Posts Tagged ‘athens’

Bone Marrow, Turnip and Staghorn Sumac Pizza


Winter is a great crisp season with plenty of cabin time to contemplate exactly what makes a fabulous pie. Gone are the playful distractions of summer and the bounty of all the great produce from farms around these parts. These cold months used to be the leanest times in the days of old as foods were either pulled from pickling jars in root cellars or fermented to lengthen the lifespan. These days, it seems that everything is so readily available as long as those giant fossil-fuel, tractor-trailers keep loading up our mega stores with foods from all over the world.

Convenience is the hallmark word of todays food system where terms like ‘Conventional’ has replaced ‘sprayed’ and “local” is relegated to tags referring to a distribution hub, not a field. (That’s you Kroger!)

I’ve decided to embrace three of the foods I’ve found outside in the these winter days of southeast Ohio; The Staghorn Sumac and a frozen Italian flat-leaf parsley plant along with some crisp radishes that my friend and teacher Keith Mcartney grew with his class at Federal Hocking High School. I’ve incorporated all three into a pizza with roasted bone marrow, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Teleggio.

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I started with the Staghorn Sumac as a tea. The sumac I collected was from atop a mountain in a forest in Vinton county right over where we saw some nice logs of bobcat scat. It was perfectly dried from the strong winds.

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After rinsing the sumac thoroughly, I reduced it  in a pot of boiling water brought to a simmer until the liquid looked dark and tasted like a sumac tea. I then strained the sumac and reduced the liquid by half. Then I added sugar and local honey to taste and reduced further for a wonderful balsamic like glaze, (above). This sumac glaze had a wonderful cranberry-pink lemonaide flavor with hints of raspberry and was very easy to make.

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Now I wanted to use a frozen parsley plant that was lingering in my garden.

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So I just yanked that baby up and went right after the “artichokes” that were growing off the hearty root bottom. These were crisp and tender.

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After cutting and cleaning these artichoke-like buds, I quickly heated a brine of apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, cumin seed, mustard seed, black peppercorn and celery seed with a little local Cantrell honey then poured it over the chokes and let them steep until they were pickled and ultra tender. I then refrigerated them

I then sliced the turnip thinly in discs and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with a thin seasoning of salt and white pepper until tender.

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I took the marrow bones and placed in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for only about 12 minutes until the marrow was just loosened up. (Remember, this will cook on a pizza later.) Letting the marrow cool, I then coaxed it out with my finger and sliced for topping.

So now I was ready to make my pie.

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I first made sure my oven was at or above 600 degrees then topped my disc with the Parmigiano and the turnip discs.

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Then I topped with teleggio followed by the sliced bone marrow.

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I  stoked the this baby in the oven until nice, golden brown and crisp then I added Japanese-mandolin-sliced rasishes, the pickled parsley root artichokes and a nice swirl of the Staghorn Sumac glaze.


This pizza has it all for a great winter adjective chowfest! The creamy Teleggio melted in with the beefy marrow and meaty turnip followed by the lingering Parmigiano umami, the crunch of the radish and sweet and sour welcome of my wild friends of winter.




Bumblebee Batard 2.0


This is an exciting bread I have been baking all year. Its striking visual aspect of black on yellow rewards the eyes followed by the two tastes of nuanced squid-ink with pine nuts and saffron-onion-potato in highly hydrated dough wrapped around an outstanding potato-garlic pudding. Although it sells very well, making this dough is always a study in patience and dough fortitude for me as I fight the primal thoughts of wallowing in a giant batch of mud.



I’ve been doing bumble bee breads for some time now, here is a blog entry from long ago. This baking session, I made over twenty loaves. The key for me is to get this dough on trays to proof as fast as possible. I’ve also found that flouring the bottom of the dough dulls the colors more than I liked.  Here is a video of the bench-mixing process. The potatoes and onions were already cooked with the saffron and fell apart nicely in the dough.


and here is more…

After the kneading, I let the dough rest then it was time for the cutting. This is where the high hydration became an asset. I’ve found that strips of different filled dough adhere nicely (given enough time to proof).

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The oiled trays were filled with the strips, covered with wrap and I put them into a cold fermentation stage for almost 48 hours.

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When I pulled the cold fermented dough out, I was able to cut sqaure (ish) strips. The tough part about this process is not getting too much of the black dough in the yellow. It is a constant battle with sticky gnarly dough but is worth it. Once I got the squares cut, I filled a line of ground Yukon Gold potato and roasted garlic pudding inside the square topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Now is the fold; the most crucial part of making this batard.

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After a gentle roll and lift. I adjusted the batard and let it proof on a parchment fitted tray.

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I made three slits in each loaf to let the steam out.

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I am very happy with the bullet-shape of these batards after cooking at 550 degrees. Then I completed with some stingers.

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My friends at Cantrell Honey sold me some great light Russian Olive honey and I infused a boatload of Paper Lantern chilies at 130 degrees.  This honey luxury heaven turned into a hellish sweetness that made me beg for mercy but kept me coming back for more like a workout with a good Dominatrix without the whip marks… just sayin’!


In each slit, I put a large chunk of Cantrell honeycomb for shits and giggles with the stingers of Paper Lantern infused honey as… the stingers!

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Once cooled, the crumb exhibited a moist cakeness, (Is that a word?)  without giving up the irregular cell structure of a great bread. The pudding brought a nice éclair-like texture with a garlicky savor of potato and matched well with the pignoli and especially the saffron. This bread, as they say these days, “has a lot going on.”

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So, until I bake some more bumble bee batard this spring, I’ll just have to deal with the dull, drab brown crunch of pizza and bread crumbs.