Let’s Make Some Dough!

So you wanna make some dough, huh?  Since Martha Stewart’s website published the Tartine Method, I’m going to just link to it and show you how I do it.  So let’s get to it!

Just a note: This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread so you could always eat one and freeze the other for later.

First I check to see if my leaven has bubbles; then I grab a big bowl, a digital scale, and fill it with water that’s between 80-95 degrees.

Your leaven should float.

Once it does, mix it up.

After the leaven is mixed, add the unbleached white bread flour.  Then add the wheat flour.

Mix it up (clean hands please!).

Mix thoroughly.

So now the dough needs to rest for about 30 min.

In the meantime, I measure out my salt and water.

Make sure the salt is evenly distributed.

Then pour in the water.

Integrate the salt with the dough by squeezing the dough with your hand.

Transfer to another container (that has a lid- suggested by the Tartine Method).

Now we cover and wait for 4-8 hours.  Turning the dough in the container every 30 min. for the first few hours.  The dough is ready when it increases 1/3 or so in volume.  I only turn it a few times, since I normally do this step at night.

Next we form and do a final rise.


Kelson’s Delicious Bread Adventure continues…

No knead bread.  America’s Test Kitchen bread.  Bread made by your folks.

There are many methods to making bread, but I am now a devout believer of the Tartine Method.

Why am I using the Tartine Method?  Up to this point I haven’t found a bread recipe that can replicate the flavors I had in Paris.  I was researching for weeks and weeks.  Looking for a recipe that would satisfy my taste buds.

During this time I read about Chad Robertson, who is part owner of Tartine Bakery.  He’s considered one of the best bread bakers in America.  Although I am lucky enough to be located in the same city as Tartine Bakery and a man that is currently considered the best at his craft, I’ve actually never tried the bread.   Ironic, I know.

What I did find from my reading and research was that I had to try his method, which luckily he has published in a book called Tartine Bread.

I can’t emphasize how much this book has influenced and created my base for bread making.  Get it.  If not for the detailed descriptions and photos, then get it to support the art of good bread.

Making leaven…

Surprisingly, working and creating the dough is a snap.  It’s the planning that ends up being a pain in the arse.  Before I begin the process of making bread, I have to think when I’ll be home and when certain stages will be done.  Careful planning is the key to good bread.

Dough can be finicky when it comes to temperature.   You’ll have to test it and run some trials in your own kitchen to obtain consistent results.

I’m using the Tartine Method for baking bread.  All ingredients must be measured for exactness because, we are baking not cooking.  Since the process is quite long, I’m just going to go into the planning of it right now.  All the times below will depend on the temperature of your house.  The hotter it is in your house, the less time it takes for the dough to rise.

The game plan…

  • Preparing the leaven = 2-4 hours
  • Making the dough = 45 min.
  • Bulk Fermentation Stage = 4- 8 hours
  • Final Rise = 8-12 hours in the refrigerator (2-4 hours on the kitchen table)
  • Baking bread =  approx. 1 hour total (20 min. to heat up your cast iron, 20 mins to steam the bread, 20 mins to finish it off)

Click on this link for the Tartine Method recipe by Chad Robertson (posted by Martha Stewart) .

What is leaven? It’s the starter with added flour and added water fermented for additional hours.

For the Leaven stage I’ve created a make shift hotbox of sorts.  I put my leaven in my entertainment cabinet where my PS3 resides.

For the next 2 hours or so, I either play video games or watch a movie.

Why do I do this you ask?  First off, my house isn’t exactly 75-80 degrees all the time.  Secondly if I didn’t put my leaven in a warm spot, it would take forever for the first stage.

After this let’s make some dough!

The beginnings of my bread adventures…

Ever since Christine and I vacationed in Paris in the fall of 2009, I have been obsessed with bread.  It’s not so much that I want to eat any type of bread, but rather I want to recreate the flavors and tastes that I had in France.

One day at Costco of all places, I decided to just do it.  I split a 25lb bag of flour with my friend and began.  I tested my hand at making baguettes, stuffed baguettes, no-knead bread, pretzels, and pizza dough.  Although I got great looking bread, I wasn’t able to get the flavor that I desired.  So I kept experimenting….

In the fall of 2010, I heard about Chad Robertson and Tartine bakery in San Francisco.  Chad Robertson is considered the best bread baker in the U.S. and has finessed the art of making bread.  He happened to be promoting his book and would be doing a signing at SFMOMA.  So I found myself on a Saturday morning in line with two little old ladies ready to meet Chad Robertson.

I bought a book.  Got it autographed.  Smiled and said a few nervous statements.  Left with a bit more confidence.  Got home and started reading Tartine Bread.

It all begins with the starter (starter recipe).

To create starter you mix flour and water at a 1:1 ratio into a bowl with your hand (make sure to wash your hands!) and let it sit covered with a towel in a room temperature area, such as your kitchen counter for a week. The goal of this step is to capture the bacteria in the air to create yeast.  You should check every few days to see if any bubbles appear in the mixture.  If nothing happens after a few days, then throw half of it away and start again.

An easier alternative method is to get some from a friend or relative.

To keep the starter alive, every 2-3 days you need to throw half of it away (or give it away) and add more flour and water.

If you want to feed it less often, refrigerate the starter and repeat the process above about once a week or so.  Starter is fairly resilient in the fridge.

What type of flour and water do I use?

  • King Arthur All-Purpose, but I prefer bread flour for its higher protein content.
  • Purified tap water.  If it’s good enough to drink, then it’s good enough to use.

The next bread post will go into the planning stages of my bread baking.

Ice Cream + Beer = Deliciousness

It’s Friday and you’re watching the clock tick.  Waiting.  Hoping.  Waiting until that clock ticks to the end of the day and your weekend can begin..  And what better way to start your weekend than to have some deliciousness in your life!

[This deliciousness happens to be for those of you who are 21 and over.]

This deliciousness is called a beer shake.

What is a beer shake?

Unlike the “What is bad kimchi?” question that was posed, this is a much easier answer to explain.  A beer shake is exactly what it sounds like, but took me about 25 years of life to finally discover.  It is beer and ice cream blended together to make an alcoholic, wonderfully flavored, best-friends-forever concoction of milkshake goodness.  Yes folks, it is DEE-LISH!

Where was this beautiful discovery made?

Who knows?  If you do a search on the internet, you will actually find some recipes.  If you happen to peruse the random menu of a pub or small restaurant in your neighborhood, you may be surprised to find it pop up on their menu.  But Kelson and I would like to credit our first beer shake in Portland, Oregon.  It was during our visit that our friends introduced us to our first beer shake.  And I’m sure most of you reacted like we did with, “Wow!  Why didn’t I think of this???”

Now “beer shake” is a very broad term.  In essence, the term itself implies any type of beer put with any type of ice cream.  The combinations are endless.  I am not about to experiment and make some crazy combinations (although that sounds AMAZING, but that’ll have to be another time).  Instead, I would like to create a simple, delicious “standard” beer shake.

Beer Shake Time!

Serving: 2 conservative glasses of goodness


  • Guinness.  1 bottle.  Dark, stouty beer is the way to go for this one.
  • 4 scoops of French vanilla ice cream
  • Optional: Whip cream and chocolate syrup
  1. Take your ice cream out of the freezer and let it sit out for 5 minutes (soften up a bit).
  2. Time to whip out the blender!  (Did you know some blenders have a “milkshake” setting?  Love it!)
  3. Scoop out 4 scoops of ice cream and put into the blender.
  4. Pour about half a bottle of Guinness (6 oz.).  Add less if you want a thicker milkshake or if you’re not sure.  Remember: It’s always best to add less.  You can’t subtract once it’s in!  (Same goes for salt!).
  5. Pop the top onto the blender and mix!  It only needs a few seconds to get nice and frothy.
  6. Pour two glasses.  Top it off with some whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a straw and you’ve got yourself a beautiful beer shake!


If you’re more into pale ales, I would suggest a beer float instead.  You still get that creamy texture, but more of the beer flavor comes through (you’ll find it a bit mild in the shake).

Remember as much as ice cream and beer is pretty amazing on the deliciousness scale, it’s not for everyone.  Our cat, Mochi, does not seem impressed…Again, we’re only recommending this for those 21 and over and for those who enjoy the flavor of beer.  If not, sub the beer out with milk and just join in with the creamy goodness of a good milkshake!

Hi-Five for a great way to start a weekend!!!



Comforting college cookies…

The four “C”s are usually thought of in terms of diamonds (clarity, cut, color, and carat).  In my mind, the four “C”s of the moment are Christine’s comforting college cookies.

Nothing beats a fresh, out-of-the-oven, warm chocolate chip cookie.

Except maybe a college cookie.

What is a college cookie?  A college cookie are those baked goods that were located on campus that you found yourself drawn to in the middle of mid-terms, finals, dating crises, and roommate battles.  This cookie was your friend and would be there in your time of need.  (They happen to go very well with cheap coffee.)

My college cookie happened to be of the “everything but the kitchen sink” variety.  It was an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips, coconut, and Rice Krispies.  Oh my goodness, that was one helluva cookie!

So when I found myself near my alma matter, I knew we had to make a pit stop to find my comforting college cookie for old times.  And what did I find in place of my hole-in-the-wall, student-run bake shop?


My little bake/coffee shop had closed and turned into a kiosk.  They now served cappuccinos, non-fat lattes, frappes, smoothies, etc.  And granted I love my coffee, so this change wasn’t so dire.  It was the baked goods section that left me depressed.  They had very sad looking lemon bars, muffins, and some mis-shapened chocolate cookies… but no sight of my college cookie.

What the fuzzy.

As I’ve mentioned before, the memory in your taste buds is a very powerful tool, because I went home determined to make my cookie.  Not just for me.  Not just for the sure principle that that cookie existed and rocked my world.  BUT the fact that Kelson had never got to try this mythical cookie.

And it tasted just as good as I remembered.

Now, it it hard to find a PERFECT cookie recipe, but the one I’m about to share is the ultimate in the oatmeal cookie family.  Please note the recipe bellow is for my college cookie, but photographed is a white chocolate and dried cranberry oatmeal cookie (Kelson’s favorite and what happened to be in my kitchen cabinets tonight).

The College Cookie Recipe

*Adapted from Julesong.

Serving: Makes 2 dozen good-looking cookies.


  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick) softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 6 oz. mini-chocolate chips (half the bag)
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup coconut (Kelson doesn’t like coconut… so alas, this is optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Time to bust out the KitchenAid (or a large bowl and whisk/chopsticks will do just fine).  Mix white sugar, brown sugar, and butter.
  3. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Mix in the baking soda, salt, and flour.
  5. Mix in the oatmeal, chocolate chips, and Rice Krispies.
  6. I like big cookies, so I put about 6 per tray.  Also, if you’re big into cookie making then I highly advise buying a silpat.  These things are amazing!!!
  7. Bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Cool them down on a baking rack (or plate) and get ready to chow down on comfort in a cookie form!
This is a great oatmeal cookie recipe that I like to use as a base.  Feel free to substitute any of the other ingredients to make your own “kitchen sink”/college cookie.  Pecans and dark chocolate.  White chocolate and dried mangoes.
But again, nothing beats the deliciousness of a warm cookie.  Enjoy!

Red, White and Blue…

What comes to mind?  America.  4th of July.  Missile pops.

Alas, this post is dedicated to the one and only…


Yes, this is probably in your top 3 starchy friends that you can’t live without.  Yes, there are a bajillion ways to make them, love them, and appreciate them.  And yes, you have probably misspelled the plural at some point in your life.  (P-O-T-A-T-O-E-S)

So what adventure are we sharing with you?  The fact we have grown, raised, and harvested our own blue (more commonly known as purple) potatoes!

This is the first edible item we have grown in our backyard.

Apparently purple potatoes originated in South America and are very rich in antioxidants.  They tend to grow year round and we’ve heard through the grapevine that they do very well in our fog-filled climate.

Hey potato, can I eat you now?

When is a potato ready to become the deliciousness it was meant to become?

No idea.

Again, we went to the trusty internet and tried to learn as much about potato harvesting on a smaller scale.  In summary, we learned how to recognize the plant (photo on left) that tends to begin bloom in the spring.   Once the potato plant has grown and flourished, it begins to wilt and die… which apparently is the big signal to us that says “HEY GUYS!  GET READY FOR SOME DELICIOUSNESS!”  Photo on the right tried to capture that proclamation.









Once the potato plant has wilted, it is time to carefully harvest your purple starchy friends…

We ended up with a pretty good haul after carefully unveiling our potatoes.

Took them upstairs.  Had Mochi (our trusted food inspector and beloved cat) verify that they were good to go.

Washed the potatoes up.  Accidentally over-boiled them, so we opted for a purple mash versus a vinegar based potato salad…

Simple Mashed Potatoes (with fresh purple potatoes)

Serving:  6 individual sides

Cook Time:  Approximately 30 min.


  • 3 lbs Freshly plucked purple potatoes
  • Half a white onion
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Olive Oil
  1. Wash the potatoes and set them aside.
  2. Fill a small pot with water and two pinches of salt.  When the water reaches a boil, put the potatoes in with the skin on.  Boil for 10 minutes until easy to mash.
  3. Dice the onions.  Heat a pan with olive oil and cook the onions until browned.  Set aside.
  4. Pour the potatoes into a strainer and run them through cold water.  The skin should come off easily at this point.
  5. Throw the potatoes into a bowl to mash.  If you make as much mashed potatoes as we do, a masher or ricer comes in handy.  If not, a wooden spoon will do the trick too.
  6. Pour in half a cup of milk (add more if you want a more creamy texture, add less if you want to maintain your lumps).
  7. Add half a stick of butter and the cooked onions.
  8. Begin mashing until you get the consistency you want.

And boo-ya!  Throw your colorful mash with some BBQ pork ribs and roasted corn (because everyone has that in their fridge from Labor Day weekend leftovers) and you’ve got yourself a beautiful meal!

Enjoy some purple potato goodness!

Swimming upstream through the work week…

Alas, Labor Day weekend has come to an end and most of us have just labored through a long and blurry-eyed Tuesday.

As with all lovely three-day weekends filled with sun, we find ourselves outside and thinking of awesome things to grill.

Now you have your hamburgers, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, chicken, ribs, etc.  For a weekend with friends, we opted for BBQ pork ribs and added a slightly healthier option of salmon as well.  Beautiful, pink, filleted salmon.

Now this was actually our first time grilling salmon.  Shocking, I know.  Fish is such a delicate meat that can easily be overcooked and ruined.  So we went to the internet and asked our culinary expert brother for some tips to prepare an amazing salmon.

Simple Grilled Salmon with Skin

Preparation:  We bought salmon fillets with the skin.  Seasoned it with just a bit of coarse salt.  Before grilling, Kelson sliced the skin every 2 inches.  We learned that this enabled the skin to stay a beautiful, crisp blanket over the salmon.  If you opt not to slice the skin, it tends to shrivel up and curl.

We were at a rental that provided a propane grill.  Yes, there are those that believe real grilling involves charcoal, but you use what you got!  So let me preface the next set of steps worked out perfectly with the propane (a.k.a. wussy grilling) option.

Once the grill was heated up, he put the skin side down first for approximately 8 minutes to get that crispy exterior everyone loves.  The salmon was then turned over to the other side for about 3 minutes.

Take it off the grill, plate it carefully (the bottom one in the photograph was not plated so carefully…) and squeeze some lemon juice.

Boo-ya!  Beautiful, tasty salmon!

And then there were none… until you opened the fridge and were greeted with leftovers…

If you are anything like us when preparing a group meal, we overcook.  I was taught it was always better to have more on the table than run out when you’re hosting.  Alas, that person wasn’t the one stuck with all the leftovers!

As I mentioned in the chilli post (chilli blog and recipe), I am not a fan of leftovers.  But I am ironically not big on wasting food either.  Quite the dilemma.  So instead of always making my poor husband the garbage disposal, we have found ways to trick my mind by reinventing the repeat offender that is leftover food.

We went home with quite a bit of leftovers from the weekend.  Granted we were happy to take home beer and unmade s’mores; but we also had our fair share of food that included salmon, eggs, brie, and bread.

Salmon and Brie Scramble

Serving: A hungry and tired couple who have worked a full day

Cook Time:  Super fast!


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 fist-sized pieces of cooked salmon (skin removed)
  • Brie (add at your own discretion…)
  • Cooking oil spray
  • Coarse salt
  1. Crack your eggs on the counter and put them in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk the eggs until mixed.  Do not over-whisk!
  3. Add 2 pinches of salt.
  4. Take the salmon and use a fork to break it into smaller pieces.
  5. Cut a few pieces of brie from the wheel into small cubes.  (Optional: Cut another piece to pop into your mouth!)
  6. Spray the cooking oil onto a small skillet and turn on the stove to a medium flame.
  7. As soon as the skillet is heated, pour in the eggs and use a rubber spatula to move the eggs around.  Continue to scrap along the sides as it starts to cook.
  8. Once the eggs are more solid and there isn’t much liquid, throw in the cooked salmon and brie.  Mix it up a bit.
  9. Turn off the stove (probably a minute or so after) and let it sit on the stove, while you grab a plate.

Add some fresh black pepper, toast, and some greens and you’ve got yourself a lovely breakfast for dinner!  (And you managed to clean out your fridge and knock out some of those leftovers.  Hi-five!)