Spaghetti Marinara 2.0

Click on the picture for the recipe

Click on the picture for the recipe

In my first post on this site, I asked the question, "...shouldn't the foods we eat the most of also be those we most frequently refine?" I then speculated that I'd probably soon figure out another way to make my favorite food. This is me proving myself right with an improved recipe for spaghetti marinara. You should be eating better spaghetti. Click on the picture or right here to find out how. 

How to read an egg carton

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I buy a lot of eggs. They're tasty, incredibly versatile in the kitchen, probably healthy or whatever, but mostly just tasty. Reason enough. When I buy eggs, I do my best to try and find a balance between not spending too much and not being an asshole regarding the conditions that the chickens were raised in. Although they're about as smart as they are graceful flyers, chickens still deserve a decent life, which means that eggs from standard, cage-raised chickens are a no go for me. But despite putting a kibosh on the cruelest raising methods, I really had no idea what all the other things on an egg carton meant. Until now.

Enter, this great page from the Humane Society on how to read an egg carton. Now I understand all that's implied in the organic label and why the price differences on the different certified humane eggs I typically buy are justified. I highly recommend reading through it and deciding for yourself where both your ideal and bare minimum requirements should be. 

The Flour Tortilla. With New And Improved Math!

I've been making quite a few flour tortillas as of late.  75 per week, to be exact.  A few months back the chefs at the restaurant I work front-of-house at came up with a great idea to once a week offer a classic plate of fajitas on the menu.  Basically everything you'd get a Chili's or some shitty Tex-Mex place, but made with quality ingredients and delicious in a way that isn't contingent on exceeding a certain level of intoxication (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course).  Upon hearing the idea, I immediately walked back into the kitchen and volunteered to make the tortillas.  My offer was initially met by a bland surprise, then quickly replaced by skepticism, which eventually morphed into a sort of reluctant acceptance shaded with a shoulder-shrugged doubt.  In other words, I was given the green light.  So now every Wednesday before my bartending shift, I show up and roll out 75 tortillas.  

I arrived for the first shift with my recipe of ratios that I originally published in the Bean, Rice, and Cheese Burrito of our Dreams... post, and immediately realized I was ill prepared.  The problem was that my recipe was a standard baker's percentage, meaning everything was measured in proportion to how much flour I would be using.  Problem was, I didn't know how much flour I'd be using.  I needed 75 tortillas, but had no idea how much flour made 75 tortillas.  What made it worse was that the only obvious way to figure out how to derive the flour needed from the total weight of 75 tortilla's worth of dough would be to use algebra, and I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO ALGEBRA!!  I was standing there in a kitchen, 15 years removed from the last time I had to solve for x, and now all of my snarky comments about "when am I ever going to use this??" came back to bite me in the ass.  

I grabbed a pen and paper and then spent the next 15 minutes going the long way around equations to come up with this: 

This is how you can find out the weight of each ingredient assuming you know the total weight of the dough.  This is actually 100 times more practical than using baker's percentages, because it allows you to calculate how much of each ingredient you'll need to make the number of tortillas you want.  

As an example, let's say that hypothetically you need to make 75 tortillas.  Each 10 inch tortilla comes from a 50g ball of dough (obviously you can increase or decrease this weight based on how big of a tortilla you want).  All you have to do is multiply 75 tortillas by 50g and you get 3,750g of total dough.  Then simply multiply your total by the numbers for each ingredient above.  

So then for 75 tortillas weighing 50g each you'll need: 

  • Flour = 2,205g (3,750 x .588)
  • Water = 1,058g (3,750 x .282)
  • Lard = 439g (3,750 x .117)
  • Salt = 41g (3,750 x .011)

Want larger tortillas but for less people?  Easy.  Simply replace the original numbers (let's say 10 tortillas at 75g each...750g total) but multiply by the same decimals.  Make sense?  Of course it does!

Another great option would be to learn how to do algebra again.  But until then, you're somewhat safe from past math-class-based snarky comments.  

Need a refresher on how to combine and roll out tortilla dough?  Watch this video (start at 1:20) from the brilliant and I-can-never-tell-if-you're-sincerely-that-happy-all-the-time-and-if-that's-how-you-really-talk-and-part-of-me-is-worried-that-you-actually-are-and-do, Rick Bayless.  Ignore the measurements here, of course, but the technique, as always, is spot on. 

Ditch math class and make some tortillas.

 

 

 

Four Chord Kitchen is Back! And now with videos!

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Here's the deal, this last summer was the hottest ever on record for Portland, OR.  I moved to Portland to avoid hot weather because hot weather makes me super grumpy.  Thus, I was super grumpy all summer.  So I took a sort of sweaty sabbatical from the blog.  Good news is, it's raining out and the sun is hidden behind clouds like how god intended and I'm amped to dust the blog off and get back at it.  To celebrate, here's a video on how to make biscuits!

I already posted a recipe for biscuits on the blog, but I figured it couldn't hurt to have a video too.  Biscuits are important after all.  Oh, and you super close watchers may notice that I changed the recipe a bit.  I lowered the amount of buttermilk from two-hundred and something grams to 180.  I think you get a better biscuit with flakier layers when it's a bit drier.  Both recipes work fine though.  So follow your heart.

Thanks a million to Matt Gromley for filming and editing this.  He has a website and is good at what he does, and I think you should hire him to do just that.  Assuming you need video work.  You probably do.

The song is called "Shitty Band" and it's by the band The Arteries, who are most definitely not a shitty band.  I didn't get permission to use it, but I'm sure they're cool with it.  I hope.  

Enjoy the video.  More to come.  Tell your friends.  Thanks.

-Brett