Nice: Food companies are adding fiber to almost everything, for better or worse.
This confirms something that I’ve always suspected.
I was going to try using sorghum flour for deep fried fritters but in front of it on the shelf was the dark rye flour so I thought I’d give it a try. The usual recipe; 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons dry milk, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. The batter was a bit too thick, and I anticipated it thickening up while I was using it, so I added 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to it after it was first mixed.
The flavor and texture were nice. The grassy rye flavor didn’t reveal itself until a few seconds after chewing a piece. The texture was nice; nicely bread like.
The flavor was nothing special so I decided to try adding some spices to it to see how they affected its flavor. I added 1/2 teaspoon ground dried New Mexico chili and 1/4 teaspoon ground dried California chili and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. I couldn’t taste the chili at all. The cumin flavor was just a hint, which was very nice.
Then I made another batch with the same chili and cumin spices added and used it for dipping some onion rings. The batter was a bit too thick; I still need to figure out the right consistency for it for dipping. The flavor was fine although the onion flavor, while not strong, overpowered the cumin and I couldn’t taste it at all. The finished rings were too heavily breaded but they tasted good.
I bought a Presto deep fat fryer. I can no longer remember my initial reason for wanting one; donuts probably since I’ve been reading lots of bread cookbooks.
After I ordered it and while I was waiting for it to arrive I started thinking about different things that I could deep fry. Potatoes (french fries) obviously, and batter dipped onion rings. In the batter dipped category there are also corn dogs and cheese dogs (a hot dog size piece of cheese that’s been batter dipped and deep fried). Cheese dogs are sinfully good; what’s not to like about hot gooey melted cheese enrobed in deep fried corn bread?
Something I had many years ago was batter dipped and deep fried mushrooms. I was looking at the mushrooms at the grocery store and they’re so big now that I’m thinking that you’d probably need to cut them in half or in fourths. Nearby is this great Asian grocery store, Ranch 99, and they have a nice variety of fresh mushrooms. And a great selection of dried mushrooms as well. I was thinking of using dried shiitake mushrooms but instead of rehydrating them with water, rehydrate them with chicken stock, or water that’s had dried garlic rehydrated in it, or water that’s had garlic or onion boiled in it.
Then there are ideas like adding some stuff to the batter mix, for example, ground dried chilies; I have some ground dried California chili, New Mexico chili, and pasilla ancho. Add some ground cumin as well to that. Into that dip some cheese stuffed jalapenos and deep fry them. Or, instead of just cheese, cook some chorizo and drain it, then mix it with the cheese. For the batter, perhaps the masa harina would work.
One of the first things I made was corn fritters. Instead of using corn meal I used corn flour; I’d bought a bag of corn flour from my local FoodMaxx; they have a Middle Eastern/Indian section with some interesting stuff, including millet flour, which I also bought. The corn flour absorbed a lot of water; the batter recipe I was using was 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. I ended up adding at least 1/4 cup more water. It also called for 1 can of corn but I used a half a can. They came out well but afterwards I realized that I should have made them without the canned corn, just plain deep fried corn flour batter, so that I could better evaluate how the corn flour works.
But before I tested a batch of plain corn flour batter I decided to try the millet flour. It was just the opposite of the corn flour with respect to fluid absorption. 1/2 cup of water was too much. (I’m using powdered milk instead of real milk since I don’t drink milk and it would end up going sour by the time I used it all.) I ended up adding 5 tablespoons of millet flour to bring the batter back to something that was more workable. For fritters you want something that falls off the mixer’s paddle when you raise it, but it shouldn’t fall too quickly and shouldn’t just immediately drip off. The deep fried millet flour batter I rather liked. It’s very dense, and it has an interesting earthy and nutty flavor. More earthy than nutty I’d say. I set the deep fryer at 375 and cooked them for 2 to 3 minutes.
I’d also bought several large cans of pumpkin puree; it’s holiday season so there are big stacks of it at the grocery store. I was thinking of trying it in breads, similar to how you’d use potatoes in a bread recipe. So the next batch was 1 cup millet flour, 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons dry milk powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder. They were very nice. Not as dense as the ones made with milk or water, which I realized really were quite dense after making the pumpkin puree ones. The pumpkin also nicely mutes the earthy millet flour flavor. And of course it gave them a nice orange color. I set the deep fryer at 375 and cooked them for 2 to 3 minutes.
Next was a batch with the corn flour and pumpkin puree; since it was so thirsty I used 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons dry milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder. Curiously, one cup of pumpkin puree was enough liquid; I was expecting to need to add more water but it was fine. Again, a nice orange color. I set the deep fryer at 375 and cooked one for 2 minutes. The first 2 minutes test one was still raw in the center so the rest I cooked for at least 3 minutes. The corn flour is ok but I really like the earthy flavor of the millet flour.
This has been fun. I have several other flours I’m going to try; sorghum, teff, barley, masa harina, and brown rice. There may be some others in the back of the freezer that I’ve forgotten. I still want to make some onion rings but I’m having too much fun playing with the different flours and pumpkin puree.
You can find various recipes for dulce de leche on the web; a gallon of milk, sugar, small amount of baking soda, vanilla (optional), cook for an hour on the stove top.
Chow.com has one where you put sweetened condensed milk in a pie plate, cover it, bake in the oven for an hour, stir, then bake for an hour and a half more.
I haven’t tried either of these methods.
In the comments section for the Chow recipe people were relating the way their mom, grandmother, etc. made it by putting an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot, add several cups of water, and cook it on the stove top. Of course there were many comments about how dangerous that is. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen. There’s also the problem with the BPA that the cans are lined with.
All of these seem like too much work to me. The stove top method is sure to need lots of attention in order to avoid the milk sticking and scorching on the bottom of the pan. The oven one takes too long. There were also comments asking how to make a lower sugar version; sweetened condensed milk is very sweet. All this got me to thinking that dulce de leche could very likely be made in a pressure cooker using the bain marie method.
I took a can of sweetened condensed milk, poured it in a metal bowl, covered the bowl tightly with aluminum foil, and put it in the pressure cooker on top of the steamer basket and poured several cups of water around it. Then I cooked it at high pressure for 1 hour.
Well, not exactly that; I first added 2 tablespoons of dry whole milk and mixed that in well before I put it in the pressure cooker. I have this dry milk, Nido, that’s made by Nestle that’s whole milk, not the usual nonfat dry milk. It’s a fine powder, not the fluffy granules like instant nonfat dry milk.
When I took the bowl out of the pressure cooker and uncovered it the sweetened condensed milk had reduced by a lot and had a slightly grainy crust on the top. So I used the electric hand mixer and mixed it well. Then I put it in a jar and put that in the fridge. It’s thick. And it tastes great.
Thinking about the lower sugar queries I made the next batch with one can of sweetened condensed milk and one can of evaporated milk. For the evaporated milk I used whole evaporated milk, not non fat. This time I added 4 tablespoons of the Nido whole dry milk. I mixed everything together well in the steel bowl using a whisk, covered it with aluminum foil and cooked it as before in the pressure cooker for an hour. This wasn’t as thick as the batch made with only sweetened condensed milk. I was almost thinking of putting it back in the pressure cooker and cooking it for an additional half hour but I decided to try letting it cool down to see if it thickened up sufficiently. It was fairly thick, but not as thick as the first batch was, which was quite thick. It also needed a good mixing with the electric hand mixer.
After an evening in the fridge it thickened up nicely. The flavor is incredible. A rich and creamy caramel to die for. But still too sweet.
I think some of the condensation is dripping back into the bowl while it’s cooking so for the next batch I’m going to cook it the way I do my morning mush. I’ll use the 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup with the brown glass lid from a Pyrex pot. The glass lid is a bit too large and sits at an angle because of the measuring cup’s handle, which is good because that makes the condensation drain to the outside of the measuring cup.
I made some pasta the night before last.
I keep noticing these things that my local FoodMaxx sells. For example, in the Indian section they have some spices; the first thing I noticed is that they have whole cardamom, green and black. Green is the usual one. Not only can I now get whole cardamom but their prices are so low. Next I noticed that they have whole mustard seed; enough to last me forever, but the price is so low it feels like it’s practically free. Then I noticed that they have cumin seed. Again, I was sort of put off by how much; it fills up a quart jar. But again, the price was so amazing that I figured that I’ll put it in a jar and keep it in the freezer and it’ll keep for a long time. And whole seeds last longer than ground ones.
Then I noticed that they have flour; at first I thought it was just wheat and chickpea flour, but then I noticed that they also have millet flour, of which I’d already bought some from the health food store. Then I noticed that the wheat flour says that it’s durum flour; the light bulb went off and I was thinking that durum flour is ordinarily hard to get and good for various things. So the next time I went I looked at it and not only is it durum flour but it’s whole wheat durum; that really got me excited (I don’t like using white flour unless it’s absolutely necessary). It’s marketed to be used for chapati, and it’s also used for roti, naan, and puri. There are 3 different brands; 1 of them is a mixture of whole wheat and white, one is just whole wheat, and the third I don’t remember what its composition was, and it was also the most expensive ($13) so I didn’t pay much attention to it. The whole wheat only one was the least expensive, $8, so I got it. So $8 for a 20 pound bag of whole wheat durum flour. If you buy King Arthur flour it’s $4 for a 5 pound bag; Pillsbury or Gold Medal is around $3.50 for a 5 pound bag.
So now I’ve got enough whole wheat durum flour to last me for a long time.
When I got home I pulled out some cookbooks and started looking at pasta recipes and sure enough, durum is what’s wanted for pasta. I followed one recipe but the pasta was much too dry and I had to add a lot more water, although that’s consistent with using whole wheat flour; it definitely needs more water. But the dough kept tearing while I was kneading it. I let it rest for an hour and kneaded it some more and it was still tearing, although not as much. I kneaded in some more water but then it started getting tacky. I remembered that an old James Beard pasta cookbook called for oil in the pasta dough so I kneaded in about a tablespoon of that. The additional water and finally the oil fixed the tearing. By the time I finished it was too late to cook it, and it was an experiment anyhow, so I wrapped it and put it in the fridge. Tried some the next day and it was great. I should have started with the James Beard recipe; it uses about half the flour and I’d have started with the oil in it. Since it’s whole wheat and needs more water I’m going to start by adding an egg yolk in addition to however many eggs it calls for. The Mark Bittman pasta recipe calls for 2 eggs and 3 egg yolks and there’s one in the James Beard book called French noodles which calls for 3 eggs and 6 egg yolks. James Beard also wisely stresses that it’s important to let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and preferably overnight in the fridge.
My pasta machine’s cutters are dodgy; they cut on every other one so the pasta ends up being twice as wide as it should be with a groove down the center where it didn’t cut. For the second batch I decided to just use the pasta machine to roll the dough and then to cut it by hand, which I liked doing. I also learned a great trick from a cooking magazine for sprinkling flour; use a salt shaker for a nice even sprinkle. I bought one of those stainless steel ones that are the size of a coffee mug with a handle on the side; it was something like $1.50 at TJ Max. After sprinkling the flour on the rolled dough I use a soft pastry brush to spread it around. You can sprinkle a lot of flour on the flattened dough before you roll it into its jelly roll shape just before you cut it; it keeps the dough from sticking together and it rinses off when you cook it.
It was great when I cooked it. It was definitely whole wheat, not the tender delicate (and, to me, insipid) noodles you get from white flour, but I always prefer whole wheat. I put some clarified butter and olive oil on it and some garlic salt and freshly ground pepper. The second time I grated some Romano cheese on it. Both were very tasty.
I’m looking forward to trying James Beard’s recipe; I remember when I used it many years ago that it made a nice dough. I’ll also have to try adding 1/4 cup of some of the other flours; millet, rice, teff, barley, whatever.
(A dumb post that I’ve removed.)