Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whole Wheat Biscuits

I accomplished three things with this recipe.
1. I got to use my fancy whole wheat.
2. I got to use whey for the first time.
3. I got to use my biscuit cutter that I didn't know I had.

I'm pretty sure this was one of the first times I ever used whole wheat flour. I know I've bought it before. I know I've let it sit in my pantry until it went rancid. But I don't recall ever actually using it. This was the stuff I bought at Harry's (Whole Foods) a few weeks before and diligently kept in the frigerator. I know, I'm pretty proud of me too. Cool bag, huh? I still have some carefully sealed in the cool darkness that is my sometimes scary fridge. However, I made a ton of whole wheat recipes after this so I could use as much as possible while it was still fresh. I can feel everyone rolling their eyes, but it's TRUE and I'll prove you all WRONG.

As you read, once I realized that I was going to be getting bonus whey from my cheesmaking expedition (be cheese! need whey!), I went in search of a way to use it. This is actually the recipe that came with the wheat, because I couldn't find anything better. I had my heart set on using whey instead of milk and by god no one was going to stop me. I might make another batch with milk just to test out how much of a difference there is.

Whey is healthy? It smells and tastes like a light buttermilk. It's actually sort of cool and I was excited to play around with it. But I didn't. This is me after all. But hey! I got to use it at least once and this was definitely the way to go. Just barely reheated in the microwave and covered with a little jam, they make a great breakfast. It was so simple and the dough was so easy to work with. Just lightly patted out. Got to use my biscuit cutter for the first time, if biscuit cutters can have rippled edges. Win-win situation, I feel.

It was way late but a quick mix and 10 minute bake after hours of cheesemaking seemed like cake. They didn't rise much, possibly because I didn't let them chill out and rise, though the recipe didn't call for it. Still, they came out moist and surprisingly light. I like to think the whey had something to do with this.

The next day, these biscuits led to an interesting discussion with my boss again (remember peanut guy?) about wheat. He suggested one of the reasons they didn't rise much was because most wheat in the South is a soft ... something seed which lacks the larger amount of gluten the northern hard cultivars do. See what you can learn with science? And see how fast I can forget?

Bottom line: damn good biscuits.

Whole Wheat Biscuits
from Logan Turnpike Mill

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk (whey!)

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Mix all dry ingredients in a med-large bowl.

3) Cut in butter until it has the texture of coarse crumbs. Add milk (whey!) to mixture and stir well.

4) Knead lightly on floured surface. Roll out to 3/4 inch thickness or pat if you're lazy. Cut with a biscuit cutter. Or cookie cutter. Or knife. Maybe one of those ruffly pastry cutters that look like medical instruments. Whatever.

5) Bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Makes about 10-12 medium-sized biscuits.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Homemade Paneer

Like most recipes I've wanted to make, I've kept it in the back of my mind for years without really attempting to go beyond that. Homemade paneer was one of those things that I bookmarked the recipe for, but just didn't get around to. It'll be too hard, it'll be too messy, I'd rather eat canned soup, that sort of thing. However, I had a bunch of cilantro looking ill in my refrigerator that needed to be dealt with. After I found this recipe, I knew paneer was in my future.

Well, as with most "simple things", I manage to make them harder for myself. This was no exception. I followed this great blog post for instructions. What I thought would take maybe an hour to do plus 2-3 hours to refrigerate turned into a grueling 3 hour process of stirring, swearing, and shouting "Be CHEESE!" at my not-cheese.

Starting off, I did everything like I was supposed to. I was gentle and loving with my ingredients, babying them with quiet words of encouragement to just be themselves and do what comes naturally. Half an hour later, I had tiny curds starting to form. What relief! What success!

What a crock! A spoonful of minuscule curds does not cheese make. But that's okay, it's okay, shhh. Things like this happen all the time in my kitchen. It'll be cheese. Really. I'll just add a little bit more lime juice, raise the heat a notch, and all will be well. After saying this like a mantra for nearly an hour and a half, the yelling kicked in.

Make cheese, damn it! BE CHEESE!

To say I was miffed was a bit of an understatement. When I yell, things happen. But not today. My Not-Cheese was as stubborn as me and defiantly refusing to do what it was supposed to. I would make this work because that's what I do. I make things work whether they want to or not. I scoured the internet for troubleshooting tips, but seriously, wherever the cheesemakers are hiding they are ridiculously successful or have no internet connection because there ain't nothing. Just a few random bits here and there of things I was doing anyways. Add more rennet/lime juice/lemon juice/acid/ect, boil the crap out of it, keep going until it kills you. Done. Way ahead of you.

I've found you can't be gentle with this stuff. You have to bully the cheese out of it. I figured at some point I would either have lime-flavored cheese or lime-flavored milk powder. Either way, it would be something other than what it was at the time: a big pot of recalcitrant milk and enough citrus to curdle anything other than that particular milk. (Why can't you just BE CHEESE?)

And after a while, I didn't care about cheese anymore. I'd found a recipe using the whey that I was so excited about. But how can you have whey with no cheese? So back to the stove. But lo! There was a curd. A bigun. One single mondo curd in a sea of tiny asshole curds. Was it teasing me? Was it a sign of things to come? Could my tiny heart handle it if it was the former?

So I pressed on. Slowly, so damn slowly, more curds formed. More and more until finally I saw some CHEESE! and WHEY! Through sweat and tears, I carefully strained it and let it sit. After much strife I had paneer. Delicate, glistening white paneer. What did I do with it? Uh...

I threw it in a salad. I might have slathered some of biscuits. Oh, you mean did I make the recipe with it? Of course not. Why would I do that? I used about half of it before it grew mold and got thrown away. Obviously.

But I used some of the WHEY! I'll blog about that recipe soon. I did it for the experience. But since the experience kinda sucked, I might hold off on doing it again for another 4 years. Do not judge me. I am fully aware that I'm retarded.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chocolate Cruncher-Nutter Bars and Stuff

I took an recipe for fluffer-nutter bars, added two ounces pre-melted unsweetened chocolate that's been sitting around since the dawn of my kitchen, and substituted crunchy peanut butter for the smooth. Of course, they would have tasted better if the cheerios I'd used hadn't been as old as the chocolate. Still. Not a bad use of sweet stuff.

However, I'm not sold on the fluffer-nutter deal. It sounds good. It should be good. I find the Fluffy Whip kind of tasteless. I guess I'm a little old fashioned and still believe that peanut butter and chocolate love will triumph over all.

To test this theory however, I started slathering peanut butter on all manner of things. One in particular I just had to snap a photo of.

Who thought of peanut butter and potato chips? Who had an overabundance of potatoes and peanuts and racked their brain for ideas? Personally, I think they could have come up with something better. But on my journey to really experiment with the stuff, I soldiered on and ate it. See?

The only one I've heard of and haven't tried yet is PB and mayo hot dogs. Yeah. And truly, it's only because I keep forgetting to buy hot dogs. One day...

What's your favorite pairing?