Jan. 21st, 2014 02:55 pm
telophase: (Default)
Just pre-ordered this cookbook: Jon Bonnell's Waters: Fine Coastal Cuisine. It's by a local chef, who owns our favorite restaurant (Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine) and a new seafood restaurant, Waters, which the recipes here come from.

He's the one I've talked about before who will happily email you any recipe of his if you ask which, I have to say, ended up making us buy his other two cookbooks because we wanted to support that sort of thing.

At any rate, the description of the book on the Amazon page specifically mentions the lobster mac & cheese recipe that we had at Waters that Toby loves and which I didn't hate.* I believe the email conversation went something like: "Shall I pre-order?" "You have to ask?" "It'll arrive on the doorstep in March."

* I am a simple woman, and pretty much hate mac & cheese except for the bright orange stuff in a box, which is a comfort food. I believe it was eating the gross white goopy crap called mac & cheese in school cafeterias that did me in for anything other than the box.
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First, Nefer. With one of the faraway expression she has when sitting on the router warming her butt.

cut for pic )

Next: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.

OK, that's a bit of hyperbole, both the Revolutionizes!* language and the five minutes, but it is an interesting way to approach making bread. It's sort of like that no-knead bread that took the Internet by storm a while back in that it's a no-knead solution, but with this you make a large batch of dough and store it in the fridge, lopping offf a pound or so at a time when you want to bake.

The five minutes refers to the amount of time you spend directly working with the bread on baking day, not counting the resting stage and baking stage, but the mixing is only about fifteen minutes or so.

This appealed to me because my wrists, while not hurting during most normal daily activities, are too badly damaged by RSI to knead bread. Five minutes kneading bread and I can't type without pain for a week. Also, because the loaves are SMALL. Toby and I like bread, and like to buy it, especially from the local baker here, but the loaves are always too big and we never finish an entire loaf before it starts molding.

So today we made up our first batch. You mix it in a large container that can hold at least five quarts, stirring it with a spoon or, if it gets too stiff, pressing it together gently with your hands. And then you let it rise for two hours, after which you stick it in the fridge. Although it's easier to handle if you chill it for at least 3 hours, after an hour we were already starting to get hungry, so I went ahead and took out a pound or so. You don't knead it at this stage, either, just gently stretch it and roll the edges under until it's smooth and dome-shaped. They explain that you're creating a 'gluten cloak,' working the gluten on the outside until they gluten fibers (or whatever they are) are lined up.** That created a crusty loaf.

You let it sit for 40 minutes, then bake it on a baking/pizza stone (you can do it on a cookie sheet or loaf pan, but the crust isn't as nice) and in half an hour or so, you have bread. Woo!

And here is our first loaf! )
You can see the size. It's perfect - cut into quarters, it's two servings for each of us.

This loaf isn't perfect - there were some oven-temp issues which resulted in it baking at a lower temp than it should, so it took longer and the interior was a bit too moist when I got bored and took it out. But the crust was still nice! The issues were that I heated the over to 450°F, like it said, then after I got the bread onto the baking stone and the water into the broiling pan on another shelf to steam it (it's a crust thing), the temp plunged to 350°F and stayed there until the water boiled away, much much later. So we'll need to play with the positioning of the water, I think, and heat the water even more before it goes in.

It was good anyway! We just used the master recipe, which makes about 5 loaves. There's a number of recipes and variants in the book, from rye to pita to I don't know what else. And instructions for nifty variants like baguettes and this funky shape that looks like a wheat sheaf.

Highly recommended if you're interested in home-baked bread but don't want to spend much time at once messing about with it.

* I envision the loaf of bread with a little red beret and a flag...

** I actually don't remember the wording, and the book's in the other room and I am too lazy to get it.


Apr. 2nd, 2009 08:47 am
telophase: (goku - chewing)
The first box from showed up yesterday, which I think is the fastest I've ever got something I didn't order one-day shipping on.* So I read through a couple of things.

Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook - This is only partly a cookbook. The rest of it is a love song to the traditional izakaya. For those who don't know the term, an izakaya is ... sort of similar to a tapas bar in Spain - a drinking establishment that serves a variety of small dishes that you order by the dish. Anyway, the author visits a number of different izakaya, from the lowly neighborhood one to the refined haute-cuisine one, interviews the owner and talks a bit about the izakaya and the people who go there, then gives 2-4 sample recipes from that izakaya. I think it says something about the wide variety of izakaya food that I ate at five or six in Japan and there is no repeat of any of the multiple foods I ate there in the recipes here.

The recipes tend to serve 2-4 people, and most of them are fairly simple, although a lot of them use Japanese ingredients that I'm going to have to hunt down here or find semi-equivalents for (shiso leaves, for example). The one that takes the longest to prepare takes 2 years. :) It's for a fermented soy product (not natto), but can be eaten after a few days if you want.

Oishinbo: Sake: A la Carte - This is the second collection of themed stories from what is apparently the premier food-porn manga in Japan, which has been running since 1983. The main story is that Yamaoka is a cynical journalist whose newspaper assigns him to search and find the Ultimate Meal. He is the son of a potter and world-renowned gourmet, and their relationship is rocky, to say the least. Yamaoka tends to get into situations where his deep understanding of food and drink saves the day, and occasionally clashes with his father. The English editions cherry-pick themed chapters from the original manga, which means that a lot of the interpersonal plots get left out, and the resulting chapters are all FOODFOODFOODFOOD. Or in the case of this volume, SAKESAKEWINESAKE. There are helpful notes in the back about the food and drink in the chapters, and explaining a bit about the plots that have been removed.

Anyway, I now know more about the history and making of sake that I ever wanted to know, and I have already conceived a gourmet snobbishness, as apparently most of the large sake companies put lots of additives in their sake, and the stores that sell it tend to put it out on the shelves in light and heat, which affects the taste. I've never liked sake, but it's actually convinced me to try, at some point in the future, some sort of small-brewery type that's made with pure rice with just a slight touch of extra alcohol added at the end to smooth out the flavors just to see if it's sake I don't like or merely bad sake I don't like.

Reading the manga is a hilarious experience, as it takes everything over the top in true manga fashion. The colleague of Yamaoka who refused a posting to Paris because he doesn't like French food! Turns out to be an aversion to champagne, and if his superiors visit him in Paris, they drink champagne all the time, and after the TRAUMATIC CHAMPAGNE EXPERIENCE of his youth, he cannot possibly force himself to drink champagne again! Watch how Yamaoka manages to change this man's attitude towards champagne! Marvel the chapter where Yamaoka stalks out of a restaurant in SHEER UTTER DIGUST at the nouveau wine snobs who don't understand that NO WINE GOES WITH FISH!!** Watch how a man torpedoes his social ambitions by inviting Yamaoka's father to a duck hunt and a nouvelle Beaujolais tasting! THE HORROR!!

Then get ready for a six-part series where Yamaoka and his wife/colleague Kurita*** and two of their friends desperately try to obtain a loan for a local sake brewery that's being forced out of business by an unscrupulous large sake company, and have to work hard to convince the bank's loan officer of the Future of Sake in JAPAAAAAANNN!

I swear, you can HEAR the Dramatic Music as you're reading them. XD

Warning: This is Very Very Important. DO NOT READ WHEN HUNGRY.


* I got one-day shipping when I ordered the stationary bike from Amazon. It was eligible for Prime, and this free two-day shipping and when you're paying $175 for an item, really, what's $3.99 to get it one day sooner?

** You should drink sake with fish. According to the manga, the sodium compounds in wine interfere with fish flavor, but the sake complements it.

*** The notes explained that after these two journalists got married, they decided she should keep her last name, as having two Yamaoka-sans in the office would be confusing.

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