Comfort Baking: Potato Bread

Someone suggested to me to use potato bread dough next time I made cinnamon rolls. It sounded like an idea, but it also made me really, really want potato bread. I don’t believe I’ve ever made it before. And since I had no plans to make cinnamon rolls anytime soon, potato bread it had to be.

I have to tell you, it was fairly simple, and made the most amazing bread. Silky, moist, flavorful, and firm enough to cut into very thin slices.

The only drawback of the recipe is you’ll need either a stand mixer or a bread machine. The dough must be kneaded for about 7 minutes on a high speed. It’s a very sticky dough, difficult to knead by hand and it’s really not possible to get the texture without a machine knead.

Otherwise, it’s straightforward. Continue reading

Adventure in Sous Vide

20161011_1833261600x1200I was hoping this pork shoulder would really take on a lot of the flavor of this mojo marinade when I vacuum sealed it in this pleated bag.  Alas, the bag was a poor choice as it turned out.20161011_1948051600x1200It looked good here, but it was just getting started.  I set the temp at 175 and let it run all night.  Alas, the bag developed a leak, I fault the high temp and the fact that the pleated bag meant that the sealer had to heat through 4 layers for a seal.  I don’t know if a regular bag will hold but I am unlikely to test it at that temperature again.  Maybe 160-165.20161012_0955121600x1200At any rate the internal temp made it only to 165 and needed a boost if I was going to be able to pull it apart.  I gave it a rub with my generic mixture and put it into a 400 oven for an hour and some.20161012_1057581600x1200That worked very well, I didn’t wait for it to cool enough for a thorough pulling, instead chopping the big pieces up in a different pan with that heavy spatula/scraper.20161012_1102481600x1200While the shoulder was in the oven these buns were prepared for baking and they went into the already hot oven as the meat was being chopped20161012_1149391600x1200All in all, the sous vide fiasco was disappointing but the shoulder wasn’t totally ruined.  I was hoping to use the pork in a mostly authentic Cuban sammich.  I’ve been told that the mojo pork is key for those.  Sad!

Tidbits

20160312_144026[1] (1600x1060)My bun-fu is improving!  It helped that I went with 12 instead of 16 like the last batch.  I went with a different forming method after watching a few Youtubes to get a better idea of how to proceed.  I rolled the dough flat in a roughly 6″ x 4″ rectangle, and then folded it like I was folding a letter to go into an envelope – top third down, bottom third up and over that.  Pinch the seam and ends and lay them on the tray with a bout a 1/2″ gap between so they rise to touch.DSC_5444 (1600x1060)We grew mint is this pot last year, and left it out all winter.  It lasted a long time before the cold weather burnt everything above dirt level.  We noticed new growth so I gave it a haircut the other day.  Mint is tough, we had mint growing wild in Mrs J’s flower garden and it took several years to eradicate.  Last year she told me to plant that nursery seedling as far away from her dirt as I could.20160315_092451 (1600x1060)Kimchi!  There is a Chinese buffet that we hit whenever we are close during meal time that has kimchi on their line.  I usually get some, I like it a lot.  I’ve made it before and had good luck but I made so much it was really getting sour before I could eat it all.  Mrs J refused to help.  This is one head of Napa cabbage, plus the carrots, daikon radish, and the rest.  I adapted this recipe.20160316_132316 (1600x1060)I left it overnight, covered, in the big bowl on a counter to give the fermentation a start and then put it all in this gallon jar to finish in the fridge in the basement.

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Primary day in Illinois last Tuesday, this is the little township meeting hall where we cast our votes.  One nice thing about living out in the boonies, there is hardly ever a line.

PICT5658 (1600x1060)Random wildlife!  This is a young buck that has dropped one of its antlers.  They are shed every year but it’s rare to find them in the woods – they are quickly gnawed down by little woodland critters.PICT5692 (1600x1060)One more – at first glance I thought that the bird standing behind the deer was a crow but a second look showed it to be a hawk:PICT5692I’m no expert on bird ID but I think this may be a juvenile red shouldered hawk.  I don’t know for sure why it is standing there at the pond but we often see wood ducks right there, either in the water or ashore looking for the corn Mrs J leaves down there.

Tidbits

DSC_0638 (1600x1060)Mmm… thick slab of ham with a fancy redeye gravy.  The home fries were cooked in duck fat and were fantastic.  The gravy was developed for a chicken fried steak dish but I went with it on the ham despite it being maybe over the top because it has diced ham and bacon in it.  It would be fine for biscuits or mashed potatoes.DSC02601 (1600x1200)

Kittehs!  This momma cat and her 10 kittens were abandoned in a parking lot in 95 degree weather.  A good Samaritan brought them in to the shelter before the heat got to them but the mother cat was in some distress.  She’s fine now, or as fine as a busy momma can be with 10 youngsters to feed.20150718_151002[1] (1600x1060)Buns, fresh from the oven and brushed with melted butter.  I’m getting better at shaping these things but it’ll be a while before I can claim real expertise.DSC_0646 (1600x1060)Mojo chicken with a mojo dipping sauce.  It’s a half cup each of sour orange juice and olive oil, with plenty of minced garlic, a couple tablespoons of white vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  In the background is a variation on the classic Cuban black beans and rice – I added tomato bits and fresh corn to the beans.IMG_3025 (1600x1200)Mrs J left a cat bed and a few pet cage pads out.  Most of her output goes to St Francis but she offers them around to other local shelters and they are usually happy to have them.DSC_0642 (1600x1060)I keep a jar of refrigerator pickling brine on hand to use up some of the peppers the patio container garden is producing.  Whenever I cut up an onion I toss the excess in with the peppers and it works great as a topping for the occasional hamburger.DSC_5298 (1600x1060)

Tidbits

20150607_144444 (1600x1060)I nearly forgot that I had this baguette tray with the perforations .  I thought I might try it for some hoagie rolls and it seems to have worked pretty well, not sure if it’s better than on a regular tray.  I got a rash of complaints when I served up a photo of a cheesesteak on a round bun, they said I wasn’t true to the  proper form in the Platonic sense of “cheesesteak” – most of the complaints pointing to lack of a long roll, never mind that they weren’t Amoroso’s.20150609_164029 (1600x1060)That should quell the riot.  I’ll take note of any complaint and report back.PICT3623 (1600x1060)Bonus kitteh!  This is the neighbor’s cat, Mrs J says that is a mackerel pattern.  It was taking advantage of our bench that overlooks the front pond early the other morning.20150609_190526 (1600x1060)I think these are the best looking hamburger buns I’ve made so far.  The shapes are good and the sizes are nearly uniform.  These are from the King Arthur Flour “Beautiful Burger Buns” recipe – now my go to recipe for buns and rolls.20150610_173025 (1600x1060)Mmm… we had this spaghetti for dinner tonight.  A little Italian sausage in some of my Awesome Sauce from last year’s tomato crop.  My container basil was getting lonely, this was a perfect place for s sprig.20150608_162124 (1600x1060)Baked beans!  These are always good to have on hand, along with slaw and potato salad.  Add a sammich for an instant lunch.

Snow Day Cookies

I was prowling around the kitchen, wanting to bake and surveying what I had for ingredients. Chocolate chips, nope. Nuts, nada. But a new bag of flax and some already toasted oats that needed to be used up before they went stale. There it was Oatmeal Flax Cookies (recipe here).

Oatmeal Cookies Final

The original recipe calls for rolled oats, but like I said, I had some rolled oats I had toasted and was afraid they would become stale soon, so I used those. Added a nice extra nuttiness to the cookies.