Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sue Gregg's Whole Grain Bread (With Einkorn)

I had high hopes for this bread; the dough was easy to work with once I realized that it wasn't going to behave exactly like dough made with commercial wheat. In my experience Einkorn doughs are always sticky at first.

I used my new Kitchenaid mixer (a new 1 horsepower model from Costco) and found myself wishing that I had chosen the Bosch instead. I can't really imagine the KA handling a double batch of this dough. I'm going to spend another week with the KA before I decide if I should take it back or not. The Bosch is just so much more expensive than the KA, especially if you want the stainless steel bowl, and I don't like the aesthetics of it, especially the blender port since I have a Vitamix and don't need the Bosch blender.
Anyway, I digress. I started the dough last night so that the freshly ground Einkorn flour (done in my Vitamix) could soak with buttermilk. This morning I added in the rest of the ingredients (including several cups of 80% extraction Einkorn flour) and followed the directions for all four rises. The first rise occurs in a bowl, the second rise occurs again in the bowl, the third rise occurs in the bread pans (pictured above), and the fourth rise is the oven spring that occurs at the beginning of baking, which in this case was evident but not dramatic.
These are the lovely loaves! It was hard to let them cool completely before cutting in, but I was disciplined. In honor of such lovely bread I also made fresh sweet butter from raw cream.

Yum! This bread has a nice crumb, good flavor, and it slices easily and evenly. I definitely prefer this recipe to the one I used last week, and I would make it again. I do hope the Kitchenaid mixer can manage a double batch as bread baking in the heat of summer isn't something that I want to do everyday; with a double batch I could bake once a week and freeze the extra loaves until needed.

I still need to tackle sourdough bread, but this bread will do for now and may even be preferred for sandwiches and toast.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sue Gregg's Banana (Nutless) Muffins

A couple of weeks ago, in an attempt to find more Einkorn recipes, I searched the interwebs and found Sue Gregg and her blender batter recipes (though nothing was specifically written for Einkorn). I was intrigued by her waffle/pancake recipe, started it that evening, and received rave reviews for the pancakes I served the next morning. Such success warranted ordering one of Sue's cookbooks and I chose her Introduction to Whole Grain Baking With Batter Blender Baking and the Two Stage Process because it mentioned incorporating traditional foods techniques.

(As an aside, Sue Gregg's name sounded very familiar to me, and then I remembered Evelyn Gibson of Gibson's Healthful Living which was a shop/cafe we used to go to when we were first married. I'm pretty sure my friend's mom knew both Sue and Evelyn through her sales of Bosch Mixers and also grain mills. Sue lives in Riverside which is pretty close to me.)

Yesterday I had two bread flops. Not failures, as they rose and are edible, but nothing I would invite others to break with us. The first was my fault; I misread the salt measurement and it tasted flat. The second was yet another attempt to bake the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day master recipe (using Einkorn) in the boule shape, this time employing a cast iron pot as a baking vessel.  It still spread and we ended up with a 1.5 - 2" high loaf of bread. I'm starting to think that Einkorn, with its lower gluten content, doesn't work well in the high moisture, no-knead recipes.

I decided to take a break from bread baking today in the hopes that I would regain my bread baking mojo and knowing that we had enough bread to eat, even if it wasn't the most delicious bread. Still, before bed I stopped to think what food I should be preparing and I realized that J-Baby didn't have much for breakfast (he doesn't like to eat oatmeal day after day). I could have made him a smoothie, but I decided to try Sue Gregg's blender batter muffins instead.

I'm finding the blender batters easy to make and I love that they incorporate freshly ground grain. Even better, the grain grinds with the soaking medium (in this case, buttermilk). Into the Vitamix went the buttermilk, melted butter, warmed honey, and Einkorn grain. After a minute I added the banana, then once it was well-blended I poured it all into a mixing bowl, covered it, and left it to soak overnight. I prepped the leavening/seasonings and headed to bed.

Sue Gregg mentions adding 1/2 cup flour to your muffin batter in the morning if you prefer rounded tops. We do, and I have 80% extraction Einkorn flour so I added it to the batter, mixed in a beaten egg, and finally gently folded in the leavening/seasonings before filling my muffin tin and putting the muffins into the oven to bake.

Papa and I really liked the muffins! The boys were slightly less enthusiastic, and their reasons for rating these muffins lower than the muffins from Moosewood Cooks At Home were the reasons that Papa and I loved them so: they were less sweet and had a bread-like texture rather than being sweet and cake-y. But these are muffins I can serve at breakfast with fruit without feeling guilty; those other muffins are very much a dessert.

So far Einkorn has performed better in the recipes for doughs and batters that include fat, dairy, and a small amount of sweetener, although it could be the hydration that is an issue. Next up I plan to try Sue Gregg's yeasted whole wheat bread, using Einkorn, of course.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Peak Into a Real Food Kitchen ...

At any given time there are various bowls on my counter, filled with soaking grains or beans. Here we have pinto beans, navy beans, and oats. The pintos were for tonight's supper, the navy beans are slow cooking in the oven right now for tomorrow's supper, and the oats were used to make baked oatmeal for this mornings breakfast (with leftovers for tomorrow).

Tonight there is only one bowl on the counter, a simple overnight no knead bread dough made with Einkorn flour. I've yet to get started on making sourdough; that will be a task for August, I think. Lately I've been playing with overnight soaked whole Einkorn quick breads (pancakes, biscuits, etc.) but since we have leftover oatmeal for tomorrow's breakfast I'm not going to grind and soak any batters tonight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Simple Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal isn't exactly new, but it's a breakfast that I didn't grow up eating and thus didn't serve to my own family until recently. Not that I served them Frosted Flakes or Pop Tarts either (which I did grow up eating almost daily), but my weekday breakfast modus operandi has been to keep it simple. Truthfully, oatmeal as a porridge is easier to make, especially since I soak the oats in the rice cooker overnight and then the timer takes over and cooks the oatmeal so that it's ready when we awaken. But oatmeal as porridge is pretty much just carbs whereas baked oatmeal adds protein via eggs and milk. It also tastes a little bit like bread pudding, which is a major plus in my book; it's worth getting up early to put it in the oven.

I came across baked oatmeal on the Nourished Kitchen blog and the first time I made it I followed Jenny's directions with the exception of leaving out the nuts (allergies) and dried fruit (I don't like dried fruit in my breakfasts - it's a texture thing).  We liked the flavor of the baked oatmeal, but the texture was a little difficult for me and J-Baby to get past; even with a 12 hour soaking the steel cut oats were definitely chewy.

This time I made the baked oatmeal with gluten free quick oats from Bob's Red Mill. It was a little more difficult to rinse and drain the oats this morning, but the results were worth it. This was a creamy baked oatmeal that even J-Baby could get on board with. I also used melted unsalted butter in place of the coconut oil as J-Baby has started complaining of stomach aches when he eats coconut oil. I think the butter made for an even more delicious baked oatmeal.

I soaked the oats with homemade whey (leftover from draining homemade yogurt). While others have said that soaking with whey added a tangy or tart taste to their baked oatmeal I haven't had this happen, but I do rinse my soaked oats before I cook them. I figure the soaking liquid has done its job in helping to neutralize phytic acid in the grain and I know that tangy oats don't go over well with J-Baby. (See the aforementioned soaked porridge which J-Baby will not eat because it is tangy, although Papa loves the added tang. But then, Papa also likes the texture of steel cut oats and dried fruit baked into things; he's easy like that. J-Baby is more like, well, me.)

Jenny's recipe states that it makes 12 - 16 servings; with a teen and a man eating we cut it into 12 servings and sometimes, like this morning, the teen has to eat two servings. But who can complain about a growing young man having a second helping of something so nutritious as baked oatmeal?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Einkorn Bread

I've been experimenting with Einkorn flour for a little over a week now. Einkorn wheat is also known as the first wheat, more ancient than faro or spelt. It has 14 chromosomes to modern wheat's 42 chromosomes and may be better tolerated by those with wheat and gluten sensitivities.

I'm using my family as guinea pigs: my youngest was diagnosed (by an allopathic medical doctor) with celiac disease at age 6, however, that diagnosis was based on symptoms, challenges, and the absence of symptoms when on an elimination diet rather than on a biopsy or even genetic markers. I've always wondered if he truly has celiac disease, but keeping him away from gluten reversed the damage and has kept him healthy. Also, I was allergy tested and the test, followed by elimination and challenge, indicated an IgE-mediated allergy to wheat and several other gluten containing grains. When Papa did a gluten elimination his sinus issues decreased significantly. We came to see gluten as a food enemy as it didn't seem to be doing any of us any good.

(I wouldn't test Einkorn if we had a true celiac diagnosis confirmed by biopsy, and none of the companies producing and selling Einkorn wheat recommend using it if a person has celiac disease.)

So why try Einkorn?  I've read that it is different and I am curious to see if we can use it in our diets. J-Baby and I didn't have immediate reactions to Einkorn, but that could indicate gut healing rather than a lack of sensitivity, so we are on the the second stage of our experiment, which is using Einkorn for six months (of course we'll stop earlier if there are obvious reactions).

Ideally, I will move on to making sourdough so that we benefit from fermenting our dough (which reduces phytate), but I haven't started that yet.  Last week I worked with the high-moisture content artisan bread dough recipe with so-so results and also made two different overnight soak batter/dough recipes (those turned out great). Today I decided to try using Einkorn flour in a regular bread recipe, one that doesn't try to conform to traditional practice but one that also is basic in its composition, containing fresh milk, butter, salt, sugar, water, yeast, and flour. It's the kind of bread my grandmother, or more likely, my great-grandmother, would have made on a regular basis.  I followed the recipe for white bread in my KitchenAid mixer recipe book since the Einkorn flour I purchase is made with an 80% extraction flour which has most of its bran and germ removed.

I haven't found Einkorn to work all that well in the artisan bread recipe; in forming boules it spreads rather than rises and while baking it in loaf pans contains the spreading it doesn't rise very much nor does it get the oven spring that the artisan dough made with wheat flour gets. The bread is still good, just rather dense.

This is the rise I got using the very basic recipe I outlined above. This kind of dough doesn't rely on oven spring so you want an excellent rise to add lightness to your bread. My first rise took a little less than an hour to double (it is summer and the kitchen is probably at 76°) and the second rise took about 30 minutes.

These are the baked loaves. The crust browned beautifully; I love my Pyrex loaf pans because I can see what is happening with the entire loaf as it bakes.

And wow, what a delicious bread it is! The entire family remarked on how much lighter it is and how it is more like bakery bread. T-Guy mentioned how it is going to make better sandwiches than the artisan loaves and I know it will make better toast.

So those is one of those places where I will sometimes deviate from traditional foods dogma and simply choose real food. I'll likely tweak the recipe to use honey instead of sugar, or I'll use Rapadura whole sugar, but loaves like these are worth forgoing the sourdough process. Not that I don't love sourdough, because I do and I am looking forward to eating it again. But I can make two loaves of this bread in a morning without having to prep anything ahead of time, and the results are outstanding.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cooking Ahead -- Genovese Pesto

A not-so-very pretty picture of a very beautiful sauce.

I love pesto.  I was first introduced to it more than two decades ago and since then its popularity has really exploded in the USA. These days you can find it in most supermarkets. Unfortunately, even the more natural brands often use walnuts or another nut in place of the pine nuts I love so well, and sometimes they use a non-traditional oil such as canola oil in place of olive oil. At Trader Joe's yesterday the jarred pesto was made with cashews and the refrigerated pesto was made with walnuts; I can't eat cashews or walnuts, ugh.

It's okay though, because pesto is so very easy to make. I grabbed a basil plant (that is how TJs sells fresh basil), a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a bag of toasted pine nuts, knowing that I had lemon and olive oil at home.

This evening I whipped up a batch of fresh pesto in my little Oskar Jr. food processor (from 1988). I looked at recipes and decided that as usual, I would wing it. I cleaned the basil, stripped the leaves from the stems (maybe 2 C.) and added them to the food processor bowl, then added some pine nuts (1/4 C.). I gave these a whir, added about 1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 C. grated parmesan, kosher salt, and a few grinding of fresh pepper, and whirred again. I wasn't happy with the consistency so I added more cheese and nuts, plus a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. One last whir and it was good to go. I put it in a jar and added a drizzle of olive oil to help keep it fresh in the refrigerator.

Pesto is good for so much more than pasta. I love it on pizza (hence the decision to make it at all) and also on baked potatoes and even rice. I stir it into plain risotto, add it to soups, and dollop it in salads. Of course, it's great as a marinade for fish and makes a delicious sauce for chicken. It's like having food insurance in the refrigerator, and you can also freeze it (although I usually freeze it without the cheese or nuts).

I leave the garlic out of my pesto; I have a child who exudes garlic from his pores every time he eats it and honestly it just isn't worth it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Caramelized Onions ~ An Update

The last time I blogged here (a long, long time ago) I posted about doing caramelized onions in the crock pot, using butter.  Since then I've started using coconut oil and it is even more delicious!  I also simplified the process: I use my little Crock Pot, add nothing but the coconut oil (no seasonings later), and don't bother with removing the lid toward the end.  I get a small batch of onions that lasts me a week or two.