Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Update &cetera

Well, the wee sir seemed to enjoy his first Christmas. He had a grand old time pulling out - and thoroughly tasting - each of the toys in his stocking. He got some fun things that play music and make interesting noises, and he's been happily playing with those. Always a winner, though, are the very simple things such as paper and ribbons. Boy's more like a cat every day, I've been saying. ;)

I used a new dough recipe this year when it came time to make the Christmas calzones. It was a much softer, less mouth-cutty crust than I've made in years past, and I was very pleased with the final result! I think part of the trick might be letting the yeast sit in the hot water/sugar mixture long enough to get a little foamy, and then starting to add the flour.

Short version (for those who don't want to click the link):
1. In a large bowl, combine 1 packet of yeast with 1 cup of hot (110 degrees F) water and a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture sit until it starts to foam a little (about 5 minutes).
2. Add 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1.5 cups of flour. (I also add a little garlic powder & onion powder.) Mix well.
3. Add another cup of flour, or slightly more if necessary until the dough is just slightly sticky to the touch.
4. Transfer to a floured board, and knead for 5 - 7 minutes, adding additional flour if needed. Dough should be soft & elastic, but no longer sticky.
5. Put the dough back into a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover the bowl with a damp towel, and set it someplace warm to rise for an hour.
6. For calzones, divide the dough into four balls, and let them sit for 15 minutes before rolling them out & filling them with delicious calzone fillings. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes at 475 degrees and rock on with your bad calzone-eating self.

In other culinary news, I have been waging a battle with cornbread. I can make a delicious batch of cornbread from one of the cornbread mix packets you can buy at the store, but lately I've been trying to make it from scratch (since we seem to have come into an obscenely large stash of cornmeal). It's been tougher to replicate the ready-mix stuff than I expected. The first batch came out super dry and super dense, more like cornbrick than cornbread. The second batch was fluffy and moist but didn't really taste like anything. I'm beginning to think the cornmeal I used isn't very good. I'll use another of our many bags in the next batch and see how that goes.

Tonight I'm back to work, but only for 3 more nights. Yee-hee!

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