Food 52

Amazing 4-Hour Baguettes!

by Anne Maxfield on February 16, 2015

Accidental Locavore My BaguettesIf you’re looking for something to do this President’s Day, here’s a 4-hour project with a delicious result! Sometimes the Accidental Locavore comes across a recipe that just looks unbelievable enough (this can’t work, or taste good) to make me want to try it. Such was the case with the 4-hour baguette recipe I found on the Food52 website. Since I’m not a baker, especially of bread, this was even more laughable, but one Sunday I threw down the flour and yeast and went to work. Makes 3 small baguettes:

  • 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115°
  • 1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 ¼ cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (3/8 ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (note: if using a fine-grained salt like table salt, fine sea salt or other brands of kosher salt, you will need to use a smaller volume)
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing bowl
  • ½ cup ice cubes

 

Accidental Locavore Bread for RisingWhisk together water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove bowl with dough from oven and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.

Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.

Accidental Locavore Baguettes BeforeUncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.

My verdict: Amazing! While Maison Kayser has nothing to worry about (yet), these were everything you’d want a baguette to be—good flavor and a great crust. Much better than anything we can get locally. The texture of the bread itself needs a little work, and my slashes were barely noticeable (time to get a lame, my single-edged razor blade wasn’t cutting it – literally), but I’m really nit-picking now. Frank paid them the ultimate compliment, saying “we’ve had worse baguettes in France.” I’m not sure how you would do this without the cast iron pan, ice and pizza stone combo – it sounds weird, but it works wonderfully! I added the sugar to the recipe, it makes the yeast work better, but it’s not essential.

 

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Broccoli and Parmesan Soup

by Anne Maxfield on February 20, 2014

Accidental Locavore Broccoli SoupThe Accidental Locavore saw this recipe on Food 52 recently and happened to have a nice bunch of broccoli on hand so this became lunch. You need a little over an hour to make this but most of it is for cooking the broccoli. Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups grated Parmesan
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Croutons (optional) for garnishing

In a covered microwave-safe dish, steam the broccoli in the microwave for 3 minutes.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic. After a minute or two, when the garlic starts to soften and turn golden, add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Cover the pot, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is soft enough that it yields when you press it with the back of a wooden spoon (it may brown a little during this process — this is a good thing).

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes.

Accidental Locavore BroccoliCarefully puree half the soup in a blender or food processor. Stir the puree back into the pot. Stir in the Parmesan and lemon juice to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Delicious! Everyone really liked this soup. It was a nice change from the usual thick, gloppy broccoli and cheese soup. Fresh and light tasting. My only regret with it was that I didn’t have much broccoli (and we were in the middle of yet another blizzard) so only made half the recipe, which was gone in a heartbeat. Maybe because I wasn’t cooking so much broccoli, mine was nice and soft in 30 minutes. If you want a vegetarian version, just use vegetable broth in place of the chicken stock. This would probably work with zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli rabe, etc. I did pop a few croutons in which gave it a nice crunch. Toasted pine nuts would also be a nice garnish. I’ve already gone out and gotten more broccoli to make another batch!

 

 

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Stop the Abuse (of Pumpkins)!

by Anne Maxfield on November 25, 2013

Accidental Locavore PumpkinsThe Accidental Locavore thinks it’s time to stop abusing pumpkins! No, I don’t mean the ritualistic piercing of them for Halloween, but the incessant need to have pumpkin and pumpkin-spice-flavored everything. According to the New York Times, this is a $290 million business, made successful because “it’s a limited time offer”.

Good uses of pumpkins include soups, roasted pumpkin seeds, pies (although I’m not a fan) and Dorrie Greenspan’s pumpkin stuffed with everything good. The common bond here? Showcasing, and hey, actually using pumpkin.

Accidental Locavore Scary PumpkinAbuse is widespread at this time of year and generally falls into the “pumpkin flavored” and/or are you kidding categories. What started this rant was an Epicurious recipe of the day for pumpkin whoopie pies (if you didn’t know, a whoopie pie is not a pie, but a cookie). This along with Dunkin Donuts’ Frozen Pumpkin Coffee Coolatta, or any other pumpkin-flavored coffee or coffee addition is almost as bad an idea as pumpkin ales. The abuse of pumpkins even extends into otherwise peaceful endeavors-sorry, no pumpkin spice facials for me!

More unfortunate pumpkin-flavored foods include things that don’t need to be messed with (oh, excuse me, improved) like mac & cheese or how about pumpkin M&Ms? This might be an abuse of pumpkins and/or M&Ms, what do you think?

Accidental Locavore Boxes With PumpkinsA quick search on Pinterest turns up thousands of recipes from pumpkin Rice Krispy treats to pumpkin spice puppy chow and other recipes too heinous to list. Even Food52 seems determined to join the bandwagon with pumpkin rugelach, that Thanksgivukkah staple. I’m sure that by next fall, Doritos will have a pumpkin-flavored nacho chip and Taco Bell will be using it to make their Locos Tacos.

If you haven’t run away from this blog in disgust yet, watch the video from the NY Times, and if you still want pumpkin flavored _____, remember it’s a limited time offer.

 

 

 

 

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Rack of Lamb With Yogurt and Persian Spices

by Anne Maxfield on September 26, 2013

Accidental Locavore Rack of Lamb RecipeRack of lamb is always easy and tastes great!

The Accidental Locavore was dying to try a new spice mix from Food 52’s new Provisions site, I remembered a rack of lamb taking up space in the freezer.

The idea for this rack of lamb recipe would be to make a marinade with the spice mix, some yogurt etc, grill it and serve it with couscous and some squash or eggplant, also done on the grill.

Here’s how it turned out.

Grilled Rack of Lamb With Yogurt and Persian Spices

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 generous teaspoons Persian Lime Spice Rub
  • 1 large clove of garlic, run through a garlic press or finely minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 rack of lamb with about 8 ribs

Generously salt and pepper the rack of lamb.

In a small bowl, mix together the spice mix, yogurt and garlic.

Put the lamb in a large Ziploc bag, add the yogurt mix, making sure the lamb is well coated. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

An hour before you’re going to cook it, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

Heat a grill, or grill pan, to high heat. When the grill is hot, add the lamb, bone side up.

Allow to sear for a minute or two, then reduce the heat to medium.

Cook for about 4 minutes, then turn and cook for another 5 minutes until it reaches your desired doneness.

Remove from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Carve, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Grilled rack of lamb is always great.

This was inspired by and topped with my friend Jeff’s feta aïoli (scroll down his page for the recipe).

It made a great sauce for the lamb and was easily put together at the same time as the marinade.

I also thinly sliced some summer squash, tossed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them with the lamb.

While the lamb was resting, it gave me the time to make a batch of couscous.

Because it was a rack of lamb, and was very tender, I’m not sure that it needed the yogurt marinade. Next time, I’ll just do a rub of some salt and pepper and the spice blend and grill some limes cut in half to go with it.

 

 

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