How I Revived My Sourdough Starter
Plus: Too-Tart Lemonade, A Kale Frittata, and Two Live Cooking Demos.
Well, here we are: the last week of Donald Trump’s presidency and we’re still stuck at home, waiting to get vaccinated and to rejoin the world of the living. I’m very hopeful — especially after reading articles like this one by Ezra Klein (who, incidentally, used to be a big Amateur Gourmet reader… maybe he still is?) — that suggest the vaccine rollout is going to be much more efficient with some actual federal guidance.
If you’re anything like me, you started this quarantine with 20 pound bags of flour and a commitment to make sourdough every week. Then you gained ten pounds and realized that all of this weekly bread-making may be a bit much, so you stopped making sourdough; you put your starter in the fridge and it turned into something from a mad scientist’s laboratory.
You would’ve thrown it away, but then, as mentioned in the last newsletter, Edd Kimber told you to pour off the black stuff (which is just alcohol from the still fermenting starter), stir the starter, pour a little into another jar, add flour and water, and keep feeding (discard the jar with the gross black stuff).
That’s what I did for a few days and before I knew it, the starter was bubbly and active. It was that easy! This was a starter that I neglected for MONTHS and it completely came back to life.
I made bread according to the steps I laid out in this post and it was excellent. I treated myself to a big slice with lots of butter and fleur de sel.
That was truly one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time.
In other news, the Meyer lemon tree that we share with our neighbors (we live in a four-plex) is in full bloom. Food writer extraordinaire Ben Mims came over to pick some lemons:
On Saturday, after Craig and I walked around the Silverlake Reservoir with Winston, he asked me to make some lemonade with lemons he picked off the tree. I juiced the lemons, added to a shaker with ice and some simple syrup and shook everything up.
I took a taste and thought it was potent but exciting. Craig took a taste and puckered more than I’ve ever seen somebody pucker. He said, “Oh my God! This is so tart. Did you add any water?” Reader, I did not add any water. It was just lemon juice with a little sugar syrup. So, chastened, I went back to the kitchen, poured the lemonade into larger glasses and stirred in some water. That was much better.
For breakfast on Saturday, I decided to use up the rainbow chard and kale in the fridge by making a frittata. I sautéed onions and the chard stems in a little olive oil until golden, then added lots of sliced kale and chard leaves with salt and a little water. I cooked everything down until it looked like this…
…and then I added six beaten eggs and put lots of grated cheddar on top. I let it cook on the stovetop until the edges were set, then finished under the broiler. Here are the slices we ate for brunch.
In other brunch news, remember that sourdough bread that I made from scratch a few paragraphs ago?
It got pretty stale, so yesterday I sliced it, soaked it in a mixture of eggs, milk, vanilla, a little sugar, salt, and a splash of brandy, and made French Toast. Served it with some bacon (cooked in the oven at 375) and fruit that I had laying around (Cara Cara oranges, pomegranates). The staleness of the bread made it extra decadent because it absorbed so much custard.
What else? I roasted a chicken with Brussels sprouts and carrots underneath, which worked nicely.
Oh, and I made Alison Roman’s potato leek soup from her most recent Substack. It was pretty phenomenal (love all that dill).
Finally, and most importantly, Craig and I have been keeping up our live cooking demos where I do the cooking and he holds the camera and adds witty commentary.
On Wednesday, last week, I made one of our all-time favorite dishes: Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes. You can watch the whole thing here:
And then, last night, I made pork chops with sautéed apples and roasted Brussels sprouts. I’m not smiling in the first second of the video because Craig didn’t give me enough warning that we started. We had a fight about it after!
Is there something you’d like to see me cook live on Instagram? Let me know in the comments:
Here’s what caught my attention on the web this week:
Always wanted to make a salted honey pie, and this one looks phenomenal;
When we did our road trip this past summer, Craig pointed out Pea Soup Anderson’s as a place he’d go with his family growing up… now it’s for sale :(
I was in The New York Times last week talking about how I gave up on dry January with the storming of the Capitol… trying again this week, we’ll see how it goes;
One of our favorite local spots, All-Time, had an employee test positive for Covid. Here’s how they dealt with it;
Melissa Clark makes butterscotch pudding and now I want butterscotch pudding.
Ben Mims makes a hand of Buddha tart.
Okay, folks, that’s all for this week!
Until next time….
Your friend, Adam
Since you have all those Meyer Lemons, look for the recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie by Bill Smith, chef at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC. It uses saltine crackers in the crust which is a nice balance for the filling. His recipe: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/dining/atlantic-beach-pie-recipe.html
have you made preserved lemons yet?