Winter Creations

These first few weeks of the year have been busy at Twice as Tasty. The first monthly newsletter just hit the inboxes of email subscribers. If you’re following this blog via email, you should have received a copy. But if you’re following via WordPress, you’ll need to sign up here. Once you do, you’ll still receive post notifications via WordPress, but you’ll also get an email once a month with a link to a downloadable and printable PDF version of the latest recipes so that they’re easy to use in your kitchen.

If you’re local, there’s still plenty of time to sign up for a sourdough or other winter workshop. I’ll also be giving a free public sourdough workshop at Free the Seeds next month. For nonlocals, keep your eye out for Twice as Tasty on Pinterest starting later this month—including links to fabulous winter creations that can be made in any kitchen.
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Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Month wouldn’t be complete without talking bread. Here I share my favorite recipe. We call it Sourdough Cabin Bread because it makes my little Montana log cabin smell so good, but my young nephew has dubbed it “Auntie Julie’s Special Bread.” And it is special—whether you’re a new or experienced bread maker, you’ll likely be surprised by how easy it is to make these loaves. The techniques and tricks have two purposes: reduce effort and build flavor.

There’s a reason behind every technique given here. Using weights, instead of cups, improves accuracy. Mixing by hand, instead of with an electric mixer, prevents overmixing. Folding, rather than kneading, reduces your effort while enhancing the bread’s texture. A long fermentation allows the dough to feed, release gas, and develop flavor. The bowl in the oven captures steam and creates a crisp crust. The results are delicious, beautiful loaves that slice smoothly for sandwiches and other uses.
Learn to make Sourdough Cabin Bread and Gorgeous Grilled Cheese

Broccoli

One of the few vegetables I always blanch is broccoli. For years I skipped blanching before freezing altogether. As I mention elsewhere on this blog, blanching affects food quality rather than food safety, and I wasn’t really tasting the difference with most vegetables. Besides, I grill corn, onions, eggplant, and most other veg before freezing, which makes a blanch step redundant.

Broccoli, I’ve learned, is a big exception. Frozen raw, it ends up tasting bitter and woody, even when you add cheese and stock to make a soup. I opt to place the chopped stems and florets in a steamer basket instead of plunging them into the boiling water. Hervé This explains in Kitchen Mysteries that hydrogen ions ultimately are responsible for cooked vegetables appearing brown instead of green. Putting vegetables directly into water only increases their contact with hydrogen. Learn to steam-blanch broccoli and make Broccoli Cheese Soup

Salad Dressing Bases

The salad dressing aisle at a grocery store baffles me: so long, so heavily preserved, so expensive—and so easy to make at home. Every dressing starts with oil and an acid, like vinegar, or something to make it creamy. From there, spices and other flavorings are added to make the desired blend. Even the most dedicated bachelor likely has the basic ingredients in his kitchen.

Imagine this: You’re invited over for a first dinner date, and the guy pulls out a squeeze jug of store-brand ranch. Impressed? Perhaps he splurged for a bottle with a fancy label. It’s probably still not memorable. Now imagine he combines oil, vinegar, and a few spices in a bottle, shakes it, and sprinkles the result over greens. Suddenly, you’re paying attention. In less than 5 minutes, he has a lip-smacking salad dressing—and you might be considering a second date before you even taste the main dish. Learn to make Vinegary and Creamy Salad Dressing Bases