Posts Tagged ‘Baked’

Okay, first thing I will say is go buy this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  It is worth it.  I’m going to put the base recipe below, but not all the tips.  If you have a basic amount of cooking knowledge then you should have no problem with this recipe.  There are a zillion recipes in the book and they all look great.  These guys did a great job!  You can find it at Amazon.

Before I get to the bread, let’s catch up.  First off I haven’t exercised other than a few days in the past six weeks or so.  It’s so funny, or maybe sad, that I can repeat the same darn process over and over again.  I lose a bunch of weight over a period of five to six months then I slowly put it all back on over the next year and then I start all over again.

I was determined not to put it back on this time, but I’m doing it.  What can I say, except maybe tomorrow will be the day I get my motivation back and start exercising again.

Let’s see…what about all those other lofty goals I set for myself a few posts back.  Well I can’t recall what they all were so that might give you a clue as to how things are going.

How about the kick ass catering we did this weekend.  It was for a large union that was bringing people from California up to Reno to work on “get-out-the-vote” activities.  On Saturday we put together almost 200 box lunches and on Sunday we did another 200 plus dinners for the bus ride home.

We had a blast.  Here’s a quick peek at some of the details.  We used over 70 loaves of fresh bread from Truckee Sourdough (awesome artisan bread), over 100 pounds of turkey, roast beef and ham, over 100 pounds of various types of cheese.  Sliced multiple onions and over 100 tomatoes.  All of the cheese and the meat was sliced on a slicer and then individually portioned.  400 assorted small bananas, oranges and the coolest mini red delicious apples were put into the boxes. We went through over 400 eco/green containers, forks, napkins, spoons, etc. Countless bags of chips, drinks and cookies, made at Dish, not purchased in bulk as some companies might do to make an extra buck.

We had every table covered with boxes by the end of the night on Friday, all filled with a bag of chips, cookies, fresh fruit, forks, napkins, mayo and mustard and then we converged on Saturday morning, three of us making sandwiches and the other two boxing, tagging and packing.  When we finished we made a family breakfast and all sat around and enjoyed the thrill that comes from working your ass off with a bunch of people that really care about the result and succeeding. There is nothing better than this in my mind!

We then all took off in three different cars to deliver the food to  Fernley, Carson City and Gardnerville and then headed back to set up for the next day.

To my employees who read my blog I would like to give one big “THANK YOU”.  Everyone had a hand in getting the job done.  The one thing about owning your own business is without good employees who really care about you and the product, you are doomed.  Right now we have the best group of employees at Dish, ever!

Okay on to the recipe.  I really liked this bread.  I’ve made ciabatta before and it was a pain in the butt.  This was easy. You spend a few moments putting together the dough, let it rise for a few hours, store it in the refrigerator and then pull a piece off when you need it.  Form into a ball, let it rest for 40 minutes, bake it for 25 and bam, you have fresh bread.  I’m made it four times and other than once when I overbaked it, everyone has loved it.

Do it, buy the book and have fun.

No Knead Dough (makes 4 rounds)

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal for pizza peel

Warm the water to about 100 degrees. Add the yeast and the salt to the water in a 5 or 6 quart, resealable, lidded plastic food container.  You can pick these up at Resco or Smart and Final or other restaurant type food service places.

Now add all of the flour at once.  Mix with a wooden spoon, stand mixer with a dough hook, or a food processor fitted with a dough hook attachment.  You are done when everything is uniformly moist with no dry areas.  Should take no longer than a few minutes.

Cover with a lid, not airtight and allow to rise until it starts to flatten on the top or begins to collapse.  Should be about two hours.  Do not use mason jars with a lid or anything airtight…it could explode. Put the dough in the refrigerator overnight or for at least three hours.

On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by spinkling it liberally with cornmeal or prevent it from sticking when you slide it into the oven.

Sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a grapefruit size piece of dough.  Hold the dough, flour your hands if you need to.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  You are forming a round ball of dough. The bottom side will be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during baking. The top will be mostly smooth and cohesive.

Rest the loaf on the pizza peel for 40 minutes. Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the loaf, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone place on the middle rack and a empty metal roasting pan or broiler tray for holding water on the shelf below.

Dust the bread with flour and then slice about 1/8 of an inch slashes into the bread.  You can do them in any pattern you see fit.

After the 20-minute preheat, open the oven. Slide the bread onto the stone. Quickly pour 1 cup of hot water into the roasting pan or broiler tray, shut the door and bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Dot not open the oven or the steam will escape. The steam helps make the crust.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack and then eat it!

Store the rest of the dough in your lidded, not airtight, container in the refigerator up to 14 days!


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Ok, let me start by saying this. This recipe is kick-ass easy and awesome, assuming you like eggs! I made it this past weekend and will be making it again this coming weekend. I love baked eggs and this improves on my last recipe. How can you go wrong, bacon, cheese, cream, eggs and toast all in one lovely package.

Second, for those of you who enjoy the restaurant stories, below you will find one…It is not a happy one, not particularly funny and I might be whining a bit, so if you are not in the mood skip down to the recipe. If your are, this is a good example of why not to own a restaurant unless you like to clean, don’t mind working long hours, have money that you might never see again and most of all love people and customer service. Well of course you need to love food and have a passion for being the best!

I’m sure you know that restaurants, unlike many businesses, need a ton of equipment to operate. We have stoves, multiple refrigerators, ovens, multiple freezers, prep tables, a very expensive espresso machine, drink display refrigerators, food processors, mixers, etc. Each of these items with the exception of the small stuff runs from a couple of thousand dollars on up.

Like all things, the stuff breaks and needs to be fixed, occasionally it has to be replaced. Fortunately or unfortunately most of our equipment was in the restaurant when we purchased it six years ago and it was already old then. So what does old equipment do? It breaks.

The worst is when it’s refrigeration. First off we are small, we don’t have much refrigeration and what we have is usually full to the brim. Imagine playing Tetris with food. That’s how it works around here. The worst is on Monday and Wednesday mornings when we get the bulk of our deliveries.

We are closed on Saturday and Sunday and sometimes we don’t have caterings on the weekends so there are times when we don’t have to step foot in the place for 48 hours. Most of the time this is a good thing (yes we love the business, but everything in moderation), unless of course one of the refrigerators fails and you come in to warm food. This sucks, plain and simple. You end up throwing product away and then usually have to pay to have someone to make repairs.  I can do the accounting, mostly the taxes, marketing, cook some stuff, sell ice to an Eskimo, but I can’t fix anything mechanical.

Well guess what, wouldn’t you know, one of our fridges went down. It happened to one our our refrigerators that we have been nursing along, which happens to use an extinct refrigerant, R-12. We fixed it almost a year ago, but we knew that next time it went down we would be screwed, for lack of a better term.

We call our repair guy, he of course verified our findings and told us we could buy a new compressor, rebuild the thing and keep nursing it along or just buy a new one. Cost difference, not much.  We needed it and we needed it now.

$1,978 later, sweaty, dirty and tired after picking up a new one, moving the old one out and moving around half of the other 400 pound equipment that was in the way, we had a brand spanking new refrigerator. Blah, how fun is that? I could have bought a 50-inch LCD tv or put lawn in our back yard, which is still half dirt and weeds, or traveled or done something fun. Let me tell you, buying a new refrigerator is boring.  I like spending money as much as anyone else, but spending it on a refrigerator, well is quite anti-climatic!

Oh and since I’m complaining, to top it off our refrigerator at home, only two years old, LG brand, (don’t ever buy an LG) is broken and is randomly freezing everything in the refrigerator section. Imagine four cans of Diet Coke exploding and freezing to everything in the refrigerator.  LG has been out to fix it three times and every time they do, the same part breaks…but, well, it’s out of warranty. Sorry folks, nothing we can do, nothing at all. In fact at this point we really can’t even fix it because we can’t figure out what is wrong. DOH!

Oh well, life is actually damn good and most of the time I love the restaurant, but there are days.  On to baked eggs recipe adapted from Kitchen Playdates by Lauren Bank Dean.  Adjust as you see fit.  There were only three of us and I was running out of bread.

Baked Eggs, Toast and Bacon in One Package (serves 4)


  • 8 slices thin bread – I used a local multigrain bread and flattened it a bit with a rolling pin
  • 3 pieces cooked bacon or use prosciutto or ham
  • 8 farm eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Heavy cream or half and half
  • Chopped fresh chives for garnish
  • Grated cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano or your favorite cheese
  • Butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter your muffin tin.  Cut edges off each piece of bread to form a square about four inches by four inches. Butter the bread slices.  Press each slice gently into the bottom of the muffin cup so that the four edges are pointing up like in the picture.  Bake for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bread, until it is starting to crisp.

Remove tin from the oven, place the bacon, prosciutto or ham on the bottom of each cup.  Crack an egg into each cup.  Season with salt and pepper, pour a bit of cream on top and cover with cheese to your liking.

Place the muffin tin back into the oven and bake for 10 to 14 minutes until the whites are just set, or to the desired consistency. With a fork or an offset spatula, remove the bread cups, garnish with chives and devour!

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Wow, what a weekend and what a day last Friday was. We prepared food for two catering events, one, a 150 person wedding and the other an upscale boxed lunch for 200 people. On Friday I had quite a day and a ton of fun. I did a large amount of prepping while trying to keep the front of the restaurant running smoothly. Nancy, Joannie and Megan were up to there eyeballs in food from the moment the day started. Megan cut and grilled so much chicken that the joke was that I was going to go print her out a “Chicken Mastery” certificate.

One of the dishes we were making was an Asian salad with skewered grilled chicken satay and peanut sauce. I consider myself super lucky that I wasn’t asked to skewer the chicken. We all got a good laugh because Joannie, who is vegetarian, ended up the job. She must have spent 3+ hours producing over 1,000 skewers.

I needed to julienne, into 1/8″ pieces, about 20 pounds each of bell peppers, carrots and cabbage. The bell peppers were great because I was able to really practice my knife skills, about 1 hour of them. The carrots were a bit easier because I was able to use the mandoline (watch out!) and with my mesh glove I cruised through them. The cabbage was the easiest as I only needed to core, then run them through the food processor with the shredder blade insert.

Nancy’s birthday was Saturday so our staff volunteered a few months back to handle the wedding catering Friday night. All we had to do was set up the event, make sure everything was ready to go and then we could head off. I had originally planned to make dinner for Nancy after we left the event, but after 12 hours of standing up I decided I was a wimp and I only wanted to relax. Thanks to my staff though, who after working all day, spent another 6 hours taking care of the wedding. We did pick up dinner on the way home and just chilled out.

About 11:00pm, after Nancy was out cold, I realized we would be heading to work early again Saturday morning and I really wanted to make breakfast for Nancy. The problem was I wanted to stay up late and I didn’t want to get up early. I decided I would make the strata that had been on my list for the last few weeks.

I spent some time a few weeks ago looking through many of my cookbooks and had a pretty good idea what I was going for. I do have a few tips I leaned that I wanted to share. When you use high-moisture ingredients like sausage or raw vegetables you must saute them first to remove the moisture. If you don’t the strata will be wet and soggy. Second, to produce the perfect texture you should weigh down the strata while it sits in the fridge overnight. This will allow all of the egg/cream mixture to really soak into the bread. You don’t have to use anything fancy, I just used a gallon of milk.

The outcome was excellent and I will be making it again. I think I might try to make a pepperoni pizza strata next time. The recipe was inspired by “The Best New Recipe” from Cook’s Illustrated.

Strata with Spicy Italian Sausage & Gruyere Cheese

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 7-8 slices French bread
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 medium minced shallots
  • 8 ounces pre-cooked spicy Italian sausage, cut into slices
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Start by drying out the bread. Pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then moderately butter one side of each piece.

Okay. On to the the sausage and shallots. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the sliced sausage and saute until browned, about 4 minutes. (The sausage is already cooked so you are only browning them to concentrate the flavor and reduce the moisture.) Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the wine to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until you have reduced by half. This will go quickly, just 2 or 3 minutes.

Take an 8×8 baking dish and coat the inside with butter. Arrange half of the bread slices in a single layer on the bottom of the pan, buttered side up. You can break the pieces to make them fit. Sprinkle half of the sausage/shallot mixture evenly over the bread then cover with 1/3 of the cheese.

Arrange the other half of the bread over the cheese, then the remainder of the sausage/shallot mixture and another 1/3 of the cheese.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until combined. Whisk in the reduced wine, parsley, half-and-half, heavy cream if using, 1 teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and cover, flush with the surface, with plastic wrap. Weigh down with something heavy. Refrigerate for at least a few hours up to overnight. Place remaining cheese in a bag and save.

Remove from refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 20 minutes to warm up a bit. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and place oven rack in middle position. Uncover the strata and sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for approximely 40 to 50 minutes until the edges and center are puffed and when you shake the baking dish the strata doesn’t jiggle. If you have a convection oven then cook at 270 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, cut into 4 or 6 pieces and devour.

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Potato Education

I had plenty of problems trying to figure out which potatoes to use for baking, salads, oven frys or to make the best mashed potatoes. If you are anything like me you might read it in a recipe and then forget. So I thought it would make sense to put the info down on the blog so I can access it anytime. I’m really excited that I can bookmark the page and search it up from my Blackberry while at the store.

Types of Potatoes

  • Floury Potatoes – These are also know as Baking Potatoes. They contain the most starch, 20 to 22 percent and the most amylose. These potatoes are a dry, mealy texture. They are best used for baking and frying and are the best for mashing. They will absorb the butter the best. The potatoes will not stay together when cooked, so they are also good for thickening soup or a stew. If you want cubes of potato they will not do. Main varieties are Russet and Idaho.
  • Waxy Potatoes – These are also know as Boiling Potatoes. They contain a lower amount of starch, 16 to 18 percent. They also have much lower amounts of amylose. This gives them a firm and waxy texture. New potatoes fall into this group. They are good for roasting or broiling or when you want the potato to hold its shape. Main varieties are Red Bliss, French Fingerling, Red Creamer and White Rose.
  • In Between – They are in between, having more starch than a waxy potato, but less than the mealy types. If you had to say which are they closer to, the answer would be the mealy type. They can be used in place of both types, they just won’t be quite as good at it. Main varieties are Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, Purple Peruvian.

What is this starch stuff and what does it mean – The range of starch in a potato will range from 16 to 22 percent. There are two types of starch, amylose and amylopectin. Amylose molecules separate easily when cooked in the presence of water. This is the reason why Russets are the best choice for mashed potatoes.

Which to use

  • Mashed – Use a dry, mealy potatoes and simmer them with their skins on. This will keep water out and make for a more fluffy result.
  • Baked – Use a dry, mealy potato and bake at a low temperature to allow some of the starch in the flesh of the skin to break down into sugar. This gives the potato a rich flavor.
  • Roasted – Use a waxy potato for this job. Cooks Illustrated author Keith Dresser suggest covering the pan with foil for the first half of the roasting time and then removing. This will allow them to steam in their own moisture and become creamy.
  • Boiled – Firm and waxy all the way!

Basic Potato Recipes from Cooks Illustrated


Place 2 pounds scrubbed (and unpeeled) dry, floury potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until tender and fully cooked, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and peel potatoes. Mill, rice, or mash potatoes. Stir in 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, followed by 1 cup warm half-and-half. Season with 11⁄2 teaspoons table salt and ground black pepper to taste.


Place 4 medium dry, floury potatoes directly on middle rack in 350-degree oven. Bake potatoes until skewer glides easily through flesh, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Open immediately and serve with butter and salt.


Toss 2 pounds firm, waxy potatoes, cut into 3⁄4-inch wedges, with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place potatoes flesh side down on rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Cook potatoes on middle rack in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until sides of potatoes touching pan are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Carefully turn potatoes over and continue to roast until golden brown on the second side, 5 to 10 minutes.


Place 2 pounds scrubbed firm, waxy potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until tender, at least 10 minutes for 1-inch potatoes and up to 18 minutes for 21⁄2-inch potatoes. Drain and toss with butter.

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Baked Eggs with Heavy Cream and Bacon

Eggs, I love eggs. I have recently learned how to make an omelet and have perfected my scrambled egg technique. I’ve read multiple recipes about eggs and how difficult it is to make good eggs. A challenge, yeah!

A few months ago when searching through my cookbooks I came across a recipe in James Petersons’s book, “Cooking”, for baked eggs also called Shirred eggs. They looked great and I have been thinking about making them since, but I needed to get the scrambled and omelet down first. Yes I know, I’m 40 years old and have just recently learned how to properly scramble an egg, but better yet, I had never made an omelet until a few weeks ago.

So tonight was the night, I came home, opened up the cookbook and started this project. Since I’m trying to watch how many calories I’m eating I made mine with the eggs and heavy cream, yeah I know. For the rest of the family I added about ½ slice of crumbled bacon. YUM!

The instructions said to bake the eggs for 15 minutes and then pull them out. After 15 minutes the whites didn’t look set at all so I went another 10 minutes which was just a bit too long. The eggs still tasted great, but the yolks were definitely over hard. The heavy cream was marvelous, but the kicker was when I tasted the eggs with the bacon. The result was a creamy and heavenly combination of flavor. The bacon with the heavy cream made the meal “an indulgence” as my step-son Jacob commented.  Honestly next time I’m going to do 1 tablespoon of cream and bake them without the water bath, but I will still put them in the roasting pan.

Along with the eggs, we had some toast with a very, very small amount of butter and some potatoes that Nancy pulled together with onions and the remainder of the bacon I had pilfered from the restaurant. Oh, don’t tell the IRS since I did write that $1.00 of bacon off!

After diner Nancy explained to me that the egg whites should be set while the yokes are soft and creamy. I also looked in Howard McGee’s Book “On Food and Cooking” and the limited information boiled down to “the dish should be set on the middle rack to avoid overcooking the top or bottom while the rest cooks through.”

With out further ado, here is the recipe loosely quoted from James Peterson.

Select ramekins with a capacity of 4 to 6 ounces. Generously butter the ramekins and crack the eggs into them carefully. He mentions that you can put many things on the bottom before adding the egg such as creamed spinach or caramelized onions. I was thinking Chorizo next time.

Add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to each egg and season with salt and pepper. (I then added the bacon)

Set the ramekins in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to come one-third up the sides of the ramekins. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes until the egg white is set. The cream allows the egg white to set without getting hard and gives it a custardlike consistency.

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