My jar of sourdough starter keeps growing. I have gotten into pancakes, and last weekend I decided that buckwheat sourdough pancakes would have to be the next thing. I made them on Sunday while my sister was in town, and then started a loaf of bread. The starter still had a little residual buckwheat, and the loaf of bread that I made turned out a bit darker and denser than the last. I am quite curious to try it…probably for breakfast in the morning.

I have gotten a little lazy with measuring, and seem to be getting the feel for what makes a good dough. My favorite recent trick is to dampen the towel that is resting over the bowl while the dough is rising. It seems to prevent the outside of the dough from drying out which allows it to rise more easily (I think, anyway..).

pie season

May 5, 2010

Some people have hunting season, or fashion season, or basketball season. I have pie season. It starts as soon as I can grab hold of something fresh and fruit like, and lasts until I have run out of pie fillings, or I am just sick of pie (some time around Thanksgiving).

I guess pie season officially kicks off with rhubarb. The strawberries are fast coming, but the rhubarb is here. And my friend Hilary brought me a bundle last night. As soon as I got home, I mixed together a batch of dough, and chopped the rhubarb.

Pie is pretty much the perfect combination of butter, flour, sugar and fruit. And a dash of salt here and there.

I don’t really add much else, and things usually turn out okay.

First thing this morning, I rolled out my dough, sugared the rhubarb, and assembled the pie. Because I didn’t have quite enough time to bake the pie at home, I brought it to work with me, and popped in the oven at the store. (One of the many benefits of working at At Home..)

The sugar sprinkled on top made a nice little sparkle, and the pie barely dripped! My mom made a parchment paper drip catcher in case of any big spills. I usually just let it drip, and consequently, my oven (and house) can smell terrible on occasion.

And finished pie, ready to be eaten in the garden! (picture by Chloe!)

I have continued to make the sourdough bread. The starter, which lives in my fridge, continues to sour more and more flour and water. And supply me with tasty bread! Each time I make a loaf, I change a few things here and there, and of course manage to forget what I have changed in the meantime. But I have a pretty good system going. On cold days I let the dough rise in a very slightly warmed oven, and this speeds things up a bit. And I make sure to let the starter have a good amount of time one the counter, open to fresh air, as this is what carries the naturally occurring yeasts! I love that the starter is tailored to my climate, to my kitchen!

Today I got home, grabbed some asparagus, grabbed some bread, grabbed a grill pan, and made a grilled cheese sandwich.

I preheated the pan first (with the lid on so that it would heat as well). Then I grilled the asparagus, basting it from time to time with olive oil and salt.

Then I sliced the bread, brushed with olive oil, and pressed in the pan. I wanted to cook both sides of the bread a little before I added cheese. Which I did. Then I pressed the sandwich with the heavy top, and got nice little burn marks across the sandwich! (I might have heated the pan up a little too hot, but fortunately I like crispy things..)

Asparagus finished, sandwich finished, a simple salad finished, and I ate lunch. With peppermint tea.

The whole event was soundtracked with loud and boisterous Hungarian folk music!

We didn’t find too many morels this year. They were either hiding, not there, or one of the two. But some of the ones that we did find made their way into the skillet. With a lot of butter.

It is always fun to watch as they brown, delicately crispy.

And they shrink! A lot.

We ate them with sourdough toast (bread batch number two, much lighter and fluffier) and butter.

The finished product, on the new table.

a very simple soup

May 1, 2010

This soup was inspired partly by the very seasonal delicious veggies available, and also by a soup that I had in Japan a few years ago while visiting my brother, who was living there at the time. The noodles and broth were served at a temple that traditionally made the dish every spring when a specific green was available. I think that the noodles were actually made out of the plant, and I really can’t remember what it was. The soup that I made was mostly inspired by the idea of the Japanese soup.

I gathered a bag of nettles, and picked a batch of asparagus from the patch. Remembering the Japanese noodle soup, and wanting to make something simple and nutritious, I steamed the nettles, and set the broth and greens aside. Meanwhile, I boiled some buckwheat soba noodles, and on the other burner, I sauteed the sliced asparagus.

For the simple soup, I cooked the nettle broth down a little, finely chopped the nettle greens, and arranged the soba noodles in a bowl. I set the greens on top, and then poured the boiling hot broth over the whole thing. I seasoned the soup with a little soy sauce, and that was it. Very very simple, but delicious.