Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Public Service Announcement

I'm taking this almost whole from a wonderful blog Thyme for Cooking since I have no clue how to comply with what the European Union wants about Privacy and Use. Hope this does the trick since I would like to continue to post on Blogger and to have it available to readers in the European Union countries.

"This is additional information to my Privacy Policy ...  to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) laws that go into effect from May 25, 2018.
The simple version: The only information collected by me is your email address (should you choose to leave it) in the comment section.
I use 1 service for the emails: Google Blogger. They have their own Privacy Policy should you care to read it. (My wording)
I do not use any of that information for any purposes and I do not send unsolicited emails.
I do not have any access or input to any of the ‘readers’ that can serve up posts from multiple sources.
If you have any questions, please contact me.
So there….
Whew! That’s done.
I don’t know about you all, but I have been inundated with these emails for the last few days…..
But one is compelled to comply."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes #TheCakeSliceBakers

I am enjoying baking from the Cake Slice Bakers' current book The Perfect Cake by America's Test Kitchen. The recipes are well thought out and the results so far have been great.

This month has been full of all sorts of things, but one is the seemingly endless work on the garden as well as setting up our outdoor living room on the front porch. We have a white rocker with a comfy cushion, a wicker sofa and matching chair, both of which have comfortable seats that wipe down, plus lots of cushions for the back. There is a low wooden bench which can be used as a coffee table or as a bench to sit on, plus a mosaic topped table to the right of the sofa (I made the mosaic top and it is funky but fun), plus a tea cart on the other side of the sofa which can be used for serving things or just as a side table. Tying this all together is an aqua outdoor carpet with a trellis pattern. We have been spending very pleasant time here, drinking water after attacking thistle plants with shovel and machete for instance. Pi loves to hang with us there, too. At the far south part of the porch we have a round table with an umbrella where we eat sometimes. Hope to entertain some this summer on the porch. The photo below is of the garden just below the eating area and the steps leading up to the porch and front door.

When I looked at our choices for May the one that called to me most was the Chocolate-Beet Cupcakes. I love chocolate and have had chocolate-beet cake and found it delicious. What put me off a bit was that the recipe calls for using fresh red beets. I've baked with them before and they are really, really messy and stain things. When I have busy days it is hard to imagine adding to my workload by having to do extra cleanup due to fresh beets. I had visions of the shredded beets erupting in the microwave and having to clean out the scattered beet threads, then wash out the whole inside of the microwave. No thank you. Soooo I ended up using small whole canned beets (which can still get messy, but not nearly as much as fresh beets). I shredded them and skipped the cooking part of the recipe. Worked like a charm and very little mess.

I also made a half recipe because there are only two of us. Sweetie has tried one to make sure it isn't poison, but the other five are above. Besides halving the recipe, I followed the recipe with the exception of using soy milk instead of regular milk.

I would have changed one direction if I were writing the recipe. As written you place the shreeded cooked beets in the bowl of the food processor and then melt chocolate in the microwave. Once the chocolate is melted you whisk in cocoa powder and vegetable oil.  I would change the steps. Once the chocolate is melted, I would add that to the beets in the bowl but not process it, then use the same bowl the chocolate was melted in to mix together the oil and cocoa, then add that to the beets in the processor bowl. Once it all gets processed I think the result would be the same and mixing just the cocoa and oil would be far easier than mixing three different textures...melted chocolate, dry cocoa, and liquid oil.

I also skipped the frosting because even halving the recipe I would have a cup of leftover frosting...what on earth would I do with that?

These were delicious cupcakes all on their own and a dusting of powdered sugar made them even prettier. I tried to dust the sugar through a paper doily but it didn't work too well. The cupcake itself was not too sweet and was a nice deep chocolate color and had true chocolate taste of beet that I could identify. It was also very moist...yum!

I don't post the recipes from this book. Do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of the book. It has classic and original cakes and is a keeper.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through.  This year it is The Perfect Cake from America's Test Kitchen #atkcake.  We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes, or visit our blog where the links are updated each month. If you are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The choices this month were Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Chocolate-Beet Cupcakes, Rainbow Cake, and Swiss Hazelnut Cake. get the InLinkz code

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Sweetie has recently discovered that he just loves roasted veggies. Tonight I made roasted rainbow organic carrots and a half an onion. Gone in a flash!

Roasted Carrots and Onions

1 bunch carrots with greens on top (or use clip top carrots if that's all you have.) I used organic rainbow carrots...about 7 of them.
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs ( or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs) I used Penzey's Greek seasoning and Zatar which are both dried
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Prepare the carrots by either peeling or rubbing with a clean scrubbie. Cut off the pointed end and just below the green tops. Use the tops for carrot top pesto if desired. Slice the carrots in half lengthwise. Place in a large plastic bag...I use the one from the produce section.

Add the onion wedges, oil, herbs and salt/pepper if using. Shake bag to distribute ingredients all over the carrots and onion wedges.

Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Pour the carrots and onions out onto the sheet and use the bag to distribute the veggies into a single layer.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until veggies are tender and edges of the onions are browned. Stir about half way through roasting.

Serve at once or at room temperature.

Serves 2-4

Heading off to visit my daughter and friends tomorrow, but Sweetie and Straight Shooter will keep Pi company until I get back.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Red Pepper Coques and A Different Topping

There are times when I can just look at a recipe and know that the resulting food will be wonderful. This was one of those. Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories is our Kitchen of the Month for May for the busy Bread Baking Babes. She chose Red Pepper Coques from "Bread Illustrated from America's Test Kitchen. According to the recipe, Coques are the Catalan version of the thin and crunchy tapas dish that can be found in bars in the Mediterranean region of Spain, including Barcelona."

This has been a busy month for me, starting with the final day of my visit to Denver and continuing on with massive catch-up in the garden, especially with weeding. The soil and overnight temperatures finally warmed up enough for planting, too, so there are now tomato plants, bean seedlings, cucumber seedlings, and lots of kinds of flower seedlings getting bigger. The zucchini I planted in April are getting bigger and so is the one from a neighbor...the other one was eaten by snails. I still have planting and weeding to do, but now its just a few of each.

Fitting in a bread that needs to start at least the day before it will be eaten was a bit of a challenge, but I'm glad I did. This recipe makes 4 coques, which are long ovals of flatbread, topped with a wonderful, tangy topping of roasted red pepper, caramelized onions and pine nuts (among other things). I decided that since there are only two of us enjoying these that I would make two at a time and used two different toppings on the two different bakes.

The first night I used the red pepper topping. The dough was difficult to make flat enough since it just wanted to spring back into a smaller shape. I eventually shaped the coques using gravity in a similar way to how I shape pizza dough. This left a thicker ridge around the edges, but that just helped keep the topping in the center, so no harm done. I love the topping, so do try it. The red peppers and yellow onions and pine nuts go really well together. Don't substitute on the sherry vinegar, either. It really makes the dish!

The second night I used a topping that I found in the food section of our local paper. It was meant to go on crostini, but went well on the coques, too. It is a combination of a homemade fig jam, caramelized red onions, and some soft cheese. I used Kite Hill fresh cheese mixed with a bit of soy milk in place of ricotta, but I'm sure that fresh ricotta would be lovely. I topped it with chopped walnuts since I had enjoyed the pine nuts topping the red pepper mixture the previous night. The experience was completely different, but I enjoyed this combination, too. The sweetness of the figs and onions was offset a bit by the balsamic vinegar and slight bitterness of the walnuts.

This recipe is going into the 'keep' file and will be used when I want appetizers for a party or pot luck. Except for the baking, the components can be made ahead, too, which is wonderful.

Do visit the other Bread Baking Babes sites to see their takes on this delightful bread. Bake it yourself and become a Buddy by sending Karen an email with your URL, photo and experience with making the bread. Deadline is May 29th. You'll be glad you did.

from Bread Illustrated from America's Test Kitchen

468 grams (16 1/2 ounces/3 cups) bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
10 2/3 ounces (1 1/3 cups) ice water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons table or fine sea salt

Red Pepper Topping
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cups jarred roasted sliced red peppers
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and yeast about 5 times. Turn the processor on, and slowly pour in the ice water and process for about 10 seconds. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. 

Add the oil and the salt to the dough and process for 30 to 60 seconds, until the dough forms a ball. Remove the dough from the the processor, and knead by hand for a few seconds, and form it into a ball. Place it into an oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days. 

Red Pepper Topping
Heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12 inch non stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, red peppers, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes over medium low. 

Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl and stir in the vinegar. Cool completely before using. You can make the mixture in advance and refrigerate overnight. 

Deflate the dough and divide it into four equal sized pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball and place, seam side down  on your work surface, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rest for an hour. 

Place oven racks in the upper and lower third positions and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Brush two half sheet pans with 2 tablespoons of olive oil each. 

Place one dough ball on your work surface, and roll it out to a 15 inch by 5 inch oval. Place it on the baking sheet, lengthwise. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls, two per baking sheet. If the dough springs back, let it rest for another 10 to 20 minutes, and re-roll. Dock each about 15 times with a fork. Brush each oblong piece of dough with the rest of the olive oil. 

Bake the dough for 8 minutes, switching the pans at the four minute mark. 

Remove the pans from the oven, and spread them with the red pepper and onion mixture. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. (To make the Fig and Caramelized Onion Coques, use the topping below at this point instead of the red pepper and onion mixture. Top with the walnuts instead of the pine nuts.) Place the baking sheets back into the oven, and bake for 16 minutes, switching and rotating the pans at the 8 minute mark. Continue to bake until the flatbreads are golden and crispy.

To Make the Coques:
Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley, and transfer to a cutting board to slice and serve. 

Fig and Caramelized Onion Topping for Coques
adapted from Ramekins Culinary School recipe
1/4 cup dried Black Mission figs (stemmed and chopped into 1/-inch dice)- about 4 figs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 small bay leaf
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 medium red onion (peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese or Kite Hill fresh almond cheese+ 1 tablespoon soy creamer
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts.

Place the figs in a small saucepan. Add the red wine, sugar, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer until the figs are tender and the liquid is syrupy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and cook and additional minute. Removed from the heat and let cool.

Melt the butter or margarine and stir in the olive oil. Over medium-high heat sauté the onion until it is beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the vinegar and sugar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until the vinegar has almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

If using this topping for the coques, drain the ricotta, if using, in a strainer lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Transfer to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using the Kite Hill nut cheese, place in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the coques have baked for 8 minutes, removed from the oven, leaving the oven on, and spread the two coques with the ricotta or almond cheese mixture, dividing evenly.

Top with the onions, dividing evenly and spreading to cover each coque, then top with the figs, dividing evenly and spread to cover each cocque. Sprinkle one tablespoon finely chopped walnuts over each coque and bake an additional 10-16 minutes, or until coque is deep golden brown.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mothers Day Muffins

I don't often bake muffins on Mothers Day because we often go out to breakfast on Sundays, but we went with our friends yesterday since they had something planned today, so I decided to make muffins for breakfast. I used to run a muffin business thirty odd years ago, but I doubt that I have made muffins of any kind for a couple of years. Still, muffins are an easy quick bread, so being rusty didn't hurt too much, although the tops weren't the usual dome shape for most of them, which was odd, but didn't affect the texture or taste.

I made fresh raspberry muffins since Target had raspberries on sale yesterday when I was there. I decided to use some whole wheat flour and almond flour too for a bit of fiber and flavor. Some lemon zest added zing and goes so well with raspberries. Since I'm still on the non-dairy wagon, I used non-dairy margarine instead of butter and soy creamer instead of milk, but you can easily sub the exact same amount of real butter and milk if you prefer.

Properly made these are very tender with no large holes or sunken tops. The key to good muffins is to handle the dough as little as possible. Really do stir in the liquid into the dry ingredients only about 90 percent, then add the raspberries. As you gently  combine the batter and berries, the other 10% of the dry ingredients will be incorporated, too. Scoop right into the prepared muffin tin, sprinkle on the sliced almonds and sprinkle with the sugar and into the hot preheated oven they go.

Your kitchen will smell wonderful in about 5 minutes and continue to do so until the muffins are done and cooled a little bit. If you eat them right away, be careful because the berries are pretty hot!

We had these with a bowl of fresh strawberries and bananas and some more raspberries, plus tea and coffee.

After a while we took a cloudy Mothers Day excursion down Stony Point Road to Pepper Road to the wonderful Garden Valley Ranch in Petaluma, CA. Originally it was a railroad stop and some of the buildings have been around since the 1900s.

 It's been owned for years by rosarian Ray Reddel, but was purchased just a year ago by a trio or sisters and they have made some amazing and lovely changes.

There are still acres of roses to admire and rose plants to purchase,

but there is also a 'secret' garden with fountain, plenty of other blooming and budding plants and lots of gravel paths to stroll along. If you are ever in the area on a weekend, or looking for an event space in Sonoma County, check it out.

Mother's Day Almond and Fresh Raspberry Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup almond flourGrated zest from ½ a lemon
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted non-dairy margarine (or butter), melted and cooled a bit
or 2 medium eggs, slightly whisked
¾ cup soy creamer (or milk)  at room temperature
1 cup fresh raspberries (rinsed and dried gently with paper towels)
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the middle of the oven. Grease 12 muffin cups or line 12 cups with cupcake papers. I only ended up with 11 muffins and filled one cup with some water since it had no batter.

In a large bowl combine the flours and almond flour. With your fingers, rub together the lemon zest and the sugars until fragrant and combined. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

In another bowl whisk together the melted margarine, eggs, and soy creamer.

Add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredient mixture, stirring with a fork for a few strokes; just enough to incorporate 90% of the dry ingredients into the wet.

Add the raspberries and continue gently mixing just until ingredients are combined. Immediately scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing the batter as evenly as possible among the cups. Sprinkle tops of batter with the sliced almonds and then with the granulated sugar, dividing as evenly as possible among the cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way at 10 minutes. Muffins are done when the tops are golden brown and when a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean (well, there may be raspberry juice clinging to it, but no uncooked batter, OK?)

Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool some more if you can wait that long. Enjoy these muffins while still warm or serve within 12 hours for the moistest muffins. Wrap any remaining muffins airtight and store in the fridge.

Makes 10-12 muffins

Friday, May 11, 2018

First of the Strawberries - Breakfast Tartines

We have been waiting and waiting for our local strawberry vendor to open his stand on Hwy. 12. Some years he has strawberries in April, but this year it was just a week ago that we heard he had started to open. The first three pints were eaten as is...just wonderful, juicy, amazing strawberries. Now we are starting to get creative. I've added sliced strawberries to my morning cereal and added diced strawberries to a salad.

This morning I took a slice of a baguette about the same size as an English muffin and sliced it in half lengthwise, toasted the halves in the toaster, then spread on some Kite Hill brand almond fresh cheese, topped that with sliced strawberries, drizzled on some honey from my neighbor's hive, and finished it with finely chopped toasted walnuts. A delightful take on a tartine and a great breakfast! There were leftover sliced berries, so they went into a small bowl with a dollop of soy creamer. Couldn't leave those berries uneaten.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Merry Month of May

We were returning home on May day (May 1st) and the following two days were filled with catching up, so today, finally, I'm able to do a post.

The trip to the Denver area went well. I actually didn't take very many photos, but here is one of my older brother, NoHandle, who sometimes does guest posts. Love the jazz hands!

One evening we had a salad dinner with lots of different toppings to suit the various diets and desires of the family present. Earlier in the day I roasted a variety of veggies with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil and a few herbs. That turned out to be one of the favorite toppings, so I made some more today here at home. This time I had access to our own rosemary shrub, so there was fresh rosemary and dried thyme for the herbs. This is an easy side dish to make and your kitchen smells heavenly while it's cooking. When I made this for the family I used red onions and three colors of bell pepper, but today I used yellow onion and just red pepper. Still delicious, just slightly less colorful. Recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

The flowers are blooming like mad. In Littleton for the memorial it was still early spring, with gorgeous tulips and flowering crab apple and regular apple showering down dark pin and light pink petals over all those assembled to remember Beth. Just beautiful!

At home I have the first iris to bloom, plus plenty of California poppies,

including a lovely dark pink one, a pretty light gold one, a deep and lighter orange bi-color and the standard bright orange ones. All of these blooming plants

(including the berries down by the road) make me feel merry, which is just the right way to feel in May.

The roses are in bloom, both the deep red shrub rose and the yellow tea rose. Soon I'll have poppies and strawberries

(the flowers are already all over the strawberry plants) and who knows what else.

The seeds that I planted before I left have sprouted,

including the beans. I planted more bean and sunflower seeds today and hope to put in some cucumber seeds this weekend. The night time temperatures are finally staying above 45 degrees, so the seeds have the right conditions to do well.

Hope you have been having fun so far in May. Come back soon for more food recipes. Roasted Veggies recipe just below this photo of them on the sheet pan.

Roasted Veggies with Balsamic

1-2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1-inch wide chunks
1 bunch small carrots, ends trimmed, skin removed with a scrubbie (if desired), cut in half lengthwise
1 onion, red or yellow, ends trimmed, peeled, sliced into slim wedges
1-2 bell peppers, any color, cored, seeds removed, sliced into slim wedges
2-3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (or more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

In a large plastic bag (I use produce bags), place all the prepared veggies, then all the rest of the ingredients. Shake the bag well to coat the veggies with the vinegar, oil and seasonings.

Line a half-sheet pan (with sides) with heavy duty aluminum foil. Dump the coated veggies out of the bag onto the sheet pan and use the outside of the plastic bag to move the veggies into a single layer.

Place the sheet pan into the center of the preheated oven. Roast for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and use a spatula to flip the veggies over. You will see that the side now facing up has browned areas. Use the spatula to again move the veggies into a single layer. Return to the oven and cook for about another 5 minutes, until veggies are tender and a bit more browned.

Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Ready for Take Off

Spending a few days with family and specifically going to mourn and memorialize my youngest sister Beth, lost to us last November. Our dear nephew from SF, Straight Shooter, will be making sure that Pi has company while we are gone. Off to the Denver area! Probably won't be posting or looking at Facebook, etc. while gone.

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Italian Almond Cake #TheCakeSliceBakers

We had a really nice group of cakes to choose from this month as the Cake Slice Bakers continue to bake from The Perfect Cake by America's Test Kitchen. #atkcake

There was the creamy sweetness of the Tres Leches Cake, the tang of lemon in the Lemon Pudding Cakes, wonderful almond flavor in the Italian Almond Cake and fun and pretty Confetti Cake.

I chose the Italian Almond Cake because I wanted a tea cake that I could enjoy over a few days and one that wasn't too complicated since my energy levels continue to be lower than usual.

In the photo that is with the recipe in the book you can see that with the Italian Almond Cake there is a nice crunchy crust with sliced almonds, and lemon sugar. The photo doesn't really show much of the interior of the cake, but mine had a lovely dense crumb, similar to a pound cake and it was really moist. There is plenty of almond flavor in this cake but it has a nice brightness from the lemon zest, too. I did use melted non-dairy margarine instead of butter, but otherwise I baked it exactly as written in the cookbook.

I'm not going to include the recipe since, if you like to bake cakes, this book is worth purchasing. It has all the classics, plus some new and different ones. Each recipe is well written and the Test Kitchen folks  have clearly tested and tested to come up with recipes that work and are delicious. I expect this to be a book I go to again and again over the years.

Be sure to check out the other Cake Slice Bakers posts, too.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through.  This year it is The Perfect Cake from America's Test Kitchen #atkcake.  We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes, or visit our blog where the links are updated each month. If you are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The choices this month were Tres Leches Cake, Lemon Pudding Cake, Italian Almond Cake, and Confetti Cake.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bread Madness

There is a certain kind of madness that sometimes takes over when a true baker discovers wild yeast and the whole art of sourdough. There is this feeling of 'so many breads to bake and so little time', so it is difficult to choose which one to bake first. Fermented flour, water and wild yeasts work together to create a starter that can be used to lift up and flavor entire loaves of delicious fresh bread. The best ones have a subtle tang that is a lovely counterpoint to the mellow wheat or rye flavors of the flour used in the bread. Bread Baking Babes are up for almost any bread baking, so here we go.

This month our wonderful, enthusiastic Kitchen of the Month Elizabeth of Blog from OUR Kitchen, has chosen a deep brown loaf that features sourdough starter, wheat and bran, a Lariano-style bread. This is a lovely choice! The methods used to create it are similar to the Polenta loaf we baked in January found HERE, so again be sure to allow plenty of time for the wild yeasties to do their magic. This kind of bread baking can be a method to use to de-stress, using the rhythms of feeding, kneading and folding and waiting for the next fold as a way to slow down and become in sync with a simpler way of living. The bonus is amazing bread that you didn't have to pay $10 for.       

That said, we had a rainy day recently and I had a yen for freshly baked bread, so I decided to see if I could bake this bread...well, my version of less than a day. I used some dried active yeast and flour and water to make a starter...not sour and not wild yeast, but still full of active yeasties. I mixed the first small starter with the Leavener ingredients called for in the recipe and let that sit and ferment until the float test worked. Then I used my stand mixer to mix the dough and I let it rise in my rising container, shaped it and let the round rise on a bran dusted sheet of parchment, pre-heated the cast iron dutch oven as the recipe directs and baked it in that with the lid on. The dutch oven had been placed on a baking stone, so when I took the lid off, I took the loaf out and placed it directly on the hot baking stone. This meant that my loaf had a very nice dark brown bottom crust. Not the same as a gorgeous dark brown top crust, but my oven really has a problem with getting top crusts really browned, so we had to go with the bottom one being dark brown.

This is a delicious bread with a full wheat flavor. My crumb is not as open as it would have been if I had taken the long way home, so to speak, but it was good bread and done before I went to bed...although not in time for dinner. In the morning I had some toasted to go with my one was spectacular. This makes great toast!

Thanks Elizabeth for a lovely recipe. When I have more patience I'll make it the slow way and I'm sure it will be even better.

To be a Buddy, make the bread (recipe follows), email Elizabeth with your URL and a photo and she will send you a cool Buddy Badge. Here is what Elizabeth wrote on her blog about being a Buddy:
"Lariano-style bread is delicious! And we know you'll want to make it! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make Lariano-style bread - remember that it only takes 5 days to create a starter - in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it - what you didn't like or what you liked) before April 29th. Please type "BBB April 2018 Bread" in the subject heading of your email.

Please not that it is not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Due to the ephemeral nature of Facebook's posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included. Even if you don't have a blog, email Elizabeth to be included in the round up.

Be sure to check out the other Bread Baking Babes to see the great breads that they baked this month!

Lariano-style Bread
based on the recipe for Truccio Sare' in The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey

35 gm room temperature water
5 gm 100% hydration starter from fridge (or mix 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast with 1/4 cup tepid water and let sit for 10 minutes, then mix in 1/4 cup flour and let sit at least an hour)
50 gem 100% whole wheat flour

20 gm leavener (the rest goes back into a jar in the fridge for another baking session)
275 gm room temperature water
100 gm whole wheat flour, sifted after weighing
4 gm wheat germ
10 gm flax seed, finely ground
290 gm unbleached all-purpose flour
25 gm room temperature water
8 gm salt

1) Leavener: On the evening before baking the bread, put the leavener ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Using your dough whisk or a wooden spoon, mix the leavener ingredients until all the flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on - until it becomes bubbly and frothy like mousse.

2) Dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking the bread: When a small forkful of the leavener floats in a small bowl of room temperature water, you can go ahead and mix the dough. If the leavener doesn't float, stir in a little more flour and water...even amounts by weight...cover with a plate and leave for about 30 minutes more. Changes are that it will now float.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Set the bran aside for after shaping. Add wheat germ and ground flaxseed to the flour. Pour 275 gm (275 ml) room temperature water into the bowl. Add all the leavener. Use a wooden spoon or dough whisk to mix these ingredients to make a rough dough. Cover the dough with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes. This resting period allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb the water, swell, and then relax into a cohesive mass.

3) Salt: In a small bowl whisk the salt into the final 25 gm (25 ml) room temperature water. Pour the salt mixture over the dough.

4) Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt and water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl. This way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it's coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

5) Stretching and folding: After 30 minutes after adding the salt, run your dough-working hand under water. Reach down along the side of the bowl and lift and stretch the dough straight up and almost out of the bowl. Fold it over itself to the other side of the bowl. Turn the bowl and repeat until it's a little difficult to stretch the dough any more. You'll notice that the dough feels significantly smoother. Cover with a plate and leave on the counter for 30 minutes.

6) More Folding: Repeat the stretch and folding step 2 or 3 more times, leaving it to sit 30 minutes between folding sessions. Notice the dough starts to get billowy, soft and aerated with gas. Turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough as you get near the end. A well-developed dough releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns. Volume will have increased by 20 to 30 percent. More air bubbles will form along the sides of the bowl. These are all signs that the dough is ready to be shaped.

At this point Elizabeth directs how to prepare a brot-form and how to shape using that. For those directions, please go to her blog.

7) Shaping: If you don't have a brotform, coat a parchment covered cookie sheet with bran. Shape the dough into a ball and place it seam side down onto the bran. Scatter a little more bran on top before covering the shaped loaf loosely with a clean tea towel. Let sit at room temperature until it has almost doubled in size.

8) Baking: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put either a covered cast-iron dutch oven or a cast-iron frying pan and stainless steel bowl that fits it into the oven when you start to preheat it. The bread will bake in the dutch oven or skillet and the lid of the dutch oven  or the stainless steel bowl on top of the skillet will create a min-oven that will trap moisture and help the loaf rise. It usually takes about 15 minutes at a minimum to preheat the oven.

When oven is fully preheated, place the parchment paper and loaf into the dutch oven or skillet and quickly use a lame, scissors, or a serrated knife to score the bread with a single line in the center. Use pot holders/oven mitts as the lid and pan will be very hot. Return covered pan to the oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees F. Bake 60-80 minutes, removing the lid or bowl half-way through baking. The bread is done when the crust is a deep golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. If desired, you can remove the bread when you remove the lid and let the bread cook on the oven rack or a baking stone.

9) Cooling: When the bread has finished baking, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating; the bread is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven, so let it cool. After it has cooled completely, turn the oven to 400 degrees F for 5 minutes, then turn it off. Put the bread in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Garicky Feast

Don't you love garlic? I guess not everyone does, but most of the people that I share food with do. I love it roasted with chicken, I love it minced and put into guacamole, I love it in all my favorite soups and stews and braises. I love it in mayonnaise, especially when it is fresh garlic mayo or aioli. This is a really easy sauce to make if you have a bender or food processor, but you can also purchase jarred aioli. My favorite is Stonewall Farms and I love their roasted garlic aioli.

I used that for an aioli feast a few nights ago. I first made aioli from scratch using a recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen many moons ago in the dark ages when it first was published. The recipe was included as part of a feast and I really loved having a large platter covered with steamed and fresh veggies, some fish or chicken, and lots of lovely garlicky aioli to spread liberally over it all. She wrote,"The traditional aioli supper consists of the central dish - garlic mayonnaise - surrounding cluster of freshly-steamed vegetables to dip."

For this version I steamed green beans, sugar snap peas, chunks of zucchini, and chunks of multi-colored carrots. I also reheated some roasted chicken. Then I used my small cast iron skillet to reheat some mashed potatoes, so they became a potato cake with browned crust. All of this went on a large platter with a bowl of aioli in the middle and we helped ourselves to some of each. I dipped the green beans into the aioli like you would dip French fries into ketchup or mayo. Sooo good.

Other additions that I've used in the past are quartered hard cooked, peeled eggs, cherry tomatoes, steamed asparagus spears, and red pepper strips. You may have other favorites like sardines or firm white fish, steamed brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, or baby artichokes. What ever you use, be sure that it is the best quality you can find and only cook it enough to bring out the flavor and should still have plenty of chew and character to it. Instead of the potato cake a great choice is steamed small red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes.

I recommend that you limit the feast to about 7 or 8 items or fewer. With more choices the flavors can become muddled as you eat your way through the various choices.

This is a great meal to share with friends...just increase the amounts of each veggie and fish or chicken and be sure to have plenty of that wonderful aioli!

"This recipe makes enough for an aioli supper for 4 people. It will amply cover four servings of fish...and there should be some extra for dipping potatoes or whatever your're serving with the fish. This only takes about 10 minutes to prepare." ~ Mollie Katzen in Moosewood Cookbook


1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon tamari
3 medium cloves crushed garlic
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups oil (use all or part olive oil)

Combine the lemon juice, salt, tamari, garlic, egg and egg yolks in a blender and blend well at high speed.

Reduce speed to medium. Gradually drizzle in the oil. Don't just dump it in all at once. Keep the blender running at medium until all the oil is in. The mixture should be thick. Once it's thick, turn the blender off. If you beat it too long it will get thin again, which is not what you want.

Place finished garlic mayonnaise in a dish and on a platter and surround with steamed veggies of your choice and/or baked fish.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Spanish Style Chicken and Rice

This was one of my favorite meals when I was growing up. This is another braised dish, this time with chicken, onions and garlic, tomatoes, peppers, rice, sherry, saffron, cloves and peas. It is very aromatic and quite delicious. The rice soaks up the flavors of the veggies, sherry, saffron and cloves and the topping of hot peas and some pimento or roasted red peppers is colorful and finishes off this one pot meal. It's perfect for a chilly spring evening. It didn't take long to clean the plate.

My mother used to make this with a whole chicken, usually at least 2 and a half pounds of chicken. Since Sweetie and I are not a large family with eight children, I cut the recipe in half. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which worked well. The thighs take well to braising and by being boned and skinless, the flavors penetrated the chicken really well. They may cook a little faster, too.

Arroz con Pollo (Spanish Chicken and Rice)

1 frying chicken (about 2½ lbs. ) cut up
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green pepper, chopped (I used yellow bell pepper)
1 can peeled tomatoes (19 oz.)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup water
1-2 bay leaves
1/3 cup dry sherry
1 pinch Spanish saffron
2 whole cloves
1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
1 cup peas, cooked and hot
1 pimento, cut up

Dry chicken pieces. If desired, season chicken with salt. Brown in hot oil. Add onion, garlic, and green pepper; brown 5 minutes longer. Add remaining ingredients, except for rice, peas, and pimento.

Cover and simmer 15 minutes. 

Add rice. Bring to a boil, stir; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Garnish with peas and pimento. 

Serves 6 - 8.