fun.

And the rolls are pretty much never identical, which I also like. It's not ideal if you're baking for a bakery, but I like the idea that I can have a small roll if that's what I want, or a larger roll. Or one with more or less filling. Because that's how I am. Sort of random and chaotic.

Tomato Rolls with a Herbed Cream Cheese Swirl

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Spice House Sunny Greek seasoning

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 tablespoons Red Star active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
13 1/2 ounces bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons tomato flour
1/2 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes)

To make the filling:
Combine the cream cheese and herbs in a small bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

To make the dough:
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and knead until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic. Cover the bowl and set aside until the dough doubles in size, about an hour.

When the dough has risen, flour your work surface and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with baking spray.

Turn out the dough and roll it into a rectangle about 11 x 16 inches. Spread the cream With one of the long sides of the dough facing you. spread the filling over the top of the dough, leaving about an inch uncovered on the far side. I can be easier to spread the filling with your fingertips rather than using a spatula.

Roll the dough up, jellyroll-style, and not too tight, and seal the seam when you reach the far end.

If the roll is very uneven, roll and nudge is so it's a fairly even thickness, then cut the roll into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces, with one of the cut sides up, in the baking pan.

Cover the pan and set aside until the dough has doubles, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned on top - the sides tend to brown more than the top. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the buns out to cool on a rack.

I received products to work with from The Spice House through 37 Cooks.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bread Machine Loaf with Farro

Farro, not pharoah. It's a grain, not an ancient ruler.

Yes, yes, yes, I'm still grinding different grains in my new grain mill. I just can't stop. I ordered MORE grains. But I bought the farro at the grocery store in the section where they sell rice and beans and quinoa. This stuff was meant for cooking as-is. Like you'd cook barley or rice.

But that doesn't mean you can't use it as flour.

Bwaaa haaa ha!

Since it's still a bit warm here, I tossed it into my bread machine. I know some people think a machine is cheating, but I cheat anyway, since most of the time I use my stand mixer or my food processor to knead my dough.

And it's not like a build a fire outside and bake the bread in a handmade brick oven. I use a machine - my oven - to bake the bread.

Yeah, the bread machine is easier and the bread isn't hand-formed into an interesting shape, and then slashed for dramatic effect (and better rising).

The resulting loaf is rectangular and has a hole in the bottom where the paddle gets baked into the dough. But it's good for sandwiches and toast and ... I don't have to stop what I'm doing when the dough needs my attention. I chuck all the ingredients into the machine, push buttons, and let the magic happen. And then I get some work done.

Trust me, there will be more artisan-like loaves again here. Just not today, mkay?

Bread Machine Loaf with Farro Flour

1 cup water
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star active dry yeast (or any bread machine or instant yeast)
4 ounces farro flour (I used fresh-ground)
9 ounces bread flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt

Put all the ingredients into your bread machine in the order suggested by the machine's manufacturer (some suggest that liquids go first, some suggest dry ingredients firs) and press the appropriate buttons.

When the bread is done, remove it from the machine and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Don't forget! Through August 31, 2016, you can get $80 off a Mockmill package that includes the mill, grains, and a book. Use the code cookistry at checkout here:  - I get a small bounty for your purchase, but this post is not sponsored or paid for in any way. I'm just loving my new mill!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Technique: The anti-trussed poultry

I grew up with a mom who tended to overcook poultry. Or she overcooked the breast. The dark meat was usually fine. But here's the thing. Dark meat can handle being cooked longer and to a higher temperature. It doesn't mind at all. That's why you'll find thighs in recipes that require braising, and you'll find breasts in recipes that cook quickly.

The problem is that the breast is right there, up-top, where it gets the most oven heat. Meanwhile, the joint between the thigh and body is tucked away, protected from all the heat.

And then recipes tell you to truss the bird. Tie its legs together. This is somehow supposed to protect the breast from overcooking. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a chicken that had legs that covered the breast that well. Meanwhile, that thigh joint is still tucked away, right?

A while back, I was working on a chicken recipe where I was stuffing things under the chicken skin, and with all that fussing, the skin tore and the thighs spread away from the breasts and I decided to just go ahead and cook it that way. It wasn't a pretty, round, neat chicken. It looked messy. Lazy. Sort of ... ugly, if I'm being honest.

But here's the thing. That thigh joint was exposed to oven heat, and the chicken cooked much more evenly.

I had forgotten about that chicken until recently. I don't roast a lot of whole chickens. I cook a lot of chicken pieces. But I was cooking a recipe from Sheet Pan Suppers and I saw the words "truss the chicken" and I said "Oh no. I want to anti-truss it." Instead of trying to protect the breast so it would cook slower, I wanted to expose the thighs so they'd cook faster.

And ... it worked! The only downside was that the skin on the thighs didn't get crisp. If the chicken had been cooking on a rack, the thighs would have gotten some air, but the chicken was sitting on a bed of vegetables, so the skin was kind of flabby.

In the photo, the chicken isn't quite done yet, but it's almost there. You can see how the meat in that body-thigh joint is still a little pink. It would have been a LOT more pink if that joint had been protected.

The good news is that breast wasn't overcooked by the time the dark meat was completely done. It was a sloppy looking chicken, but if you serve your chicken cut up, it doesn't really matter, does it? I'm calling it a win. I'm also calling it dinner, and sandwiches, and soup.

Next time, I might remove the leg-and-thigh sections completely so I can roast them skin-up. I mean, seriously. What would you rather have, a chicken that looks pretty, or one that's cooked correctly?