Whole grain potato bread

Potatoes are one the vegetables that get step-motherly treatment from me. Sheesh. A vegetarian who doesn't like vegetables!

Anyhoo, the bread was a resounding success, (I think) primarily due to the addition of buttermilk and potato, resulting in a tender, fluffy crumb. I was generous with garlic but held off on the rosemary. I like to 'accessorize' my breads with all kinds of cheeses, pesto and spreads but I also like to start with a plain canvas :-)

Heres what I did:
Original recipe from Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart
A version from The Bread Bakers Apprentice is reproduced here

For the biga:
1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/3 cup water at room temperature

For the bread:
All of the Biga
1.5 cups whole wheat high-gluten or bread flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground (optional)
3/4 teaspoons Instant yeast
2 medim potatoes, mashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted garlic
Olive oil for brushing on top

- Made biga by mixing all ingredients together. Fermented at room temp until double in size. Degas and stored in fridge overnight.
- Next day, unchilled biga till its at room temp.
- Break biga into 10-12 pieces.
- Nuked pototoes in microwave till mushy. Cooled and added all the ingredients.
- Kneaded for 10 minutes. Got a drink!
- Put the dough into an oiled bowl and let it rise for 2 hours, until double in size.
- Shaped it into a loaf and a boule. Misted the dough and covered with plastic wrap.
- Let it rise 1-2 hours till doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brushed top of loaves with olive oil and scored the tops.
- Baked for 40 minutes, rotating pans half way through.
- Cool for about an hour before serving.

The verdict:
This bread marks the tender-est crumb I have achieved in a hearty whole grain bread. I suspect, its the combination of buttermilk, potato and warm weather that contributed. My favorite bread so far.


The Rochester Review

View Larger Map

My favorite restaurants in Rochester are Lento and Rooney's. But I LOVE Dogtown Hots just as much! Click on the blue balloons in the map above for more!

Alladin's: Best Value for Money on a Hot, Summer Day
Visions of crisp, leafy greens dance enticingly... Perhaps a little creamy dressing on the side... And so, I find myself sitting under a canopy at Alladin's often. I've tried their falafel, baba ganouj and hummus pitas and have come away staggering at the ginormous portions. They serve bean sprouts with their greens (yum!) The tzatziki is always tangy. All in all, fresh, flavorful food thats excellent value for money. Voice of experience: The food is just as good at their Monroe Ave location as at the Schoen Place location.

John's Tex Mex: Best Tofu Quesadillas!
Stumbled upon John's Tex Mex Eatery on South Ave. To my great delight, this bright little place was just thing I was looking for on both fronts, flavor and budget. In addition, the interior is a bright orangey-red, undeniably cheerful. The service is quick and friendly. The food is not terribly authentic (like I would know!) but is quite delicious all the same. Their guacamole is quite unusual - I can't quite put my finger on the spice mix in it.

Aside from the food, John's is in the Southwedge and I'm all for revitalizing the Southwedge. John's, owned and run by an outrageously young entrepreneur, is part of the 'Southwedge renaissance'. Show your support!

And the award for Chick Appeal goes to: Simply Crepes
I've taken many of my guests to Simply Crepes at Pittsford landing, which (I think) is cute even when the weather is terrible. I've stepped out of the drizzle / slush /heat and into this bustling little restaurant. Simply Crepes has personality, lots of it. Classy and casual, it has this bright, friendly feel to it. Sure, some people will find it pretentious / yuppie. Pshaw, I say! Its the kind of place that will make anything special - you can go there with co-workers/ family/ friends/ a date and the ambience will be just right.

Anyhoo, the food is routinely fabulous. Tried the Oatmeal Creme Brulee one time. It was perfection... warm comforting oatmeal topped by luxurious cream and a wafer-thin layer of caramelized sugar. Loved the Goat Cheese Arugula crepe, Ditto for the Fresh Fruit Crepe with buckwheat flour and of course, the Chocolate Mousse Crepe. Lusty sigh.

Strictly Mediocre but Good Date Places:
'Twas dusk on a Fall evening, mercury floated in the 60s. I stepped into the warm interior of Café Cibon, and the last traces of my frantic day disappeared. Café Cibon is a charming little place, and lives up to its reputation as a "European style bistro". The pace is anything but rushed.

I'm willing to wager that the food here is consistently above-average. (clears throat apologetically) Not outstanding. I know I'm being excessively picky but I'm just sayin'. Its a slightly pricey place that features reasonably good food. To be fair, Café Cibon would be a good choice for a first or second date. Conversation will flow easily. Sit back and enjoy how the candlelight flickers on her beautiful skin / makes his eyes sparkle. The world will be tinged with a mellow glow. If you discover that s/he is a discerning foodie, grin self-deprecatingly. You've been busted!

Not to be a snob, but I would add the following in this category. Lola Bistro, , Edibles and 2 Vine fall into this category.

Best Place to get a Beer:
The Old Toad, The Tap and Mallet



Sunblock and sangria are my saviors when the summer sun hits its zenith. Other than sorbets and chilled slices of watermelon, very little seems to tempt the palate. Otsu to the rescue!

Heres what I did:
Original recipe featured in Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking, inspired by the traditional Japanese combination of soba noodles and a dipping sauce
1. Cook the soba till al dente.
2. Follow Adam's instructions. The recipe is forgiving so feel free to improvise.

The verdict:
My favorite summer meal! The ginger - cilantro - scallion combination is delicious, the dressing is simple and refreshing!


Whole wheat brioche

If you've dreamed of a luxuriant fluffy bread, brioche is for you. Many moons ago, I read pastrygirl's description of brioche and fell headlong in love:

"honey-spun,sunshine-dipped clouds"

My quest led me to The Little Bakery . They have an absolutely delicious brioche loaf for $ 4.50. Highly reccommended. My only grouse was that it was a tad too rich (I know, I know, its brioche! What was I thinking!) I couldn't help wondering what middle class brioche made with whole wheat strong flour would be like... No, no, I'm not an elitist! Peter Reinhart provides three different versions of brioche based on the flour:butter ratio. The three versions are: Rich Man's brioche (80% butter!!!), Middle Class (50%), Poor man's brioche (20%).

Needless to say, I modified the recipe to 30% butter and created whole new social class (insert grand flourish here) - this is the brioche that lives well, within her means and is diligent about her IRA and FSA. Meticuous, responsible and discerning. (Grin)

Heres what I did:
Original recipe featured in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice
1. Halved the recipe.
2. Used bread flour to make the sponge.
3. Used whole wheat bread flour from Lori's for the dough.
4. The proofing times and all other kneading instructions worked perfectly.
5. Skipped the egg wash. (just plain laziness)

The verdict:
The crust was lovely - shiny and golden. The texture was that wonderful mix of fluffy, fragrant, pull-apart goodness - rich and light, meltingly tender and yet with the slightest chewiness. I love this loaf! Its so delightfully pleasing, so relaxed and easy-going. Blissfully belying all the sweat and stress that went into its creation!

Next time, I'd like to try adding an egg to the dough to see how the texture changes. I confess, I may have overbaked my loaf by a couple minutes. The bottom corner looks pretty brown, the tops and sides were good though. So next time, I will cut the baking time to 28 minutes and see what happens.

The best brioche writing (and pictures):
1. La Cerise explains brioche with many many versions.
2. PastryGirl adapts an Alice Medrich briche recipe with a muscovado sugar filling!
3. The most entertaining brioche recipe ever comes from the Traveler's Lunchbox. The Seven Steps include instructions to successfully muscle your way through Ebay, the power of prayer and other gems, such as an outstanding recipe, adapted from versions by Sherry Yard and Dorie Greenspan.
4. If you'd rather make individual brioches, here is a lovely droolworthy recipe for Apple Cinnamon Brioche by Bron of

This semi-healthy (read "whole grain, lower fat") version of brioche goes to Equal Opportunity Kitchen for Tried, Tested and Tasted - 2 !


Irish Cream Flan

Psst! My mom and grandmom are visiting. I need to drastically reduce my (ahem) alcohol reserves. It was all logical in the beginning. Of course, I've used Grand Marnier and Sherry in various baking projects. Wine and beer are for sharing with my guests. But how to explain my tendency to add a spash of Bailey's Irish Cream in my coffee or hot chocolate?! I've decided to destroy the evidence, so to speak! Goodbye you handsome devil, I will miss you :-)

Of course, I'm kidding. Now that I've made the Italian Chocolate Almond Torte a few times, I often have egg yolks on hand. While I like the occasional brulee, I'm too lazy to indulge in cream and a blow torch! And, so I turned to something a little more simple...

Heres what I did:
1. Scald scant one cup milk. I had skim milk on hand so thats what I used.
2. Dissolve one quarter cup muscovado sugar. I suspect brown sugar will work just as well.
3. This is the all-important secret ingredient: add a pinch of nutmeg.
4. Take off heat and stir in two thirds of a cup of Bailey's Irish Cream.
5. Whisk seven egg yolks. Do not cook them or incorporate too much air. I found these instructions very useful. The goal is to get the mixture creamy and cooked.
6. Divide into ramekins. Cook at 350 degrees F in a water bath for about 20-25 minutes till the centers set. Cool, chill for at least 2-4 hours before serving.

The verdict:
Delicious light eggy smooth dessert. The nutmeg adds fragrance as well as flavor. I am not a big fan of milk and so I quite liked the subtle Irish Cream flavor melding with the nutmeg. I prefer muscovado or brown sugar in this flan, it adds a sort of butterscotch dimension to the Irish Creme - Nutmeg theme. Utterly scrumptious!

The best things to do with left over egg yolks:
1. Bailey's Brulee, Custard or Flan
2. Alice Medrich's Low Fat Lemon Curd
3. Sabayon or Zabaglione
4. If only I could hold off on eating these Saffron-Sherry Flans just long enough to take pictures! I pared the recipe down and only used skim milk, egg yolks, saffron, sherry and lemon zest. Sigh. They were wonderful! Soothing and luxuriant, beyond fabulous!
Note: If you're concerned about raw egg yolks, there are quite a few blog posts about how to judge when the yolks are cooked without scrambling them.

My little Irish Cream Flans are on their way to Aparna who is hosting "Think Nutmeg"! Enjoy!


Garlic Scape Pesto

What a wonderful Jul 4th weeknd its been! Perfect weather, the days have been quite delightful.

Summer has been bountiful - bought rhubarb and red peppers at the Public Market. Came across garlic scapes at the Public Market and was quite charmed with their sinuous, graceful curves. I used them in a stir-fry and made a simple walnut based pesto with the rest. Strong garlicky flavor, yet different from regular garlic! They are a little more assertive than the garlic scapes we found at Bhaji Gully last winter.

Heres what I did:
1. Chopped up 6-7 tender scapes.
2. Combined 3-4 tablespoons walnuts.
3. Added 1/4 cup olive oil in a slow steady stream.
4. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate to store.

The verdict:
Voilà! Homemade pesto! Good with various kinds of bread, roasted vegetables (summer squash, eggplant and the like).

My tentative steps towards embracing locally foods have been quite positive! The high point of the loca-vore experience may have been "Lento". The ambience is stylish and simple, the emphasis on innovative, seasonal local cuisine. There were lots of young people working at the restaurant - from the host and hostess, to the sommelier, valet and server. They were SO hard-working and polite. It is my favorite restaurant in the area. They have the most vegetarian choices and the most interesting combinations. Omnivores may want to try the duck.

My 'other' favorite restaurants are:
1. I adore Rooney's.
2. I haven't been bowled over by the food at Edibles or 2 Vine but they are both very enjoyable.
3. Tasteology in Pittsford wins brownie points for trying to serve small(er), healthy, portions across the road from the Cheesecake Factory!
Most of these make some effort to serve locally produced dairy, meat, produce and/or wine.

1. Muffin Love hosts Eating Local!
2. The 100 mile diet.
3. More perspective on eating local.