Posts Tagged ‘chesterhill’

So Much Baking, So Little Time!

I sincerely hope you forgive me for not blogging so much lately. My usual computer is down and I’ve been baking like crazy. I decided to turn you on to some baking that I’ve been doing. I could never do this alone and thank Chef Patty Nally for keeping me on track during this weekly, freaky baking frenzy which produces some wacked-out (but delicious) breads like our “Anchovy Heaven.” filled with Peruvian anchovies, roasted leeks, Moroccan oil-cured olives, almonds and garlic. Its adorned with some sugarloaf raddichio from Rik Vest at Vest Berries and I slit it like a Mafia snitch and stuffed it with an raddichio-achovy-roasted garlic slaw macerated with lemon juice and added Kalamatas, Valorosso tomato and more garlic. Yum!


Over the past few weeks, we’ve been baking massive amounts of Asiago fougasse and sea salt and herb fougasse.


Staring at hundreds of pounds of proofing dough tends to elicit a sigh of dread in me but once that dough starts to proof, it evolves from a gooey mass of nothing to a work of art capable of endless possibilities of culinary pleasure.


I mixed this pre-fermented, 32 ounce blob with roasted garlic, rosemary, Kalamata’s and Morrocan olives.  I Retarded the growth for 50 hours, re-kneaded it, formed and proofed for another four hours then baked it.


Can you imagine the smell of these beautiful couronnes as they cool down? This is as close to a perfect bread as they come.


Simply finding the room to proof these ciabatta and our infamous “Flintstone Wheels” is an art form in itself.


The adolescent stages for this wonderful naturally leavened monster are an indication of what it’s gonna grow up to be…

                                 …and luckily for one of my customers, this guy never wanted to grow up to be a fireman.


Chef Nally has become an expert at the art of Pide, (Pi-DAY.) This is the style of the ancient Turkish boatlike bread. This large version is like spinach dip in bread with ricotta, parmesan, red onion and topped with Athens Own aged cheddar and tomato.


She’s also the creator if this wonderful Stilton-pear pizza that we top with fresh arugula and balsamic glaze. (I just drooled) So, if you know her, she now wants to called “Patty McStilton” (you must use an English accent…)


One of the most daring bread adventures I’ve cooked up in the last weeks was the Chicago hot-dog bread. It was…aaa…cool like a nice breeze coming in from Gary Indiana. I made the bread with sport peppers, Genoa Salami, bella rosa tomato, whole grain mustard, (yes, kneading was like world war one,) and a generous dose of celery seeds and dill pickles. I eggwashed it after proofing and created a bunlike trough all the time thinking of late nights at the Weiners Circle on Clark Street in Chi-Town. Then I cut hot dog like bread sticks off and wrapped them in salami served with a few more sport peppers.


Some other great stuff we’ve offered included an Asian to-go box with sesame tahini na’an and kombu-pressed local vegetables, curried kimchi, dashi pickles and miso-pressed tofu. This included a miso-tahini-cilantro sauce with a little thai chili.


Other specialties that we have a consistant market for are the arugula fougasse (left) Hey what else could I do with 47 pounds of arugula that the Amish just drop off…) We make it  with roasted garlic and tomato. On the right is a shared tray of Italian sausage ladder bread and leek-a-choke fougasse.


The Italian sausage laddar bread is delightful to smell after the oven because of the onions, green peppers and poppy combination. A newer style fougasse was just introduced after I got hold of some great Szechuan peppercorns and added mango, fresh basil and three types of pork- Prosciutto di Parma, Lardo and local King Family Farms bacon. Man, this was zesty, sweet and utterly fun to eat so we called it “Szecuan Pork Paradise.”


One of our most popular couronnes is the local spelt couronne with cherries and walnuts. Thanks to Shagbark Milling Company, we are able to still get local spelt for our breads and pizza crust.


Every week, we never know what crazy combo will come from our baking frenzy like the “Purple People Eater,” (Left.) It is another Turkish-style pide with Peruvian Purple Potatoes, salt-roasted beets and braised raddichio with Maytag blue cheese, walnuts and cheddar. On the right, Chef Nally made a wonderful local vegetable schiacciata with broccoli, kale, chard, zucchini and tomato with Fontina and Mozzarella.


And finally, our always-popular summer schiacciata with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and early summer grape tomatoes on a dough that endured a 90-hour extended fermentation that exposed as much flavor and crunch as possible.


At least now you can accept my apologies for not blogging since you now know I wasn’t drunk in some alley or jacked up on a 3 week binge of Mortal Combat.

Or if you really wanna get red hot, check out this video. in order of appearance is mushroom pizza, Corsican basil bread, Potato disc, curry ladder bread, kombu pressed veg in Asian box, leek a choke, stilton with pear and spinach, Schiacciata, Sicilian pizza, garlic pudding stuffed fougasse, Turkish pide with spinach, olive-rosemary-garlic couronne, spelt couronne, Italian sausage bread ladder bread, cilantro and chorizo fougasse with blueberries, super mushroom disc and the super-red hot Beelzebub Pizza and the Asiago fougasse finally the goon with his Scooby Dooo shirt.

I hope you keep checking on the goon or sign up for my RSS feed for more entries from a real pizza guy.

Vive la…Pizza!    God save the Goon!


The Devils Bidding

Two weeks ago, the Chesterhill Produce Auction got underway with a bang!  It is run fabulously by Tom Redfern and Bob Fedeski of Rural Action. Despite a few thunderstorms, everyone was in great spirits and looking forward to a great growing year. I was looking for ingredients to make a killer pie! I bid on some fresh asparagus, French breakfast radishes, multi-colored Swish chard and spring garlic. This is the pizza I made, but first a little psychological ditty about bidding at an auction. And it ain’t pretty.

If you’ve ever been to an auction of any kind, you’ll know that the little aggressive pilot light inside your unsually calm and empathetic soul starts heating up.  At first, the auction looks daunting but as long as you follow the few rules of etiquette, you’ll have no problem. Rule number one: NO ONE IS YOUR FRIEND AT AN AUCTION.

This is an experience I (my auction number is 186) had last summer:

 A flat of bodacious Mortgage Lifter tomatoes is held up by an Amish guy. These are the most wonderful tomatoes I’ve seen in my life. I am salavating already so I start the first bid.

” I have two, two, two dollars?” The auctioneer says and I look around daring anyone to bid against me. These tomatoes are mine.

A sweet old woman raises her hand extending her little pinky and smiles innocently; she instantly becomes my worse enemy.

“Humma-na-humma, two-fifty, two-fifty, do-I-have-a-three?” the auctioneer looks at me pointing his arm. I nod and grit my teeth hoping to look like a mafia hit man.

“Three-a-ma, Three-a-ma, humana-humana, do I have four-four-four-four dollars?” The auctioneer senses blood in the water now as he arm-points to the woman. She looks trepadacious and I think she’s gonna cave in soon. Then she nods and raises her pinky.

 In my eyes, the bidder is not a nice old woman anymore, she is Beelzabub, lord of darkness and is trying to reek havoc upon my world. She is going for my throat and will crush me with that little pinky she keeps waving. Therefore I must  counter her childish bidding with strength and the full might of my two years experience here at this auction. My next  trumping bid is gonna be an ugly upper-cut to her psyche. 

“Four-fitty, do I have four-fitty, fitty, fitty, four-fitty to you?” He says with an arm point. I nod an aggressive yes.

Now Beelzebub is turning and talking to others gathered around her for guidance. They back off, not wanting to help, or hinder this fight. She looks down, worried. She is going down like the Titanic. I smirk in self-admiration for vanquishing Miss Pinky.

“Humana-humana-humana, five, five, five, do I have…”

“Shoot, I’ll pay eight dollars.” The woman says, upsurping the process. She looks in her purse at the cash she has. The auctioneer looks puzzled but smiles at me and shrugs his shoulders.

 My mouth drops and I wanna complain about her not following protocal. She has now cast me into a pit of doubt. My mortgage lifters have sprouted wings and are flying away like some 70’s cartoon. I look to the auctioneer for guidance. No help there because he loves when the price to goes up. The Amish guy who raised these tomatoes is smiling also. A sinking feeling drops from my chest to my feet.

“Ah, I guess we have eight, eight, eight, humana, humana. Are you in, number 186?”

It’s decision time for me now and all 50 people eye me, the poor bastard that got out bid by an old womans pinky. Or, I could still carry on and bid $8.50 for this flat- but that would make me a chump, paying too much at the height of the summer tomato glut.

I nod my head no. I am finished. Beelzabub won.

“Yay! I got those beautiful tomatoes? For only eight dollars? Yay!” says the woman over and over.

I shuffle away from the bidding and look at the other vegetables feigning a laissez-faire attitude. I know that I have been whipped but must keep my cocky composure or this flaw may be taken advantage of by other bidders.

 The auction continues and I bid and win everything I need to make some glorious pizzas but all the while, I keep an eye on her, my arch-nemesis.

 I had hoped for bidding redemption someday but I haven’t seen her again.

 Below are the fabulous vegetables to be found at our little auction.So you think I’m being a little hypersensitive about vegetables, well just check these out.