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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Making a Sourdough Bread Starter

A starter is a soupy mix of flour, water and yeast that sits in room temperature for 3 - 4 days fermenting and also attracting any wild yeasts and bacteria present the air. These yeasts and bacteria effectively "sour" the starter. Once the starter is a little bubbly and is pleasantly fragrant, smells a little like beer and bread, the starter is refrigerated and is the key ingredient to sourdough bread. Equal parts of flour and water are added to the starter as portions are used in baking, helping to sustain the starter for months if not years.

Texas-Style Barbecue Beef Brisket

Tipping my hat to Cook's Illustrated, I demonstrate their version of this Texas classic using only a Weber kettle grill. This often unsung and often disparaged cut of beef is full of flavor and can be sufficiently tender if cooked properly. Similar cuts that are equally sniffed at by the "steakhouse" crowd include hanger steak, butcher's cut (now popularized as a flatiron steak) and flank steak. Rolled and stuffed flank steak has helped lift the flank from the ranks of the unsung, but it is fundamentally a "cheap" cut of beef.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Videos for Fall 2008

I'm back from my long stay in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and I'm ready to rev up the video camera. I am still very consumed by the demands of my company, Local Pastures, but I plan to squeeze in a video from time to time. Hopefully weekly. I look forward to your frequent visits.

Basic Sourdough Bread Rolls


In KitchenAid (or other brand) mixer bowl, combine,

2.5 cups (375 gr) all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon of instant yeast
2 teaspoons of table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup room temp. water
3/4 cup sourdough starter (use any starter you wish. Video of making a starter available on this blog)

Mix with paddle until dough gathers together. Add water or flour by the tablespoon if dough is too dry or too wet respectively

Once gathered, remove paddle, scraping off all dough, and replace with dough hook.
Knead with dough hook on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a floured suface. Sprinkle top of dough with a little flour to absorb any surface moisture. Knead until dough is silky smooth or smooth as a baby's bottom. The dough may already be sufficiently kneaded, so don't knead any more than you have to by hand.

Place in a container and cover with dish towel or container cover. DON'T LOCK DOWN LID!

Allow to rise for two hours or until dough is doubled in size.
Punch down dough and let rest for 10 minutes.

Turn dough onto floured surface and form into long log, approximately 24 inches long and 2.5 inches wide and high.

Using a pastry scraper, cut dough into 16 equal pieces.

Place dough balls onto a foil-lined baking sheet with coarse corn meal sprinked on top of it.

Bake in oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 - 20 minutes. If making a double batch, place one sheet in the top third of the oven and one on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. After 10 minutes, reverse sheets top to bottom and front to back for even baking.

When golden brown, remove sheets and place on cooling racks. Allow bread to cool. Enjoy.