The Bread Debate

I've never been one to cut bread out of my diet, I like to have the odd slice here and there, but people try to tell me to cut it out completely.

I haven't cut bread out completely, nor do I plan to.

That being said, I am pretty picky about what breads I eat the majority of the time. I stick mostly with whole grains, brown rice, rolled oats, etc. For example, for our breakfast burritos I use FlatOut wraps instead of white burrito tortillas.

Making that switch made it easier to eat less of it because a serving of brown rice or a slice of whole wheat toast make me feel more full than white did and whenever I have it I add on as many veggies as I can to give what I'm eating more of a boost.

I'm pretty sure everyone is sick of hearing "everything in moderation" but personally it's worked out really well for me with my own diet and health.

Eating whole grains or a slice of toast or a sandwich a few times a week isn't a bad thing if you're not overdoing it and it's in conjunction with good exercise and a diet that's full of other healthy things.

It kind of depends on what you're trying to do with your diet.

If you're trying to go for a really balanced plan you don't need to cut it out completely, but you should try to stick to whole grain breads as they are much healthier than white breads. If you are trying a low/zero carb diet then yes, you should cut out bread completely.

Your body essentially treats all carbohydrates as sugar and really only does one of two things with them: burn them right away or turn them into fat.

If you're active enough that you're burning them right away it's not too big of an issue, but it does mean that your body isn't choosing to burn whatever fat stores you're trying to lose. If you don't burn them right away they get turned into fat which you will have to burn off later. This is a pretty simplistic summation of the process, but it's the general idea behind avoiding carbs when trying to lose fat.

Whole grains, brown rice, oats, etc are much better for you than highly processed grains and starches because they come with a lot of fiber and other nutrients.

The fiber and the more complex structure of the carbs means your body has to work harder to burn them or turn them into fat whereas with highly processed carbs your body can instantly use them or store them.

Published: December 25, 2016 | Comments: 0

Mayo, Cheese Toasty

I read about using mayo awhile back and decided to try it.

Honestly, I'm unimpressed. I've tried multiple heat settings, different pans (cast iron and nonstick), preheating and not preheating the pan, and melting butter into the pan beforehand.

None of those provided me with a better grilled cheese. All of them were worse or the same as when I used butter.

So either I'm a really shitty food scientist or it's not all it's cracked up to be. For the record, I'm guessing that the latter is most likely the cause.

What I did start doing however, is to begin with toasting the inside. If you haven't been toasting the inside of your grilled cheese, you're totally missing out. See J Kenji Lopez-Alt's approach in the Food Lab for the best grilled cheese recipe

Published: December 17, 2016 | Comments: 0

When You Get The Urge

I recently got into baking bread in a big way. I've been at it about 4 months and I have to say: it's awesome. My first attempt at bread was also really dense and cakey.

I'm pretty sure my issue was that I was using flour without enough gluten content, was using too much flour and that I didn't let it rise enough.

Bread can be tricky; it can depend on the conditions of your kitchen and the time of year, too. I think adding more yeast will make it rise faster, but might not make it rise more.

Try using a bread flour rather than all-purpose and check out my last link about how to measure flour to make sure you're not using too much.

How does your dough feel before you bake it?

The best advice I've heard is that it should feel a little like a breast when it's risen 😉 I'm guessing no-knead breads will almost always be denser than kneaded breads because you aren't helping form the gluten chains that give it the elasticity to rise well.

Here are some recommendations for bread from an intermediate bread baker:

The first recipe I ever tried was a no knead recipe.

I have to say it was DELICIOUS but my first attempt was really dense. I substituted whole wheat flour for white and I think it didn't have enough gluten. Chef Tess goes over flour substitutions, so it's worth reading the whole blog post if you're going to try this one. This bread was so good toasted with butter.

Most of the time, I want a whole wheat bread for sandwiches, and I found that this recipe from King Arthur Flour came out perfectly every time as long as I measure my flour the "King Arthur way".

It's not the simplest recipe with the dried milk and oil, but I don't think it adds much complexity, really. I prefer to knead this in my food processor, because it's a little tougher by hand.

My only criticism is that it's pretty crumbly when cut for sandwiches.

King Arthur's website is chock full of baking tips that I found helpful. Their method of measuring flour is nice if you don't have a kitchen scale; I think my common issue when I started was trying to use too much flour because I wasn't "fluffing" it. I now mix my flour with a whisk to fluff it and then scoop it into my measuring cup with a separate scoop.

Another tip is if you want to substitute "rapid rise" or instant yeast for regular yeast.

My kitchen is pretty cold except in the dead of summer, and I can't get a good rise in 2 hours from regular yeast.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

I just started baking sourdough the last two weeks. I'm still learning; I can't seem to get my starter to give a consistent level of sourness. There are some dead simple recipes for sourdough, but you have to keep the starter fed.

Published: December 13, 2016 | Comments: 0

Delicious, Delectable, Goat Cheese!

That's why we like it. I love that barn yard taste. It is a psychological thing, a very powerful mental association. Food aversions are really easy to come by, the same could be said about garlic and onions.

As for the taste, it's called "goatyness" and they say the older the goat milk the more "goaty" it tastes. Also, if there is a male goat in the mix, he will release very strong pheromones that smell like that and also end up in the female's milk.

I believe several factors have to be accounted for:

  1. It is of course true that you can distinguish goat from sheep or cow by tasting the milk or the cheese, but all things equal, I don't find that the "goat" flavour is stronger than the "cow" flavour or anything else. What you experience with goat cheese, I experience it for similar cow and sheep cheeses too, and it never bothered me.
  2. There are many different qualities and types of goat cheese, and not all have as strong a "goat" taste. However, it is much less common for goat milk to be refined into hard cheeses than it is for sheep or cow milk. This means you will almost always find "fresh" goat cheese, which retains more of that "animal" taste than Gruyère or Pecorino might do.
  3. Taste of the milk or cheese does not come directly from the nature of the animal, it will mostly be influenced by what the goats ate and by the refining process. There are however tendencies which may result in biases, as is maybe the case here.

All in all, it sounds like you just make a stronger association between the animal and the dairy product when it comes to goat, but others will have the exact same experience with different animals.

That's what I call not liking goat cheese, and as much as it pains me to say so, it is perfectly fine. It is but your personal taste.

Published: December 6, 2016 | Comments: 0

Cheese Lovers Unite

I love cheese, and so Trader Joe's is just about my best friend. My favorites are:

  1. Ptit Basque
  2. Toscano – Syrah, black pepper
  3. Caramelized onion cheddar
  4. Goat Gouda
  5. Dubliner
  6. Asiago with rosemary and olive oil
  7. Boursin
  8. 1000 day Gouda
  9. Rembrandt Gouda
  10. Brie with mushrooms
  11. Goat cheese with truffles
  12. Greek feta
  13. Israeli feta
  14. Cave aged blue cheese
  15. Unexpected cheddar

But asking me to pick a favorite is impossible. I guess if I had to only eat one cheese for the rest of my life, it would be cave-aged Ptit Basque.

Humboldt Fog won an ACS award!

Humboldt Fog is a goat milk cheese made by Cypress Grove Chevre, of Arcata, California, in Humboldt County. It is named for the local ocean fog which rolls in from Humboldt Bay.
Humboldt Fog is a mold-ripened cheese with a central line of edible white ash much like Morbier. The cheese ripens starting with the bloomy mold exterior, resulting in a core of fresh goat cheese surrounded by a runny shell. As the cheese matures, more of the originally crumbly core is converted to a soft-ripened texture. The bloomy mold and ash rind are edible but fairly tasteless. The cheese is creamy, light, and mildly acidic with a stronger flavor near the rind.
This cheese won first-place awards from the American Cheese Society in 1998, 2002 and 2005.

It's a tangy, nutty goat cheese. It's got the texture of a sharp cheddar, with lots of little flavor crystals. I found it initially at Fresh Market, but I've seen it in several regional cheese cases and at Whole Foods. Shouldn't be too hard to locate. Definitely recommended.

Published: November 29, 2016 | Comments: 0