A bread pumpkin

Pumpkin mania ! I put some in everything. They are so tasty and easy to cook.

It’s standard bread dough, I mixed in 1/3 of volume of freshly made kabocha puree (boiled, mashed with a fork). Let it bubble… and bake in cast iron pot.

Pretty !

It’s a dense and soft cake-like bread, delicious fresh and toasted. No spices are necessary, it gets a delicate kabocha flavor.

Bread in cocotte with pastel duet of bean spreads

Look at my funny tartine ! That’s because I’ve baked fresh bread.

And I needed something to spread on it : Hot azuki mash and crème de fèves.
The purple one is HOT, really and a bit chunky. The green one is pure velvet in the mouth.

I had graham flour dough left after the pizza. I’ve kept it in the fridge overnight and after adding rosemary and olive oil, I baked it in the oven, inside the cast iron cocotte. Details here.

A Southern pain de campagne with crunchy crust.

3 pots toppings :
-blanched favas (broad beans), mixed with olive oil, salt, a little dried garlic, a little water.
-mashed boiled azuki beans, salt, pepper, bits of Korean chili and greens of negi leeks.
-finely sliced zucchini

Funny little meal.

Perfect Japanese rice in your cast iron pot

Rice is a food you can completely waste if you don’t cook it properly. It can become a lump, stay like raw starch, half-lump and half-starch. It can taste watery. Or you can get it just great : fluffy, each grain cooked at the same level, neither hard nor smashed, and full of its flavors.

It is not particularly difficult.
To obtain perfectly cooked rice like in the good Asian restaurants, you don’t need a rice-cooker. This method works with any type of stoves (or campfire) and a cast-iron pot.


That takes about 50 minutes, but you will be busy less 5~10 minutes.
The first time, stay around all the time, observe everything. Write memos. You may have to slightly adjust the time and heat as conditions very from kitchen to kitchen. But after that will become automatic. I know “step 1” takes 3 minutes on my stove, just the time to drink my coffee. Then I set the stove timer on 8 minutes and I come back half an hour later.

It is important to wash your rice not only to get rid of the excess of starch (and coating additives in certain countries) but also to wet it. You can see on the photo below that after washing, the rice is already a little more voluminous than when it was dry.

Rice cooks in 25 minutes (or more), but this is not a continuous process :
Step 1 : reaching the heat, getting fully wet.
Step 2 : cooking while absorbing the water.
Step 3 : cooking while absorbing the steam.
Salt would prevent the water from properly wetting the grain. Don’t add any.

That also works with a thick terracotta stove-top pot, of a very thick steel pot like a pressure-cooker. These thick pot have the property of retaining the heat for a long time.
Look at this photo. In this pot, I can cook from 1 to 2 cups of rice. Roughly the dry rice should be from 1/5th to 2/5th of the volume of your pot.
More rice, it would overflow.
Less rice, there wouldn’t be enough concentration of steam.

This is a Japanese rice cup : 180 milliliter. That doesn’t matter if you use a different measuring cup. Measure the dry rice and the water with the same cup.
So let’s go :

******** RECIPE **********



Easy technique :

-Place a vegetable colander in a salad bowl. Put your measured dry rice and plenty of water.
-With your hand, rub the rice over the walls of the colander during 2 minutes. Don’t be lazy, do that with energy. The water will become white like milk. Discard water, rinse. -Repeat 1 or 2 times.
-Then you should get clear water.
-Take away the bowl, and let rest 5 minutes (or more).

Transfer the rice into the pot. Add 1 cup plus 20% of of a cup of water. For “sushi rice”, as you will add more liquid later, you need 1 cup plus 10% of cup. The water is cold or room temperature.
Do NOT add salt now.


Put the lid on your pot.
STEP 1 :
Place it on the stove, on high heat (start medium if it’s a terracotta pot). After 2~3 minutes, check the lid with your finger. When it gets very hot, you know the steam is filling the pot. Pass to step 2.
STEP 2 :
Pass on low heat. Start a timer for 8 minutes. Then cut the heat. Do NOT open the lid.
STEP 3 :
Let the rice absorb the heat during about 20 minutes (12 is a minimum).

After step 2, the rice should have absorbed the water. The first time, check briefly. If some water is left, cook 2 minutes more, check again… The next times, you’ll know it takes a little longer in your kitchen.
When you check, do it very quickly, then shut back the lid and put 30 seconds more on heat to recreate some steam for “step 3”.

Perfectly cooked rice.
You can salt it now if you want.

For a few more tips click here (I’ll post this soon)

Pain en cocotte

I had read about many people baking their bread in cast iron pots. So I gave it a try : 10 thumbs up !

I took my old… and yes dirty cocotte en fonte.
Why a cast iron pot ? Well, the small space retains more humidity than your kitchen and then your small oven, and the bread raises better. Then the thermal properties of cast iron are also great. That makes a bread more “professional”.

I filled it at 1/3 with dough, shut and let the dough double. Cut the top and baked with the lid. I think it could have expanded more in a bigger pot. Next time…

Golden crispy crust.

Not too boringly regular. Great idea.

Takikomi gohan, Japanese chicken rice

A delicious easy family dish. takikomi means cooked with things included. gohan is rice.
That used to be prepared in the kama, the old fire-wood rice-oven. Modern rice-cooker are able to replicate the slower cooking process.

Easy :
rince 1 cup of Japanese rice (Koshihikari for instance, a good non-Japanese substitute is italian Arborio rice )
Add :
-1.2 cup of water,
-veggies (onion and negi leeks),
-a piece of kombu seaweed,
-feet of shiitake,
-a dry chili pepper,
-2 tbs of mirin
-3 tbs of low sodium soy sauce (or 2 of regular)
Start the rice cooker on “takikomi mode”.

You can do that in an iron cast pot. Add a little more water. Heat on low-medium till it boils slightly. Lower on minimum for about 20/30 minutes. Be careful that it does not burn. No problem on a real stove or induction, but be careful on a gaz stove. Let sit another hour before reheating very slowly.

You get this.

The bottom is nicely caramelised… Delicious !

Recut the meat and kombu in small chunks, serve with goma-shio (sesame and salt), and cut greens of negi.

A white miso soup with abura-age (fried tofu) and green sprouts of soy beans.

Dessert :