Archive for the ‘Fermentation’ Category

My cooking life has two constant shaping factors, which are 1) my sourdough starter and 2) the ebb and flow of local veggies. The first matters because sourdough starter has to be “fed” once a week, which means that every week I produce more of it, which means that every week I either have to bake something with the excess or dump it, which I hate doing, so I try to use it. The second matters in different ways at different times of the year. Right now, it feels like spring is coming fast, so I want to use up all the produce I froze and canned and dried last summer. I want my chest freezer and my pantry to be empty before I start filling them up again.

The calzone project made excellent use of both resources, which makes it an astounding success in my eyes. I made sourdough pizza dough and stuffed it with formerly frozen local veggies and made sauce out of tomatoes I’d canned last year. Pretty much perfect.

I’ll include the dough recipe here, even though it won’t be of much use if you don’t have a sourdough starter:

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups warm water, half a cup of fed sourdough starter, 1 package of dry yeast, and two cups of whole-wheat flour. Let stand one hour.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons each of salt and sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and about 2 cups all-purpose flour. Knead until smooth and let rise until doubled (2 hours) in a warm place.
  3. Punch down the dough, divide into 8 equal pieces, roll ’em out, and let sit for 10 minutes.

For the filling, I used roasted red peppers, spinach, roasted eggplant, and a mixture of beans and summer squash. I know that last one is a little unconventional, but I’ve got a surplus and wanted to use them up. I think you can stuff calzones with basically anything. The only tip I can offer is that you want whatever you use to be relatively dry so the calzones don’t turn out to be a soggy mess. I drained everything really well and roasted excess moisture off the squash and beans.

To assemble, I mixed together some sauce (I just cooked down some tomatoes and added a cube or two of frozen pesto for this) and ricotta and put a dollop of that on one half of each round of dough, and then mixed and matched the veggies and topped the whole shebang with some grated mozzarella. Then I moistened the edge of the dough with some water, folded it over the top, and crimped the edge with a fork.

Bake at 450 for 20 mins on a baking sheet that’s been oiled and sprinkled with cornmeal, and cool them on a rack so they don’t get soggy.

My assembly technique may leave something to be desired, since each calzone had its own, um, wonderfully unique shape, but I was happy with them. And that’s a really good thing, since I made sixteen of them and ate about two a day for the last week. It was pretty intense.



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Emily’s not the only one with a bubbly bacterial colony living in her apartment. This is my sourdough starter at work in some waffle batter. Look at those little guys move! Go starter go!

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    Erin and I started the homebrewing adventure a few weeks ago. Well, Erin does most of the work, but I express genuine curiosity, and I totally helped with bottling our first batch. Our labels are going to be the bomb, but we haven’t really perfected them yet. Let’s just say for now that our love of scrabble and amber ale come together in a creative, adhesive-backed masterpiece. The photo above is of the malt and hops getting all foamy, and then we stirred the yeast in (below), and let it ferment for a few days.

       When the “wort” was fermenting, there were little bubbles in this airlock thingy on top of the fermenter, and we took to calling the operation “Mr. Bubbles.” This was an improvement, because prior to that Erin had been calling it “our baby.” As in, “how’s our baby doing today?” said in a tone of tender, parental concern. I think Mr. Bubbles is slightly less personal. More professional, if you will. Mr. Bubbles #1 is turning out fine, I think. We bottled him two weekends ago, and also added more sugar for the yeast to eat, and so far none of the bottles have exploded. In 2 weeks we get to drink it, which is very exciting. I hope that it is delicious and wonderful, and not funky and full of sediment. We’ll see. Right now Erin is making a batch that is supposed to taste like Bell’s Oberon (the ingredient kit is called “Ober Easy.” Clever, eh?). This is also very exciting. Later I’ll post photos of Mr. Bubbles #2 in all his fermenting glory, so y’all can wait with bated breath (and by “y’all” I mean Claire).


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