Broccoli soufflé

Tonight it was a tossup between this savory broccoli or a chocolate soufflé. I still might do the chocolate one because now the idea won't go away. 

It is a meringue that carries a sauce made with the yolks and sometimes little particles, sometimes cheese. 

Five eggs can lift a cup of sauce. One more egg white than egg yolk. So five egg whites,  then the four egg yolks included with the sauce. 

It's considered difficult but I don't know why. Possibly because there are three spots that take a special cheffery type of specialized mixing.

* First a portion the hot sauce is mixed into the room temperature egg yolk to temper the yolks to the temperature of the hot sauce without curdling the yolks
* and then a portion of beaten egg whites is mixed into that sauce that is fortified with egg yolk to lighten it and bring its saucy texture closer to the fluffy meringue
* then the lightened sauce is folded into the meringue carefully to not lose its air. 

Is that so hard?

The chill is taken off the eggs. If you live in Europe you're probably wondering, who puts eggs in the refrigerator? 

We do. 

As always, the spices are heated in fat, this time butter, this time with flour for a roux. 

When I make a sauce with a roux, it will always take some kind of wine. The butter and wine are like a sauce by themselves. Recipes call for all kinds of powders, like garlic powder or cayenne, but this time I'm going light, just mustard this time. 

A portion of the sauce above is combined with the egg yolks in a separate bowl not shown, then recombined back into the pot with the bulk of the sauce. The sauce contains the broccoli bits but no cheese. There is ample cheese spread all around the inside of the  baking dish to give the expanding meringue a textured surface to climb up. Plus the baked cheese is delicious. 

This soufflé rose considerably above the rim of the baking dish then collapsed while it baked. Then collapsed more back to this level by the time it brought to the table. 

When eggs cook too long they squeeze out their liquid portion. This was removed from the oven right as that was happening. Nonetheless, although not tall, it is everything I wanted in flavored foamy eggs. 

Simple omelet, French fries

The omelet is made the French way not the burrito way.

The potatoes are cut parboiled in oil and frozen. They're trying to be as good as Ore-Ida delicious frozen potatoes but they're just not. Dextrose is sugar right? Ore-Ida uses more dextrose than they do salt. 

One technique for crisping French fries in the oven is to coat cut raw potatoes in light oil with a little sugar, mix oil and sugar with salt and whatever else in a bowl and roll the fries around to coat. The sugar caramelizes. A light coating of oil is necessary to fry the potatoes in the oven. But these are deep fried and still not quite as good as Ore-Ida frozen potatoes. 

Chicken broth potato

Chicken carcass from the previous posts, including the giblets frozen in a snack bag. Turns out, they didn't stay frozen for long. 

Chicken bones are fast enough but pressure cooked anyway to speed things. 

Hey Maurice, what should I do with this chicken broth?

Put a butayta init. 


I call it drowned Hasselhoff. 

* bay leaf
* garlic
* onion
* black pepper
* sea salt
* fennel seed
* butter

Odd to add add butter when all that chicken fat was already discarded but couldn't help it and a taste test indicated it needed fat. 

Roasted chicken, steamed buns

The chicken still in its vacuum-formed package is slipped into a large bowl and filled with water, the chicken removed and the water level noted. That's how much liquid brine to prepare before putting the raw chicken back in. No guessing.

That way you can use expensive ingredients with undisciplined abandon with the certain knowledge that none will be wasted. Like vodka. 

And precious salt.


They tell you it must be boiled to dissolve the salt but I use a stick blender instead. With plain water you can see the salt is dissolved. 

I'm glad this chicken has all this stuff inside. I can use it. And I feel cheated when it's absent. Sometimes those high-end free-range offerings do not include them probably thinking we consumers don't care, but we do. 

But I'm glad they don't include the cloaca. 

We carnivore types like to save these parts, neck gizzard, so forth, for a snack later.

Kidding. Not a snack. Frozen and saved for broth later. 

Gotta keep it cold, but this won't take that long. I don't care to refrigerate it right now, maybe I will. I don't know. Depends on how fast other things go.  

Until then


Next day.

The bird was refrigerated after all.  

The brining liquid is exchanged for clear water and the chicken soaked for reverse brining, to remove most of the salt. The bird is air drying.

Meanwhile dough is prepared for steamed buns. The dough will rise like ordinary bread but incompletely. No more than about an hour will be sufficient proofing. 

Scant 1/2 cup water
1 + 1/2 cup packed flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/s teaspoon salt

for 6 buns

The last half cup in increments.

Two strips of parchment paper cut into thirds.

Proofing box is a plastic storage container. The dough is basically waiting for the chicken to finish roasting. Timing is not critical, this is not like regular bread. It's only important to get the dough started with yeast, it doesn't have to proof completely. There is a wide margin for goofing around.

The bird is dried with kitchen towel and oiled. No salt, of course. 

The bowl is ovenproof, so is the plate, roasting dish, there you go.

The bird is baked for an hour.

The chicken is nearly finished baking. The plate removed for the skin to brown.

The buns have fully risen although that wasn't necessary. The dough balls are stretched into an elongated oval and folded.

The buns steam in just minutes. 

The chicken is removed to rest and cut into slices.

So, there you go. Scrumptious. Satisfying. Real chicken flavor all over your mouth. Unctuous. No garnish, no flavorful sauce, no broth, no dipping sauce, no nothing, just plain roasted chicken flavor kept moist by brining and tinted with fennel. The vodka is not apparent. Hic. 

And then there's this. 

The maid will get this later.

Did I say maid? I meant me. 

These pieces will be picked through, the bones broken open, and the carcass turned into broth. 

Dinner rolls

The wet dough aged overnight, this went a little longer, okay a lot longer. Twelve hours is a good target. 

The yeast will go as far as it can go and then slow down then stop even though its environment is favorable. It will attempt to consume its environment but languishing this way affords the yeast one way of reproducing, by budding, growing like a tree except in segments. But once the the dough is turned out onto a work surface and stretched then the yeast are redistributed and they suddenly find themselves in propinquity with a corresponding type and are afforded their sexy type of reproducing, that is, they can suddenly turn on their bad diploid selves from their languishing depleting haploid activities. 

But it looks like such a wet gooey mess, doesn't it?

In Mexico they make the best dinner rolls and I always marveled at their mastery, and now I have the secret.

That is to say I've internalized their strange ninja dinner rolls ways.

This is where you control the timing if you want to do that, say, narrow it down so that your guests are awestruck with your mad dinner roll abilities by presenting excellent hot rolls directly from the oven at dinner time.

You decide when to shape them. There's no pressure for them to be puffy and presentable as these appear to be here, they can be loose and wet and floppy when they are inserted into the oven, so proofing them a second time is not so critical as it seems. However they cannot overproof at this point, so error on the side of short proofing them. And if your guests call and say they'll be late by an hour then your plan is dashed for on-demand presentation, or tell your guests, "Well, just forget it then!"

There was about an hour resting in the proofing box after being formed but it could have been as short as 20 minutes. There is not much difference between pre and post proofing. 20 minutes would not allow time for the yeast to do much of its diploid activity but it really doesn't matter. The air holes are already present and folded in the loose floppy wet dough balls. Intense heat will expand them once it reaches them, but the surface must be kept wet in intense heat for the network of pockets inside it to stretch.  If proofing in the box helps develop the air pockets a little before that then great, but this works well with short or long second proofing.  Just so you know, this is where you control timing again if that's important to you. 

The floppy wet dough balls are inserted into the torture chamber and steamed in there for  the first 10 minutes allowing heat to get to the center and expand the air inside the air bubbles and air pockets. The skin must stretch to accommodate all that internal expansion. It's like a balloon holding a thousand tiny organic balloons inflated with heat. To get that heat to the center fast it must be high heat. For the surface to stretch like a balloon it must be kept moist.

These are the tricks of the trade:

1) insanely slow proof 12 hours best, this is 16 hours

2) wet sticky dough

3) no punching. stretching and folding instead.

4) high heat

5) kept moist with heavy misting for expansion then stopped to crisp the  crust. 

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