Berliners… an attempt at the filled donut.

Every time I hear or see the word Berliner, I think of JFK’s speech back in the 60′s where in he states to the citizens of Berlin “Ich bin ein Berliner” or in English:  I am a jelly donut.  Of course it was a valiant attempt to bond and be part of the crowd but the addition of one little three letter word “ein” changed the meaning completely.  Which brings me to this month’s Saveur magazine.  One first site of the front cover, I knew I was a gonner.  Destined to attempt yet again some donut type treat.  The gorgeous photo won me over instantly.  I was ready to try try again. Now I haven’t attempted gluten free donuts per say but I have attempted churros twice and we’ve made beignets many times. Cake donuts hold no love for me, no, for me the yeasted gluten free donut is the holy grail and I’m on a pilgrimage.  There were several yeasted donut recipes to choose from but the three that held my attention longest and repeatedly were the Berliner (perhaps as we just finished with the Paczki season), the Long John (as I love custard filling) or the vanilla glazed donut.  Oddly each recipe for the dough was quite different from one another.  I would have thought one dough fits all and I still do.  So I made Berliner dough and figured I would stuff some with custard, some with jelly and cut the holes out of some and make your normal hole-y donut too.

You may consider this cheating, but for my flours I used a box of the King Arthur GF all purpose flour.  Yes, it’s expensive and yes I could mix my own, but I thought I would try their mix.

I had high hopes.  They have since fallen.

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They were like deep fried bread with a glaze on it.  Heavy and yeasty.  Of course my yeast didn’t seem to be working at all so then I added more yeast and it still didn’t seem to be alive, so just a dash more.  Uuups.  The glaze I made is great.  The custard I made is great.  You can’t stuff enough custard in my donut to make it worthwhile.  I choose to not waste my homemade blackberry jelly in them until I get better results, so no Berliner either.  As soon as Saveur posts their recipe I will link to it, even though it was a fail.  The only thing I did differently was add 1 tbs of xanthan gum as the gf flour mix I used doesn’t have any in it.

So I am currently repurposing the dough.  It seemed like they might make good bagels or pretzels with the density of the dough.  So I have added poppy seeds,  flax seeds, sesame seeds, dried shallots, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  I put it in a warmish spot to rise.  Then I boiled them briefly with a bit of sugar and baking soda and baked them for 30 minutes.  Here’s the end result:

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They look and taste a lot like a bagel but are flakey and tender, not what I am looking for in a bagel.  Am I going to slather them with butter or cream cheese and eat them anyway? Yep.

i’m out

Pigs, pork and farm happiness

sam and clive

It baffles me that I have the hardest time finding the time and resolution to post.  I cook everyday and I take photos everyday.  I post what we are eating and cooking on Facebook most days.  So prehaps a push is what is needed.  I see people still swing by my blog for recipes.  That in itself is motivation.

So what’s new you ask?  A lot.  Most of it I should have shared last year all summer long.  However, I do have  a bit of an excuse there.  I raised pigs for the first time ever.  Me and two girlfriends.  Hubby helped out too when he was up.  Which also leads me to lack of time.  When I moved up here to NW MI (Oct 2011), my soon to be hubby  moved to Ann Arbor.  Then we got married but continued to live apart.  Just this last October in 2012 he was able to make the move up here 3/4 time.  So we lived apart except for a few weekends a month, for over a year.  That takes time.  Weekends gone, weekends here and that was the beauty of pig partnerets.  Everyone worked hard for a share of a pig.

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Back to the pigs.  I have wanted to raise my own pigs for a long long time.  However I knew it was going to be not possible on my own.  So my girlfriends stepped in and we raised 10 pigs from piglets of 25 pounds to hogs 350 pounds.  I loved it!  Yes it was hard, hot, wet and muddy work, but it was satisfying and now we all three have freezers full of pork.  Not just any pork, but heritage breed, pasture raised, GMO free fed pigs.  My brother built our pig shed in exchange for a pig and dragged it on skids out to his former organic cow pasture.  We put up fencing, both electric and non electric.  We learned how to install both fence types and how they worked.  I ordered feed.  We rebuilt the watering system 4 times, learning more every time.  We changed how we fed them and learned every time.  I did a lot of learning while those pigs were growing.  I had never raised livestock before in my life.  Backyard chickens do not count.  They don’t compare to a 300 pound pig running up to you because you have a bushel of apple throw outs.  You hope the pigs stops before you are thrown to the ground.  Sometimes they win, sometimes you win.

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We had a extremely hot summer and an extremely wet fall.  We would go hose the pigs down on really hot days.  They love to play in the water.  They love to play period.  Pigs have personalities and act a lot like dogs.  Which didn’t make it any easier when it was time to slaughter them, but that’s another blog post.  In the fall it rained and rained and rained and the 15 foot radius around the pig shed became a muck pool that was so slippery that it’s amazing we survived the daily feeding ritual intact. When grain gets wet it gets very slippery and pigs are messy eaters.  Jostling for best position in the food barrel leads to a lot of grain everywhere and then it gets wet.  And your boots stick in it and they nudge you while you are carrying a 50 pound grain bag.  So we learned.  We learned that we need a different feeding system next year.

 

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One of the reasons I wanted to raise pigs was to utilize the farm waste.  The cherry, apple and potato toss outs that the farm generates get composted.  We didn’t have much of a cherry crop (bad weather) and what we did have was severely damaged.  We would grade a lug of cherries and end up tossing 50% of the cherries because of splitting.  The pigs got two 5 gallon buckets of damaged cherries every day for 2 or 3 weeks.  They loved cherries.  The apple crop was light this year too.  Even the seconds were sold and the drops picked up, sold and used for juice (pasteurized).  But there were always a few left for the pigs that couldn’t be sold.  We picked the crab apples that were big and fat and sweet and tossed them to the pigs as treats.  My dad raised an acre of organic squash for the schools and the Fall got too cold to let them all fully ripen so the pigs got bushel after bushel of organic slightly under ripe squash.  They loved the seeds.  Really except for the acorn squash, they only ate the seeds.  We tossed them some tester potatoes.  That was a no go.  No interest in potatoes unless they were cooked.  I didn’t have that much time on my hands.  When we ran out of apples we went to a local winery and filled buckets with grape pressings.  They loved those for a few days and then it was back to squash. Of course we feed them bags of GMO free feed everyday.  They loved the farm treats but you do need to give them protein too.

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The chickens didn’t suffer from lack of farm treats.  They got my garden toss outs and plenty of cherries.  Their large fenced in run has a sweet cherry tree in it.  They ate the dropping cherries for weeks.  They got apple leftover too and they too had no interest in raw potatoes.  We have 28 chickens now.  Eggs galore.  For the first time ever we built a small farm stand by the side of the road to sell eggs and all the farm produce.  A small fridge kept the eggs chilled and a shade tree kept everything else cool.  After all the harvests were finished, the chicken yard gate is opened and all fall and winter they have the run of the orchards to hunt for bugs and any fallen fruit.

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The learning curve has continued with the chickens.  They all stopped laying eggs for 3 months when I added 16 chickens from a near by farm that was reducing their flock.  Pecking orders were reestablished.  Now they are almost one big happy family.  They are sick of snow.  They want to roam the orchards and yard but can’t with 3 feet of snow covering everything.  Spring will be here all too soon though.

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So all this rambling and no recipe?  Yep.  Just some awesome farm, pig and chicken pictures for now.  Maybe a sunset too.

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i’m out

Crepes Sweet or Savory? Gluten free ratio rally

I have fond memories of crepes. Back in college, I studied in Germany while a friend of mine studied in Rennes, France. Rennes might not be the crepe capital of France, but it has to be close. We would walk into a creperie, sit, drink a cider and order ham and cheese crepes or chocolate crepes or mushroom crepes. I need to dig out one of those photos. I probably didn’t take pictures of food then as I do now but I might have some nice shots of sidewalk cafes.

Crepes are this month’s Gluten free ratio rally’s challenge. Crepes are an easy one to tackle since the best crepes are very delicately handles so as to not work up the gluten. This makes them a great gluten free item to make. Our host this month is T.R. Crumbley so stop on by their blog and read about this month’s rally.

I followed Michael Ruhlman’s ratio of 2:2:1 for liquid eggs flour. Since it was just me, I made a half batch following the ratio recommendations. They turned out great!

Ingredients (for 3 largish crepes):

4 oz of whole local milk

4 oz of egg (this equaled one egg from my chickens in the back yard)

2 oz of gluten free flour mix (i used 1.5 oz sorghum flour and .5 oz of potato starch)

1 tbs of melted butter

Technique:

Melt the butter and throw it all in the blender or food processor. Whirl until combined and let it rest 1/2 hour or so. Add a tad of butter to a heated skillet. I used a non stick skillet that was on the larger side. Pour in some of your batter. Swirl it about until it looks like a raw crepe and coats the pan and let it cook. Cooking only takes a minute or two. As soon as mine started to bubble a bit at the edges, I added my crepe ingredients. Let them heat for a moment and then folded my crepe over in half and then in half again.

Crepe fillings I used:

Bavarian ham, swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and dots of an herb butter that has chives and parsley in it.

Nutella

Which crepes were best? Both. Somehow I took pictures of the nutella crepe only on my phone and not on the camera. So imagine oozing chocolate leaking out the corners.

Here are the links to all the other gluten free ratio rally bloggers this month, stop by and check out their crepes!

Adina ~ Gluten Free Travelette ~ Breakfast Crepes Three Ways
Caitlin ~ {Gluten-Free} Nom Nom Nom ~ Buckwheat Crepes
Caleigh ~ Gluten Free[k] ~ Banana Cinnamon Crepes
Claire ~ My Gluten Free Home ~ Victory Crepe Cake
Ginger ~ Fresh Ginger ~ Sweet ‘n Savory
gretchen ~ kumquat ~ nutella crepe cake
Heather ~ Discovering the Extraordinary ~ “Southwestern” Crepes
Karen ~ Cooking Gluten-Free! ~ Gluten Free Crepes Savory or Sweet
Mary Fran ~ FrannyCakes ~ Gluten-free Peanut Butter Crepe Cake
Morri ~ Meals with Morri ~ Russian Blini for Two
Pete and Kelli ~ No Gluten, No Problem ~ Key Lime Crepes
Shauna ~ gluten-free girl ~ Gluten Free Buckwheat Crepes
T.R. ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Brownie Crepes with Strawberry Wine sauce
T.R. ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Basil Tomato and Feta Crepes
T.R. ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Fresh Fruit Crepe
Jonathan ~ The Canary Files ~ Vegan Crepes for Filipino Spring Rolls
Rachel ~ The Crispy Cook ~ Raspberries and Cream Crepes
Mrs. R ~ Honey From Flinty Rocks ~ Crepes – Spinach & Dessert

i’m out

Sourdough Boule with Parmesan and Fresh Rosemary

I am excited to share this boule with you!  I have been working on gluten free sourdough bread as I still miss that nice crusty hearty tangy loaf.  Thanks to Jeanne Sauvage of Art of Gluten-Free Baking for making my search for great sourdough easier.

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I sometimes like to wing it.  Just plain make something totally from scratch no recipe no measurements no rules.  I usually fail but I get really excited during the process, so maybe it’s worth it.  I decided to do that with some sourdough.  I made a starter by throwing together a combo of flours I don’t even remember and then added a dash of yeast.  I let it sit on the counter for days, feeding it occasionally.  Once I thought it was properly sour, I added some more flours and maybe some xanthan gum and probably a dash of olive oil   Then defying all the gluten free rules, I decided to knead the dough. So I did, then I let it rise.  It didn’t rise much but I baked it anyway.  It was a nice sour lump of rock.  I added far too much gf flour in the attempt to make it kneadable.  Gluten free breads almost always start out as a stiff batter, but I was in baking denial.  However, the attempt did get me baking again and it’s been quite a while.

So I searched for recipes.  I felt like I had cheated using yeast to begin with even though it did sour over time.  I found this great starter/poolish recipe also from Jeanne.  So I started another starter to compare.

Of course I didn’t have any cabbage on hand so I just started it on the counter hoping that the yeast gods would be kind to me.  Three days later after showing some sign of bubbling but no sour smell, I did add some cabbage leaves to a small portion of the starter, left it for a day and then added it to the rest of the batch.  It was nice and sour tasting.

sourdough with parmesan and rosemary

Here is what I did for my starter:

Ingredients:

1 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup navy bean flour ( i did try a batch with garbanzo/besan/chickpea flour but for me the bitterness came through in a non appealing way)

1.5 cups of water

a couple of red cabbage leaves torn into large pieces – mine were not organic

You want a mixture of a higher protein flour to better replicate wheat flour, thus the navy bean flour which is full of protein.

Directions:

Mix the flours and water together, this will be pretty liquidy batter like.  Pour into your fermenting container of choice.  I used a 2 quart glass mason jar as then I can see the action.  Stir in your cabbage leaves.  I left mine open and stirred it ever so often.  If this were summer time, I would probably cover it, but no flies are out and about in Michigan right now.  I was hoping for some wild yeast to help the process.

Jeanne recommends adding more flour and water every 12 hours, I forgot and added it each morning.  Then mix it up.  Once you see the bubbling your yeast has arrived, so give it another day or two to fully develop.  Then remove the cabbage leaves.  They do leave a bit of a purple tinge, but that will get diluted once you add more ingredients to your starter.

From there I strictly follow Jeanne’s recipe so I won’t post it since you should go to her page and read all her research on the project.  I did use King Arthur’s Gluten Free flour mix for my flour mixture.  I really like it although it is expensive.  It seems to be a well thought out combination of flours and starches. By strictly I mean I follow her proportions and directions.  Of course I add things to it but we will get to that in a minute. Once the dough is in the parchment paper and rising bowl, I sprinkle a bit of rice flour on top and smooth it over. After the dough has risen and just before plopping it into the heated dutch oven, I slash a pattern into the dough.  Adding the rice flour makes the pattern much more distinctive and easier to slice without pulling the dough.

bread in a dutch oven

Since I don’t eat a lot of bread and my hubby is only here every third weekend, I choose to make a half batch.  One small boule using my 2 quart Staub dutch oven. That is what is pictured above.

Things I have added to my loaves of bread:

Parmesan chunks, rosemary, garlic powder and black pepper, sometimes slices of green olive too

Caraway seed, dehydrated onion and a dash of cocoa powder to make a “rye” style.

Gluten free rye style sourdough

If you are experimenting with sourdough too, please let me know your success and tips!

i’m out

Moriarty’s Mug

Moriarty's Mug

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.  Of course I start saying that around August as it’s one of my 2 favorite “sort of” holidays of the year.  I am giving you this recipe so that you have plenty of time to try it and have it ready for the big day.  I am not sure why I associate this soup with Irish celebrations except for that my favorite Irish pub in Lansing served this soup.  It’s so simple yet satisfying.  I slurp up the whole pot when I make it.  I love a good savory salty broth and this is one.

I made this soup for lunch today.  I imagine it would be even better if using homemade stock, but I have none in the freezer right now.  Cans of Swanson low sodium did just fine.  You want the low sodium as you want to add plenty of seasoned salt.  The pub uses Lawry’s but I use Penzeys.

I am still working out the best use of lighting in our new house with our camera.  One thing I do know is that you shouldn’t attempt photos of something while it is hot and steaming.  Our Nikon D90 picks up all of that steam.  It might help if I actually were to read the booklet it came with one day.  While waiting for the soup to cool, my cheese sunk and melted, which is what you want for eating.  So I dredged a spoonful up for you to see:

Ingredients (makes 2 large soup bowl’s worth):

1/4 lb Bacon (6 slices?)

1 large or 2 smaller russet potatoes (prob 8 0z or so)

1/2 medium onion

4 cups chicken broth – low sodium or homemade

4 dashes of hot sauce – I used Crystal, but Franks or any would do as long as you use some.

3 shakes of seasoned salt (Lawry’s or Penzeys are recommended for the flavor profile)

2 green onions – just use the green stalks, finely sliced or use chives

shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese

Step one.  Chop the bacon and saute it in the pot you plan to make the soup in. I typically chop up a half a package of bacon at a time and freeze the bacon bits for things like pizza or other soups.  That said, we have a lot of bacon around our house as we have our pigs raised nearby and butcher the entire pig, giving us about 30 pounds of bacon.

Step two.  While bacon is frying, dice 1/2 an onion and 1 large or 2 small russet potatoes (of course any will do but I like our russets from the farm here).

Step three.  Remove the crisped bacon and drain on a paper towel.  Pour almost all of the bacon grease into your bacon grease jar that you store in the fridge – why would you ever throw one drop of this decadent smokey salty fat away?  It’s great to put a spoonful in your pinto beans.

Step four.  Briefly saute the onion and potato.

Step five.  Add 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth or stock.  Scrape up all those little browned bacon tasties, they make the broth delicious.

Step six.  Shake a healthy amount of hot sauce into the stock and a couple of good dashes of seasoned salt in too.

Step seven.  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are cooked and broth reduces a bit.

Step eight.  Slice up some green onion green tips for garnish while potatoes are cooking.

Step nine.  The moment you have waited for.  Assemble the soup.  Pour as much soup as you want into a bowl.  Place a good amount of shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese in bowl, top with a couple good sized pinches of the chopped crisped bacon and finally sprinkle those lovely green onion tips on top for a splash of crunch and color.

Nine steps but really it takes only 15 minutes.

Sigh deeply and slurp.

ok, Moriarty's bowl, you want to eat more than a mug's worth...

i’m out