- BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
- Almost No-knead Sourdough Bread
- Vella Chardonnay
Many factors contribute to the creation of a menu. As the last few weeks have shown, the amount of time available for cooking is an important factor. Some weekends are free from commitments and there is more time to spend preparing food. Others are jammed full of activities and commitments and you need to minimize time spent shopping and cooking. The time of year is a factor, too, with winter being suited to heavier meals (soups, stews, braised meats) and summers to lighter fare (pasta, salads, grilled meats). The tastes of the people you're serving, the ingredients that are available and fresh, your kitchen skills, tools available, your culinary history, and many more factors can play a role in your decisions for what to eat on any particular day.
This was a busy weekend with a concert on Friday night (The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour – a great show!) in Berkeley and a Giants game in San Francisco on Saturday. Combine that with the need to repair our broken bed (we've temporarily moved to the futon in Caleb's room while our bed is down for maintenance) and the usual weekend activities, and this had to be a simple meal. The menu was inspired by a Whole Foods recipe for BLT Pasta Salad. I didn't use this recipe, largely because pasta seems such a strange ingredient for this salad (who puts pasta in a BLT sandwich?), but it did inspire me to dig out another BLT Salad recipe that I had made before. Salad and bread are always a good combination and I had come across a suggestion for substituting sourdough starter for yeast and I wanted to give it a try.
article I found when searching for no-knead sourdough bread recipes. It suggests that you can substitute ¼ cup of sourdough starter for ¼ teaspoon yeast. This is seems a very convenient suggestion. To see how well it works, on Saturday morning before the Giants game I took the starter out of the refrigerator, where it had been sitting for several months, stirred it up, and fed it. When we got back home that evening it had expanded and was nice and bubbly. To test the substitution, I used the recipe I am most familiar with, the Cook's Illustrated Almost No-Knead Bread. The dough rose nicely overnight but I found it to be very wet and had to add quite a bit of flour to do the small amount of kneading called for in the recipe. Even with the extra flout, the dough was still pretty wet and it spread out more than it rose during the second rising. However, the baked bread was reasonably light and definitely had a tangier flavor than the bread made with yeast. Because the flavor was so good I plan to try this again to see if I get the same result. If the dough is still too wet then I will reduce the amount of water to compensate for the extra liquid provided by the starter.
BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing from Steamy Kitchen
Almost No-Knead Bread from Cook's Illustrated
Some America's Test Kitchen recipes require registration before they can be viewed on-line. You may be able to find these recipes on other web sites.
Bacon is great, but the mess it leaves behind is not. A convenient way to clean up the grease is to put several paper towels in the pan while the grease is still liquid. When it cools off and solidifies remove the paper towels and discard them. I find this to be easier than finding a container to pour the liquid grease into or wiping out the solid grease later.
Leftover fajitas were easily prepared by re-heating the meat and vegetables in the microwave then serving them with the condiments and tortillas. They're not quite as good as when fresh, the vegetables in particular lose some of their flavor and texture, but this is still a good weekday meal. I like to take use the extra tortillas to make peanut butter burritos: just spread a tortilla with peanut butter, roll it up, and enjoy.