Friday, March 12, 2010

This week in the kitchen

A belated note on some recent kitchen creations...

Here is a dish I made last weekend, which made for sensational leftovers for my lunches this week. I whipped up some meatballs and red sauce with whole-wheat spaghetti. The red sauce was made from scratch, and the meatballs were a combination of ground beef and some of my homemade spicy Italian sausage that I had in my freezer.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This was the best tasting spaghetti and meatballs I have ever made. The meatballs were so tender and flavorful, and the sauce was a nice balance of sweet, spicy and tangy. I like to think I am a somewhat modest person, but this was so darn good that I was half expecting Bobby Flay to knock on my door and issue me a "spaghetti and meatballs throwdown." :)

Also this week, I baked an experimental loaf of bread that turned out to be fairly successful. It is a porter beer and caraway rye bread.

I used the basic proportions and most of the ingredients from my cinnamon swirl bread recipe (leaving out the egg wash, cinnamon sugar, the rolling, optional raisins, etc). For the 2 1/4 c. of total flour, I ended up going with 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour and 3/4 c. rye flour. Instead of the 1/2 c. of water in the recipe, I used porter beer (this year's edition of Schell's "Snowstorm" winter brew - a Baltic porter). And, I sprinkled in a couple of teaspoons of caraway seeds.

Porter beer & caraway rye bread

As the dough was kneading, I found it required some additional flour, as the dough was really quite wet (perhaps this was because the rye flour was somewhat coarse). So I gradually added small amounts of all-purpose flour until the dough came together better. After the first rise, I was thinking this might be a failure. But after I punched it down and shaped it in the loaf pan, it rose nicely on the second rise.

Really tasty bread - dense, but not heavy, there is a distinct rich and tangy dark beer taste, and it has a good rye flavor with just a hint of caraway. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but I will continue to tweak the recipe, possibly use higher proportion of all-purpose flour, more caraway, or maybe drink more beer while baking. ;-) In any case, this was good for an experiment, and it will be fun to try this again utilizing some other ideas.

And I say when life gives you rye bread, it is a sign that you must make Reubens...

Reuben sandwich on my homemade bread


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