Musing with Max

Musing with Max

January 29, 2012


Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week-I'm sure I'm not alone on that one-it's the beginning of the weekend and the energy level is through the roof so its wake up  walk Maxy

run a million errands get back home do some relaxing listen to music drink a little wine cook a nice meal drink a little wine sit down to a nice long meal listen to music drink a little wine eat some good food have a conversation listen to music drink a little wine walk Maxy wash dishes watch some rented movie from Netflix drink a little wine fall asleep. Perfect. Its a little different for me now, since I'm not working I guess every day could be Saturday--but its not, which is fine because that way I get to do all of the above with the same enthusiasm. Now this being the end of January the usual is pretty much to spend as much time in the kitchen as possible once all the running around has been done, winter and all. Even if this winter seems to have gone missing this was Saturday.

French Bread adapted from Steamy Kitchen

4 cups bread flour
(I used a combination of flours, bread, unbleached and wheat)
2 teaspoon active quick rising dry yeast
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

1. Put 1/4 cup of bread flour on your clean counter top and reserve. Place remaining 3 3/4 cups bread flour in your mixer bowl. Spoon the yeast on one side of the bowl, and the salt on the other side. Pour in the warm water and with your regular mixer paddle, mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a mass. Switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Dough should clear the sides but stick to the bottom. If it is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time. If too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water to dough to adjust.
2. Turn the mixer on again and mix for 3 minutes. Take the dough out and place on the counter. Remember that 1/4 cup of flour that we reserved? We’ll use it now. As you knead the dough by hand, incorporate more flour as you need.
Knead by hand until the dough is very satiny, smooth, tight and formed into a nice, compact ball:
Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Place this dough in a large lightly oiled bowl (I use Pam spray). Turn dough over so that all sides have a thin coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place for 1 1/2 hours to let rest and rise. Dough should almost double in size. While the dough is rising, about 1 hour into the rising stage, preheat your oven to 450F and place your pizza stone, inverted baking sheet or covered cast iron pot into the oven to heat up.
4. After the dough has risen fully, punch dough down and form back into a ball. Poke your finger on the surface – the dough should give into the pressure and slowly creep back up.
5. Cut the dough into half – you’ll shape one half at a time (keep the other piece under wraps) Pick up the dough – stretch it out until it forms a big rectangle. Dust your work surface with flour and fold over the ends of the dough
Now do a little “karate chop” lengthwise down the middle of the bread and stretch out the long ends again. Fold over in half. The karate chop helps get the middle tucked inside. Pinch all sides shut. This is important – you want to make sure that all ends including the short ends are pinched tightly to create a seal. This allows the bread to rise & expand up and out evenly.
6. Turn the bread over so that it is seam side down. Cover the loaf with a damp kitchen towel. Repeat with the other dough ball. Leave the loaves to rest on your well-floured pizza peel or cutting board for 30 minutes. After resting, take a sharp paring knife and make 3-4 shallow, diagonal slashes on the surface of the loaf. This allows the steam in the bread to escape so that it expands evenly during the baking process.
7. When you are ready to bake, remove your baking vessel from oven. Carefully slide the gorgeous loaf into or onto your baking vessel.
If you are using pizza stone or inverted baking sheet: You can probably fit both loaves on it at the same time if you wish. -> Get a 1/2 cup of water ready next to the stove. Open the stove, put your bread in the oven and throw the water on the oven floor. Immediately close the oven door. This creates your steam. -> Bake 20-25 minutes. Check temperature of the bread – internal should be 190-210F. Remove and let cool before cutting into it.
If you are using a long cast-iron pot or covered baker: -> Before closing the lid on your pot/baker, put 1/4 cup of water directly in the pot. Cover immediately. Put pot in oven. -> Bake 10 minutes. Remove lid of pot. Bake another 14 minutes. Check temperature of the bread – internal should be 190-210F. Remove and let cool before cutting into it. Repeat with other loaf. (For convection ovens- bake 8 min covered, 10-12 min uncovered. Check temperature of bread) To re-crisp the crust, put in 375F oven for 5 minutes.
(I used a pizza stone)

Slow Cooked Duck with Olives adapted from Paula Wolfert

1 duckling (5 to 6 pounds) fresh, or thawed*
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 TBS fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp herbes de Provence*

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Halve the duckling, setting aside the back, neck, and wing tips for sauce. In a large roasting pan, make a bed of onions, celery, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. With the tines of a fork, prick the duck skin every 1/2 inch. Rub the duck with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence and set it on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Roast, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Tightly cover the pan with foil, and return duck to oven for 3 1/2 hours. After 3 1/2 hours, turn off the heat, leaving the duck in the oven to cool for 30 minutes.
Carefully transfer the duck to a large cutting board. Remove and discard loose bones and chopped vegetables. Reserve 1 tsp of duck fat for finishing duck. Quarter the duck, and prior to serving, preheat the broiler and set rack about 10 inches from heat. Place duck quarters on roasting pan. Dab the duck skin with the tsp of duck fat, and run under the broiler to crisp the skin. Serve with sauce on side. 4 servings.

Green Olive Sauce

Neck, back, and wing tips of duck
1 medium onion, sliced
1 TBS tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
Pinch of sugar
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
1 cup green olives, rinsed and pitted

Slowly brown duck neck, back, and wing tips in their own fat in a large covered, nonstick skillet.

 Add onion and continue cooking until the onion slices are glazed and browned, about 10 minutes. Pour off any excess fat.
Add tomato paste to the skillet, and cook until lightly charred. Quickly deglaze pan with white wine. Add sugar, stock, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for one hour. Strain, degrease, and boil until reduced to one cup.
Reserve, covered, in refrigerator. Just before serving, reheat the sauce, add the olives, and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Serve with brown rice

and what were some of our errands?

A new bed for Max

because he's worn out his old one

and that makes him happy

We've had quite the day which makes us a bit exhausted

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