Sunday Morning Beignets

Here in north Florida, we are enjoying a decadent Sunday morning breakfast of beignets, mimosas, and coffee, outside!

A good morning sea breeze and cooler morning temps (not 95) is the promise of cool fall days around the corner.

I haven’t attempted to make beignets from scratch. I love Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans – my favorite place besides my home here at the beach and Tallahassee (my hometown). So, I use their beignet mix. I mean, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? I have found the mix at Publix, mostly.

We are grateful that hurricane Dorian most likely has turned back to the Atlantic, and I hope my friends and colleagues throughout the state are relaxing this morning, as well. I also hope the storm simply dissipates and does nothing more than provide awesome surf for good folks all along the east coast.

Cheers,

J.

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Pizza on the Joe!

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Pesto, mushroom, and chicken pizza going on the Joe!

We love to cook on our grill and smoker! We had two of our smokers go out on us, and this last one was a real problem. It was an electric smoker, and it only lasted us a year. Since we have plans of building an outdoor kitchen in the future, we decided to go ahead and get what will hopefully be our lifelong smoker: a Kamado Joe. It’s a ceramic smoker, similar to the “Green Egg,” but not as expensive. We love our Joe!

This smoker runs on charcoal and it’s also a grill. We have plans to do more baking on it, but up to now, in addition to smoking fabulous meats, we’ve only baked pizzas on the Joe.

Charcoal glow: the magical source!

The best and easiest pizza dough recipe I have found is on sugarspunrun.com, the recipe is here. It only needs a half hour to rise. I add dried basil to the dough, and when I roll it out, I brush it with melted butter or olive oil and garlic powder, otherwise the dough is bland.

The hubby spreading on the butter and garlic

Pesto based pizza

I love how this dough cooks. It holds toppings and isn’t at all flimsy. I have not baked it in the oven, but I imagine if a pizza stone is used, the effect would be the same.

Pepperoni going on the Joe
Now that’s a pie!
Our version of Mellow Mushroom’s Magical Mystery Tour pizza.

We live in a fairly rural, coastal area. There isn’t a Mellow Mushroom anywhere around us, so we cook to recreate some of our favorite restaurants’ signature dishes. This pesto, chicken pizza is my husband’s favorite!

We set our Kamado Joe to 450 and set the stone in 10 minutes before the pizza. Then, we cook the pizza 7-10 minutes. Then, it’s pizza perfection!

Happy Cooking,

J.

Sourdough Lessons

Second, unsalted batch. The far right is the doughy loaf.

Well, I did it! I did “me” and boy, was it a doozie. I thought I could handle overlapping my sourdough bread process. I had company coming in and wanted to bake a trial batch and the actual to iron out any problems. Timing worked out that I truly didn’t have time to do a trial batch and a real batch, but I wanted the same “trial run,” so I jumped in and thought I could do it all.

Haha.

The first batch was great save an overly crunchy/overly cooked bottom. I found a solution on a bread baking forum online: crumpled up tin foil, stretched back out and layered to make an insulator under the cast iron Dutch oven. I tried it on my second batch, and it worked like a charm!

However, I forgot the salt! Salt! The flavor of life…and bread. So, with a sprinkle of salt, and a spread (or two or three) of butter, we managed to salvage one loaf from that batch.

The other, however, was terrible. I forgot to put the lid on the Dutch oven, and the loaf didn’t pop on the top, where I had scored the dough, but it did pop on the side, and looked like it had a tumor. Or some odd side-growth. A hernia. And because of the side poof, it was dense and doughy. Not edible. Not even as French toast.

Third loaf – the charmer.

However, on an upward note, after about a week, I attempted my third batch. The dough texture was like silk. I didn’t forget the salt. The sour in the sourdough “popped” through, according to my husband and my tastebuds. The bottom wasn’t over cooked. It was the most perfect batch I have made, yet. I was happy to share a loaf with new neighbors who move in, two houses down, and to serve when a friend came to dinner.

Like all good things, well baked bread takes time.

Happy Eating,

J.

Sourdough Bread Success!

I did it! The test was my 4 year old son – he wanted seconds. My husband wanted seconds. And my friend who gave me the starter said the pic I sent him looks great.

So, now that I’ve baked once, I get to try again tomorrow and fine tune my dough-ball shaping skills. I wanted a “practice run” before some of my family come to visit this weekend, and circumstances sent me into overlap with the 3-day process. Trial by fire. Go big or go home. Dive in head first. That’s my nature, so here I am, baking again tomorrow.

I was able to walk my second loaf over to my neighbor’s house, and my friend, S, popped her head out the back door a little while later and said they love it and were eating it right then.

That’s why I bake. I love doing it, but I love to gift the goods to friends and neighbors. It always brings a smile to their faces.

And to see the buttery grin on my son’s face, and know my husband has a treat to enjoy after a long work day. I am looking forward to baking the next batch, today, and continuing to perfect my sourdough! Many thanks to my neighbor and friend, Shaun, who gave me the starter and recipe!

The following are pics of my “bake day” process.

Loose square formation before folding and forming the dough balls.
After folding corners of “square,” it looks like a diamond. Fold each corner once more.
After 2nd round of folds
Both dough balls
Dough balls and banneton

Happy eating!

Sourdough Bread – In the Beginning

The gear.

In the beginning – there was a girl who loved her mama’s homemade honey wheat bread. Girl grows up and begins making the bread. Then she branches out into making French bread, pizza dough, and now…that which she’d never had the guts to try because she heard it was so temperamental…sourdough bread.

I have written about quite a few topics on this blog – parenting, boating, surfing, outdoor activities and coastal living, but one of my favorite and first loves has been sadly left out: food.

Fortunately, I married not only a “foodie” but a pretty amazing chef. He isn’t a chef by trade, but he could be. My husband started cooking in restaurants when he was a teenager. He has since taught me to cook beyond my “southern style” I grew up learning. I have always been a baker, however.

So, sourdough. Yum! My knowledge of sourdough didn’t extend beyond having this doughy alien in your fridge that you had to run home and “feed” to eventually turn into a magical slice of warm, soft bread with a distinct flavor and crispy crust. My friends and I in high school all had delicious sandwiches for lunch made out of sourdough bread, for our moms all shared the starter.

Fast forward to a neighborhood party a month ago, where our hosts served gorgeous artisan sourdough bread. It was delectable. My kind neighbor gave me the starter, and here I am, feeding the alien.

The scale I ordered from Amazon. It’s amazing!

Beginners tips:

1. Get a kitchen scale that measures dry goods and liquids. It’s more accurate. I thought I could do without and convert measurements. Now that I have my scale, I’ll never go back!

2. Name your starter! Very important. Name the alien. Ours is Little Joe. We smoke and Grill on our Kamada Joe a lot, and we refer to him as “Joe,” so, our starter is “Little Joe.”

3. Don’t give up! Follow your directions and if something goes awry, keep at it, research, read, check out YouTube. My starter first just bubbled, but it didn’t rise. How disappointing! However, I read that I could add more flour. So, I did. That’s exactly what it needed.

Day 2: my first dough batch after my first round of folds.

I will bake later today and will post pics from the day 3 process. Wish me luck!