Sourdough Boule Two Ways

Peter Reinhart‘s Basic Sourdough Boule (click here for recipe)

Weekend Bakery’s Tartine Style Boule (click here for recipe)

Both breads are delicious! The first bread (Peter Reinhart’s sourdough) had a tighter crumb compared to the Tartine style sourdough. I attribute this to the shaping method as well as not using stretch and folds when making the dough. In his book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart demonstrates a pinching method to make a boule shape. The Weekend Bakery recipe uses stretch and folds in their dough recipe and in the shaping method. 

I’ve made the Tartine style bread 3 times and continue to have problems w/ the loaf splitting open at one of the slash points which causes the boule to lose its round shape. Since the ambient temperature of my kitchen tends to be cool this time of year I may need to increase the final proofing time. This has worked for me w/ other doughs when baking in wintertime, so I’m hoping this will provide the solution.

Both breads are time consuming but worth the effort!

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!!


Final Harvests 2014 and Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

This morning we had our first frost here in St. Louis, so for me it’s the end of the gardening season for 2014. I harvested the remaining bounty on 10/30 because the forecast for this morning was in the low 30′s. I just checked the outside temperature and it’s 31.8 F. It’s been a great growing season! The jalapenos I harvested on 10/18 were pickled and the ones in the photo from 10/30 will be candied. Below are photos of the plentiful pickin’s and the pickled peppers (with an easy recipe if you’re flush with peppers too).

harvest 10/18

harvest 10/30

pickled peppers


Pickled Jalapeno Peppers (recipe adapted from


30 medium jalapeno peppers (sliced into rings)

3 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)

3 tablespoons fresh chives (chopped)

3 tablespoons fresh tarragon (chopped)

3 large cloves garlic (crushed)

3 tablespoons kosher salt

9 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar

2 1/4 cups water


1) Combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, oregano, chives and tarragon in a saucepan over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stir in jalapenos and remove from heat. Let mixture cool.

2) Pack peppers into jars using tongs, cover w/ vinegar mixture and refrigerate until needed.

Yield: 3 pints

I hope your garden bounty was plentiful too!!


Garden 2014 – Update #4

As the garden fades from Summer into Fall it continues to produce a nice quantity of bounty. There are still some tomatoes, jalapenos, basil and hopefully a few butternut squash to be picked. I made some pesto the other day w/ the Asian basil that I picked and have been enjoying the tomatoes in salads, sandwiches and stir fries. The following garden photos were taken on October 11th. The garden bounty photos have been snapped on various days since my last update.

Brandywine, Pompeii and Black Krim tomatoes

Pineapple, Black Krim and Pompeii tomatoes

Jalapenos, butternut squash, Pineapple, Black Krim, Gold Medal, Crimson and Pompeii tomatoes

Pompeii and Pineapple tomatoes; Siam Queen basil


Happy Eating!


Garden 2014 – Update #3

Wow, the garden is going bonkers! This is shaping up to be the best year since 2009. I’ve harvested quite a bit over the last month, but it looks like the best is yet to come. The combination of the weather and me learning from my mistakes throughout the years has proven fruitful! Here are a few photos I took on September 17th and bounty photos I’ve taken over the past month. (click on photos to enlarge)

 Brandywine and Speckled Roman

 Black Krim and jalapenos

 Crimson, Black Krim and Gold Medal

 Black Krim and Crimson

 Pompeii, Black Krim, Speckled Roman and Crimson

Gold Medal, Pompeii, Speckled Roman and jalapenos


I’m diggin’ the dirt this year!!


Garden 2014 – Update #2

Although a month delayed by the cool, wet summer we’re having in St. Louis, the plants are coming along quite well. I harvested a few tomatoes the other day as well as some jalapeno peppers, chard and kale. Tonight I’m going to dice one of the tomatoes, slice one of the jalapenos and add them to the pan w/ the chopped kale and chard, give it a quick saute’ then combine it w/ some cavatappi pasta. Topped w/ some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, this will make a delicious meal!

Here are some photos I shot on August 5th and the garden bounty I harvested on August 8th:


Crimson tomatoes

Black Krim tomatoes

Speckled Roman tomatoes

 jalapeno peppers

 chard and kale

 baby butternut squash

 hummingbird/butterfly mix



 garden bounty


Green thumbs up!


Rigatoni a la Bruno (aka Rigatoni w/ Shrimp and Carrot/Zucchini Ribbons in a Garlic White Wine Sauce w/ Fresh Tomatoes and Oregano)


Rigatoni a la Bruno


1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)

2 medium tomatoes (diced)

1 pound large shrimp (20-35 count)

6 carrots and 2 medium zucchini (sliced into ribbons slightly less than 1/8 inch thick using a hand-held mandoline slicer)

! pound rigatoni

4 cloves garlic (chopped)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste


1) In a large saute’ pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the garlic, pepper flakes, white wine and oregano; over medium heat reduce mixture to 1/4 cup then add tomatoes and shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes more until shrimp turn pink – set aside and wipe out pan

2) Meanwhile, bring pasta water to a rolling boil add 2  tablespoons salt to the water then add rigatoni and cook until al dente (taste after 8-10 minutes)

3) While rigatoni is cooking add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to saute’ pan and quickly saute’ the carrot ribbons (salt and pepper to taste) adding the zucchini ribbons after carrots have softened a bit and saute’ until zucchini is just warm – set aside

4) Strain rigatoni then put in saute’ pan, fold in shrimp mixture, then gently fold in carrots and zucchini

5) Place in large dish and serve w/ the Parmesan cheese


Buon Appetito!



Garden 2014 – Update #1

Everything seems to be progressing nicely in the garden. I taste caprese salads and salsa in my near future!

The following photos were snapped on July 8th:


hummingbird/butterfly mix




chard and kale

butternut squash


Live long and prosper…


Veggie Garden 2014

Welcome to the 2014 version of my veggie garden (as well as herbs and flowers). Seeded on 3/22/14, and transplanted on 5/28/14. It started off as a cooler than normal spring so my seeds took longer to grow seedlings large enough to transplant. Currently the weather has been perfect… not too hot, good, soaking rain showers w/ dry days in between. Fingers crossed for another great growing season! This year I have 12 tomato plants (3 Black Krim, 3 Pineapple, 1 each of Gold Medal, Brandywine, Crimson Carmello, White Tomesol, Roma (Pompeii), and Speckled Roman; 6 jalapeno plants (3 Early Jalapeno and 3 Jalafuego); 2 types of basil – Siam Queen and Italian Large Leaf; 4 chard (3 Ruby Red and 1 Pot of Gold); 4 kale (2 Nero Toscano and 2 Red Winter) and I direct seeded 3 butternut squash (Waltham). I also direct seeded 4 types of lettuce – baby mesclun, wild and regular arugula as well as a spicy micro green mix.

On the flower side I again have a variety of tall zinnias which got leggy because I waited too long to transplant, and I direct seeded some shorter zinnias (Lilliput Mix) in pots in the enclosure. I think I’ll direct seed the tall zinnias next year to avoid the problem I had this year. Some of the Hummingbird Haven mix I direct seeded last year returned this year. I supplemented this section of the garden w/ cosmos and Bring Home The Butterflies mix. I added some new lavender plants this year because most of my old lavender plants didn’t survive the harsh winter. Also in that section of the garden I put in new rosemary and thyme plants.

I snapped the following photos on June 15th and was planning to do this post the following day but the hard drive on my computer decided to die. My computer is still getting repaired so I’m working on a loaner computer. (As always, you can click on the photos to enlarge.) 

Ahhh, the joys of summer!


3 Grain Boule w/ Sesame Seeds

Bob’s Red Mill no longer makes their 7 grain mix. At least I’m assuming they no longer make it because I looked in 4 different stores that carry their products and I couldn’t find it. Yes, I’m disappointed but as a result I was motivated to create my own blend of grains. To my surprise, the flavor of this bread is actually better than the one using the 7 grain mix. I guess it’s true, necessity is the mother of invention!

3 Grain Boule w/ Sesame Seeds


1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup Bob’s Quick Cooking Bulgur

1/4 cup coarsely ground cornmeal

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 cup wheat flour

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/4 cups water (tepid)


1) Place yeast in a large bowl and pour 1/4 cup tepid water over the yeast; let sit until it becomes foamy (about 5 minutes)

2) In a separate bowl mix together the flours, grains, sesame seeds and salt

3) Add olive oil and 1 1/4 cups tepid water to the yeast

4) Slowly add the flour mix while using your free hand to blend together

5) Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes (add more flour a little bit at a time if dough is too sticky)

6) Form dough into a ball and place back into the large bowl (dust the bottom of the bowl w/ flour before placing dough into it); dust top of dough ball w/ flour and cover bowl w/ plastic wrap (I use a shower cap that I got from a hotel – it fits snugly over the bowl)

7) Let dough ferment (i.e., first rise) for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature (if your kitchen is too cold, place bowl in unlit oven w/ the light on – the temperature is usually 70 degrees F). The dough should have at least doubled in size when ready to shape

8) Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball (boule) shape, dust top w/ flour, place on pizza peel dusted w/ cornmeal, cover w/ plastic and let rise for 45 minutes (i.e., second rise)

9) Meanwhile, preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees F

10) When second rise is complete, brush boule w/ water, dust w/ flour, then slash top of boule w/ a serrated knife

11) Slide boule onto pizza stone, then mist sides of oven w/ water (I use a spray bottle) and quickly close oven door; for the first 2 1/2 minutes of baking, mist the sides of the oven every 30 seconds – this delays crust formation and allows the bread to rise rapidly and evenly

12) After 20 minutes reduce temperature to 375 degrees F and rotate bread front to back for even baking; bake for another 15 – 20 minutes

13) Remove bread from oven and tap the bottom; if it make a hollow sound it’s ready!

14) Allow bread to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing


Happy Baking!



Posole w/ Lamb Shanks

According to Wikipedia, pozole (more commonly referred to as posole in the United States) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico. It used to have ritual significance. Since maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. The conjunction of maize (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mesoamericans believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough).

I spotted this recipe in the December 2013 edition of Food & Wine magazine. Traditionally posole is made w/ pork, however this recipe called for lamb shanks which appealed to me because I have a freezer full of grass-fed lamb from Missouri. It also sounded like a fantastic cold weather dish. It was so good that most of the friends I had over to partake in eating this posole asked for second helpings! I served the posole w/ sautéed kale and cornmeal bread for soaking up all the goodness.  Click here for cornmeal bread recipe.

Posole w/ Lamb Shanks (recipe adapted from Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, Athens, Georgia)


6 lamb shanks

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

1 large red onion, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

4 medium carrots, diced

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

8 dried pasilla negro chiles, stemmed, 4 chopped

3 quarts low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Two 15 ounce cans of hominy, rinsed and drained

One 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cilantro, sliced avocado and lime wedges for serving


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2) In a large cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the lamb shanks w/ salt and pepper. Place 3 shanks in the pot and cook over moderate heat until browned all over. Transfer to a baking dish. Repeat the procedure w/ the remaining 3 shanks.

3) Add the garlic and half each of the onion, celery and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in the cinnamon, oregano, 1 teaspoon of the cumin and the chopped chiles. Add the lamb shanks and any juices, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours until the lamb is very tender.

4) In a heatproof bowl, cover the remaining chiles w/ 2 cups boiling water; soak for 30 minutes.

5) Transfer chiles and 1 cup of the liquid to a food processor; puree until smooth.

6) Transfer the lamb shanks to the baking dish and loosely tent w/ foil. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

7) Wipe out the pot. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pot, add the remaining onion, celery and carrots, then cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in the chile puree, coriander, hominy, pinto beans and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin and cook for 2 minutes.

8) Add the strained broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season w/ salt and pepper. Add the shanks to the pot and cook until just heated through.

9) Serve the posole in bowls, passing the cilantro, avocado and lime wedges at the table.

Yield: 6 servings


Buena Fortuna!