Category Archives: Doughs and Batters

Crêpes

Crêpes are very thin, unleavened pancakes.

The batter is very runny.  I mix the ingredients with a stick blender to make sure there are no clumps of flour and the batter is very smooth.

Being so thin, crêpes take on the flavour of their cooking fat readily.  For instance, to flavour your crêpes with butter, you need only quickly rub the surface of the hot pan with a stick of butter so there is a very thin, uniform layer.  Lard is a good cooking fat for savoury applications.

Crêpes look and taste best when they are golden brown.  This means cooking over medium-high heat.  The side of the crêpe that cooked first will have a uniform, golden brown surface, while … Continue reading.

Macaroni and Cheese

A bowl of mac and cheeseLast night was Ash Wednesday, and I partook of my family’s traditional meatless supper of macaroni and cheese.  Thought I’d share my recipe.  Notice the crazy simple ratio at its heart: for every pound of dry macaroni, make a cheese sauce with a quart of milk and a pound of cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry macaroni
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 qt whole milk
  • 1 lb medium cheddar cheese, grated (Obviously any good melting cheese can be used.  Sylvan Star young gouda and Gruyere work great.)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • extra cheddar for the gratin

Procedure

  1. Boil the macaroni in salted
Continue reading.

Pancakes

Frying pancakes in bacon fatLast night was Pancake Tuesday, the appropriately subdued Canadian version of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.

I want to tell you about my pancakes.

 

The Recipe

Pancake styles occupy one point on a continuum between slack batters and stiff batters.  Slack, or high-liquid, batters make thin, soft, limp pancakes the size of dinner plates.  Stiff, or low-liquid, batters, yield thicker, cakey pancakes the size of tea saucers or smaller.  For home-cooking I favour the stiff variety, making a batter that is barely, barely pourable.  The resulting cakes are more dense, but still soft and moist.  They develop a delicate, crisp exterior during frying, something that the slack batters can’t do because of their high liquid content.

In the … Continue reading.

Serviettenknödel – Austrian Bread Dumplings

This post is actually about two kinds of Austrian dumplings that are made from old bread.

The first is best made with bread that is a few days old, bread that is dry, but not brittle.  If you let your bread sit for more than a week, so that it’s completely hard throughout, you can make the second dumpling.

The first dumpling, made with days-old bread, is the Serviettenknödel, which literally translates as “serviette dumpling.”  Much like the French word torchon, which means towel, Servietten implies that the dumplings are shaped into cylinders by rolling in a towel or serviette.

The old bread is first cubed and soaked in milk, butter, and egg (full recipe below).

Then the … Continue reading.

Bread Pudding as God Intended It

Bread pudding with raisinsWhen I say bread pudding “as God intended it,” I mean using actual, stale, left-over bread heels.  Buying fresh bread just to tear it up and dry it out is like using striploin to make sausage, or rolling a torchon of foie gras just to melt it into cooking fat.

To make bread pudding stale bread is soaked in milk, cream, eggs, and sugar, then pressed into a casserole and baked.

There is a continuum of bread pudding textures, ranging from the dense and eggy (the well-known Jack’s Grill (RIP) bread pudding was a good example) to the light and ethereal.

I want to take a paragraph to describe an interesting style of bread pudding that chef Nigel Weber taught … Continue reading.

Notes on Baking Bread

Even once I had a handle on basic techniques like dough-shaping, I found that the bread I made at home wasn’t as good as the bread I made at NAIT, where they have commerical equipment like proofing boxes and deck ovens.

Here are some quick notes on using household kitchen items to replicate the equipment in professional bakeries and bake better bread.

Proofing

I’ve always felt that my bread doesn’t proof as well at home as it does at school.  At first I thought this was a temperature issue, so I tried fermenting and proofing my bread in increasingly warmer corners of the house.  Turns out humidity was the more important factor.

In commercial kitchens bread is proofed in proofing … Continue reading.

Fleischknödel – Meat Dumplings

This is the single most useful preparation that I learned in Austria.  It’s invaluable to establishments that use a lot of cured meat, but also a good trick to have in the home kitchen.  It’s called Fleischknödel (approximately: “FL-EYE-SH KNUH-dl”).  Fleisch just means meat, while Knödel is a type of dumpling that is popular in Austria and Bavaria.  Fleischknödel is a fantastic way to use up leftover meat, whether cooked or cured.

Most cooks are familiar with how to use scraps of raw meat.  When butchering a side of pork, for instance, you reserve the miscellaneous bits of meat and fat so they can be ground and used in sausages and forcemeat.

There’s also leftover trim when cutting cooked and … Continue reading.

Potato Dumplings in Broth

This post is about simple potatoes dumplings, served in an interesting potato broth.

Conversations about potato dishes usually focus on texture (the ideal French fry has a crisp exterior and fluffy interior, the ideal mashed potatoes are smooth but not gummy…) I love this broth because it makes you think about how potatoes taste. Potato skins are used to infuse a vegetable broth with potato flavour, without any of the thick starchiness we associate with potato soups.

Let’s start with the dumplings. The key to pillow-like potato dumplings is to have very little moisture in the potatoes. This way the milled potatoes will require less flour to form a dough, and there will be accordingly less gluten in the finished … Continue reading.