Tuesday, August 24, 2010

135. Pizza Dough

Date Cooked: June 12, 2010
Page: 662
Rating: A-

So I had bought the new Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor and I wanted to really try it out. I figured I had been putting off Pizza Dough for awhile because I didn’t want to make it by hand and my old food processor would have seized and died painfully at the thought of trying to mix pizza dough. So this was a perfect opportunity.

I’m not going to lie. I am still intimidated by a lot of tasks in the kitchen, mostly those that I have never attempted before and pizza dough is one of them. I started by soaking some yeast in warm water while I got the rest of the ingredients in order. Flour and salt were sifted together and then oil and water were added to the yeast mixture.

I pulsed the wet and dry ingredients together in the food processor until it came together into a ball. Even though this processor is rather heavy duty it was bouncing all over the counter as it tried to spin the ball around. I could only imagine what would have happened if my old food processor tried to handle this… bouncing around the counter… motor screaming in agony… smoke pouring forth… and then a final squeal of despair before silence.

I removed the ball of dough and kneaded it quickly before forming it into a nice round ball. The dough was left to rise in a lightly oiled bowl, covered. When the dough had doubled in size I removed it from the bowl and divided it into three pieces. This is where the story of pizza dough ends… I then turned two of these pieces into pizzas and put the other in the freezer… which is still there to this day.

Rating: A- Rating pizza dough by itself is tough. The dough came together very easy and wasn’t that much work. I obviously didn’t taste the dough uncooked but I will say it was a decent tasting dough from the pizzas that were made. How many variations of plain pizza dough are there… water, salt, flour, oil and yeast.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

134. Crispy Fried Chicken

Date Cooked: April 18, 2010
Page: 330
Rating: B

I was watching the Next Food Network Star last night, a show my wife and I love, and some of the contestants had to make fried chicken. It made me think back to the fried chicken I cooked back in April… yes April, I am that negligent with my blog these days. Too many things on the go I guess. Well the chicken I made didn’t turn out as nice as that the Next Food Network Stars made but it was still a great learning experience in the kitchen.

The first thing that I needed to do was brine the chicken in buttermilk, seven cups of it. I think the only reason I even decided to cook this recipe was that fact that I had a carton of buttermilk that was approaching it’s expiration date. I had defrosted a whole chicken and then cut it up into 8 parts… it was supposed to be ten parts… I’ll get to that in a moment when it becomes somewhat humorous. The buttermilk brine contained salt, sugar, paprika, garlic and bay leaves all smashed together before being mixed with the buttermilk. The chicken pieces were then submerged and the bowl set in the fridge.

The chicken breast pieces were really large compared to the rest of the chicken and I was wondering why so I re-read the book. The breasts were supposed to be cut in half which would have provided two similar sized pieces to the rest of the batch. Now what should I do, since the chicken was brining in the fridge. I thought about it carefully and then realized the larger breasts probably wouldn’t deep fry well so I took out the bowl, reached into the brine and pulled out the dripping chicken pieces and sliced through them. Buttermilk brine was dripping everywhere, even though I tried my best to contain the mess. In my mind I was imagining little Salmonella bacterium colonizing every corner of my kitchen, ready to declare war on my family. So I put the four chicken breast pieces back in the brine and then scrubbed my kitchen counters.

Once the chicken had soaked in buttermilk long enough I removed it and prepared for the next phase of the operation. A dish of flour was prepared along with a mixture of baking powder, baking soda, egg and buttermilk for battering. I used my deep fryer instead of oil in a pan because it was cleaner and less risk to me. The chicken was deep fried until golden brown and then left drain on a paper towel lined plate before drying on a wire rack.

Rating: B. The skin was nice and crispy but the chicken as a whole was just a little too greasy. That said the kids loved it but they do tend to eat anything deep-fried. I don’t know if I would go through this whole mess again but I might adapt this to home-made chicken strips. I still have to try oven-fried chicken which might be better… I hope.
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