Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grad school swallowed me :(

but I promise Ill be posting again soon!

btw - it is so awesome when so many of you ask where the new posts are!!!! Thank you for being awesome :)

Coming soon:

Sourdough bread - starter and all... This has been my project of the last... month?
oatmeal bread
Taco soup (okay, this is only kind of from scratch)
veggie broth - which apparently makes soup so much better...
Tomatoe soup. Yes, i know it has no e on the end - spellcheck obnoxiously tells me so. But thats how i want to spell it, and this seems like the best chance to do so.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Legit chai

Lorilei inspired me!! She brought a warm thermos of chai over for some persian practice and it was all over. I went straight to the store to get some ingredients and have had a constant craving for this stuff since. 

I rummaged around online for recipes, and this is my version of the recipe from Chai! - they really know their stuff.

This recipe makes two cups, because you're going to want another one.

Bring to a boil:
*1 1/2 c water

*1 inch cinnamon stick
-once I used a few shakes of ground cinnamon. It was fine, except that it left a grainy end to the chai
*9 pieces cardamum
*9 whole cloves
*a couple slivers ginger root
Turn down the stove to medium low, put a lid on it, and let simmer for 15 minutes

*2 bags of chai tea (I am yet to try looseleaf black tea, but its the original tea. Darjeeling would be good)
*1 c milk (fattiness of your choice, I use 1% because its half way between guilt free and yummy)
*2 Tbsp sugar
~ I know, its kind of a lot, but who am I to argue with tradition? Chai is drunk sweet!

Steep for 2-3 minutes (or 5-10 if you're brave), strain, enjoy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chicken Salad in Bread Cones

Unfortunately not everyone can have my mom's pickles, which make all sorts of mayonnaisy southern salads better, but thankfully I think she just uses the recipe on the lime jar, so pickle away. Ill get the pickle recipe up here one of these days. Other pickles should be fine in the meantime - though it certainly will wont be as good.

For the bread cones I used this amazing recipe I found online.

Their directions are really good, so I wont bother repeating them, but next time I will dissolve the yeast in some liquid before adding it to the mixture, and even maybe use a little more of it. I was so excited when I saw these bread cones...

Chicken Salad:

3 chicken breasts
1/2 c diced pickles (maybe try bread and butter? I've only used hers)
~ and a splash of pickle juice
1/4 - 1/2 c diced sweet onion
about 1/3 c mayonnaise
~ I used olive oil mayo; its healthier
paprika (I was generous; it was kind of a red-tinted chicken salad. and pretty, too!)
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
Cavander's all purpose Greek seasoning - optional, but it was good

Boil a pot of salted water and drop in the chicken,  leaving until just barely not pink in the middle (it will dry out quickly after this, but it will also keep cooking itself for a few minutes after you take out out of the water) and cut it into cubes.

Stir all ingredients together, adjusting spices to taste.

Stuff the cones. Eat.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Biscuits, a revised version

I grew up loving my mom's biscuits, but who said its not possible to improve on something you already love? These should be a little bit sweeter, and a lot fluffier than mom's, though still the nice, dense biscuit that is perfect for saturday morning.

2 1/2 - 3 c self rising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
not quite 1 tsp salt
about 1/2 stick butter (not margarine!)
about 1 1/2 c milk (go for the 1 or 2%, its worth it)

Stir together the first four ingredients (the dry ingredients) with a fork and then shred the butter like you would cheese on a cheese grater. Stir the butter into the flour every few grates so that all the butter doesn't clump back together.
~This is an alternative to 'cutting in' the butter, which I grew up doing. A great suggestion from Rebecca; Thanks Rebecca! (im going to try your chicken pie soon!)

Using a fork, stir in the milk about a half a cup at a time. Mom never could tell me a measurement because she can just add enough so that it 'looks right,' but since I haven't picked up that skill yet this was my best shot. 

It should be a fairly sticky dough; nothing like bread dough that you might have seen kneaded. You don't really want to stick your hand in it. I mean, maybe you do, I don't know.

Use the fork to plop handfuls of dough (size depending on how big you want your biscuits) into a plate or bowl of flour and turn it over once. This should coat the dough just enough so that you can handle it without the batter sticking to you. Lightly pat the biscuits into shape and place on a baking sheet, touching. In the picture you can see I just use the lid to my grandmother's cake pan as a baking sheet... its aluminum!

Bake at 425 for about 15-20 minutes.
Mom has hers down to a science at exactly 13 minutes, but whether its the baking soda, the size of my biscuits, or something else, this wasn't enough. I wanted a golden crust, which took about 21 minutes. Just watch them; they're done when they start to brown.

They should pull apart easily after baking

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers a la Hannah

I am putting up this recipe for one main reason: I swear I make more than bread and soup! 

The problem is most other stuff I make is totally thrown together, and so its hard to claim the dishes as recipes.

But here goes:

2-3 veggie stuffed peppers:

2-3 red or green peppers 

~These amazing peppers came from the Forest Grove farmers market, so they're local with a meaty flesh and are red on top, green on the bottom.
1/2 c chopped onion
3/4 c chopped peppers (red, green, yellow, whatever)
olive oil
1+ cup cooked rice
As I was reading up on how to make stuffed peppers I found there are many ways to do this. Mine is kind of italian, but it seems you can pretty much throw in your veggie and spice of choice.
Sweet basil
a generous squeeze of ketchup
italian blend
garlic powder
-Be generous with these

(it would be great with some ground beef...)

Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and clean out the inside of white flesh and seeds.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt.

Meanwhile, turn the stove to medium high and once it is hot add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Enough to coat the bottom, but not so much that it pools at the bottom.

Add the chopped onions and let them caramelize, but don't burn them. Add peppers and spices and continue to simmer these veggies together.

Heat oven to 375 f

When your pot of water has come to a boil throw in your hollowed bell peppers, using a utensil to submerge them. Let them boil for a few minutes - online it said 3-4 minutes, I did more like 10 and it was perfect - and then use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water.

If you want to add ground beef, push your sauteed veggies to the edges of the pan and add the ground beef to the center (remember, this is only two peppers, so a handful of ground beef is plenty) and use a spatula to make sure it is all cooking. Stir until browned, then stir together all the veggies and the meat, the generous squeeze of ketchup, and the cooked rice.

Once this is combined nicely, place the peppers in a baking dish with a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of the dish (probably optional). Spoon the stuffing mixture into the peppers and bake for about 30 minutes. Everything should be thoroughly cooked anyway, so there is no risk of under cooking it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bosnian Chicken Soup

This is pretty similar to Jennifer's chicken broth, but with the ingredients added back in and a few different seasonings. So you can check out that recipe for a more detailed description/other ideas


1-2 large sweet onions, sliced
A few sticks each of the following 3 ingredients, cut into 3-4 inch pieces
-Parsnip (yeah, who knew? But apparently its readily available at the store)
Chicken pieces (leg quarters are the cheapest! three or four should be fine)
A large pot of water
VEGETA seasoning (The most amazing all-seasoning ever) - a few tablespoons? 
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled  (not diced)
Pasta of your choice*

The first order of business is - according to Mirna's amazing-Bosnian-cook mom is to burn some onion. Not really burn, but slice it into rings and cook it on the eye of your stove on both sides. Mine is electric, but my guess is gas would be even better. It is fine if you burn it because it wont be eaten anyway.

Next, bring a pot of water to a boil and turn it down to medium high. (the more water, the less potent the broth, but there is a lot of room for error. About 1 and a half gallons?)
Add the chicken, veggies, and seasoning (Jennifer argued for waiting till you  make your soup to season, but Mirna's mom said that making the broth with vegeta is important) and put on the lid of your pot, leaving a crack for steam.

*The pasta gives you some wiggle room with the amount of broth; if it is a little weak or you have a ton of it, add the pasta after cleaning the broth and it will soak up a lot of the moisture. If you wish you had more, boil it separately, strain, and add to the almost finished soup.

Let this simmer for about an hour. Two or three is probably fine, but not all day. Made that mistake. it was kind of nasty.

At this point you have three things in your pot: your broth, the veggies and meat that you want to save for the soup, and some other stuff/pieces you don't want to save. Separate these out using whatever combination of a strainer, a slotted spoon, or whatever you have around.

Once you have a clean broth, put it back on the stove and add back in the veggies of your choice (the blackened onion is not so good). 

Pull all the meat off the bone and add back into the soup along with whatever version of pasta you are trying.

Let it simmer for a while if you like a more dense broth and softer veggies. If not, heat and serve! 

Note: Soup is always better after sitting a while... the flavors are exchanged between ingredients.

Season to taste.

Few grain bread, for a lot of loaves



only a few things can keep me up till 4 am. This bread is one of them.

Follow the instructions from Few Grain Bread, but with these ingredients. It will give you about six medium-small loaves.

1/2 c whole wheat
1/2 c warm (not hot) water
2 1/2 heaping spoonfuls yeast

After resting 30 minutes, add:
1 1/2 c water
2 heaping spoonfuls honey

Dry ingredients:
3 1/2 c bread flour (or all purpose)
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c rolled oats (the regular oatmeal kind)
1/4 c flax seed
1/4 c millet
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c oat bran
1/2 tsp salt

stir in about 3 tbsps olive oil (this is like rubbing in butter; just stir it well)

mix in well and proceed like the other recipe... 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gnocchi gnocchi... Cooking with Mirna part 2

I love gnocchi. I first had it on one of the last few nights before I left for a year in Asia, and it was one of the foods I craved the whole time... It never even occurred to me that it can be made from scratch.  

This made a huge bowl of gnocchi... 3 or four times the amount shown above. 

2 yukon potatoes (John argued for Russet. Maybe next time?)
2 c all purpose flour
1 egg

Cut the potatoes in half, boil them until you can easily puncture with a fork, and let cool.
~ Allow time for the potatoes to cool in your prep time, it sucks grating hot potatoes
Peel the skin off and grate the potatoes on a box grater (yes, it looks like cheese, but its potatoes)

Add the egg, scrambled with salt and stir into the shredded potato with a wooden
(If you want to try other ingredients, I would suggest stirring them in now! Spinach? Feta?)

Stir in the flour, a little at a time until a dough starts to form.

Clean and flour a countertop/surface for kneading and turn the dough out onto the flour, making sure to flour all sides of the dough; it will be sticky and for you to be able to knead the dough properly make sure it is well coated with flour (repeatedly) as you knead. This is a very sticky dough.

Use the heel of your hand to fold the dough toward you, pushing in and outward, turning the dough 90 degrees after each push.

Set a large pot of salted water to boil

Once the dough starts to feel more coherent (the glucose bonds are forming) pull off a fistful of dough at a time and - using as much flour as necessary, but not to much... ya know - roll the handful of dough into a long roll, about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. 

Use a knife to cut small, 1 inch sections of the dough. Roll these into small balls and use a fork to give them the serrated shape of gnocchi.

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water without crowding them; for a standard boiling pot I would guess about ten or fifteen at a time? They should all be able to float on the top comfortably. 

When they start to float they are almost done; probably only about five minutes. Lift with a serrated spoon and drop in the next batch.

After all the gnocchi were boiled Mirna whipped up a sauce that was surprisingly easy for the flavor it kicked:

Melt about 3/4 a stick of butter in a frying pan and stir in chopped, fresh thyme. Toss the Gnocchi in the sauce and serve!

Rock on, Mirna. Rock on.

SCHNITZEL!!! A night with Mirna: part 1

Mirna rocks. in case you couldn't tell by the fact that these two posts are schnitzel and gnocchi... who makes these things? Its amazing!

I am not sure how to give you measurements on this for two reasons: first, we made a TON, and two, you're dipping the chicken into everything, not necessarily mixing it in. So basically you can always add more, but whatever you don't use is wasted.

I'll make some estimates, but please don't worry so much about the exact measurements

     ~ we used tenderloins, so they're small strips; about 7 of them
     ~ if you use breasts, cut them in half before you pound them; three breasts, cut in half
1 egg, scrambled
3/4 c flour
3/4 c breadcrumbs
oil for frying; about 1/3in in the pan

Preparing the chicken: 
The first step is to tenderize the chicken. If you have a meat tenderizer, then put it to good work beating the chicken on a cutting board (beware: Salmanilla sucks...). 

If you don't have a meat tenderizer (the thing that looks like a metal judges gavel) put one or two pieces at a time in a plastic bag and use the bottom of a heavy pan to beat it on the countertop. Does granite crack?

The meat will spread and get thinner as you beat it. You can make it as thick or thin as you'd like. The ones I had in Vienna were really thin and made great sandwiches!

Salt both sides of each piece

Prepare the flour, scrambled egg, and breadcrumbs on plates/in bowls so that you can easily dip the chicken in them. Now do so, in that order.

Make sure to knock off the excess flour and breadcrumbs as you go.

On medium high heat about 1/3 and inch of oil in the pan, turning it down if its obviously getting too hot - like if the oil is all bubbles instead of sitting in the bottom, or if your chicken gets scorched the second you put it in. 

It seems that the amount of oil is a matter of preference. If its not enough then you don't get the even, nice crispy outside. If you're frying a lot, you might have to change out the oil at some point. Pieces of breadcrumbs, for example, will start blackening on the bottom of the oil. This is not so yummy. Hot oil, however,  is hot. Let it cool before handling, and don't put it down the drain!

Put a few pieces of chicken in the hot oil at time, using a fork to check the bottoms. When one side looks done, turn them over. 

This was my first time frying anything, so I was really intrigued by how the oil bubbles all over the chicken. We also agreed that really crispy is best, but I wonder if it would be more tender if we cooked them less.

As each piece finishes, put it on a plate covered in paper towel. This will just make you feel better by making you think some of the excess oil comes off. Or maybe it helps keep them
 crispy. I don't really know.

Dip it in ketchup? Make a french mayonnaise sauce? Sandwiches the Viennese way?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Few Grain Bread

My best yet, if I do say so myself. No, but seriously, i love how you can taste all the grains in this. 

Dissolve about 1.5 tablespoon yeast in 1/2 c warm water
It should start to bubble within a few minutes. 
~If it doesn't the water was probably too hot and killed the yeast. 
Stir in 1/2 c whole wheat flour and let this sit, covered in an 'off' oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, stir in about 1/4 c honey, or a heaping spoonful, or whatever.

Dry ingredients: 
Stir together
1/2 c whole wheat flour
3 c all purpose or bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 oat bran
1/2 hulled millet
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c flax seeds

Note: These grains are what I just happened to have around, so the amounts and variety of grains could be changed up, but millet is the most important. 

After stirring well, pour about 2 tbs olive oil into the flour and stir well; it will kind of disappear into the flour like when you rub in butter.
Use your fork to make a well in flour mixture and pour in:
the yeast and honey mixture and 3/4 c water

Stir vigorously with a fork, bringing small amounts of flour into the wet mixture at a time.

Once its stirred enough to hold together, turn out the dough (bread talk for 'dump') onto a clean, floured surface and begin kneading. Use the heel of your hands to push down and out on the dough and then turn it 90 degrees and repeat. This technique makes sure to incorporate all of the parts of the dough.

When you start it will be slightly sticky and almost fall apart, but the more you knead (adding sprinkles of flour when it sticks to your hand) the gluten forms bonds and it starts to feel more cohesive and stretchy. 

Let it sit covered in an 'off' oven for 10 minutes, then knead for (only!) ten seconds. Repeat three times.

Let double (meaning, cover and let it sit in a warm place - like an off oven... sorry to be repeating myself - for about thirty minutes)

Cut the dough into two or three pieces (depending on how big you want each loaf, i suggest 3 so it doesnt dry out when cooking) and shape into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans. (I made some mini loaves that you see in the pictures)

Let double again.

350 degrees for about thirty minutes, depending on how big your loaves are (30 minutes was perfect for three loaves, but maybe 35 or 40 for two loaves?)

Use a knife to make sure the sides aren't sticking to the sides of the pan and dry on drying rack.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This recipe is so variable. There are no exact measurements as far as I am concerned because all you're doing is browning your favorite granola ingredients with some sweetener/binding. So vary as you'd like, but here's mine!

I based it off of Companion Bakery's recipe here: (note: I am in love with this place. Amazing recipes. Awesome business ideals. I cant wait to get brunch there sometime :) )

3 c oats (I am going to try rolled oats next time
a handful of pecans, broken into small pieces
a handful of walnuts, same
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2-3/4 c honey, or as much as it takes to make everything stick slightly together as you stir them

Heat oven to 35o F and stir together ingredients. Nothing fancy about that except that I would be sure to pour the vanilla onto the honey so it doesn't all get soaked up by one or two oats before you can stir it in.

Spread evenly in a 9x9 baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes; I stirred mine at 7 minute intervals, or everytime it started to look brown on top.

Let them cool completely before stirring in any dried fruit you want to use (I prefer not, but I am DEFINITELY trying some dates next time. Note: use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan slowly before it is cooled and before pouring the granola out. It just makes for easier cleanup because oats don't fly all over the kitchen.

This batch was pretty crispy and not at all chunky, so I am going to experiment with different ratios of honey and some other binding ingredients, but honestly I prefer it this way when in yogurt!

Yay! thats so easy and delicious...  It made the two jars in the top picture, and should stay good for about a week.

French Onion Soup, would they be offended by Greek seasoning?

Note: I know this doesn't look that yummy, but it is one of the most delicious things I've made. Fo sho.

1 1/2 large sweet onions
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 c beef broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Cavender's All Greek seasoning 
3/4 c red wine (white should be fine)
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp bouillon if you have it, but if its good broth there's no need
2 slices bread and a drizzle of olive oil (to make croutons)
2 slices cheese (I had Mozzarella, so used that, but Guillere is traditional)
Bread crumbs

makes two big bowls

Cut the onions in half lengthwise, and slice lengthwise (top to bottom) so that you get strips of onion. (mom says longitudinally. Whatever that means) Chop garlic.

Slice bread into cubes, toss with a little oil, and put them under the broiler on low. Stir these every few minutes until they are crispy. About ten minutes.

Heat a pot on medium high (i bet a dutch oven is best; but don't use nonstick) and put olive oil in bottom. Throw in all the onion and garlic and toss them with the olive oil. 

Let these cook for a while, and don't worry about burning the bottom because this blackened part will make the flavor more rich. I even overcooked this part for the flavor

When the onions have turned clear, sprinkle the flour over top. 

Then pour in the wine and let this simmer; stir a little at this point with a wooden spoon to scrape some of the flavor off the bottom. 

Turn on broiler on High.

When you feel the wine has boiled down pour in the broth (and a tiny bit of bouillon if you have it for more flavor).  

Add salt and greek seasoning and let simmer for a while. It will be a thick, dark brown color and look kind of dense with the onions.

Serve into your bowls (ramekins are the traditional thing to use, but I am just not that well equipped) and put half the toasted bread cubes on top of each bowl, then a slice of cheese to top.

Put these on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. Take them out and sprinkle bread crumbs on top.

Enjoy! but be careful because the cheese keeps the soup really hot.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Honey Whole Wheat: my first bread recipe!

I apologize for not having any pictures for this one, but i just couldn't wait to put it up. It was so good! I took it to my cousin's house for dinner, and it was a really lovely night... yay for having really nice distant relatives in a new city!

I just used the basic proportions I have learned from various recipes, the 'lots of milk and butter' from my grandmother's white bread, and the kneading style from baps and baguettes... it was really a good bread. slightly sweet, and just the right consistency.

***See Baking Tips!

1/2 c whole wheat flour
    (King Arthur's 100% whole wheat is great!)
3 1/4 tsp yeast 
   (about one and a half packets)
1/2 c warm water

2 c milk
3 T butter
1/4 c honey

1 1/2 c whole wheat
4 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 c bread flour 
  yeah, this is a huge recipe - three loaves - but i just kept needing to add things...
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp salt

some olive oil for kneading

The ingredients are arranged in order of use. Combine the first three ingredients, first dissolving the yeast in the water, and let this sit for 30 minutes, covered. 

Scald the milk (heat it on the stove, but more of a flash warming. Don't let it boil or get too hot). Melt the butter in the milk and stir in the honey. Make sure to let this cool to a warm or room temperature before adding it to the recipe!!!! otherwise it'll kill the yeast (which, remember, is alive) and you'll get a chunk of nothin. done it... I suggest doing this first and letting it sit along with the yeast mixture above for 30 minutes.

Sift and stir together the third set of ingredients (whole wheat, all purpose and bread flour, sugar and salt)
- this dry ingredient and wet ingredient mixture is very common in baking... it makes for a smooth blending

When the milk has cooled, and the yeast risen (it looks funny, you'll know) form a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the two liquid ingredients in. Use a fork to start stirring the liquid mixture, slowly adding the flour from the sides as the amount you had gets mixed well. 

Once it is all mixed (it should be fairly sticky) sprinkle a little flour over top and turn it out (this the the word they use for 'pour' for batter since its not really liquid, so you cant really pour, but its the same concept) onto a clean countertop that has been rubbed with generous oil.

Knead the dough about 100 times, or until it feels like one consistent chunk. You'll know it.

Let it rest for ten minutes, and then knead for 10 seconds. Repeat this thrice... or whatever the proper grammar is.

After the third kneading, let it double (sit for about 45 minutes) and divide it into three equal loaves. Older recipes say to punch it down, getting a lot of the air out, but I usually find in dividing and shaping the loaves it gets punched down enough.

I use a large bread knife for this, not pushing down but letting the teeth of the knife do the work as it slides across the dough. It works well; you don't lose all the work it has done rising, and you can really see the consistency of the risen dough on the inside.

Shape the loaves and place them in three greased loaf pans (this is the time to cut the tops if you want patterns on them).  Let them double, covered, again. Yeah, i know it kind of takes a while.

Now, finally you can bake them! 375 degrees at 30 minutes. 

If you want them soft, cover them with a cloth as they cool. Here's a conundrum, though: if you want the bottom crust to not get gooey you've got to turn them upside down for a while. but this looses that pretty top of the loaf. Maybe I need a drying rack?


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kalamata Olive and Cheese Baps

I was experimenting with the baps recipe yesterday, and this variation is rich with some melted cheese, but light and wholesome tasting because of the olives and whole wheat.
(shown here with pork meatballs)

This more-whole-wheat version doesn't make as good of a breakfast roll, though...

I used the basic Baps recipe listed below, but replaced 1 cup of bread flour with King Arthur's 100% Whole Wheat flour and added the stuffing to a few of them before the last 30 minute 'rest.'

For the filling, I stirred together about 1/2 a cup of shredded pizza cheese (mozzarella and provolone) with a handful of pitted kalamata olives, cut up. This filled 4 baps.

After the 45 minute rise period and cutting the dough into 8 pieces, use a serrated knife to cut a few of them in half like you would to butter a roll and plop some of the cheese and olive mix inside. It will seal again easily when you press the sides together. Simply proceed with the last rest period and bake! These you can bake a little longer the the original recipe because you probably wont be toasting them.

Make sure not to pull the dough apart, or force the filling in, or the dough will loose some of the fluffiness gained by letting it rise.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buttermilk Baps: a lesson in British Baking

The perfect breakfast food.

Translated from the British version (which measures in weight) from:
I can't wait to make more of his recipes; they all look amazing.
1 packet active yeast ( or 2 and 1/4 tsp)
~ 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c warm water
~4 1/2 c bread flour
(as always, I suggest King Arthur's brand)
2 tsp salt

3.5 T softened butter

1 c buttermilk
- or use plain yogurt mixed with water 3:1 to the same amount
- I had to use twice this amount of yogurt, but that might my my altitude

**Baking tip: use a spoon to scoop the flour into your measuring cup; this loosens it from the packed way it comes in the bags, giving you a more accurate measure. Basically, its less flour, making everything fluffier. Kind of like sifting? But less work.

Stir the yeast and whole wheat flour together with about 1/2 warm water (not too hot or it will kill the yeast, but warm enough to encourage it to grow; it shouldn't burn your hand).
~Put this aside for at least half an hour (will look like the darker brown bowl in the picture to the right)

Stir together the Bread flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and 'rub' in the butter. This means cut the butter up into small pieces and use your hands to literally rub each piece in with the flour. The butter kind of disappears as it is incorporated into the flour. It will be a little bit lumpier when you finish, but you shouldn't be able to find any actual pieces of butter. You'll quickly see what this means. Its similar to 'cutting' in the butter, but gets your hands dirty, which I believe is always a better cooking technique.

Form a well in the middle of the flour by pushing it to the sides of the bowl and pour the buttermilk (or yogurt and water), the yeast mixture and a little bit of water (1/4 a cup?) in the well. Stir using a fork, just hitting the sides of the well enough to incorporate a little flour at a time. Stir enough to make a 'soft, sticky dough.' As I mentioned in the ingredients, I had to add a lot more moisture.

**Note: dough is tricky. No, that's not the note. The note is that it is okay if it is super sticky because you can sprinkle some flour on the outside to reduce the stickiness enough to handle it, but it seems that I get fluffier, lighter loaves when the original dough is fairly sticky. I used to knead more and more flour into the dough until even the middle wasn't too sticky, but this way seems much better. As long as it is a coherent dough (some older recipes say 'it should pull away from the sides of the bowl'), let it be sticky and just flour the outside.

Cover the bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

Oil a clean countertop (about 2tbsp olive oil, spread with your hands) and knead the dough for about 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and wait another 10 minutes. Repeat the 10 minute rest and 10 second kneading two more times and then let rest/rise for 45 more minutes.

Use a bread knife to cut the dough into eight equal pieces (i might try 16 next time, these were a little large for single servings) and shape them into ovals.

Place balls evenly on baking sheets that have been sprinkled (or 'dusted') with flour and sprinkle a little more flour on top. (I don't really like floured bread, so I barely do this on top, though the bottom sprinkle keeps it from sticking)

**Note: I prefer regular-ol' thin aluminum baking sheets. The dark ones darken the bottom of baked things too much, and the 'air-cushion' ones don't allow a nice crust to form. Same goes for loaf pans.

Let sit for about 30 more minutes to double in size.

Bake at 450F for 15-25 minutes (the recipe says 8-15 but that didn't cook mine) until there is a light brown crust.

Remove and cover with a cloth to keep them soft as they cool.

DELICIOUS when toasted with honey on top. cream cheese anyone?

Possible vegan variety: stir a few tablespoons of olive oil into the flour instead of the butter, and add water instead of buttermilk. Some regular recipes I've tried have this basic recipe, but maybe there is vegan buttermilk? I know Ashley said there is Vegan butter.

Caprese Salad: a tribute to Soulard Farmer's Market

This is super basic (thought I am not sure my version has anything to do with the generally accepted Italian version), but with all these fresh ingredients from Soulard Farmer's Market - started in 1779... - I've been eating it over and over again for a week. It is so fresh and light...

1 large, fresh, red tomato
1/4 - 1/4 lb fresh mozzarella cheese
~ the Amish sell amazing meat and dairy at Soulard...
5-6 sweet basil leaves
~I will always plug fresh grown herbs, and theyre cheap, too
~the leaves on my plant are each about an inch long, to give you an idea of leaf size
a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tbsp?)
sprinkle of salt
a large handful of chopped lettuce (make sure its crispy)

secret ingredients:
- 3/4 tbsp dried celery flakes
- 1 tbsp of dried garlic and dried red bell pepper spice
I know these are random, but I got them at a homemade-type spice shop in Soulard, and they make EVERYTHING better... I didn't even know I like celery!

Chop the tomato and sprinkle salt over top.
Cut up the mozzarella cheese into 1/2 in cubes
cut up the basil leaves and add
Throw in the lettuce; drizzle oil and spices over top.
Let sit for about 10 minutes because the spices are dehydrated and need to sit with the juices to get the full effect.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let's be honest: its Banana Nut cake, not bread

I say this for two main reasons. First, it tastes like cake. In some of my family's ancient cookbooks it is under 'Quick Breads.' But moving on to the second reason; it doesn't have yeast! I made it today without even baking soda (okay, i realize there is baking powder in self rising bread, but you get my point.)

Its a cake. But oh it is a delicious one.

Elizabeth Bernold:
also, good in muffin tins with large-sized chocolate chips
Elizabeth Bernold: in bread form, great with cranberries/cherries/raisins
soak them in water (or rum, maybe?!) before baking


In high school I worked a few short months in a local chocolate shop, and the woman - as crazy as she was - made delicious banana bread. Her secret was a whopping six bananas per short loaf.

It makes sense; it is more moist, ripened bananas are sweeter, and like I do below, she divided the recipe into small loaves so she didn't have to bake all the moisture out to get it cooked.

But this is my family's recipe and I stand by it, with those two tricks added, of course.

SEE: Baking tips

4+ very ripe bananas
~I just happened to have 4. Ill try more next time since they sell ripened bananas for cheap at the grocery store
1/4 lb butter (one stick), softened
2 eggs
2 c flour and 1 tsp baking soda, sifted together
1 c sugar
~I used 1/2 c brown, and 1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c chopped pecans
next time I am adding a couple tsps cinnamon

*Note: All the recipes I could find called for 2 c all purpose flour and 1 tsp baking soda. But since I don't have any baking soda in my pantry, I used 2 c SELF RISING flour. It seemed to work fine! But next time I'd like to try adding some whole wheat.

Whip the bananas until fluffy
cream the butter and sugar, then add eggs, only mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears
sift together the flour and baking soda (or just self rising flour) and add slowly to butter/sugar mixture
Add pecans and whipped bananas into the butter mixture and mix.

My mom always baked this as one tall loaf, but it seemed like we had to bake it forever, which obviously dries it out. Instead, I baked it Millie (crazy chocolate shop owner/ex boss) style and divided into two loaf pans, which gets it cooked faster without overdrying.

My two loaves baked at 350 for 50 minutes. They probably could have taken a few minutes more because one of the best parts of banana bread is the crispy edges... so sweet.

Try baking with an extra loaf pan in the oven, filled with water.

and the icing? Mom's cream cheese icing with a
couple tsps cinnamon added. Its the perfect amount
creamy and just melts on top.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Linguini me

October revision: Made this in spaghetti form for some dinner guests - and found the trick: knead it a lot!!!! And only go up to the second thinnest setting on the crank before cutting it into spaghetti/linguini... it was so much easier to handle and had a lot more distinctive flavor. 

Also - get the water boiling in advance, flatten out all your pieces of dough, and then run them through the slicer one after the other so that you can just throw them into the boiling water as you go. Having dough piling on top of itself is bad news. It clumps.

A slightly less helpful post... but gosh dang it, I am making things from scratch!
Pasta is supposed to be really difficult. But it seems that if you know how to deal with dough, pasta is easier than bread. Thank goodness for friends who are professional cooks and no longer want to store their expensive equipment... Thanks Jennifer for the Pasta maker loan!!!

2 c flour

~I used my usual 3/4 c all purpose, 1/4 c whole wheat,
really love King Arthur's brand 100% whole wheat

3 eggs
1 tsp salt

Try some fresh chopped herbs in it!

**Combine the flour and salt and create a little bowl out of the flour on your counter as shown below.
~This shape allows you to add the flour slowly to the eggs as you stir the eggs. This is a similar
technique to the breadmaking trick a beautiful German friend taught me (thanks Tina!).

**Crack the eggs into this bowl and gently scramble the eggs using a fork.

**Once the eggs are scrambled begin stirring more vigorously, lightly hitting the sides of the flour bowl, knocking small amounts of flour into the eggs at a time.
~ this is kind of tricky. I usually use one hand to hold the flour in place... whatever. Mix them!

**When you have a ball of dough, knead it enough so that it is smooth, and also to add more flour.
~ I have never actually worked all of the 2 cups flour into the bread. The liquid/flour ratio just doesn't seem to hold that much flour. But try to add as much flour as you as you knead, because if it is sticky it wont go smoothly through the pasta machine. Basically, keep going until it is a very firm dough, and not at all sticky.

** When the dough firm, let it sit for about 10 minutes
~all the recipes say this, i don't know what it does. It might give the gluten a chance to bond in the dough because in bread the kneading activates the dough's stickiness which allows it to hold
in the air that is created by the yeast, making it fluffy...

** cut off small chunks of dough, 1.5 inch balls, for example

**making sure the ball is not sticky (and rolling it in flour if it is), put the pasta machine on the lowest setting (or check directions) and run the dough through. twice for good measure.

** turn the setting up to the next dial and repeat for each setting.
~The dough will start getting really long, and stickier as you go, so cut it in half and powder it in flour as needed to keep it manageable. Also, make sure that it is coming cleanly through the rollers, and not sticking to the machine. This is especially true when you start running it through the linguini/spaghetti cutter, so you might need a third hand your first time. No fear, though. It is easy enough to get a hang of.

** finally, run i through the cutter settings and lay the pieces flat.
~If you start laying them on top of each other they will stick together and you will just get another mass of dough.

**Boil!! in slightly salted water, just until there is no stickiness in the middle when you chew it.

** You can rinse the noodles if you aren't planning on using them quickly, and you can dry them if you want to save them. Though, I am unsure how long they are good dried.

Note: They dry in exactly the shape they are sitting, so make sure it is a store-able shape.

Tomato sauce recipe coming soon...