December 18, 2011

Sourdough Pumpernickel Rye Bread

This bread makes excellent grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sourdough Pumpernickel Rye Bread
Rye Sourdough Starter
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup rye flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Cover tightly, and let stand 24 are room temperature.

Sourdough Pumpernickel Rye Bread
1 batch rye sourdough starter
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. barley malt, sorghum molasses or honey
2 Tbsp. espresso powder
1 cup dark rye flour
3 Tbsp. gluten
1 cup bread flour

Make the rye sourdough starter. The next day, add the remaining ingredients except the bread flour. Add half the bread flour, and beat until a smooth, stiff dough forms. Knead in the remaining flour as needed to have the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. For more intense sourdough flavor, cover the dough, and let it rise overnight.

Bring dough to room temperature if it was refrigerated. Turn dough onto lightly greased or floured surface, and punch dough down. Shape dough into a round loaf, and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Slash loaf with a sharp knife.  Bake 40-45 minutes until done. Cool on a wire rack.

Country Sourdough Bread

I'll be honest. I'm not completely sure I had the bread labeled correctly in the freezer, but I believe I did. If the label was correct, this bread is awesome.

The reason I'm a bit uncertain is that much of the bread I bake goes right into the freezer as we can't eat as fast as I bake. In the interest of saving money and the environment, I reuse our freezer bags. Occasionally, that means I can't positively identify a bread when it's pulled from the freezer.

Still, for as good as the bread was, it's worth taking the risk to make it. Slightly crunchy crust with great texture and rich flavor.

Country Sourdough Bread
Sourdough Starter
1 cup warm water, between 105ºF and 115ºF
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp. active dry yeast

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Cover tightly, and let stand 24 to 36 hours, until the starter is bubbly and has a sweet-sour aroma. Cover and refrigerate for storage or use immediately. Replenish after each use with a mixture of half water and half flour. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours, until bubbly. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Country Sourdough Bread
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. yeast
2/3 cups sourdough starter
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tsp. salt
1 cup dark rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. gluten
2 cups bread flour

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast and room temperature sourdough starter. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add salt, rye flour and wheat flour. Beat well. Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.

Add gluten and bread flour. Knead the dough until soft and springy but soft to the touch. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Turn dough onto lightly greased or floured surface, and punch dough down. Shape dough into a round loaf. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slash bread with a sharp knife, and brush with water. Bake 45 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Artichoke Relish

This is my second canning experiment with Jerusalem artichokes. Word on the Internet (no one talks on the street any more) is that Jerusalem artichoke relish is a Southern delicacy. I've tried a number of Southern delicacies like grits, greens, cornbread and fried dandelion greens thanks to my mother's Southern roots. But even she hadn't heard of artichoke relish. I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not. (I'll let you know once we crack open the first jar.)

Update: We opened the first jar of relish at Christmas due to no mustard in the house for the ham. The overwhelming verdict was the relish tastes great with ham.

Jerusalem Artichoke Relish
5 quarts Jerusalem artichokes, chopped
2 cups non-iodized salt
3 lbs. green cabbage, chopped
1 1/2 lbs. onions, chopped
6 large red and green bell peppers, chopped
3/4 cup flour
1 (24-oz.) jar prepared mustard
2 quarts apple cider vinegar
3 lbs. sugar
3 Tbsp. mustard seed
2 Tbsp. tumeric
2 Tbsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 tsp. hot sauce

Soak artichokes overnight in 1 gallon water and 1 cup of salt. In another container, soak the cabbage, onion and bell peppers in the remaining gallon of water and 1 cup of salt.

Drain all the vegetables, and spread them on separate towels to remove excess water.

Combine flour and prepared mustard in a bowl. Set aside.

In a 10-quart or larger pot, add the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, tumeric, celery seed and black pepper. Bring to a boil, and add the cabbage, onion and peppers. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Reduce heat to low.

Add 1 cup of cooking liquid to floor and mustard mixture, and then add the thinned mixture to the pot of vegetables. Add hot sauce and artichokes. Raise the heat and stir until almost boiling (about 5 minutes). Remove pot fro heat, and ladle hot relish into sterilized jars. Process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath. Makes 17-18 pints.

Note: I have no idea why anyone would make a batch of 18 pints of something they've never tried, much less knew about prior to Internet searches. The only logical answer I have would be Christmas gifts. 'Tis the season.

Jerusalem Artichoke Pickles

I'll admit I'm a bit dubious about this creation, but I felt obligated to do something with at least a portion of my Jerusalem artichokes. The majority of people with whom I discussed Jerusalem artichokes incorrectly assumed they were the same artichokes used in the gooey rich artichoke dips. (OK, discussed is probably a strong word when in fact the conversations all lasted about two minutes.) Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes, are the tubers of sunflower-type plants. 

We roasted some of our artichokes and used others in a stew. That barely made a dent in them, and they reportedly don't freeze well (as if we have spare space in our freezer). So, I searched online and came to the conclusion of Jerusalem artichoke pickles. 

Once I open a jar, I'll let you know how they taste.

Jerusalem Artichoke Pickles
2-3 lbs. Jerusalem artichokes
Juice of 2-3 lemons
4 cups water
1/3 cup canning salt
3 Tbsp. tumeric
4 cups cider vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1-2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
2 Tbsp. dry mustard seed
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. chili flakes
1 clove per quart
1 bay leaf per quart

Cut artichokes into 1/2-inch pieces, and place in a bowl of water with the lemon juice. Once all sunchokes are cut, mix the 4 cups water with 1 Tbsp. tumeric and the salt. Soak the sunchokes in this mixture for one day. 

To make pickling liquid, mix the vinegars, sugar, 1 cup water, remainder of the tumeric, mustard seed, dry mustard and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, stir well, and let it cool to room temperature.

Place 1 clove and 1 bay leaf in each sterilized quart jar. Rinse the artichokes, and fill jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Cover artichokes with cooled vinegar mixture, again leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Let jars cool, and check the seals. Wait at least a week before eating to let the flavors develop. Makes 3 quarts.

Vanilla Pear Jam

Jam, in my mind, is a summer creation. I associate the sticky process of making jam with fresh berries, but that's not always the case. Frozen berries can make excellent jam. And jam is not reserved just for berries.

I certainly broadened my jam repertoire this summer with new creations involving tomatoes, basil and ground cherries (not all in the same jam). This fall, I fell in love with my cranberry jam creation. And a surplus of pears led to my latest jam, Vanilla Pear Jam.

This jam retains the distinct texture of the pears and combines their sweetness with flecks of vanilla. This jam was an experiment for me with whole vanilla beans, which might become a staple in my kitchen. There's something satisfying about using ingredients in their purest form.

Vanilla Pear Jam
8 cups chopped pears
4 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans

Chop the pears into fairly uniform pieces, removing the cores but leaving the skins intact. Split vanilla beans down the center, and scrape out the tiny seeds. Combine pears and sugar in a large, heavy-duty pot. Add both the vanilla bean shells and the seeds. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pears are soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon.

Remove pears from heat, and remove the vanilla bean shells. Puree the pear mixture in a food processor or blender to reach desired texture. A potato masher may also be used.

Return the pear mixture to the pot, and continue to cook over medium heat until the pears are fairly thick (approximately 20 minutes). Remember, the jam will thicken slightly once you remove it from the heat. There are various ways to test jam, such as a plate method or spoon test. The nice thing about jam is that even if it's thicker or thinner than intended, it still tastes delicious.

Ladle jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Cover with sterilized lids and bands. Process in a hot water bath 10 minutes. Cool completely. Check to ensure each jar is sealed. Any jars that aren't sealed should be refrigerated.

Lesson learned while putting my jars in the basement: dropping jars on a concrete floor may pop the seal. I figured that's better than the jar itself cracking and ruining a jar of jam.

Notes: I used several varieties of pears (Bosc, Red Anjou, Green Anjou and Bartlett) for my jam, but one would also work. This recipe should yield approximately 3 half-pints of jam.