Sunday, 25 November 2012

Pizza Dough - The Bread of the Gods

Guest post from Jar Head:

As every fan of good pizza knows, the starting point is the dough. You cannot have a great pizza without first having a great dough - without it you might as well cover a cardboard box with tomato sauce and cheese.

This recipe has gone through many adaptations over time and I am very happy with the results. Patience is a virtue here as this recipe uses a delayed fermentation technique, using a small amount of yeast to work with the natural sugars in the flour which are released as the dough rests in the cold fridge. This concept came from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Bakers Apprentice, which is a great book on everything to do with bread.

What you will need:
  • 3.5 to 4 cups of flour*
  • 1.75 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1.75 cups cold water
* I use a mixture of 3 to 3.5 cups of bread flour together with 1/4 cup rye and 1/4 semolina. You could use all bread flour (or all purpose) but I prefer the slight nuttiness and texture that the rye and semolina adds.

Add 75% of the flour together with the water and bring to a paste - the mixture will be very wet, almost pancake batter in consistency. Let sit for about 20 minutes. This is known as autolyse which allows enzymes break down the proteins in the flour so they can reform as gluten and amylase enzymes convert the broken starch into sugars. Add the remaining ingredients, including the remaining flour, and kneed in a stand mixer for 5-8 minutes (10-12 by hand).

Separate the dough into 4 balls and place in lightly oiled containers. Place in fridge for 1 to 3 days (you can place in freezer after 1 day in the fridge and save for 3 months).

After a day in the fridge you are ready to make pizza - I will be doing a posting on that step soon.

Now I only need to get going on that wood burning pizza oven in the back yard...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Clam Chowder

Gnome approved
As soon as the leaves turn and the beginning of rainy season takes hold here on the west coast my thoughts turn to warm soups on a dark night. One such soup is a clam chowder with lots of clams and fish - not that tomato based kind (tomatoes and clams...blasphemous) but the creamy New England variety (note clam chowder beer pairing below).

What you will need:
  • 1 can baby clams
  • 1 can clam juice
  • about 400 grams of white fish of your choice
  • 1 leek finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup cereal milk or sour cream
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Fresh chopped herbs (such as parsley and chives)
  • Salt (smoked) and Pepper to Taste
Drain juice from clams into a large skillet over the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover and bay leaves, and cook over medium heat until tender.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in milk/cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Stir into vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil. Add fish to cook. Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with herbs and salt and pepper.

Clam Chowder Beer Pairing: There are a few different ways you can go with this type of soup. An IPA with its bitter hoppiness will cut through the creamy soup nicely while a dark or brown ale would also pair well. You can also go with a thick stout or porter. This time I went with a west coast crossover - a Cascadian Dark Ale (sometimes also called a Black IPA or an American Black Ale) which is a dark malty beer with a high amount of west coast hops.

Coq au Vin - Chicken Swimming in Wine & Bobbing for Mushrooms

Chicken swimming in wine
We here at Fondue Voodoo tend to enjoy our beers more then our wines, see my beer reviews at Beer Advocate here. Having been gifted wines we must preserver and endeavour to put them to good use.  Since it just happened to be dark, wet and cold outside (rain in Vancouver...who knew) my thoughts went to stew, specifically my take on Coq au Vin. Traditionally you include bacon and skip the potatoes, carrot or celery but I don't follow follow instructions well...

Here's what you will need:
  • 3lb Whole free range chicken - butchered into parts (we gave the wings and part of back to the Hell Hound)
  • 2 medium onions (chopped into large chucks)
  • 1 extra large clove garlic (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (diced)
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 5 small potatoes
  • 1 1/2  cups brown mushrooms (quartered) 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh herbs (thyme, savoury etc)
  • 3 cups red wine (such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomates
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • Flour for coating chicken
  • 3 TBSP beurre manie
Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then coat lightly in flour. Heat the oil in a large cast iron casserole dish (such as le creuset) and brown the chicken in batches on both sides over a medium high heat. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Reduce the heat, fry the mushrooms. Once browned remove and set aside. Next, add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and then add the garlic and fry for about 1 minute.

Add back in the chicken, mushrooms, bay leaves, herbs, crushed tomatoes, red wine and stock. Bring to a simmer making sure all ingredients are well covered with the liquid. Once the broth has come to a slow boil turn the heat down and cover. Allow to simmer go for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and tender. 

Remove the chicken and set aside once done. Taste the sauce and season as necessary. Remove from heat and whisk in beurre manie to make a lightly thickened sauce. Bring back to the heat and bump the heat up to medium to thicken - it should just cover a spoon slightly. Serve the sauce over with fresh herbs.

Coq au Vin Beer Pairing: You need a strong heavy beer to pair with this meal as anything light will not hold up to the red wine sauce. Belgian Strong Dark Ales or Belgian Quadrupel's would work great here as they have rich flavours of dark fruit, earthiness and spices that are reminiscent of red wines. We went with Unibroue's La Terrible which was a great match (my review here).

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Mushroom Powder - Crimini Crack for Foodies

Neglect is the word of the day.
Mystery yard mushroom - 2010
I'm a bit of a masochist when it come to veggies, particularity mushrooms. Those little fungi's are up for neglect and just a little abuse when they get tossed to the back of my fridge. After months of neglect, I rediscovered the multiple brown bags to find wrinkly little dried mushrooms, a la "Return of the Mummy"style, except much more tasteful and without all that campy acting.

All hope seems to be lost, but wait - all hope isn't lost,  a little once over with a mushroom brush, and a round in the spice grinder and you've got a beautiful fine mushroom talcum powder,  fragrant and big on taste. A happier case of neglect has never been boosted about.

Mystery yard mushroom - 2010
How to raise your 'shrooms from the dead - Mushroom Powder

Purchase crimini or shitake mushrooms.

  • Pro tip, skip white mushrooms, they have no flavour.

Place them in a lose brown paper bag, back of the fridge
Check occasionally to ensure no mold is growing. Wrinkles good, mould bad. Once dried, brush with mushroom brush to get clean and break off the stems. Break them up a bit and buzz them in a spice grinder until they reach a fine powder stage.

Place the powder in air tight jars and store in the pantry.

How to raise the crimini powder form the dead:

Gravy, Stew, Soups, Scrambled eggs, Meatloaf & burgers, Veggie loaf, Pasta sauce and mixed with salt to season french fries.

Who's up for a little abuse?