Chef Tom Jams Bread and Butter

Alright, take a deep breath. Notice how much extra time is on your hands right now. Notice, too, that boredom has been kept at bay for a while, but it might be rearing its ugly head a bit more these days. Finally, embrace the insistence, the doggedness, the determination of your body, mind, and soul for pure, straight-up comfort food.

Now, read through these three recipes and visualize the sheer, indulgent, no-place-like-home, grandma’s-in-the-kitchen, oh-my-god-this-is-so-good nostalgia of it all, as you sit down with a good cup of tea and fix yourself a lovely-and-large slice of still warm homemade whole wheat bread, slathered with good butter and sweet jam – that you made yourself!

Got it? Can you see it? Is your mouth watering?

Good. Yum.

Whole Wheat Bread

East African Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2-3 loaves

Ingredients:
2 c. whole wheat flour

2 c. unbleached white flour

2 pkg. active dry yeast

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. water

2 tbsp. oil

2 tbsp. honey

Directions:
Combine both flours, mix well. Transfer half the combination to a second bowl and add yeast and salt.

In a saucepan, heat water, oil, and honey to warm, not hot. Too much heat will kill the yeast. Heat it like you would warm a bottle for a baby. Pour this warm mixture into flour combined with yeast and mix or beat vigorously. Add the balance of the flour gradually, to achieve a dough that will clean the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, if necessary.

Turn dough out onto floured board, counter or table and knead for 10 minutes to develop the gluten. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean dampened towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, or about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down and turn out onto counter. Divide into 2 or 3 parts (depending on how big you’d prefer). Roll each piece into a disc about 1/2-inch-thick and place them on an ungreased baking pan. Let rise again until doubled in bulk. Bake in moderately hot 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until well crusted.

Homemade Butter

Ok, this is a special treat and dead simple to make. Just takes a few minutes and a bit of elbow grease (I find sharing the churning process with someone a whole lot more fun). Make sure you have the best cream. Marbles will speed the process, but they are an option. Three or four ceramic pie weights would work, too.

Homemade Butter

Ingredients:
1 pint sized 16 oz mason jar with lid

1 cup heavy cream

Pinch of salt

2 clean marbles

cold water

Directions:
Pour heavy cream into the mason jar, filling it half-way full (you need room for the butter to churn). Toss in the pinch of salt and place the two marbles into the cream. Screw the lid on.

Now comes the elbow grease. Vigorously shake the mason jar for approximately 5-7 minutes. After the first 2-4 minutes you’ll have whipped cream. Keep shaking until you hear that a lump has formed inside and then shake an additional 2 minutes after that.

Remove the butter solids from the jar. The remaining liquid is buttermilk. You can save that for other recipes or discard it. Remove the marbles.

Place the butter solids into a small bowl. Pour cold water over the butter and use your hands to squish it into a ball. Discard the cold water and repeat rinsing 2 times more.

At this point you have butter. You can add in things like honey, spices, or herbs to create flavored butters, or serve in its pure form as is (my preference).

Berry Jam

Easy as pie, so to speak. Done in couple of hours.

Triple Berry Quick Jam

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:
1-pint fresh raspberries (about 12 ounces or 2 1/4 cups)

½-pint fresh blackberries (about 7 ounces or 1 1/2 cups)

8 ounces fresh strawberries (1 3/4 cups), hulled and thickly sliced

1 cup natural cane sugar, such as turbinado

Pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Stir the raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and sugar together in a large pot. Set aside to macerate until the sugar begins to dissolve into the fruit, about 10 minutes.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Gently simmer until the fruit breaks down and starts to cook, thickening slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. If the fruit isn’t breaking down on its own, use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help it out. For chunkier, don’t mash too much.

When almost done, the jam will still be loose (it’ll firm up more as it cools) but coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and pour into a nice clean glass jar to cool until warm. Cover and cool completely. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.

ON THAT NOTE

Something fun to watch while you’re getting fat.

Dancing in the Streets

Oh Them Masaka Kids
(if The Little Rascals had rhythm)

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

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