Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Kitchen of Bean

I'm not sure if this will interest anyone, but since this is my blog I will do what I want.

So here is a post about my kitchen. The pantry and the butter crock, to be specific.

I like my butter to be of a nice consistency, not hard from the fridge, but not liquid. I'd been wanting to get a butter dish, but those long rectangular ones always seem dirty to me. I don't know why. So when I found this one, it just did it for me. It's hi-low-tech, if you know what I mean.

Let me explain how this works. The butter gets squished into the rounded crock part, and then you set it upside down in the second piece. When you put an inch or so of water in the bottom the water seals the butter from the air, and your butter stays fresh! I'm convinced that it also has a mild cooling effect as well, from evaporation. I love it.

Next, the pantry:

Do you see those giant mason jars? (Actually they are Bell, but everyone knows these jars to be mason jars, it's kind of like kleenex or Q-tip). I got them at the hardware store, they are gallon canning jars, but they are perfect for holding quinoa and dried beans etc. You might also notice those little bags of black beans? Those are beluga lentils and black (!!!) chickpeas. I can't wait to make hummus from them!

On the menu tonight:

Shakshuka from Smitten Kitchen.

I will also be making homemade pita, which I think I do once a week or so. Half of the recipe can be eaten by two people and the other half of the dough can be stored in the fridge and makes a terrific thin crust pizza dough. Recipe stolen from Gourmet via Epicurious.

Whole wheat pitas:

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F)
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Whisk 1/2 cup flour (either whole wheat or bread flour, doesn't really matter, just remember to adjust the total in the final addition of flour) into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. You can let this sit for several hours with no ill effects. Really, I let mine go from breakfast until lunch, when I can get back home to add the rest of the ingredients.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (again this can sit for several hours without any issues).

Punch down dough and cut 2 pieces. Put one ball in plastic bag in refrigerator (for making pizza with later in the week). Cut remaining piece in to 4 pieces and roll into balls. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Doesn't have to be perfect, just make them pretty thin. Transfer round to 1 of 2 baking sheets lightly sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Make 3 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. I do all of this on one of those perforated pizza pans, and then just put the pan in the oven, but the rounds do transfer easily, so don't worry about it.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm.


SariiCollins said...

Can we come for dinner? YUM!!

ohcarla said...

Great pita recipe, just what I was looking for, and believe it or not, but I've also been searching for a way to keep my butter soft. I've known about those French crocks, but wasn't so sure they worked. I saw one on Etsy that I love. Heading there soon to buy it.

I've only posted maybe twice on your blog. I feel like I'm intruding on personal space here, but I really do love learning about your jewelry work and reading your posts.



themadwifey said...

I love the butter crock!! I've wanted to get one for ages now, but I never knew anyone that had/used one. I hate trying to spread hard butter and I hate the idea of leaving it out all the time (my mother in law does and it kind of freaks me out to use it because I have no idea how long its been sitting there). Im not going to put it off any longer. Im getting a crock!

Bean Collins said...

@PPP3 Of course! Tiny ones are also welcome. I need to squeeze him!

@ohcarla This pita is really great. I'm not normally a fan of whole wheat, but in this it isn't really too wholesome, if you get my drift. Still tastes like bread, not sawdust. I can't say enough good things about the butter crock. It's fabulous. Thanks for reading my blog! I mean for it to be a public space, so don't feel like you are intruding. :-)

@themadwifey This is so funny that the butter crock is getting this much interest and comments! But it really is fabulous and keeps the butter super fresh. I use salted butter, which keeps a bit better than sweet cream, but I don't think you would have a problem with unsalted butter. :-)