Tag Archives: baking

Blog Post-Summer Food Projects- Good for your Kid and Good for You!

Farl a.k.a “Oven Bottoms”

Last summer, my son, Joseph, and I started a baking project.  Every Wednesday when he was off from school we took a few hours in the kitchen.  It was just us alone, unmitigated by anyone or any technology.  That project is memorialized in one of the first posts of the Guys and Food effort called Wednesday Baking with Joe.

I learned a lot about baking, my son, and myself as you can read in detail in the article.  For those reasons, we deemed the effort a success and this summer we’re doing it again!  However, this year we chose Thursdays for logistical and time management reasons.

The way it works is that I give him two or three cookbooks and he chooses the recipe.  Barring anything unreasonable such as a hard-to-get ingredient, or procedure that will require many days, or some sort of expensive equipment that we don’t own, we usually turn to the job at hand.

Week 1- We brought back a favorite from last year.  Its called Farl and it’s a British bread also known as “Oven Bottoms.”  This year’s version came out better than last year’s.  The crust and the crumb of this butter enriched bread were both better and it seemed better tasting than I remember.  It’s from “100 Great Breads” by Paul Hollywood.  He is one of the judges on “The Great British Baking Show” shown on PBS.  It’s known as “The Great British Bake-Off ” across the pond.

Joe is still trying to figure what is up for this week.  I’ll keep you posted and the project continues.  In the meantime, if you have a young person in your life, this is something that is both fun and educational to do while at the same time keeping them from the gaming abyss and ticks in the woods. Like these, it doesn’t require applying a burning cigarette for removal.   You also have a chance to make some great memories;  I really recommend it!


You see, aside from the podcasts, there are blog posts too!  Aside from this, you can find another example.  Go to guysandfood.com and read my piece on the  benefits of an instant read thermometer. 

The most recent podcast is on wine labels explores whether terms such as “organic” and “sustainable” actually mean something important to your wine drinking experience or if they are merely marketing ploys.  Remember to subscribe to the Guys and Food podcast in Apple PodcastsStitcherGooglePlay, and Tunein Radio.  In social media you can find us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Please feel free to reach out with your questions or comments.  You can do that by clicking on the Contact button, email me at gabe@ guysandfood.com, or call the listener line at 716-427-GUYS (4897).

James Glucksman- A Food Guy Who Followed His Passion!



Episode 007- Many food guys share their dreams about one day lining up their passion for food into some sort of food-related business.  James Glucksman is a guy who did just that.

After years of kicking the idea around, this native New Yorker wound up leaving his job as a business consultant and opening up a lodge on the other side of the world!  It’s called Pen-y-bryn Lodge in Oamaru, New Zealand.  He does all the cooking for the place including making many of the operation’s own cheeses, sausages, etc. He’ll share his story of how all that happened and he’ll also share the story behind his mother’s fruitcake recipe.

You’ll recall that in Episode 004  I explained how I had a hankering to make fruitcake for the holidays this year.  When my mother could not find her recipe, I asked some folks in a Facebook  group called Cookbook Junkies for suggestions. Glucksman suggested his mom’s recipe.  It sounded intriguing, so I chose that one to make.  After weeks of lovingly fortifying it with cognac and letting it mature, I finally got to eat it.  In this week’s show, you get my reaction and the reaction of my decidedly non-fruitcake liking family.

I also used new recipes for an Italian holiday treat called struffoli and for molasses cookies.  On Christmas morning, I also made a ham and cheese strata for breakfast.  It is a very easy, hands-off recipe that is perfect for breakfast or brunch.  For Christmas dinner we had lasagna. We still have quarts of sauce and leftovers in the refrigerator.

Santa brought me two books that I have been wanting too! The Mad Feast|An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food by Matthew Gavin Frank and Food 52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore.

If you would like to be a guest on the show, go to guysandfood.com to find out more!

Note: Any links above are not affiliate links

 

 

 

Let’s Settle our Political Differences at the Table

“On this Election Day, I offer your attention to something that people of all political persuasions could probably agree on—the healing power of food.”


 

Certainly, this has been the most contentious election in memory.  Clinton v. Trump will be one for the record books for sure.  Never have I seen such discord in a presidential election; interestingly, I seem to say that every four years.

That doesn’t mean this level of rancor never existed.  Remember, the entire South left the Union after Lincoln was elected.  Our history is full of examples of times when our civil discourse was much less civil during elections. So we should put things in perspective.

On this Election Day, I offer your attention to something that people of all political persuasions could probably agree on—the healing power of food.  First, regardless if it is “right” or not, eating comfort food physiologically makes you feel better.  The chemical reactions produce endorphins (or something like that) and Boom! You feel better.  Food makes you feel better emotionally too.  Bread and butter or grandma’s lasagna take you back to another time and can be the equivalent of a nurturing hug when you really need it.  If you decide you will celebrate (or drown your sorrows) in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia,  a box of Entenmanns’s Chocolate Chip Iced Cake, or a rib eye steak the size of your head, I am not going to judge.  I firmly and unabashedly approve of the message that there is a palliative effect to eating.  Go for it.

After the hangover of celebration (or mourning), we have to decide as a country what to do next.  We simply can’t all move to Canada, nor can we take up arms in insurrection.  That’s not what we do.  Everyone who voted loves their country and wants to us to be better tomorrow than we are today.  We simply have different views on how to get there.  In the coming days, weeks, months, and years, we have to figure out how we are going to do that.  Every other time, we have managed, somehow, to come together.  We have to do that again.  There is no alternative.

A Modest Proposal

In a recent interview for the soon-to-be-released Guys and Food podcast, I spoke with Ken Haedrich.  He is a cookbook author and an authority on pie.  He described pie as more than a combination of ingredients encased in a crust.  It’s a food that brings people together.

“You set a pie out on the table with a diverse crowd group of people and all of the other differences sort of melt away.  It doesn’t matter what your political persuasion is or your religion, or anything like that.  All of sudden it’s ‘pie’ and everybody loves one another.”

So if you and your brother-in-law disagreed on who the next president should be or you were unfriended on Facebook by someone who thought your candidate was not the best fit, take a breath and invite them over for some pie.  The mere act of sharing that dessert can start healing your relationships and by extension, our country.

If pie is not your thing (I will judge you on this character flaw) and you want to bake something that is delicious and historically appropriate, I offer this recipe for Election Cake.Election Cake

Election Cake has a long history in our country, having been served traditionally on, you guessed it, Election Day and other large gatherings.  It is very similar to panettone in that it’s a sweet yeast bread stuffed with dried fruit.  In this recipe, I used equal parts golden raisins, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and citron.  It’s also fortified with brandy and Madeira wine with more than a huge whiff of nutmeg.  It is very tasty when toasted with a slather of unsalted butter.  Give it a whirl!  The recipe I used was from Greg Patent’s Baking in America.  Here is a feature that was heard on NPR about that cookbook that includes the recipe for Election Cake.  Note that, with three different risings of about two hours each(not including baking time) this takes a good part of the day to bake.

Note:  While you’re sharing it with someone who didn’t vote for your candidate, try not to discuss political emails or the size of a particular candidate’s hands.

Wednesday Baking with Joe

PizzaOver the summer break, in an effort to enjoy a bonding experience and to keep my son off of the damn Xbox, we established a routine of baking on Wednesdays.  It started initially as bread baking but quickly expanded to crackers, donuts, and other baked goods.

Why Baking?

Why not baking?  First, Joe loves bread and butter as many kids (and adults) do.  Getting him to cook things that he likes is easier than say having him scale and gut a whole fish  There was no objection from me by adding dessert to the repertoire either. Triglycerides aside, I like desserts and so does my son.  So if we are going to be in the kitchen, let it be making things we mutually enjoy.

Baking was also good choice because the assembly of ingredients is easier.  Spooning cups of flour and teaspoons of cinnamon requires less interaction with knives than cooking.  So too, there was less open flame involved, though we would eventually get there when we took a foray into donut land.

100 Great BreadsKing Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

How it worked

Joe drove the bus on the things that we baked.  He perused my many cookbooks and selected which recipe he found interesting.  Primarily, we baked from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads.  My son’s job was to assemble the ingredients and to portion them.  Then, we would go over the recipes, resolve any questions, and start a bakin’.

The Challenges

My son is ten years old and has the attention span commensurate with that age so another thing to watch out for was to putting the ingredients in the correct bowl at the correct time.  Baking is more of a science, and I have learned the hard way that this matters. Also, little things such as putting the salt on top of the yeast may kill the yeast’s desire to make the bubbles necessary.

Aside from the concerns of open flames and sharp knives associated with the kitchen, there were other safety issues.  One of my family’s nicknames for me is Captain Caution, for good reason.  It is the standard operating procedure for me to think of all the things that could go wrong and think of the contingencies should those things occur.  I’m a stocky, bald, Jason Bourne without the sex appeal of Matt Damon.  I admit to this and try to make sure that Joe’s exuberances were balanced with thoughtful concern for safety.  For example, when handling hot pans, we use oven mitts or dry dishtowels.  I gently point out that perhaps it would be wiser to unplug the mixer before licking the beater.

A benefit of this process is that I learned to trust my boy more as the weeks passed.  He learned a healthy respect for the things that might happen, and I found myself not jumping in (as much) to head off any potential danger.  I overcame my fear and need to control things, and he gained more confidence in the kitchen.  In fact, on a non-baking project day, Joe asked if he could bake chocolate chip cookies entirely by himself.  I allowed this with the exception of turning on the oven.

Other Benefits

Anytime I get to interact with my son that doesn’t involve me telling him to brush his teeth or to pick up after himself is generally a good thing.  We both love to learn things and it was extra fun to share the discovery with him as opposed to telling him about it.  Also, my heart warmed as he delivered a sample for his mom to taste. He beamed at her satisfaction.  You can’t manufacture that enthusiasm.

The project was both fun AND educational.  We learned about history as we discussed the origins of some older bread recipe names and why some ingredients might have been used instead of others.  We learned the science of yeast and why some things  needed kneading while others did not; we enjoyed the word play of “needing kneading” too! We engaged actively in math.  For example, in Hollywood’s book we  had to mathematically adjust the amount of dried yeast because his recipes called for fresh yeast.

Now with school well underway with homework, music lessons, and other extracurricular activities, we’ve talked about switching things from Wednesdays to Saturdays.  That hasn’t happened yet.  I hope it does because I had a lot of fun.

I think Joe did too.

Here is the list of the things we baked during the summer with the appropriate Facebook posts that accompanied them:

Week 1

White Bread

White Bread

Week 2

They call it Batch Bread.  A very old British recipe from Georgian times. It has sugar and butter in it!

607

Week 3

They call it Naan.  It’s cooked on cast iron because there is no traditional brick oven as used in India.  The dough was sticky which accounts for its less than symmetrical shape. I will say we were going for the rustic look.

Naan

Week 4.

So far we’ve done breads from Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads including white bread, naan, and something called Batch Bread.

This week my boy decided that he wanted pizza AND garlic bread made from scratch as part of the project.

The ciabatta is from Hollywood’s book and was used for the garlic bread.

The pizza dough is from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook.

CiabattaPizza

Week 5

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.  This type of bread is not a yeast bread recipe that Joseph and I have been making heretofore.  This is bejeweled with walnuts and chocolate chips and makes a nice addition to breakfast.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Week 6

As is his wont, Joseph chose to shake things up and bake cheese crackers this week instead of bread.  I think next week, he indicated he wants to go back to bread.

Cheese Crackers

Week 7

Last week, we did cheddar crackers, but it is back to bread this week! Joe and I made an English bread called farl. It is a butter enriched bread also known as “oven bottom,” because it was traditionally baked at the bottom of the oven. Imagine that?!  It is from Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads.

FarlWeek 8

While we’ve been doing mostly breads, Joe wanted to make chocolate donuts with chocolate glaze from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

DonutsWeek 9

Today, Joe and I made bagels! Especially timely since our bagel shop down the block closed about a week and a half ago.

We dig into them for breakfast tomorrow but I am already thinking on next time taking a stab at sesame seed bagels and (dare I mention) bialys!

BagelsWeek 10

Due to a shift in priorities, baking bread has broadened to baking in general.  Today, Joe and I made Chocolate Éclairs! I would have made more pastry cream but otherwise I think it was a success for a first try!Eclairs

Week 11

img_3266

Today, Joe and I made Orange Cranberry Scones. Delightfully light and not too sweet, these will be great for breakfast tomorrow.