Loafing at Bluff City Coffee
The Memphis Flyer: Hungry Memphis
Bluff City Coffee
Loafing at Bluff City Coffee
The Memphis Flyer: Hungry Memphis
Poets and chefs alike have expounded on the virtues (and lack thereof) of bread.
In its simplicity, bread is greater than the sum of its parts. Flour, water, yeast and salt combine with elbow grease and patience to result in an amazing food. According to famed chef, writer and gourmand James Beard, "Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods."
Wheat is fourth on the U.S. Major Crop List, after corn, soybeans and hay. While some wheat is grown in the Mid-South, the quantity is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of our food system.
What we do have locally are a plethora of bread makers. They are rightfully called artisans and should be ranked right up there with rock stars and artists, or whoever garners your admiration and appreciation.
Sure, you can get airy white bread for less than a buck a loaf, but why? Julia Child said it best: "How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?"
Good bread, with taste and texture, isn't always cheap, with some local artisans getting up to $9 per loaf (and regularly selling out). But when you spread the cost over the week it takes to eat the loaf, the pinch to the wallet lessens.
Bluff City Coffee, Shoaf's Loaf, La Cucina, Boulangerie Oliver (Hernando), Ladybugg Bakery (Hernando) and Café Eclectic make crusty, flavorful loaves of artisan bread. You have choices galore -- wheat; rye; studded with cheese, fruits and nuts; long baguettes; soft sandwich loaves. Take your pick.
Reading the label of a $2 grocery loaf reveals a list of 27 ingredients. Sure, some are vitamins, but why does my sandwich need azodicarbonamide? Is lunch better with something that's also used in foamed plastic production?
Enjoy the loaves, boules and buns of our local artisans, or bake your own, but don't relegate your beautiful summer tomato to a shingle of air and additives. You or a local farmer has put great effort into raising that arugula, eggplant, pepper and lettuce. You source local beef, chicken, eggs and pork. Your herbs are plucked from your own yard. You live greener buying food grown nearby. You have nothing to lose but time and a few dollars in ingredients, but you could gain the taste of "all the stars and all the heavens," if poet Robert Browning can be trusted.
Start with a bowl, a baking sheet and the willingness to try. Try. Then try again. You will get it right. Practice now because our abundance of fresh, local food deserves to be sandwiched between slices of great bread.
Melissa Petersen is the editor of Edible Memphis, a magazine that celebrates the abundance of local food, season by season. It is available at various locations around town. Contact her atMelissa@ediblememphis.com.
6 1/2 cups all-purpose or soft white wheat flour
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. instant yeast*
3 cups water
Olive oil or melted butter (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Slowly mix in water until a ball of dough forms. Knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or two. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for about 2 hours. At this point you can keep the dough in the bowl, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Pull off a quarter of the dough. Shape as you see fit and place on parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush with olive oil or melted butter and let proof for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake bread for 30-45 minutes, or until bread is golden and crusty when you tap on it. Remove from oven and let stand for 20 minutes before slicing.
*Instant yeast does not need to be dissolved in water. You can substitute active dry yeast in the same quantity, but dissolve it in ½ cup of warm, not hot, water before adding to dry ingredients. Then you'll only need to add 2½ cups of water to complete the recipe.
Note: This recipe originally came from Mother Earth News, but I've changed it over time. It's bulletproof because you can do almost anything to it -- add a little more yeast, add olive oil, add honey, brush with butter, let it proof too long -- and it still comes out great. The dough keeps in the fridge for several days, so you can make a batch early in the week and have fresh, crusty bread any night of the week.
Source: Commercial Appeal
by Melissa Peterson
Bluff City Coffee
Culinary Passion Began at Early Age for Doty
Memphis Daily News
Vertical veggies: Tower Garden methods cultivate easy bounty
The Commercial Appeal
On our way to get a morning coffee fix, we ran into Heather from The American Institute of Architects in Memphis. She looked too adorable for us not to stop and ask about her outfit.
Her dress is from Hoot + Louise, which she paired with these t-strap shoes with triangle heels: And styled with a bracelet by one of the artists at the National Ornamental Metal Museum: Heather describes her style as "comfortable and classic." Would that we all looked so good in the pursuit of comfort!
Source: Memphis Flyer
By Hannah Sayle
armers markets around town are in full swing, and many shoppers couldn't be happier. However, knowing what to buy and when -- not to mention in what quantity -- can be tricky. A few pros share their shopping tips.
Jason Doty, the pastry chef at Bluff City Coffee, also does all of the cooking at home for his wife and three children. He loves incorporating fresh, local foods into his recipes. Doty shops at both the Cooper-Young and Downtown farmers markets each Saturday. "I'm like a kid in a candy store," he says.
His usual purchases, which he describes as his guilty pleasures, include J. Brooks coffee, fresh ground flour, fresh fruit, Wolf River honey, Delta pecans, a loaf of bread and flowers for his wife.
He plans his meals in advance and shops for proteins first. "I like Newman Farms pork and seafood from the Gulf," he says. While Doty shops with weekly meals in mind, he believes it's important to be open-minded about specials. "Newman Farms might have a great special on sausage one week. If so, I'll change my meal plan."
Once he has proteins, Doty starts shopping for side dishes. "Right now kale and arugula are perfect for sides. There are some vendors who sell premixed cooking and salad greens that will last in the fridge. I can buy tomatoes or mushrooms and have a salad in 2 minutes."
When buying veggies, Doty notes that the first week they appear at the market they may not be as good as the next. He says the middle run is usually the best. "It's like the old restaurant adage: 'Never be the first or the last customer.' "
For new ideas Doty talks to the farmers. "They've been farming a long time and they often have great ideas and easy recipes to share," he says.
Kate Lareau, who is the communications coordinator for Advance Memphis, is also an avid farmers market shopper. This year, she and a friend are sharing a Community Supported Agriculture membership at Downing Hollow Farm in Olive Hill, Tenn., between Memphis and Nashville. In CSAs, members pay a fee and get a share of the food items produced each week during the season.
"This is my third time joining a CSA," says Lareau. "Since it's been harder for me to get Downtown lately, I thought it would be good to try a CSA at the closer and less-crowded Cooper-Young market. I love that Downing Hollow includes things from other providers, and I like that they have eggs if you need them."
Lareau and her husband have two children under the age of 6, and even though one of them is practically a vegetarian, she says they still don't put away mass quantities of food.
"I think it's a good idea to split a CSA with another family -- it's just more realistic and affordable. Also, you just have to realize that at the beginning and end of seasons, there are lots of greens. So you do have to plan a bit to use them all," she says.
To extend the life of her greens, Lareau washes, dries and wraps them with a dry paper towel before bagging them and putting them into the fridge. "It takes a few minutes, but then you're done and there's really no further prep required," she says.
Joining a CSA has encouraged Lareau to eat more vegetables than she would have otherwise, and she likes supporting a local farm. Although she pays up front, it is a part of her weekly grocery budget.
Memberships in CSAs run from about $200 to $500, depending on the length of the season.
Lori Greene, who runs Downing Hollow Farm with her husband, Alex, says CSAs are the small family farm's lifesaver.
"It can keep you afloat. If you are growing things that are already guaranteed and paid for by the members, you aren't losing that crop if, say, your regular farmers market customers decide they are tired of eating greens," she says. "We have 25 members right now, but want to go up to 50."
Laura Goodman-Bryan also has a CSA membership with Downing Hollow Farm.
"I like having first dibs on the produce even if I sleep in," she says, since her items are always there, ready for her to pick up.
She was very methodical about picking her farmer. "I spent a year shopping the market. At the end of the season, I asked myself which farmer I bought from every single week. In my case, it was Downing Hollow Farm, so I joined their CSA."
In addition to shopping at the Cooper-Young market, Goodman-Bryan also regularly shops Downtown.
"They were the first and I'm very loyal to the market and a number of the vendors there," she says.
On occasion, she'll get a midweek fix at the Memphis Botanic Garden. "I encourage folks to try out several markets," she says.
Goodman-Bryan utilizes several strategies when shopping at a market, and then later at home.
"I try to have an idea of what's in season, which you can get a really good feel for by going to the market regularly, but I don't usually plan my meals. Planning too much makes me miss opportunities," she says.
Chatting can be an integral part of the shopping process. "Ask the vendors what they recommend this week. You can learn a lot. Also ask the vendors how they would use a certain product. Most of them have some pretty good ideas," says Goodman-Bryan.
As tempting as the produce may be, Goodman-Bryan tries to limit herself to what she can eat or put up within a week. By trying different things, she can see what holds up in the refrigerator and what doesn't. She also brings plastic containers to protect anything fragile she may purchase.
There are hidden gems within the produce. "Look for something funny, something you've never seen before, and try it. I have a battered copy of "The Victory Garden Cookbook" that is a great resource," she says.
Giving yourself extra time when you come home from the market to tend to your produce is crucial. "It makes a big difference," she says. "Extra fruit like blueberries and strawberries can be frozen. Salad greens need to be washed, spun, gently wrapped in paper towels and placed inside of a plastic bag. Make sure you put veggies in the crisper drawer and don't smush them."
Keep herbs in a glass jar on the counter.
If something wilts, don't worry. "I find that many things that wilt can be perked back up. I throw them in a big bowl of water and let them soak overnight," says Goodman-Brown.
Most important, give back. "If you're at the stand of a vendor you like and a new customer comes up, give the vendor some praise. Help the vendors you like develop new customers! It's good business and good karma," she says.
Here are two recipes from pastry chef Jason Doty that he says are easy to make and make use of what is available now at area markets.
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/2 cup locally sourced honey
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. milk or water, for egg wash
For the glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup locally sourced honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Combine the buttermilk, honey, and eggs and add quickly to the flour-and-butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough may be sticky.
Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and be sure it is combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough ¾- to 1-inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough. Cut into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter and place on baking sheet.
Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, honey and vanilla. When the scones are done, cool for 5 minutes, and drizzle each scone with 1 tbsp. of glaze. Sprinkle some uncooked oats on the top, for garnish. The warmer the scones are when you glaze them, the thinner the glaze will be.
Yield: 14 large scones
Strawberry Pie Bars
For the crust and topping:
Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
For the strawberry filling:
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
6 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and granulated sugar. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until all of the sugar has been moistened. In the bowl of a food processor, add the lemon sugar, all-purpose flour and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the pieces of butter are no larger than the size of peas, about 10 to 12 pulses.
Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture to use for the topping and put it in the refrigerator until needed. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, sour cream, flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the sliced strawberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust and make sure all of the strawberries are in one layer and not sitting on top of one another.
Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over the filling. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.
Yield: 18 bars
Source: Commercial Appeal
by Stacy Greenberg
"Share Your Good News"