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?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives, Cheese, and Rosemary

This bread actually started out as an idea for a sandwich. Well, it started with salad, but then it quickly turned into a Salad Nicoise sandwich with tuna and kalamata olives.

I decided that foccacia would be the perfect vehicle for my sandwich, and I decided to embed the olives in the bread. I mean, why not?

The bread was also a great way to use a new flavored olive oil I got from a company called Pasolivo. They have a lot of flavored oils, but the one they sent me was a rosemary oil. I adore rosemary, but it can be kind of strong, so I was fairly conservative with it here - I just used it for drizzling on top of the bread. The rosemary flavor isn't super-strong, but that's exactly what I wanted - a hint of rosemary that would compliment the olives and the final sandwich, without overpowering.

If you're using this bread as a stand-alone and you want more rosemary flavor, you could drizzle more oil on right after baking, or substitute rosemary olive oil for the regular olive oil in the dough. Or, even more fun, you could use the rosemary olive oil as a dipping oil for the bread.

Because I'm still in love with my new grain mill, I ground my own whole wheat flour for this. If you don't have a grain mill, of course you can buy flour. It's what most folks do, right? But ... if you want a grain mill ... well, check out this post.

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives, Cheese, and Rosemary

4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) bread flour
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) whole wheat flour (I used freshly ground flour)
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) semolina flour
2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star* active dry yeast
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water (or more, as needed)
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon Pasolivo rosemary-flavored olive oil
1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
1/4 to 1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, semolina flour, yeast, cheddar cheese, sugar, salt, water, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix slowly with the dough hook until it comes together. The dough should be soft and sticky at this point. If it's not soft, and is dense instead, add more water as needed.

I've found that freshly-ground flour tends to require less water, so if you're using store-bought whole wheat flour, you're likely to need another 1/4 cup of water, or possibly a little more.

Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is elastic.

Cover the bowl and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has risen drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a quarter-sheet baking pan. Turn the dough out onto the pan and stretch, poke, and cajole the dough to fit the pan. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cover the pan (another quarter-sheet pan turned upside-down makes a great lid) and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drizzle the rosemary olive oil onto the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the top of the dough randomly. Top the dough with the kalamata olives, spreading them evenly over the dough. Push the olives into the dough. Scatter the mozzarella cheese over the top of the dough. If you want more cheese, I wouldn't say no. But remember - it's not pizza.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through the baking time if your oven tends to bake unevenly.

Let the focaccia cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Remember that sandwich?

I cut a piece of the focaccia in half and added mayonnaise, tomato, and tuna. It was really good.

*If you use a brand other than Red Star, let it soften in the water before adding the other ingredients.

I received the Pasolivo Rosemary Olive Oil as a sample for review. I decided to use it in a recipe, instead.