Monday, January 9, 2012

Composing Bread

(part ii)
given the challenge
of making better party bread
than last year
I set out to do something different
and came up with the idea of a savory
monkey bread instead of sweet

used a white bread recipe with water
olive oil and a pinch of saffron
the stuff between the rolls
was olive oil, garlic,
finely chopped
fresh basil and marjoram
sundried tomatoes
packed in olive oil
the oil from the tomatoes

taking advantage of
the properties of gluten
in a well processed bread dough
(see last post)
I created little balls of dough
but was careful to stretch
and fold the dough until
each morsel had a smooth skin
then taking the olive oil herb mix
dipped each bite in the mixture
making sure I picked up the herb bits
assembly included making sure
the smooth skin faced out of the whole

at the party
the bread disappeared quickly
but the pieces of sundried tomato
on the top of the loaf browned
and were thought to be chocolate
next time I will chop finer

© 2012 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, January 7, 2012

But I Just Asked for a Sandwich

bread is a question where one asks
“how did they do that?”
a dear geeky engineering friend
went after the answer
and it is quite a chemistry experiment
the study of yeast itself
could take a life time
then you add the gluten molecules
in wheat flour
how they react with each other
the act of letting the yeast ferment
then stretching the gluten
until it forms long chains
gasses formed during yeast fermentation
make up the little holes in bread
it’s what makes it rise

after researching all this
my friend Phil Pettit
devised the following method
get a mixer that has a dough hook
and is hearty enough
to run for a long time
proof yeast water and sugar
(mix and wait till bubbly)
start mixer
add chosen shortening
liquids and flavoring
put in a cup of flour
go do something else
add another cup of flour
go do something else
this can take all day
the idea is to let the machine
do the work of kneading
the dough for you

this goes for any
yeast wheat flour bread

we could get into flour sifting
but will just leave you
with an old Greek saying
“those who do not sift the flour
must knead the bread for 5 days”

© 2012 Sandy Vrooman

For better chemistry go to

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holidaze Sweets

Holidaze Sweets

having the leisure to just make dessert
instead of a whole holiday dinner,
I took my time figuring out what to do
had a lovely box of pears
I could not eat before they spoiled,
decided to do a pear/almond tart
the internet is a wonderful and distracting place
I found many variations on this theme
deciding to take the best of several recipes
I poached the pears in marsala wine
with cloves and cinnamon
instead of just sugar water
made the almond filling
rather than take short cuts
OK I took one short cut
I didn’t grind my own almond flour
butter, eggs and almond flour
with a bit of almond extract
resulting in a moist almond custard
cookie like filling
could have use marzipan and eggs
but perhaps too sweet with the pears
great under apples
next my favorite short crust with butter
flour, powdered sugar, and an egg
an egg yolk should be added
to the crust, but I just use
the whole egg
what can you do with just one egg white?
in the spirit of the most frequently repeated recipes
added almond flour to the crust
to glaze or not to glaze
that was the question
the suggested glaze was apricot jam
but I had all this nice poaching water
with pear syrup and spiced marsala
added a bit of the jam, more wine
and more sugar
reduced the mixture
made a small tasting sample
might give up dinner
and eat tarts instead

©2010 Sandy Vrooman

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Swingin’ Salsa Summary, Ole’

there are some basics
without them it would not be salsa
everything has to be chopped very fine
gotta have cilantro, lime juice, salt
and onions
jalapenos are in most salsas
but not all of them
garlic is good
add fresh roma tomatoes
and you have basic salsa fresco
tomatillos are good with this
after that almost anything else is fair game
but not chocolate sauce
have some sense
I’ve made avocado, mango, and peach salsa
last night I made roasted corn salsa
took some very fresh corn in husks
and fire roasted them over the flame
on the top of the stove
almost burnt the husks all the way through
probably should have
cut the corn off the cobs
added half a maui onion
a whole bunch of cilantro
red bell pepper
and too much salt
the salt releases the juices in your mix
but you have to have a light hand
I could have added a can of washed
and rinsed black beans
had a medium bowl of the stuff
but it was all gone within 24 hours
fresh salsa is only good for 48 hours
then the freshness begins to be questionable

© 2011 Sandy Vrooman

Son of Zucchini Madness or Zucchini Pancakes

yes, you can shred zucchini
and use them like potatoes
in potato pancakes
because zucchini keeps weeping
it is best to take the following steps
this method will give you
crisp pancakes without they
will still be good, but soggy
coarsely grate the zucchini
by any method you favor
salt the mass heavily
put a smaller bowl on top
parallel to the bottom bowl
put some weight in the upper bowl
like a large can of tomatoes
(don’t open the tomatoes or
use them for anything else
in this recipe)
wait (or weight) about 20 minutes
add water to zucchini
drain in a colander and
keep rinsing
you will still have liquid
but it should be more gelatinous
I added on egg for each zucchini
using three zucchini this time
I also added about 1/3 cup flour
and the rest of the maui onion
finely chopped
I used peanut oil because
it will not break down at a high heat
put about ½ inch of oil into a cast iron skillet
used a ¼ cup as measure to get a regular size
let the pancake solidify a bit before turning
if you wanted to you could serve
with apple sauce or sour cream
we didn’t think they needed any embellishment

(C) 2011 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Zucchini Madness

it has been suggested
that there is a parallel
between zucchini and fruit cake
there seems to always be more
than can be consumed

I humbly submit some ideas
for using up the darn stuff
if you slice it to look like bacon
salt it and put a weight on top
(like a plate)
for about 20 minutes
then rinse and blot dryish

pretend they are lasagna noodles
grease a pan with olive oil
lay down a layer of zucchini noodles
top with a layer of ricotta cheese
a layer of tomato sauce
repeat until you have 3 or 4 layers
top with mozzarella cheese
bake in a 350 or 375 degree oven
or until done
(I hate that in recipes, don’t you?)

if you don’t mind a very juicy lasagna
you can add a layer of spinach
and a layer of fresh sliced plum tomatoes
be sure to season the spinach with
a bit of nutmeg
basil is good on the tomatoes
I like to add a bit of sea salt
to taste, yours not mine

© 2011 Sandy Vrooman

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catching Up

I've been remiss
in keeping up this blog
too much eating
not enough photos
summertime diversions

triggered by
a Facebook friend
John Tiong Chunghoo
a specialty writer for
he does travelling
through Kuala Lumpur
and neighboring areas

love the idea of fusion food


Check links to see "Food: an old family secret"