Sunday, October 5, 2014

Preparing for Another Cooking Demo

I was contacted last week by Vicky Frederickson, who wanted to have me do a cooking demonstration this coming Thursday for the First United Methodist Church here in Aberdeen. I am not affiliated with this church, but apparently my cooking demos around town are gaining a good reputation. It appears the church ladies hold about 4 of these cooking demonstrations, divided between late Fall and early Spring. It is on a volunteer basis, again, but instead of me having to do all the cooking for about 60 people, I only demonstrate how to make the dishes, while the lady's group will do the actual cooking for the attendees, using my recipes. When she told me what this demonstration's food selections would be, I was relieved; soup and sandwich. 

I mean. What could be easier, right?

Okay, so while I was not overly thrilled at another cooking demo in and of itself, this will not be so bad. A lot of carting things to and fro seems unavoidable. I will need to take a large pot, all the food, knives, cutting board, food processor, blender, measuring cups, bowls, spatulas, ladle and the list of little things is long. I do hope they have a cart to transport all this stuff inside. I am meeting with Vicki to see the venue tomorrow. 

Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad, served on Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread
Right off the bat, I decided on making my Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad for the sandwich part of the equation. As for soup, I am going to make the Butternut Squash and Apple Soup I posted here just a few days ago. I had made this soup previously, but not for a very long while, so it was great to do this again and get some nice photos. Plus, just brushing up on the recipe and technique, so it is fresh in my mind for the demo. 

And then again, I sometimes just cannot help myself. Vicky asked about what kind of bread to use for the sandwiches. My first thought was "oh please, NOT plain white sandwich bread!". This is probably one of my worst nightmares, shudder! She mentioned the possibility that since someone was making a trek to Sam's Club in Sioux Falls this week, maybe little croissants? Which was a perfectly fine idea. The chicken salad on a croissant is a most excellent idea, in fact. And then I opened my mouth. Again. I suggested that since I make bread all the time, I could certainly make some bread for the sandwiches. I was considering that I have eaten my Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad on Rye Bread and it was fantastic, so I suggested a rye bread of some kind, along with some white bread, so there is a choice. 

Marbled Rye, from The Bread Baker's Apprentice
And so, this is where I found myself this weekend; making breads. I made the rye bread first. It is another recipe from Peter Reinhart's, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, called Marbled Rye. I have wanted to try this for some time and hadn't gotten to it yet, but now was the time. It is one of the easier breads in this book, as it required no starter dough of any kind. Just make the dough, let it rise, shape, bake. I decided to leave out any caraway seeds, as I believe this is the flavor many object to when they think "rye bread." While it uses only about half the amount of rye flour as white, it makes a very nicely flavored bread, with a really great texture, firm, while still moist and tender. The only thing distinguishing the dark part of the bread is the use of burnt caramel color from King Arthur Flour, which I just happened to have in the cabinet! I bought it a while back, for precisely this kind of use, but hadn't gotten to it, as I said. 

Pyrex "Bake a Round" glass tubes
What I did choose to do is bake this bread in two glass tubes, making a nice round loaf and keeping the slices in all the same size. I sliced off the ends to take these photos (above and below). It had grown out the ends of the tubes a bit, so slicing off the ends made it easier to see what the slices will look like. Among the various things my sister-in-law brought me earlier in the year were these Pyrex glass tubes to bake breads in. They are probably about 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter, making what will be a nice size for sandwiches, without being too large. I had two of these tubes. While washing them after the bread was done, one slipped and just barely touched the counter top, shattering into tiny shards! Great Scott! When I told my husband, he promptly went to eBay and found a couple more of these for me!
My two kinds of bread for the cooking demo

Next I though maybe a nice sourdough bread would be good for the white bread part of the sandwiches. I used the same recipe as I had before, for 100% Sourdough Bread, which I wrote about in my June 1st blog post, but I believe last time I made this, I did add in a little bit of yeast to make the process move along more rapidly. This time I did not add yeast but used only the starter, which was plenty active, but the temperatures were extremely chilly that day and the house was far cooler than it had been. It rose in the time suggested in Peter Reinhart's recipe, but it just didn't quite grow as much as last time. No pretty rounded loaves this time. The bread tasted great, but it was wrong for what I wanted. Back to the drawing board.

Farm Fresh Eggs from the Farmers' Market
I finally just went with my usual adaptation of my Mom's and Grandma's bread, which I call My Kitchen Aid Mixer Bread. Looking for fairly rounded loaves, I made two long loaves in my French bread pans. I braided the bread and it grew beautifully. I now have more than enough bread for the chicken salad cooking demo. While baking this weekend, I also had some farm fresh eggs I bought at the Farmers' Market this past week. I just love the different sizes and colors. 

I made a repeat of the Apple Fritter Loaf that came out so excellently. We ate it at the luncheon held at ReMax Preferred Choice in the Gerharter Building, where my husband is currently working. They hold a luncheon every few weeks, potluck style. I usually bring dessert! This particular dessert was gone very quickly. That first loaf was made using a bag of 2 cups of frozen apples from last season and was excellent. We were given a bag of fresh apples that day at the luncheon, so I made this second loaf with these fresh apples to see what differences there would be. I can say it made little, if any, difference to how the loaf came out. Both were excellent. 

Tomorrow, I am going to make some Amish Friendship Breads. I got the starter a week ago Saturday while at the Granary volunteering at the Living History Fall Festival, held by the Dacotah Prairie Museum. Someone brought various bags of starter to be given out for free. It's been a while since I made this Amish Friendship Bread. Last time was after visiting with my sister Barb in Tucson, some years back. It is surely baking weather here, so that works well.