Day 2 – The Friendship Bread Adventure

It is day two of the friendship bread adventure. As you see by one of the pictures above, the starter is doing nicely. I had some issues at first. My directions say to proof the yeast for ten minutes until it because bubbly. Well ten minutes came and went and there was no bubbles. Sooo I added a pinch of sugar to the batter/mix and waited another ten minutes. Still nothing. Now I was thinking did I get bad yeast? I checked the date on the package. It said it was good until 2022. What was I to do? Should I throw it out and start over? Nope, I decided to heat some water in the microwave in a second bowl. I put the yeast bowl on top of the hot water bowl so it acted like a double boiler. I kept checking the temp of the yeast. It started at 87 degrees and then started rising. As the temperature rose those little yeast bastards finally got to work and were making Co2. Soon after the temperature hit 97 degrees Fahrenheit, I had frothy yeast at last. We are talking 30 minutes here, not ten, just so you know.  I started following the recipe again. I mixed the flour and sugar together and then added my room temperature milk. I mixed it well and added all my yeast and water (with a pinch of sugar). I a finale mix so it was well blended. Then covered it with plastic wrap and poked a hole to let out Co2.

I checked on the starter an hour later and it was slowly bubbling. Nice. I decide now was a god time to make dinner. The day before I marinated some skirt steaks (posted on INSTAGRAM). I purchased them at Mathew’s Meat Market. Go there people, it is worth it. You will NOT be disappointed! Maybe I should not tell everyone. It seems when I do tell people about a good place a few months later I am waiting in line. Well, I want them to stay in business so…go.

Back to the marinade, I almost forgot. While I was there I, purchased other things besides the skirt steaks. I bought sea scallops that is was intending to make with a beet cuscus when I though company was coming over. Unfortunately, they could not make it, so the sea scallops will get put on the back burner to use a cooking metaphor.

On with the steak. I took out some of that skirt steak from the refrigerator to let it come up to room temperature while I prepared the potatoes. I was determined to get little white potatoes on the grill damit. So ounce again I steamed the potatoes in the microwave. OH YES! This time I purchase propane from that beer distributor I told you about, the Brightwaters Beverage Center. I also got beer. SURPRISE!

I had gone shopping at Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace on Deer Park Avenue too. There I picked up some string beans as a vegetable along with radishes and fresh figs for Jennifer. The figs were not for dinner.

I trimmed the string beans and put them in a pot to steam while I put the potatoes and meat on the grill. 

I served the potatoes and skirt steak with the string beans, garden tomatoes (purchased at Mathews) and radishes. We need to make radish rosettes tonight.

Click the links for the following recipes:

Steak Marinade II: inspired by my friends Rose and Bill

Steamed string beans

Grilled Potatoes

Skirt Steak

I will be making the sea scallops on a bed of beet cuscus soon I hope. Along with the deserts I had planned, an apple tart with vanilla ice cream.

So much to cook so little time.

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

STEAK MARINADE II

Steak Marinade

        Makes 1 cup (enough for two large steaks or 5 pounds of skirt steak)

SPECIAL IMPLEMENTS

Tupperware Season-serve Marinating Container or equivalent $39.00  

INGREDIENTS

½-cup Worcestershire Sauce

¼-cup Soy sauce

¼-cup olive oil

4 or 5 cloves of garlic

1 small onion diced

1-tablespoon course Dijon mustard

½-teaspoon ground ginger

¼-teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Add all the ingredients onto a bowl, deep 9 by 13 inch baking dish or if you like me you have a special marinating container. You can easily find these on Amazon. Mine is Tupperware but other brands work well too I suppose.  Mix everything together well with a whisk and then add your steak. Turn the meat over every four hours or so. Marinate beef at least overnight or up to 3 days.

Serve with beer or an old vines red zinfandel wine.

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

STEAMED STRING BEANS

Steamed String Beans

SPECIAL IMPLEMENTS

Steamer Basket

Large pot with lid

INGREDIENTS

1-cup water

½ – pound string beans

Salt

Pepper

Butter

DIRECTIONS

Trim off the ends of the string beans. Wash well. My mother used to cut them into 1/3rds. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a large pot with steamer basket. Add the washed and cleaned string beans. Cover and cook for about seven minutes until they are just tender.

GRILLED POTATATOES

Grilled Potatoes

SPECIAL IMPLEMENTS

Barbeque

INGREDIENTS

¼ -cup water

1 – Pound potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Butter

DIRECTIONS

Wash and put potatoes in microwave safe bowl. Add ¼ cup of water. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 6-minute intervals. Tetsing with a knife or fork until just tender. Carefully remove the bowl from microwave using oven mitts. Then remove plastic. Caution: the escaping steam burns! Remove excess water from bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Grill quickly over medium heat until slightly brown or grill makes appear.

NOTES: Serve with butter, salt and pepper.

Enjoy life, stay healthy, and have a great weekend!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

Grilled Skirt Steak

Grilled Skirt Steak

SPECIAL IMPLEMENTS

Barbeque

INGREDIENTS

Skirt Steak

Marinade I (Teriyaki) or Marinade II (Rose & Bills)

DIRECTIONS

If your butcher has already pealed and cleaned the skirt steak for you then all you have to do is add it to the marinade of your choice. Let it marinate overnight. Turn the meat over every four hours except while sleeping. If they have not taken the time to remove the fat and silver skin off the meat, you will have to do it yourself. The silver skin will make it extremely chewy and unpleasant to eat.

After the meat has marinated. Preheat the grill. Add skirt steak onto the hot grill and cook on high with the lid open and grill for one minute. Turn down the grill to medium. Cook 1 more minute. Turn steaks 90 degrees. Cook one minute. Flip. Turn heat to high. Cook one minute. Turn down grill again. Turn meat 90 degrees. Turn grill to low and cook two more minutes or until your beer or meat is done. Thin skirt steak will be well done. Fatter pieces will be medium and pink. Let the steaks rest only long enough to serve with grilled potatoes and beer.

Enjoy life, stay healthy, and enjoy Septemeberfest!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

The Friendship Bread Adventure

For all incentive purposes, it is essentially fall. In the fall people bake. So get your loaf pans ready. I am not a big baker, but I do bake.  I am a better chef then I am baker. To me, being a chef is the easier of the two. I have a lot of respect for other chefs and even more respect for bakers.

All this leads me to my story about friendship bread. For those of you who have never had it, it is addicting, not only to make, but also to eat! I received my first zip lock bag with friendship bread starter about twenty years ago. I have always talked about cooking with my fellow coworkers so it was only natural that one of them would ask if I was interested in baking a loaf of this stuff that I had never heard of. They may not have even asked me. They may have just thrust it upon me like a quest to find the Holy Grail or a Golden Fleece.

I accepted the challenge with the vigor of a young man (back then) and followed the directions as they were passed along to me. Then I proceeded to pass a bit of this goo called “starter” and the recipe to the next few unsuspecting coworkers while eating four loves of this stuff I made myself. It was indeed and amazing experience. However I did NOT save any starter when I when done and without the starter I could not make any more of these scrum-dilly-umtious loaves. It took several years before I saw this recipe come around again. By now, I had very much missed the cake like substance I had once had in the fall while drinking my coffee. This time I received the starter goo in a different building and I was a little older and a little wiser, but the recipe looked and tasted exactly the same. It was like the miracle of the friendship bread calling too me.

I learned my lesson from the first time of giving away all of the starter. I gave out the recipe and starters but always made sure to keep one batch of starter and copy of the recipe for myself. I kept making theses loaves of deliciousness every ten days and passing on the recipe to many, many, many more unsuspecting people as would take the stuff and make it. This included not only my sister, but all her coworkers as well! As I heard a group of people talking about this cake in the coffee room I thought; what have I done?! It was like and bad science fiction movie now that kept growing (like The Blob staring Steve Macqueen). Months of baking went by and just after Christmas Day I could eat no more Friendship Bread or I would spontaneously combust. Covering the walls in cinnamon. That or I would have to start buying stretchy pants. Mind you all this baking started BEFORE Thanksgiving. I finally decided to freeze my starter in the hope that in the fall it would still be good. Somehow I doubted freezing this starter would work.

In the New Year, I researched a few different recipes on Friendship Bread starter and found one that seemed like is would work best. I tested it out and gave more starters away for opinions the very next fall. My original frozen starter never came back to life, but the new recipe for a Friendship Bread starter (below) worked! It even freezes okay according to one of my coworkers.

It has been at least two years now since my last endeavor into this Friendship Bread baking frenzy, so now is a good time as any to start it again. It takes time for the started to get to be a good enough quality, taste wise, for me to giveaway so I discard my first extra batches myself and give away the stuff starting with the second batch. You guys can always let me know what you do in the comments section below.

Today, I am staring my first batch of “starter” to ultimately make two loves of Friendship Bread. I dare you to follow along with me these next few upcoming weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to see if it is a disaster or a delicious hit this year. I double dare you to join me in making said “starter” listed below and getting even more people involved in this wonderful tradition in your neck of the woods!

I am attaching the “starter” recipe below. Then in the next 10 days, I will provide you with the actual recipe to make the loaves of Friendship Bread itself. They call it friendship “bread” but it is really a cake. A yummy, cinnamony cake that is like heaven with coffee. Trust me! When it comes to coffee I do not #&%$ around. This is good shit. So lets go bake!   

The Drunken (blabbering) Chef (Russ)

You can follow me and this whole process on INSTAGRAM here:

Friendship Bread “Starter” Recipe

        Makes 4 to 5 starters

SPECIAL IMPLEMENTS

Plastic spoons

Glass Bowls

One box heavy duty Gallon Zip Lock type Bags

INGREDIENTS

1 package of active dry yeast

¼ cup of warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)

3 cups all-purpose flour (divided)

3 cups whole milk (divided and at room temperature)

3 cups granulated sugar (divided)

DIRECTIONS

(Do Not Use Any Metal mixing spoons, measuring spoon or bowls)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the water. It is very important the water be the correct temperature. Use an instant read thermometer for this (see Gadgets article). Hot water will kill your yeast and cold water will take forever to bubble. Yeast is a live organism that omits carbon dioxide and that is why it bubbles. Let the yeast stand in the water for 10 minutes. In a large 2-quart glass, plastic or ceramic bowl, combined 1 cup AP flour, 1-cup sugar and mix well or it will all clump up when the water is added. Slowly stir in 1-cup milk and then the yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly.

Consider this day 1 of a 10-day cycle. Leave loosely covered in a warm place in your kitchen until day 2. Just not on top of the radiator or stove! That’s a bit too warm.

On day 2, stir and transfer starter into a zip lock bag. On days 3, 4 and 5 squeeze the zip top bag several times or stir with a plastic or wooden spoon. Let some carbon dioxide escape from the bag when necessary. I have had one burst open because I forgot to let the air out and it was all over my counter and very messy.

Day 6; stir in 1-cup of AP flour, 1-cup granulated sugar and 1-cup of room temperature milk.

Days 7 thru 9; stir or squeeze the bag.

Day 10; stir in 1-cup AP four, 1-cup sugar, and 1-cup milk. Stir well. Remove 1-cup of batter to 4 to 5 zip lock bags.

NOW it’s DAY 1 again. You can give one cup (zip lock bag) to each of your friends along with a copy of the recipe found here: “Amish Friendship Bread”.

Begin the process all over again. I think by the second or third batch is when the batter is the tasting its best.  

NOTES: Serve with coffee and add chopped walnuts or cholate chips for an extra twist.

Enjoy life, stay healthy, and have a great weekend!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

Hummus in the House

Last night I made some home made humus. Just because I needed a snack and just because I could. I had all the ingredients including the once hard to find Tahini.

Home Made Hummus

        Serves 4

SPECIAL IMPLEMENTS

Food Processor

Chef’s Knife

Cutting Board

INGREDIENTS

1 can chick peas

¼ cup Tahini

4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 4 tablespoons water

1-tablespoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic peeled and chopped

1-teaspoon ground cumin

¼ tsp Onion powder

¼ tsp salt

Paprika

DIRECTIONS

Drain and rinse the chickpeas well. Add into you food processor. I have a small one that holds exactly one can of chickpeas. Larger food processors may require you to double this recipe.  Add the clove of chopped garlic, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of water 1-tablespoon lemon juice,1-teaspoon ground cumin, pinch of onion powder, pinch of salt. Blend well on high. Slowly add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil while blending. Add 2 more tablespoons of water if the humus is not smooth enough.

Move to a glass bowl. Top with parsley, a sprinkle of paprika, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

NOTES: Serve with celery sticks, carrot sticks and pita bread.

Enjoy life, stay healthy, and have a great weekend!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

Welcome Back to School

Yesterday was the first day many students went back to school. For some, it was their very first day. I can still feel a bit of anxiety in the air as school busses begin to line the streets and parents walk their youngest ones to school. As I look back over my short lifetime, it seems as if not much has changed.  The same fears, anxieties and excitement over the first big day all still exist. Yet so much has changed in terms of technology and new science. These anxieties are just one of the reasons many we attend school. School helps us learn how to concur them and feel more confided as we travel though life.

School seems pretty much the same as when my older brothers and sister went to their first day of school. They did not have to deal with corvid but they did have to worry about Polio or the aton bomb. My mother could not do anything about world politics but she did worry about her children getting polio. That, just like corvid today was a real concern. My sister remembers attending in line at school to get that sugar cube vaccine. Life’s adventures will always be the same but different somehow. Instead of paperback books and the comic’s page as a book cover for our science book. We have tablets with rubber tablet covers. There is still homework but now, it’s done on Google docs or some other on-line platform. Does that mean there are no more pens, pencils or even a pencil sharpener in class rooms?

Yes, technology has transform learning or the way we learn. Just as television might have done with shows like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Sesame Street or my favorite The Electric Company (if I ever meet Morgan Freeman I will thank him for doing that show). That was all in the sixties (shiver).

I do not want to travel back in time. Things were no better then they are now. It is just different is all. We work. We learn. We try to get along with our neighbors and make new friends and it is a good day we all have dinner together with those family members and friends we love.

Sitting around the table eating, laughing and having fun with at the end of the day makes life worth living. In the end, not much has changed. Just how we do it. Maybe we even have more time to watch TV, but who am I kidding. We are still just as busy as we were in the fifties or sixties. So enjoy school while you’re in it. Enjoy life when you get out. Enjoy the fall and don’t rush through the seasons or life. Stop and smell….the fall flowers or the apple pie and have lots of snacks ready when the kids get home! Shhh my favorite elementary school snack was Drakes Devil Dogs!

The Drunken (blabbering) Chef (Russ)

Steak and Lobster Tails or Surf and Turf)

This has been a long and delightful weekend, for the most part. The down side is Jennifer is still in pain. We did have company come over on Saturday night.  I proceeded to make a repeat of the Valentines dinner I made back in February. At Jenifer’s suggestion, we purchased lobster tails to go with the steak I was already planning on preparing. After I cooked the tails, I was disappointed in their size at $30.00 a pound. They were tiny after they were cooked. Maybe two bites. Next time I will go somewhere other than Costco to buy them. In February, they was much bigger and a better deal. Live and learn.

The main meal was of course the steak. They were sirloin steaks and 2 inches thick. Because my mother in-law does not like seasoning on her steak I purchased her a separate small porterhouse steak. It was about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half thick. The vegetable I served was creamed spinach. I cheated as it was not from scratch but frozen. The starch was small red and white potatoes. The plan was to microwave them for a bit and then throw them on the grill to finish cooking them and brown them a bit.

I started by washing and precooking the potatoes in the microwave. To accomplish this I placed the potatoes in a microwave safe glass bowl with a ½ inch of water at the bottom. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap so they wound steam and cut a ½ inch slit into the plastic so some of steam could escape. I microwaved them for about ten minutes, just until they got soft. I checked on them every 5 minutes to see how done they were. I then let them sit coved in the bowl while I barbequed the steaks. The potatoes would continue to soften in the still covered bowl.

I seasoned the sirloin steaks with onion powder, garlic powder, coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then placed them on a hot grill. My mother in-laws likes her steak rare, so hers waited in the wings as it would cook faster then the ticker sirloin. I wanted ours to be medium rare and was a bit thicker so I started with the sirloin first. When it was ¾ of the way done I put on my mother in-laws. Mmmm yumm meat on the barbeque. I was so ready to eat. I ran into the house to get the potatoes. When I returned to the steaks the barbeque gas tank would run out of gas just as I opened the lid. No worries I thought. I have one more filled tank handy. I attached the second tank of gas and turned on the knob. Immediately I heard gas seeping out around the connector. I checked the connection and tried again. This time many curse words flew from my mouth. Thinking quickly I ran the potatoes back into the house and threw a cast-iron pan onto the stove and heated up. Lucky for me the sirloin steaks was almost done. I left them in the grill to keep warm and rest and threw my mother in-laws half-cooked steak into the now hot frying pan.

I switched gears now back to the potatoes. I put them back into the microwave but first added butter and seasoning before recovering them up. I microwave them only five more minutes so they were now done. Next, I began heating up the creamed spinach. I retrieved the sirloin from the grill and it was ready to slice having rested nicely in the less then warm grill. I plated my mother in-laws rare steak right from the pan to her plate. By the time the steaks all hit the table the spinach was ready and I served it right alongside the potatoes. The sirloin steak was served sliced and perfectly medium rare.

Scott of course bought two bottles of wine with them. The first bottle of wine was a white wine and he served that as I bought out the steamed lobster tails to the table. The white wine was a Chardonnay and was fabulous. I had made some drawn butter that I put in small bowls to go with the lobster tails. It was an excessive amount of butter for these tiny tails. The lobster was good tasting despite their small size and the wine was perfect. I guess size isn’t everything.

I called my mother in-law over to join us at the table when the steaks were served (she does not eat lobster). We all kept the extra butter from the tails in front of us and used it for the steak. That is when Scott opened the second bottle of wine. It was a red wine from Brian Arden, a Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley. I really need to go to California with them next year. It sounds like they have so much fun touring the wineries. The wine went perfectly with the steak. Even the potatoes turned out to be good but I was disappointed I could not grill them. They just look more appetizing with the little grill marks on them and it gives them a bigger depth of flavor. No matter, I will have to do it again. WHY? Because the lobber tails were not big enough sheeeesh….

I made a simple salad and had some terrific fresh tomatoes. There is nothing like a good steak and tomatoes. Except steak, tomatoes and red wine. The salad was just a bonus for the blue cheese dressing.

For dessert, we had cream filled lobster tails from one of my favorite local bakeries. There were leftover potatoes….hence why I had to do brunch…and make the home fries the next morning!

May the rest of your grilling season be a good one!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)