Archive for the ‘tools’ Category

Dutch Treat

A frequent customer to the shop where I work (and when I say “frequent,” imagine 3 or 4 times a day — she lives next door) is starting her own business as a personal chef. As she’s experimented with cooking and baking, we’ve often traded stories. She was quite excited to find that I bake and has now put me on her slate as her go-to person for breads and such should she have a need of them for a client. Woot!

Anyway, the other day, she brought in a loaf of bread which was quite good. When she told me it was a no effort at all bread, I scoffed. How could such a thing be possible? I soon found out as the next day she brought in the formula scribbled on an index card.

The result:
Dutch Treat

Late, late last night I put a few cups of flour, some salt, some yeast, and some water together and left it to sit in a bowl. Twelve hours later, I shaped it, let it rest for a couple hours, then plopped it in a pre-heated dutch oven (my gorgeous Le Creuset French oven to be exact), aaaaaand… baked.

No kneading, no fussing, and hardly any muss. WTF? We haven’t tasted it yet, but the crust sang for a good 15 minutes after I took it from the oven and the aroma is heavenly.


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Tarts and Pies, Oh My

Last week, I attended a tarts and pies class at the fancy cooking shop near my house. In two teams, we went through the stages of rolling out tart/pie crust (pre-made by our instructor the night before), slicing strawberries and apples for a crumble, slicing peaches for a crostata, and heating cream and milk to melt semi-sweet chocolate for a ganache.

Since I was busy with assembling the peach crostata while the rest of my team was making the ganache, I decided that the first recipe I’d try at home was the one I only observed. Besides, if it worked well, I’d use it for our birthday cake in two weeks (Cynthia and I share a birthday — er, off by a day).

The pie crust recipe our instructor gave us was titled “The Perfect Pie Crust” a boast which always makes me look askance at any recipe. But, indeed, it was the perfect pie crust. Even without a food processor (I mean, I have one, but it’s little and only good for pestos and small batching hummus), it came together perfectly under my pastry blade and rolling it out was a dream.

Here’s a little hint: if you really want to enjoy making pies and tarts, get a good rolling pin. In class I finally had the opportunity to try out different rolling pins, and I’ve been longing for one of these or these, but due to the cost, didn’t want to buy one until I was sure. After rolling out two crusts in class, I was sure that the two pound 20″ heavy Rock Maple straight pin (dude! He used to make his own drumsticks!) was meant to be mine. I didn’t have to worry about my crust exceeding the length of my pin nor did I have to struggle with stupid handles which have long since lost their center. And since it isn’t tapered, it’s easier to roll out a nice even crust (which, I might add, I was complimented on in class). It’s amazing how much easier it is to make things when you’ve got proper tools.

ANYway, yesterday’s chocolate ganache tart came together like a dream. I am not kidding. The milk heated at just the right speed, the chocolate melted perfectly, and the volume of ganache almost matched the volume of the tart shell. My only quibble was that I wasn’t able to reduce the bubbles from the beaten eggs and ended up with a few tiny bubbles all across the surface of my tart.

Just look at that flaky crust!

After serving a garlic scape pesto on pasta for dinner, I whipped some cream and at Cynthia’s suggestion zested a lime to sprinkle on top.

And for a good five minutes there was nothing heard ’round the table but yummy noises.

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