Friday, January 20, 2012

Poutine and Beer-Yeast-Sourdough Bread

We just had three snow-days in a row in here in Seattle.  Which means Alex and I have been spending a whole lot of time sledding down Capitol Hill, sleeping in, and eating ridiculous things.  First of all, poutine is now a breakfast food.  Especially when breakfast is at 1pm. Alex made gravy out of beef au jus and chicken demi-glace while I fried up some french fries and onions in bacon grease... we thought about topping everything with an egg, but that just seemed excessive and we opted for the more traditional cheese topping instead.

Last weekend, Alex bottled a pumpkin beer that he made.  We've often talked about cultivating the dormant yeast that end up at the bottom of the carboy as a method of saving a few dollars on beer brewing.  Though I got inspired to use the yeast for a sourdough starter. After just a few days of feeding the yeast, I had a pretty fragrant starter going, so I used one of our snow days to make bread.  I've never been very successful at bread making, but I'm happy to say this is my best attempt yet!  I loosely followed Julia Child's recipe, which called for violently kneading the crap out of the dough in a mixer with a dough hook.  When this first knead was done, the dough had an amazing smooth, moist, sticky texture.

I stuck it in the warmest room in our house to rise for a couple hours, then a light knead, second rise, and then it was ready to be shaped for the final rise immediately before baking. I used a technique that Julia suggested: put a pan on the bottom of the oven and just before you put the bread in, pour some water into the pan - it will immediately turn into steam and increase the humidity inside the oven.  A humid oven makes a crusty bread. I also periodically added water to the pan in the oven and used a spray bottle to spray water into the air in the oven. Here is my lovely loaf of bread!

This bread has a fantastic texture! Fluffy, soft, and moist with a thin, crisp crust.  The flavor however will need some work, it has a wonderful earthiness, but then it also definitely has a strong essence of bottom-of-the-carboy sludge from which it's yeast was born.  It does make fantastic french toast though!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Biscuits & Duck Gravy

There's something about snow that inspires me to make biscuits. Conveniently, we also have a glut of duck stock at the moment.  So I made biscuits with duck gravy and a side of bacon for a glorious snowy Sunday breakfast!

There are two things that make the gravy absolutely magical; first, I used stock made from Stokesberry Farms duck, and their ducks are divine. Secondly, the stock was almost entirely duck and leeks, and then I started the gravy by sauteing leeks in butter.  Few things are better than the simple deliciousness of leeks, butter, and duck.  When the leeks began to turn translucent I added a bit of flour and then enough duck stock to get the perfect gravy consistency (with a bit of stirring and patience,of course). Here's breakfast in the snow!: