Tonight's Menu

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Tonight's Menu
I made my maiden voyage into Risoto tonight and was very pleased with the results.....it came out beautifly andente and creamy.  I now understand why Chef Jacob calls Risoto a "Labor of Love," but one that's worth the effort. 

Tonight's menu was 7 bone roast braised to perfection, served over risoto and finished with a pan reduction sauce, and aldente green beans blanched and sauteed with garlic and almonds.  My family almost licked their plates. :-)  Sorry for patting myself on the back, just wanted to share my sucsess with fellow foodies.

Any body else have a fun meal planned for this week? 
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Lance
-Why make food for dinner when you can make dinner a culinary experience?

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While you were stirring the risotto, I was stirring a pot of gumbo!  I love making stocks at this time of year, and I happened on some turkey bones, and a smoked ham bone.  There was even some okra in the freezer. Perfect.

  Tomorrow night I'm thinking pizza because the other thing that I love to make at this time of year is dough. 
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That gumbo sounds great Nina!  Did you use a brick roux as your base?

I started baking only about 6 months ago and mostly bake french and sour dough bread.  I've tried pizza crust a couple of times but have only had mediocre results.  Do you have a good pizza crust recipe you can share? 
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Pizza crust ahhhhh yes, I have many tricks.  First of all you do not need a bread flour.  All the little Italian mammas use AP flour, period.  Second, always add just a little olive oil into the dough.  It adds richness and flavor.  If you have a starter, then add a little of that as well.  My last tip is this, if you plan to make a  1-3/4 lb. dough (3-1/3 cups flour ) use a food processor to knead the dough.  

Lastly bake the pizza at a high heat 500 degrees or 475 convection.  Many people don't realize that pizza need such a high heat.  Depending on your oven, your may want to bake it on the bottom rack which is the hottest.

The pizza that we had the other night was really great (my husband's opinion) I made a red sauce with some garlic,crushed red pepper, olive oil,a little heat applied,then add;  plum tomatoes, a little oregano, basil, and salt.  I shaved some zucchini on a mandoline and sauted that in olive oil.  Next I minced some oyster mushroom, and sauted that. 

The pizza went into the oven with the sauce ONLY for about 7 minutes.  It comes out and I add the veges and Romano and Mozzarella cheeses, then back it goes for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly and golden. YUM.  Good luck.
Wisconsin Limey
The secret to a good, tasty pizza crust is the same as for most breads.

Use the best quality ingredients (I find high protein bread flour to be superior but AP will work)

Use a preferment.

Use autolyse to hydrate your flour.

Use a 3-5 day slow cold rise in the fridge.

Bake in a screamin' hot oven!

Having said that:

Last Sunday my son showed up to watch the football game so I needed a pizza in a hurry.  DOC dough recipe with a little extra yeast and some agave nectar and we had a great crust in 3hrs.  Baked for 8 mins @ 550  I freeze the cheese so it doesn't burn.  Topped with sausage, pepperoni, ham, canadian bacon, crumbled bacon, prosciutto, caramelized onions & red bell pepper.  The pizza was a winner, even though our team (Da Bears) lost!


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Thanks for the tips.  I have to admit that I use AP flour for all of my breads for a couple of reasons.  It's much cheaper since I can get it in bulk, and to be honest I saw very little difference between using AP and bread flour.  From the research I've done the difference in gluten between AP and bread flour is very little.  If I'm missing the boat on this one please educate me. :-)

Lance
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  I believe that you will just have to try different recipes and , more importantly, techniques, then decide for yourself what you like.  Here you saw my pizza crust opinion and the wrong way LOL (Limey, I hope that made you laugh).
 
  Lance, I meant to tell you that I made a red vegetable roux for the gumbo. 
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Yes, trial and error is the best way to figure out what works for you.  I do have to admit that the only time I ferment / proof for more than a few hours is when I make my sour dough.  That's about a day and a half process. 

So what is a red vegetable roux?  I've never heard of that.
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What I mean is probable what you call a brick roux.   I heat a cast iron skillet, and use a roux wisk.  Yep, there is a tool made especially for the job and it does get right into the corners.  Anyway, I sweat, and also saute the trinity, when finished remove them, and set aside.  Then make the roux, cook it to a medium brown, or brick if you will, and stop the cooking by removing the pan from the heat and adding the now cool veges back into the pan, and that is your vegetable roux.  This will stop the browning process.  Then I add it to the gumbo by the spoonsful.

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Ah ok....yes it sounds like what I know of as a brick roux.  I haven't done a gumbo.  I suffer from a family of somewhat picky eaters so sometimes I'm limited with how much I can play around in the kitchen....at least for family meals. ;-)
Melampus
The gluten content from AP to "bread" flour can be dramatically different depending on brand.
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That's true, I believe that the highest gluten content in a bread flour found in the average supermarket is King Arthur at 11%.  It creates a chewy crust.  You will be able to toss the crust in the air if you are so inclined, however, over the years after all many pizzas that I have made, that is not my choice.  That flour is what I use for artisan breads. 

  Here are some other pizza tips Lance, or breads in general.  I keep a small tupperwear in the fridge of bread starter.  Once I got it going, I put it in the fridge and now I only feed about once a week (or when I remember to).  It's about 5-6 years old, and the older it gets, the better it is.
Also, depending on my mood, or the weather, I make pizza in the oven on a stone, or a half sheet pan, or on the grill.  Limey is right about having a screaming hot oven.  There's a pizza place around here with a coal fired oven that runs at 850 degrees!
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When you say "bread starter" are you talking about a sourdough starter?  I have one of those, but so far I've only used it to make sourdough french bread.  I haven't experimented with it for other uses yet.  If you're not talking about a sourdough started can you give me more information on what a bread starter is and how / why it's used? 
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  Yes, sorry I mean sourdough starter.  Starters are amazing little creatures.  The one that I have is a bacteria that I bought in San Francisco (that sounds weird) and has evolved into what it is today.  Depending on where you live and what wild yeast is around you will depend on the flavors of your starter.  

  In the pioneer days people kept a dried starter with them to make biscuits on their trip across the country.  They would dry some on a piece of paper.  I met a woman in Canada who said that she had starter that went back to the gold rush when her family went west.

  There is a forum topic on sourdough, and, as you can see there is more to it than a bubbly glob of goop.  I know that Jacob and Elliot are into starters too.  
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Let's move this to the sourdough forum since we're going down that road. :-)