Sunday, May 17, 2009

The tennis brunch

Madame and I had been threatening to do this for a while. We finally got it together.

The menu was pretty simple – mimosas, peppers stuffed with tomatoes, chiles, olives, capers (see here) together with some eggs cooked with fontina/black truffles and prosciutto/parmesan. Since the link describes the stuffed peppers, I won't bother to expound on those here.

The egg dishes were adapted from something we saw on the food network a couple of weeks ago. I think it was the "Hearty Boys."

Ingredients (makes 24 individual servings)

48 Wonton wrappers

2Oz butter melted

24 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste.

Filling 1 – Fontina Cheese and Black truffles

2 oz Fontina cheese cut into 36 small cubes

12 thinly shaved black truffle slices

Filling 2 – Prosciutto and Parmesan

2 Oz thinly sliced prosciutto shredded finely

2 Oz Parmesan cheese

24 strips roasted red pepper


Melt the butter in a small bowl. Prepare 2 12 muffin pans as follows:

  • Brush each indentation with melted butter
  • Lay one wonton in the indentation with the corners sticking up
  • Brush the wonton with more melted butter
  • Lay another wonton on top of the first, but rotated 90 degrees – making 8 points
  • Brush the second wontons with melted butter.

For the fontina dish, place 3 small cubes of fontina in the wontons. For the prosciutto version place a small amount of prosciutto in the wontons. Into each indentation, break one large egg. Top with a thin slice of truffle (fontina dish, finely grated parmesan for the other dish). Place a little roasted red pepper on the prosciutto dish.

Bake the eggs in their pans for a total of 14 minutes at 375. Rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back at 7 minutes.

Serve nestled on a bed of spring greens .

Friday, May 8, 2009

Producers' Picnic 2009

We did the annual producers' picnic for Madame's students last weekend. Because I can't leave well enough alone, I tried a new trick for the burgers. This time I did the seasonings ahead of time. Because mushrooms complement beef so well (it's an umami thing), i thought it would be interesting to add some dried mushrooms to the ground beef, so here's what I did.


10 lb 85% lean ground beef. This was a mixture of chuck and sirloin

4 Oz. ground dried wild mushrooms (porcini, wood ears, shiitake, morels, hen of the woods)

2T Kosher Salt

2T finely ground black pepper

2T garlic powder


Using your hands, gently combine all the ingredients. Beware the mixture is cold and you may need to stop to warm your hands a couple of times. Take care not to compress the meat - if you do the burgers will become too dense and not very juicy.

Form the meat into 5 - 5.5 oz patties, making a small indentation in one side with your thumb. This allows them to stay flat while you grill them. Grill about 4 mins/side. Serve with usual condiments.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Pizza Dough

I have had several people ask me about this, so here goes. It has been a bit of an experiment. I used the same basic method as I use for ciabatta, but have adjusted the water down considerably (to 70% hydration).

This recipe introduces the concept of a starter – or biga. The The elapsed time is very long (20+ hours) because of the development of the biga.

The biga rests for 9-17 hours, most of the time in the refrigerator.


Starter (biga)



U.S. Weight

Metric Weight

Bakers' Percentage

Water (Tepid)

1/3 Cup

2.3 oz



Instant yeast

½ t

0.1 oz

2 g


Bread Flour

2/3 Cup

3.5 oz

100 g



Bread Dough



U.S. Weight

Metric Weight

Bakers' Percentage


1 Cup (approx.)

5.9 oz

167 g


Water (tepid)

1 1/2 Cups

12 oz

350 g


Instant yeast

1 1/2 t

0.3 oz

8 g


Bread flour

3 ¼ cups

17.6 oz

500 g


Kosher salt

1 ½ tsp

0.4 oz




Note the overall hydration percentage is hard to gauge because the biga itself has both flour and water in different proportions to the dough. The biga recipe makes just enough for the overall bread recipe.


The biga

Pour the water into a small mixing bowl and add the yeast. Leave to sit for a minute and then stir in the flour until a dough just forms. Scrape the dough out and knead for a couple of minutes to work the flour in. It will not be fully kneaded, nor perfectly smooth. Spray the bowl lightly with PAM and replace the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 1 hour. Place into the refrigerator and leave for 8-16 hours until ready to use.

Mix the dough

Remove the biga from the refrigerator and uncover it. Scrape it into a large bowl (ideally the mixing bowl from your stand mixer) and pour the water over it. Break it up into clumps with a spatula. Add the yeast and leave for 1 minute. Add the flour and stir with the spatula until incorporated. Sprinkle the salt onto the surface and proceed to the next step.


With the dough hook, mix the dough on medium speed (6-8) for 13-15 minutes. Periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the dough.


Transfer the dough to an oiled box or bowl. Leave to ferment until tripled in volume (typically 3-4 hours).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mystery Pizza Ingredients

Last Friday my good friend Gary McCants came by for lunch. I had promised him pizza and he accepted all too quickly. I typically make thin crust pizzas baked on stones on the grill outside. These were no exception. I had wanted to try a potato pizza for a while and this provided the perfect opportunity. I had some dried mushrooms on hand too, rosemary growing in the garden, some nice olive oil and sea salt in large crystals.

So, I reconstituted the mushrooms (they were porcini, wood ears, morels, shiitake) by soaking in boiling water. Par boiled some new potatoes (Yukon Gold) in their skins and tossed the dough into a nice thin crust. Added the potatoes sliced thinly, the rosemary, the mushrooms, some good Extra Virgin olive oil, sea salt and fontina cheese. Bake for about 3 minutes in very hot oven (about 650F) and serve immediately.

Magic – with good beer and excellent company