A Green Chicago River and Rye Bread
Five nights and six days of adventures.
We all have a bucket list, whether written or quietly mused upon in the recesses of our mind. Traveling to Chicago in the dead of the worst winter in years was not necessarily high on my list. Polar Vortex anyone?
But there I was mid-March for five of the most memorable days of my life. Amidst the many adventures during my stay for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) annual conference, the sight of the Saint Patrick’s revelers, those throngs of bead loving and green shamrock wearing celebrants, full of joyous cheer despite the cold cold wicked weather will last a lifetime. That, and the thought of the earthly big city elegance of the river running green at twilight, as my shutter fingers froze because I foolishly removed my glove.
Other firsts during my stay.
First taste of Mescal and its smoky goodness mixed with bright lime at Nightwood Restaurant with old and new friends.
First Pisco Sour at Tanta Cocina in the company of strangers who became dear friends, a collection of product sponsors, chefs, bloggers, authors and public relations professionals.
First time eating frozen packaging material at Moto Restaurant, the Chicago epicenter of molecular gastronomy with Chefs Homaro Cantu, Richie Farina and Claire Crenshaw demonstrate that playfulness, passion and science elevate the art of dining.
First time in the halls of the Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy.
First time eating Brazilian food and meeting Chef John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina who lead us through the tastes and techniques of the soul of Brazilian food.
First time visiting Eataly, a highlight for any follower of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.
First time eating at Shaw’s Crab House, Chicago’s legendary cool spot with retro wood paneling, soft Sinatraesque Rat Pack atmosphere where three ladies closed the place down on a Monday night. My thanks to the staff for not rushing us.
And for a memorable second. My second IACP annual meeting where the members made me most welcome, the sessions and activities enlightened, inspired and elevated my understanding of the state of the industry. Where a local gal from California with a blog was able to listen and mingle with the most renown leaders in the culinary world.
When they coined the phrase, “Thought Leader,” they must of thinking of creative visionary Chef Ferran Adrià of elBulli in Spain and his current work creating the elBulli Foundation to both save and document the history of the restaurant of the same name, but also to create Bullipedia to organize and classify the body of history and knowledge of cooking around the world.
Rather heady don’t you think?
And lastly, this was the first time missing our traditional Saint Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage at home with family. Upon returning home I was to discover my darling dear also missed our annual meal and had all the fixings, ready for me. Funny, how being surrounded by new and different tasty meals, people that think, break and talk food you end up just wanting to go home and cook, and that is just what I did. I stirred up a batch of No-Knead Rye bread with added spelt flour, knowing full well Reuben sandwiches would be coming soon. While it is wonderful to have new adventures, it is always the best coming home.
This bread turns out crusty, chewy and oh so tasty. Even better it hangs out in the refrigerator up to four days until you are ready to let it rise and bake.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 ¾ cups King Arthur Bread Flour
- 1 ½ cups Light Rye Flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 ½ cups Spelt Flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
- ½ cup Non-fat dry milk
- 1 tablespoon table salt (not kosher)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon King Arthur Rye Enhancer
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Caraway Seeds (optional)
- Combine dry ingredients and whisk together to evenly distribute flours, milk, salt and yeast
- Pour water into a large 6 qt. container
- Add dry ingredients to water in batches, alternating with olive oil and caraway seeds
- Stir with wooden spoon until dough is combined. It will be sticky
- Generously oil a large bowl and place dough inside, covered to rise about 2 hours
- Afterwards, you may refrigerate up to four days before baking.
- When you are ready to bake a loaf, plan for 2-3 hours rising time before baking and and hour or so to cool before slicing. Best on weekends or days off.
- Prepare 3 quart covered casserole by either spraying with vegetable spray or buttering bottom and sides. Line bottom with parchment paper and butter top of paper. This will aid the bread’s release from the casserole.
- Shape ½ dough into a ball and place into cold casserole. If you butter your hands before handling the dough it won’t stick to your fingers so much.
- Cut 3 deep slashes across the top with a sharp knife.
- Put into a cold oven and set temperature 450°F, cover and bake for aprox. 40 minutes.
- Check and test bread at about 30 minutes to ensure that it doesn’t get too dark on the sides and if you want you can remove from casserole and finish baking on a sheet pan until golden and reaches 195°F internal temperature.
- Cool completely for an hour or more before slicing.
Chicago, a grand city to visit no matter what time of year. Maybe it should be on your bucket list.
- IACP, International Association of Culinary Professionals
- Nightwood Restaurant
- Le Cordon Bleu, Chicago
- Moto Restaurant
- Chef John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina Restaurant Link
- Eataly, Chicago
- elBulli Foundation
None of this would have been possible if not for the hard and dedicated work of the multitude of volunteers organizing the conference, sessions, amazing keynote speakers and tours. My sincere thanks to these wonderful professionals of the association that made IACP 36 Chicago such a wonderful event. A shout out to IACP Executive Director Meredith Deeds and Conference Chair Raghavan Iyer, author of 660 Curies for a job well done.