Sunday, September 16, 2012

A perfect slice of life

I wonder sometimes, if I should have chosen a different name for my blog.  When I started this little misadventure a couple years ago, "Eat, Drink, Study," seemed to fit.  I mean, I LOVED to eat and drink, and devoured cookbooks.  I was a full-time student and really ought to have also spent a good chunk of time studying too.  Well, I meant to study a lot, at least.

Now that I'm all done with scholastic life for the foreseeable, that nagging little part of me wonders what the hell I'm supposed to do with a food blog called "Eat, Drink, Study," when I don't actually have to study anymore.  I think about renaming it; something witty that camptures where I'm at in life and how that relates to food, and blah blah blah.  Then I go back to reading Oatmeal comics in my pajamas while recovering from an overnight shift, since I don't really think the name of this blog is a big deal.  Has anyone here NOT read The Oatmeal?  If you haven't, please go away for a bit, and take care of that.

Are you done?  Love it.  SOOOOO much.

Now, speaking of oatmeal (and tenuous segues), we need to talk about this bread:

Isn't that gorgeous?  That's the second loaf I've made in as many weeks, and I'm whole-heartedly in love with this bread.  Store-bought bread doesn't really do it for me anymore, at least since I started living alone last year.  Pre-sliced bread is usually full of awful junk, like corn syrup and preservatives.  The squirelly bread you can get is usually fine, but it's kinda expensive (5 bucks a loaf!  At least!).  I've been making Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread for a few years now, especially since I'm on my own.  

That  fantastic; tasty, chewey, great crumb, crispy crust.  I love how EASY it is too, because the idea of making regular bread from scratch always seemed a little intimidating.  All that kneading and proofing and kneading.  Why would I bother with all of that, when I can just throw all my ingredients together and ignore them for most of a day, then end up with fantastic bread?  Because I got bored of hanging out in my jammies reading webcomics one morning, and wanted a challenge.

I started where I normally start when I want to try something new and need to be pointed in the right direction; Molly Wizenberg's Orangette.  Molly is infinitely more poetic than I am, and she raved about this bread, and it's toasting abilities.  I was convinced!  So I made my own (somewhat malformed) loaf.  I've been eating this as toast and sandwiches all week, and I'm in love with this too now.

There is some work  involved here, I'm not going to lie.  About 4 hours start to finish, including about 15 minutes kneading-time.  This is a weekend job for you people with "normal" jobs.   For me, it's something else to do in my jammies after a night-shift.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
adapted from Orangette

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 cups bread flour (I use all-purpose, and it's just fine)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
Heaped tablespoon kosher salt

Grease a large bowl and a loaf pan and set aside.

In another large bowl, combine 2 cups of warm water and molasses.  Sprinkle the yeast overtop and stir.  Let this sit for about 10 minute or until its all foamy.  Add the oats and stir to get them all wet.  Add the white flour, and whisk until smooth.  Add the whole-wheat flour and stir until it comes together to make a shaggy dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Let this stand for about 30 minutes to let the dry ingredients absorb the liquid.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface, and knead for 15 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until your dough is smooth, elastic and a wee bit sticky.  Dump the dough into the greased bowl, and roll it all around to get covered.  Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hour or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down, dump it out on the counter and shape it into a square.  Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle. Next, bring the newly formed top and bottom edges together.  Plop the dough into the loaf pan, seam-side-down.  Cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour.  Half an hour before you bake, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake your loaf for 30-35 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Take the loaf out of the pan, and cool on a rack.  You may be tempted to cut a slice now, to enjoy it warm with melty butter.  DON'T DO IT!  The crumb needs to set!  

This bread keeps great at room temperature.  I followed Molly's advice, and keep it inside a grocery bag, cut side down, with the top tied.  It keeps for 4-5 days on the counter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Piggy Buns

These little pig-shaped custard buns made my day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brunch for One

My life is in a constant state of slightly frenetic motion.  I work full-time, while going to school full-time to finish my undergrad (finally!), and I bought a condo a few months ago.  I spend a lot of time going straight from school to work, then to my field placement back to work.  I don't get a lot down-time, and what little I do have is swallowed quickly by the never-ending cycle of homework and house-work.

I sound like I'm complaining, don't I?  I promise, I'm not.  Really.  I love my program (most days), and my job (most days), and everything that I'm doing is getting me to exactly where I want to be in life.  I have made some very intentional choices as to what this year would look like; full-time job, full-time student, new homeowner.   So I really can't complain (not too much, at least).

That being said...  Yesterday, I had someone tell me that I need to better at practicing self-care.  And they were right, I know.  Self-care is one of those things where, the less time you have for it, the more you probably needed it.  So this morning, after I came off shift at 9am, I took the time to do just that.  The fact that my 11am class had been cancelled might have helped a little bit, but that's beside the point.  Today, I did two things for myself: I made myself brunch, but (more importantly, I think) I taught myself how to poach an egg.

Of all kitchen tasks, poaching an egg is the only one that really TERRIFIED me.  No lie.  The idea of poaching an egg made me incredibly anxious.  I know this is a completely irrational fear, I mean, what's the worse that could happen?  I pop the yolk? The white doesn't set properly?  I kill the egg completely and have to start again?  It's not even that I thought the process was fussy, which isn't, really.  I live for fussy jobs in the kitchen; unwrapping 150 individual caramels to make my own chocolate turtles, for example.

So... This morning, I wanted a poached egg.  I followed Jeanette's instructions from the blog Everybody Loves Sandwiches, and it came out perfect.  Before I got started on that, I made a hash of cured ham (the crappy prosciutto-style stuff in the refrigerator section of the supermarket deli), mushrooms, and shredded potato.  I threw a large handful of baby arugula into the hash right before I plated everything together.  I cooked the egg like I was told, and it came out pretty nicely, with a perfect gooey yolk, and  a firm white (one of the things that ruins breakfast for me the most is gooey egg whites).  All that together, made one of the best breakfasts I've had in a long time.  Really tasty. And SO easy.

Perfect Poached Egg with "Parma" Ham, Mushroom and Arugula Hash
Partly adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
A quick note about the eggs...  Jeanette says to use REALLY fresh eggs, which I'm told makes the whites hold together around the yolk a lot better.  My eggs have been sitting in my fridge for a while, so my whites got a bit whispy, and I think I lost a lot of them in the pan.  But my egg still looked really happy, and tasted great!!

1-2 oz prosciutto or cured ham, shredded chopped fine
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded potatoes (frozen works fine)
Olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
Big handful of washed baby arugula
1 egg
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

Fill a large pot with about three inches of water, and set on the stove over High heat so it comes to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat a medium frying pan over Medium heat.  When the pan is hot, add the ham, and let it cook down in the pan for a couple minutes, stirring frequently, to render out some of the fat.  Add the mushrooms, and continue to cook, so the liquid is cooked out of the mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms and ham are almost cooked down, push them to one side of the frying pan, and add the potatoes to the empty half of the pan.  Pour about 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the potatoes, and stir to coat.  Let the potatoes cook for a few minutes to soften the potatoes.  Once they're soft, combine everything in the frying pan together, and season with lots of pepper (the ham is salty, you don't really need more salt).  Cook this mixture, tossing frequently till the potatoes are crisp and golden around the edges.  Keep the hash warm while you cook your egg.

Crack your egg into a small mug or teacup.  Add a good pinch of salt and about a Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to the boiling water.  Lower the mug into the water, allowing water into the mug to cover the egg.  Let it sit there for a few seconds to start setting the egg, then GENTLY tip the egg out of the cup into the water.  Cover and turn the heat down to Medium-low so the water reduces to a simmer.  About 30 seconds with the lid on is enough for a runny yolk, but if you like firmer yolks, leave them in there for longer.  Remove the egg with a slotted spoon, and drain on a paper towel while you finish the hash.

Add the arugula and chives to the hash, and toss so the arugula just starts to wilt.  Put the hash on your favorite plate, and top with your perfectly-cooked poached egg.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I'm brushing the dust off this blog (again!), to voice my New Years resolutions!
• Drink more water (at least 2-3L per day)
• Incorporate more vegetables and fruit into what I eat
• Practice better portion-control/snack less

This is today's lunch, as an example of this (recipes will come tomorrow):

Crunchy Tuna Cabbage Salad
Homemade whole-wheat bread

See you tomorrow!