Rosemary-Olive Oil Bread Made with Sourdough Starter


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If you’ve come this far with the sourdough starter, then this is a bread walk. If you’d like to bake this AMAZING bread, click here for the sourdough starter that you’ll need to make first. It only takes fifteen days to make it, but who’s counting.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds plus 2 ounces unbleached white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup raw wheat germ
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Day 1
Place water, sourdough starter, flour, and wheat germ in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a doth hook. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes. The dough should be sticky and pliable. Cover the dough and allow it to rest 20 minutes.

Add salt and continue mixing on medium speed for 4 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.

Add rosemary and olive oil and mix on medium speed until ingredients are incorporated and the dough reaches an internal temperature of 78 degrees F, about 5 more minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and lightly coat it with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover in plastic wrap, and let it ferment at room temperature until it doubles in volume, about 3 to 4 hours.

Uncover the dough and turn it out onto a  lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough into two equal pieces. Slap each piece against the work surface to deflate. Tuck under the edges of each piece, cover the dough with a cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Uncover the dough and round each piece into a boule. Place the boules, smooth side down, into a bowl (unless you have proofing baskets). Cover the dough in the bowl with a cloth and let proof at room temperature until it begins to show signs of movement, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the cloth and sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Wrap each bowl tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Day 2

Remove the boules from the refrigerator, take off plastic wrap, and cover each with a cloth. Let the dough continue proofing at room temperature until it reaches an internal temperature of 58 degrees F, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F at least one hour before baking.

Remove the cloth and lightly dust boules with flour. Carefully loosen boules from bowls and gently invert onto lightly floured baker’s peel.

With a single-edged razor held perpendicular to the boule, slash a tic-tac-toe pattern on top of each.

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Open the oven door, spritz the oven heavily with water from a spray bottle, and quickly close the door. Open the oven door again, slide the boule onto the pizza stone, and quickly close the door. Cut, spritz, and load the second boule in the same manner.

Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Spritz the oven two more times during the next 5 minutes. Refrain from opening the oven door for the next 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, check the boules and rotate them if necessary to ensure even baking. Continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes more, for a total of 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove boules to a cooling rack. The finished boules will have a rich brown color and look swollen.

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Succumbing to Mt. Sourdough in Two Hundred Easy Steps


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Making a sourdough starter is serious business–the type that requires you to quit your job or at least be able to devote almost a month of time towards its care and feeding. Alright, so this recipe may not take two hundred steps, but it’s pretty close.

You see, I devoted a month of my summer and my life (and the bread is now since long gone…) to the care and feeding of Nancy Silverton’s sourdough starter with the intention to make a bounty of rosemary olive oil boules and fougasse. The starter and the breads were no easy feat, but the process and the finished products were well worth the efforts.

Step 1, Making the Starter

The starter takes fifteen days! Seriously! But it’s worth the effort to say you’ve done this (at least once in your life).

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pesticide-free organic red or black grapes, unwashed
  • about 4 cups water, approximately 78 degrees
  • 1 pound 3 ounces (about 3 3/4 cup) unbleached white bread flour

Day 1:

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  • Place a bunch(es) of grapes on large double-layered piece of cheesecloth. Tie opposite corners together to form a bag around grapes. Combine water and flour in 1-gallon container and stir with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Hold cheesecloth-wrapped grapes over container and squeeze them lightly with your hand, allowing juices to fall into container. Place grapes in container; use rubber spatula to stir mixture and then fully submerge grapes. Cover container with plastic wrap. Let container stand at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees).

Days 2 to 3:

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Here it was starting to get stinky. It almost looks like I’m growing organs.
  • Mixture should form bubbles.

Day 4:

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Very gaseous smelling.

 

 

  • Mixture should form large bubbles and smell alcoholic. Refresh mixture by stirring in 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, about 78 degrees. Replace cover and continue to let stand at room temperature.

Days 5 to 9:

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  • Mixture may appear separated, with liquid rising to top. If mold forms, remove it, then stir in 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.

Days 10 to 14:

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  • (Triple daily feeding begins.) In morning, remove bag of grapes, squeezing to extract liquid; discard grapes. Stir mixture well, then pour off and discard all but about 2 cups (amount you discard can be reserved and turned into additional starters, if desired). First feeding: Stir in 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 cup water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature 4 to 6 hours. Second feeding: Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and 2 cups water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature 4 to 6 hours longer. Third feeding: Stir in 5 cups flour and 4 cups water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours. Repeat process next 4 days, pouring off all but 2 cups before feeding begins.

Day 15:

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  • Starter is ready to use; it should form bubbles and should smell yeasty and nutty.

Here’s the good news: once you have the starter, you can store it away in your refrigerator until you have another summer off or perhaps until Christmas vacation when you’ll have a couple of weeks to devote to the feeding schedule again.

 

If you’re still with me after day 15, you’ve only got THREE more days until you get your first loaf.

Up next, Rosemary-Olive Oil Bread…

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Squash Blawesome (Blossom) & Burrata Pizza


 

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Continuing on the quest to expand our pizza horizons, I took advantage of our local farmers market for inspiration and found two items that I absolutely love: squash blossoms and burrata cheese.

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For this pizza, I used the same Mozza pizza dough and Passata di Pompodoro (see previous post for recipe), and added squash blossoms (stamens removed) and topped it off with locally produced burrata cheese.

Squash Blossom and Burrata Pizza

Ingredients

•1 round of pizza dough

•1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

•Kosher salt

•1/4 cup Passata di Pompodoro

•About one dozen squash blossoms, stamens removed

•Finishing quality extra virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon

•12 oz. burrata cheese

Directions

1. Prepare and stretch the dough and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Brush the rim of the dough with olive oil and season the entire surface with salt. Ladle the sauce onto the center of the dough, spreading out sauce leaving 1-inch rim without any sauce. Place the squash blossoms around the center of the pizza, on top of the Passata di Pompodoro.  Bake until the the crust is golden brown and crispy, about 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, scatter the burrata cheese on top, and cut into quarters. Drizzle the pizza with the finishing quality olive oil, and serve.

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Pizzeria Mozza’s Margherita Pizza


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The Next Best Thing to Pizzeria Mozza’s Pizza

Now that I’m off for the summer, Raj has been on my back to up my pizza game. After ten years of our traditional ‘Friday Night Pizza,’ (red sauce, mozzarella ,and pepperoni) he’s been craving something different—a nicer way of saying he wants something better.

At Christmas time, we had the pleasure of stopping by Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach to get our Mozza fix, and since then Mozza has been on the mind—so much so that my dad’s father’s day gift was a gift card to eat there. (Never mind the fact that my dad liked the pizza, but thought it was overpriced!)

My last venture with anything related to Nancy Silverton’s bread making was years ago when I purchased her Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur. The fact that the title uses the word connoisseur should have been reason enough not to buy the book, but I did. And I was scared of every recipe in it because it requires a ‘starter,’ which takes 14 days to grow, not to mention you need to feed the starter three times a day for the rest of your baking life. Or it dies!

Anyway, despite my trepidation to any recipe related to bread baking and Nancy Silverton, I recently bought the Mozza Cookbook with the lofty goal of making a better pizza to get out of our pizza rut.

I decided to make the traditional Margherita: mozzarella, tomato, and basil, using the Passata di Pompodoro recipe for the tomato sauce, as the test pizza. Nothing fancy or exotic, just the basics.

The pizza was awesome, but this is not a recipe every Friday night. Making this pizza took most of my afternoon (getting in the way of SUP’ing, yoga, and relaxing), but it was worth the effort. The dough makes six individual pizzas, but I cut it in half and made one large pizza and froze the rest. Next time, I’ll make the dough thinner because just letting it sit for ten minutes before cooking while the oven was heating caused the dough to ‘proof’ a little bit more causing it to be kind of thick crusted, which was not what I was going for. Anyway, here’s the recipe for the dough, the sauce, and the Margherita pizza.

Stay tuned for this weekend’s pizza, squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata.

Mozza Pizza Dough

Makes enough dough for 6 pizzas; each pizza serves 1

Ingredients

•22 ounces warm tap water (2 cups, 6 ounces)

•1⁄2 ounce (1 Tbsp) compressed yeast or 1 tsp active dry yeast

•26 ounces unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed

•1⁄2 ounce (1 Tbsp) dark rye flour or medium rye flour

•1 1⁄2 tsp wheat germ

•1 1⁄2 tsp barley malt or mild-flavored honey, such as clover or wildflower

•1⁄2 ounce (1 Tbsp) kosher salt

•Olive oil, grape seed oil, or another neutral flavored oil, such as canola oil, for greasing the bowl

Directions

1. To make the sponge, put 15 ounces of the water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve the yeast. Add 13 ounces of the bread flour, the rye flour, and the wheat germ. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap and tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl. Set the dough aside at room temperature (ideally 68 to 70 degrees) for 1 1⁄2 hours.

2. Uncover the bowl and add the remaining 7 ounces of water, the remaining 13 ounces of bread flour, and the barley malt. Fit the mixer with a dough hook, place the bowl on the mixer stand, and mix the dough on low-speed for 2 minutes. Add the salt and mix on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Note that the dough will not pull so much that it completely cleans the bowl, but if the dough is too sticky and is not pulling away from the sides at all, throw a small handful of flour into the bowl to make it less sticky. While the dough is mixing, lightly grease with olive oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size. Turn the dough out of the mixer into the oiled bowl. Wrap the bowl as before. Set the dough aside at room temperature for 45 minutes. Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Acting as if the round has four sides, fold the edges of the dough toward the center. Turn the dough over and return it, folded side down, to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.

3. Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of dough under itself. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dishtowel and let them rest for 5 minutes.

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4. Lightly flour your hands and use both hands to gather each round of dough into a taut ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with the dishtowel and set them again at room temperature for 1 hour to proof the dough. (Or leave the dough on the counter to proof instead.)

 

Passata di Pomodoro

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Ingredients

•2 28-ounce cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, including their juices (such as San Marzano)

•1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

•1 tablespoon sugar, plus more as desired

• 1 scant tablespoon kosher salt

• 1 heaping teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Pass the tomatoes, including their juices, through a food mill into a large bowl.

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2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking and slides easily in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato purée slowly as it will splatter when it hits the oil. Stir in the sugar, salt, and pepper, and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.

3. Use the passata or set it aside to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to several days or freeze for up to several months.

Margherita: Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil

Ingredients

•1 round of pizza dough

•1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

•Kosher salt

•1/4 cup Passata di Pompodoro

•3 ounces low moisture mozzarella, cut into 6 clumps

•Finishing quality extra virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon

•fresh basil leaves

Directions

1. Prepare and stretch the dough and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Brush the rim of the dough with olive oil and season the entire surface with salt. Ladle the sauce onto the center of the dough, spreading out sauce leaving 1-inch rim without any sauce. Scatter pieces of cheese over the pizza, slide into the oven, and bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown and crispy, about 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and cut into quarters. Drizzle the pizza with the finishing qua lit olive oil, snip the basil leaves over the top, and serve.

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Lancaster’s Central Market: One of the World’s Ten Best Fresh Markets?


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I love farmer’s markets and Raj and I frequent Old Town’s very own regularly on Saturday mornings to buy DSC05130produce, flowers, and freshly baked bread. [In case you didn’t know, Old Town’s market is thought to be one of the nation’s oldest continually operating farmer’s markets and George Washington sent his produce from Mount Vernon (just down the road) to be sold here.] Anyway, we were searching for a day trip to take and I came across this CNN Travel article, Ten of the World’s Best Fresh Markets. Considering the article’s glowing recommendation and pairing it with my desire to shop for Amish jams and jellies (and perhaps a quilt–Lancaster is the heart of Amish country), it sounded like a perfect day!

DSC05132Lancaster’s Central Market is located in the downtown area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s nice, but in no way, shape, or form does it belong on a list of the ‘Ten Best’ in the WORLD (let alone the country). It’s relatively small (think Eastern Market in DC), indoors, and not particularly Amish (as I mistakenly presumed). There were a couple Mennonite and Amish (not sure which and I’m no expert) merchants selling their wares, a couple of flower vendors, a fair sampling of beautiful farm raised vegetables, herbs, fruit…, a few bakeries, a small food court where sandwiches and such were prepared, along with the requisite tchotchke profferers. We bought a couple of loaves of bread from a cute couple and three jars “Amish” jam, which turns out are ‘made in the Amish style,’ meaning we were hoodwinked.

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DSC05150After a short jaunt through the market,  I wanted to get out of the city and onto the country roads where I envisioned bucolic farms and out-of-the-way stands selling unique, one of a kind items along with jams and jellies packaged by unjaded Amish women and girls and made in’ authentic’ ways (without corn syrup–the first ingredient on one of the jams we purchased). We headed towards the towns of Bird in Hand and Intercourse, but my fantasy was left unfulfilled. We stopped at a few ‘Amish’ markets that were less than noteworthy and ended up buying nothing. Nada. Zilch.

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This was an enjoyable day trip that I would highly recommend (preferably on a sunny day), but one needs to go with the understanding that this is a nice fresh market, not a mecca of amazing foodstuffs. Your local farmer’s market is probably better than this one, and if you’re in the mood for authentic Amish wares, you’re better off driving to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, where a much more impressive array of items are readily available.

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After a long drive home, we settled in for the night with a few items we picked up along the way.

Classic Chocolate Mousse in Mini Cocottes


I’ve been a lazy, slothful blogger again despite already having this post ready to go since Valentine’s Day. I’m not a big mousse fan, but these little, easy beauties provided me with an excuse to pull out my utterly useless, yet adorable Le Creuset mini cocottes. It’s amazing what little you can do with them, so any opportunity is cause for celebration. This can be made ahead a few days in advance and then dressed up just before serving. I served mine with a dollop od whipped cream with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and fresh strawberries.

Classic Chocolate Mousse

6 Servings

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  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup espresso, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate (61-72% cacao), chopped
  • 2 large egg whites

Beat 1/2 cup cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.

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This recipe calls for yet another excuse to pull out rarely used equipment such as the espresso machine.

Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees, about 1 minute.
Remove bowl from pan. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.

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Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form.
Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; folded whipped cream into mixture just to blend.

Divide mousse among ramekins or mini cocottes. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Do Ahead: Mousse can be made a few days ahead; cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

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The serving size of these is more like two servings, not one as it would be in a ramekin.

Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse.

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Homemade Fettucini with Clams and White Beans


Homemade Fettucini with Clams and White Beans

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Going out to eat on Valentine’s day is overrated and for amateurs, right…but who has the time to cook, especially when it happens to fall on a weeknight? Not me, but that’s why we celebrated on February 15th. Here’s a relatively simple meal that can be completed in about an hour.

Fettucini

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For this recipe, I used Dave Lebovitz’s recipe. I PROMISE, making pasta is the easiest thing ever and it makes SUCH a difference from dried pasta!

Homemade Pasta Dough

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1 1/2 pounds – 4 servings

  • 7 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 7 ounces coarse semolina
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

 

 

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  1. Mix together the flour and semolina in the bowl of a stand mixer, or mix them up and create a mound on the counter top with a crater in the center. If using a stand mixer, add the eggs to the dough and mix them together with the paddle or dough hook until well mixed. On the counter top, crack the eggs into the center of the flour and semolina. Use your fingers to gradually draw the dry ingredients into the center, mixing them with the eggs. The dough will be hard to mix at first – a pastry scraper will help you draw it all together – but eventually it will come together and be relatively smooth.
  2. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand for at least three minutes until the dough is very smooth. The dough should not feel sticky. If it sticks to your fingers, knead in a small amount of flour, just enough so your fingers come away clean when you pull them away. Wrap the dough and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.

(You can keep the dough for several hours at room temperature.)

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Clams and White Bean Sauce

  • 2 tbl (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 tbl olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 1 lb fresh fettucini
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 lb clams
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat butter and 2 tbl. oil in large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices, crushing tomatoes lightly with your hands. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  3. Add beans and wine to sauce. Cook, stirring often, until wine has almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add clams and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes (discard any that do not open).
  4. Add pasta and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to clams and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Divide among bowls. Drizzle with oil; garnish with parsley.
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Our pairing, a Christmas gift saved for the occasion.

 

 

 

 

 

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Next up…our dessert….