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Everything posted by NVNVGirl

  1. Tino~ thank you; who woulda known? Not that I read bread baking books, but still....you'd think that when you find a recipe for bread they'd include that little tidbit! I am writing this down in my journal so I don't forget it. I was worried about my instant read thermometers not being accurate, but when I took them out, they seemed to be right on as far as the room temp, and they were identical, so I figured I needed to trust them. I sort of winged it on the milk and water temp (b/c someone told me that bread would rise even if the temp was too cool; it would just take longer; but too warm would kill the yeast......so I wanted to make sure it just wasn't too warm! But waiting til the internal temp reached 190 deg, I think really was key to my sucess this time, b/c the top was looking a little too brown for me and I almost took it out at around 180.....I'm so glad I didn't . And I've NEVER taken the internal temp of bread before in my life! Amazing how things work when you know what you're doing! Thank you so very much! Seana
  2. Marlene~ it's so good to see you again! I've been away from here for awhile and have missed so many of you! I do have a baking stone, but it's too large for the oven we have at the moment....I mean, too large to be able to completely close the oven door with it in.....is there any way to be able to use it and modify the temp? Probably not, since I'm sure you need to be able to keep a stable temp during the baking process. Maybe I can find a smaller one to use? I've heard from other people that they found bread baking to be very relaxing and I thought "WHAT ???? Are they masochists or WHAT???"......I'm starting to see that if you know that it's going to be ok and turn out, it could be a VERY enjoyable experience. I know that I'm totally gaga over the end result and so now I'm ready to focus on just baking a loaf of bread and just really enjoying the experience. If only bread had the same calories as celery .
  3. Kermie~ I'm curious..what did you change your flour FROM, TO? I'm open to any and all suggestions from people who've had success and are happy with the bread they've made. I think I will make this recipe a couple more times just as I did this time to see if I can improve on it at all, and then maybe use the same recipe using a bread flour, maybe a King Arthur's? Just to see the difference. My only problem is...who's going to eat all this bread, LOL? I'm home alone all week and eat hardly any myself. Hmm...maybe it's a way to get acquainted with the neighbors!
  4. I think the "softer, lighter" quality comes as much from technique as anything. You might get a higher loaf, more rise, with bread flour, but there are always caveats attached to a claim like that. It depends on what sort of loaf you're making, how you handle the dough, the water content, the process, the technique,... a whole boatload of qualifications. I've known plenty of bakers who use bread flour who don't get a soft, light product. At the same time, some of the best Italian bread I enjoyed in Italy was the lightest and most delicate sort of crumb I've seen in a loaf of bread, made from about the most degraded flour on the planet, not bread flour at all. ← Devlin~ I can almost see that....I used just all purpose flour (b/c I had a big plan today for cooking and I've got almost EVERY other type of flour here other than BREAD flour and just didn't feel like going and getting yet one more flour . And my recipe called for AP flour, so I went with it. It turned out very well I think. I think with each success, I will be more confident in technique and come to understand the ramifications in amounts of liquid, etc....
  5. Ha! You laugh! You probably can imagine how smug I feel after pulling off such a coup as baking an edible loaf of simple bread, LOL! Thank you for all your advice and the time you spent explaining it to me....I am using this as a reference! And I hope I haven't exhausted your teaching resources, LOL, b/c I've only just begun
  6. Alright everyone....WE did it!!! I'm going to try to post a photo (it's not very good regardless, b/c my digital isn't working and I had to use my phone camera, but you can kind of get an idea...IF I can figure out how to post a photo . I want to say and I am very sincere when I say this....THANK you to EVERYONE for their input. I have NEVER had any bread turn out even close to this, and even though, while I was mixing it (I used a KitchenAid with the doughhook only) and it looked BEAUTIFUL (in my eyes), I still had several instances of "oh nooooo....this isn't going to turn out AGAIN". But it DID. And it's really Delicious! It might not be the most PERFECT looking loaf, but if you knew what the poor thing went thru, you'd be sympathetic, LOL. The CI recipe included some warm milk, warm water, honey and melted butter. I made sure that nothing was TOO warm ( I do have 2 instant read thermometers, but I just never trust them completely to be accurate...today, when I removed them from the kitchen drawer, and they were both reading the same temp, I figured it was time to trust them . So I mixed everything EXACTLY as it said to.....and mixed with the dough hook for 10 min.....it was just as it described, so I was happy. I took it out and turned it onto the piece of granite that hopefully you'll be able to see in my photo....I did NOT use any more flour for anything even though, when I took it out of the mixing bowl, it was still a little wet, or slightly sticky. But once I put it on the granite that I'd put down a TINY bit of oil and oiled my hands, it turned into the most beautifully malleable and silken piece of dough. Then it was into an oiled bowl and into the oven which had been set at 200 deg and then turned off after 10 min. It was supposed to double in I think 40-50 min. I honestly considered turning off the oven (it's way over 100 deg here outside) and just letting it sit outside, but then I heard the mantra...."follow the directions EXACTLY".....so I restrained myself. It said to put it in a LARGE bowl (which to me, is probably a subject for a different thread.....what's LARGE? I put it into a Chantal souffle dish and even in that it was kind of difficult to tell whether it was actually doubled or not (I know.....it's probably a LAME point, but when you're trying to get it right for a change....). Anyway, it said 40-50 min, so I took it out at 50 min. Then it said to press it out to an 8" square, 1" thick...which I did; and roll it into a cylinder, pinch the bottom (which sounded sort of kinky, but , OK....who doesn't like pinching bottoms .....then I was to put it into a previously greased loaf pan.....well, I was also in the midst of making (or in the prep stages of) a banana bread also, so I had 2 bread pans out...one greased, one not. At the same time, my dh came home and as per usual, got me distracted from what I was doing...so I accidentally put the bread (and I might mention here, that while I was moving the dish over from one counter behind me to the counter I was working on, the "cylinder" seems to have elongated almost exponentially ....I was not sure what to do since it sounded like it was an 8" thing going into a 9" pan....only it was more like a 12" thing going into a 9" pan...whatever.......got it into there, put it into the window with plastic wrap over it to rise again.....about 3 min later, I realized I'd used the pan that wasn't greased, so I extricated it from the pan it was in and got it into the one that was greased. At this point, I was really leery of how it would turn out as far as texture since it had been handled way more than I'd wanted to, but I figured I needed to finish it off to see the results and I could always try again. I used a pan of water underneath the rack I put the bread on to bake (I've never done that before and I don't think I've read to do that before) and I followed the advice here .....take the internal temperature to determine when it's done.....I was getting a little worried b/c the top of the bread seemed to be getting kind of dark (remember, I'm not really familiar with white bread esp. doing it myself), but I took the internal temp and it was only 180, so I put the timer back on for another 5 min....I think it was about 190 when I took it out, but I remembered something about tapping on it and it should sound hollow, which it did....I just didn't want to burn it! I think it looks actually pretty darned good (for ME making it) and the texture is WONDERFUL, not like that white bread my dh gets at the grocery store at all! And it tastes delicious and doesn't feel at all like a doorstop! And it's not the least bit dry. My dh says he could eat the whole loaf (and he's not the kind of guy who is just trying to be nice, believe me). I can't tell you all how much you inspire me....this is something I've really wanted to do for a long time and keep putting it off b/c I've had such bad results. It's so frustrating when you know you can cook almost anything else, but something that everyone else makes sound so simple, is beyond your capabilities! It means a lot to be able to provide something special and better quality than the run of the mill to my friends and family and just enriches our lives on one more level. I hope I'm not going overboard here, but to me, anyone can follow a regular food recipe and make it turn out....to be able to bake well is not in the same universe. And I realize some people have strengths where other people don't, but gosh darn it....I just KNOW I can bake bread, LOL! So, my new plan is to do this same recipe til I have it PERFECT....(next time I'll only be baking bread and not the cookies, the creme brulee, the dog biscuits etc) and then I'll have to come back for more help....my dogs are getting rye biscuits and all sorts of yummy sounding things (which they seem to love, but I wouldn't say they're the most discriminating dogs as far as FOOD goes)...my quest is to achieve wonderful whole wheat and grain breads and sourdoughs . I think I need a little lesson on "kneading". This one really required hardly ANY....something that takes 10 min of kneading is a little daunting at this point. If anyone has any suggestions on my present loaf....I think it turned out pretty well(but I'm not thin skinned about constructive criticism, honestly, so don't even worry about that) ...even tho the top looks kind of darker, it's not burned or anything and doesn't crumble when I cut it....the bread isn't dry at all and it's not at all wet either....I just felt like maybe the top got too browned? I'm just talking esthetics here right now..... I'm just so thrilled right now that it turned out edible I can't even tell you, LOL! Oh gosh darn it...I don't see the usual thing to use for posting photos....damn....I knew there would be a fly SOMEWHERE in the ointment, haha......
  7. NVNV, I was in the exact same boat as you! My mother and my grandmother both knead out beautiful, delicious bread and mine always ended up thrown angrily into the side of the sink with the garbage disposal. I made a New Year's resolution to try to make breads and pie crusts (ooo dont get me started on PIE CRUSTS ) and have come a long way with bread since the beginning of the year. Do you have a standing mixer with a dough hook? That really took a lot of the fear away from making bread for me, I was always afraid to add too much flour while kneading or mess up the whole kneading process. I had so many failures with bread I was afraid of EVERYTHING. I started out with the CI recipe too. The first time was a failure (didn't pinch it closed correctly), the second time was a little bit better but pretty dry, and the third time was great. I really agree with everyone who is saying just stick with one recipe until you get it right, especially with a CI recipe. You can do it, and don't get put off if it doesn't come out right the first time; just keep at that same recipe until you whip it, and whip it good. ← Oh my gosh, we could be cooking twins, LOL! My mom makes the flakiest, tastiest pie crusts and makes it look effortless....I mean, I seriously don't think she even measures anything, and the heck with "iced" water added by the Tbs. full.....she just dumps it all together. Somehow, it just doesn't work for me. You all have given me hope! I am on my way now to get the bread started. Everything you've said is going around and around in my brain and the problems I've had seem to be the result of all the things you've identified....using too much flour, handling the dough too much and most of all, I think; is killing my yeast with too hot water. I will report back later, as I'm also making creme brulee, spritz cookies and dog biscuits, so it might be a bit . Again, thank you for all the links and the tips and advice; I am determined to produce a delicious loaf of bread (or at LEAST, edible!). Seana
  8. Yes! I vote for Cindy's too! And be sure to ask for Adam as your waiter ...oh, nevermind...I think he's working at Mustard's now ~he's my nephew
  9. I am the worst at baking .....especially BREAD. I even make bad bread in a bread machine, for God's sake ...unless I use a boxed mix. I can't tell you how many loaves of bread and biscuit recipes that I've ruined. And I don't know WHAT I'm doing wrong. I think sometimes it's b/c I use too warm of water for the yeast....I do test it, but I think my thermometer wasn't working the last time. What type of thermometer is the proper one to use for breads? Anyway, I stumbled across a thread about Cook's Illustrated the other day here, and found that several people listed the American white Bread (I know...I don't eat white bread either, but my dh does)as being one of their favorites and super simple to make. I was stimulated and hopeful...but now I'm having second thoughts.... Does anyone have any tips for me on baking breads? I honestly don't know WHAT I'm doing wrong. I try to get the right yeast, and all fresh ingredients and everything turns out like a freakin BRICK. I spent hours on a biscuit recipe on Thanksgiving and they seriously could have been used for brick wall construction (this is sort of a Thanksgiving tradition now...my biscuits that I spend hours on and never make it to the table ). I REALLY want to be able to whip out homemade breads, but it seems such a waste of time, money and ingredients at this point. Along with having a hard time believing I can't do something competently, LOL. So, I"m going to try this one last recipe and pray that I get a decent loaf of bread for a change. Any tips or suggestions are welcome. I'm going to try this again tomorrow morning after I visit this forum! TIA.....and I'll def. post how it turns out (one way or the other )
  10. Oh yeah...I forgot about THAT . I usually carry one of those in my purse too and I rarely fly, so no need to remove it....I don't know that I've ever actually used it though. But I'm prepared if I ever need it, LOL (and lose all my other corkscrews).
  11. What an enjoyable read; thank you! After that much fabulous wine though, I don't think I would have remembered anything at all other than getting there and having a great time
  12. When will Target and Wal-Mart break into the California market? That would certainly shake things up. I listen to a podcast of Splendid Table, and one of the sponsors is Target advertising a new concept combining a traditional Target store and a grocery store. ← We have two Walmart Superstores here and a Target supercenter is opening soon in Indio. Some of their produce is passable (mainly the peppers, tomatillos etc) , some of it is pretty run of the mill....and most of it isn't considerably cheaper than the other grocery stores.
  13. That's what I am saying. What would it take to have something of this caliber here in the Southland? Or as Andie said, is this area just not conducive to this type of thing? I know when I moved from the San Francisco area to Sacramento, I used to still drive over to Berkeley once a week or so. These markets are that good. Maybe I will write the owners of these markets, and tell them that we need something like this down here. ← You know, I'm glad someone broached this subject. I moved to the S. Ca desert 8 yrs ago, thinking (why, I'll NEVER know now) that we were in a somewhat agricultural district. WRONG. I haven't seen a decent tomato or peach since I left the Napa Valley. The produce in the markets here is, in my opinion, mostly a mere facsimile of real produce and for the major part, tasteless. Even the "farmer's market" here is for some reason deficient in their quality. I don't understand why people aren't more aghast at this sad situation than they are. It seems like they say "oh, I buy my produce at Jensons" or "I only buy my produce at Bristol Farms"....well, I've tried both and occasionally, they'll have PRETTIER produce, but it's not any more flavorful (with the possible exception of berries in season) and it's 3-4 times as expensive. No thank you. I guess I didn't realize how lucky and how spoiled we were, living in an agricultural wonderland so to speak. In fact, I didn't realize it was so difficult to come by ripe juicy, flavorful tomatoes until I moved here. Now I know . I just know that when I went to a farmer's market, I could be assured of being able to purchase high quality produce that tasted like real food even if I couldn't find it in the markets. Just what does it take to get decent fresh produce into an area that seems so close, yet, oh so far away? Thank you though for the info on Berkeley; my mom is there 3 times a week, my stepdad 4 days a week, so I'm passing this market info on to them and I know they'll appreciate it. Even if they do live a mile from produce stands and farms~ there's always something interesting at a new one .
  14. What a great find! We go to this area often b/c our best friends live nearby; we'll definitely have to check it out on our next trip! Thanks so much for a good review. If you're in that same area again, if you haven't already, check out Ca Del Sole up the street (on Cahuenga) for fabulous Italian food. A family-friendly, lovely restaurant too.
  15. That was my first thought -- there's a travel Screwpull in both our cars. But then I remembered being at a friends' place when their lever-type corkscrew, the only one in the house, gave up the ghost. If I hadn't kept the Screwpull in my car, it would have been time for Plan B (a difficult choice between pushing in the cork or a trip to the 24-hour Meijer). ← I agree~ I keep at the very least, those cheapy hotel corkscrews in every one of my handbags, in my luggage and in my car; you never know when you're going to want to "test" a bottle out in the parking lot of Trader Joe's before going back in to buy a case .
  16. I have several pairs of the kitchen scissors but arthritis in my right hand limits my ability to grip the handles tight enough. If a cap is really resistant to opening, I use an old-fashioned metal nut cracker, which is used for nothing else except stuck caps - it's the only way I can get the little cap off one of my "bitters" bottles. It always seems to be glued onto the bottle. They also fit into a pocket without doing damage to clothes or any part of the anatomy! ← I thought your idea of the drawer/shelf liner was stellar ! I just unearthed a few sheets the other day in fact, out of some boxes I have still unpacked in our garage while I was looking for my veggie grill bowl and it occurred to me how wonderful it is! Now, I am not annoyed every time I open the silverware drawer and have to yank the organizer back toward the front of the drawer in order to extract a spoon , and all my bottle stoppers/wine openers etc are not rolling around in another drawer. Amazing how such simple things can improve one's life . Thanks for a new use for it!
  17. Does Beverly Hills apply ? I'm not very good with geography . If it does, The Hotel Bel Air is wonderful. The food is delicious and the setting is so romantic. I had the best hamburger in the bar there that I've ever had in my life. It's a wonderful setting inside or out. I also like The Grill on The Alley on Dayton Ave (Wilshire) big American food and on Sunset I love Mirabelle~ it's a fun, sort of funky place with excellent fresh food and fabulous service.
  18. I know it might look kind of tacky, but I've been using those little jar opening thingys....the ones you can get almost anywhere (like a grocery store) that are made (I think) from silicone). They're thin; you could cut them into a smaller size so they wouldn't be obtrustive and they do the job and prevent you from cutting yourself. And, as tacky as I'm saying they may look, they certainly beat the flat pieces of latex that we used as tourniquets at the hospital to open jars and extract stubborn corks with .
  19. NVNVGirl

    Cigars and Wine

    It's a game I'd LOVE to play! I too, love cigars and adore wine. Although I haven't had a cigar in some years (to appease a husband who had finally given up smoking cigarettes, which I abhor), I can hardly think of two things I love more (I will omit my obsession with my Yorkies ) and together they are my idea of Nirvana! There is hardly a more sensuous or tactile experience, in my mind. So, I'm terribly curious, Mr. Rogov~ with what indulgence would you choose to pair a Pleiades Orion? Seana Nightingale
  20. NVNVGirl

    Dinner! 2008

    I just returned from the Napa Valley with tons of fresh veggies and fruits that we drove to the farms to buy~ you can't imagine what a treat it is when you live in the S. CA desert and beautiful produce seems to abound, but somehow you can't get close enough to obtain any of it without driving a couple of hours away . Tonight will be a rustic summer vegetable casserole with a medley of squashes, the most luscious tomatoes, lovely basil leaves and fresh corn that I think I'll smoke first in a stovetop smoker; mixed with homemade San Fran sourdough (yep, I even made it to the City for food to bring home )breadcrumbs and some cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. And, as redundant as it might be, bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes, basil and some balsamic I picked up at NapaStyle (need to use these tomatoes before they go). I have a peach tart in the oven now, made with the sweetest peaches I've tasted in at least 30 years....I swear, I'm moving back!!! Life it too short to eat shoddy produce
  21. Although not new, Celadon and Fume are always on my have-to-eat at places when I get home. Downtown Napa has Annalien (superb Vietnamese food) and between downtown and Yountville in Bel Aire Plaza is the relatively new Barber's Q.
  22. What was served? PASSED APPETIZERS: SPEARS OF BELGIAN ENDIVE with smoked trout, citrus concasse and creme fraiche FOCACCIA CROSTINI offered with assorted toppings -vine ripe roma tomatoes with basil -tapenade and caponata -sonoma goat cheese with sundried tomatoes -caramelized red and yellow peppers -sauteed forest blend wild mushrooms ASSORTED CALIFORNIA ROLLS AND SUSHI with soy, wasabi, and marinated ginger CHICKEN CURRY PHYLLO TRIANGLES SHU MAI RUMAKI SONOMA FOIE GRAS seared and served on toast points APPETIZERS (STATIONARY) SPICY FRESH CRAB CAKES with Creole remoulade FRESH JUMBO TIGER PRAWNS peeled, deveined and poached Served with bloody mary cocktail sauce COLD WATER OYSTERS shucked to order and served with mignonette, lemon and tabasco ASSORTED CAVIARS with creme fraiche and blinis BEAUTIFUL DISPLAY OF SEASONALLY FRESH FRUITS with abundant available berries RIPE BRIE AND AGED STILTON with crostini and crackers ABSOLUTELY KILLER DOMESTIC RACK OF LAMB grilled on site and carved into chops at the station BISCOTTI AND TRUFFLES JUMBO CHOCOLATE DIPPED STRAWBERRIES Would I serve the same thing now? After 6 yrs....Absolutely~ wish I could do it tomorrow Do I actually remember the food? Well, I remember what it all looked like....but I actually only got one oyster and a lamb chop. And lots of champagne Would I scale back if the costs escalated? The only thing I would have eliminated would have been all the dessert stuff...it said only biscotti and truffles and the strawberries, but it took one entire tent, so I'd say that there was too much of that. Otherwise, no, I would still do the same thing. Hey, you only do it ONCE, don't you ?
  23. NVNVGirl


    I love quiche, make it often and in many different recipes. I make my own pastry...chefzadi is right. It's so simple and takes only a few minutes. I have to admit to lately using the food processor to mix the dough, then I roll it out. I usually make enough for 2 crusts at a time, freezing the second one between sheets of waxed paper and plastic wrap (rolled out) in a large pizza box. I will have to try Bouchon's method. I don't mind experimenting for something special Funny I run across this thread; I was lying in bed early this morning, listening to the rain and thinking "Quiche and a salad sounds like a wonderful dinner tonight".
  24. One of my least favorite things to do has always been celebrating New Year's Eve at some huge out of control and/or boring party with a bunch of people I don't know. I just don't get that at all. Thank goodness, this year, we have out of town guests staying and they wanted to stay in and have dinner here! I am in heaven! I get to decorate AND cook, so i am a happy camper. I don't have the entire menu set quite yet, but this is what I've got so far: Appetizers TBA (after I get some good ideas here ) We are Napa Valley natives so we'll probably be having Shramsberg and some older Codorniu sparkling and some Domaine Mumm. Wild mushroom soup Roasted beet and Haricots Verts salad with roquefort-avocado vinaigrette Roasted Prime Rib Mashed Potato Gratin (this is also still open to change...but some sort of potato dish) Spinach souffle Wines are undecided at this point Dessert is also undecided New Year's Day breakfast will be : Ramos Fizzes Bloody Marys Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon or canadian bacon Hashed brown potatoes Fresh fruit Coffee and juice There will be chili, cornbread and jalapeno bread and other appetizers during the day for the football games and we're going out to an Italian Restaurant that night for dinner Sunday morning breakfast will be: Mimosas Smoked chicken and apple sausages Shirred eggs with chives scalloped potatoes Fresh fruit, coffee and juices Monday will finally end our week of gluttony and we can go back to eating like we normally do.....the same way, just 2 of us, LOL.
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