Semolina egg pasta

Semolina egg pasta

I picked up some semolina durum wheat flour at the local specialty grocery store (Corti Bros.).  I had been making some egg noodles for pasta the last few months with AP flour.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make a dough entirely out of just semolina so looked up some recipes.  I found that you can do a 50:50 semolina:AP flour mix.

  • 100g – Semolina durum wheat flour
  • 100g – AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Avocado oil (we don’t have any olive oil in the house currently)

I started by weighing out the flour and adding the salt.

I mixed it together with my fingers because I don’t have a sifter.

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Then I created a well to place the eggs and oil.  I used a fork to scramble the eggs. img_20161117_153628

I slowly mixed in the flour with the egg mixture and continued to mix and then knead for about 5 minutes, creating a cohesive dough ball.

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I let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1.5 hours (I read you should let it sit for at least an hour but can let it sit for multiple hours if needed).  In the meantime, I started work on the sauce.  I already had some plain San Marzano tomato sauce that I had made previously for pizza.  Now I just needed to make the other ingredients added to the pasta and the sauce.

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I sautéed some chicken sausage, then vegetables and finally added in the pre-made tomato sauce.

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Then I went back to work on the pasta dough.  I broke off between a golf ball and tennis ball sized piece, flattened it into a disc and floured it.  I have a small hand crank pasta machine.  One half of it has rollers of adjustable thickness to gradually thin out the pasta dough.  On the thickest setting I ran the disc of dough through once.  Then I folded this in half, re-dusted with flour, and put it through again.  I did this 4-5 times before then gradually decreasing the thickness (from 7 to 3).

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The other half of the pasta machine has 2 different rollers of various widths for pasta.  This cuts the thin length of dough into actual strands of pasta.
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What I’ve learned is that after you create the strands of pasta, you need to liberally dust/cover the pasta strands to prevent them from sticking together.  The great thing about freshly made pasta is that it cooks super quick.  I boiled up some water and salted it and then added the pasta.  I cooked the pasta for about 3 minutes and then drained out the water and added some oil to the pasta.

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Then I added the sauce (veggie and sausage) to the pasta and mixed it in with the pasta and et voilà!

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Bon Appétit!

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-StewsCat

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Brioche – loaf and minis

Brioche – loaf and minis

I thought I’d give another shot at Brioche since it is too yummy and the wife likes it.  Last time I made small cupcake size brioche rolls and this time I figured I’d try my hand at a regular size loaf.  In the end I had enough dough to do both a loaf and the mini cupcake size ones.

The following is double the recipe of the minis I made previously.

  • 500 g AP flour
  • 200 g butter, melted
  • 140 g water, room temperature
  • 4 eggs (235 g)
  • 100 g honey (recipe said runny honey, I just used the honey I squeezed outta my container)
  • 10 g salt
  • 6 g yeast

As before, I first whisked the wet ingredients together (butter, water, eggs, honey) for about 60 seconds.  Then I added in the dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast).

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Since this was a no-knead version, after mixing the dry and wet into a homogenized mixture I let it sit for about 2 hours.

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This created a fairly wet dough mixture that I then proceeded to do about 3-4 stretch and folds.

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After stretch and fold

And that’s really the extent of manipulation of the dough until it is ready to form. I placed the mixture into the fridge to sit for anywhere from 24-48 hours.  I started the process later in the weekend so I ended up only letting it sit for 24 hours covered in the fridge.

This gave me a chance to have a beer.

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For those not familiar, Pliny the Elder and its much more rare sibling Pliny the Younger is a well-known craft brew out of the Russian River Brewing company.  Being in NorCal, we are lucky enough to have it on tap at a few establishments and bottled in local stores as well.  I was out with some colleagues the other night at Capitol Tap Room and happened to get the above.  Good stuff.

Back to bread.  After 24 hours in the fridge, the dough came out looking like this:

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After 24 hours in fridge

The key here is to work and shape the dough quickly while it is still cold, otherwise it gets sticky and messy.  I created a loaf with 4 round to pill-ish shapes and then had a little extra so threw that into the loaf pan as well.

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Then I formed 6 small balls and placed them in the cupcake pan.  As I was forming the last of the balls, the dough definitely started to become more tacky and difficult to work with.

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I allowed the cupcake sized doughballs to rise for about an hour.  The loaf I let rise for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.  For both, I used an egg wash (scrambled egg with water to allow for easier spreading).

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I set the oven for 375 F initially.  I baked the mini brioches for 8 minutes at 375 F and then turned the temperature down to 320 F for an additional 19 minutes.  This created a nice golden crust and the internal temperature was around 190 F.

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The insides of these smaller brioches came out perfect.

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The loaf brioche rose quite nicely after the 2 hours and 15 minutes.

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I baked this one at 375 F for 10 minutes initially, then at 320 F for an additional ~20 minutes or so.  I was pleasantly surprised by how it all came together.

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It came out nice and buttery and not dry.  Overall a nice bread loaf and mini brioches.

We had some fun visitors this weekend.

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-StewsCat

Napa/Yountville lunch

This past Veterans Day, the wife and I were both off work so I suggested we head over to the Napa Valley for some lunch.  It seemed like we had been getting over to Napa a bunch of times in the last year but haven’t been in a while.  I figured it was time to have a nice meal at one of the many awesome dining establishments.  Initially I was going to make reservations for Bouchon, a Thomas Keller restaurant, but it seemed a bit heavy for lunch.  I had heard good things about Mustards Grill in Yountville.  This is one of Cindy Pawlcyn’s places and she has another restaurant in St. Helena (also in the Napa Valley) and then one more in Monterey.

Their only reservations for Veterans Day for lunch were for either 11:45 am or 2 pm.  So we elected for the 11:45 am one.  I anticipated that there would be some traffic on the 80 since Friday typically has some traffic and allotted about an hour and forty-five minutes to get there.  We left a few minutes late and in fact hit some traffic, though some of it was related to actual minor fender benders.  I could see that we’d be late for our reservation and luckily the restaurant was happy to push our reservation back to noon.  Upon arrival we were seated quickly in the corner of the quant restaurant.  This is located directly off the main highway that leads from Napa to Yountville all the way up to Calistoga.  Outside the restaurant they have some small gardens that provide some of the produce they use in their cooking.

I enjoyed that the entire front facade of the restaurant was comprised of windows, allowing for a lot of natural light, especially with our corner table.  The waiter promptly came over and went over the specials and took our drink order.  I tried a cocktail that was comprised of vodka with apple cider and something else and was quite refreshing.

The wife elected to have the daily soup (Coconut curry butternut squash soup with chili oil) to start and I went with their house made potato chips and dipping sauce.  I enjoyed the chips as they were sliced thinly and fried to a nice crunch.  For our mains we both went with specials they had for that day.  My wife had the Mahi Mahi Tostada with cabbage, beans and cheese and I went with their lamb burger and fries.  The lamb was freshly ground that morning.  I ordered it medium rare and my only complaint is that it came out medium to medium-well.  Otherwise the taste of the burger was delicious and not too gamey.  We finished off the meal with the chocolate hazelnut tarte and espresso ice cream (not pictured), which even the table next to us was like “that looks SOOO good,” and it was.

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Mahi mahi tostada
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Lamb burger & fries

After stuffing ourselves silly, we realized we needed to get some activity in to burn off some of the many calories we just had.  So we went over to downtown Yountville (Mustards Grill is a few miles north of the downtown area) and walked around for awhile.  There was this cool little statue of a fireman and I thought the back of the statue had cooler details than the front.

They have an Artwalk – with various art installations along the sidewalks (apparently they are also available for acquisition if you have that kind of dough).

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Art
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Art

 

We also walked over to the French Laundry, which is on my bucket list.

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The French Laundry

A bunch of my relatives have already been but I have yet to partake…one day.  Across from the restaurant is their garden where they grow a lot of the produce they use.  They even have a small chicken coop.

After we walked through the small quaint neighborhood back to where I parked the car we made our way back to Sacramento.  It was the afternoon on a Friday by this time and the drive back was slow going.  Upon arrival back in town, we stopped at Sears to pick up my new glasses (they had a BOGO deal the day we happened to go look at glasses).  Now I’ve got 3 pairs – one of which will be my running glasses I’m sure.  Overall was a fun holiday day.

-StewsCat

 

2016 Run the Parkway Half Marathon Race Recap

The Sacramento Running Association, who host the big California International Marathon (CIM), decided to put on a new event this year.  They timed this race so that it was about 4 weeks from the CIM.  They called it a “training race” because they had a 20-miler, in addition to a half marathon distance and a 5K.  For many marathon plans, a 20 mile training run is recommended anywhere from 3-4 weeks from race day and some plans call for more than one 20-miler.  The race also benefits the American River Parkway Foundation.  Since I live near the parkway I utilize it on a weekly basis for one or even a few of my runs.  I figured that it would be good to give back to this great resource.  As I am not training for CIM, I signed up for the half marathon (they had an option to change between the half marathon and 20-mile distance for free at the packet pickup).  When I signed up for the race I flirted with the idea of bumping up to the 20-miler but with my lack of proper long distance training I stuck with the half marathon.

Packet pickup was at the usual Fleet Feet in midtown Sacramento.  I had some errands to do beforehand so couldn’t make it to packet pickup until the mid afternoon.  The store was quiet and pickup was quick.  I realized this was a very no frills race as I literally was given a bib and a shirt and that’s it.  I’m used to at least a few other things to pickup like some other race flyers and such but this was barebones.  Being the inaugural race, I wonder also if they just weren’t putting a ton into the race like some other races (the CIM has a huge race expo at the Sacramento convention center).  The other slightly odd thing about this race is that it was being held on a Saturday.  I’ve done a few Saturday races but not usually half marathon distances.  I actually liked this because it would give me Sunday to recuperate before having to go back to work on Monday.

I had my usual pre-race pizza the night before.  We got a large combo pizza from a local place called Roma II (we haven’t actually been to the original Roma but have had Roma II a few times).  We also got a side order of some meatballs (not pictured).

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Roma II pizza

Then it was an early night for bed (which the wife enjoyed especially because she was feeling a bit under the weather).  I slept well and woke up early at 3:40 am.  I need some time in the mornings to get my stuff together (breakfast, bano, bano, bano).  Surprisingly this was the second straight race that I’ve slept fairly well.  Prior to these last 2, I almost always have a restless night of sleep and then get up.  I do wonder also if it has to do with the fact these last 2 were “home” races and I slept in my own bed.  Or maybe it has to do with the fact that this was half marathon #18 and I’m just getting used to it finally.  Either way I’m happy with being able to sleep before a race.

Since the start/finish of the race was at the familiar to me William Pond park and this is also where the start/finish was for the 2 half marathons I’ve done previously (American River Parkway Half Marathon), I was quite familiar with the parking situation.  After parking in the neighborhood by the park, I trekked into the park in search of the porta-potties.  They weren’t set up as well as I thought but since I arrived about 40 minutes before the start time, the lines were still short for the porta-potties.  It is quite hard to use when it is super dark outside and inside the porta-potties. People were using their cell phone flashlights as well as the better equipped who had headlamps.  The race officials understandably pushed the race start time from 7 am to 7:10 am so there was some more light on the trail.  Just prior to the start, the race people played a recording of the National Anthem – with recorded cheering and everything.  People were chuckling with the cheering that was from the recording.  And then we were off.

Immediately after the start, we crossed a long foot bridge that took us over the American River.  We’d also cross this bridge at the 13th mile just before finishing back at the starting line. img_20161105_092745

The first few miles were run in the pre-sunrise haze and fog.  It was quite beautiful and peaceful.  This section of the river trail is quite remote with the river on one side and fields on the other side.  I’m used to running in the area of the river trail that is relatively close to civilization (roads, buildings, other people).  I don’t know how comfortable I’d be running in that part of the river by myself.  But it was pretty and peaceful.

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Eventually we made our way off the river trail and did a very short stint in a small neighborhood.  Essentially we went through one exit on the trail and made our way about 2 streets over and onto the entrance of another part of the trail.  At this point, the trail was not paved and was more packed dirt and gravel, with a few areas of unevenness.  Eventually we made our way east and back onto paved roads.  And then at some point we hit a turnaround and came back the way we started.  I continued with my 4 minute running, 1 minute walking at an average total pace of about 10 min/mile.  Throughout miles 4-10 I continued to feel good.  I took a GU gel around mile 6.  I picked up another gel around mile 7 and then took my 2nd gel around the 10 mile mark.

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Overall I continued to feel good for the race and coasted into the finish line.  I didn’t do a crazy sprint like I often do with the last 0.1 miles.  I actually stopped a few times in the 12-13 mile range to get some good pics.

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At the finish line, I picked up a banana, half a donut and had a beer.  I went with the Erdinger because the Shipyard beer was an IPA and I thought that was a bit alcohol heavy for post-race.

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Final Time: 2:13:25

-StewsCat

Back at it!

Hello!!  It’s definitely been awhile since I last posted.  Now that the weather has settled down (aka it is no longer super hot), I have jumped back into bread making.  The hot weather of summer discouraged me from turning the oven on.  We’ve actually had some good rains the last few weeks of October.  This is much appreciated from Mother Nature given that we’re still in a drought.  It also benefited the new plantings we put in our front yard.

On with the bread making.

Ingredients

  • 300g 100% whole wheat flour
  • 295g bread flour
  • 145g rice drink (“milk”)
  • 300g water
  • 16g salt
  • 35g honey
  • 8g active dry yeast
  • 1/4 stick of butter cut up – half melted, half in chunks

I had made some bread the week before the above recipe with poor results.  I think I rushed the whole process.  I didn’t knead the dough long enough and also didn’t let it rise/ferment the proper amount.  This was all because I didn’t realize I had to make bread until later in the day and the one thing about bread is you can’t rush the yeast.  This bread came out much more to my liking.  This time I kneaded the dough for at least 15 minutes and could feel a big difference in how the dough formed up and became much more cohesive (I didn’t feel this with the dough the previous week).  I also allowed for more time doing stretch and folds with 45 minute rests (total of 3 of these).  As you can tell from the pictures, I was able to get a nice rise on the bread before baking.  Overall I was happy with another loaf of sandwich bread for our lunches.

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And the crumb

-StewsCat