Double Daring Bakers for May 2009

 measure_v110×150.jpg    As I continue to bake my way through my double challenges of past DB challenges, I have come across one right up my alley, challenge 13 that was originally given in November 2007. What is it do you ask? Why, Tender Potato Bread! I am a HUGE bread lover, so any bread is worthy to be made. This recipe is easy to make & the dough is heavenly to work with. The host for this challenge was Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups. We had to make the recipe as is (savory, not sweet), up until shaping, then we had some choices. We also had to knead by hand (the only way worthy of a good bread baking day, although, I do use my kitchen aid sometimes).

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On to the recipe:

Tender Potato Bread (from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid; who also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)

Makes 1 large tender-crumbed pan loaf AND something more; one 10X15“ crusty yet tender focaccia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan

Suggested Toppings:

For Loaves & Rolls: melted butter (optional)

For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, & rosemary leaves (optional; also see variation)

For Anchovy-Onion Focaccia: Instead of oil, salt, & rosemary, top with onions slow-cooked in olive oil or bacon fat, a scattering of chopped anchovy fillets, & flat-leafed parsley leaves.

Alternate fillings, seasons, shapes are up to you.

Some additional notes about this challenge, recipe & the dough: If you are new to bread & already your whisks are shaking (or is that your boots), you may bake the bread (or one of it’s variations) just as written.

Potatoes & potato water give this bread wonderful flavor & texture. The dough is very soft & moist & might feel a little scary if you’ve never handled soft dough before. But don’t worry: Leaving it on parchment or wax paper to proof & to bake makes it easy to handle.

Once baked, the crumb is tender & airy, with tiny soft pieces of potato in it & a fine flecking of whole wheat. The loaves have a fabulous crisp texture on the outside & a slightly flat-topped shape. They make great toast & tender yet strong sliced bread for sandwiches. The dinner rolls are soft & inviting, & the focaccia is memorable. I have chosen this recipe because it gives directions for different ways of shaping the dough & provides oven times & temperatures for those variations.

Some Notes about Flour: King Arthur Artisan Organic All-Purpose Flour is fairly new in the markets in the US now & is advertised to be best for making European-style hearth breads with a protein level of 11.3%

Conversion Chart for yeast: 1 TBSP fresh yeast = 1 ¼ tsp active or instant dry yeast = 1 tsp instant or rapid rise (bread machine) yeast.

Reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart

4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks.

Tanna Note: For the beginner bread baker I suggest no more than 8 oz of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 oz. The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet; Yukon gold, there are others. I used 16 oz

4 cups water, reserve cooking water

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened I used Earth Balance

1 cup whole wheat flour

Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand): Put the potatoes & 4 cups water in a sauce pan & bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt & cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, & mash the potatoes well. Tanna Note: I have a food mill I will run my potatoes through to mash them. Measure out 3 cups of the reserved potato water. Add extra water if needed to make 3 cups. Place the water & mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F) – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix & not be uncomfortable. Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour & whisk. Add yeast & flour to the cooled mashed potatoes; water & mix well. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Note about Adding Yeast: If using Active Dry Yeast or Fresh yeast, mix; stir yeast into cooled water & mashed potatoes; water & let stand 5 minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix & allow to rest several minutes. If using Instant Dry Yeast, add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour & whisk. Add yeast & flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water & mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.

Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon salt & the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly. Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour & stir until all the flour has been incorporated. Tanna Note: At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface & knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft. Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, & let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface & knead gently several minutes. It will be moist & a little sticky.

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Forming the Bread: Tanna Note: It is at this point you are requested to Unleash the Daring Baker within. The following is as the recipe is written. You are now free to follow as written or push it to a new level. Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third & two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side & cover loosely.

To shape the large loaf: Butter a 9 x 5 x 2 ½“ loaf/bread pan. Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8“ oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed & gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come about ¾ of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap & let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy & almost doubled in volume.

To make a small loaf with the remainder: Butter an 8x4X2“ bread pan. Shape & proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.

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To make rolls: Butter a 13×9“ sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand & place on the baking sheet, leaving ½“ between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap & let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy & almost doubled.

To make focaccia: Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10×15“ with your palms & fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough & dust it generously with flour. Transfer the focaccia to the paper. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, as well as some rosemary leaves, if you wish & then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic & let rise for 20 minutes.

Baking the bread(s): Note about baking order: bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.

Note about Baking Temps: I believe that 450°F is going to prove to be too hot for the either the large or small loaf of bread for the entire 40-50 minutes. I am going to put the loaves in at 450° for 10 minutes & then turn the oven down to 375°F for the remaining time.

Note about cooling times: Let all the breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.

For loaves & rolls: Dust risen loaves & rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash loaves crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife & immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven. Place the rolls next to the loaf in the oven. Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes. Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes. Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a rack when done to cool. When the loaf or loaves have baked for the specified time, remove from the pans & place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched & the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

For focaccia: Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a no edged baking/sheet (you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet & an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven & preheat to 450°F/230°C. If making focaccia, just before baking, dimple the bread all over again with your fingertips. Leaving it on the paper, transfer to the hot baking stone, tiles or baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack (remove paper) & let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

I made a large loaf, small loaf, 4 burger buns & 6 dinner rolls.

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It’s Daring Baker time!!

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The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Linda & Courtney say, “Making strudel dough has been on my personal baking to-do list for quite a while but I was always kind of scared to actually try making the paper thin dough. And as being a Daring Baker means challenging yourself, making strudel dough seemed like the perfect recipe for this month’s challenge. Not a lot of rules this month as we’re allowing you complete freedom for the filling & shaping of the dough. The only thing that’s mandatory for everybody who’s participating in this month’s challenge, is to make the strudel dough. Hopefully this will suit both the sweet & savoury DB-ers Of course you’re welcome to make the traditional apple strudel that you’ll find below but wouldn’t it be so much more fun & challenging to try something completely different? We’d love to see you get creative!”

img_3256.jpg  Okay, not so pretty, but it sure tasted good.
My first thought was, “Oh, I really don’t like cooked apples, but strudel sounds like a great challenge.” Then, I kept reading ,”Ooo, we get to fill it with whatever we want, yeah!” I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to fill it with. I thought rhubarb, but decided to make a pie with the 10 beautiful stalks I was given from a friend of someone who picked them from her garden! My next thought was blueberry strudel, but then I went to a wine bar & was reading through their desserts & saw a Calzone filled with nutella & bananas. That was the one! You can find the original recipe here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/  Check out everyone else’s amazing creations here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/blogroll/bakers

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Preparation time for the recipe
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough

30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out & stretch dough

10 min to fill & roll dough

30 min to bake

30 min to cool

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Almond“ella” & Banana Strudel

1 cup chocolate almond spread (from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)
1 banana, in half lengthwise, then quartered

¼ cup chocolate chips
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
strudel dough (recipe below)

1. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven & preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread the chocolate almond spread over the dough, about a ½” from the edge. Place the bananas over the top of the chocolate almond spread. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips & cinnamon.

2. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

3. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife & serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

I found that it tasted just as good the next day. I also found that I should have used 2 bananas and about ¼ cup more almond“ella”.

img_3257.jpg  The dough came out great, flaky & crispy.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest & Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup bread flour
1/8 tsp salt
7 TBSP water, plus more if needed
2 TBSP warm water, mixed with 2 tsp ground flax seeds
½ tsp cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour & salt in a bowl. Mix the water, flax mixture & vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water mixture to the flour while stirring. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a large surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough & throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball & transfer it to a plate. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36“ round table or a work surface of 23 x 38“. Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour & rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle & roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough & gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch & pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough & stretch & pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch & pull the dough until it’s about 2′ wide & 3′ long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips from Courtney & Linda
– Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling & stretching of the dough with the first batch & if it doesn’t come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
– The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
– Before pulling & stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands & wrists, & wear short-sleeves;
– To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
– Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Both Courtney & I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:

Courtney’s notes
– I couldn’t get it to stretch to 2′ by 3′, it turned out more like 2′ by 2′. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;
– I got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn’t noticeable;
– I used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate & stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.

Linda’s notes
– I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven’t tried using a standmixer so I don’t know how it compares.
– Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;
– I used bread flour
– Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn’t work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath & stretching it out further & further

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Daring Cooks #1!

 flame_w125×125.jpg Yes, I have joined another group! The Daring Cooks. The Daring Bakers have branched off into the savory & I jumped at the chance (I know, like I need one more thing to do). So, what is the amazing first challenge?

 

Ricotta Gnocchi!

Our hosts this month are none other than our fearless leaders: Ivonne of http://www.creampuffsinvenice.ca/ and Lisa of http://llcskitchen.blogspot.com/

They chose a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

“On the surface, this is a very straightforward recipe. The challenge is in the forming & handling of the gnocchi. What you do with the recipe, in terms of variations, is up to you.”

For those of us that are Alternative Daring Cooks , Shelly from Musings From The Fishbowl is here to lead us, encourage us, & answer our questions. Thank you so much Shelly! On to the recipe:

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Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

Source: From The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6) mine made about 30

Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.

Tips:

– If you can find it, use fresh ricotta. As Judy Rodgers advises in her recipe, there is no substitute for fresh ricotta. It may be a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it.
– Do not skip the draining step. Even if the fresh ricotta doesn’t look very wet, it is. Draining the ricotta will help your gnocchi tremendously.
– When shaping your gnocchi, resist the urge to over handle them. It’s okay if they look a bit wrinkled or if they’re not perfectly smooth.
– If you’re not freezing the gnocchi for later, cook them as soon as you can. If you let them sit around too long they may become a bit sticky.
– For the variations to the challenge recipe, please see the end of the recipe.

Equipment required:

– Sieve didn’t use
– Cheesecloth or paper towels didn’t use
– Large mixing bowl
– Rubber spatula
– Tablespoon
– Baking dish or baking sheet
– Wax or parchment paper used a silpat
– Small pot didn’t use
– Large skillet used 2 small ones
– Large pan or pot (very wide in diameter & at least 2“ deep)

For the gnocchi:

1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups) used 1 lb super firm tofu
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten used Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter used 1 tsp
2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional) used basil & nutmeg
½ oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed) used nutritional yeast
about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce: didn’t use, used homemade spinach pesto & a store bought mushroom marinara

8 tablespoons (227 grams/¼ pound/4 oz) butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water

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Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so & place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels & place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it & let it drain for at least 8 hours & up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) & suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

I skipped this step & made it all on the same day.

For the ricotta, I used the Basil Tofu Ricotta from Vegan With A Vengance. I highly recommend this recipe, it was great! I followed Shelly’s advice & added ¼ cup of vital wheat gluten to the tofu mixture, it really helped to hold it together.

Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough.

To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you noticed that you can still see curds, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible. (didn’t drain or press the tofu, just used super firm, as is)

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.

Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter & add it to the ricotta mixture. only used 1 tsp

Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine. used basil & nutmeg

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano & the salt.

Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft & fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi.

When forming the gnocchi using tofu, you don’t have to be gentle with it at all. You need to use a firm hand. I didn’t test one, just dropped them all in (I was hungry). I used a 1 TBSP cookie scoop, dropped into flour, & shaped.

Fill a small pot with water & bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously & keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together & that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½” deep.

With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl & form a large mass in the centre of your bowl.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter & then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.

At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi & cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour & plump.

Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink & then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.

If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter & beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.

Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.

Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper & dust it with flour.

You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.

Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter & water for the sauce in the skillet & set aside.

In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.

Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.

Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).

When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.

To sauce the cooked gnocchi, I added the pesto to one small skillet & the marinara to another, then just dropped the drained gnocchi into the sauces & gently stirred. It is best to let it sit a bit, to let it firm up.

Place the skillet over medium heat & melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts & is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.

With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water & gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.

Variations: For the gnocchi, you can flavour them however you wish. If you want to experiment by adding something to your gnocchi (i.e., caramelized onion, sundried tomato), feel free to do so. However, be forewarned, ricotta gnocchi are delicate & may not take well to elaborate additions. For the sauce, this is your chance to go nuts. Enjoy yourselves. Surprise us!!!

Freezing the gnocchi: If you don’t want to cook your gnocchi right away or if you don’t want to cook all of them, you can make them & freeze them. Once they are formed & resting on the flour-dusted, lined tray, place them uncovered in the freezer. Leave them for several hours to freeze. Once frozen, place them in a plastic bag. Remove the air & seal the bag. Return to the freezer. To cook frozen gnocchi, remove them from the bag & place individually on a plate or on a tray. Place in the refrigerator to thaw completely. Cook as directed for fresh gnocchi.
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Verdict: I was a little nervous about the texture. I have had things with vital wheat gluten in them before that hasn’t set up & the texture was awful!!! So, I was a little nervous, but I had nothing to worry about, it was great! I let it sit for about 15 minutes before we ate it. My hubby actually had 2 helpings, that is saying something. I liked the pesto better, hubby liked the marinara. Thanks to Ivonne & Lisa for this great challenge & to Shelly for all the great tips! I served this with a side salad & some baked pita chips.

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Recipes to Rival April 2009

April’s Challenge went classic: Coq Au Vin

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This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook Les Halles

Now, I know that Anthony Bourdain is no lover of anything or anyone vegan/vegetarian, but I still love, love, love watching his show No Reservations on the travel channel. He speaks his mind, no wishy washy talk here. Needlwss to say, no matter what the recipe was for this month, if it was from Tony, I was hooked. I loved what our host this month, Temperance,
had to say,
I have never had a cookbook swear at me before or call me names, I quite enjoyed it. What i also enjoyed was the fact he didn’t assume I knew what I was doing but still expected me to do it right (after all he was telling me exactly what to do).”

She goes on to say thatCoq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said ‘Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That’ll be $28.95 please.’ This it one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead stuff it in the fridge & throw it all together when you are ready.

Excerpt from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain…
Another easy dish that looks like it is hard. It is not in fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, & the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big & tough & unlovely into something truly wonderful. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now & again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking. You should. with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes coq a vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling & tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious alchemical processes of time and heat turns into something magical.

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Coq au vin (I halved the recipe)
from the  Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4
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1 bottle plus 1 cup red wine I used The Other red wine (around $8.99 at World Market, not cheap, but tastes amazing!)
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch slices
4 whole cloves I wasn’t sure if this was whole cloves or garlic, I used garlic)
1 tbs/14 g whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb, “trimmed” – meaning guts, wing tips & neckbone removed I used chicken style seitan
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs/28 ml olive oil omitted
6 tbs/75 g butter, softened Earth balance, but only 1 TBSP
1 tbs/14 g flour
¼ lb/112 g lardons tempeh “bacon”
½ lb/ 225 g small, white button mushrooms, stems removed I used dried shiitake
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar

Equipment:
3 large, deep bowls
plastic wrap
fine strainer
large Dutch oven or heavy –bottomed pot
tongs
wooden spoon
small sauté pan
small sauce pan
1 sheet parchment paper
whisk
deep serving platter

DAY ONE
The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, & bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken & submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight.
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DAY TWO
Remove the chicken from the marinade & pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids & solids separately. Season the chicken with salt & pepper inside & out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil & 2 tablesppoons of the butter until almost smoking, & then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot & set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, & carrot to the pot & cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft & golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables & mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour & 15 minutes over low heat. Have a drink. You’re almost there…

While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan & drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.

Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, & 2 tablespoons of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, & cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover & continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside & add the remaining cup of red wine along with salt & pepper & reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Your work is pretty much done here. One more thing & then it’s wine & kudos…

When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, & arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, & pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, & swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken & dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles & a Bourgone Rouge.

Tips:
1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme & bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig’s belly & used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1“. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat & not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet & wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With…Coq au Vin

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Further tips, tricks & things to help the budget:
– Frozen pearl onions are cheap, easy & just as good as the ones you peel yourself (though nothing beats homegrown)

– Instead of buying 2 bottles of wine to get 1 liter & 1 cup wine use water for the extra cup.
– Instead of using a whole chicken get precut chicken so you can do portion control (it will also make it easier to marinade)
– don’t use non stick pan, this recipe is all about the brown bits.
– when marinading, you might want to weigh the chicken down to keep it covered.
– If you go to a Halal market take pictures if you can’t speak the language.

 

I totally forgot to get the mushrooms, so luckily I had some dried shiitake’s in the pantry. I served mine with noodles & broccoli.

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Verdict: We both really liked this one. The one change I would make next time would be to just leave the seitan out, it didn’t really add much. I used to make a dish called Balsamic Chicken with Thyme that was pretty similar to this. I would make it again.

 

Here is the recipe: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/2009/04/coq-au-vin-aprils-challenge.html

Check out everyone else’s results here: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/