Making of a Kitchen Towel

I have an announcement to make… I have set up a shop at SpoonFlower where I’m selling patterns for fabrics and gift wraps etc.

Some of the patterns are specially designed to make one single tea towel (see above) by selecting the Fat Quarter size (27″x18″) and their Linen-Cotton Canvas fabric. This fabric is also a perfect match for tablecloths, napkins, aprons, bags* etc. There are of course plenty of other options.

Soon there will be more patterns in the shop. For example I have been working on some flower patterns and as soon I have proofed the samples I will put them up for sale.

I hope you enjoy them.

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* for tote bags I would choose  their Heavy Cotton Twill fabric. Its a slightly thicker cotton canvas. See more fabric types here.

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)

A couple of posts back I had Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage, as a guest here on the blog. She wrote a beautiful and fun post about How to Turn Your Desk Into a Cheese Board. We enjoyed working together and decided to continue with a series that will highlight great dairy and pairings for each season. For our first seasonal post: what can be better in life than Spring, flowers and goat cheese?

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer
By Madame Fromage

Along with daffodils and Easter bonnets, spring is the season of great goat cheeses. They appear like ice-white confections at cheese counters across the U.S. and in Europe, where they are often spectacularly cloaked in petals, pink peppercorns, or green herbs.

Some of the most sought-after specimen look like pug puppies, with ashy coloring and heavy wrinkles. Don’t be afraid. Most of these come from the Loire Valley, the seat of sweet, tender goat cheese that the whole world admires. In Paris, pairing one of these gems with a glass of Sancerre or rosé is a rite of passage.

The taste of Paris in spring can be yours, too, if you know how to identify superb fresh goat cheese (it should taste balanced, never sour) and what to serve with it. If you want to be clever, you can tell your friends why fresh goat cheese enjoys it’s fashion season in spring: it has to do with wee shoots and wildflowers.

The first meadow greenery is essentially extra-virgin grass, and when those lady goats enjoy their first romps’n nibbles, they produce milk that is sweetly delicate, even herbaceous. This makes the finest cheese.
Oh, bliss! Here are a few of my spring favorites…

Five Must-Try Goat Cheeses

The best place to shop is a reputable cheese counter. Remember, darlings, buying nice cheese is like buying diamonds — if you go bargain hunting, you won’t get the Tiffany-blue box. Avoid shrink-wrapped logs that are mass-manufactured. They’re fine for crumbling onto salads but, trust me, they will not induce reverie.

kindvall-Selles-sur-Cher

Selles-sur-Cher
This ash-coated round the size of your palm should resemble a very large Girl Scout Thin Mint. Selles-sur-Cher (pronounced sell-sur-SHARE)  is Loire Valley goat cheese at its best. Mild and very fresh, it has the consistency of damp earth. After several weeks of proper ripening, it becomes oozy around the edges and a little more pungent. Serve with rosé and anything raspberry. I love to eat it for breakfast with raspberry jam.

Caprino Fiorito
If you spy a little muffin topper from Piedmont rolled in petals – often chamomile blossoms – nab it before anyone else does. Great goat cheese starts with great milk, and the pastures of Piedmont produce lovely chèvre that tastes as pretty as it looks. Pour a glass of Prosecco, and enjoy Caprino Fiorito without any trappings, preferably after a long bath. It’s basically a cheese bath bomb; it will fill you with warmth, ease, and delight.

Saint Maure
You simply can’t miss this silvery log because it has a shaft of wheat running through its center. It’s really the Prada bag of goat cheeses, gorgeous and functional. The reed stabilizes the cheese and creates a little air tunnel so that the center won’t be mushy. Expect a light, dry texture, and a slightly flinty taste. This is a pretty cheese to drizzle with honey as you sip Sancerre over a plate of sliced Asian pear. Watch a French weepy, and call it your spring cleanse.

Clochette
Beautiful Clochette is bell-shaped (no surprise: the name means “little bell”), making it a perfect selection for Sunday brunch or an engagement party. Some refer to the rind as “wrinkly,” while others prefer to call it “textured.” Either way, don’t be afraid of the fleecy surface. It’s delicate and supple, a lovely contrast to the dense, damp center which is as rich as night cream. Pair this with lemon marmalade and French 75s after a vampish night on the town.

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Wabash Cannonball
This little snowdrop speckled with peppercorns represents one of the best goat cheeses coming out the United States. Any cheese made by Judy Schad of Capriole Farm in Indiana is a must-nibble. It’s so compact and perfect, you should share it with a lover over glasses of sparkling lambic or eat it alone on a park bench without any disruptions, other than butterflies. Wabash C. is hard to find and very spendy, but worth every penny. Psst…don’t try to slather this on a baguette. It should be devoured like the best bon-bon in the world.

How To Dress Your Goat Cheese
Great fresh goat cheese needs no accompaniment, but if you’re searching for good matches, then reach for other spring fare. Every fresh thing from the farmers’ market pairs well, especially…

Wild strawberries
Raspberries
Homemade berry jam
Meyer lemon marmalade
Rhubarb compote
Honey, light and dark
Sautéed ramps
Sautéed fiddleheads
Steamed baby vegetables
Baby greens or micro greens
Radishes, thinly sliced with salt
Rosemary crackers

Describing Goat Cheese to Your Lover

Good goat cheese tastes bright. Like sunlight, like citrus. That’s because it’s acidic (think: lemons), more so than cheeses made from other milks. Fatty, it’s not. Goat cheese is very light and easy on the stomach. If you want to eat a cheese in bed, this is the one. If you have eaten goat cheese that tastes sour, tangy, or gamy (called “bucky,” after a male buck), you’ve probably eaten a goat cheese of poor quality.

Here’s what good fresh goat cheese often tastes like (saying these words makes for lovely pillow talk): herbaceous, floral, delicate, grassy, clean, bright, citrusy, mellow, woodsy, flinty.

Here are some common textures:
damp, dense, light, fluffy, smooth, creamy, clay-ey, icy, cool, downy (rind), rumpled (rind)

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Note: Thank you for reading Part I of our 4-part series. We are excited to share these seasonal cheese posts with you and hope that they inspire you to dream, to eat, to explore. In June, look for our post on great summer cheeses. Once we’ve completed all four seasons, we hope to present a calendar!

Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)
Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3)
Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12 (part 4)

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This post was also published at Madame Fromage

 

 

Plain Sourdough Bread

About two years ago I started my two sourdough starters, wheat and rye. Both of them are still active and have been with me back and forward to Sweden, London and Brooklyn. This summer I will bring them to Sicily and Amsterdam.

The breads I bake are often simple, with or without extra flavor (for e.g. Caraway, fennel or anise seeds, rosemary etc). The flours I mostly use are regular unbleached flour, whole wheat, dinkel or rye flour (mixed with regular flour or 100%). I have also baked with the addition of sunflower seeds, linseeds, prunes and with beer or my home made kefir instead of water. I also bake sourdough knäckebröd.
(I will share more of this eventually). The variations are endless, but I am always amazed how good just flour, water and a little salt can taste.

Plain Sourdough Bread
adapted from Peter Reinhart’s recipe of San Francisco Sourdough Bread, “artisan  bread every day”, Ten Speed Press, 2009.

gives 1 large, 2 medium or 3 smaller loaves

starter dough

60 grams (about ¼ cup, 60 ml) lively starter (rye or wheat), at room temperature
142 grams (2/3 cup,  a little less then 150 ml) water, at room temperature
230 grams (1 2/3 cups, 400 ml) all-purpose flour (unbleached)

the dough
(8-10 hours later)
all of the first starter dough
400 grams (1 ¾ cup, 400 ml) water, at room temperature
570 grams (4 cups, 945 ml) all-purpose flour (unbleached)
2½ teaspoon salt

starter dough (I suggest in the morning)
Mix together starter with water and flour until well blended and you can form a ball (this starter dough should feel like a dough and be sticky). Transfer to a slightly floured flat surface and knead for about a minute. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 8-10 hours (or overnight).

the dough (for e.g in the evening)
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Place them in a bowl and pour over the water. With your fingers or a spoon loosen the pieces up in the water.
Add the flour and salt and mix together until well blended.
Let the dough rest uncovered for about 5 minutes.

The dough should feel slightly sticky and be flexible (add more flour or water if necessary). Transfer the dough to a slightly floured flat surface and knead for about 1-2 minutes.
Let the dough rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough. Form the dough to a ball and place in a bowl (slightly oiled), cover with some plastic wrap. Repeat the stretch and fold 1 – 2 times with 10 – 30 min rest in between.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1½ hour to 2 hours and place it in the fridge overnight.

The dough should have grown a little larger and it will increase in size some more in the fridge. (if you want to skip a slow rise in the fridge just let the dough rise outside for 3 – 5 hours before shaping).

Take the dough out of the fridge at least 4 hours before you plan to bake the bread in the oven.

After about 2 hours, shape the bread into 1, 2 och 3 loaves.

Flour all around and place on a floured (all purpose or semolina flour) tea towel (or use a bakers couche), see illustration above. Cover with a tea towel and let proof for about two hours.

About ½ hour before baking, preheat the oven to 250ºC (480ºF). Place a baking sheet in the oven plus a smaller baking tin (for water to create steam while baking) on a rack underneath. If using a baking stone (which I don’t) you will need to preheat the oven earlier.

When it’s time, take out the warm baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the shaped dough and drop each one onto the hot surface. Score the dough in a pattern you like with a sharp knife or a bread slashing tool (I use my sharp serrated bread knife).

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Pour some water, hot or cold into the baking tin below. Close the door.

After 15 minutes, open the oven door to let out some steam. The bread should have risen up nicely and started to get some nice golden color. Depending on size, bake for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Repeat opening the oven door every 5 to 10 minutes (I have been told that this should give the bread a nice crust). You can also turn the breads upside down to get a nice brown color all around.
The bread is done when it sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom. If you are not sure just bake it a little longer.

Let the breads cool on a cooling rack before slicing, at least 1 hour.

This bread is a quite simple bread that works by itself, dipped in olive oil or spread with butter. Its also great with cheese (goat cheese with honey and thyme is my favorite), thinly sliced dried sausage or toasted with jam for breakfast.

* You can of course shape this bread into rounds as well. Place them in bread baskets (banetons) or like me in small serving bowls lined with a floured tea towels.

some more links

Sourdough Bread with Rye
Sourdough knäckebröd by kokblog
How to make a sourdough starter – movie by Iban Yarza (this is how I learned it)

3-2-1 Contact! – notes by Andrew Janjigian on how he feed levain (starter).
Pain de Martin’s bread movies
More shaping by Mark @ the Back Home Bakery
scoring bread post by the Fresh Loaf
Dan Lephard’s sourdough starter with raisins and yogurt post by Azelia’s Kitchen

Pasta Shaping Workshop

kokblog-busiati

A couple of weeks ago I decided to arrange a pasta shaping workshop with a couple of friends. The workshop was a good excuse to get loads of pasta done and at the same time have some wine with friends. When it comes to pasta shaping, I’m a total beginner.

kokblog-cavatelli-2

We made three different types, casarecce, cavatelli and busiati. The cavatelli was our favorite. It was fun and easy to do. And we made them on top of a sushi mat to created a striped pretty patterns (not shown in the illustration but you can watch this video). I also enjoyed making the casarecce, especially when they came out really small and thin. The busiati shape was the hardest and honestly we only made a few.
It was trickier than I thought especially when you want the pasta to be thin and not too thick. However I think in the end we did really well, but to master it, I will need loads of practice!

kokblog-casarecce

My friends brought an excellent Sicilian pesto with roasted eggplants. It worked really well with the cavatelli and busiati. For the cararecce I had prepared a spinach cheese sauce. To the meal we also made a tomato salad with roasted peppers. For dessert we had local (Brooklyn) Italian style ice cream topped with my homemade chocolate sauce. It was an excellent dinner.

To arrange your own pasta shaping workshop you will need…

• a pasta dough (that you can prepare in advance)*
• extra flour (all-purpose or semolina)
• a few bbq sticks (or something similar, they can even be a little thicker)
• a sushi mat (if you want the cavatelli or other shapes to have a pattern)
• rolling pin (we didn’t need to use it but can be handy for other shapes)
• something to drink while shaping (i suggest Prosecco)
• some antipasti to nibble while working: e.g salami, prosciutto, olives, pecorino, bread
• 1 – 2 different pasta sauces that can be prepared before hand
• suitable wine to serve to the final meal (or what you would like to drink)
• a salad
• something sweet to end the meal

*The pasta dough recipe I use is by Clotilde Dusoulier. Its very clever and easy to make. You just measure the eggs, take the same weight in flour and add 1/2 the weight in semolina (plus a little salt). I love it an it tastes exactly how I want it.  Clotilde’s recipe is based on Michael Ruhlman’s 2 parts egg to 3 parts flour pasta dough ratio.

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links
The Geometry of Pasta, the site & the book
Pasta Shapes Dictionary

recipes
Four-Cheese Ravioli with Tomato Sauce by Stephane Lemagnen
Spinach Lasagna by kokblog
Chicken Gnocchi by Emiko Davis
Spaghetti Carbonara recipe (with white wine) by Amateur Gourmet
Pasta – story by Jamie Schler and recipe & photographs by Ilva Beretta

movies
How to shape casarecce by Michela De Filio
Shaping busiati
Hand-Pulled Chinese Noodles by New York Times
Rolling out pasta with a rolling pin video by Michael Ruhlman

Guest Post: How to Turn Your Desk Into a Cheese Board

kindvall-MF-cheese-desk

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage. We instantly connected and started to email back and forward, sharing thoughts and ideas around cheese. Compared to most cheese lovers (including me), she is an expert and has for the last 5 years kept records of cheeses that she tastes & eats, smells or just overheard when visiting a cheese shop.

In 2011 she started her website Madame Fromage where she shares her thoughts and stories about cheese. For example it can be a post about specific cheeses with pairings, study visits,  traveling reports or even tips on how to talk to a cheesemonger etc.

Tenaya knows how to tell a story, so for me its not a surprise that she also is an associate professor in English and teaches writing classes at the Department of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

In May 2013 her cheese book, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings was published by Running Press. I think this book, with 170 cheese profiles, 30 recipes, and 10 themed cheese boards, is a mouth watering treasure. Tenaya’s storytelling skills really comes out in the book. It is well written and inspiring. It makes me smile and I want to draw everything. Di Bruno Bros. is a well known cheese shop in Philadelphia, opened in 1939 by the two brothers  Danny and Joe. The book is tastefully photographed by Jason Varney. House of Cheese is Tenaya’s third book, she has published poetry and one novel before.

So when I heard that Tenaya had a cheese cave at her office desk I instantly wanted to draw it. And to draw all the different kinds of cheeses was great fun… so now I can’t stop!

The cheeses and the desk are available as posters in the SHOP.

kindvall-MF-cheeseknife3

How to Turn Your Desk Into a Cheese Board
By Madame Fromage

At work, it can be nice to break for a spot of cheese. Clear the clutter, spread a tea towel, and set out a cutting board. Then reach into your secret desk drawer that is stocked with crackers and preserves, and set out an array of snacks. You can surprise your office mates with a spontaneous party (on someone’s birthday, say) or make it a private affair while you read a book over the lunch hour.
After all, there is nothing lovelier than kicking off your shoes, putting your feet up on the radiator, and enjoying a hunk of Cheddar with almonds and honey on a rainy afternoon. A cheese board makes a perfect lunch, and if you stock your desk pantry well, you’ll never have to remember to pack leftovers.

What To Stock in A Desk Pantry

• Small wood cutting board
• Set of cheese knives or a paring knife + small spoon
• Tea towel+cloth napkin(s)
• Nuts: almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, or walnuts
• Dried fruit: apricots, figs, dates, or cranberries
• Petit toasts and pretzels for triple crèmes
• Oat biscuits, wheat crackers, or flatbread for firm cheeses
• Savory things in jars: cornichons, olives, dilly beans, grainy mustard
• Sweet things in jars: sour cherry jam, fig spread, apple chutney, honey
• 1 bar dark chocolate (for blue cheese)

In a mini fridge: celery, radishes, 2-3 cheeses,
1 stick mild salami, a bag of fresh thyme (optional, nice with chèvre),
grapes, apples, pears, sparkling water

kindvall-MF-cheeses-progress

Good desk cheeses
(read: not too stinky)

• Cheddar
• Gouda
• Pantaleo (firm goat)
• Petit Basque (sheep)
• Stilton or Chiriboga Blue

kindvall-MF-cheeses-02

Good cheeses for one person

• A tub of quark or chèvre
• Saint Marcellin (creamy, comes in its own crock)
• Banon (small, wrapped in edible leaves)
• Purple Haze (small goat round dusted in fennel pollen)
• Vermont Creamery Bijou (picture: goat gumdrops)

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You can also follow Tenaya on twitter, instagram and facebook (I do).

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More by Madame Fromage and me…
Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)
Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)
Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3)
Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12 (part 4)