I have been on a major cooking tear this break. Of course, that’s not really anything unusual, since I always want to nest when I have free time and the weather is cold (or at least chilly. Seriously, it’s been a pretty pathetic winter around here. Notwithstanding the big storm at the beginning of the month, of course).
Tonight, I wanted stew. I have the new dutch oven (thanks, brother!) and had all the supplies–you know, the potatoes and carrots and onions and celery and wine and broth. I bought stew meat the other day when we got home, too. So I pounced right in with a terrific Cooks Illustrated recipe, halved, of course, because I am not making stew for eight.
But as I jotted down the instructions earlier today, I thought to myself, Hey, self, what goes good with stew?? And myself answered, Well, self, HOMEMADE BREAD goes well with stew.
Problem: the dutch oven for the no-knead bread would be in use for the stew. And I did not have even eight hours to let the stuff rise, much less the additional two for it to do the second rise and bake. So I pulled out the stand mixer and did regular old kneaded bread. It’ll go in the oven right after the stew comes out. (Yeah, the stew braises in the oven. MMMMMMM.)
So I’ve been nesting today. Nest nest nest. I also did some writing. Yay, me! But mostly, I’ve been nesting.
Because Target doesn’t have any in stock in the local stores, and the website says it’ll take up to six weeks if I order one that way, I decided it was time to spend some Lexis points instead. I just unloaded most of my (paltry) Lexis points for one of these. (I got a nano for Christmas, since my 3-year-old 2nd generation iPod was giving me about an hour and a half of battery, and now I need to stock up on accessories.)
I know, I know, it’s going to take two to four weeks to get the thing–and that’s almost as long as it would have taken from Target, where I also have store credit–but it feels like it was more free, getting it with Lexis points, than spending my store credit at Target. Maybe that’s crazy, but that’s just the way my brain works. Lexis points=free, my friend, free. (You could argue that stuff bought with Lexis points is MORE than free, since you learn stuff while you earn them. I’m not necessarily making that argument, but I’m saying you could make that argument.)
Now that we’re back home, Himself has relaxed back into his normal personality. For much of our Christmas trip to the Angst-in-laws’, he was alternately hyper and subdued, skittish and manic. We’re pretty sure it’s because he thought he was in trouble–no getting on the couches at the Angst-in-laws’, for example–and yet was super excited to have a yard to run around in.
So today he’s been very sweet, and very obedient. He was especially good on his morning walk. I’m glad to see he’s no worse for the wear, and that being home hasn’t been too confusing for him.
[Unfortunately, while on vacation, he picked up a very doggy smell–and I say unfortunately because he had a bath just a week ago! The downside to all that playtime in the yard, I suppose.]
So I took a few days off. From blogging. It was nice. And now that I’m back home, I guess I have to get back to it.
With that, here’s what’s happened in the last three days. I got everything I asked Santa for. (Well, that may not be true, but close enough.) I took back those things which did not fit or otherwise needed to be returned. Store credit rocks! My best friend got engaged. I’m so excited for her! Finally, I planned my Spring Break trip–I’m going skiing with my dad.
And that’s it. Tomorrow, I’ve got to get back to work; my comment won’t rewrite itself, even though I keep dreaming it’s come to life and is making itself over.
The bread was a huge hit this morning–when toasted, its texture resembles an English muffin, but with better flavor and bite. My 18-month old nephew, in particular, was a huge fan, which tells me this is a recipe I really need to make again–adults and toddlers alike noshed on it all morning.
In other foodblogging news, I roasted a goose for Christmas dinner, and it turned out pretty good. Goose is tricky to make, since it’s very fatty (like duck) and the meat is very thinly stretched over the bones. The best recipes involve methods designed to render much of the fat out of the bird without the fat seeping down into the meat. I chose the less-dangerous-though-less-reliable method of pricking the skin all over–without piercing the flesh–and roating at high heat, breast down, for the first 30 minutes. (The other method requires the cook to plunge the bird into a pot of boiling water, twice–once from each end–and I just don’t think I’m tall enough or coordinated enough for that to NOT end badly.) At any rate, I spent a lot of time concerned over goose fat this afternoon. In the end, the feedback was positive, even though I thought the meat got a little overdone, so I will also call this one a success.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your Christmas noshings were as good as ours, and your day a terrific one, full of family and love.
It’s been sort of a busy couple of days. There are many things to write about–the dog, and his ecstatic reaction to having a yard to run around in, the last-minute Christmas shopping, the last-last-minute Christmas shopping when one of the last-minute gifts turned out to be the wrong thing, the experience of spending the holidays away from my family after what has been a somewhat rough year, and on and on and on.
But for now, I’m watching It’s a Wonderful Life (again), watching some gifts be assembled, and starting to drift off into happy Christmas Eve dozing-ness.
Merry Christmas, all. I’ll be back in a few days. Or maybe tomorrow.
It will come as no surprise to any of my regular readers that I HAD to make this bread. I am a BIG fan of breadmaking, and an even bigger fan of any method that is less labor intensive as the regular, knead-till-your-arms-fall-off method, well as is cognizant of the tremendous power of yeast.
So here, in all it’s glory, is my attempt at No-Knead Bread. A few notes:
First, I did not let this stuff rise and ferment for 18 hours. I did not have 18 hours. Mr. Angst and I did Christmas with each other (and with the out-of-town gifts my family has sent) this morning. So I received my brand new dutch oven, therefore, at 10 am (thanks, brother!). Also, we are leaving to celebrate Christmas with the Angst family tomorrow morning, at about 9 am. But I really, really wanted to play with the dutch oven before we left (and what better way to play than to bake bread that sort of requires one). I also figured it would be really coool to take fresh, homemade bread to my in-laws.
All that to say, my dough got a 9 hour rise. (To be fair, I added a LITTLE bit more yeast–perhaps 50% more than the recipe calls for, hoping it might offset the shortened rising time.)
Here it is at 8 hours. Many, many bubbles. Many, many threads of gluten. I think it got so developed so quickly because I let it do about 6 hours of its rise in the oven, which has a resting temperature somewhere probably around 80 degrees, just a little higher than the recommended 70-degree-room temperature.
Here is the dough after the scraping, flouring, and folding. Um, folks? The dough is MUCH wetter than it looks in the little video on the NY Times website. Maybe I didn’t use “just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers” because it was STICKY. I kept adding flour, though, and finally was able to get it into a rough ball. You can see my cotton towel coated with white cornmeal, ready to take the dough for the second rise.
Here is the bread after the second rise, ready to go into the HOT HOT HOT dutch oven. HOT HOT HOT. I’m excited, though, because I know that, at this point, we’re only an hour or so away from fresh bread. Not that we’re cutting into it tonight. No sirree. Once it cools, it gets wrapped up for tomorrow.
And here’s the dough in the pot. Getting it into the pot was the trickiest part, I think. It’s pretty floppy stuff, and doesn’t really go where you want it to. I tried shaking the pot once the dough was in, to get it to even out, but that didn’t really work. Eh. If it’s uneven, it’s uneven. At this point I was more concerned that the steaming thing (the whole point of using a pot with a lid) wouldn’t work because I had to take the handle off the pot lid (not able to withstand the temperature, you know, and my foil makeshift didn’t stay).
Now I’ve taken off the lid. Now would be the time to mention that the smell of this stuff is pretty heavenly. I can only imagine how good the apartment would smell if I made it with cinnamon and raisins, or with cheese, or with any other yummy, flavorful filling. I took the lid off after about 28 minutes, which seems to be around the right amount of time, since I can tell a bit of a crust is forming. The rest of the oven time will just be for browning all over. Yum!
The finished product, after another 20 minutes in the oven. I wish I also had a picture of the crumb to show you, but I am not cutting into this any time soon–I really want it to cool fully!
I can hear the crust crackling, so I’m pretty excited about digging into this stuff. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I have to wait. Or DO I?)
Update: OK, I lied. I couldn’t wait. Here’s the crumb. It’s not as full of big giant holes as some of the other examples out there on the web, but pretty respectable, nonetheless. (And tasty. Yeah, yeah. Oh well.)