Crackery Weeknight Pizza

My preference lately has been for cracker-style pizzas. From a technique and ingredients standpoint that generally means:

AP Flour – To limit gluten strength

Limited Kneading – To limit gluten formation

Low Hydration – This is what works for me. It’s possible to make crackers and crackery flatbreads with a wide range of water input. I’ve had the most success with smaller amounts of water.

The Addition of Fat/Shortening – Limiting gluten by interfering with the chains.

Docking The Dough – May be optional. I mostly use it when there are few or no toppings. It helps prevent the dough from poofing up like a pita.

Baking Longer At Lower Temperatures – To drive out moisture without over-browning.

200128 Pizza2
The toppings pictured above were all basically extras or leftovers:  Pesto, sauteed mushrooms, and salami.

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Our French Laundry Menus

Two of the menus were personalized, which was a nice touch. (Whited Out in the pictures below.) The “25” in the background of the menu commemorates Thomas Keller’s 25 year association with The French Laundry. The other shape in the background is a traditional clothes pin. We received a clothes pin as a souvenir that had “THE FRENCH LAUNDRY” logo printed on one side and “IT’S ALL ABOUT FINESSE” on the reverse.

The Vegetable-based Menu that we chose not to do:

191209 Vegetable

The menu we selected, signed by sous chef Sean O’Hara. If there was an “Option” on the menu – one of the two of us selected it so that we could try everything:

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Double Celebration Challah – An Adaptation From Reinhart’s

For Thanksgiving I thought I’d give Peter Reinhart’s recipe another try. (2015 post here. 2016 post here. Ruhlman original post here. The skeleton of the post below is copied and pasted from the 2015 post.)

From the Bread Baker’s Apprentice — Peter Reinhart’s Double Celebration Challah. The “Double Celebration” indicates a double-decker of braided dough — a smaller braid sits on a larger braid. I increased the recipe by 1.5x because we were feeding a crowd:

Ingredient Measure Baker’s %
Bread Flour 27 oz 100
Sugar 3 TBP 5.5
Salt 1.5 tsp 1.4
Instant Yeast 2 tsp 0.85
Softened Unsalted Butter 3 TBP 5.5
Eggs, beaten 3 large 18
Egg Yolks 3 7
Egg Whites, whisked until frothy 3 7
Water 12 oz 45

and Sesame Seeds for garnish.

1.  One day ahead of time, combine 10.5 oz of water and bread flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. (It’s a simple Poolish without yeast. This would also be fine up to three days in the refrigerator, if so, remove from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before continuing.)

2.  Stir together 15 oz flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a separate (mixing) bowl combine butter, eggs, and yolks. Turn the mixer on low speed. Add the wet ingredients to the mixer, then slowly add the dry mixture until the ingredients gather and form a ball.

2.  Mix on medium low speed for 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to make a dough that is not sticky.

3.  Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, coat with oil, and let rest one hour, covered.

4.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead 2 minutes to degas. Return the dough to the bowl and let rest 1 hour.

5.  2/3rds of the dough becomes the big braid, and 1/3rd becomes the small braid. Each of those portions are divided into 3rds again, and rolled out into ropes which are smaller at the ends and larger in the center. The ropes are then braided, tucking the ends underneath. Watch this for help on how to braid. Transfer the big braided portion to a parchment lined baking sheet, top with the smaller braided portion.

6.  Brush the loaf with an egg whites wash, spray with oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 60-75 minutes until the the dough has grown to 1.5x its original size.

191201 unbaked challah

7.  Preheat the oven to 325F. Brush the loaf again with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake on the center rack for 20 minutes, then turn and bake another 20-45 minutes. The bread is done when golden brown and an instant thermometer reads 190F. (The pictured loaf saw 25 minutes after turning, which I think was too long. More on that below.)

8.  Transfer to a cooling rack and wait at least an hour to eat.

191201 challah

Notes:

I think every time I’ve made this I’ve come away thinking it could be better.  20 minutes + 25 minutes brings the internal temperature closer to 205F than 190F. In the future I’ll likely check the temperature at about the 20 + 15 minute mark. I also think the challah would benefit from a little more salt than the recipe calls out, perhaps even just an extra 1/2 tsp to take the total to 2 tsp (not including the salt in the eggs.)

We had a little bit of extra dough at the end of one of the braids. We were going to visit a 6-year old on Thanksgiving, so:

191201 turkey

In reality the “body” is about 4 inches across. It has an “eye” of sesame seeds and a piece of black sea salt. The “turkey” went into the oven with the challah and was pulled at the 25 minute mark.

The kid seemed to dig it.

 

2019 Container Garden Recap

It never really got hot in 2019. The garden responded by not providing much.

By Year:

Year Yield, Pounds
2013 228.0
2014 269.4
2015 282.5
2016 194.3
2017 238.6
2018 195.5
2019 134.1
Average 220.4

The totals above are for 11 containers, so 20-25 pounds of produce per box is pretty normal. (“Normal” is around 30 pounds of tomatoes per box, 10 pounds of peppers, and 25 pounds of tomatillos.)

We don’t count the basil, which is good because this is the first year that it failed. As a guess it was either nematodes or something else in the soil, but the cool summer didn’t do it any favors either.

The Totals:

(Plant list here.)

Marketmore 76 Cucumber (1 box, 4 plants):  17.8 pounds

Carmen Pepper (2 boxes, 12 plants):  14.1 pounds

Jimmy Nardello Pepper (1/2 box, 3 plants):  1.0 pounds

Anaheim Pepper (1/2 box, 3 plants):  1.1 pounds

Tomatillo (1 box, 2 plants):  8.2 pounds

Sun Gold Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant):  9.7 pounds

Old German Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant):  0.5 pounds

Oregon Cherry Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant):  6.9 pounds

Taxi Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant):  23.0 pounds

Black Krim Tomato (1 box, 2 plants):  13.8 pounds

Oregon Spring Tomato (1 box, 2 plants):  18.4 pounds

Roma Tomato (1 box, 2 plants):  13.4 pounds

Tromboncino Zucchini (1 box, 2 plants):  6.0 pounds

 

The yield was low but the few fruits on the tomatoes were larger than usual. Just a very strange year all around.

On the bright side, the Fortex beans did great. Two boxes on one trellis produced way more than we could consume as the summer went along, so quite a bit wound up in the freezer. One of the bean boxes might be better served housing garlic or another allium.

Maybe next year we’ll grow cucumbers, determinate tomatoes like Oregon Spring and Roma, and the indeterminate Black Krim tomatoes. And lots of onions and garlic.

 

Rick Bayless’ Tomato Carpaccio Salad And A Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich “Stromboli”

Setting the site record for longest post title by far..

The tomato and tomatillo plants are heavy with fruit right now so it’s time for Rick Bayless’ Tomato Carpaccio Salad:

190908 tomato carpaccio salad

We last posted the salad recipe in 2014.  The 2019 version featured Black Krim and Taxi tomatoes as the base. The pictured tomatillo salad topping included Oregon Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes as well as avacado and red onion.

The salad was fairly filling for three adults, but we had some frozen pulled pork to use up as well as some “empty” jars of mustard. I really dislike that bit of waste, so I rinsed out the mustard jars in a little bit of water and used that as a base to reheat the pulled pork. We then moved the thawed pork to a mixing bowl and added shredded cheese and mustard-pickle relish.

The pork mixture was originally intended to become Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork Pigs In A Blanket, but there was too much filling for that so it became a Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork Stromboli:

190908 cuban pulled pork stromboli

Served with more of the mustard-pickle relish on the side. Super tasty.

The dough was basically a simple pizza dough — 400g AP flour, 240g water (60%), 10g salt (2.5%), 1 tsp yeast. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 10″ x 8″. Arrange the filling in a row down the center of the long axis and fold the dough over the filling, overlapping slightly. Press to seal the seam. Place the stromboli on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet tray seam side down. Slice a few cuts into the top so that steam can escape — I placed cuts about every 2 inches which then became the portion sizes after it came out of the oven. Bake at 425F for 30 minutes.

If there’s extra dough it can become bread sticks.

Next time I’ll cut the salt back to 2%, I think the extra salt may have toughened the finished product a little bit. The extra bite would have been fine with pigs in a blanket but the stromboli form was already enough work to get through without the added salt.

Still, a very nice dinner all around. Thanks to SeattleAuthor for his help in the kitchen.

Container Garden Update — August 11, 2019

The few days that we had in the 80’s didn’t last. Here in the north Seattle area it’s back to 70’s, overcast, and spotted showers.

190811 harvest 1

(Clockwise from top left — Roma tomatoes, Taxi, Oregon Cherry, Tromboncino zucchini, Carmen peppers, Oregon Spring tomatoes, Sun Gold.)

We harvested the Tromboncino at a relatively small size because there are two other fruits on the plant in the same place — the harvested fruit was directly between the two pictured here:

190811 tromboncino

We’ve found that three fruits that close together rarely ends well, so we pulled the one that was in the center.

On the other sheet tray is 2.5 pounds of Marketmore 76 cucumbers and 2.5 pounds of Fortex beans:

190811 harvest 2

We found three of those cucumbers after we thought we’d already found them all.

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Container Garden Update — August 4, 2019

We’re finally stringing together a few days around 80 degrees, which gives us The First Real Harvest Of The Year!

190804 tomatoes

Tomatoes — Front L-R:  Roma, Taxi, Sun Gold, Oregon Cherry.  Back:  Oregon Spring

190804 cucumbers

Marketmore cucumbers, basil, and (I think) Guardsman bunch onions.

190804 fortex beans

No Fortex bean harvests since Thursday means 2.5 pounds on Sunday.

Hopefully more warm weather means that the nice harvests are just beginning.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 28, 2019

It’s been a very mild summer. The Tromboncino zucchini aren’t doing much of anything but the beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are doing well.

Oregon Spring tomatoes are always our earliest producers. By the end of the season we should have harvested around 40 pounds total from the two plants in the box:

190728 oregon spring

The first Romas:

190728 roma

The Taxi is “sharing” a box with a less-than-stellar Oregon Cherry. The Taxi plant starts on the left…:

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — July 28, 2019”

The First Sun Golds — Is The Garden Late This Year?

We harvested the first two Sun Gold tomatoes on Thursday the 18th. Is that “late” or “early” or “neither”?

180719 sun gold

Fortunately we have a non-memory dependent answer. We’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of the harvests since we started gardening in 2013. Here’s what it says:

Year First Sun Gold Date
2013 July 7
2014 August 3
2015 July 17
2016 August 3
2017 July 20
2018 July 28
2019 July 18
Average July 22

As it turns out July 18 is almost right on the average first date for Sun Golds.

What is late is the Tromboncino. Most years we would have already harvested a few. As of right now there is one fruit of any size on the vines and none have been harvested.

The Fortex beans are rocking though — over three days and two harvests we pulled almost a pound off of the plants:

July 18:

180719 fortex beans

July 20:

200719 fortex beans

Today will be a day to start “cleaning up” the bottoms of the tomato plants. At least that way we’ll be able to see new fruit easily.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Boy Cat In Repose With Raspberries

We harvested just over 1/2 pound of raspberries today. The boy cat was mostly sleeping in a chair on the back deck:

190707 boy cat with raspberries

The raspberries started as a gift from friends in 2013 — three short stalks total on two rhizomes:

070713 raspberries

I don’t know how I thought that “cage” was going to do anything.

The current setup, pictured in May 2017:

170529 raspberry

1/2 pound is a pretty good harvest for us. There are still a few handfuls of berries left on the plant. They’re terrific with ice cream.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres (Happy Acres Blog), host of Harvest Monday.