Peach galette

Peach galette

Summer fruits are great for transforming into desserts. One of my favorite new discoveries is galette, which is essentially a simple rustic tart. They are easy to make, and go great with a range of fruits. Peaches seem bountiful these days, so I whipped up a peach galette.

Start by making your favorite pie dough. I like the Cooks Illustrated foolproof pie dough.  When ready to roll out, preheat the oven to 350°F and grab a mixing bowl and combine:

  • about a pound (450g) of sliced peaches
  • 1 tablespoon starch (cornstarch or tapioca)
  • 50g of sugar

Roll the pie dough out to 12 inches and move to a parchment-covered baking sheet. Spread out the peaches in the center, mounding slightly in the middle. Leave a 2-3 inch rim of crust around the perimeter. Fold up the perimeter and make securely patch any breaks in the crust. Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the exposed crust.

It will be done in after about an hour in the oven. Let it cool completely (ideally 2+ hours) before digging in, since the filling needs to set.

Bean rolls

Bean rolls

Since my bread-baking obsession took over, I seem to have a lot of extra bread dough around looking for a good use. After making more pita dough than I needed, I decided to mix it up with some leftovers. I flattened out 130g of the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick and added in some leftover black beans and a few pieces of gruyere. I then sealed the dough into a ball and baked it at 375° F for 15 minutes to make a bean-filled roll that I took to work.

Before lunch, I reheated the roll at 300 degrees in an office toaster oven. The result? Pretty tasty and a handy way to use leftovers. In the future, I’ll try reheating at a higher temperature and maybe for a few minutes longer so the interior gets warmer.

Judging by the thick mound of dough at the base, I could also benefit from rolling out the dough a bit thinner and covering a smaller area so that the top doesn’t get stretched out as much. The result is reminiscent of a calzone, but of course the fillings are quite different.

Sous vide brisket

Sous Vide Brisket at 140° F

After my previous attempts at sous vide brisket yielded a brittle, dry meat that was enjoyable only after being heavily drenched in barbeque sauce, I tried again with several modifications. I brined the brisket for a couple hours in a 4% salt and 3% sugar solution, rinsed the meat, and sealed it up. I cooked it at 140° F for 2 days. The results were for superior. While it’s still not my favorite cut, it was pleasant to eat, with good flavor and structure.

I could have arguably gotten away with tenderizing it even more by cooking it for an additional day, perhaps using a lower temp. Brisket varies a good deal from cut to cut, so your results may vary.

Either way, it’s great on a homemade baguette:

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Breakfast buns after baking. One cinnamon sugar for the 7 year old.

Overnight No-Kneed Breakfast Rolls

There’s a local bakery chain in Boston called Flour. One of my favorite items is their breakfast sandwiches. Going out for breakfast, however, is a challenge when you don’t live close to said bakery and you have two young children.

I’ve long sought to replicate the experience at home. Fortunately, my recent experiences with pizza dough have made it much easier to reproduce these treats. I’ll go through the fillings in a subsequent post, but the rolls are dead simple to make. You’ll need a pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet), parchment paper, and a baking stone in your oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, you can probably get away with just cook these on a baking sheet, but you may have to cook them a bit longer.

This recipe makes 4 rolls, but feel free to scale up or down as needed.

The night before you intend to eat these, mix the following ingredients in a bowl (choose one big enough to allow room for more than doubling):

  • 280g bread flour (I like Caputo 00, but you can use whatever is convenient; even AP will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 196g room temperature water

Mix the dry ingredients together then add in the water. With a spoon, stir the mixture until all the flour is absorbed, but you don’t have to kneed the dough. The gluten will develop on its own. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

Preparing for tomorrow's breakfast with @asciirun

The next morning, place a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel (the back of an overturned baking sheet will do if you don’t have one). Brush the surface with a thin coating of olive oil. Preheat your oven to 375 °F, turning on convection if you have it. If you have a baking stone or baking steel (I use the latter), make sure you give your oven adequate time to warm up (at least 30 minutes).

Turn out the dough onto a floured countertop and divide into four equal portions. The dough will be wet, so leave some extra flour around to dust the dough as needed. Fold each piece down while rotating it in your hands so the dough forms a ball with the folds connecting at the bottom. You should be able to accomplish this with about four quarter-turns of the dough. The idea is you want the out surface of the dough to be stretched to help the dough ball keep its shape.

As you finish each roll, place it on the parchment paper. When you are done, brush each lightly with olive oil. For a sweet version (my son loves these), you can then take some of these rolls and toss them gently in a bowl with cinnamon sugar (e.g. 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 4 teaspoons sugar, mixed well) before returning to the parchment.

Breakfast buns before...

Use the peel to shuttle the parchment paper onto the baking stone/steel and cook for 15 minutes. The internal temperature should be above 200° F. Let the rolls cool on a baking rack, ideally for around 30 minutes, though I’ve been known to be impatient.

Cut the rolls in half horizontally and make a sandwich of your choosing (e.g. egg, tomato, bacon). The cinnamon sugar version is great with cream cheese.

Brisket in the tank. Trying Baldwin's #sousvide approach with 176° F x 24h, but with a BBQ rub.

Brisket sous vide

It’s important to remember that sous vide is not a panacea. As with any cooking method, the results may differ from what you expect. You might think that sous vide would take out much of the variability, since the temperature and cooking time can be so precisely control, but variability in what you are cooking, and what you expect, can lead to (sometimes unwanted) surprises. After my successful run at cooking ribs sous vide, I tried the same with beef brisket. Brisket is supposedly one of the ideal cuts for sous vide, as the long cooking times possible with sous vide can break down the tough fibers of this cut.

I’m not really a big beef brisket eater. In fact, I can’t really recall the last time i had it. For this approach, I tried Douglas Baldwin’s approach of cooking at 176° F for 24 hours. The results were a dry, uninspiring meat that was reasonable doused in barbecue sauce, but nothing particularly impressive. To be fair to Baldwin, I didn’t follow his recommendation to brine the meat, but rather used a barbecue rub and torched the meat post-tank to give some character to the exterior.

I did freeze half the brisket prior to cooking though, so I may try this again soon…

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Back underwater

I discovered the sous vide approach some time ago. The idea is simple: take vacuum packed pieces of food and place them in a temperature controlled water bath to ensure even cooking. It sounds almost foolproof, but in fact can be somewhat finicky. It’s key to find not only the right temperature, but the right cooking time. My first attempts at sous vide filet mignon were cooked at 130° F for 8 hours. The steaks appeared to be an even medium rare but, because of the extended cooking duration, had become mushy. Shortening the duration to 1 hour and adding a finishing sear led to some of the best steaks I have ever had.

I have tried a few other food sous vide, including eggs and salmon, but didn’t particularly like the results. So, aside from the occasional steak, my Sous Vide Magic went mostly unused.

When rain threatened to sabotage my Fourth of July barbecue ribs, I turned to the sous vide approach again, using this approach: a rack of Saint Louis ribs prepared with rub after removing the membrane and excess fat, cut into 3 sections, bagged, then cooked at 138 °F for 24 hours. I finished them off with a few minutes under the broiler. With one section, I the brushed the ribs in Kansas City barbecue sauce and gave it another quick broil.

The results were fantastic, and far superior to my attempt the week prior on the charcoal grill (likely because I had given the ribs inadequate time to tenderize fully). They were certainly much easier to prepare. The only thing missing was a bit of smokiness. I might try a bit of liquid smoke or smoked salt with the next attempt.