#foodfail seaweed bread take 1

I have no excuse for this, really. It just didn’t taste good.

I started with this Blue Ribbon White Bread recipe. While reading recipes for seaweed bread, I noted that you need to reconstitute it in liquid. Luckily (or not) this bread recipe starts with heating up some milk, and the letting it cool. I dumped 2oz of seaweed in during this cooling step.

It shouldn’t have been too surprising, but the seaweed soaked up most of the milk, so I ended up adding 2 more cups. The end result didn’t look bad.

20120412-163720.jpg

It tasted awful, though.

For my next attempt at this, I’m going to grind the seaweed into a powder and incorporate it with the flour.

Caramel, take 2 (and 2.5)

For my second attempt at The Caramel, I got much better results using real cream (instead of the butter + milk hack), except that the finished product was too soft. It would certainly make a great desert topping, but It just wasn’t candy.

At Patty’s suggestion, I looked into ways to “fix” caramel. After reading through this chowhound thread, I understood that there were two solutions:

  • Increase the ratio of regular sugar to inverted sugar.
  • Cook it too a higher temperature

I already thought I detected just a hint of “burnt” in the caramel syrup– not unpleasant, but I didn’t want to push it further in that direction. I went with the first option.

I cooked up an additional cup and a half of sugar (with enough water for it to look wet) until it hit 350, and then poured in the existing caramel. After stirring until it seemed like they had mixed, I poured it all back out to cool.

It didn’t completely blend, and the finished caramel has some bits that are hard-candy crunchy. Still, it’s stable and mostly edible, a definite improvement over the last batch.

 

 

Caramel #foodfail

so close.

20120326-081547.jpg

That’s supposed to be the salted Caramel from, well, Salted. We’re pretty sure my mistake was that instead of heavy cream, I used a substitution that has been otherwise dependable: three parts milk to one part butter. I confirmed the bad-idea-ness with chef Kathleen last night in cooking class.

Instead of mixing, the butter floated to the top while the mixture was cooling. It almost tastes kind like an inside-out Goetze’s caramel cream‘ until the butter taste hits you. It’s a bad scene.

Strange Gels

There are two things in the kitchen that I’ve been looking for a way to use (actually, there are many– but here’s two):

  • Cherry-balsamic vinegar
  • Agar

The first we bought from Olio, with a gift certificate from my sister. The latter was acquired through a shady exchange with Matt. I won’t say much, but chickens were involved.

On a long drive home from Lancaster, PA, I decided that I would try combining them. A chewy cherry-balsamic candy sounded at least interesting. I did a little reading up on Agar, and learned that combining a solution with 2% Agar (by weight) should produce a stiff gel.

The ingredients for this first attempt:

  • 90g
  • 55g water
  • 1.25 tsp agar
  • 30g sugar

(this doesn’t represent any sort of plan– just keeping track of stuff as I added it)

I mixed everything up, heated it on the stovetop until it started boiling, and poured it into a small bowl.

20120305-170847.jpg

After it cooled, it only took a little bit of work with a knife to loosen it enough to fall out, a little like canned cranberry sauce, but more solid:

20120305-171342.jpg

It wasn’t any more appetizing-looking in person. I cut it into small pieces, and tried a little.

It was… OK. The first thing you taste is the fruit, followed by a little bit of acidic, vinegar bite. I didn’t love the texture (kind of grainy). It also wasn’t entirely dry. I thought I might fix that with a dusting of powdered sugar, but it didn’t really help. The sugar had turned into  sticky soup by the next morning.

After drying on paper towels for a few hours, they were less wet and sticky, and I was still basically happy with the taste.

If I try this again, I’d experiment with:

  • More agar
  • no (or less) water
  • hard candy

 

Sourdough

I considered making this post a compilation of series of failures that led to this, my first good loaf of sourdough bread.

IMG 0377

It’s simply not that interesting a story– the first loaf was bland because I didn’t add enough salt. On my second attempt, I overcompensated and made it far too salty.

The third? Good. Maybe not great, but it was certainly something I actually enjoyed eating.

For the one that worked, I mostly used the Sourdough (dutch oven method) instructions and ratios in Michael Ruhlman’s Bread baking Basics,  (1 part starter, 1 part water, 2 parts flour) with some modifications:

  • Ruhlman has you proof the loaf in the dutch oven, eventually putting the whole thing in the oven. I preheated the pot with the rest of the oven.
  • To make that work, I used a nice Cooks Illustrated tip where you proof on a sheet of parchment, which you can then use as a sling to move the dough into the hot pot.

After that, it was about a half-hour in the oven (at 425) with the lid on, and another half hour with the lid off.