Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Slow Cooker Honey Wheat Bread

     I do love my slow cookers. I use them for so many different things. However, there was one thing I never thought to try: bread. It seemed to me that there would be no possible way to bake bread in a slow cooker without it ending up super damp and mushy. Not surprisingly, I was totally wrong. I've managed to find a couple recipes that turn out some surprisingly good bread. I love it because it means I can bake on a hot day without having to turn on the oven! This particular bread has a touch of sweetness and is a great breakfast bread. It actually manages to have a good crust and a super nice crumb. Best of all, I was able to make it without using their method of putting a second container into the cooker! Fair warning, I needed considerably more flour than the recipe called for. As always, notes and changes are in blue. 

Slow-Cooker Honey Wheat Bread
(via Slow Cooker Magic in Minutes)

  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour (I needed considerably more than this)
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 3/4-1 cup all-purpose flour (I needed considerably more than this)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Spray a 1-quart casserole, or other high sided baking pan with nonstick cooking spray (totally didn't to that. I just lined a 1.5 quart slow-cooker with parchment paper and sprayed it with non-stick spray)
  2. Combine 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, milk, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, honey, oil, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Beat at low speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. 
  3. Add remaining flour. If mixer has difficulty mixing dough, mix in remaining flour. (Holy crap did I have difficulty. The amount of flour called for in the recipe will deliver a sticky mess. I needed close to another cup and a half of flour. I just did a 50/50 mix of flours to make up this difference. Just don't freak out when the original recipe doesn't yield a nice, smooth dough.)
    Mix until dough is smooth and elastic (using my KitchenAid and dough hook, this took about 6-7 minutes in total)
  4. Transfer to prepared dish. Place dish in slow-cooker. (As I mentioned in step 1, I was not going to do that. I just shaped the dough into a ball and put it into the parchment lined slow-cooker). Cover and cook on HIGH 3 hours or until edges are browned.
    (If you are doing it my way, here are a few tips. After 3 hours, take out the loaf, flip it over, lay a paper towel over it, put the cover back on and let it go another 45 minutes to hour. This will get rid of any moisture on the top and give the top a bit of a crust without having to throw it under the broiler at the end.
  5. Turn out on a wire rack to cool. 
Good times!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Steamed Pollock in Black Bean Sauce

     So here we are with my SECOND post of 2017! I have tried to make up the difference with my YouTube channel, but sometimes people just want printed recipes. This makes no sense to me as I am a beautiful, beautiful man and am worthy of consideration by all the people of Earth. Anyways, here we are. I've been super busy with The Spud and all sorts of home improvements (bathroom remodel, replacement of our back patio door, fence installation, yard and garden work, reorganizing rooms to maximize space). I have let the blog slip and I apologize.
     This particular recipe makes use of a bamboo steamer basket. If you don't have one, a steamer rack or some other form of rigged up steam system should work fine. I had some pollock I needed to use up and went to my trusty copy of The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook and tinkered with a recipe. The end result surprised myself and The Wife. This made a really delicious sauce and a wonderful meal. The fish turned out nice and flaky. We served it up with some steamed sesame buns I got from the local world market. You could also use steamed pork buns and they would be great. This was super easy to put together. You could pretty much use any sauce you'd like with the fish, but I recommend giving this one a try for something a little different. As always, notes are in blue.

Steamed Pollock in Black Bean Sauce

  • 1 pound pollock (or other whitefish) 3-4 fillets
  • 1 tablespoon garlic black bean paste (available in the Asian section of most supermarkets)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 inch ginger, finely grated
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  1. Dry the fish with a paper towel
  2. Lightly rub the fish with a bit of salt and pepper
  3. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients that are not the fish
  4. Line a steamer basket with parchment paper, making sure it goes up the sides to prevent spillage
  5. Lay the fish in the steamer basket and pour over the mixture from the bowl
  6. Steam for about 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork
  7. Serve fish and top with sauce 
Good Times!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Spaghetti with Oil and Bacon Jam

First off, let me say I'm sorry. It's been almost four months since my last post. I know I've managed a YouTube video, some FaceBook content and a couple live streams, but nothing of real value. Granted, you could still make that claim when I posted a lot. Regardless, as I've mentioned before, it seems that parenting takes up quite a bit of time. However, I have had the occasional moment of inspiration. A couple of friends of ours regularly come by for dinner and games. They are the epitome of gracious guests. We have never asked it of them, but they always arrive with some assortment of food related gifts for us. Recently it was a jar of Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Jam. It is exactly what it sounds like. It is a sweet bacon spread. We've had it on toast and it was pretty good. Desperate to use up some leftover spaghetti, it became a key ingredient in a new and amazing recipe. Mind you, if you don't have access to this jam, I'm not sure what you're going to do. I have no idea how to replicate it. Best of luck. As always, notes are in blue.

Spaghetti with Oil and Bacon Jam
(Recipe makes 2 servings, or one if you're a fat bastard like me)

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (use as many virgins as you'd like)
  • 3 tablespoons bacon jam
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried, minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add a little more if you'd like a bit more kick)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta until aldente. Set aside to drain.
  2. In a large pan, on medium-high head, melt butter and add olive oil. 
  3. Add the onion and stir for a minute or two.
  4. Add the bacon jam. Stir until jam breaks down into the butter/oil mix.
  5. Add the garlic powder and pepper flakes.
  6. Add the pasta back to the pan. Toss until the pasta is totally coated with the sauce.
  7. Add the cheese and toss again.
  8. (If you feel the dish could use some color, feel free to toss in some chopped parsley)
Good times!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Slow Cooker Mexican Style Beer and Cheese Soup

Holy cow does having a child eat into your time. Nobody warned me about that. Okay, everybody warned me about that. It's a good thing she's beautiful and hilarious, so I don't mind. One of the big things I've learned in the last year or so is to find meals that can be prepared in a hurry or require very little maintenance. During the winter months, that means I'm leaning heavily on the slow cooker. The Wife was recently after me to make some beer and cheese soup. I have a recipe and it's pretty good, but wanted something that would work well with the absolutely vile pumpkin beer I had in the fridge. I found it! The beer flavor really works quite well and the soup has a nice bite to it from the peppers. This is a great cold-weather soup. We are definitely making it again. As a bonus, at the bottom of this post, you'll find the link to the YouTube video of the recipe. As always, notes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Mexican Style
Beer and Cheese Soup
(that absolutely does not photograph well)

  • 1-1/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) cheddar cheese soup (if you can find nacho cheese soup, that would probably be even better)
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomato and peppers
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.75 oz) creamed corn
  • 1 can (12 oz) Harvest Patch Shandy (Leinenkugel) beer. (if you can't find it, any pumpkin beer will do. If you can't find pumpkin beer, or despise all things pumpkin, use any pilsner style beer (Old Style, etc). If you can't/won't use booze, just use an equal amount of water or beef stock)
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning (about 1 oz)
  1. In a pan, brown ground beef along with the chopped onions. Drain off excess grease and then stir in taco seasoning (into the meat and onion mix, not the drained grease because that would be dumb)
  2. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. (we used a 3 quart and it was close. I suggest at least a 4 quart cooker). Cook on HIGH about 4 hours.

Good Times!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

T-Bird Hot Sauce

     Every year I plant way too many hot peppers and every year I find myself desperate to find ways to use them up. I have bags and bags of peppers that I've dried, but those really start to take up space. I am always looking for new and exciting ways to use up lots of peppers in one go. This particular sauce certainly fits the bill, using five dozen peppers. It also uses up some tamarind concentrate that I mistakenly bought when I was shopping for tahini. For whatever reason, I'm always mixing tahini and tamarind up, which generally doesn't end well in a recipe. Though very spicy, this sauce has a wonderful deep and mellow flavor underneath from the tamarind and guajilo. This is a go-to sauce for chicken or pork dishes. It's thick enough to hold up on the barbecue or hot wings. As for the name? I used Thai peppers in the recipe. I know "bird" specifically refers to the dried pepper, but the name was too good to pass up. "T" for Thai or Tamarind and "Bird" for the alternate pepper name. I am so damned clever it hurts. As always, notes are in blue.

T-Bird Hot Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 60 Thai bird chili peppers, stemmed (cayenne or serrano can be substituted, but you may need to use less, as those peppers are generally larger)
  • 1 dried Ancho chili
  • 2 dried Guajillo chilis
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor (make sure it is a large capacity processor, at least 7 cups. 10 would be better, unless you're a fan of leaking and caustic messes. Caustic Mess would be an outstanding punk band name). Process until smooth.
  2. Transfer mixture to a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes. (If you're not planning on canning this sauce for storage, you're done. If you want to store this sauce long term, go on to the next steps)
  3. Prepare a boiling water canner and submerge 4 half pint jars (or two full pint jars) to sterilize in the boiling water. (You can be doing this while the sauce is simmering)
  4. Remove the jars and fill with the warm sauce. Leave 1/4" headspace in each jar.
  5. Seal the jars with a 2 piece lid and process in the boiling water bath for 12 minutes (If you're doing full pints, go for about 16 minutes).
  6. After 12 minutes, remove from the bath and set on a wire rack to cool. Eventually, you'll hear the satisfying "pop" that tells you the jar has sealed. If after a few hours, a jar hasn't sealed, put on a new lid and try reboiling for another 12 minutes. If it doesn't seal after that, just give up and use the sauce. It will hold for a long time in the fridge. Properly processed and sealed, the sauce is good for at least a year. As always, double check everything with the National Center for Home Food Preservation to ensure you don't poison anybody.

Good Times!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Applesauce Cheddar Quick Bread

     We eat an alarming amount of bread in this house. The Wife loves her bread. The Spud really, really likes her bread. I certainly enjoy bread. We embrace gluten lovingly and with all our beings. We love it enough that we eventually started using the hashtag #sundaysareforbaking. That makes it serious. I think. Maybe not. This particular bread is from an ancient canning book that still gets a lot of mileage in our house. It's a great quick bread. If you make your own applesauce, which we do, it's even better. The timing on the bread is a little iffy. It took us way longer to bake than the book called for. This is a fantastic breakfast bread, spread with a little sweet butter or marmalade. Perhaps top it with my Mulberry Jam? I imagine it would make a dynamite peanut butter and jelly sandwich, too. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Applesauce Cheddar Quick Bread
via BH&G Home Canning Cook Book

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup applesauce (why not try my Peach Bourbon Applesauce!)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (omitted. The Wife is not a huge fan of nuts in her bread.)
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (maybe I'm not doing this for long enough, because I have never been able to achieve light and fluffy consistency. I always end up with something on par with cake frosting)
  2. Add eggs, beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, soda and salt. Add to the creamed butter mix. Stir in the applesauce, cheese and nuts (if using)
  4. Turn into a greased loaf pan (what am I, a wizard? I never got a Hogwarts letter so I'm not really up on my Transfiguration and Polymorph spells. How about I just dump the mixture into a loaf pan?)
  5. Bake at 350F (180C, Gasmark 4) for 50-55 minutes (fair warning, this may take way longer than the stated time. It took me closer to 75-90 minutes. Just run it for the 55, then check it with a knife. If it comes out clean, you're fine. If it comes out wet, you're not done. If it comes out covered in blood and ichor, your oven is possessed.) Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Add caption

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mulberry Jam

     There is great debate around here as to the standing of the mulberry tree. Many see it as a weed. And you know what?  They're totally right. Left unchecked, you can watch mulberries inexorably take over your yard. We have the damned things poking out from about every bush in our yard. They even grow out of rocks. Not even joking. They're next to impossible to kill once they get established. Then, there's the fruiting mulberries. These aren't so bad. I mean, ok, they're bad. They're just as invasive and if the birds get to the berries before you do, everything in the area is covered in purple shit. So I think what we can take away from this discussion is that mulberries are the worst thing ever. That's why I collect like ten pounds of berries each season. As awful as the trees may be, the berries are actually pretty good. They have a nice color and a mild sweetness. I decided to make them into jam this year. I'm going to come out and admit I think I did something wrong. I'm thinking I used either too much sugar, too much pectin, or possibly both. This stuff is thick.
Also useful for caulking doors and windows,
if you don't mind the ants.

As far as jam (jelly? conserve? I can't tell that shit apart) goes, it's quite tasty, but a little tough to work with. It helps to warm it up a bit before you use it. It's great on a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese, or even over some vanilla ice cream. Give it a try and mess around with the pectin and sugar and let me know what you come up with. As always, notes are in blue.

Mulberry Jam
(yields: 7 half pint jars)

  • 4 cups mulberries
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 box (1.75 ounce) powdered pectin

  1. Run fruit through a food mill. 
  2. Take the milled fruit and resulting juice into a stainless steel pot
  3. Add pectin, stir and bring to a rolling boil on high heat
  4. Add the sugar. Bring back to a rolling boil and boil EXACTLY one minute (this is straight off the Sure-Jel instructions and they are not kidding. I've screwed this up and ended with quarts of cinnamon-apple syrup. Not with this recipe, mind you. We're using mulberries here. If we started with mulberries and ended with cinnamon-apple, we'd be dealing with some sort of alchemy.) 
    Wrong alchemy
  5. Watch in horror as the entire mixture foams up over the top of the pot and makes a huge fucking mess of the stove top (alternatively, stir constantly and be ready to adjust the heat to prevent foaming)
  6. Get the pot off the heat and start getting it into half pint jars. This stuff will start setting fairly quick. 
  7. Seal the lids and process in a boiling water bath for five minutes (as always, check with the National Center for Home Food Preparation to ensure you're not accidentally poisoning anyone)
  8. After five minutes, remove jars to a wire rack and wait for the satisfying "thunk" that means they're sealed. Store in a cool dark place for up to a year or until you're too afraid to open it.
  9. Reflect on how "Mulberry Jam" would be an awesome name for a funk band.
Good Times