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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sourdough Bread: Part 1 – Let’s Get This Started

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Welcome to part one of a two part video series for how tomake sourdough bread, with nothing more than flour and water. If you’rethinking I already did this before, well, we did, sort of. I did a multi-partseries for this long ago, but it was horribly shot, confusing, and the results weren’tgood. Other than that, it was fine.

Anyway, thanks to an amazing refresher course from Northwest Sourdough (which I highly recommend you check out, and subscribe to), I decidedto take those videos down, and do an updated, 2-part recipe. There’s really nothinglike homemade sourdough, and notwithstanding the time it takes for your starterto mature, it’s a very simple, and easy process.

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The exact number of grams seen herein doesn’t really matter,as long as you’re using exactly the same amount of flour and water, by weight.I picked 70 grams, since it seemed like a nice amount to film, but the ratio isreally the key. Same goes for the types of flour used. I like half spelt, andhalf bread flour, but this will work with pretty much any combination,including all wheat flour.

I never like to get too deep in the weeds when showing atechnique, so if you do want all the Latin terms, and detailed explanations forwhat exactly is happening here, there are endless resources online. All I careabout is that this works. After the second day, toss away half your mixture,feed with equal parts flour and water, wait for the microorganisms to do theirthing. Stay tuned for part two, or as I call it the good part, where we’regoing to make a loaf of incredibly beautiful, tasty bread, and as always,enjoy!

Day 1: combined 70 g *water and 70 g flour

Day 2: add 70 g water and 70 g flour

Day 3: discard 140 g of your starter, and feed with 70 gwater and 70 g flour

Day 4 until maybe Day 10: repeat the step above, every day,until your starter smells fruity, yeasty, and beautifully fermented.

- Test by seeing if the mixture doubles within 2 to 3 hoursafter feeding.

-- All this is based on you keeping the mixture at 70°. Ifit’s cooler than that this will take longer, and if it’s warmer it may fermenttoo fast, although I’m not sure if that’s a problem.

Note: Once done, you can store in the fridge until needed.Most people recommend you feed it once a month or so.

* For best results, use bottled water, as chlorine can kill the yeast/bacteria.

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Labels:Breads,Tips and Techniques

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Day Late and a Sour Dough Starter Short

Today's video has been pushed back until tomorrow, due to some extremely loud construction noise next door. While I'm happy our neighbors are getting a new driveway, I'm not happy I can't record the voice over for a new sour dough starter video. Thanks for your patience, and stay tuned!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Rice-Ah-Roni – The San Francisco Treat?

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While it’s true this great side dish was invented in TheCity, to call it “the San Francisco treat” is a bit of a stretch. Like I saidin the video, the next time I see this served around here, will be the first.I’d say a Mission-style burrito is the real San Francisco treat. Which remindsme, I seriously need to do that video.

Regardless, if you like the stuff from the box, I thinkyou’ll enjoy this, although without all that MSG, it will not be quite assavory. I guess we’re sacrificing a little less flavor for something that’smore healthful, at least according to me. I’ve stopped trying to convincepeople that eating lots of MSG is not a great idea; but as far as how itimpacts one’s diet and carb cravings, I think the research is clear. In fact,forget the research, and just ask yourself why so many people are addicted to fastfood.

It’s certainly not the quality, or appearance. Having saidthat, if you do want to get closer to the original, simply use a cheap,powdered chicken base to make your broth. That stuff is loaded with MSG, amongother things, and may be preferable to many of you drive-thru junkies, he said judgmentally.Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely diced onions

2/3 cup orzo pasta, or spaghetti broken into small pieces

1 1/3 cup white long grain rice

3 cups high-quality chicken broth

Spice blend:

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon mustard powder

1/8 teaspoon celery salt

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

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Labels:Pasta,Rice,Side Dish

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Horchata – No Tigers Were Harmed in the Making of this Drink

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When it comes to delicious, unique, and refreshing summerdrinks, it’s hard to beat horchata. There are countless ways to make this, butmy preferred method is easy, relatively quick, and doesn’t require anytigernuts, whatever those are.

Apparently, that’s what the original Spanish versioncontained, among other things, but we’re doing a Mexican-style horchata, whichis done with rice and almonds. The result is something that sort of looks likemilk, but is much lighter, and pairs perfectly with all your favorite summer foods.I know, summer’s almost over, but not here in San Francisco, where our hottest weatheris just ahead.

Depending on your tastes, you can alter the amount of sugar,as well as the ratio between rice and almonds, but what you can’t alter is theneed to strain this before serving. Unless you like gritty drinks, you’ll wantto pass this through a very, very five sieve, multiple layers of cheesecloth,or both. I hear a plain white, cotton t-shirt also works nicely, but I’ve nevertried.

As you saw, I tested a nut milk bag, which allowed a littletoo much sediment through for my tastes, but regardless, do not skip this step.It’s especially important if you’re not leaving the mixture to sit overnight, sincethe particles won’t have as long to soften. Other than that, there’s not muchthat can go wrong, and I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 quarts of Horchata:

1 cup long-grain white rice

1/4 cup raw almonds

1 cinnamon stick, or 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup white sugar

7 cups cold fresh water (4 cups to blend rice, 3 cups addedafter)

ground cinnamon to garnish, optional

Note: Once blended, let sit overnight before straining, if possible. This way the water has plenty of time to leach out the goodness from the rice and almonds. The four-hour method does work, but you don't get quite the same flavor. Along the same lines, many horchata "experts" actually prefer to not blend immediately, but rather let the mixture sit overnight to soften, before blending the next day. If you like how this comes out, feel free to experiment, and test for yourself.

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Labels:Drinks,Mexican Food

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rigatoni al Segreto – Dinner and a Movie

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This Rigatoni al Segreto recipe was the most closely guardedsecret at Gino’s, one of New York City’s most famous Italian restaurants. Itwas as legendary, as their signature zebra-print wallpaper, and it won awards asthe best red sauce in town.

While there were rumors that the secret ingredientwas butter, no one really knew for sure. Once the restaurant closed in 2010, the recipe got out, andindeed, the butter legend was confirmed. Having never been there, I was excitedto try it, but there was a big problem. Actually, a small problem. The recipecalled for just a half-tablespoon of butter. Regulars knew this couldn’t beright, and so the recipe remained a mystery. Was it a typo? Was the old chefjust trolling people?

We may never have known; had it not been for a documentarycalled, “The Missing Ingredient.” It’s a great film, but despite the name, it’snot about the butter. However, there’s a scene near the end, where the old chefmakes this pasta for the filmmaker, and it shows how much butter goes in.

He made a much larger amount than the published version, butI concluded that it was a typo, and should’ve been half a stick of butter. So,not only am I recommending that you make this delicious sauce, but I alsoreally hope you checkout the movie soon (it’s on Netflix). Enjoy!

Ingredients for four small or two large portions:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic

a pinch of red pepper flakes (not in original recipe)

1 can (28 oz) San Marzano tomatoes, blended smooth
1/2 cup water to rinse out the can of tomatoes

Small handful of basil leaves, left whole or sliced justbefore adding

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1.5 oz byweight), plus more to top

4 tablespoons butter, cubed

*8 ounces dry rigatoni

* This recipe probably makes enough sauce to coat 12 oz of pasta, but I like lots of sauce.

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Labels:Italian Cuisine,Pasta,Sauces

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building a Better Sausage Roll One Bite at a Time

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I used to work for a caterer back in the 80’s, and sausagerolls were one of our signature appetizers. I loved them, the guests lovedthem, and so it never occurred to me that there was another, vastly superior,way to make them.

We used to bake the rolls first, and then cut them intobite-sized pieces, but years later I tried doing the reverse, and was stunnedby how much better they were. The biggest challenge with sausage rolls, isavoiding undercooked dough, which is significantly easier when you bake thebite-size pieces, instead of the larger logs.

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This method does take more work, but not that much more, andthe crispier results more than make it worthwhile. Above and beyond the cutthen bake method, the other way to make a better sausage roll, is to make yourown sausage filling, as we’ve done here.

If time is tight, go ahead and just take some preparedsausage out of the casings, and usethat, but by making your own, not only do you get to season it anyway youwant, but you also know exactly whatyou’re eating, which is not necessarilythe case with store-bought sausage. Either way, whether for an indoor party, oroutdoor picnic, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 Sausage Rolls:

1 pound ground pork

2 tablespoons finely minced onion

1 clove crushed garlic

1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage

1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs

1 sheet prepared puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm’s brand,which is probably the one you’ll find in the market)

1 large egg beaten with a teaspoon of water

sesame seeds to garnish

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Oh Yeah, I’m on Vacation!

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I must have been so excited about going over 2 millionsubscribers on YouTube that I completely forgot to publish the traditional, “ChefJohn is Vacation” post.

Okay, that’s probably not the actual reason, but I didwant to mention it. Hard to believe we have that many people following thechannel, and that’s without the help of any Russian bots. Anyway, I’m on breakthis week as well, but will be back at it next week with two brand new videos.Stay tuned!

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