playing mad scientist with sourdough bread

So since March, you all know I have been learning about bread, specifically sourdough (read this post and this post). It has been quite the process and learning curve.

Bread is literally a science to learn, and it’s also trial and error. as I said to my friend Chad who owns the Master‘s Baker in West Chester yesterday it is a fascinating process to see how things like even the weather affects your bread baking.

I am now working with two strains of sourdough starter. One came from my friend Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic in Malvern, and the other strain comes from San Francisco and has a very old strain of starter. As in more than a century old. You can find these strains from places like San Francisco and Europe and I wanted to try one just to see.

So what I’ve discovered in my learning curve here is I like the San Francisco instructions better for feeding the starter, but I use Tracey‘s recipe for making a loaf of bread. The difference between the San Francisco and local instructions for feeding the starter is they suggest you use distilled water. So I’ve been using distilled water. It seems to make a difference. We are on a well here and there are a lot of minerals in the water.

When I make up my dough I use half San Francisco starter and half Dixie Picnic starter. They both live in my refrigerator side-by-side like thing one and thing two when I am not feeding them or using them up to bake with. I’ve also discovered that getting my starter out the night before I wish to prepare dough is more effective.

I don’t know if this is all right or wrong but I am feeling way way through and it’s nice to be conquering my fear of bread making. Because before this I didn’t think I could do it.

But I am discovering I can and it’s kind of fun!

Next up? Learning how to make other kinds of bread. My husband gave me this awesome bread cookbook for a present. It’s called Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. It’s an awesome book.

Stay cool today and I hope everyone’s enjoying the holiday weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

bbq season is here! get the best at farm boy fresh in malvern!

Let me start by saying Farm Boy Fresh is on Toast Tab now. And in our COVID19 world you can order BBQ ahead for pick-up the next day. Yes next day. BBQ like this is an art form, trust me. They are weekends right now until Pennsylvania truly opens up.

Chef Paul Marshall

Back to the beginning.

Farm Boy Fresh photo – loading up the smoker for all of their happy customers

You all know I love the food from Farm Boy Fresh. And I had just started going there when stay at home orders and COVID19 hit. So I have been waiting. Last week I found out that Chef Paul Marshall was taking barbecue orders and I thought it would make a perfect Father’s Day treat for my husband. So I placed an order for brisket, ribs, chicken, sides and they should be illegal little key lime pies.

I went at my pick up time with my husband and our food was ready and waiting for us. We had a chance to visit with Paul and his lovely wife Julie, and oh my there is no barbecue in this area like his.

My husband was barely in the house sampling it and declared it “superior“ to anything else around here. I love barbecue when it’s good but we haven’t had any really good barbecue in years in this area right or wrong. Farm Boy Fresh has just elevated BBQ to the next level. (Guy Fieri are you listening? You might want to visit in your shiny red car.)

I am just sharing about Farm Boy Fresh again because I love their food. I want everyone to know that because a lot bloggers are compensated and I am not. I am just a happy customer of Farm Boy Fresh.

I will close with saying now I understand why people say good barbecue brisket is like a religious experience.

I hope you will place an order and enjoy the old-fashioned but never out of style tastes of summer. And let Chef Paul know that you read about Farm Boy Fresh on this blog!

Farm Boy Fresh. Located at the Sunoco at 7 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern PA19355.

Please note that for now until everything opens up in Pennsylvania, Farm Boy Fresh is open weekends 9 AM to 2 PM. And yes proper social distancing is being observed in my opinion. Find them on Facebook if you have questions.

sourdough day 3: looks like we made it!!!

This is what the dojo looked like when I took it out of the refrigerator where it had “rested“ overnight

So after I had done my morning running around the house I took the sourdough loaf of dough that was resting in the refrigerator out and let it sit. (for those just picking this up now see sourdough day one and sourdough day two)

As the dough warmed up it doubled in size!

So the dough, as my friend Tracey promised, doubled in size as it warmed up on the kitchen counter. As further to her instructions I preheated the oven to 500°.

When the oven was heated properly I quickly did slashes in the top of my loaf with a sharp knife like Tracey had instructed and threw it into the oven quickly and reduced the heat to 450° and baked for 30 minutes.

Just a close-up of the finished loaf I think it is so pretty and I’m so proud of myself for doing this!

Well oh my goodness, I made sourdough bread! And it’s delicious! I couldn’t resist tasting and we will be having it with spaghetti and meatballs for dinner! I know I am not the first person in the world to make homemade bread but it took me a long time to get to this point and I am thrilled that I can do this!

Taa Daa! Sourdough bread!

sourdough day 2

So this morning I got my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed up my first batch of dough ever. I wrote about day 1 yesterday. So welcome to day 2.

I will remind everyone that this is not my recipe, the recipe and instructions come courtesy of Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic a marvelous scratch kitchen in Malvern/Frazer. If you live locally I hope you will patronize her business and she has been one of the bright lights in this whole stay at home of it all during COVID-19 by gifting starter and selling flour to those who wish to try.

I will be honest and say it took me almost a month to get fresh flour. Everyone has been sold out of it and even King Arthur is on a backlog for catalog ordering. But because of the generosity of Tracey some of us have been able to buy it when needed.

I actually have made bread before. Even focaccia. I took a baking class with Patricia Polin the pastry chef at The Master’s Baker. But I didn’t venture into bread making solo until now. Bread is like a fun science experiment!

So I used the food scale just like Patricia and Tracey taught me and measured out:

10 oz. of sourdough starter

8 oz. warm water

1 lb. bread flour

1.5 oz. of canola oil. (Tracey calls for Crisco but never use it so I don’t have it)

1.5 ounces of oil ends up being 9 teaspoons.

So I followed Tracey‘s instructions and first I mixed the water and starter and then I added the rest. I mixed the dough until it came together and was smooth and pliable in the bowl. I then let it rest covered with a linen towel at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Then Tracey‘s recipe asks for 0.5 oz (0.8 TBSP) of salt. That’s roughly 2.4 teaspoons. I mixed the salt into the dough and kneaded until the salt was all incorporated and the dough was once again smooth. You can feel the little granules of salt and when you stop feeling them it’s mixed.

I then took my dough and put it in a clean lightly oiled second mixing bowl and covered it with saran wrap. It will sit there and rise at room temperature for about eight hours until I take the next step.

I also decided to grow my starter again today so I could just bake next week again. The last picture in this post will show you that my bread is already starting to grow in size.

What I will do later is shape the dough and de-gas it, i.e. punch it down to remove large air bubbles. Then it will rest on a cookie sheet covered with the saran wrap I use to cover the ball this morning until tomorrow in the refrigerator. Then I bring it out to start the final process before baking.

So stay tuned and fingers crossed that I can do this right and make Tracey proud!

learning something new: sourdough bread

Our friend Tracey who owns a local scratch kitchen called Dixie Picnic is an amazing bread baker. One of her breads I love is her sourdough.

Well she gifted me some of her starter. So today I grew it. You can see the result in the above photo. The black line on the jar is where it was before I “fed it“.

I popped my starter back in to the refrigerator and tomorrow I will make my dough, and the next day I will bake. She gave me really clear step by step instructions and it’s kind of a three day process.

I used to be very intimidated by making bread but she and other people have encouraged me to learn and I’m having a whole lot of fun!

I have heard stories of people who have had the same strain of starter for decades. That blows my mind! I found an article where it talks about starter that’s over 100 years old and that was in 2011. There was an article in 2018 about Sourdough starter that was over 120 years old! That’s a crazy kind of antique to have, right?

Even recently in San Francisco this kind of a cool thing has started happening. A mystery person has set up a Sourdough kiosk offering how to make bread with it. And apparently it’s 100 year old starter. I think it’s really cool! Seriously… a phantom baker with what is supposed to be San Francisco’s oldest starter and only a couple of people have or had it.

Phantom Bakers Sharing Sourdough Starter In Walnut Creek By NEWS24-680 – Apr 26, 2020

If someone famous hasn’t already said the true measure of a community is how it rises to help others during a time of crisis – we’ll say it now.
Over in Walnut Creek, outside the entrance to Buena Vista Elementary off San Juan Avenue, an anonymous baker with a talent for making sourdough bread is sharing the wealth with neighbors.
A self-help kiosk complete with a recipe and history of the starter – which is over 100 years old (attached below) – along with sample containers of precious starter are fresh and replenished every day.

The history of sourdough bread and sourdough starter is fascinating to me. And I never knew about it until I started doing research after Tracey gave me some starter.

I also discovered this article:

Before DIY sourdough starters became popular, there was home economics Mary-Leah de Zwart, University of British Columbia May 5, 2020 4.30pm EDT

My niece is sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s making sourdough starter for the first time because she couldn’t find any dry yeast. It’s like having a newborn for the first three days — keep warm, stir three or four times a day, watch for bubbles, feed regularly after use. On cold winter nights, old-timers used to take their sourdough starter to bed with them.
Meanwhile flour is also scarce. A well-known flour company has run out of its usual bright yellow bags and has to use white ones instead. It seems everyone is baking these days.
Questions come to mind. Are people re-enacting the traditional household activities of their mothers and grandmothers? Does this signal a massive change in society?

We don’t really know. Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, once wrote that we live life forwards and understand it backwards. People may simply be stocking up on baking supplies while they’re in quarantine. It may or may not be largely limited to women who are baking.

Caring for one’s sourdough starter will not alleviate the fear of loss of control, but, as psychologists suggest, it offers the physical and emotional comfort of working with one’s hands. It makes me wonder if people are trying to remember what their home economics teachers taught them, or wishing they had taken home economics electives.

I have found some things on the Internet for those of you who are interested in learning how to do sourdough bread:

King Arthur Flour: Sourdough Starter

All Recipes: Sourdough Starter

The Clever Carrot: Sourdough Bread: A Beginner’s Guide

You Tube: The Ultimate Sourdough Bread

You Tube: I Love Cooking Sourdough Masterclass

Tasty: How To Make Homemade Sourdough Bread

Taste of Home: Country Crust Sourdough Bread

Food Network Sourdough Bread

Knead Not Sourdough Recipe | Alton Brown | Food Network

corona cooking the good friday edition: salmon loaf

Yes…Salmon Loaf the finished product.

I know it’s one of those things that kind of reminds you of your grandmother. Salmon loaf. I’m told it was a big thing in the depression because canned salmon (or canned mackerel) was something that a lot of people could get a hold of and it stretched a meal.

Today in coronavirus land, I was looking to use things up. In my refrigerator, I had three foil packets of Harry and David cooked salmon. Each is about 4 to 6 ounces per packet. They came in gift baskets over the holidays. And they last forever in the refrigerator unopened but it’s not like nova or gravlax, so I’m always at a loss what to do with it. then I remembered things my mother used to make on Good Friday when we were little.

So I put Carly Simon on Alexa, and got to cooking. Yes Carly Simon. Sorry not sorry but her music is something I have always loved, along with Cat Stevens AKA Yusuf.

First preheat the oven to 350°F.

Next I made the white sauce to go with the salmon loaf after it is cooked.

White Sauce – 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill, a good dash of Tabasco sauce, 1 tablespoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. All you do is whisk it together and refrigerate it until you serve the salmon loaf.

Salmon Loaf– If you don’t have Harry and David cooked salmon to use, 1 large can of red or pink sockeye salmon will do. I would say you need a good 14 ounces of salmon. You also need 1 can of cream of celery soup, 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, 1 small sweet onion chopped fine, 3 ribs of fresh celery diced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 egg beaten, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill weed, 4 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese or the equivalent of block cream cheese mushed up, a little salt and pepper to taste, some potato chips, and Tabasco sauce.

Mix the cream cheese with the Tabasco sauce (just a dash or two to taste), the lemon juice, the beaten egg, the mayonnaise, the cream of celery soup, the celery, and the onion. Next incorporate the salmon which should be pre-fork mashed in its own little bowl. Finally add the breadcrumbs and a little bit of salt and pepper – about a teaspoon of salt and pepper together. I think I used less.

Take a loaf pan and grease it. I used butter because it happened to be out on the counter. I’m sure you could use olive oil. Spread the loaf mixture evenly into your prepared and greased loaf pan and crumple potato chips over the top.

I will note we rarely have potato chips in the house, we just happen to have them from a take out order a couple of days ago.

Then all you do is throw it into your preheated 350°F oven and set your timer for an hour. For those of you who don’t know the size of a loaf pan it is roughly 9“ x 5“. serve with the white sauce and a simple salad. Note that you’re not actually taking the entire loaf out of the loaf pan it will fall apart you get your servings out and refrigerate the rest in the loaf pan once it’s cooled.

Thanks for stopping by.

Salmon Loaf just before going into the oven

from roast chicken to chicken soup

The other night we had a roast chicken. I hung onto the carcass and threw it into the instant pot yesterday and made bone broth from it.

This morning I got out the broth, removed the fat, and added the rest of the chicken that was left over to it and set that container to the side while I prepped the vegetables.

I chopped up one of the remaining onions that I have and threw it into the soup pot with a little bit of olive oil. To that I added a bunch of diced celery, and a small bunch of sliced up carrots, and some fresh new potatoes. I added a little salt and started to cook the vegetables down.

As the vegetables started to cook down I added a chopped bunch of mixed kale and baby bok choy and some other greens that had come in a farm box. To that I added a can of white cannellini beans.

Then I added the broth and the bits of chicken and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs from the garden. The chicken soup simmered away for a few hours and now it’s cooling to be eaten later in the week.

more foodie fun….in glenmoore!

It is just a foodie fun weekend this weekend. This evening we went to Glenmoore Deli and Country Market which is located at 1941 Creek Road, Glenmoore, PA 19343. (Phone 610-942-4321)

The proprietress/chef is Christie Keith and she is another kitchen wizard I am lucky to know. Her place is a cool little joint in the delightfully sleepy village of Glenmoore. It’s a weekend breakfast and lunch place and it’s another hidden gem that more need to visit.

I will warn you, it’s a cell signal no man’s land, so call ahead to make sure they are open and when you get there, you unplug and enjoy your meal.

I know, I know I have kind of turned into a breakfast and lunch and brunch person. It’s what I really like.

Every once in a while, Christie does a special dinner. There is no liquor license here, so you can BYOB but a lot of people just don’t. There is always some wonderful teas or lemonade or coffee or infused water served.

This evening it was a Polish dinner. It was nothing short of amazing. Pierogis that were delicious and light and fluffy. Kielbasa. Tiny meatballs on fresh arugula. Borscht. All sorts of homemade fresh pickles. Cucumber salad. Kolaczki. Honey Almond Cake.

It was delicious. We were seated with a lovely local couple as the tables are sort of family style after a fashion. People came with their families, and young and old and every age in between, we just enjoyed a wonderful meal.

Christie is calling this her Comfort Food Series and we can’t wait for the next one!

Check out Glenmoore Deli and Country Market for breakfast or lunch one weekend. They have a Facebook page so keep an eye out for Christie’s next fun dining adventure!

happy valentine’s day

Aren’t these adorable looking? They taste as good as they look! Valentine’s Up Cakes from Dixie Picnic in Frazer.

I am cooking a nice dinner for us for Valentine’s Day and I decided that I wanted Up Cakes for dessert.

Maybe we might have to eat dessert first?

Have a nice Valentine’s night everyone ❤️

they had me at beignets: farm boy fresh has landed in malvern

Full disclosure: haven’t been there yet. But I will be going. They had me at beignets. And a breakfast and lunch menu that looks fun and has some Louisiana and other flair to it. And I actually love a good breakfast and lunch place, don’t you?

So yes, they had me at beignets and if Chef makes gumbo, I may volunteer to ladle it out. I found a bio of the chef-owner Chef Paul Marshall on the Blue Star Stove website. That in and of itself amuses me because one of my best friends swear by these stoves. Chef Paul Marshall has quite a culinary resume and I would say we are lucky to have him local.

His Farm Boy Fresh is where the Three Crazy Ladies was at the Sunoco Gas Station at 7 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern or… the corner of Route 30 and Route 29. They are new enough that Google Maps doesn’t pick them up yet. So here is my version of a map:

Now I checked with them for a menu because they don’t have a website up yet (they are new and renovating) and heard back from them very promptly:

Hey thanks for reaching out. We don’t have a website and are looking to update the Facebook page in the coming weeks. We getting a system installed shortly that will allow for online ordering. Paul Marshall is the owner and chef, he has a long career as an executive chef in restaurants and wanted to do something local to bring his food in an affordable quick environment. The cafe is going through some renovations as well, new bar tables will be in the shop soon, so you can eat in store. I have a menu, I’ll attach it here.

Umm yes so this is a chef with some serious chops. Found this elsewhere:

…From his childhood on the bayou in rural Louisiana, the land of cayenne pepper, roux, seafood gumbo, beignets, and Andouille Sausage, Paul always showed a passion for cooking. During seven years under the watchful eye of Fernando Oca he learned classical French technique. Marshall returned to his New Orleans roots to work under Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace. There he further developed his passion for ‘the new’ New Orleans cuisine, a melting pot of French, Spanish and American flavors.

Chef Marshall also was the Chef de Cuisine of Oscars at The French Brasserie in The Waldorf Astoria. Since then, he moved to Malvern, PA with wife Julie …

I like quirky. And I also love food with Louisiana influence (well except for catfish. I just don’t cotton to catfish.) And you have to respect someone with a passion for their craft. So below is the menu and I will be visiting soon. I learned about them from someone in my area!

I hear they are open while they are renovating, but it possibly could be a little bit limited while they polish and shine, which is totally reasonable. That’s why I haven’t been yet. But I will be stopping by soon!