Last week, inspired by childhood friend Shira, I embarked on my first journey down the road of lamination.
For a good dose of laughter and mayhaps your own inspo, have at her instructions: : https://www.facebook.com/Brakeybrakeybrake/posts/10157181876828660
I have read and watched a number of people make croissants before and felt fairly confident in my understanding of their inner workings, so only really consulted recipes to look at baking time and temps.
Which, ironically, is where I think I may have missed the mark most.
I forwent fat in the dough itself, which was classic #sarahbass mistake, and baked em a lil too long given their truly petite stature, but that said they were (are) tasty as you might imagine, full of butter, sourdough, some whole wheat, and much false confidence.
Working with the dough I was reminded (as I seem to be nearly everywhere I turn lately, this pandemic no, or maybe all, the help??) that slowing down my movements, particularly with my hands, can yield are better results. Assured movements, slow and steady, carefully and gently moving the delicate pieces, applying pressure as needed but not for the sake of it, nor in the hope of speeding up the process.
Well aware that these are a labor of love, not in the dietary wheelhouses of many folks, and outright intimidating to many, but here's my hope that you'll try out at least one (preferably carb-filled) recipe you've been curious to tackle.
A small sampling of the foods I have cooked this year.
And you didn't think I'd let you go without an egg, did you??!!??!! Blasphemy.
Low light and quick snaps via the mobile as I have been very lazy bout busting out my camera for the last long while. More to come though!
Two wildly important holidays occurred in the last two weeks. Well, important in that they both are partially predicated upon pastry backbone and tasty fillings entirely customizable based upon your personal preferences.
So, pretty dang important, no? Even for those of us without a major sweet tooth-- I enjoy a savory twist when and where I can. Get your salty kicks if you need em, my friends.
Without further ado, as I have yet to sort and edit these properly and they're already fashionably late, some raw photos of the goods this year.
Those there shots are straight out tha camera, but I plan to clean some up and will post with recipes soon.
Hope you have eaten some crispy flaky buttery complex pie-based treats of late. If not, come visit ole oaktown and I'll happily share.
With a Mediterranean-style(ish) flat bread for good measure.
The other week I frequented a sweet lil vegan spot in Berkeley with a friend, and we deigned to order the "charcuterie" plate, amongst other (equally funny, such souffle') small plates. While the shitaake "bacon" certainly left a lot to the imagination, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by their black-eyed-pea sausage, an idea I had yet to encounter.
I was overall less than impressed with their links, but a tasty and interesting idea then lodged in my brain I sought to experiment and test things out with my own hands.
What came about is a very delicious albeit still soft and not-so-sturdy base that I formed into links as well as a couple of patties. More, plus a defined and hopefully stronger recipe coming soon.
The last year (and a half, two, how to count?) have been super rough for me in many ways, but also highly educational-- who said college/higher ed was the answer? Get sick!!!
Thusly, as my appetite and hands shrank away from their previous personalities and began to require more hibernation and less tolerance, I have spent far less time in the kitchen, both creating and eating. No fun, but when I do have the energy and wherewithal and hunger, tis such fun. So. a coupla things I've made of late(ish).
No, not just pie, but they are the most photogenic :)
No food is ever too serious to be played with.
Turn one food into another, create a piece of art on your plate (or the counter), shape your pancakes into hearts.
Pizza, for all those who like the three principle tenets of Italian cuisine, tomatoes, bread, and cheese, is a wonderfood. It can staunch a craving, it can feed the masses, it can comfort one from just about any malady.
That said, so much of the pizza available in this here ole U S of A is fairly terrible.
Though pizza made in a standard oven will not be as crispy, lightly charred, bubbly, and chewy as the crust of a brick oven, it is perfectly customizable, cheaper, and far far tastier than whatever you might have delivered. I, as a major veggie eater and cheese lover, enjoy particularly the freedom of endless possibilities when putting together pizzas. Each one is a blank slate to dazzle and excite your tastebuds. Get in it.
For ultimate crust optimization, make the dough about 18 hours in advance, then refrigerate until about an hour before you plan to assemble. That said, the dough can be made on as short notice as 45 minutes or purchased if circumstances call for it. You can get as fancy as you like, but the dough can be very simple and low maintenance; just flour, yeast, salt, water, and a splash of oil.
Top your pies with everything in your fridge and pantry. Not all on one pie, but get creative. It tastes good.
Makes 2 10-14 inch pizzas. Double, triple, quadruple as needed.
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil (or any oil, or none at all!)
4-6 c flour (any sort you like. AP is easiest/most reliable, but I always use a mix of whatever I have on hand)
Dissolve yeast in warm water, let sit for 10 minutes.
Stir in 1 c of flour, then add oil and salt. Mix again, then add flour in 1 c increments until a sticky mass is formed, but still stir-able/movable with a spoon or spatula. Coating your hands in flour, dust the dough with more flour and begin to knead, either in the bowl or on a counter or cutting board, for about minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to your hands and can be formed into a ball. Place back in bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rest for at least one hour, or up to two days (refrigerate after an hour if not using that day.
When ready to assemble pizzas, preheat oven as hot as it goes (most stop at 550 F).
Split dough into equal pieces, reshape each into a ball. Flatten and let sit for a minute or two. Return to each ball three to five times, gently stretching it into a large and larger circle.
Top and bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on oven fluctuation, placement, vessel cooked on, preference, etc. Keep an eye on those babies and let them cool 2-5 minutes before attempting to slice--it will save you much drippy cheesy mess.
Gather any and all ingredients in house that sound tasty. These might include but are not limited to:
Cheese (all kinds. Really, Get funky, though less is sometimes more--with non-gooey sorts a dab here and there or a thin swipe can lend a whole lot of flavor with minimal ounce-age)
Fruits (think thinly sliced apple, figs, pear, the world is your vegetarian oyster!)
Roasted or fried veggies (Again, any and all. Cooking the veggies prior to poppin' them on a pizza enhances flavor and reduces water, meaning your pizza will be packed with flavor and not swimming in weird steamed-broccoli water)
Nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, really anything fairly soft makes for a nice crunchy contrast and toast deliciousness!)
Caramelized or pickled onions, roasted garlic
Spreads (pesto, olive tapenade, white bean spread...endless salty possibilities)
Arugula salad. For after the goods are baked, naturally. This addition will change your world, so be prepared.
The important part of this is salad is, as you may have guessed, the fried part, not the greens. Which isn't to say you should leave them out (though no one would be too mad, likely), simply that what they are and how many is less relevant to your happiness and the success of your dinner than the soft, crispy, crackly, oozy, tangy-sweet fried tomatoes. But, as I said, you could have guessed that.
As with most weeknight dinners, I composed the base of this salad using whatever was around. in this case, that meant a mixture of Romaine and kale, some diced and fried tempeh, red onions, avocado, and balsamic vinaigrette with a healthy dose of grainy mustard.
I dredged the tomato slices in cornmeal mixed with spices (and salt! don't forget the salt!), then put 'em in a pan with olive oil. As they cooked I squeezed a lemon on top, flipping to get both sides nice and crispy.
While the tomatoes cooked, I threw all of the other ingredients in a bowl, tossed to coat, piled on a plate, then topped with the crunchy tomatoes as soon as they were golden brown.
I suggest you do the same.
Pesto Caesar Salad
2 tbs pesto
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbs grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Approx. 3 c chopped, shredded, or torn Romaine lettuce
1 avocado, diced
¼ c olives, diced
½ red onion or 2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 ½ c torn pieces of bread
1 tbs olive oil
Toast bread pieces in a skillet with olive oil.
In a large bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk.
Add onions or shallots, stir into dressing, let sit 5 minutes.
Add croutons, toss lightly, then layer in remaining ingredients. Toss everything thoroughly and serve!
I'm here to remind you all (well, all you lacto-ovo folks) that eggs are still the greatest, and that they can fill in any gaps between foods to create a tasty, quick, nutritious, and, if you're lucky, pretty meal. Round out the three or four (or one or two!) ingredients you have on hand, possibly languishing in the fridge, and make yourself a virtually free-of-cost and fairly balanced meal.
These are all throw-together, use-what-you've-got-lying-around-because-the-store-is-far-away-and-i-don't-like-to-leave-my-house type-a recipes. Sometimes you've got cheese, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you've got potatoes, others tortillas. But always, you've got eggs.