Friday, March 30, 2007

Beer Bread

Got in some baking time last night:
Beer bread

That's a couple of slices of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Beer Bread. I've made a few different beer bread recipes over the years, some with yeast, some without. Overall, I think I like the yeast recipes better. The beer quickbreads that I've made have come out really dense and cakey. That's fine, but with beer bread, I don't want to feel like I'm eating cake. The yeast recipes come out much lighter, although they obviously take longer because of the rising time.

This recipe has both whole wheat flour and white bread flour in it, along with a little bit of either malt powder or sugar to balance out the bitterness from the beer and whole wheat flour. I usually use a stout or a porter for beer bread, but for this one I used some Wolaver's brown ale, which yielded a lighter color bread with a more subtle beer flavor to it. Put some butter and honey on a warm slice of this... that's a couple of minutes of happiness right there. :)

Beer bread

Sunday, March 25, 2007

MoJack Flank Steak

How yum does this look, non-vegetarians?

MoJack Flank Steak

A Jack Daniel's-and-citrus-based marinade? I'm intrigued. I've never cooked with whiskey... wine, sherry, vodka, but never whiskey. I'll have to try this out and report back. :)


Verdict: Yum.

Good ol' meat and potatoes

Giant didn't have flank steak when I went, so I grabbed a top round instead. I marinated it for about 5 hours, then slapped it on my electric grill. With all of the citrus in the marinade, I was a little worried that this would come out tasting like lime and nothing else, but I worried for nothing. All the flavors balance out nicely... and NO, it does not taste like bourbon, either. (Lesson learned today: bourbon is a type of whiskey. I learned this at the liquor store, after looking through the "whiskey" shelves in vain... and then finding the elusive Jack Daniel's in the bourbon shelves. A-HA!)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pretzel Bread

And, if there's "part 1" of homemade snackage, you know there's a part 2... I made a batch of the intriguing-sounding "pretzel bread" rolls from The Bread Bible. They're rolls crossed with soft pretzels: how bad can that be?

First, the with-flash shot of the full batch right out of the oven:
Pretzel Bread

And here's the nicer natural light shot:
Pretzel Bread

I take SEVERE issue with this recipe claiming that you should be able to get 12 rolls out of the amount of dough it makes. I had 8 normal-sized rolls, and they'd have to be really tiny in order to give you a full dozen.

Other than that minor problem, this was a nice recipe. I was raised on Philly soft pretzels, the ones from the street carts that are big and doughy and wonderful, and I miss them. These rolls are definitely NOT soft pretzels, but they have that same dense chewiness that I love.

I didn't do the lye glaze, because lye kind of scares me. You're not supposed to touch it with bare hands because you might get a chemical burn from it... but I'm supposed to put it on rolls that I'm going to eat? Maybe somewhere down the line, but not today. I did the same sugar/baking soda glaze used for the bagels in the book, with good results.

This is a nice, easy, fast recipe -- a yeast bread that takes 2 hours total? Yay!

Maple Caramel Popcorn

Part one of today's homemade snackage:
Maple caramel popcorn

A batch of yummy maple caramel popcorn, adapted from the recipe found here.

Maple caramel popcorn

No nuts for me, so I left out the pecans. I only had 1/2 cup of maple syrup on hand, so I cut the caramel syrup recipe down to a third of what it's supposed to be. It's still plenty sweet and maple-y, but didn't require a cup and a half of pure maple syrup (which, having tasted this, I think would make it WAY too sweet).

I have a horrible tendency to burn sugar any time I try to make candy, and I was THRILLED that I caught the syrup before it burned (and yes, it was definitely heading that way). It was around 290 degrees at that point, which is close enough to 300 for me... poured it over the popcorn, and it started to harden almost immediately. I did get it spread out on a baking sheet to cool before it hardened completely, and then broke it up once it had cooled. This is some very tasty stuff, and hopefully, with 8 cups to munch on, I won't eat all of it today. :)