Sunday, November 16, 2014

Goodbye old Zojirushi, hello new Zojirushi

I have a new bread machine! The old one was great the few times that it worked, but its single paddle soon stopped stirring at all. As I blogged before, the result was layered flour bricks like these:


If I stirred everything ahead of time, I could still use the machine to bake, which came in handy when my oven broke and I wanted to cook cornbread.

Thanks to the few times the old machine did work, I decided to buy myself a brand new Zojirushi.

Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso (BB-PAC20)

I considered getting a machine that had an automatic dispensing tray for raisins or nuts, but that tray wasn't very big, and the machine just didn't sound as good.

The new machine has a few improvements over the old one, such one:
  • 2 mixing paddles instead of 1
  • Bigger capacity
  • Horizontal loaf rather than vertical
Here's what the new bread machine is producing:

Whole-wheat walnut bread

Whole-wheat and white, cooked with a timer

Pumpernickel, cooked with a timer

By the way, the pumpernickel is delicious. (Who knew that the dark color comes from coffee and cocoa? Crazy!) I used the Zojirushi recipe but reduced the salt to a pinch and the yeast to just over a teaspoon. I made similar adjustments to the other Zojirushi recipes.

The latest bread I tried was a pull-apart honey whole-wheat, using a recipe from Hensberger's Bread Machine Cookbook and techniques from the Zojirushi cookbook's weird, "home made variations" recipe for "party bread". This was a trial run for Thanksgiving dinner rolls. I want to cook them in the bread machine, if possible, so they'll be ultra-fresh and we won't have to use the oven for anything but turkey. Plus, you know, it'll be cool.

The remains of the honey whole-wheat
First, let me say that the bread was tasty. I don't know how well it'll keep, but since it's mostly gone, who cares. I made the 1-1/2 pound loaf recipe, reducing the salt to 1/2 teaspoon and yeast to 2 teaspoons.

Second, although the Zojirushi recipe is very unclear and incomplete, it worked better than I expected. The loaf, created from 15 mini-balls of dough, was fairly easy to pull apart, despite having no flour or cornmeal or oil/butter to keep the mini-balls from sticking to each other. I guess the mini-balls' little private rising time helped.

Third, although the Zo recipe calls for embedding sausage, chocolate, or cream cheese in each piece, I had nothing savory to put in them. I did, however, put a TJ's speculoos chocolate cup in one, just to see what would happen.  It was a bit messy, melting into a spreading puddle that my husband and I gleefully chased down. Perhaps chocolate chips might work better, since they supposedly don't melt as well. However, for dinner rolls I'd stick with savory fillings, if any.

By the way, the Hensberger book is one of several that my friend Shams recently gave to me. Thanks, Shams!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coconut-coffee-almond "ice cream" and raspberry sherbet

A few months back (near someone's birthday, probably mine), I made two not-quite-ice-creams in a row. Here's a picture of them with some birthday cake.


The first was a coconut cream based ice cream, flavored with coffee and with toasted chopped almonds mixed in. It was inspired by an internet recipe, although I don't recall which one. The base had 2 cans of Trader Joe's coconut cream, 3 packets of Starbucks Via instant coffee, less than a cup of sugar, and some vanilla.

The ingredients for the coconut-coffee base

The second dessert was a simple raspberry sherbet (raspberries, milk, sugar, a bit of lemon juice). I believe the recipe was from The Perfect Scoop.

Raspberry sherbet

Both were great, but I loved the sherbet best. It was fresh and clean tasting, and raspberries have such a pretty, intense color.

The coconut-coffee-almond seemed bitter at first (something I've noticed with other coconut-coffee combos) but after a couple of bites I really liked it.

Coming soon: goodbye to a broken bread machine, and hello to a beautiful new one.