sourdough

i first learned about sourdough in intermediate baking with chef wetter. sourdough is so interesting! it is also a challenge because the yeast is alive and has its own personality. instant yeast is great for making a lot of great breads, but there’s always something special about sourdough.

to start a sourdough starter, people just leave out some flour and water and let the natural yeast in the air start colonizing in there. the flavor of your sourdough will be different depending on the wild yeast in the air in your area. i haven’t started my own starter; i think it is pretty challenging from what i hear. my sourdough starter is from the one chef wetter started about six years ago. to keep the starter going, it has to be fed regularly or else the yeast will run out of food, get too acidic, and die. for example, i feed mine once a week, leave it out for a little while, and then keep it in the fridge for the rest of the time. if you don’t feed it regularly, it might need to be revived. for long term storage, the starter can be put in the freezer and later revived.

for the past few months, i’ve been making sourdough every week. i named my sourdough “Fred.” it’s good to name your sourdough because he’s basically like your pet. well except you can put him in the fridge and freezer… anyway, it’s been a great learning experience figuring out the right schedule for Fred, and figuring out what conditions bring out his awesomeness the best. usually i feed him once a week, which means i take part of him, add flour and water, and knead him and beat him up a bit (helps develop gluten and incorporate oxygen). i am not an abusive parent to my sourdough! it’s what he needs. anyway, then i take another part of him as the starter for my weekly bread. the rest i toss. you have to toss part of your sourdough every time or else he’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger.

this week i had a breakthrough! actually first Fred kind of became dormant, and i was worried about him. for Fred to be ready to make bread, he has to be able to double in size after feeding in 6-8 hours. he hardly was rising in 8 hours, so i had to go back to the revival schedule and feed him once a day until he was ready. he was really kicking after that! doubling in a good 6 hours. i think one mistake i was making was i would feed him and put him straight into the fridge, which means the yeast didn’t have the chance to multiply enough for the next week. i think he needs to stay out for about an hour after feeding, and probably needs to come out of the fridge for a couple hours before his next feeding.

so anyway, this week the bread was really beautiful. great crust, nice soft fluffy interior, and great flavor. GOOD JOB, FRED!!!

finding nemo cupcakes

here’s some finding nemo cupcakes i made for ryder’s 2nd birthday party. they’re funfetti (homemade) with vanilla buttercream. they came out pretty good:

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nemo, dore, the turtle, the pink octopus, seaweed, and coral.

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here’s a close-up:

it was a fun little project.

gingerbread

gingerbread was our second main project in confisserie. i kind of didn’t want to construct anything after pastillage, so i decided to make a rabbit sleigh. actually i had one other idea, the trojan rabbit, but i didn’t think chef brown would go for that. anyway, i’m glad i went with the sleigh since it’s more christmas-y. so first i had to get the shape with some input from chef brown. looks good!

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then i made the sleigh body out of special strong but bendable cardboard and lots of masking tape.

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then cover the sleigh with gingerbread! yes, cardboard is not edible, but i wasn’t entering mine in the food show and it would have been really hard to make it without the cardboard, so oh well. then some egg wash and bake. the egg wash kind of had a cool effect, almost like old looking wood.

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then cover the interior and bake as well. also fill in some of the edges with gingerbread and then sand down for a nice smooth edge.

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more egg wash and bake to desired color. i think this was some egg yolks and sugar to get it a little more brown.

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then i cut and baked the feet, then sanded down and egg washed. egg wash had a little black food coloring to give it a darker color.

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gingerbread rabbits! had some issues, but overall they came out pretty good. only one is standing because it’s hard to get them standing… the other ones are resting.

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after baking them, egg wash lightly and toss in granulated sugar. some ears got a little burnt but kind of cute actually. also, make scarves!!! those are made of marzipan and fondant.

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the sleigh needed a little simple decoration around the sides as well as royal icing snowflakes. those were really hard to make. hardest part of this project.

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santa bunny and his little helper with his marzipan and fondant presents and CARROT!

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BUNNIES!!!

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here’s the completed piece. bunnies!!!

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bunny close-up!!!

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after we finished all these, they were donated to local hospitals, so that’s nice. merry christmas!

random photos from work (plus bunnies)

work is going well. one of the best things is we get a good amount of freedom, so even though the menus are basically set, we can change the recipes, make whatever we want for dessert, make different things for snack, and things like that. i like making bread, so when i work evening, i make fresh rolls instead of using the frozen ones, and i make a lot of oatmeal sandwich bread too with leftover oatmeal. anyway, here’s some random photos from work…

some butter horn rolls, my go-to rolls currently. they are slightly sweet and buttery. sometimes they are also used for small sandwiches.

some yellow cupcakes with whipped cream and mac nuts.

roasted brussel sprouts with mushrooms, caramelized onions, nuts, and dried cranberries. this is like so delicious. i’m going to post a recipe later.

potstickers (guotie) – sometimes on saturdays i have a lot of time, so one time i made potstickers from scratch, the wrapper and the filling (chicken, dried shiitakes, ginger, onion, green onion, sesame oil, salt, pepper). it was yummy.

interior view:

and now for some bunnies! here they are in their box eating morning veggies.

 

july 4 dinner

my mom said i should try to keep up my blog… good advice, mom!

anyway, on july 4 i made a five course gluten-free meal (also dairy free and nut free) for ten people. first course: corn chex crusted fried shrimp with a basil lemon aioli and some bell pepper confetti. this dish was cameron’s idea. corn chex is an excellent gluten-free frying material. it’s good for making chicken tenders too.

second course: kalua pork taco with fresh salsa on a freshly made corn tortilla. i started making my own corn tortillas with masa harina (buy it at the store and just add water and salt). i like them a lot better than the ones you buy in the store. the kalua pork is made in the oven with some salt and liquid smoke. local cocktail tomatoes with some jalapeno, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.

course three: red and green lettuces grown in maui, locally grown corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers with a strawberry lemon vinaigrette. the maui lettuce we get at costco. i like salad with all these good fresh ingredients 🙂

main course: mochiko chicken (no shoyu so gluten free) with sweet chili sauce (orange from food coloring…), tamaki gold rice, and kale with some caramelized onions and dried cranberries (if this wasn’t a nut-free meal, i like to toss in some toasted chopped pecans or other nuts). this mochiko chicken recipe is cameron’s favorite from all the gluten-free stuff we tried during his food sensitivity diet. i’ll post the recipe later.

dessert: gluten-free angel food cake with fresh strawberry sauce and a chocolate soy anglaise. the angel food cake has some tapioca flour, rice flour, corn starch, and potato starch.

anyway, it was a good meal, and i think everyone enjoyed the food. the gluten-free/dairy-free lady who came also got some new ideas to incorporate into her cooking so that’s good. i guess i learned a lot during the six months we were cooking gluten-free!