Sunday, October 30, 2016

Southern Cheese Straws

14 September, 2016 12:30 PM

We're visiting my cousin Howard and his wife Helen on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. They want to show us the local sites, markets and foods, so I'm excited. On the way back from the airport we stop at The Blackbird Market on St. John's island. They have a good mix of local foods and some gourmet to go and then I notice something I had completely forgotten about-bags of cheese straws, spicy or regular. We buy one of each, get back in the car and I break open a bag. Delicious! I made these when I first opened the Gourmet Grocer. My mom had the recipe and used to make them at home. I can't remember why I quit making them.
At trips end, on the way back to the airport, we stop to buy a bag so I have some in Kansas City. I eat those on the plane ride home, so I decide to make some more when I am home.

24 September

I open the Carlson Sisters cookbook my brother had printed with my mom and aunts recipes and there it is, but by my aunt Marjorie, not mom. They shared recipes anyway. I buy the ingredients and put everything in the Cuisinart to mix. That makes me wonder how old this recipe is. Cuisinart's weren't readily available until the early 1970's. Maybe they just used a hand grater and mixer before that. I blend everything together and it looks like wet cornmeal. That can't be right. I blend it more and finally the mix balls up.  I force the ball into my cookie press which I have saved from mom and start to pipe them out. All of a sudden I know why I  quit making them.  The top of the cookie press shoots off before it comes out of the star tip.  I go get my other cookie press from mom and try it. It's better, but not much. I have to grip both the front and back of the press to prevent the aluminum caps from flying off.  I suppose I could use a pastry bag, but the dough is very stiff and I don't want Popeye arms.

30 October

I've eaten that batch and one more and was swearing so much after the last batch I decide to buy a new cookie press.  I pick a stainless one-Marcato. This works like a charm, but still requires some strength.

Southern Cheese Straws

1 3/4 C. Flour                     1 1/2 t. Salt
1 # sharp cheddar Cheese  1t. Baking powder
4 oz. butter.                         1/4 t. Cayenne pepper (or more)
1 egg.                                   1T. Paprika

Blend all ingredients in Cuisinart until a ball forms. Fill cookie press with star tip and pipe onto a sheet tray in long strips. Cut strips into 3-4 inch lengths and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until the bottoms are slightly brown. Cool and save in ziplock bags.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Swedish Rye, part two

October 3, 2016

  The Swedish Women's Society sells my Swedish rye at their Yule market. They can sell as many as 50 loaves during that day. I have made it for them for the last 10 years or more. I'm ready to start.
I must admit to a love/hate relationship with Swedish rye. It often gives me trouble and will rise or won't with no logical reason. Now I must admit as I have moved from kitchen to kitchen the equipment keeps changing. Ino longer have convection or reel ovens, a proof box, and my mixer is just a twelve quart Hobart which can make about 5 loaves at a time.  I decide to do just that this year using my grandmothers recipe from my earlier blog. So I start. The problem rears its head today. The bread doesn't want to rise. The day and kitchen is warm, but one hour drags into two, three, and four before I think the initial rise is enough. I form it into loaves, cover them and let them rise again. An hour goes by and nothing. I decide to wait. That evening they still haven't risen enough, so I go to bed letting them rise overnight.  The next morning they are almost what I want. After another hour I turn on the oven and bake them. They come out fine, but not as big as I would like and somewhat cracked on the top.

October 10

For the rest of the week I go through the same process daily with some days being speedier and more successful than others.  Then my wife Charlotte suggests that maybe I need to add gluten.  Rye flour is dense and does not have much gluten if any on its own.  I find a bag-it looks like wheat flour to me, and substitute a cup for a cup of white flour.  Better results that day. There is no cracking on the top. Eight hours still seems to be my production and baking time. That is too long. Thinking about it I decide to try to recreate a proof box. I remove the shelves in my oven and proof both the initial rise of the dough and the loaves of bread in there with a pot of boiling water. Success! The time is cut in half.  The bread still doesn't jump as much as I would like so I start thinking about the recipe again. I notice that the ratio of liquid to flour is about 1 to 3. I always used a ratio of 1 to 2 on my other breads, so today I change the ratio by adding more water and the results are fantastic. The bread rises even quicker, it has a great dome, seems very soft after baking and has a great texture. I make notes on my recipe and put it away until tomorrow. But it's Swedish Rye, so who knows what I'll get🍞.