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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Maggie Glezer's book, "A Blessing of Bread," is a wonderful collection of Jewish baking from around the world along with a sort of ethnography of baking in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora. This book has, by my count, about 40 recipes for challah, the bread particularly associated with the Jewish sabbath. But the author also identifies the challah recipe she makes for her own family. As with most of her recipes, she provides both a commercially yeasted and a sourdough version (without saying which her family prefers).

I have made the sourdough version several times over the years. I like it quite a bit but my wife. doesn't. Today I finally got around to baking the non-sourdough version. You know what? It is the best challah I have ever tasted, and my wife loved it too. I should not be (and am not) surprised, if the author of the book with 40 challah recipes has chosen this one as her favorite, one might expect it to be something special.

This is clearly an enriched bread with quite a lot of vegetable oil, egg and honey, but it is not rich like brioche nor even as sweet as a traditional Vienna dough. It is perfectly "balanced." I had some for dinner without any accompaniment other than a bowl of chicken soup. I could have eaten both loaves right then (but didn't). Tomorrow, it's going to be French Toast for breakfast!

Addendum: DanAyo found that Maggie Glezer had shared this recipe on Epicurious in 2004. Here is the link: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/my-challah-235867

Note: Glezer hand kneads this bread. I mixed in a stand mixer, once the flour was added to the wet ingredients. I mixed about 3 minutes on Speed 1 and 4 minutes on Speed 2.

Addendum: It did make delicious French Toast.

David

peacecow's picture
peacecow

I did a lot of holiday baking this year, and part of that was gifting out bread. I made milk bread and potato bread.

This is the most even my milk bread has looked. I always weight each section, but this time, I was more careful about shaping the dough into rectangles before rolling them up, and that really helped.

Years ago, I had potato bread from Macrina bakery, and thought that it was so amazing, so I wanted to give this a try. I feel like I'm missing something, but it was so long ago, I'm not sure what I need to change.

My friend gifted me some flour from our local mill for Christmas, so I was very excited to try them out! I made the basic loaf from Full proof baking with 25% millet using artisan bakers craft from central milling (my current bread flour), espresso bread flour and Skagit 1109 from Cairnspring mills. And very non-scientifically, I also proofed them at different times. I tend to over proof, so I wanted to shape at different points to really get a feel for how the dough changes.

ABC- shaped at 30% rise. Fridge at 35%

Espresso- 45min later at 74C, shaped at 40% rise, fridge at 45% rise

Skagit 1109- Shaped at 45% rise, Fridge 52% rise

I enjoyed noticing all the differences. Taste wise, ABC was the most plain. Espresso and Skagit 1109 were darker and wheatier tasting. Skagit 1109 definitely added the most flavor, and as described, couldn't handle as much water. I'm getting better at lamination. I can tell better how shaping underproofed dough feels. It was not lively at all. 30% rise was definitely too little. When I was shaping the last dough, it still felt like I could have pushed the bulk longer and got the dough more airy, but I didn't want to make the same mistake I always do, so I ended it.

It was also good to see approximately how much wiggle room I have. Between the first and last shaping was about 1.5- 2hrs at 73-75C.

 

I also got my hands on Caputo 00 flour for making pizza. I tried both of Maurizo's pizza recipes. They both turned out well. I think the 00 flour really made a difference in how easy it was to stretch the dough. One of the difference was the size of the recommended dough balls (290g vs 250g). I think 290g was perfect. The crust was crispy on the bottom and not too thin, whereas I made the middle too thin with the 250g ball, and one slice couldn't support its own weight.

Jeff P's picture
Jeff P

I recently discovered a fantastic Youtube Channel called Tasting History, in which the host presents recipes from across history. In one such video, linked here, he describes the Sally Lunn Bun, a traditional bun made in Bath, England.

After seeing the video, I decided to try them for myself. The recipe is very straightforward. The only part that takes some extra attention is warming the milk and combining in the sugar and butter.

Ingredients:

- 1 ¼ cup (280ml) whole milk

- 6 tablespoons (85g) of butter at room temperature

- ¼ cup (50g) sugar

- 3 3/4 cup (450g) of bread flour (or all purpose)

- 7g instant yeast or active dry yeast.

- 2 eggs (Plus an extra egg for the egg wash)

- The zest of 1 lemon

- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt

- 2-3 saffron threads (optional; for color only)

 

1. Warm the milk over low heat.* Add the sugar and dissolve. Once warm, add the butter and melt in. If you are using saffron for color, add the threads to the milk and set mixture aside to cool to 110° or cooler before adding it to the other ingredients.

**If you are using instant yeast, heat the full amount of milk. If you are using active dry yeast, warm only 1 cup on the stove. Take the other 1/4 cup and mix with the yeast and a sprinkle of sugar to activate the yeast.

2. Sift flour into a large bowl or a stand mixer. If using instant yeast, whisk in to flour. Once milk mixture is cooled to 110° add to flour and mix (remove saffron threads with a strainer). Add lemon zest, eggs and salt and mix. If you are using active dry yeast, add that last. Work dough until it comes together and forms a smooth sticky dough. (About 8 minutes on medium speed) It will not form into a ball.


3. Cover and let rise for 60 - 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Once doubled, punch down dough and put out onto a lightly floured surface and separate into 3 or 6 pieces, depending on the size bun you would like. Form dough into balls and place on lined baking sheet, slightly flattening into a cake. Cover and let rise for another 45 - 60 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C and make an egg wash with either a whole egg or egg white (if you used the saffron for color).

6. Bake buns for 15 minutes, tenting them if they begin to brown too much. An instant read thermometer should read 190°F-200°F (approx.90°C). Cool on a wire rack and serve warm with butter, jam or clotted cream.

 The end result are some of the softest, lightest buns I've ever enjoyed, period. Slightly sweet, very airy, and perfect with butter or jam. My wife is expecting these in the summer to be used as burger buns. 

For those who have made brioche before, my understanding is that this is similar but a bit lighter. I'd love to know if that's true, since I've not made brioche yet.

I highly recommend these fantastic buns, and will definitely be making more of them myself!

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

This summer, while social distancing in our cabin, I purchased a small wood fired pizza oven where I practiced applying my sourdough starter to making sourdough pizza.  At temperatures between 900F and 1000F (the later being "Hi" or my IR gun) the challenge is to continuously rotate the pizza to keep things from burning while ensuring the top and bottom cook evenly in 1 or 2 minutes.  In addition, chopping lots of tiny hardwood pieces of the precise size needed to keep the little firebox roaring adds to the list of chores.  Our felled locust burns very hot and works exceptionally well for this. 

I was missing the sourdough pizza from the Summer and have also been missing the excellent Neopolitan style pizzas from several nearby restaurants (Motorino, Robertas, etc) due to pandemic driven isolation now that we are back in our little Brooklyn apartment.  Inspired by recent TFL posts on home oven pizza, and after recently acquiring an oven stone to support the task, I leafed through some whole grain focused pizza recipes in Adam Leonti's Flour Lab and settled on the Pizza Napoletana [1] .

The recipe calls for a soft spring wheat flour (Frederick preferred).  I went with a Palouse Soft Spring Wheat (unknown variety) that would arrive in time for milling and baking on New Years Eve, but am interested in sourcing some of the recommended Frederick for a follow up.  He indicates his preferred wheat variety for each recipe.  In this case he explains:

I used Frederick soft spring wheat flour because it maintains that signature white hue, mild flavor, and soft crumb that is synonymous with Naples's most famous food.

The recipe is a basic 63% hydration dough:

  • 630 g water
  • 1000 g soft spring wheat flour
  • 14 grams sea salt
  • 2 grams active dry yeast (I used a chunk of Desem starter)
  • Neutral oil for greasing
  • Desired topping

I wanted to experiment with my cool low hydration Desem starter, which I substituted for the ADY.  I milled the soft white wheat coarse-to-fine and then made a soaker (saltolyse) which sat in the fridge for a couple of days to improve extensibility.  The dough felt far too dry at 63% hydration with this wheat (noticeable cracks and fraying) so I ended up increasing the hydration significantly after warming it up and mixing in a chunk of refrigerated Desem starter prior to bulk fermentation.

To add to the list of accumulating violations, this was destined to be a plant based pizza (i.e., no mozzarella).  I sourced a plant based cheese that melts reasonably well, tastes good, and doesn't resemble a rubbery polymer based lab creation upon melting: Miyoko's organic cultured vegan mozzarella.  On a related note, I sampled a fermented tofu at a Japanese restaurant in the Lowesr East side last year that was one of my notable culinary memories of 2020.  I think it would work swimmingly in this context, but I have yet to find a local source for it.  The process is described well in online videos, so it may be another one for the home fermentation lab.

I waited for some signs of fermentation and reasonable gluten development given the low protein flour, then shaped it carefully with the backs of my hands before finishing the slightly fragile dough into a pizza with raised crust using the tips of my fingers, taking care to de-gass the center portion before adding toppings.  The oven stone was approximately 525F.  After 5 minutes or so I added the fresh basil (at 500F the pizza cooks too slowly and the basil would otherwise dry out) and then cooked for another 2 minutes or so before removing it.

The flavor of the crust was excellent (beyond my expectation at least), with a mild tender sweetness and suppressed but still noticeable tang.  It did rise pretty well for the whole grain flour, but the biggest mark against the pizza was the crust color, which was unfortunately pale and somewhat lifeless, which was a real shame.  From recent discussions, I believe this is related to cooking uncovered in a gas oven.  I always use a wide clay cloche for my hearth bread bakes, and have not had success with open stone bakes and improved steam.  Perhaps something akin to a cloche is needed to trigger a maillard reaction.  Following older TFL posts on the subject, I may experiment with an inverted Graniteware roaster placed on top of the baking stone, or a "disposable" aluminum alternative. 

Another consideration is the lack of top heat in the home oven.  When the mini wood fired pizza is roaring, the chimney draws the flames from the rear firebox along the low ceiling over the top of the pizza and up and out the chimney.  That is helpful for matching the heat pizza stone underneath and providing the signature char. 

In our gas home oven there is no top heat source, but there is a broiler that could serve this purpose.  Next time I'm inclined to bake 1/2 way through covered on the stone, then remove and place under the broiler with a turning peel to add a hint of charring to the top crust.  It is worth a shot and would add the main missing element to the final product.

Any thoughts on this issue are appreciated.

[1] baking 400 F degrees short of the 932 F target using home milled whole grains would clearly cause some concern in the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), so this is really an "inspired by" translation.  In the words of Stevie Wonder "Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with."

isand66's picture
isand66

 

This is the first bread I made using my new Ankarsrum mixer.  My wife surprised me with it for a Hanukkah/Christmas present.  I have been using the Bosch Universal for many years and loved it, but a while ago a piece on the base broke off and the bowl does not seat properly.  There is no way to fix it other than buying a used one especially since they just updated the model recently.

 

I have always heard good things about the Ankarsrum and so far I'm not disappointed.  There is a little bit of a learning curve but I'm starting to get the hang of it.  I usually add my dry ingredients first but with the Ankarsrum you are supposed to add the water first and then add the dry ingredients.  I like to hold back some of the water and add it as needed but I forgot to do it for this maiden voyage and it worked out fine.

 

I am a big fan of adding cooked rice to bread as I like the texture it adds.  I had some left-over Jade rice I made for dinner the other night which had some onions mixed in.  I used some fresh milled Durum flour sifted once along with some fresh milled corn flour also sifted once with my #30 drum sieve.  The egg yolks added some extra moisture and flavor and the sesame seeds added some additional extra flavor.

 

All in all this one came out great with an open moist and flavorful crumb perfect for sandwiches or dipping in home made Sunday "gravy". 

 

 

 

 

Here is the link to the BreadStorm files:

 

 

Levain Directions

 

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.   You can use it immediately in the final dough or let it sit in your refrigerator overnight.

 

 Main Dough Procedure

 

Mix the flours, egg yolks  and the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain,  cooked rice, olive oil and salt and mix on low for 4 minutes.  (Note: with the Ankarsrum I adjusted the speed from low to medium).  You should end up with a cohesive dough that is slightly tacky but very manageable.  (Note:  if you are not using fresh milled flours you may want to cut back on the water).  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer set to 79 degrees F. I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

 

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.

 

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

 

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 540 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

 

Right before you are ready to it in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

 

Lower the temperature to 455 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.

 

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.

 

 

 

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

These cakes were made and raised purely with sourdough. In recent years, I have this knack for seizing every opportunity to showcase the versatility of sourdough. Inspired by our native cakes, I researched ancient and vintage recipes and this is what I came up with along with a fair share of failures. Using relative measurements and knowing when and how to adjust, now I can say that I already got the "feel" for making this cakes. I have posted similar stuff which you can find on my blog if you are interested but there are no exact recipes. :)

A new variation that I came up with. I had lots of leftover egg whites from ensaymada making so I made this financier inspired cake. A bit of almond meal next time will be excellent!





Look at those domed tops created by my starter. One might be skeptical that sourdough slows down or might even stop when faced with sugar (especially a high amount) but sourdough still have not failed me.



The texture is unlike any cake. It was bouncy, chewy, dense; very difficult to describe. The flavor is wonderful, that special sourdough flavor and aromatic compounds which can be detected by the nose but cannot be described by the mouth brimming with the aroma of butter with a nutty flavor. The crumb was moist but became moister the next day. These cakes really do improve as the day goes by.

Here is the crumb. The leavening action of the sourdough leaves distinct holes not dissimilar to some chemically-leavened South East Asian cakes.






My olive oil cake with I discovered and perfected in 2020, another variation, this time flavored with lemon. They are meant to have a very rustic look, though I find the looks of the previous ones I made more beautiful. It is different from all of my other cakes, even on the first day it is exceptionally moist with an almost custardy texture. It is almost a cross between a cake and a pudding! If you want to see the crumb, as I have posted sparingly the past year, the original post can still be easily found on the bottom or on the right side of this page depending on the device as of this writing; and you can see it there. In fear of overbaking, I pulled them out of the oven early. I should have baked this longer to get the crispy top crust; it is almost impossible to dry a cake as moist as this.






I hope you enjoyed this post and again I wish all of us a happier and healthier 2021!


Happy New Year!!!

Benito's picture
Benito

I’m closing the year out by baking these baguettes.  I spent a good part of the summer and into fall learning how to bake baguettes with a ton of help from Alan, Don, Doc and Danny and I’d like to thank them for helping me to learn how to make these.  I doubt I would even have tried had it not been for their prodding and the Community Bake.

The details of my formula are In this link.

My newly vigorous starter is playing havoc with my timings so I think these went a bit over and so I didn’t get ears.  On the other hand, it could just be that I’m rusty with scoring and need more practice.  I also didn’t do one step that makes scoring easier, the final cold proof after shaping and before scoring.  The dough was proofing so quickly that I didn’t want to chance it getting even further away from me by giving it some fridge time.

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

This week I followed David and baked this beautiful bread. It uses buttermilk in place of water other than for the levain. I made the levain two days before using it. This bread has a super soft crumb and notwithstanding the dark colour (from the buttermilk) the crust is delicate. The tang from the rye sour, buttermilk and long ferment make this (for me) an instant classic. It's truly a beautiful bread and worth trying. I followed the recipe found here:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66611/buttermilkspelt-sourdough-bread-rye-sour  Thank you David!

 

 

 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I have been trying to make good broccoli cheddar soup for years. I was always disappointed with the results. FINALLY, the stars aligned and I had both an excellent broccoli cheddar soup AND great tasting and great looking bread bowls to boot.

Bread Bowl Ingredients

  • 100g spelt
  • 300g white whole wheat
  • 1000g AP flour
  • 100g starter fed the night before (50:50 hard red)
  • 180g starter from the fridge (1 to 3 days old) (50:50 hard red)
  • 35g salt
  • 85g extra virgin olive oil
  • 85g honey
  • 1150g water (82% hydration not including starter)

Notes:

  • I needed the bowls done in time for dinner, so the extra starter and honey was intended to speed up my rise. Worked out great, bulk started at 8:54a and I loaded the loaves into the oven at 2:25p.
  • I really love the smell of spelt, at least I think that is the spelt I smell, a buttery smell.
  • Used AP flour because I didn't have any bread flour.
  • I poured the honey right on top of the flour mixture. This caused some problems. Next time I need pour the water in first and then add the honey, just to keep the honey from turning into little honey/flour balls that don't want to incorporate into the rest of the dough.

Process:

  • 8:30a: Mix all ingredients except for starter into shaggy mess, let sit for 15 minutes
  • 8:45a: Smear starter on top of shaggy mess and then knead until all ingredients evenly combined. About 5 minutes of working by hand.
  • 8:54a: Transfer dough into proofing container and cover, also transferred 20g to an aliquot jar.
  • 9:48a, 10:45a, 11:49a, 12:53a: Stretch and fold in bulk proofing container.
  • 1:00a: Pour dough onto counter, split into 10 loaves and preshape, then wait 15 minutes.
  • 1:10a: Preheat both ovens to 425dF (non-convection)
  • 1:15a: Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment. Shape each loaf into a buole. Let proof for 1 hour.
  • 2:15a: Score loaves and load into oven. Put 5 into each oven, spread as far apart as possible on the cookie sheets. Baked for 22-28 minutes (I think I baked mine for 25)
  • 2:40a: Set on rack to cool for at least 1 hour.
  • Dinner Time: Using sharp knife carve out bowls.

Notes:

  • Everyone agreed the bread bowls tasted fantastic. They were the right shape and size too. I wasn't as gentle as I should have been when carving out the bowls, but that is ok, because even though on 2 of the bowls I tore the side a bit, the thickness of the soup quickly patched the tear with a beautiful cheesy ooze.
  • My wife and I were in agreement that a slightly chewier crust and a more tart flavor would have been even better. I will try to make changes to improve on those things next time.
  • I am getting better shaping boules. This was the second time I felt like I got the boule nice and tight during shaping. But, I should have put more effort into pulling the dough towards me after stitching it, that way the seams from the stitching would disappear under the loaf. I'll try to do better next time.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

I started with the following recipe but made a few changes. I chose this recipe because I liked the recipe ingredients and process compared to other recipes.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/almost-famous-broccoli-cheddar-soup-recipe-1972744

Changes to Recipe:

  • I did not use a blender at all. This worked out perfectly, in the past I had made similar recipes and blending even a portion of the soup gave the soup a baby food texture. Since the soup already had a roux and creamy cheese, blending was totally unnecessary.
  • For 1/3 of the cheese I used gruyere instead of sharp cheddar.
  • I took 1/2 of the carrots and cooked them with the onions. In the original recipe, all of the carrots were added with the broccoli.
  • I had 3 cloves of garlic to the onion/carrot mixture that was part of the roux.
  • The broccoli was cut into quarter size pieces, smaller than bite size, but not too small.

Notes:

  • I would have added diced celery to the roux, but I didn't have any. Outside of that one change, I don't think I would change anything. The soup was excellent. Heck, I don't know if the celery would have improved anything, but I just like celery in my roux.

Sorry for the already eaten dirty spoon photo, but I was hungry.

 

We had 9 mouths to feed and 10 bowls. So I took the smallest bowl and practiced cutting it and got to look at the crumb.

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

It's gonna be 2021 here in a few minutes and this is my mandatory yearend post. It has been a difficult time we have all been through. It changed our lives and left us in uncertainty but there is still that glimmer of hope. I wish all of us a better and blessed 2021.

Here is what I made today. 

I've come to terms with some spices this year. Before, at least with my own cooking, I really really hate the strong and pungent smell of some spices; especially cumin, I really abhor cumin! I can say it stinks! Really, it was just me not really knowing how to use and combine spices. When applied properly, it really elevates the taste of food. This year, I've tasted authentic Pakistani/Indian food and it was amazing. I want to taste it again but due to the lockdown, that restaurant closed. As usual, the only way for me to taste it is to make it. Later, I'll show you my first ventures in spices.

A really good shawarma is a childhood memory for me. But it turns out, the shawarma that I have loved as a kid is very far from the real deal in the Middle East, as told by a college friend who grew up in Saudi Arabia. (She was also the one who pointed me to the right direction for that authentic Pakistani/Indian restaurant) After some research, I found a good recipe online; and fortunately too, the city next to my town where I work is becoming more and more cosmopolitan, I found some "rare" spices (at least for me) in one of its large malls.

Shawarma here is always served with a flatbread more akin to a flour tortilla than the ones they use in the Middle East. As a personal twist, I made it with sourdough. It was a simple 70% hydration dough enriched with a little olive oil. I originally intended to make pitas but the bread did not puff up. I think It was too wet, almost impossible to roll thinly and evenly. As a result it did not have the correct texture; it was soft and chewy, just a bit stretchy, and with a custardy crumb. However, the flavor was so good, you could eat it plain.



I can't believe the smell when the chicken was being cooked, even just on the pan, it was insane! I could just imagine how it would smell when grilled properly! Shawarma is served differently depending on the country and meat. As I do not have time to make pickles and fries or to others chips; I chose to go with red onions, tomatoes, and cucumber as accompaniments since it is what I grew up with. I also did not go with toum or garlic sauce since I do not have the equipment to make it. The sauce I used was still garlic-flavored but yogurt-based similar to tzatziki.

Since the bread was too thin to be sliced in half but too thick to be rolled it ended up as a deconstructed shawarma plate later.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Though 2020 was not really good, it is the year in which I first ventured into South Asian Food on my own. It started when I first tasted a legit biryani recommended by my friend. I really liked the taste, then I got to taste their samosa, then many more. I met the owner and found out he is Pakistani. Wanting to know more about biryani and his one especially, I put my "language skills" if you can really call them skills to use. ;) I spoke to him a bit of Urdu (well Hindi is what I really studied a bit but they are just different registers of the Hindustani language) and we became friends immediately. I told him how I like his biryani and I told him the spices that I saw and then he proceeded to enumerate the spices he uses and their relative amounts. All of this in Urdu with just a little bit of English. Sometimes, even just the slight knowledge of various things is of great help. :)



Punjabi aloo samosa - I reconstructed the taste from memory from his samosas, it was sour with a hint of garam masala. One recipe I found was too flaky, similar to pie crust and/or empanadas, it was not similar and I do not prefer it. One time the crust was perfect; crispy, slightly chewy and stretchy but the spices were not right, it had onion and garlic too. Found some coriander the other day and it was much closer, as I did not have amchur, I substituted lemon juice and it almost tasted the same. I upped the ginger and green chilies too. I served it with some lemon chai, if there is such a thing. I really wish I had some imli ki chatni that day!



Last minute onion samosa - different wrapper and filling. I think it was closer to the middle eastern sambusa.



My first Biryani back in August. Some key spices were missing like cardamom, coriander and cloves but the taste was good but not close enough to the one I like. I saw a Kolkata-style biryani and thought potato might be good so I added it even though I still haven't tasted it in biryani before, so this actually is an amalgam of styles of biryani from the different regions in the Indian subcontinent. No aromatics too like rose water and kewra.





My second biryani, Lamb Biryani - Saw some lamb shank and shoulder in the supermarket for the first time and I was excited to try it. I thought it will be perfect for biryani; not knowing that mutton actually refers to goat in India. I made it closer to Hyderabadi style but still missing key spices and aromatics; the natural coloring I used also did not show up that well. Though, I made sure to get some mint as mint is classic accompaniment to lamb. Now comes the coriander (cilantro), I really don't like its taste and thought it will not come through due to all the strong flavors in the dish, Oh how wrong I was! It was so strong that I feel nauseated whenever the pot of the biryani was opened and no one in the family likes to try the lamb as it was too gamey for them so I was forced to eat it all by myself. 

The lamb was great! I love it! The shank was tender and sticky and infused the rice with its wonderful fat. Had it not been for the coriander I would have devoured it really quickly!

My third biryani- really eyeing for a Kolkata biryani with that potato. Still missing some key spices but I added those that I found to the spice mix. I also found a better natural colorant for that vivid streaks in the rice.

My final attempt this year. Finally found those spices; the cardamom, the coriander and I even found authentic saffron, how expensive it was! Especially cardamom and saffron, they really have those special aromas that are hard to describe. The yellow color of the rice came mainly from saffron. Really getting closer and closer to a Kolkata-style biryani, just made spicy with green chilies and with 1-3 aromatic distillates missing.

The Middle Eastern food that I prepared today is just the first, more will come God willing in 2021 and I hope to share it with you. Still tons of food that I learned to make in 2020. I will share them all hopefully in a more fitting post.

This really proves that there is really much to be thankful for, and us being able to witness another year is more than enough for us to consider ourselves truly blessed.

Happy New Year!

2020, you may not be the best year I still want to thank you for the things you have done to me. You allowed me to appreciate and value what I have more than ever, you allowed me to eat less and move more, you allowed me to discover and rediscover wonderful things; but most importantly, you brought me closer to God.

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