2/19/11 Appetizer (amuse) & breads

25 Feb

So, when on friday night it sounded like Judith would be out with the flu, Reid and I agreed that he’d take on the dessert, and I’d scramble something together for an appetizer.  I’d already bought a bottle of Mateus, as an amuse wine course to spring on everyone when they least suspected it —

Someone in this room was conceived as a consequence of this wine. Guaranteed.

With no time to create a dish from scratch, I ended up pulling out some fresh sausage that Hilary, Francine and I made… it was breakfast sausage, with pork and sage — no matter; I had some home-made roasted poblano pepper green sauce in the freezer, hoping the spiciness would overpower the sage, and bring breakfast into dinner.  I racked my brain to put together some little bite that would tie in a 70’s ingredient, and thought the crunch of a few CornNuts™, a classic ’70’s snack food, would be a nice addition.

Alas, they turned out to be the most difficult ingredient to source saturday morning.  Funny.  When we’re out traveling the backroads of North America on our dirt bikes, CornNuts™ (along with beef jerky) are a staple in our diet.  They’re readily available at each and every gas station and corner store we stop at.  In Manhattan, not so much.  I ended up picking up some “corn nuts” from the market that were made from regular corn, and not the huge kernels of Peruvian Cusco hybrid corn of REAL CornNuts™.

"corn nuts", poblano sauce, sausage

The breads:  I really enjoy baking.  The day assumes a certain pace, a predictable rhythm when you have to tend to mixing, resting, kneading, fermenting, forming, rising, and baking.  Because I was on call friday night, I had to choose breads with either a prolonged fermentation in the fridge, or a relatively short prep that I could start saturday morning.  I chose the latter and settled on classic Parker House Rolls, using the recipe Bobby Flay pried out of the actual Boston hotel and adapted to a smaller batch.

Parker house dough

Let’s just say they involve more time, effort, and butter than I anticipated.

The second bread I made was a double batch of Anadama, that classic 70’s Moosewood cookbook hippie staple.  It’s a New England regional bread, and I first ate it in the early ’80’s when I came east for college.  It has cornmeal and molasses, but otherwise is pretty straightforward.  I reviewed a bunch of recipes, and settled on this one.

ready to bake

I’d never made either of these breads before, and don’t usually bake in these quantities — I’m usually baking one loaf at a time, using Jim Lahey’s no-knead technique, and mixing in the food processor a la Charles Van Over.  But both the recipes I’d chosen called for old-school mixing and kneading.  I actually realized that if I’m going to enjoy baking for these events, we could use a good stand mixer; so I was inspired to pick up an Electrolux Magic Mill Assistent (sic), which I’ve started playing around with — some baguette dough was mixed last night, in the fridge now, and will be baked this evening :).

Loaves (and fishes)


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