SMOKED PAPRIKA SOURDOUGH

My sister Norma back in Brazil jokes that she would add smoked paprika to her toothpaste if at all possible… If you are in her team, this bread is for you. I did not add a lot, and feel that the bread could stand even more, as you will see in the comments. The scoring style, “Multiple Leaves”, was inspired by the one and only Morgi, from Israel. Check his quick video tutorial here.

SMOKED PAPRIKA SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

370g water
110g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
470g white bread flour
30g spelt flour
2 tsp smoked paprika
10g salt

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, paprika, and salt.  Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. You will notice the dough will gain quite a bit of structure even with just 4 minutes in the mixer. Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. Because the dough is already a bit developed from the initial time in the mixer, you should get very good structure after 3 and a half hours, or even sooner than that.

After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and score with a new razor blade, if so desired, or simply make a cut on the surface in the shape of a cross with a very sharp knife. 

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. You can generate additional steam by spraying the inside of the lid with water before closing the pan.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are into sourdough baking, I urge you to follow Morgi’s instagram page. His talent with artistic scoring is something! For many of his styles, he includes not only a photo of the finished bread, but a short video of the slashing, start to finish. It goes a little fast, but you can pause and even draw a sketch on paper as he goes, if necessary. For the multiple leaves, you can pretty much do whatever you like as far as spacing the leaves or keeping them close. I liked this scoring a lot because since the edges of the leaves are cut more deeply, and the veins very lightly, the bread will not ruin the design as it bakes: it will naturally open around the edges of the leaves. Very clever.

The smoked paprika gave a delicate pink hue to the crumb and crust, next time I might add three teaspoons instead of two, to intensify the flavor.

This bread was once again made with my basic method, which starts with a 4 minute kneading in the KitchenAid. The only modification I’ve incorporated was leaving it at room temperature for one hour before placing it in the fridge overnight. I notice a slightly more open crumb and more oven spring when I do that.

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CHEDDAR CHEESE CRACKERS

Today I finally share a recipe made for a very special reception hosted at our home a few months ago.  These are simple to make in the food processor and have great texture. You know when you bite into a cracker and it feels kind of hard, but in 2.5 seconds it dissolves in your mouth releasing all sorts of enticing flavors? These are exactly it.  The recipe I used was inspired by two sources, Fine Cooking and America’s Test Kitchen, you can certainly adapt it to your own taste. They are a bit spicy, so if you prefer to take the crackers into a different path, omit the cayenne, go for cumin or even some curry, that could be wonderful too. Most important thing is to use good quality Cheddar and Parmigiano cheeses because their flavors will be quite prominent in the crackers.  I guarantee you will have no leftovers at the end of your party…

Cheddar Crackers22

CHEDDAR CHEESE CRACKERS
(inspired by ATK & Fine Cooking magazine)

1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces and kept cold
3 tablespoons water

Process cheddar, flour, cornstarch, salt, cayenne, and paprika in food processor until combined, about 30 seconds. Add butter and process until mixture resembles wet sand, about 20 seconds. Add water and process until dough ball forms, about 10 seconds. Transfer dough to counter and divide in half. Roll each half into 10-inch log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap logs and slice into ¼-inch-thick coins. Place coins on prepared sheets, ½ inch apart. Bake until light golden around edges, 22 to 28 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let coins cool completely on sheets before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:
It is easy to open several boxes of crackers to serve alongside cheeses and spreads. But nothing takes a cocktail party to another level like homemade crackers. And homemade bread, of course. These keep very well at room temperature inside a can, so you could prepare them in advance and impress that special group of friends stress-free.  Wait for the question “What brand of crackers are these? They are so good!”.  To that you follow with a short pause… and say as nonchalantly as possible… “These? Oh, these I made myself…”   A little bit of Hollywood never hurt a cocktail party, trust me on that…
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I shared these photos before, but I must say it gives me some pleasure to look at them again, thinking about the marathon of preparation I went through before the party… 
Cheddar Crackers
Make a batch, and you will be hooked!
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CRISPY CORNMEAL SWEET POTATO FRIES

I am not quite sure how many recipes for oven-fried sweet potatoes I’ve tried in the past few years in a quest for the right amount of crunch outside, and a creamy, perfectly cooked interior. It’s not easy to get this combination. All my previous attempts failed to impress us, but this version was definitely blog-worthy.

Cornmeal Crusted Sweet Potatoes
(made on May 09th; blogged on July 24th)

CRISPY CORNMEAL SWEET POTATO FRIES
(adapted from My New Roots)

2 – 3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
4 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp paprika (sweet, hot or smoked)
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Scrub the sweet potatoes well under running water. Slice them into long sticks (thinner than 1/2 inch). Place them in a bowl of water, swish around a few times, then drain. Lay them on a clean tea towel and dry thoroughly. Let them air dry completely.
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Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C. On low heat, melt coconut oil in a small saucepan. Place cut potatoes in a plastic bag, seal and shake the bag vigorously to coat (this can also be done on a baking sheet, drizzle the oil over and toss very well to coat). Add cornmeal, salt, and smoked paprika to the bag and toss well to coat.
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Place potatoes on a lined baking sheet, making sure that they are not overlapping.
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Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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We are not too wild about buying frozen food, but Alexis frozen sweet potato fries are the exception to this rule. I have no idea what they do to make their sweet potatoes so crisp, without any apparent coating. Still, I am glad this recipe gave us a nice alternative, with the added bonus of being able to season them according to our mood, or what we are having as a main dish. In this particular evening, we had open-faced cheeseburgers with slices of avocado and tomatoes.  The sweet potatoes with the amazing paprika our friend brought all the way from Slovakia were perfect alongside.

dinnerDinner is served!


ONE YEAR AGO:
Pan-grilled Tilapia with Smoked Paprika & Avocado Cream

TWO YEARS AGO: Golden Saffron and Fennel Loaf

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2011

FOUR YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

FIVE YEARS AGOA Perfect Sunday Dinner

PAN-GRILLED TILAPIA WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA AND AVOCADO CREAM

tilapia1
I never thought of grilling tilapia filets because they are too delicate, but pan-grilling worked so well that I can see it as my method of choice from now on.  Normally I would either pan fry them after coating with flour, or follow a lighter route, baking in the oven.  However, when the weather outside is the way I like it (mid to high 90’s yeaaaaaah!)  I rather not  turn our oven on.  The inspiration for this meal came from Cooking Light magazine, but I definitely took off in my own direction.

PAN-GRILLED TILAPIA FILETS WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA AND AVOCADO CREAM
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the fish
4 tilapia filets
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper

for the avocado cream
2 small avocados
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fat-free yogurt (or full fat)
1 to 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
salt and pepper
lime juice to taste

Mix the olive oil with the smoked paprika in a small bowl.  Lay the filets on parchment paper, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Brush both sides with the smoked paprika oil.   Heat a grill pan, when hot spray it lightly with oil.  Add the filets and cook 2 minutes per side or until done (they should flake easily and have nice grill marks).

For the avocado cream,  blend all ingredients except the lime juice in a small food processor or blender, until very smooth. Taste and add lime juice for a nice balance of flavor, as the orange juice tends to make it a little sweet.   If you want a more runny consistency, add a little water (or any of the juices according to your taste).  Serve cold or even chilled.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

tilapiaserved
Comments:
  This was a delicious dinner, very quick to prepare, light and absolutely perfect for the weather we are having!   I served the fish with blistered grape tomatoes. Simply heat a very small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan, when screaming hot, add the tomatoes (whole), season with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Shake the pan around a few times, once they start to get blisters all over, they are done.   This side dish will be ready in 5 minutes, and the tomatoes can sit and wait, no need to serve them too hot. (Did you notice I just gave you three recipes in a single blog post?  Am I generous or what? ;-))

The avocado cream soothes the heat of the smoked paprika, and serving it cold was a nice move.  If you like your fish more heavily seasoned, add more smoked paprika,  some extra black pepper, or even some garlic.  We prefer to have the flavor of the fish to come through first.  The small amount of paprika was enough to give the oil a beautiful, intense red color…

tilapiaOil.
Before I leave you…  Since I’m on the subject of fish dinners, Kelly from Inspired Edibles recently blogged on a great recipe for sole filets. After seasoning the filets in a lime-chili marinade, she coated them with quinoa flakes and baked in the oven.  Click here  to read her post about it.  I pinned her version to try once the weather cools down a little.  Sounds absolutely delicious!

ONE YEAR AGO: Golden Saffron and Fennel Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2011

THREE YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Perfect Sunday Dinner

500 POSTS AND THE BEST THING I EVER MADE

Yes, folks, this is my post number 500! Five hundred times that I’ve hit the PUBLISH key, and sent my words and images into the blogosphere! I wanted this post to be special, but at the same time I had to go with life’s flow, which lately has not allowed me to indulge into fancy cooking. But one cannot go wrong with a recipe described as “The best thing I ever made”.  If you are familiar with the FoodTV, you may know they have a show with that exact title, and it’s actually pretty interesting: chefs describe their favorite recipe in a particular category. This was Alton Brown’s best take on chicken. Chicken thighs are de-boned, and roasted with an olive stuffing under the skin, and a smoked paprika rub. They cook over thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes. I could have those potatoes on a daily basis. For breakfast. For lunch. For dinner. For a late night snack. Oh, yes, the chicken was awesome too! 😉

SMOKED PAPRIKA CHICKEN THIGHS WITH POTATO AND ONION
(from Alton Brown’s Best Thing I ever Made)

6 ounces pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 + 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled
1 medium yellow onion, cut in small pieces

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the olives, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl, and set aside. Mix the smoked paprika, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper into a paste in a large bowl.

De-bone the chicken thighs using a pair of kitchen shears:  make a cut down the length of the bone to expose it, then cut the meat away from the bone. Discard the bone. Add the boned chicken thighs to the paste and massage well to coat. Let it sit for half an hour or so.

Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandoline, about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the potato slices and onion pieces in an even layer on a foil-lined half sheet pan and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Stuff about 2 tablespoons of the olive mixture under the skin of each chicken thigh. Arrange the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on a cooling rack and set the rack over the potatoes and onion in the half sheet pan. Bake until the skin is crispy and the potatoes are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. If you prefer the potatoes crispy, remove the rack with the chicken and return to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  The only tricky part of this recipe was de-boning the chicken thighs,  but it’s not that hard.  I normally cook chicken thighs on the bone, but there’s something special about cutting through those pieces of meat, all juicy with the stuffing, without having to work around the bone.  It is a technique that could be applied to other types of stuffing.  The liquid that drips during roasting infuses the potatoes with incredibly rich flavor.

In typical Sally fashion,  onion and garlic were omitted, but I gave you the recipe the exact way Alton made it in the show.  I never thought very highly about pimento-stuffed olives, but they are simply perfect in this dish.  Alton Brown had a moment of inspiration when he conceived this recipe, everything works together extremely well.   Since it’s a reasonably heavy dish,  you won’t need anything else to round the meal.

Five hundred posts published and no special celebration?  Well, stay tuned, my friends.  A special milestone is waiting around the corner, and for that one I’ll have a little giveaway to my readers! 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Back in Los Angeles

TWO YEARS AGO: White House Macaroni and Cheese

THREE YEARS AGO: Korean-Style Pork with Asian Slaw