I would apologize that I haven’t updated the blog in a few weeks, but to be honest nothing interesting was happening during (hopefully) the last big chill of the season.
I’ve talked about spent grain bread before, now I can update with a new twist on that recipe. This week Rebecca and I were able to make spent grain sour dough bread using some yeast I caught here in Cincinnati. It ended up with a great yogurty sourness that went well with honey.
I caught the yeast by throwing some rye flour and water into a bowl with a towel covering it and letting the bowl sit out in our house for 48 hours. It took longer to see bubbles than others had advised me due to the lower temperature of the house.
I took about 1/4 of the slurry and mixed it with more flour and water every 24 hours for a week or so (sometimes going as long as 3 days). By day 7 it had a really sour smell and was very acidic. Rebecca took about 1/4 of the culture and threw it in some water with more flour near our pre-heating stove. The yeast took off and eventually she began following the spent grain recipe with this yeast instead of the dry active yeast prescribed by the recipe.
It took about 24 hours for rising to fully occur. She punched it down about halfway through and let it rise again. The rise wasn’t huge like a regular yeast, but it was enough to warrant attempting to bake the dough.
What came out was what is pictured above. A really nice dense but moist bread with a really complex sour flavor reminiscent of plain Greek yogurt.
Since she baked the bread I’ve started feeding and diluting the yeast more, I think it was less vigorous due to acidification and am hoping that this will correct that problem. Once the yeast became more active (eating everything in under 12 hours) I threw the whole thing in the fridge for storage until we want to make bread again.
Unfortunately I don’t have more concrete numbers or measurements for this post. Yeast culturing turned out to be much more of an art due to my haphazzard method.
I love to tell people about sodium citrate, a chemical that is similar to what the inventors of Velveeta used to keep their cheese from separating into fats and proteins. It works great for creating nacho cheese and cheese sauce at home using a few ounces of cheese, a bit of water, and some sodium citrate.
You can easily find the recipe on the Modernist Cuisine Website. I cobbled together the advice of a few different recipes to create what, effectively, tasted like beer cheese. If you want to recreate out creation follow the recipe below:
285g (10 oz) of Vermont Sharp Cheddar (I ended up using 11.5 oz)
2 cups cooked macaroni (or whatever pasta you prefer)
Combine sodium citrate and beer into a pot, whisking to dissolve, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Add cheese slowly to simmering liquid, blending with an immersion blender (or just whisk really hard, like I did)
Mix cheese sauce with macaroni/pasta
The beer is really the key difference here, the added flavor contributed by the dunkelweiss gives a distinct beer-cheese flavor that adds to the sharp cheddar flavor of undiluted cheddar cheese (we may try adding some mozzarella next time to thing the flavor a bit, it got intense). We also discussed adding garlic and roasted onions and peppers. In addition, Rebecca has promised to make some spent grain bread to go along with it (so we can mop up the extra).
If you have problems with the emulsion refer to the original recipe (linked above) and look at the tips section.
I’m not sure if I like this whole header image thing. This might be a one time thing.
Today is the NKADD’s Super Bowl Chili cook off. I expected fewer participants. As of 10:00a (the last time I updated this post) I saw at least 14 other chili competitors.
I love making chili in winter, especially during cold weather like we’re experiencing now. (Cold weather, not polar vortex, just cold). I make three kinds of ‘chili,’ Cincinnati/greek style, six bean, and winter warmer. Today I made my winter warmer chili. Its based on a heavily modified version of a recipe I found on PBS. Doubling the turkey and spices, adding tomato paste and another type of beans are among the changes I make. I also have a few secret additions that, I think, give my chili a bit more flavor depth. It’s definitely a hot chili since I switch out the recommended peppers for cayenne.
The six bean chilis is a modified version of a knock-off Wendy’s Chili recipe. I add extra varieties of beans to give it more mass on the cheap (feeds more people that way). I also tend to skip the celery, I’m not a big fan of how it tastes and I don’t think it adds much to the chili.
Cincinnati or greek-style chili is the chili of my people. I’m Greek on my mother’s side, and I grew up eating Cincinnati style chili without really knowing that it was really popular here. As fate would have it, I moved to Cincinnati the place where the most popular foods remind me of home. My own Greek chili recipe is all in my head and has few measurements. I will not even try to recreate it here as its more a system of spice-and-taste with a few key ingredients that any skyline recipe is going to have. One thing I do want to mention though, putting your onions into a food processor and slow cooking them until the essentially dissolve adds nice flavor to a greek style chili without scaring off folks that are adverse to onions.
In case you’re interested, here is my current chili recipe (though I’ll be making more changes to it soon!)
I think I remember you saying you liked my chili, in case you were interested here’s a copy of my recipe: