Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fairway! and Bread!

There's some kind of dire snow situation going on here on the Eastern seaboard, but the moderating Atlantic winds have evidently killed off anything interesting from aculumating here. I'm supposed to finishing up (more like starting) these conference papers, but I'm also cooking and eating! And baking!

First is a ridiculous meal that blokey and I shared on Wednesday. It comes from Joan Schwartz' "Macaroni and Cheese: 52 recipes, from simple to sublime." A lovely colleague lent the book to me, and we actually ate the Swiss Mac and Potatoes during Thanksgiving. I've been dying to reproduce it since. This past week was my first week of the spring semester (only 15 or so weeks to go), and I was knackered on Wednesday evening. So of course, I walked up to Fairway and bought the necessary ingredients.

This was possibly a mistake. Low sodium and low fat swiss lorainne? This is what happens when you shop sleepy.

The Colavita was yummy. And not too pricey (thanks Fairway)

Dood, give me cheese and carbs over booze any day.

Swiss Mac with Potatoes (adapted from Joan Schwartz)
total time: about 1 hour
serves 4
1/2 lbs of elbow macaroni
3 small potatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
2 c. of grates Swiss (you could ask the deli for 1/2 lb of medium sliced too)
2 eggs beaten
1 1/2 c. of milk

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter a 9"x13" pan (I used something a bit smaller, so I bet you could too)
Cook the macaroni until al dente (8 minutes) and boil the potato slices just about 8 minutes (so it pierces with a fork but is still firm). Drain both. I then sliced the potatoes into dices.
Layer macaroni, potatoes and cheese in the pan (cheese should be on top). This should be about 2 layers.
Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour of the top of the pan.
Bake for 30-45 minutes until everything carmelizes on top (that's a long range, but I like it browner, others might not).

pink potatoes from the CSA drop (looks ham like)

Final product (I think that white stuff on the middle is egg white. Note to self, beat the eggs better next time)

Next, let's talk bread. We've been eating this bread all day. It's mostly whole wheat with added fiber via flax seeds, very little kneading, and very flexible time wise. I also adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen as well (I'm very devoted to her blog). She calls it "Bread without a timetable." There's no denying that her photos are beautiful and professional, but I think our loaf looks just as nice.

It's not that easy but it's not that hard either, and you can pretty much forget about it over night. And it uses very little yeast, which is great in my book. I'm made some adaptations (like the water bath), though, because I like a crispy crust.

"Writing Conference papers" bread
Time: about 30 minute of effort total, 30-45 minutes of baking, and hours when you should be thinking, writing, thinking.
1 1/2 c. of all purpose flour, unbleached
2 1/4 c. of whole wheat flour (I think I will play with the proportions next time)
1/2 c. of warm water
1 c. of milk (or water)
1 teas of honey
1/4 teas of yeast (you can up this 1/2 teas if you're not going to be waiting over night).
1 generous teas of salt (you can up this a bit if you'd like. I thought my bread was a little bland)
1-2 Tbs of ground flax (the recipe called for wheat germ or bran, but this worked as really well)

I had to proof my yeast first, so I mixed the warm water with honey and the 1/4 teas of yeast (did this with 2 packets). After 10 minutes, it should be beer smelly (if it's just honey smelling, move on to the next packet and try again).
Next, mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Then add the water and the about a cup of milk, although you may want to add more water if you need to. This should be on the wetter side, but not a mess all over the bowl. Knead a few minutes until well incorporated.
Flour the dough, put it back in the dough, and cover with a damp towl/cloth napkin. Put in a draft free place overnight (I stuck it in the oven).
Then, go back to work, lazy academic!
In the morning (or afternoon, which is when I often wake up), punch it down and let it rise once more. This was about 2 hours for me (you can do it slightly less).
after the second rise

Then shape into a "baguette". Deb's webpage has great instructions. I just sort of rolled it out with a pin, then rolled it up, tucking in the seams. Place on the baking sheet (or for me, the reused lasagna tray cover).
Cut in 4-5 slits with a knife on top and flour it. Flour it again.

Turn on the oven to 550 degrees (yes!). In the meantime, boil some water, and stick it in an overproof pan (I used a 9" cake pan).
Just before sticking the bread in, place the water bath on the lower rack. Place the bread on the middle rack. Shut the door.
Water bath in action. Note the brand new oven thermometer.

The water brings the heat down and makes a steam bath. After about five minutes, lower the heat to 450. Bake for another 20.
Check and see if it's done (is it hollow sounding when you tap it?) If not, keep it in the oven at 425 for another 5-15 (mine was done after the first 30 minutes).
Wait for it to cool, and eat it with cheese.
Here's a better view of the crumb and the thickness of the upper crust. And my office floor


Anne said...

*drool* over the mac & potatoes. My first thought, before even reading your caption, was that this would be a great dinner with some cubes of ham baked in. Or perhaps even some bacon. Bob's mom just made us a giant pan of Fanny Farmer macaroni & cheese, but once that's finished I really want to try this :)

Viva La Fashion said...

yum! :D

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

thanks! Let me know how it goes!

Anne said...

Didn't we think about having this for our last dinner party effort? Might be a nice addition for Kangwell Dinner :) (yes, I am going through your blog looking for recipes!)