Sunday, February 18, 2018

To Punch, or Not To Punch... um, is that the question?

  • The harder you 'punch' the dough, the finer crumb and texture your bread will have when baked. This is because you are removing more of the air pockets with more force. It works great for sandwich breads, sweet rolls, and any type of bread where a tighter grain is desired.
  • If you only 'fold' the dough, you will leave larger air pockets in the baked loaf. This creates a looser crumb and the bread will rise higher while baking. It is great for making airy rustic breads, fluffy dinner rolls, and bread styles like baguettes in which large holes are desired.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Bah Baaa BAGUETTE a video demonstrating the difference between a good and bad Baguette   baguette at 14:45 full of holes     baguette at  :17 and 11:30 not so full of holes    baguette at 31:45 is moderately with holes
(the above french baguette recipe contains great technique to use!) baguette at 7:55 baguette at 17:45  baguette at :35  baguette at 3:35

Copied from  The following words are HERS not this blogger's... I am copy them here for convenience to the reader.
..... the starting point was Andrea Nguyen's recipe at  (Andrea Nguyen's recipe is in orange on this page.)  The writer continues...   I want to thank Andrea for her recipe. It got me off to a good start, but I did end up doing it my way. which is somewhat different.
My first pass gave good results but seemed a little overproofed and a bit tough compared to the bread at Lily. So I modified the recipe to use both Gold Medal and KA pastry flour and the results came out very close to what I had in Austin. I used marked proofing containers for the second batch and found the yeast specified in Nguyen's recipe way high for my needs. Here are the results...

 The photos were inserted but unable to be viewed... perhaps she didn't compress the files? 

Here is the basic recipe...
250 grams of lower protein unbleached AP flour (such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury's)
250 grams of pastry flour (such as King Arthur)
9 grams of salt
12.5 grams of sugar
4 grams of instant yeast
320 grams of water at 105 degrees F

I blended the flours, salt, sugar and yeast in a large stainless bowl with a spoon. Added the water and mixed to a ragged dough by hand, then switched to a plastic scraper and gave the dough about 100 "turns" simply using the scraper to catch the ball of dough at the bowl and pull it up and over the top, turn the bowl a bit to reposition the ball, and repeat about 100 times. Then I put the dough in the proofing container. The first doubling took about an hour. I then pulled the dough which was somewhat sticky onto a granite counter and gave it one complete stretch and fold (stretch to the top and fold, stretch down and fold, stretch to the right and fold and finally to the left and fold, effectively reforming a ball. Then back into the proofing container. The second doubling took about 50 minutes. Repeat the stretch and fold process. The next doubling took about 35 minutes. Then I formed three loaves and let the loaves proof 30 minutes. Moved them from a linen couch to parchment, spritzed, slashed, and loaded into a preheated 440 degree oven on a baking stone. I used a cast iron skillet with lava rocks for steam and added one cup of boiling water. I removed the parchment at 15 minutes and rotated the loaves. Total baking time was about 23 minutes.
While the dough was fairly sticky I found that it could be easily handled with minimal flour during the forming process. This makes a very nice, very light, tender baguette. Andrea and I wound up using somewhat different processes and baking approaches so I suspect one should be careful about baking temperature and time. Your times and temperatures may be different - yeast needs also!
Good Luck!

How to Make Vietnamese Baguette
This recipe yield nice, tasty baguettes that you'll be proud of. The crumb is soft and chewy but not light and airy like the super cheap ones that quickly go stale. The top crust is light and crisp, while the bottom and sides are just a tad soft. Perfect for making banh mi sandwiches or dipping in bo kho beef stew or a chicken curry. Yes, it takes a good 4 hours but consider it a time and culinary splurge.
Makes two 15-inch loaves, each about 14 ounces
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast, Fleishman brand preferred, or fast-rise yeast, SAF brand preferred
1/2 plus 1 cup warm water (105-115°F)
3 1/2 cups low-protein, unbleached all-purpose flour, Gold Medal or Pillsbury brand preferred, plus extra for shaping the loaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Special equipment: Large capacity food processor; a double (15-inch long) dark, nonstick French bread pan; a razor blade or very sharp knife; plastic dough scraper; plastic spray bottle.
1. Put the yeast in a small bowl and add the 1/2 cup water. Set aside for 2 to 3 minutes to soften the yeast. (It will look kind of blotchy as the granules break down. It may also get a bit foamy too.)
2. Meanwhile, outfit the food processor with the regular chopping blade to make the dough. Put the flour, salt and sugar into the food processor.
3. Return your attention to the yeast. Use a whisk or spoon to gently combine the yeast and water well. Pour in the 1 cup of water and gently whisk or stir again to combine. With the feed tube removed, start the food processor. Slowly pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture in processor, blending just until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from side of processor bowl, about 1 minute.
4. Replace the feed tube and let the dough rise until it nearly fills the bowl, about 1 hour. Pulse 1 or 2 times to slightly deflate the dough. Let the dough rise again and deflate. Let the dough rise one more time. You're shooting for 3 risings. As you progress, each one will take less time.
5. Flour your work surface and hands with about 1 tablespoon of flour. Detach the processor bowl from the machine. Holding the bowl upside down above your work surface, turn the very soft and sticky dough out onto your work surface, taking care to notice where the blade is in the blob of dough. (The dough scraper is handy for removing the dough from the walls of the processor bowl.) Remove the blade from the dough. Gently rotate the dough on your work surface so it is lightly covered by flour and does not stick. Use the dough scraper to divide the dough in half, setting one half off to the side. (If it's unwieldy, use the scraper to move it around the work surface, lest the dough stick to your fingers!)
Vietnamese_baguette_press 6. To shape each baguette, use lightly floured hands to gently press one half of dough into an 8- by 5-inch rectangle or football shape. It should feel lofty and soft. The dough should naturally stretch lengthwise in one particular direction. Think of that as the grain of the dough. You want to shape the loaf along the grain of the dough to promote a big rise.
Fold the top third down and the bottom third up as if you were folding a very wide and narrow business letter. Gently seal the edges by pressing with your fingers or the palm of your hand. The result should look like a fat log. (If you have a rectangle of sorts, you can repeat the folding and pinch the edges to seal to create a log.) Your aim is to coil the dough so that when it's baking, it will spring and burst open beautifully. Try to keep as much of the air in the dough as possible without breaking the skin.
Vietnamese_baguette_rolling Turn the log over (seam side down) and start rolling the log back and forth (have your hands flat facing downward) to elongate and stretch it into a 15-inch-long thick rope that's 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide. Try not to stop for long lest the dough sticks to your work surface. The dough should be very soft and easily yield to your motions. Pick up the dough with both hands and place seam side down in the cradle of one of the bread pans. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.
7. Loosely cover the loaves with a dish towel to prevent the dough from drying and inhibiting rising in the oven. Set aside in a warm draft-free place for 30 minutes, or until just shy of double the original size.
8. Meanwhile, put a large roasting pan with 1 inch of hot water in it on bottom of gas oven or on lowest rack of electric oven. Position the oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Vietnamese_baguette_slash 9. When the loaves have risen enough, they're ready for baking. Fill the spray bottle part way with water. Use a razor or sharp knife to make 4 or 5 shallow diagonal slashes down length of each log. The cuts should run the length of the log, be about 4 inches long each, and ¼ to 1/2 inch deep. Angle the razor or knife at about 30 degrees. Mist the loaves with 4 to 6 sprays of water.
10. Slide the pan into the oven onto the upper 3rd rack and bake for 20 minutes. After baking for 3 minutes, mist the loaves. Repeat the misting after baking for another 3 minutes. Then, let the loaves bake. At the 15-minute mark, you may rotate the pan for even browning. At the 20-minute mark, gently turn (you may have to pry it free just a tad) the loaves bottom side up in the pan to promote even crisping and browning. Bake for about 5 minutes, during which you can even rotate the loaves so that the sides brown and crisp too, or until the loaves are crisp all over. The browning happens quickly at this stage so carefully monitor the loaves to prevent burning.
Vietnamese_baguette_2 Transfer each loaf to a rack to cool. The bread is wonderful warm after having cooled for about 30 minutes. They'll remain at their best for about 6 hours after baking and can be reheated in the oven. Store overnight in a thick paper bag. To freeze for up to 2 months, wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap; defrost at room temperature and reheat in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes to refresh and crisp.

Also watched this video...

which I had as much confidence as the tall one with the cigarette...

125 grams lukewarm water
125 grams all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast

INSTRUCTIONS Mix all and seal in a container in room temperature. It will be ready to use after 3 hours and should be okay to use for up to 3 days. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will be.
5 oz water          10tsps
5 oz of flour       10tsps
.5 oz of yeast      03tsps
65g water
80g flour
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
Mix loosely

Bread Video Inspirations... from Pain de Campagne to Italian Ciabatta

Went out and bought some flour, and later some yeast.  Inspired to do this because....

Mom has this large TV in her den which I often use to watch and revisit older cooking shows ....  Martha Stewart, Jacque Pepin, Julia Childs, and such.

Recently, I watched Julia's bread show ( ).  The episode included a film clip from her days in Paris, a brief educational clip where she received instruction and collaboration from Professeur Raymond Calvel... He is the man who invented the autolyse method for bread making.

Julia's Bread Show is here, and Professeur Calvel is introduced about 13:26
( ).

"Remember, You're Making a Gluten Cloche"

As you know Youtube suggests additional videos for viewing on the bottom (or side) of the video one currently watches... well, I then Came across this video...
He held my attention by thoughtfully advising the different portions of salt usage:  kosher salt vs table salt...  you see, when one uses table salt, the iodine will react with the yeast differently...  and then I was certainly going to complete the video when he used the back side of the wooden spoon to stir.   "I use the handle of a wooden spoon to mix the dough, ... whatever YOU decide to use to mix the dough, whatever you do DONT USE A WHISK, ... You'll either break the whisk or break your wrist..."  oh and I thought how true...    so I continued to his next video
Interesting Facts and was the video which linked me to the following...      
VERY informative, even with my lack of french comprehension.

One should also visit and the other associated videos

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's another word that rhymes with witch? Chicken Glitch

Yep that one.

So most of December and January cooking I didn't log.  I simply attempted to smile, not yell, and maintain the seesaw so as not to have another GLITCH.

What I did do was create some fine chicken broth and stock.

Broth is made from meat and stock is made from bones.  I combined the two.  However, this time I simply used an already roasted chicken.  The roasted chicken and roasted garlic turned the broth quite sweet.  I prefer a more savory broth, especially when I am sick.  And this year I was really, really sick.   Having made so much broth I froze about a gallon.  The last batch of soup I made simply was vegetables and the broth/stock from the bones and whole roasted chicken I previously cooked.

Mom did a wonderful job at Christmas, attempting to make everyone feel warm and welcomed.  New Years I continued to be sick and we simply watched TV until we felt better.  I phoned Sam, and didn't speak much, bless him.  He's my favorite son, you know.  Anyway, gabbed a bit with Sian and quickly departed from the phone. 

Chicken Stock from Alton Brown

or more simply


  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 medium onion, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    water to cover

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Alessi Pasta Fazool Neapolitan Bean Soup

Pasta Fazool (Minestrone) is synonymous with the Southern region of Italy. 
"Fazool" is from the Italian word "Fagioli", which means "bean". 
The Neapolitans perfected this thick, three bean, multi-vegetable pasta soup. 
This entitled them to rename the dish in their own dialect, and it thus became known as"Pasta Fazool."


4 1/2 Cups water
(What I added:
Celery 5 stalks
Barley, quick cook, about 1 cup
Half or 3/4 of a Sharp White Onion
Handful of baby tomato
Handful of cooked porcini mushrooms
2 x5 inches of Parmesean Cheese
Splash of Red Wine
1 Tablespoon Irish Butter)

Analysis at bottom of this page/post.

Cooking Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a 3 quart pot.
Add mix and stir for one minute. Stir frequently to avoid possible overflow.
Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 12 minutes. Soup should bubble during cooking. Stir occasionally.
Remove from heat. For authentic Italian taste, stir in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Serve and enjoy.

Dehydrated Beans (Red, Pinto, Navy), Pasta (Durum Semolina, (Niacin Ferous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin added)), Dehydrated Vegetable (Potato, Tomato, Onion, Zucchini, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Peas, Broccoli, Parsley), Corn Cereal Solids, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Natural Flavor (Hydrolized Corn Gluten, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil), Spices, Dehydrated Chicken Meat, Turmeric, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/3 cup (42g) dry mix
Makes 1 cup prepared
Serving Per Container: About 4
Amount per Serving        
Calories     140    
Calories from Fat     5
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.5g     1%    
Sat. Fat 0g     0%    
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg     0%    
Sodium 680mg     28%    
Total Carbs 29g     10%    
Dietary Fiber 6g     24%    
Sugars 7g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A     4%    
Vitamin C     10%    
Calcium     4%    
Iron     10%    
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

ADD spices such as rosemary, a tad of garlic, bayleaf, and maybe, just maybe a leaf of lemon balm... if you like that sort of flavor.  I refrain from stating to add salt... but truth be told I sure was craving a  bit.   The soup mix didn't add any additional yummy flavors as if one used homemade chicken stock and just barely pre-cooked three or four types of pasta.  The celery, the onion, and the mushrooms added something different to the whole.   But after a while if all one uses is homemade chicken stock, mirepoix, and pasta... it begins to all taste the same.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Time Whisks by... a walk down a recipe from memory lane...

Sick Soup...

So mom was ill and wanted some weird veggie soup.  Canned.  From Tomato Juice one drinks at breakfast.  Canned.  Vegetable Medley mixings.  Canned. Dried Chicken Bullion cubes...  Oh come on.. really?  But I put it together... get the picture?

Anyway, I couldn't do it.  Didn't tell her but what I did was gather some sundried tomatoes, put them in the Cuisinart and blended the heck out of them until smooth paste was formed.  I supplemented that to the Tomato Juice.  As for the VEG*ALL, I dumped the two into the pot, after straining the juice from them.    Then I ran Fresh carrots through the Cuisinart in order to form a mush of sorts.  I was adding thickness to an otherwise dull lifeless soup.  Thirdly I added a paste of white northern beans.  I set aside a small handful to add whole, but mostly I ground up a good portion I had cooked from scratch.  Used homemade chicken broth with lots of garlic and onion in the base... added three chicken legs to the mix and simmered... added Fresh Cut Celery (organic) to the mix toward the end so there would be crunch and firmness.   What happened was a thick soup, which had depth of flavors was formed.  It could still be poured, but at least it didn't look like tomato juice one has in a glass in the morning...with some vegetables thrown in it.  It looked and tasted a bit more complicated.  Not perfect mind you, but something which I was proud to give her and maybe help her heal faster, too.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Favorite Chili

Just the other day, New Years, I made, or rather, began making chili.  My favorite chili is made with Chili-O from Frenches.   Well, to make a long story short here's what I do...

the packet calls for...

1 pound of Beef
1 small can of Tomato Sauce
1 can Red Kidney Beans
1 packet of Chili-O

But What I Do is this...

First a brown the beef, and instead of one pound of beef I try to make it almost two.  Beef which is grass fed is my favorite.  But it tastes even better when the grass fed beef is on sale.  While browning
I rinse the beef.  Yes, I rinse the beef.  A friend of long, long ago taught me that little bit of weight loss tip.  (You're going to be adding water, so just rinse the beef... down goes flavor, but if the beef is of better original quality not matter the fat content, the taste will remain.)  So during the cooking process the beef is rinsed one third of the way through and then the last third.   Then when cooled I put it through a mixer/cutting blade, having the beef become the size of large grains of sand. The same goes for a large can of WHOLE STEWED tomatoes.  Forget a can of sauce...  I use fresh roasted tomatoes if I have them.   In lieu of fresh, I use a whole 8 ounce tube of roasted tomatoes for each packet of Chili-O mix I use.    the kidney beans are drained, and half the beans are run through the bladed mixer.

After grinding everything through a bladed mixer ... the consistency of the Chili is more soupy and less bulky.   Now it is thick! don't mistake extra beef and whole tomatoes as being thin ooze... it is a thick chili, just tiny pieces on the tongue...

Friday, April 08, 2016

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Adventures in Cheese and other yummy things.

For the past three weeks I have been wishing to create a Broccoli Cheddar Soup, having spent a tiny fortune at Panera Bread eating their concoction.  It is delish!   So I looked on the internet and found several "copies" and somewhat "award" winning recipes.  Then, I opened up my hardback American and French Cookbooks.   (Choosing among recipes from Ina Garten, Alton Brown, and The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, as well as French Chefs Alain Ducasse, Jacques Pepin, and Georges Perrier... simply took the best of them into a new "receipe." )

Basically, Ree Drummond includes a can of cream of celery in one of her three versions of the soup, Georges Perrier insists on a classic roux, and Jacques Pepin and Alain Ducasse favor adding a base of chicken or vegetable broth.  Alton, though not often favoring Velveta, has been known to include it in some of his recipes, though I can find no Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe in which he suggests the use of Velveta.  Ina Garten, known for chicken cooked a 100 different ways, has inspired me to keep on hand small and large portions of homemade chicken stock... stock, not broth.  Stock is from bones, broth is from meat.

Wishing only to create a small test portion, I chopped a small, even, amount of carrots, onion, and the stalk only of a broccoli head, reserving the florets.  Sweated the batch with butter (not margarine).  After the pan looked like a nice mirepoix (but with broccoli rather than celery), I added flour in the amount of about 1/5 to 1/7 of the volume of "mirepoix" in the pan.  Thoroughly cooked the flour in the pan which still contained a liberal amount of butter.  When dry and forming a good roux, I added heavy whipping cream and whole milk. (Had not half and half on hand.)  The amount of liquid was enough to make a thin paste, not soupy, more like a thick dip.  Then, a few minutes later (about 3 min.) I added the homemade chicken stock to create a runny soup.  Checked for taste using various herbs...added no salt.  Then added White Cheddar, (my sharp cheddar was used two nights previous) a bit of velveta for smoothness and to create golden yellow color.  Finally, I garnished with golden, mild cheddar and let it melt in the pan.  Stirred all that together, and then added two soup spoon sized portions of cream of celery soup.     Warmed all this and removed servings of soup for those who wanted extra thick soup. Added small florets which were cooked the previous evening. Then, once these individuals who desired super thick soup were served, more chicken stock was added to that remaining in the pot, creating a more fluid and pourable soup.

Result?  Two thumbs up, with individual preferences satisfied as one gracefully is allowed to adjust thickness of the soup while cooked.

Stalk of Broccoli, reserving florets.
Stick of butter, first using about half of the butter, adding more if one chooses to make a roux with flour.
1/4 cup flour for the roux
(I tend to cook a lot of broccoli florets at one time, and put them up in a container about the size of a 5lb bag of flour....then I save the stalks... your order of events may be different, but the main thing is save the florets for later and use up that stalk now.)
1-2 cups of half and half, your preference
3 cups more or less of chicken stock
1/8 cup or 2 soup spoon sized dollops of cream of celery soup
White Cheddar Type Cheese ... I used Irish Dubliner, add volume to taste
4 Slices of Velveta Cheese more or less, to your taste
Garnished with mild cheddar cheese (as that was what was on hand.)

Touch of Garlic
Touch of Nutmeg
Bay Leaf if you're cooking thin,
but remember to remove it after cooking
soft salt such as Himalayan, or Celtic type salts, or
any salt low in sodium but higher in calcium and magnesium.
Regular Table salt is high in sodium, with Kosher
salt having similar compounds, but formed in flakes.

That's the "recipe" ... Bonne Chance!