Flatbread with Kalamata olive oil, and Dukka

Yeah, so the name kind of says it all…I guess I’m not here to tell you how to make something, but more here to give you an idea for supper? Truthfully, I’m not really sure why I’m here, maybe I just need someone to talk to, ya know?

Anyway, can I speak freely here for a second? This whole “dip” craze has gotten a little out of hand. Sure I get the idea that sometimes you want to eat something with your challah on Shabbos, because the likelihood is there’s probably not going to be enough food coming out later, so let’s eat a few loaves of bread with some mayonnaise. I get it. Here’s my gripe…the dips that I’ve had, are anywhere from okay to absolutely terrible. If you’re going to stuff your gullet, at least do it right….I mean, have you tried the so called tomato dip? and dill dip? They taste nothing like their respective predecessors. The dill dip really pisses me off, because the few that I’ve tasted, taste like someone had leftover mayo lying around, and just added dried dill to it. It legitimately upset me.

Onward!

Long story short, I made challah the other week, and it was pretty bad; It was pretty flavorless (unless you count “yeasty” as a flavor), and all in all, it was pretty bland. I had a lot leftover raw dough, and I froze it, and then let it sit in the fridge for a while to thaw/ferment. This slow fermentation process, allows the dough to change in flavor, and texture. So even though the dough was pretty boring when I made the challah, I knew that it had a chance, if I let it slow ferment, to possibly taste better.

I decided to shape the dough like a flat bread. Flat breads can be viewed as a sub-category of dough in it’s own right, and can encompass many different types of breads (naan, pita, matzoh, to name a few), but generally flat breads, are high water content doughs (ie – a flour:water ration in the realm of 70%, [whereas most "bready" doughs are in the area of 60-65ish...these estimates are pretty much all made up, but that's my take]…and this flat bread is not baked in some sort of container, it can be yeasted, it can have added fat…and on and on….now besides this sentence being possibly the longest run on sentence within parentheses (I’m going for the world record…[I'm also going for the record of most parentheses] {these brackets make 10!}) I also don’t know what else to say parenthetically about flatbreads, so let’s get back to the dish at hand). The type of flat bread I had envisioned, I’m not quite sure of the name, and I think it would just be called a …”flatbread” was more like a wet-ish dough that would be spread out on a baking sheet, dimpled with my fingers (to create texture, and pop some rogue yeast bubbles), spread some spices (that wouldn’t burn with the long cooking time), and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven.

For this particular dish, I decided to spread the dough on a baking sheet, spread some coarse salt, ground mustard, and black pepper, nothing too crazy, whatever, I keeps it real. I decided to bake the dough in the baking sheet on the floor of the oven for the first 10-15 minutes to get a nice crust, and then finished it through, at about 350.

After the bread was done, I allowed it to cool on the counter, I cut it up in pieces, and then preceded to dunk the bread in kalamata olive oil (more on that in a second), and dip in some Dukkah, and it was just so dern tasty, that I thought to myself, I should really spread the word, so here I am.
Now about the olive oil. Oil in cooking, can generally can be viewed in three different ways, 1) great for high heat cooking, but pretty flavorless, 2) so-so for high heat cooking, with so-so flavor or 3) absolutely a terrible idea for high heat cooking, with (most likely) a lot of flavor. In general the more an oil has a flavor to it the less stable it is, and the more likely it is a terrible idea for high heat cooking (for one, you’re more likely to burn the oil, and two even if you aren’t burning the oil, you’re more than likely cooking out the flavor associated with that oil). So vegetable and canola oil are great for high heat cooking (and are pretty flavorless), whereas toasted sesame oil is a terrible idea, but is very tasty. Olive oil comes in a few different varieties, and you’re regular run of the mill supermarket brand “extra virgin olive oil” really probably isn’t a terrible idea [mainly because it's not really extra virgin olive oil...but that's for another post] but it’s also not a great idea. Meaning, you’re probably not going to burn the oil, but you will cook out the nuances. So normally, if I’m cooking something over high heat (roasting, frying…) my first choice wouldn’t be olive oil, and if you have non extra-virgin olive oil, that would be a better choice. Now if you have a good extra virgin olive oil, that you paid good money for, and has a very distinct flavor to it…for sure don’t cook with it. Instead use it fresh, so you can taste it. This kalamata olive oil (that I picked up in some random place I can’t remember…but I did see available with a hechsher in Trader Joe’s) is a good example of olive oil that has a distinct flavor to it, and shouldn’t be cooked.

Instead, dip your bread in some, and eat it. If you happen to be weird and are against the idea of dipping bread in oil, but would dip bread in mayonnaise, I think you’re fundamentally lacking an understanding of what mayonnaise is, and it would be my honor to explain…actually, maybe I’ll have a post on that in a bit…hang tight. But if you pulled your head out of the sand for a second, and tried it, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Now since I’m not one to leave well enough alone, I decided to heed the advice on the side of the dukkah container, and then proceeded to  dunk the oil laden bread into the spice blend, and boy was that a great idea. It was like a flavor attack from flavor ninjas that were simultaneously flying flavor rocketships in my mouth. It was awesome, and I’m trying to spread the dukkah gospel now.

By the way, dukkah is this Ethopian spice blend that is readily available in Trader Joe’s also with a hechser. I saw it for the first time on the kosher blog – This American Bite, but Yosef Silver, when he made Dukkah crusted Salmon, and knew I needed to try it. When I brought it home, the spice blend said to try it like we did, bread dipped in olive oil, and then dipped in the spice blend, and it didn’t disappoint.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope next time you’re planning on buying dips for your shabbos table, try this instead.

 

Fried Potatoes Thingamaroonies

So if anyone is good at coming up with food names, there’s a position open here at The Kosher Gastronome headquarters. Pay is terrible, and the hours are long. Let me know.

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Here’s what went down with this dish. I had gotten it in my brain that I wanted to make something with filo dough (more on that in a second), and I had this vision of mashed potato and cheese. So I bought some filo dough, made some mashed potato*, and added some goat cheese. I folded it all up, brushed with some melted butter, and baked it. Now..this story is not about these quasi spanakopita thingies; nay…this story is about what happens next, and how the events transpire. Come, let me take you on a journey. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

*I make my mashed potatoes thusly – cubed potatoes go in pot with cold water and salt. Bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain, and while hot mix with fat (ie – butter), and whatever else tickles your fancy. I think I threw in parsley into this one. If you want to go really decadent, you can mix in heavy cream.

Ok, so first let’s talk filo dough. Remember way back in the day we made scallion pancakes, and we talked about “laminated dough?” Well, if you don’t, here’s the tl/dr (=”too long/didn’t read”). There’s a sub family of dough that gets it lift from fat separating the different layers of dough.

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Filo/fillo/phyllo dough is one of those, and they way they work, is you take these extremely thin sheets of dough, brush them with oil, then keep on stacking dough and oil until you have the thickness you want (usually around 3-6 sheets), and do whatever you were planning on using it for

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Like I said, the actual triangle thingy isn’t what we’re talking about (long story short, I made them on Thursday for a Saturday night, and by that time they were a little soggy…they tasted good but were too non-crispy, yaknow what I mean?)

Anyway, I had a whole lot of the scraps left over, and not being one to waste, I was trying to figure out what to do with them. I figured the filo is basically just dried up dough, meaning they can lend structure. I figured I would mix it with the mashed potatoes and cheese, and fry it up. I mean fried cooked dough? it’s essentially chremslach (how badly did I butcher that spelling?). But I figured something might be different if I add the filo. I dunno…it was an excuse to eat fried potatoes…all in the name of science.
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I rolled up this appetizing looking mush

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and fried these suckers

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So as you’ll notice from the top picture, they didn’t really stay in their spherical shape, but rather became more pancake like, so that being said, I don’t think the filo made a difference. However what I would tell you is these little fried potato thingamaroonies were pretty dang top notch! Huzzah!

Seriously, get some mashed potato, add some goat cheese and fry it, it’s really good.

So now that you’ve read this, can you think of an appropriate name please? Winner gets credit in the Kosher Gastronome Cookbook.

Quick Vegetable Stock/Soup

Hey remember the other day when I made that one pot noodle thingy, and talked about stock, and how I made a really quick stock? No? Well, you can always brush up on your Gastronome by clicking here.

Soup! What could be more boring, ammiright?

Well, yeah, but you know those nights when you come home and you want some hardy vegetable soup, but you’re not sure how in your laziness laden stupor you can pull it off. Well the easiest way is to have vegetable stock on the ready, and to be honest with you, I actually stock up on boxed vegetable stock (stock up on stock…see what I did there??), and will use it to add to dishes, or to even make soup with; Just add a few vegetables, and you have your own fresh soup. Now I know the snarky ones out there are already trying to figure out how to properly eloquate why or how I’m a complete sham and mockery to society at large, but I’m comfortable with that.

All right so weird rant aside, I’m not here to tell you how to open up a box of vegetable stock, and use it for making soup (you sham and mockery what you are)…what I am here to do is to tell you how to make fresh vegetable stock, on a regular weeknight, and still have time to spare to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Now just to clear the air on some definitions, stock vs soup..what’s the difference you ask? Now I’m no culinary linguist, but the working definition that I go with is this: Stock is basically flavored water. So chicken stock (which I’m sure you’ll no doubt remember) is chicken flavored water; Vegetable stock, is, well, vegetable flavored water. Stock has many applications. One of those applications is Soup, which is the name of a dish, in which we’re consuming some sort of liquid, usually combined with either vegetables, or some other food item, that can be eaten out of a bowl, with a spoon. (Another use of stock can be adding it to anything in place of plain water to get the taste of whatever you’re attempting to do. So for example, you can make rice with chicken stock instead of water to add more flavor…this is another good reason to have boxed/canned stock ready to use, to help spice up random dishes…).

Since stock is just flavored water, the “ingredients” for a stock are whatever flavor you want the final result to be, plus water. Then in order for the whole shooting match (it’s a little weird how often I use that term, isn’t it?) to work, we apply heat, which then allows the water (which is the solvent) to draw out flavor molecules (the solute) to form a solution. The higher the temperature the more readily the solute will dissolve into the solvent, and the faster you have stock. So for all intents and purposes, the hotter the water the faster you’ll have stock. (One problem with this is when making chicken stock, there are some bad flavor molecules that will only dissolve once the temperature reaches over 200ish, so while you can boil a chicken stock, and have it quicker, it’s generally not recommended because of the bad flavors that come with it…however, I’ve done it, and while I haven’t done a blind taste test, it’s a little hard to notice the difference…but more on that another time)…

Anyway, back to vegetable stock, with vegetables, there’s really no concern of harsh flavors associated with higher temperatures, so all you need to do for vegetable stock is cook the heck out of the vegetables, until they’ve given all they can to the water, strain the liquid, and you have yourself vegetable stock.

So traditional vegetable stock is made by dumping a whole bunch of whatever vegetables you want into a pot, covering with water, adding spices, and cooking it until you’ve deemed it ready, and that can usually take up to an hour or so. Now, we’ve discussed increasing the temperature in order to make the stock faster, but there’s another way to make it faster. If you decrease the particle size, then you’re increasing the surface area (ie there’s more of the solvent in contact with the solution), which will decrease the amount of time the water will need to do it’s thing.

I know this all sounds scientific-y, but it’s just common sense. Think of it this way, it takes longer to dissolve one of those sugar cube in hot water, than it does for regular sugar to dissolve, because of the amount of area that’s exposed to the hot water is less in the large cube, than in the regular sugar. Make sense?

Anyway, really short story long, what I’m trying to say is if you take your vegetables, puree them in the food processor until they’re what’s technically called a mush, add your water, spices, and what not, bring it to a boil, it will cook and be done in like 20 minutes (I actually don’t remember how long it took, but I think it was around that). Then all you need to do is strain the mush out, and now you have your quick vegetable stock.

Of course you can use this to make the one pot dish I posted the other day, or you can try what I did here. I decided to cube up some tofu, and since the food processor was out, I took some random pasta I had, and whizzed it for a little, so I can get pieces of different size pasta in my soup. Cooked the pasta, tofu, and vegetable stock, and I think some soy sauce, for about 10 minutes together, and there you have it, a quick soup. As you’ll notice in the picture all the way on the top, I topped with some sriracha, and headed off to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Another one pot noodle thingamabob…plus a link up

Quite a catchy title there, I know. Anyway remember way back in the day when I used to post regularly? And one of those awesome posts was about the one pot noodle dishes that was all the rage a few months back? Oh you don’t? Well fear not, relive the experience by clicking here, but don’t forget to come back for some even more awesomeness. So much awesome, its awesome.

Anyway, moving right along, so this month’s link-up Kosher Connection, is all about comfort food. Well just what is comfort food? Well I guess its food that comforts you, duh…but what’s that? Well I don’t know, but who cares, let’s eat.

So ever since I posted that one pot linguine recipe I was talking about earlier, a few people have told me they really liked it, which is always nice to hear. And to be honest, I’ve made a few different iterations of the same dish, but this one stood out, namely because I actually remembered what I put in to it, and more importantly, I had some quasi usable pictures.

It all starts with stock. Vegetable stock to be precise, but not just any vegetable stock, a really quick vegetable stock; like 20 minutes quick. How, you wonder? Well, you’re going to have wait on that one…that post is coming up…eventually…maybe. Who am I kidding…more like don’t get your hopes up.

So anyway, you’ve got vegetable stock, which makes everything better (by they way, you can obviously use plain ole` water, if for some odd reason you don’t have stock handy), now it’s all a matter of throwing a few vegetables and some cheese together.

For this dish, I sauteed cauliflower, then added my noodles (orichetta), spinach (raw), ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. I added the stock, and let it all cook down.

While the stock was cooking, I took some feta cheese, and mushed it (which is the precise culinary term) with some chopped parsley.

Once the pasta was cooked through, and the stock was cooked out, I topped the whole shooting match with the feta-parsley awesomeness, and obviously some more parmesan, and then proceeded to be comforted.

Wow that was quick…I know you’re sad that that’s all, but if you have any questions type away in the comments below, and as always, click on the funny frog man under this paragraph to see what people who actually know how to blog are doing.