Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Post: Kalamazoo Sourdough

As you may know, I occasionally host a guest blogger or two on The Ginger Cook. Usually this just happens to be a member of my family, but I'm opening to having anyone! Friends? Want to post? As long as I deem your picture as worthy, you may have a shot.

A little bit of background information before I leave this post in the hands of my Dad. A few months ago my dad bought my Mom a standmixer for "her birthday." I say this in quotations because she neither waited to get it on her birthday nor is she the one who primarily uses it. In tandem with the mixer, I bought her a 1973 vintage copy of one of my favorite bread books, The Tassajara Bread Book. 

As you may have guessed, someone else started using it much more than she did. That's right, my Dad stole it from her! How dare he! You really shouldn't stay mad at him for long though, he has been killing it on the bread baking. When I was home for Christmas, he was whipping out some truly extraordinary loaves. Without further ado, here is his new prized loaf of bread: Kalamazoo Sourdough


Kalamazoo Sourdough

Why should the City by the Bay get all the glory when it comes to sourdough? I’m here to claim some of the glory for the chilly state of Michigan. In this guest Ginger Cook post, “I” am Katherine’s dad, Ed. Lest you fear that I’m diluting the ginger-ness of this blog, rest assured that I’m a redhead as well.

Regular readers may wonder why I’m calling this bread recipe Kalamazoo Sourdough, since Katherine is from Brighton, about 2 hours from K-town. There are three reasons for this. First, “Kalamazoo” just has a ring to it, much more so than “Brighton”. Second, our other daughter Caroline is attending college in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University. Finally, Kalamazoo is home to Bell’s Brewery, one of the best craft brewers in the country and the source of a vital ingredient for this recipe.

This recipe was written assuming that you are using a baking stone or pizza stone. A Dutch oven will also work very well, however it is harder to get the loaves into a hot Dutch oven, so I prefer the pizza stone. If you use a Dutch oven, you don’t need the Pyrex baking dish, since the moisture from the dough will create steam in the Dutch oven. The steam is the secret to a perfect crust.

  •  3 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour is fine also)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sourdough starter *
  • ¾ cup water at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons Bell’s ale (anything ale that isn’t strongly flavored)

 *If you want a little extra rise, you can add one-eighth of a teaspoon of instant or rapid-rise yeast without affecting the sourdough taste too much

  1.  Mix sourdough starter with water in a large bowl and whisk vigorously until thoroughly mixed. If using yeast, add it to the liquid and whisk some more. Add salt and whisk into liquid.
  2. Add flour to water and using a rubber spatula, fold in flour until water is absorbed, then add beer and fold some more. You should have a shaggy ball of dough. If needed, add water a couple of tablespoons at a time until dough reaches the proper consistency.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 hours or more, until the ball has roughly doubled in size.
  4. Place bowl in refrigerator and let sit for an additional 6 to 8 hours.
  5. Cut parchment paper to fit onto a baking stone or into a Dutch oven. Remove dough from refrigerator and knead about 15 times. Shape into a large loaf, or if a smaller loaf is desired, divide and shape into two loaves.
  6. Place the loaf or loaves onto parchment paper and spray surface of loaf with olive oil (use a mister). Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 or 3 hours.
  7. 30 minutes before baking, adjust upper oven rack to lower middle position and place baking stone on rack. Place a Pyrex baking dish half full of water on the lower rack to create steam in the oven. Set oven temperature to 425 degrees F and let temperature stabilize for 30 minutes.
  8. Slash top of loaf with a sharp knife, remove baking stone from the oven, and place parchment paper onto baking stone. Immediately place into oven.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until internal temperature of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F (a digital thermometer is helpful here).
  10. Remove bread from oven and allow to cool on a mesh rack for 10 to 15 minutes before enjoying.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Biscoff Cookies

First and foremost I dedicate this blog post to my sister, Caroline. When texting with her earlier tonight I (essentially) asked "should I blog about cookies or salad?" and she (essentially) said "you loon, if you don't blog about cookies I will hunt you down until you do." That may or may not have been how it went down but go with me here. It's kinda snowy and I've come down will a spell of cabin fever.

The snow tried to trap me in another day but too bad I had already planned to do some baking. One of my favorite things in the world is Biscoff cookies, also known as Delta airplane cookies. When Trader Joe's introduced their version of the traditional European coffee dunking cookie, I bought that up with such a fervor that you'd think it was the Seattle Witch Trials. Seriously. But sadly, as it goes anything I love at Trader Joe's, it seems to have been discontinued after the holidays ended. Nothing can keep me away from Biscoffs for long though. Ask any flight attendant, I am that obnoxious flyer who asks for two, sometimes three, cookies. Luckily for the flight attendants and grocery store workers of the world, I figured out how to make them on my own.

And you know what? They tasted eerily similar. I even ran out of cinnamon, first time this has ever happened, and the taste was still on par. If it hadn't been for the "storm of the decade," I would have been more apt to run over to the stores to pick up some more cinnamon. The best part of this recipe though is the texture. It has the same crisp as the original and dips in your morning coffee just the same. Even this morning when 'A' and I were drinking coffee, I forced myself to dip a few in and I felt like I was back in Paris. Or on a redeye back to Detroit. I'm not picky.

The snow is hopefully finally melting, the ice fading away and I will slowly lose the excuse to drink hot chocolate at all points of the day. I will also maybe be able to drive my car again, a girl can dream.

Biscoff Cookies 

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 7 tablespoons Earth Balance, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 (packed) cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.
  2. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the Earth Balance at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until it, too, is blended into the butter and sugars. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. If there is any flour left at the bottom of them bowl, work it in with your hands or a spatula.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until you have a rough rectangle that’s about ¼ inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut into 1"x3" rectangles. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.
  6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  7. Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

A few months back I mentioned how either my camera or computer ate the photos for a recipe. Well, a combination of a miracle and my genius (ha) computer skills brought a few of the photos back to life. Don't ask me how I found them or what skill set I used to convert them from .NEF to .JPEG files but I did it. Dear blogging gods, I thank you. I'll dedicate my next meal to you.

Sad to say, but I made this recipe for Halloween. HALLOWEEN! It was a whole 25 degrees warmer and 2011 ago. It's basically ancient in recipe land but fret you not, it is worthy of a revival from the Mac Trash Can Heaven. It's your basic apple crisp but with a little less cane sugar and a little more maple sugar. This past fall I was really on a maple kick and would throw syrup or extract into just about anything. Don't believe me? Ask my friends, they probably were sick of it after the first week. I know apples aren't really the first thing on peoples' minds right now, especially now that Seattle is coated in a blanket of snow (more on that later), but I am always up for a warm apple crisp. I have even more right to demand this dessert year round; I'm from a premier apple growing state (Michigan) and now live in the apple capitol of the world (Washington).

In reference to what I mentioned earlier, you read right, Seattle is smothered in snow. Okay, I don't know if you could call it a "smothering" but this is Seattle and anything over a dusting sends the settlers into a tizzy. Wait, even a dusting does that. I've been stranded in my apartment all day and have been watching a whole two inches accumulate outside my window. That is more than I (sadly) ever saw and stick when I was back in Michigan! People are even making the trek out to sled in it….

Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

  • 4 Apples, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 

  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cups walnuts, chopped
  • ~1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ~1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A dash or two of nutmeg and apple pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) goat butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the cut apples in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Mix together with the white sugar and maple syrup.
  3. Mix together the topping ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Distribute the mixture over the top of the apples, and pat it firmly in place.
  4. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crisp and lightly browned and the fruit/juice is bubbling around the edges. I recommend serving this hot, but it tastes just as yummy at room temperature.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roasted Potato Stacks

So those holidays, am I right? I don't know about you, but I feel a slight aversion in my stomach every time a candy cane pops into my peripheral. Don't get my started on how I feel after spying gum drop fairies flying through my thoughts. It's too much. TOO MUCH I tell you! It's not that I'm a ginger grinch and despise Christmas but I don't think my waistline can handle one bit more.

So far my fridge is full of fresh veggies from my CSA, leftover Thai/Lao food I made the night before and just, erm… a few beers I snuck back with me from Michigan. Never mind the last part though - I'm rationing those and they are sentimental, it doesn't count.

As it is the winter, my CSA has mainly consisted of root vegetables and a few fruits shipped up from California. As a girl can only have so many potatoes and carrots, I've actually suspended my CSA for the next few months. Before I suspended, I received one last CSA right after I came back from Michigan and it was full of, you guessed it, every single type of potato ever grown. Ok, that's a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean.

I was sick of your standard mashed/baked/toppings-loaded potato and decided to try out something new. I had seen these floating around the Internet and thought it was due time to try them out. Not only do they look insanely fancy as just an appetizer for one, but they were easy to put together too.  I can't stress enough how much a Mandoline helps here, but regardless of your tools these will be pretty delightful as a side, appetizer or something to singularly stuff your face with.

And I don't know how fancy you plan on getting for your upcoming Super Bowl VVIIXXVW (or whatever number it is) party, but I recommending throwing in some of these. If anything, the ladies in attendance will be impressed.

Roasted Potato Stacks
Adapted from Sea Salt with Food

  • 24 Small Mixed Color Potatoes, scrubbed 
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Rosemary
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Lemon Juice, or to taste
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
  2. Lightly oil the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan.
  3. (Peel the purple color potatoes, if using.) Otherwise, slice all the potatoes thinly with a Mandoline or a sharp knife. Wash the potatoes, drain well and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stack the potatoes and lay them sideway in a muffin pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes turn crispy on the outside and the flesh is soft.
  6. Transfer the muffin pan to racks to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before carefully removing the potatoes. Serve warm.


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