Bannetons and Bread

I bought myself some new kitchen toys to help w/ my bread baking experiments. I did a lot of shopping around at various kitchen stores in St. Louis but couldn’t find a banneton for an affordable price – most places were charging around $40 for a single round one. I found a store online that sold me four bannetons of various shapes and sizes for just over $40 (the price included tax, shipping and an $8 wholesale charge for purchases under $50). I love my new toys!

I used the smallest round banneton a couple of days ago while I attempted to resolve the problem I’ve been experiencing w/ a bread recipe. I didn’t resolve the problem of the bread bursting open at a slash point and altering the shape, but I like the way the boule looks when using a banneton despite it being malformed! On attempt #6 of this recipe I extended the final proof to 4 hours and baked the bread at 460 degrees F for 36 minutes. I’m going to put this recipe on the shelf until Spring and warmer ambient kitchen temperatures in hopes to finally get the results I’m seeking. Until then I’ll experiment w/ new recipes using my new toys…

Happy Baking!

Bruno

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Here are a few photos from the Christmas feast I attended:

Signing off until next year

Wishing you a fantastic, food filled 2015!!

Bruno

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!!

Bruno

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 allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

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!!

Bruno

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!

Bruno

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!!

Bruno

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:

zinnias

Crimson tomatoes

Black Krim tomatoes

Speckled Roman tomatoes

 jalapeno peppers

 chard and kale

 baby butternut squash

 hummingbird/butterfly mix

 wildflowers

 herbs

 garden bounty

 

Green thumbs up!

Bruno

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

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

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!

Bruno

 

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