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Sourdough Focaccia bread - anytime is a good time · Saturday February 29, 2020 by colin newell

Bread making – I grew up with it and it is an activity that has been in my DNA forever. Not only that, bread was something that sustained me through some lean times. My mom made 4 to 6 loaves a week of yeast based breads — and very little natural yeast (sourdough) to the best of my knowledge.

I like introducing people to bread making for a variety of reasons. One of which, it is not rocket science. With a natural yeast starter, bread is little to no more than flour, water and salt. That’s it. It has been done this way for thousands of years. Beer, in fact, is an off shoot of bread making. But let’s keep it simple for a bit.

As noted above, I think focaccia is a perfect sourdough-bread-baking starting point. It will teach you the fundamentals of working with sourdough without the potentially troublesome steps of shaping, scoring, and baking with Dutch ovens, bread pans and other vessels. The recipe below also can be baked in a loaf pan or a cookie sheet, another great option if you do not want to deal with the skillset and artistry that you will, no doubt, acquire over time.

Picture below – what your dough looks like after proofing overnight!

Let’s go! We assume from this point that you have an activated, fed and feisty sourdough starter. I know I should cover off this, most important, factor — but for now, let’s just go with the theory that you have a starter – and we are good to go.

Here is a tip – Your sourdough starter is good to go if you take a tablespoon of it and drop it in water and it floats!

1.) Grab a bowl that will holder at least 1/2 kg of dough – that is 500G – so something medium sized.

2.) Add 100g of your starter to the bowl.

3.) Add 10g of kosher salt – great salt can effect the flavour so don’t cheap out on this critical ingredient.
  • tech note * – Salt is a fermentation inhibitor – it slows the process down — and that is a good thing.

4.) Add 360g of warm water (not hot water!) 35 to 45 degrees © or 110 degrees (F) is probably OK but not more than that.

5.) Mix the water, salt and starter well.

6.) Add 512g of bread flour. Mix to form a sticky ball.

7.) You can let this all rise overnight (6 to 12 hours) or slow it down by putting it in the fridge. Fermentation keeps moving along even when your dough is tucked away in a cool area – it changes the flavour some but does not harm. For keeping the focaccia “feisty” I tend to keep it out in the kitchen and work around its schedule.

8.) Assuming you are doing this overnight, in the morning pull out the dough and give it a few pulls and folds – consult the YouTube video below for some technique-tips (way easier than me trying to explain it!)

Picture above After raising overnight – should look like the above picture.

9.) Get the slightly deflated dough into a bowl with some olive oil (on top and on the bottom…) – it inhibits sticking.

10.) Let rise for 4 – 6 hours. Get out a cookie sheet or deep dish pizza pan (the square of rectangular type…)
11.) Oil the pan “generously” – you need a good continuous coating on the bottom of the pan.
12. ) Transfer the dough into the pan. Cover and “2nd rise” for 4 to 6 hours.

Picture Below – What your 2nd-Raised dough should like before tossing into the oven.

Tip You know the dough has been proofed enough when you press it with your finger and it kind of bounces back by about 75%.

13.) Prior to putting the proofed bread into the oven, garnish with fresh rosemary and a good drizzle of olive oil and artisanal salt – even coarse kosher salt is fine.

14.) Bake for 24 minutes at 450 degrees (F) or until delightfully brown on top. Turn onto drying rack for, at least, 30 minutes or more before cutting — I know, it is tempting to try cutting it when it is right out of the oven. Don’t!

*Reveal! – This bread is perfect with any meal – it does not need butter as it is infused with olive oil.

It is crunchy, chewy, nutritious and tasty.

Let it cool before cutting!*


Talking Sourdough

SourDoughBreadmaking-Audio-MP3.mp3


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and long time coffee expert – writing on the subject of coffee for over 20 years! His dissertation on this subject can be found over on www.coffeecrew.com

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Garden end-of-summer Pasta with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes · Saturday October 19, 2019 by colin newell

Summer's End Pasta

This time of the year, as Summer fades to Fall and Fall to Winter, a whole window of seasonal cuisine opens up – It’s time to get out to the garden and see what is fresh. And what’s fresh in our garden in October are the last of the tomatoes and lots of basil!

Grab some fresh pasta, broth, white wine, mushrooms and some amazing Parmagiano Reggiano cheese and get ready for great tastes!

Ingredients:

12 medium sized cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh Basil chopped
6 large mushrooms sliced thinly
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup of white wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 servings Penne pasta
1/2 cup Parmagiano reggiano cheese
Salt, Pepper and Italian seasoning to taste

Directions -

Put pasta on to boil

Saute pan on to heat with a splash of olive oil and butter.
Saute mushrooms – season with salt and pepper
5 minutes before pasta is finished cooking, pop the halved tomatoes into the pan.
Add Italian seasoning – and extra pepper if necessary
Added 1/4 cup of white wine to steam tomatoes – add 3/4 of the Basil
Let cook down for 1 – 2 minutes and add the chicken broth.

When the pasta in finished, drain and place immediately into saute pan. Add 3/4 of the P.R. cheese and stirred to combine over low heat. Add rest of basil to garnish. Plate and sprinkle larger slices of P.R. cheese on top.



Making Pasta!


Summer-Pasta-2020.mp3

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Instant Pot Living - Delicious Lasagna in 45 minutes · Monday April 22, 2019 by colin newell

Instant Pot Lasagna 2019

I have been a fan of good pasta since I was eating solid food. My mom made me spaghetti and meat balls when I was still in the high chair and I have photos of yours truly eating this dish with my bare hands!

I have evolved a bit in the intervening years and, for me, the delight in eating tomato based pasta dishes has never waned.

We have been using the wonderful Instant Pot for almost a year now and finally got around to attempting a lasagna.
This recipe did not disappoint – and my thinking now is: Why make a huge batch that you invariably need to freeze when you can cook one up that is good for one big family meal or (in our case) enough for 2 with several servings left over.

Let’s dig in!

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
8 oz ricotta cheese
1.5 cup mozzarella cheese – divided in half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – divided in half –
1 egg
Italian spices – Oregano and Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
No-boil lasagna noodles
1 jar pasta sauce
1/2 box thawed spinach

Prepare spring-form pan with tin wrapped around the outside and oil spray the inside.

Brown the ground beef (salt and pepper to taste)
Combine all of the ricotta, half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese, egg, and the spinach. Mix it together.
Take dried lasagne noodles, breaking into suitable shapes to fit bottom of spring-form — this your first layer.
Open jar of pasta sauce.
Put enough sauce to cover first layer of noodles (1/3 of jar)
Take two ladle fulls of ground beef to spread over your layer of pasta sauce.
Take 1/2 of the egg cheese mixture and place on top of the meat layer.
Repeat sequence again: Noodles, sauce, ground beef, cheese mixture.
Add last layer of noodles and pasta sauce.

Take the rest of the cheese mix left over and place on top.
Create a “hood” of aluminum foil (oil sprayed on the inside – so cheese doesn’t stick…)
Add 1 cup of water to bottom of instant pot.
Place springform pan in silicone sling.
Lower sling onto Instant Pot trivet.

Set to high pressure for 20 minutes. Natural release for 11 minutes.
Remove from instant pot – put on baking sheet – remove tin foil hat – broil for 5 minutes to brown cheese.

Serve with garlic bread and/or Caesar salad. Serves 6.

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Culinary designs for living - Making caramel sauce - warning, it's dangerous! · Sunday March 17, 2019 by colin newell

Caramel Sauce - there are hazards

Caramel sauce is awesome on cheesecake. This entry is specifically written for the previous blog entry.

Note: Making caramel sauce at home uses few ingredients but you are in immediate danger of serious or life threatening injuries if you do not exercise caution when making this recipe. Pay attention!

Some warnings and best practices: Do not use a heavy iron pot for this task. You want a pot that absorbs and dissipates heat fast. Do not use an iron or heavy enamel or ceramic pot that holds onto energy and releases it slowly. The process of making caramel can get out of control really fast. You want a cooking pot or saucepan that releases its heat quickly.

Wear safety glasses and if you are using a candy thermometer, wear heat proof gloves or mitts. Candy burns are extremely dangerous and can result in permanent scarring.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp. butter, cubed

In a small, thin, conductive saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and salt and cover with water.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring every so often until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and cook until you achieve a deeply buterscotch-copper colour in the mix, without stirring, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Using a candy thermometer (and I hope you do) you want it to reach 350° F.

Once caramel is a deep copper color, turn off heat, remove from heat source (Oven mitts on!) and immediately stir in cream and butter. Mixture will bubble up so be very, VERY, careful!

Let cool slightly in pan, then transfer to a container to cool completely. You can keep the caramel sauce in the fridge for around one week – as if it won’t be used up within a day!

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Culinary designs for living - Instant pot salted caramel cheesecake · Sunday March 17, 2019 by colin newell

Salted caramel Instant Pot Cheesecake 2019

I don’t rant much about kitchen appliances. They are all tools and they have a job to do. Few tools, however, are true time and energy savers. The Instant Pot (a digital pressure cooker no less…) has been a revolutionary game changer in our busy little kitchen. We’ve made pastas, BBQ ribs, hot and spicy South Asian creations, cajun classics like Jambalaya, healthy breakfast standards like steel cut oats and eggs (any style) and a very passable risotto! Finally whipping up a delicious and creamy classic New York style cheesecake has been the crowning achievement for the Instant Pot. Here’s how you can do it too!

The recipe for the caramel sauce (which is one of the toughest steps) will be featured in the very next blog entry

Some tips to make the perfect Instant Pot cheesecake

  • Pre-baking the crust will make it crisper and crunchier than freezing.
    • In order to avoid lumps in your batter, ensure that all of your ingredients are room temperature.
  • Take the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you plan to start.
    • Mixing is key to a perfectly smooth cheesecake free of air bubbles and cracks.
    • Do not overmix! 30 seconds of mixing tops per step!
    • Mix on low speed, and add the eggs in one at a time.
  • A springform pan or round cake pan with a removable bottom works best
  • If you line both the bottom and the sides of the pan with parchment paper, you should be able to get that perfect, smooth look along the outside of your cheesecake.
  • The size pan you choose will depend on the size of your Instant Pot. An 8″ pan works well with the 8-quart, while a 6″ to 7″ pan is perfect for the 6-quart.
  • Wrap a sling made of foil around the pan to make removal easier. Fold a long piece of foil in at least thirds, lengthwise. Place the pan in the middle of the foil strip and pull up over either side. When placing the pan on the trivet in the inner liner, make sure the ends of the foil sling are sticking up over the sides.

    Ingredients and process

The Cheesecake:

  • 28 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
    Graham wafer - the secret to great cheesecake!

The Crust – Spray your 7-inch springform pan lightly with cooking spray.
Cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle to fit the bottom of the pan, then spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the graham crackers, white sugar and butter, and mix well.
Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. I used a whiskey glass – flat bottom – very handy.

Bake at 350F for 13 minutes. Remove and set aside.

The Cheesecake mix
In the bowl of your stand mixer, blend the cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Don’t exceed 30 seconds.
Add in the sour cream and mix until smooth. Don’t exceed 30 seconds.
Add in the flour, salt and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Don’t exceed 30 seconds of mixing!
Add in the eggs, then mix again until just smooth. At this stage, don’t over mix the batter. 30 seconds per step!

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.

Water - the key to cheesecake success!

The Instant Pot Process
Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the trivet that came with the pot into the bottom. Cut a piece of aluminum foil the same size as a paper towel. Place the foil under the paper towel, then put the springform pan on top of the paper towel. Wrap the bottom of the pan in the foil, using the paper towel as a barrier.

Next, take another piece of foil about 18 inches long folded into thirds lengthwise. Place this under the springform pan, and use the two sides as a sling to place the cheesecake into the pot. It will also make it very easy to remove the cheesecake from the Instant Pot when it’s done.

Once the pan is in the Instant Pot, secure the lid and press Manual.

Adjust the pressure to high and set for 35 minutes, ensuring that the vent value is in the closed position.
Cook the cheesecake in the alloted time, and when finished, allow the pressure to release naturally.

Remove the cheesecake from the pot using the sling you prepared, and place on a wire rack to cool the cheesecake for an hour.

Cover the cheesecake in the pan with foil, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, top the cheesecake with the caramel sauce (recipe coming) and sprinkle with sea salt.
Using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan and release the sides of the pan. Expect cheers of applause from the folks lucky enough to be sampling your cheesecake!

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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