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The Amazing Pizza Recipe that Makes Sourdough Worth It

By Tim Butler | Posted at 5:42 PM

Last week, I posted about getting started with sourdough starter. While I started my starter ostensibly for bread, pizza is what has utterly sold me on the process. I cannot commend this recipe enough, with just a few slight changes I’ll describe.

After trying it several different ways, I think the best crust comes from planning ahead one day before you want the pizza. When you go through the daily discard and feeding ritual, place the discard in another bowl and feed it, just like you do for the main starter, similarly to what I mentioned last week. That should produce just enough “fresh discard” the next day for the pizza recipe and it gives the pizza crust a milder flavor and flakier texture than using several days of accumulation of discard. In sourdough terminology, this is the “levain”.

Doing this the day before, and not just a few hours ahead of dinner, is essential if you want thin crust pizza.

I ❤️ Sourdough

By Tim Butler | Posted at 7:16 PM

Not realizing apparently everyone else was thinking the same thing, it occurred to me back in March that the pandemic shelter-at-home time would be a perfect time to learn about the art of making sourdough bread. I wasn’t trying to be trendy, I just am fascinated by the idea of sourdough. In a way, raising your own “yeast colony” is sort of like a vegetable garden: sure you can buy produce at the grocery store, but everyone knows those tomatoes and peppers and peaches will taste better if you buy them from a local farmer when they are fresh or if you raise them in your backyard.

My adventure into becoming a yeast farmer took a little while for my brain to properly make sense of, so now that I think I have at least the basics down, I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered, especially since I’ve discovered raising my little sourdough farm is not only relatively easy, but makes some of the most incredible pizza I’ve had. If you love St. Louis style pizza, you can use a simple sourdough pizza crust recipe I’ll include in my next post to make what I believe is a St. Louis-style pizza better than many pizzerias’ version.

(Admittedly, several months in, I’ve only made bread once, but I’ve found some other things I love that it can make and I wanted to share them here both for your enjoyment and for my safe keeping lest I lose the recipes.)

French Fry Rankings

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:00 PM

Lucas Kwan Peterson ranks fast food french fries, a deliciously good idea. He gets some of the essentials right, though I have to disagree on a few points. What he got very right, though, is his take on McDonald's fries:

McDonald's fries, for approximately 4½ minutes, while they're absolutely searing hot, are the greatest food on Earth. But their half-life is astoundingly fast, and by the time these babies are cold, they taste like mealy little icicles. The batch I sampled was warm, not piping, so their greatness was compromised. But I love a thin fry and, perhaps more, I love the memory of great McDonald's fries I've had in the past.

On the flip side, I don't know where he found a good Steak 'n Shake fry (they are capable of greatness, but that greatness is hard to find any longer) and Chick-Fil-A waffle fries should be way towards the top with a satisfying texture and strong potato-y flavor. My rankings are below the fold.

Sea Salt

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:11 AM

My friend Dennis Powell writes:

I don’t mean to be cranky here. Please forgive me if I think it’s a little nutty that the phrase “with sea salt” is considered good when that phrase might mean “contains fish poop.”

When you put it that way…

Via Media

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:55 AM

As Wikipedia notes,

St. Louis-style barbecue sauce is generally tomato-based, thinned slightly with vinegar, sweet and spicy. It is not as sweet and thick as Kansas City-style barbecue sauce, nor as spicy-hot and thin as Texas-style. A St. Louis-style barbecue is not complete without copious amounts of sauce.

That is what makes St. Louis-style sauce so good. Just the right combination of sweet and spicy in a sauce just thick enough to properly coat the meat.

Chick-fil-A

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:41 AM

I just found out that the cows favorite restaurant chain is building a location just a few miles down the road from me. This is simply too exciting! How did I ever go through life without knowing about Chick-fil-A for so many years?

I am not quite sure, but in any case, I am really glad they are coming to St. Charles.

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

By Tim Butler | Posted at 2:09 AM

Chick-fil-A has introduced its first new sandwich in about 20 years, apparently.

While I'd say it does not surpass the original Chick-fil-A sandwich, the new Spicy Chicken sandwich really is an excellent twist on the original. I was able to get one of the reservations the chain offered to preview one this past week and it had just the right amount of spice to give the sandwich character without having the heat overwhelm the mild but delightful Chick-fil-A flavor. Unlike some spicy chicken sandwiches, the additional spices complemented rather than changing the overall taste of the sandwich — a good thing in my book!

If you enjoy a little kick in your food, next time you are by a Chick-Fil-A, it would be worth trying out their new creation.

Fishy

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:00 PM

This commercial is just brilliant in its absurdity. It is a sequel to one from last year.

The Importance of Right Theology

By Tim Butler | Posted at 2:40 PM

As someone who aspires to the title of theologian (though has in no way earned the right to it), I certainly believe theology is important. Clearly when we are talking about God, there can be few things more important than understanding him and his will as well as possible. But, the greatest gift from God is not teaching of doctrine or something along those lines, but love (1 Cor. 13.13).

What does that mean for us in general? We as Christians put too much emphasis on right doctrine as if it could save us. We are functionally working as those saved by doctrine alone — the specific doctrine a given person favors is of little consequence. The other day, my wise professor Dr. Jay Sklar was relating to us a story about another faculty member at Covenant who was in Scotland. That person observed that when Christians are only a two in a hundred statistically, suddenly our little dogmatic skirmishes seem less important and simply finding someone else with whom one shares the Apostle's Creed seems enough.

In many ways, it is.

That is not to say all the minutiae is unimportant, many things within the realm of Christian dogmatics are utterly important. But not as important as the core truth of the Gospel: that the one, sole creator God of the universe was incarnate among us, died for us and restored us into a body of which he is the head. That's the heart of our story. It is not the end of our story, but the beginning which convicts us and leaves us with no choice but to make every theological confrontation within the bounds of historic Christianity one of brotherly or sisterly love.

If only we lived this principle, if only the world would truly “know we are Christians by our love,” then we would be doing the will of God. Let us not mistake doctrinal purity as our mediator with God; our ancient predecessors learned the dangers of misplaced mediation after they failed to head the prophet Jeremiah's warning, “Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD’” (Jer. 7.4 ESV).

What does God truly desire of us? Micah tells us (v. 6.8)

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

I would rather serve all day alongside a Christian full of love for God and for those around him, but with messed up doctrine, than an hour with a Christian of great doctrinal strength and a condescension for all those with less perfectly constructed theological constructs.

Hungry...

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:31 AM

I am not sure why, but I am terribly hungry for steak fries. The problem is that I cannot think of any place in the area that serves steak fries! I'll have to get some next time I'm in St. Louis County, I guess.

Why an I telling you this? I'm not sure! ;-)

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