two skinny jenkins

120821 – The Real Dough
120822, 5:14 pm
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Adapted From Cook’s Illustrated

  • 3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  1. In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.
  2. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled and floured countertop until smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.  I strongly recommend making the dough 2-3 days in advance of baking.  That way it will give you a nice and bubbly crust (like the photo!).

090811 – Italian Bread | BBA #15
090812, 10:19 am
Filed under: BBA Challenge, DINNER | Tags: ,

Italian Bread_02

BBA Challenge #15:

This, my SECOND attempt at the Italian bread recipe, came out pretty well.   You can find the link to the first attempt here.  I was not able to find the Diastatic Barley Malt Powder in time, so i used a bit of Barley Malt Syrup from a local natural foods store. The final result was nice and soft and yeasty tasting.  I followed the recipe cooking times exactly (usually i stretch the proofing times a bit) and baked it on a semolina dusted baking sheet.  Not my favorite BBA recipe, but one that i will probably make again this winter.  It the dense, yet soft crumb will be PERFECT for eating with soup.  The only change i will make next time is to bake it on a pizza stone.

The first loaf vanished at dinner last night and i think the second won’t last much longer.  I have plans to make bruchetta tonight… or maybe for lunch.

Check out part of the recipe at Google Books (p. 172).

Italian Bread

090809 – Italian Bread | BBA #15
090810, 10:21 am
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Italian Bread Attempt #1

Baking Fail:

Woopsie.  We heard a big POP in the oven after the first time i sprayed the oven walls with water and the oven light went out. I think the steam did it, but it could have been my bad aim. We don’t have a spray bottle, so I have been using a water bottle to spray the oven walls all along.  I’ve used the same technique 4-5 times in our apartment (electric) oven with no problem, but my parent’s (gas) oven did not go so well.

Needless to say, we did not taste the bread. There were little shards of glass all over it.  It smelled amazing and I was really tempted to cut the inside out just to taste.  I did cut one loaf in half just to see what the crumb looked like.  After roughly 19 minutes of baking, the inside looked a little under done to me.  I could not find the diastatic barley malt powder that the recipe called for, so i used barley malt syrup instead.  I think that the extra moisture/ stickiness from the syrup might have been why the dough looked so dense.  Now that i have a second chance, i will try calling bakeries around town and see if anyone has some powder that they would sell me.

I will start my biga today and make a loaf of italian bread and probably some breadsticks tomorrow.

090626 – pizza nite!
090626, 7:20 pm
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Pizza Nite

tomato basil sauce + sun dried tomato + kalamata olive + onion + spinach + sea salt

It has been so easy to do pizza night now that i make the dough ahead of time (still using Peter Rinehart’s dough recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice).  Tonight i used my mother in law’s shaping technique – pressing the dough out into a disc instead of stretching it by hand.  The result was a MUCH more circular shaped, even thickness pizza.  I shaped them directly on parchment paper, slid them onto the pizza stone in a preheated 550 F oven, baked for 2 1/2 minutes, then removed the parchment paper and baked directly on the stone for another 5 minutes.  My personal pizza (photographed above) was from a much smaller ball of dough than joe’s and basically wafer-thin.  I enjoyed it, but it was hard to appreciate the crust when it was the consistancy of a cracker.

090612 – Blue Cheese + Fig Pizza
090612, 6:26 pm
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Fig pizza

Finally! Figs and blue cheese!  I have been dying to make this pizza combo and i seem to have never had these two ingredients on hand at the same time.  I know this sounds pretty silly – if i wanted it that bad, why didn’t i just go out and buy them?  I don’t know.

again, we are using the Napoletana pizza dough recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  When that week of the challenge comes around, i wonder if i’ll have to make it afresh?  I guess, chances are i will be making it that friday, anyway.

090601 – Monday Pizza
090601, 8:56 pm
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Funky Pizza

we broke our friday pizza tradition last week because we went to a friend’s house for a double dinner date.  We have a wedding rehearsal dinner coming up this friday, and i just couldn’t bear the thought of no pizza for two whole weeks!

Last night i started a new batch of Bread Baker’s Apprentice pizza Napoletana dough [right after i finished the Brioche (our little kitchen never  gets a break)].  The recipe yields 6 personal crusts (i usually have 1/3 left over anyway).  Today, i decided to get a little inventive with the toppings. See the dough recipe at 101 Cookbooks.

Sauteed baby bella mushrooms (with garlic) + chopped dried figs + thinly sliced onion + 1/2 t sea salt

it sounds really sorta strange, but it was REALLY good.  the figs and sea salt were a nice combination.  I sauteed five baby bella mushrooms with a clove of garlic in about 1 t olive oil for 5-7 minutes.

090522 – lasagna(e) nite
090523, 7:22 am
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Joe’s family came to visit this weekend, and that makes 5 of us in our little apartment.  so instead of our usual pizza Friday, we opted for lasagna(e).

Joe found a very well rated recipe on and adapted it a bit to meet or taste.  Basically omitted the sausage, added some spinach, and tweaked the spices.  In the end, it is a very similar lasanga to my Uncle Tom’s recipe, but a better sauce.

  • 1 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 C minced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 1 1/2 t dried basil leaves
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 4 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed (or 4 C fresh spinach)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a Dutch oven, cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices, then spinach. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over spinach, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

090515 – pizza nite already!
090515, 8:12 pm
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joe got his hands dirty!tonight we used whole wheat dough that i made a while ago (maybe two months?) and froze.  I transferred the dough from the freezer to fridge a day ago and out of the fridge a couple hours in advance of baking to let the yeast come back to life.  I have to admit, i have constantly struggled with wheat dough.  just intuitively, it seems like the graininess of the wheat flour prevents it from rising well.  chemically, wheat flour is lower gluten than the nice white bread flour that is typically used. tonight i did two things differently; i left the dough a bit thicker than usual, and while shaping it, had my hands coated with olive oil.

On my half of the pizza, i used a spinach pesto sauce with red onions (sauteed for 5 min. w/S + P and a little thyme), kalamata olives, and mozzarella.

  • 6 T warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
  • 2 T white wine (or 2 T more water)
  • 3/4 t active dry yeast
  • 1/2 t honey
  • 1 t salt (heaping)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3/4 C wheat flour
  • 3/4 C all purpose or bread flour
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling
  • Flour for dusting counter
  1. Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, but in my experience, this is almost never necessary.
  2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a couple minutes.
  3. For Joe’s sake, i try to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night.  Just rinse the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.
  4. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature (typ. 550°F). Put your pizza stone in the oven as it heats up!
  5. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour so it doesn’t stick) for 15 minutes.
  6. Stretch the dough out into your crust shape, either on a conrmeal dusted baking sheet or a piece of parchment paper.
  7. Slide the pizza from the baking sheet to your preheated pizza stone, or just transfer the parchment paper onto the stone.
  8. Bake for about 7 minutes, checking at 5. Slice and serve immediately.


090513 – lasagna
090513, 10:08 pm
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lasagnaAt long last… my ‘famous’ lasagna recipe!  A few people have been, ahem, pestering me to post this one.  It tastes better than it looks – promise!

this was originally my uncle’s recipe and i had to improvise the quantities.  He is one of those cooks who magically throws ingredients together and makes it come out just right.  I think this tastes a like his, but was a tad watery, probably from the frozen spinach i used.

  • 1 lb ground beef (we use Laura’s 92% lean)
  • 1 T evoo
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 32 oz. cans of whole tomatoes
  • 1 t fennel seed
  • 1 t mustard powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 2 t basil
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 t sugar
  • 4 C spinach (i used frozen- it was all i had on hand)
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 T thyme
  • 1 bag mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package (no boil) lasagna noodles
  1. brown ground beef in a large saucepan, rinse and drain.  heat oil in the saucepan and saute garlic and onion.  before adding the tomatoes, slice them into chunks using a sharp knife in the can.
  2. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  3. add the tomatoes, fennel, mustard powder, onion powder, basil, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil.  stir in meat and continue simmer.
  4. mix ricotta cheese, thyme and 1/3 C of mozzarella cheese.
  5. layer, starting with sauce, then noodles, ricotta mixture, and spinach.  Repeat, finishing with noodles, then sauce, and remaining mozzarella cheese.  I like to sprinkle a little exra basil on top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

090503, 2:39 pm
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: , ,

step by step - gnocchiIn my cooking experience thus far, i have made potato gnocchi (with skins was a disaster), sweet potato gnocchi, and ricotta gnocchi.  the ricotta gnocchi was tasty, but so rich and heavy that i don’t think i will ever make it again.  Sweet potato gnocchi is probably my favorite, but i always struggle with what SAUCE to make for it.  certainly not tomato, and i have an aversion to white sauces.  tonight i was cooking for four guys and myself, so this regular potato gnocchi was a simple, filling, and cheap dish to make.

  • 3 lbs potatoes, peeled (i used russet because they were on sale and we bought a big bag)
  • 2 1/2 C all purpose flour (i substituted 1 C with white wheat and it was still good)
  • 2t salt
  • 1 1/2 eggs, lightly beaten (i hate being wasteful like this…)
  1. steam potatoes for 26 min, or until fully soft.
  2. mash them while they are still warm, getting out all the lumps you can.
  3. mix in eggs, flour, and salt.
  4. roll dough out on well floured counter, with floured hands, to form a 1/2″ diameter rope.  cut into 1/4-1/2″ wide pieces and press dough into shape using a long-pronged fork.
  5. bring a large pot of salted water to rapid boil.  cook the gnocchi just until they bob to the top – about 2-3 minutes.  scoop them out with a slotted spoon and let them drain.

i have always struggeled trying to keep gnocchi warm after cooking them, and let them drain long enough so they don’t get soggy.  i just do the best that i can to shake off extra water as i scoop them from the cooking pot.


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