Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Visiting Herrington Harbor North, Deale MD

It was our one chance to enjoy good weather for the week.  Bright sunshine that actually exuded warmth!  OK, maybe not Florida warmth...after all we were only talking 45 degrees, but for us that was warmth.  Oh and the sunshine!  Glorious blue skies, narry a cloud in sight! 

So we loaded Scupper in the car and off we went to our old stomping grounds, Herrington Harbor North in Deale, MD.  We kept our boat Cadenza there for a couple of years and still know folks down there.  It's a picturesque setting with slips for about 500 boats, huge haul out yard, plenty of storage area for boats for the winter, and lovely expanses of green grass, a pool and clubroom. 

Ken checking out the utilities in Herrington Harbor North. 

In the summertime they show outdoor movies on Saturday nights, and even have fresh popcorn.  What a great way to see Master and Commander, with the smell of the ocean, the sound of the boats creaking as they moved up and down in the water, then suddenly the cannons exploding "BOOM!"  What fun that evening was!  We loved it!

Ken took these from the top of our 60 ft mast on Cadenza

Sadly we sold our boat at the beginning of 2009.  We're hoping to get a catamaran one of these days soon.  Cadenza was my husband's boat, custom built for him 24 years ago.  We were already planning on getting a catamaran, and put it up for sale.  In this economy we were lucky to sell her.  But it was gut wrenching for both of us, but especially him. 

While we wait for our ship to come in, literally in so many ways, we kayak and bicycle ride during the good months.  But I am digressing.  I was talking about the marina. 

It was bittersweet walking around the marina.  We miss living on or at least having a boat to go to on the weekends so much.  It's a different lifestyle and one that is difficult to explain to landlubbers.  There's a comraderie amongst sailors that you don't find in many areas of the country, especially where we live these days. 

When living on a boat you have to be very independent, self-sufficient, and yet able to accept the help of your boating "neighbors" if you need it, and willing to help them if they need it.  You often meet people for one or two days and never see them again but may keep in touch for years after via email and facebook. 

Living onboard is very compact and complex.  Your galley may only be 3 feet long by 1 foot deep.  In some cases you count yourself lucky if you have any kind of rerigerator.  Ours was this long narrow hole in the counter, but belive me we were delighted to have it.  The "living room" (we call it a salon) was a warapround couch area with a big table in the center.  That was it.  But we could get 8 people cozy in the area and had many great dinners.  Our cabin included tiny little closets, and a double bed with storage under it.  The cockpit was our main party area.  We often had 10 people sitting around laughing, enjoying a meal as we got to know each other. 

Because there is such limited space on a boat you have to really plan out what groceries you will carry onboard, what dishes you have, what clothes you can keep, and what books will fit.  You have to make sure to leave you room for the spare parts you may or may not need, the life jackets, the foul weather gear, etc. 

YOU may be sitting there thinking to yourself that it doesn't sound like fun or a good life to you.  But we love it.  When we want to go somewhere, we pull in the lines or hoist the anchor, secure anything that could be knocked off, and away we go.  Can you do that with your house?   OK, if you live in a motor home yes, but you are still restricted to the roads.  We got to sail away.

Watching another boat get ready to anchor in a small cove in chesapeake Bay.

We both love the water, the smell of the sea, the sounds of the sea birds, watching the sea life of all kinds.  Sitting inland, driving by cow pastures and corn pretty as it can all be at times...just doesn't do it for me.  There is no water with salt in our present neighborhood!   OK time to quit whining...time to get back to baking!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cran-raisin orange zest Challah with wholewheat II

We had a potluck today at work.  I made another batch of Cran-Raisin Orange Zest challah that the HBin5 group did last week as our second project.  But this time I took a couple of ideas from some of the other members! 

First I made a traditional three braid challah with the small braid on top like I did before.  This was the one I took to the potluck. 

I also made two other small three braid challahs and shaped them into wreaths.  I gave them as gifts at work. 

Finally I took the last 1 pound portion of dough and rolled it out into a rectangle. 

I slathered it with Smuckers Sugar Free Orange Marmalade, and sprinkled more cran-raisins and walnuts.  After rolling it up into a log, I sliced it in 3" slices and placed them into an 8x8 baking pan. 

By the time I was done baking this weekend, my floor was slippery with flour.  I swept it and then released George, our Irobot Scooba.  I love it!  When I first bought it, 3 years ago, I tested the floors after it cleaned them.  My test?  I walked and scooted all over the floors in my white sox.  They were still clean!

Bliss by triple chocolate

Friday evening, September 18th. The storm was on the way…predictions of up to 18 inches of snow had everyone scrambling for toilet paper, cookie recipe ingredients and presents on the lists. We had to fight traffic to get to Sam's Club; zigzag around the party atmosphere in the aisles as people discussed their preparations for the impending blizzard, and finally a mad dash into Wal-Mart for … lasagna noodles?? Yes and another 5 pound bag of King Arthur all purpose flour.

Blizzards to me equal “Baking Day Heaven”. And this time it would be heaven in the form of chocolate bread…which I renamed Bliss by Triple Chocolate.

I first time I saw a true chocolate bread a few years ago here in York, at bakery stand at the Eastern York market (held every Friday for 50+ years). At the cost of $10 for a loaf, I buy any, not even one. I so wanted to find out what it tasted like and whether it was worth recreating the recipe. The bread looked as though the crumb held together but wasn’t too sticky. So the search began for the perfect chocolate bread recipe. My next stop was Wegman’s grocery store in Hunt Valley, MD, just 30 minutes away.

Wegman’s is one of my favorite stores…food porn, eye candy, whatever you want to call it…the store has some of the best pastry and bread displays I have seen outside of very fancy bakeries. They had chocolate bread also, and at less than $5.00, I had to buy a loaf of theirs to taste. It was better looking than the first loaf I saw but still not what I was seeking in taste. I searched the internet, looked scrutinized the cookbooks I could find and then concentrated on other things…beer…but not just any beer…chocolate stout!
After trying a few more chocolate bread recipes I couldn’t quite get it just right, even when sacrificing a bottle of my chocolate stout as one of the ingredients! Then along came Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and the search was over!

So before I go further I’d like to say a very big THANK YOU to Zoe and Jeff, authors of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (and page 211 of ABin5), ! I’m not going to list the recipe or show the step by step pictures because you can go to their website for that.

But even their recipe was missing a key ingredient, and I let them know about it. The chocolate bread recipe on the ABin5 website lists two kinds of chocolate, but I deepened it a bit with three types of chocolate plus dried cherries and call it “Bliss by triple chocolate.” One of the chocolates was Chocolate Stout. BUT I decided not to sacrifice one of the last precious bottles of my homemade 3 year old chocolate stout; instead I used a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout. A very fine beer to sacrifice on the altar of my favorite breads!

The night before I was to mix the dough, I opened the 12 ounce bottle of beer and poured it into a 4 cup measuring cup and covered it with plastic wrap to allow it to go flat. When I was ready to make the dough I added water to take it to the required liquid. I also measured out one cup of dried cherries. As to the other two chocolate additions called for in the recipe, I used Trader Joes 70 % chocolate bar for the ganache, and the chopped chocolate, and Penzey’s Spices Dutch-process cocoa. Zoe is so right about what the dough is like! It doesn’t rise much…but it does rise. Check out her great pictures!

While the snow came down like flour being sifted outside, I started working with the dough. Again Zoe is right, it’s a big lump! LOL. I made two balls and placed them in a bread pan. I loved the idea of using butter to coat the inside of the pan and then dusting with table sugar, but I also found that dusting the counter with sugar helped to spread the dough out to make the various shapes I wanted.
I pressed out a circle of dough and smeared it with mascarpone, then used my pizza cutter to cut the slices and rolled them from the wide end to make crescents. I did the same with a slather of cream cheese, and another with sugar free raspberry jam. I made a variety of sizes of crescent rolls just for experiments.

Next I took about a ½ pound section of dough and again placed it on the sugar coated counter and pressed it into a rectangle about 1/3” thick. I then sprinkled cinnamon on it, but not just a little sprinkle…I practically poured it on! Next I sprinkled Splenda (cup for cup granulated).  It seemed that any chocolate we had during our 9 months in Mexico had cinnamon in it. We loved it! So this was my way of saluting Mexico’s great chocolate that they use for making hot chocolate, and eating.

I will say that I would not make the chocolate crescents again.  But the other shapes I will!

I've been passing it out at work as Holiday gifts.  I don't even need to wrap it in pretty wrapping paper.  The aroma is so chocolatey that the scent of chocolate fills the recipient's cubicle!

Try Zoe and Jeff’s recipe now, then you’ll be ready for Valentine’s Day! You will love it and it truly is Blissful chocolate!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cranberry-Orange Challah with wholewheat

Another successful bread recipe from "Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzbert, M.D. and Zoe Francois!  Actually this recipe was provided by Jeff to our HBin5 google group for our December bread recipe.  So let me jump right in with the details!

First I have to confess, my husband is NOT a fan of whole the point where if he KNOWS whole wheat is in the recipe he doesn't even want to try it.  But I coax him to try it, and occassionally he is delighted with the results of my efforts. 

For this reason I switched the all purpose and whole wheat flours around.  Instead of 5 cups of whole wheat and 3 cups of all purpose flour, I used 3 cups of whole wheat and 5 cups of all purpose flour.  The other substitution I made was flax seed meal for the wheat germ.  This was one of the substitutions that Michelle posted and it worked fine.  I just hadn't had time and the memory to get wheat germ, but had the flax seed meal. 

The texture of the dough was spot on.  I've been making challot (plural of challah) for about 20 years now.  I love Jeff and Zoe's recipe for it in the original book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and had switched to it last year.  Previous to that I was doing the "old fashioned" type of recipe that was time consuming, albeit a good bread. 

My kitchen is very cold this time of year.  Matter of fact I am sitting here with an undershirt on under my Chanukah tee shirt, and a sweatshirt with a hood on it typing this!  I could turn up the heat, but let's face it, since I pay the utilities I am too cheap to do that!  LOL. 

The point of that paragraph is that it takes longer for my dough to do the first rise.  So I just let it sit there for about 3-4 hrs.  When I came into the kitchen to check the dough just before retiring for the evening I found that my dough was pushing the lid off!  It's a very active dough!  I jiggled and then pushed the dough down a bit to where it was about 3 inches below the top of my container and put it in the frig.  Checked it again in the morning and lo and behold had to jiggle it down again!  Hm.  Didn't know what I was going to come home to at this point! 

When I took it out of the frig to start working with it, it was once again up to the top of the container, but hadn't pushed the lid up.  Working with the dough was very easy.  Some of the ABin5, and the HBin5 doughs are very soft and loose but this challah dough was just right. 

First thing I decided to make was "sufganiots" or jelly donuts.  I don't make donuts usually, and only buy donut holes every once in a blue moon.  But one of our HBin5 group members had suggested using the dough for the jelly donuts and I decided to try it.  After looking up several sites on the web about how to get the jelly in the donuts I chose to attempt the "wrapping the dough around the jelly" method and then frying them.  It was NOT successful.  All the jelly leaked out in the frying! 

Although I had bought two different kitchen gadgets to try stuffing the donuts, I decided not to attempt it until later.  Just running out of time, and energy since I was also cooking latkes for the first night of Chanukah for my hubby, Ken, and I, after a full day of work! 

When frying the donuts, which looked more like small cannon balls, I found it very difficult to tell when they were cooked through inside. I don't make donuts, remember?  Eventually I took them out before they burned.  Then rolled them in sugar and set them aside. 

We ate the donuts as part of our Chanukah meal last night for dessert.  Whle they were good, and the texture was quite acceptable, Ken just didn't care for the dough done that way.  He also made a comment about the whole wheat! 

This morning I made the rest of the dough into two challot, putting both into the standard 3 braid.  After reviewing all the different braiding techniques I decided to stick with my traditional 3 strand braid.  But one thing I did different was roll the ends of the three stands together instead of tucking them underneath.  On the larger loaf I made an indent, moistened the dough, then placed a very small challah on it. 

Just before baking I put the orange zest and sugar on the top of the smaller loaf.  But I had put the sugar and orange zest together in a bowl thinking that that would help the orange zest dry out.  Think again!  It just made a gunky mess.  I couldn't really sprinkle it on top, instead I kind of dropped it on top and then used my egg wash brush to schmear it around on the top of the braided dough.  I just did a regular egg wash on the other one.  Both baked up beautiful! 

On Saturday mornings I go to Wayne and Wanetta's house, my neighbor's, for breakfast.  Wayne makes great poached eggs for me and we all have a great time talking and laughing.  This morning their daughter Denise was there also and it's always fun to see her!  I took down a stack of latkes, the cran-raisin, orange zested challah, and some great Dundee orange marmalade that Denise had picked up at Trader Joe's for me.  I had already sent down some of my homemade Rosh Hashanah apple sauce for the latkes the night before.  So we had a feast for breakfast! 

The challah had just the right balance of orange zest and cranraisins in it.  The texture of the bread was  between cake and bread.  The crumb was excellent.  It all held together extremely well when applying butter, no tearing or having to be ever so gentle with the spreading knife. 

Wanetta, my neighbor cutting the challah.  I always take down a loaf of any of my breads to her and her husband, Wayne.  Denise checking the crumb of the bread.  By the time I left, we'd devoured half the loaf!  Oh bother, now I have to make Wanetta another one!  LOL.  BTW Denise loved the donuts!

Ken enjoying the Cran-raisin and orange zest challah!