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:

zinnias

hummingbird/butterfly mix

wildflowers

herbs

basil

chard and kale

butternut squash

 

Live long and prosper…

Bruno

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!

Bruno  

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

Ingredients:

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)

Procedure:

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!

Bruno

 

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)

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

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!

Bruno

Sourdough 7 Grain Wheat Boule

Sourdough 7 Grain Wheat Boule

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Bob’s 7 Grain Cereal

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup sourdough starter

1 cup wheat flour

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

Procedure:

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

2) In a separate bowl mix together the flours, 7 grain cereal, and salt

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

4) Add sourdough starter to the yeast, then 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 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 1 hour (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

 

Enjoy the deliciousness!

Bruno

December/January Travel Photos

Meteor Crater, Arizona

 

Extinct Volcanos near Toluca, Mexico

 

Mono Lake, California

 

St. Louis, Missouri

 

Happy Travels…

Bruno

Butternut Squash Gelato w/ Candied Pecans

 

A tasty seasonal flavor that is a yummy ending to your holiday meal! The pecans were given to me by a neighbor whose parents have pecan trees in their back yard in southern Missouri.

Butternut Squash Gelato w/ Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

1 quart half & half

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 cup candied pecans (see procedure below)

2 cups roasted butternut squash pulp (see procedure below) 

Procedure:

For candied pecans:

1) Roast pecans in 300 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, then let cool

2) Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/8 cup water in saucepan

3) Boil to 333-335 degrees F (sugar will be amber at this point), occasionally brushing sides of pan w/ water to prevent crystals from forming, remove from heat immediately then add pecans and stir until they are well coated

4) Pour onto baking sheet lined w/ parchment paper and quickly separate pecan halves w/ 2 forks (I began using my fingers because using the forks was too slow to separate the pecans before the sugar hardened)

5) When cool, roughly chop w/ a large knife or break pecans into large pieces w/ fingers; place in an airtight container

For roasted butternut squash:

1) Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds

2) Line a sheet pan w/ parchment paper and place squash, cut side down, on pan

3) Roast squash at 425 degrees F for 50 – 60 minutes until pulp is soft

4) Let cool, then scoop out pulp

For gelato:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling

5) In a food processor, pulse 3 cups of the gelato mixture into the butternut squash puree to thin, then stir puree into the remaining gelato mixture, blending well, and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight 

6) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions adding the candied pecans when mixture starts to freeze

7) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container, stir to evenly distribute the candied pecans, then place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm 

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts 

 

May 2014 bring you good fortune… and good eats!!

Bruno

Cornmeal Bread 2 Ways (Boule and Rolls)

This is an easy bread to make for your holiday festivities and it tastes great too! It goes well w/ roasted turkey, vegetables, pasta or whatever you’re cooking up. The cornmeal adds a nice texture and flavor to ordinary rolls or a boule. I like to slice the boule, wrap it, then put it in the freezer. That way it stays fresh and is readily available when I need a couple of pieces of bread to toast.

Cornmeal Bread 2 Ways:

Ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/4 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

 additional cornmeal for dusting pizza peel

Procedure:

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 flour, cornmeal and salt

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

4) Slowly add the flour mixture to the yeast while using your free hand to incorporate it w/ the yeast

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. During the winter months, let dough rise for 1 3/4 hours). The dough should have at least doubled in size when ready to shape

8) Remove dough from bowl, split in half, then form  half the dough into a ball (boule) shape, split the rest of the dough in half and form 2 small round rolls, then dust tops w/ flour, cover w/ plastic and let rise for 45 minutes (1 hour during winter months)

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

10) When second rise is complete, slash top of boule and rolls w/ a serrated knife

11) Slide boule and rolls 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 10 minutes, rotate rolls front to back for even baking and bake for 10 additional minutes. Remove rolls from oven, tap the bottoms; if it makes a hollow sound they’re ready. Leave boule in at 450 degrees for 10 more minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F, rotate boule front to back and bake for 10 additional minutes. Tap bottom as you did w/ rolls to determine readiness.

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

Yield: 1 small boule and 2 rolls (or make one large boule or 4 rolls if you’d like)

 

It’s gotten cold and snowy here in St. Louis so I’m enjoying baking because it warms up the house. Having fresh, homemade bread around is an added bonus!

Happy Baking…

Bruno

Thanksgiving 2013

Here are a few photos of the Thanksgiving feast I attended at a friend’s house. I contributed the cornmeal bread as requested. Thanks for your hospitality Pamela!

Turkey

Cornmeal bread

Sweet potatoes w/ lemons

Roasted root vegetables

Carved turkey

Dressing

Fingerling potatoes

I hope you all had a pleasant holiday. I’m thankful for having such a great group of friends!

Bruno

Aerial View of Half Dome

Photo snapped at 2:30 pm Pacific time at an altitude of 30,000 feet while we were descending towards San Jose, California on October 25th. The lighting was just right to create good shadows to accentuate Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Happy Hiking (or climbing)!

Bruno