Weekend Round Up

peach tart.jpg

Hello,

I have not taken many photos lately because of the cold and being preoccupied with projects at work and at home.

This weekend, Steve and I were busy reorganizing our living room. I painted half of the living room and did some cooking along with focusing on tasks in my painting studio.

The paint color turne out to be a bit more blue than anticipated. We are going to live with it for awhile and if in a month it still seems too blue. I will repaint it with a more nuetral white.

On the cooking and baking front I have been experimenting some. On saturday I made a version of this Irish Stew, substituting ground beef for stew meat and adding some carrots, turnips, potatoes, and sweet peas to reduce the "meatiness" of the recipe. Later I rolled out some puff pastry and made four individual pies like the recipe calls for.

Then for a lark, I took the left over puff pastry added some homemade peach and apple preserves with some butter dollaps to make an informal tart. This is my portion below, it was topped off with some whipping cream. It turned out great and is a great use of the runny preserves that did not jell as well.

As I am writing a loaf of bread is in the oven with about 20 minutes from coming out. This is my first attempt ever at baking bread. I am hopeful that it turns out and once I get a hang of this baking gig it may become a regular weekend routine.

Here is the recipe from Cooks Illustrated:

Almost No-Knead Bread
Makes 1 large round loaf. Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. (See the related information in "Making Your Dutch Oven Safe for High-Heat Baking" for information on converting Dutch oven handles to work safely in a hot oven.) Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.
Ingredients
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface

1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Instructions
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

(my note, make sure you have an oven thermometer to guage really how hot your oven gets, as mine requires attention to keep the temperature from going too high)