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.
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.
Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are coming up I’m jonesing for some pumpkin spice bread. My favorite is an outstanding recipe, the Pumpkin Gingerbread in Maida Heatter’s New book of great deserts. It’s out of print but you can get it used. My plan is to “merge” it with the Butter Bran Bread from Bernard Clayton’s The complete book of breads. I’m thinking that I’ll start with his recipe, for the most part, not use the 1/3 cup or so of cornmeal his calls for, use 1 cup of pumpkin, and then enough milk to make a reasonable batter. Something like this:
|1 1/2 cups||sugar|
|2 cups||wheat bran|
|1/2 teaspoon||baking soda|
|1/2 teaspoon||baking powder|
|2 teaspoons||powdered ginger|
|1/4 teaspoon||dry powdered mustard|
|1 cup||pumpkin puree|
|1 cup||walnut pieces|
Mixing will be the usual Maida Heatter drill. Sift together the dry ingredients and mix and set aside. Cream the butter, add the sugar and cream some more, add the eggs and mix well. Mix in half of the dry ingredients mixing only until just incorporated, then mix in the milk, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients mixing only until just incorporated. Add the pumpkin and mix only until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the nuts. Spoon into a greased loaf pan and bake in a 375 oven for 45 minutes.
I won’t be able to follow Maida Heatter’s careful mixing instructions since I don’t know how much milk it will need but hopefully “incorrect mixing” won’t matter too much. I’m also thinking of using barley flour instead of wheat flour.
My penciled in notes say that it tastes better after it’s spent a day well wrapped, in the fridge.
I’ll report back when I make it, successfully.
This also got me thinking that I could try using some pumpkin puree in my rusks recipes. A half cup of it, then however much water is needed to make a proper dough.
Since I haven’t tried barley flour pressure cooked I decided to give that a try.
|1 cup||barley flour|
|1 cup||wheat bran|
|3 tablespoons||nonfat dry milk|
|3 tablespoons||instant potato|
|3/4 cup (approximately)||water|
The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. As soon as it starts sticking to the bowl I stopped adding water and turned the mixer’s speed up to high. I also felt the dough with my fingers to make sure it wasn’t too stiff or too wet.
Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.
I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.
The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).
After its rest I put it in the mini loaf pan, buttered, tightly covered with aluminum foil, and cook it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.
I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I want the loaf pan up away from the water and I put in several cups of water.
I chill the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge. I prepare it for the fridge by wrapping it in 3 layers of paper towel and then put it in a plastic bag which I wrap around it. The paper towels pick up any moisture that comes out of the loaf; without the paper towels the moisture collects on the plastic bag and gets back on the loaf and makes its outside sticky and gummy.
Next I slice the bread at the 2 setting. I couldn’t help myself and kept eating the odd bits that weren’t well sliced. Barley flour bread is very tasty; rich and buttery, which is why I used butter instead of oil in this recipe, to accentuate the barley flour’s flavor.
The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 10 hours.
After drying and several hours of resting and relaxing … quite nice. Wonderful taste; nice and rich and buttery. The texture is good as well. My only complaint is that it was hard to slice them well with the slicer; the top or bottom is thinner than the other side.