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eG Foodblog: Alcuin (2011) - In the middle: Eating and Drinking on the

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#61 EatNopales

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:36 PM

Great blog!

#62 Alcuin

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:39 PM

I had to pick up some lunch today, so I went to the library mall where the foodcarts congregate.

carts.JPG

There are all manner of foodcarts. There are generic "Asian" foodcarts where you can get fried rice and eggrolls, there's a vegan cart that I haven't yet tried, several sandwich carts, a Louisiana themed cart, a Peruvian cart, a Jamaican one, etc. This is one of my favorites

carts 2.JPG

I like a dish they do there, I can't remember what it's called, that's just fried tofu over a bed of salad greens, dressed in kecap manis and peanuts. You can get rice on the side gratis.

I didn't go there today though. Instead I went to my favorite foodcart, Buraka

carts 3.JPG

They do East African, mainly Ethiopian. I got a half-portion of Dorowat over injera bread.

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I think the injera might be my favorite part. It's a very sour and spongy flatbread that makes a perfect foil for the stewed chicken and deep pepper flavor (it's not hot though, so as not to alienate more tender palates). And they do a good lentil salad to boot. I could probably eat just that and be happy enough.
nunc est bibendum...

#63 Alcuin

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 03:38 PM

I went to the coffee shop at the end of my block to do a little work. It's called

evp 1.JPG

It's the French equivalent of "ready set go" that the owner chose because of her background in competitive rowing. Here's the entrance a little sitting garden

evp 2.JPG

I got a cup of Tanzanian Peaberry coffee and a blueberry scone. It was a decent scone, though I'm not sure where it came from (EVP only does coffee and soup in house). (The best scones in town can be had at Lazy Jane's Cafe in case you're interested: they are incredible, especially the lemon.) Back to EVP: this is the inside, a standard coffee shop where people meet to talk business, politics, books, do work, read the paper, etc

evp 4.JPG

The best part about EVP is that they roast their own beans there, daily. That means that the beans are rarely more than a few days since they were roasted when you drink them.

The fact that they roast their own at this location is a good and a bad thing actually, because if you go there you will without fail smell like roasting beans the rest of the day. But they really know how to roast beans. It was through EVP that I was introduced to my favorites, like intensely caffeinated and high acidity light-roasted Rwandan and Tanzanian Peaberry, or smooth medium light roasts like Ethiopian. I've had intensely fruity coffee there from Bali that had balance of fruit and acidity like a wine (I really like wine, but I didn't really like this coffee). I'm not a big coffee aficionado; I only use a drip machine. But I've learned a lot about good coffee through their beans. And they have the friendliest barristas in town bar none.

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nunc est bibendum...

#64 Alcuin

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 04:21 PM

A great drink to drink while cooking dinner: The Americano. Flavorful, bitter, bubbly and importantly, low-test (because you don't want to get drunk before dinner, unless you do).

americano.JPG

I like mine a bit more fullthroated, so I use 1 1/2oz Campari, 1 1/2oz Carpano Antica Formula, stir to dilute, then top with soda. I used to go 1-1-1, but I like a bit more Campari and vermouth these days.
nunc est bibendum...

#65 Genkinaonna

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 05:03 PM

Loving the blog so far! I haven't been to Madison since my college days (I went to UW-Milwaukee but I had lots of friends in Madison) and it's amazing how much it's changed and grown in the last, ahem, few years, not to make myself seem TOO old :laugh:...

I need to get myself one of those chitarra dealies...because if there's one thing I need, it's another kitchen gadget!
If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

#66 LindaK

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 05:40 PM

Great cheese porn. But that's not what has me salivating. You have a food cart that sells Ethiopian food? Injera for lunch? My envy is complete.

My only real food shock when I moved from the east coast to the midwest was the minimalist seafood selection. I did learn to love freshwater fish such as trout, which I'd never had before. But the local fruit and vegetables were the best I've ever had access to. I still miss them, along with my old neighborhood bakery and the excellent microbrewery nearby.

Thanks for blogging, I'm looking forward to more.


 


#67 Alcuin

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:34 PM

Dinner was roast glazed pork loin, braised kale with lemon, potato cake, and seared apples

dinner.JPG

This picture was taken by my girlfriend, who wields the superior camera.

The glaze is maple syrup, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, shallot, and mustard, slightly reduced and painted on during the roasting process. The pork was roasted to 140F.

The potato cake is thin slices of potato glued together with parmesan, cooked in duck fat. The kale is simple: olive oil to soften some shallots, kale braised in its own liquid until tender, then finished with half a lemon, salt and pepper. The apples where honeycrisp caramelized in butter.

With it we drank a favorite of mine

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This is an Alsatian pinot noir. It's got plenty of fruit and it's medium to light bodied. What's great about it is that at this point (it's a 2006) it's got great tannins that are just right (maybe you'd call them "matte" in texture?) but it's also got good acidity. So it plays perfectly with a wide range of what food can throw at it, from the sourness of the lemon to the richness of pork fat to the caramelly sugar of apples. It's a great food wine. Certainly not cheap, but I still think its' a good value, mainly because in the vast majority of occasions it will not disappoint.
nunc est bibendum...

#68 Alcuin

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 11:27 AM

I decided to treat myself to a burger for lunch today. Madison is a pretty decent town for burgers; you can get a very good one a four places, in descending order of greatness: Dotty Dumpling's Dowry, Cooper's Tavern, The Weary Traveller, and The Old Fashioned.

I actually don't usually eat the Old Fashioned burger for one reason: they season the meat with extraneous herbs. I don't like a beef sausage on my burger. But they do do a good thing in topping the burger with a perfectly cooked sunnyside egg and nice brioche-style bun.

The Weary Traveller only has one kind of burger too, called Bob's Bad Breath burger. It is called this because there is a preponderance of garlic mixed in with the meat (in fact, I'd say that there's a heavy-handed use of garlic in pretty much everything they serve...). It is topped with a ridiculously thick slab of cream cheese. It's a good burger, but I don't eat them but every so often.

Cooper's is good, but can be a bit inconsistent. They top their burger with crispy pork belly (uncured I think) which when it's good, it's good, but when it's not so good it can be a leathery heap of bun destroying madness. Still, I've had great burgers there.

That leaves us to Dotty's, where I went today.

The interior

dottys 5.JPG

The decor is "college" themed pretty much, with some weird twists here and there. It's ok, and they keep the lights nice and low at all times, with a little desk lamp at your table so even when its crowded (and it gets crowded) you don't feel like you're eating with the house. The service is also very good in my experience.

One thing that sets them apart, however, is the fact that every pint glass is chilled.

dottys 1.JPG

This is not a trivial detail. It makes for some very refreshingly cold beer that stays nice and cold for a while. And they have a good beer list. But more importantly for today, they have Sprecher's Root Beer, the best root beer in the world, on tap. Notice how the chilled glass actually freezes the head of the rootbeer. There's no ice in this glass, but it stayed nice and cold the whole time.

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Here's the burger and some fries

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The fries were just out of the fryer; I burnt my tongue a bit in haste to consume them. You'll also notice that there is a whole lot of salad on that burger. I like it this way, in fact, and always have, as long as the lettuce and onions are fairly watered down supermarket varieties it makes for a great contrast to the burger meat.

Dotty's serves their meat salted only on top, and if you ask for it medium rare or rare, that's what you get (medium, which is pink throughout, is their standard).

dottys 4.JPG

This picture doesn't quite do it justice, but this burger is not pink, it is red inside and grilled outside. Perfectly cooked, and they got it to me fast enough that the cheese hadn't quite melted yet. The key part of the burger though is that it tastes like beef, and it's not overshadowed by anything. Just a properly cooked burger with good condiments. The only real problem is that they don't toast their buns. That would put them in the highest echelons of burgerdom.

They have an extensive and expensive selection of specialty burgers and many of them are good (I particularly like the insanely messy Melting Pot), but they do a good standard burger and I likes my burgers standard.
nunc est bibendum...

#69 Anna N

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:37 PM

...

Dotty's serves their meat salted only on top, and if you ask for it medium rare or rare, that's what you get (medium, which is pink throughout, is their standard).

...


Lucky you. Here in Ontario you can order a burger cooked any way you want it so long as it is either well-done or carbonized! :angry:
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#70 CaliPoutine

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 03:56 PM


...

Dotty's serves their meat salted only on top, and if you ask for it medium rare or rare, that's what you get (medium, which is pink throughout, is their standard).

...


Lucky you. Here in Ontario you can order a burger cooked any way you want it so long as it is either well-done or carbonized! :angry:



Since I dont eat red meat, I had a turkey burger at Dotty's. It was very good.

#71 Alcuin

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 05:42 PM

Since I work at a winetasting over the weekend, I tend to have good wine around the house. This past weekend, I picked up this cremant de Bordeaux rose. It's an 80/20 Cab Franc/Merlot sparkler. I was having trouble thinking what to eat with it, and was thinking chicken. But that wasn't exciting me. I thought salmon too, maybe with butter sauce but wasn't really interested in that either. Then I thought Pad Thai, and though I thought the suggestion strange, I went with my gut instinct.

pad thai wine.JPG

Sometimes I have a hard time pairing wine with Thai and Chinese dishes, but I think my instincts were right about what this wine would be and how it might work. It's full bodied and fruity and has delicate acidity. Mainly about the fruit and bubbles, but still quite dry enough. I think it will play well with the pungent fruity-sour sweet pad thai sauce. And it will surely handle the garnishes easily enough. I'm thinking it will be good.
nunc est bibendum...

#72 heidih

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 05:46 PM

Looking forward to your rendition of Pad Thai. The wine sounds lovely.

#73 Alcuin

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 07:20 PM

The way I make Pad Thai is pretty standard. The sauce is equal parts fish sauce, tamarind extract, and palm sugar heated up until the sugar dissolves. Then you cook the garnishes

pad thai 1.JPG

That's egg, shrimp, preserved turnip, mung bean sprouts, pressed yellow tofu, and scallion. I would have used Chinese chives, but they looked terrible at the store, so scallions had to do.

pad thai 2.jpg

I like to cook the egg then remove it from the wok, then start with the tofu and work my way through the chive/scallion and preserved turnip, add about 2 t ground pepper, then go to the soaked rice noodles, then I add the sprouts (I blanched them this time, because it was easy and cuts down on the liquid they release, so it doesn't dilute the sauce), and the shrimp. I cook it all in the sauce until the noodles and shrimp are just done. Then top with roasted peanuts. Serve with lime and extra chili on the side

Served with chilled pea shoots with oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

pad thai 3.jpg

The wine worked, standing up well to all that the pad thai had to offer. I'll have to go with sparkling wines more often with things like this.
nunc est bibendum...

#74 barolo

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 08:19 PM

That Pad Thai looks great.

I think sparkling wines are a good match with lots of Asian dishes. They are very versatile.
Cheers,
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#75 Alcuin

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 09:36 PM

Went to another very local (within a hail mary from the house) place for a drink, the Avenue. The Avenue is the kind of bar you're not likely to see outside of Wisconsin.

avenue.JPG ]

The Avenue is old beer stein and old clock themed, as you can see. My pictures of the collections of steins didn't come out well, but you can just substitute the Rathskeller steins and you'll be there.

I drank a couple of Wisconsin brandy Old Fashioneds

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I think it's easy to lose sight of the importance of the WI version of this drink. There was a time when I scorned it, believing my 2oz spirit, 2 dashes bitters, 1/2 t rich simple, swatch of citrus peel version to be the only thing worthy of the name Old Fashioned. But it's hard to deny the WI version as legitimate, and this is because of one simple fact. WI Old Fashioneds can be had in many many places across the state with a decent level of consistency. You can go to many places in Madison, ask for an OF sour and get a drink that tastes like you expect it to. When you go up north in the state, you will see signs on many many bars that advertise their cocktail hour (usually 4:30 or 5 o'clock). Wisconsin has a tradition of its own, and even if the drink that's served is not my vision of an Old Fashioned, it's still a traditional WI Old Fashioned and I know I can get a well made version in many places if I want one. One of the hallmarks of a revolution for cocktails must be a concern for consistency, and that's happening here (and been happening) with the Old Fashioned at least. So it gets my respect.

One thing to notice with the above drink is the lack of muddling of the fruit. Many people here will tell you that an Old Fashioned must involve muddling. I've mentioned my method for the drink and have been greeted with a blank stare of incredulity, and an insistence that there must be some muddling, with fruit, or it's not an Old Fashioned. But the Avenue does not muddle their old fashioneds. They use simple and bitters with brandy, then add the fruit as a garnish. This is what makes their WI Old Fashioneds the best in town too, so the muddle garnishes don't turn to sweetness emitting garbage at the bottom of the drink.
nunc est bibendum...

#76 Alcuin

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 09:52 PM

This is the first step of my bread baking process. I take a tablespoon or two of starter that I keep in the fridge, and combine it with 200g AP flour and 100ml water. Work just enough to combine and this is what you get.

bread.JPG

Tomorrow I'll make it into bread dough. My only fear is that it will ripen a bit too much while I visit a rabbit farm tomorrow to stock up on my depleted rabbit supply. I think it will work out though; there's a decent amount of breathing room in my bread making process, by design.

I'll leave this out overnight and get back to it tomorrow morning/early afternoon.
nunc est bibendum...

#77 Jenni

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 04:10 AM

One thing that sets them apart, however, is the fact that every pint glass is chilled.

dottys 1.JPG

This is not a trivial detail. It makes for some very refreshingly cold beer that stays nice and cold for a while. And they have a good beer list. But more importantly for today, they have Sprecher's Root Beer, the best root beer in the world, on tap. Notice how the chilled glass actually freezes the head of the rootbeer. There's no ice in this glass, but it stayed nice and cold the whole time.


I wish all places would do this. I hate ice in drinks but often it's not enough to just tip something out of a fridge into a glass - the should already be cold.

#78 Anna N

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 05:37 AM

My only fear is that it will ripen a bit too much while I visit a rabbit farm tomorrow to stock up on my depleted rabbit supply. I think it will work out though; there's a decent amount of breathing room in my bread making process, by design.

I'll leave this out overnight and get back to it tomorrow morning/early afternoon.


You have really got me hooked if you are cooking rabbit! Lots of rabbit stew and pie in my childhood.
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#79 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:28 AM




My only fear is that it will ripen a bit too much while I visit a rabbit farm tomorrow to stock up on my depleted rabbit supply. I think it will work out though; there's a decent amount of breathing room in my bread making process, by design.

I'll leave this out overnight and get back to it tomorrow morning/early afternoon.


You have really got me hooked if you are cooking rabbit! Lots of rabbit stew and pie in my childhood.


I'm thinking I'll do a simple rabbit saute with some vegetable garnishes (maybe carrot, mushroom, and something green), and parsleyed potatoes. It's getting chilly and Fall is definitely here. Time for some braises and roasts!
nunc est bibendum...

#80 ScottyBoy

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 09:42 AM

I wish all places would do this. I hate ice in drinks but often it's not enough to just tip something out of a fridge into a glass - the should already be cold.


My favorite Korean joint serves up their pitchers of beer along side frosty mugs fresh from the freezer. One reason the place is great.

It's the little things a lot of the time...
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#81 Country

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:31 AM




My only fear is that it will ripen a bit too much while I visit a rabbit farm tomorrow to stock up on my depleted rabbit supply. I think it will work out though; there's a decent amount of breathing room in my bread making process, by design.

I'll leave this out overnight and get back to it tomorrow morning/early afternoon.


You have really got me hooked if you are cooking rabbit! Lots of rabbit stew and pie in my childhood.


I have a rabbit (cut-up) in the freezer my neighbor gave me and I've been wondering what the best way to cook it is - so this will help. Been thinking I'd braise it with onions and root vegetables, but open to anything.

#82 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:51 AM





My only fear is that it will ripen a bit too much while I visit a rabbit farm tomorrow to stock up on my depleted rabbit supply. I think it will work out though; there's a decent amount of breathing room in my bread making process, by design.

I'll leave this out overnight and get back to it tomorrow morning/early afternoon.


You have really got me hooked if you are cooking rabbit! Lots of rabbit stew and pie in my childhood.


I have a rabbit (cut-up) in the freezer my neighbor gave me and I've been wondering what the best way to cook it is - so this will help. Been thinking I'd braise it with onions and root vegetables, but open to anything.


That's essentially what I'm going to do, but I'll document much of the process to show what I do. Rabbit is also very good alla cacciatora and makes great sausages and pates too.
nunc est bibendum...

#83 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:05 AM

Just got back from Larson Rabbitry, where I picked up four fryer rabbits. It's about a 45 minute drive north of Madison. They were $3.49/lb for whole fryers, complete with offal.

I was going to take pictures, but Pete, the owner of the rabbitry was reluctant because he was butchering at the time and didn't want me taking pictures of that, which of course you've got to respect. He's not at all shy about showing the place off. In fact, he likes to talk too and we had a decently lengthy conversation in the room he butchers in, surrounded by rabbit pelts, severed heads, rabbits about to be butchered, etc. I understand not wanting to show that off though: it's not exactly pretty.

Larson Rabbitry supplies excellent rabbits too. I've always been happy with them. They are a small operation, and most of Pete's business is actually for pets that are on a raw food diet. He says he sells about fifty fryers a month, which is not enough for him to buy a wholesaler's license and sell more widely or participate in farmer's markets.

I like to buy rabbits here because they're available whenever I want to drive up there to get them (provided Pete's there of course). It's possible to buy them at the Dane County farmer's market, but sometimes they won't be available and they're definitely more expensive.

It's just easier to drive to the farm and pick them up. That's one of the general benefits of living in a town like Madison too. A 30 minute drive and you're in farm country, and it's easy to visit farms and pick things up if you want to. You don't have to, of course, because there are so many farmer's markets (eleven by my count) in town. I'll be visiting the biggest of them, the Dane County Farmer's Market, to pick up a special order of pork. I'm hoping to get some good fatback too so I can make some sausage, but we'll have to keep our fingers crossed for that.
nunc est bibendum...

#84 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:40 AM

I continued the bread process just now. This is what the first build that I started last night looked like after about 12 hours

bread 1.JPG

It's a little less active than I've become used to over the summer, because it's colder out. Here's what the underside looked like

bread 2.JPG

You can see a little honeycomb pattern, indicating there was some activity going on. It's much less than my last dough had though, because it was about twenty degrees warmer out. Things just might take a little longer, though probably not.

So from this point, I mix my final dough. On top of the first build I add 375g AP flour, 50g whole wheat, 14g salt, and 350ml water. That makes for a total hydration of 72% with the first build factored in (200g flour, 100ml water).

I had to buy some more flour today, and when I got to the store I saw they only had 10lb bags of King Arthur. I usually use Gold Medal AP flour, but I bought the KA instead. It was $6.99 so I figured why not give it a shot. I wasn't sure how much more or less water it would absorb, and I'm unsure how much stronger/softer it might be. So on top of the weather, that's another thing to factor in to the process.

When I mix this dough, I'm just mixing it together. I don't need the dough except for two short bursts as the total dough ferments. So after mixing it just to combine, it looks like this

bread 3.JPG

It seemed to absorb more water than I thought it would, and was actually a bit drier than normal (but not too much, so I'm not sweating it). I thought because of the humidity I'd have to add some more flour, but I didn't. I'm going to be interested to see if there's a noticeable difference in the loaf once it's baked.

From this point, I let it sit for an hour. I'll come back and knead it for 10-15 seconds then, and put it away for another hour. I'm going to hit the co-op for some stuff for dinner and some lunch. Hopefully I can be back in less than an hour!
nunc est bibendum...

#85 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 12:48 PM

Had lunch at the co-op while picking up a few things. I had a salad of greens, canned artichokes, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, chick peas, bean sprouts, with Annie's Goddess dressing.

I also had a hard boiled egg (properly cooked too), and two salads. One was a shredded butternut squash and fennel salad with walnuts, the other was a garlicky and lightly creamy pasta salad with spinach and tomatoes.

lunch.JPG

To drink, I had a boysenberry spritzer.

lunch 2.JPG
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#86 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 12:55 PM

When I got back from lunch, the dough looked like this

bread 4.JPG

I took it out and kneaded it by grabbing one end of it flipping the other end up into the air and slapping it down on the board. Then I double it over and repeat. What I'm looking for in these short bursts of kneading is for the initially slack dough to come together into a fairly tight ball as I'm kneading it. Then I look for it to begin to loosen up again. When it starts to loosen up again, I stop. This takes about 10-15 seconds. Then it looks like this

bread 5.JPG

You can see that its not a tight little ball, but its slackening. It would have been tighter had I stopped a few seconds earlier and took a picture of it then. The idea here is to give the gluten a quick and intense workout so that it can build more structure over the time I have it fermenting. Now we wait another hour.
nunc est bibendum...

#87 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 01:05 PM

I was recently given a bottle of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters to try out, and while I've used them in some things I'm looking for some more suggestions on what to do with them. I've found that they pair well with rum and Carpano Antica Formula, but I'm not sure where to go next. Any ideas?

Edited by Alcuin, 20 October 2011 - 01:05 PM.

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#88 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 02:08 PM

Another hour went by, and the dough looked like this

bread 6.JPG

Notice that compared to what it was an before kneading an hour ago, it's smoother looking and you can see a pocket of air forming right where the bowl makes a shadow crescent over it. I roughed it up a bit and it looked like this

bread 7.JPG

You can see how it's maintaining a rounder shape. The dough is forming some good structure. I put a thin film of oil in the bowl this time, because in an hour I'll be shaping it and I want to be able to turn it out onto the board as gently as possible to maintain the network of bubbles built up in the dough.
nunc est bibendum...

#89 Alcuin

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 02:58 PM

Here it is, all balled up and ready to proof.

bread 8.JPG

I'll cover it with a towel and at this point I can wait about an hour and a half to two hours and bake it, or I can put it in the refrigerator and let it proof more slowly. I'm going the refrigerator route today, so I can bake the bread after dinner. I don't want to let it go too long in there, or it might over proof.
nunc est bibendum...

#90 MikeHartnett

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 03:02 PM

I was recently given a bottle of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters to try out, and while I've used them in some things I'm looking for some more suggestions on what to do with them. I've found that they pair well with rum and Carpano Antica Formula, but I'm not sure where to go next. Any ideas?


I think they work well with whiskey in classic drinks like old fashioneds or manhattans.





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