Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts

27 September 2012

How to Reduce Food Waste, and an Easy Autumn Supper

After reading some good advice on how to reduce food waste, I now wash and/or prepare almost all my vegetables as soon as I get back from the market. Because of this one change,  I waste almost zero fresh food and eat more vegetables. Plus, I find that simple meals like this one come together much more quickly and with less expenditure of my waning end-of-day energy. 

Some people think vegetables will spoil more quickly if you wash them days in advance. Well, I keep all my washed vegetables in airtight plastic or glass snap-ware in the refrigerator, and they don't seem to spoil any more quickly than dirty vegetables. The only vegetables I don't wash in advance are mushrooms because I fear their turning slimy. 

This autumn meal for 2 is very simple, attractive, easy, and quick. Plus it's comfort food!

Meal Components:
1 stone fruit like peach or plum, washed and sliced
1 can vegetarian baked beans, warmed on stove or in microwave
1 recipe of Joy of Cooking's buttermilk cornbread
1 bunch collards, stemmed, torn into bite-sized pieces, and washed

The cornbread mix comes together in about 3 minutes and bakes for 25 minutes. The collards should simmer in salted water for 12 to 25 minutes, depending on your preference. Drain the collards and press out the excess water with the back of a wooden spoon.
On each plate arrange one slice of cornbread, a heap of collards, and a fan of fruit slices. Add a small pretty bowl to the side of each plate with some warm beans.
Enjoy with iced tea or a mug of cider.  Offer seconds of everything.

21 September 2012

Skillet Pizza

"Kid tested, mother approved!" 

How many times have I heard that slogan? So annoying. (Thanks a lot, 1978 Kix cereal ads.) And I don't believe that slogan for a second. I don't believe there exists a single cooked or processed food that the children in my neighborhood like AND I consider healthy.

So when 11-year-old Hannia told me she liked my skillet pizza—as long as she picked off the zucchini first—I knew she liked it because skillet pizza is unhealthy. Is it as unhealthy as most of the pizza you can buy around here (Costco, Papa John's, freezer aisle pizza)? No. But it's pizza. So will your kids or the Kid-In-You enjoy this recipe? Definitely. But try not to make it a weekly staple.

This recipe makes two small pizzas. You can just make one pizza, refrigerate half the dough in a ziplock bag, and make the second pizza the next day. I did it, and I quite liked the results.

Some people don't like ricotta. Fine, just add a bit more mozzarella. Other people don't like zucchini on pizza. Feel free to cook some mushrooms or open a jar of olives or whatever and add that instead. Some people don't like vegetarian pizza. Well, Buddy, the lemur's out back, he's all yours, but I'm warning you: he's quite a fighter.

Thanks to Vegetarian Times, Mark Bittman, George, and Hannia for their input.

Skillet Pizza

Special Equipment: 
food processor
An 8 or 10" cast iron frypan, or equivalent oven-safe fry pan
A rolling pin
An oven
A large wooden or bamboo cutting board


Dough:
1 1/2 Cups bread flour
1 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons instant, bread machine, or rapid rise yeast (same things)
2 teaspoons good quality coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 to 1 1/2 Cups water

Toppings:
2 tsp. vegetable or canola oil per pizza
a small jar of prepared refrigerated pesto or low-sodium, high-quality tomato pasta sauce
less than 1 Cup grated low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella
a few Tablespoons low-fat ricotta cheese
half of 1 peeled zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on. Add most of the water and 2 Tablespoons of oil through the tube while the machine whirrrs.
  2. Process about 30 seconds until the dough wads into a ball around the blade. It should be slightly sticky. If it seems too wet, add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, add a little more water. Then process until it's all copacetic.
  3. Dump dough into a large plastic or metal bowl. With well-floured hands, knead a few times until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. Pour 1 Tablespoon olive oil over it and turn the dough until it's evenly covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let sit in a warm, moist location to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500ºF and set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
  5. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll out 1 ball of dough evenly until it is roughly the size of your fry pan. 
  6. Heat the vegetable oil on high heat in the fry pan. When it's sizzling hot put the dough in. Cook 3 minutes until brown and crisp on the bottom. Turn off the heat and, using two spatulas, flip the dough over in the fry pan. 
  7. Spread the nicely browned dough with pesto or tomato sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the surface. Top with dollops of ricotta spaced apart and place zucchini slices around the ricotta. 
  8. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Drizzle pesto/sauce over the zucchini slices. Cut the pizza into 4 wedges and serve hot hot hot!
  9. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Serves 4 to 8 people, depending on a bunch of factors.


18 April 2012

White Pizza



I've been making my own pizza crusts with the aid of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. You know how he gives you a hundred choose-your-own adventure options for any dish? Well, here is the dough I chose:

1 1/2 Cups bread flour
1 Cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast
2 teaspoons sea or coarse salt

1 to 1 1/2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil later

1. Put all the dry ingredients in your food processor. Whir.
2. Slowly add water and 2 Tablespoons oil to the food processor as it runs. In about 30 seconds you should have a sticky dough that wads around the blade.
3. Turn off the food processor.
4. Dump the dough into a nice sturdy bowl. Form into a ball. Knead for two to five minutes until it seems really cohesive.
5. Add 1 Tablespoon oil and turn the ball of dough in it until evenly covered.
6. Cover the bowl with a wet towel and allow to rise in a warm, moist place for 1 to 2 hours.
MEANWHILE MAKE AND COOK YOUR VEGETABLE TOPPINGS
7. Preheat oven to 500º F.
8. Take out two baking sheets. Cover each with parchment paper.
9. Divide your ball o' dough in half. Take one of these halves, pat it into a sphere, and place it in the center of a baking sheet.
10. Use a rolling pin and roll the dough out as thinly as you can (it will double in thickness in the oven). Prick the dough with a fork in a few places. Immediately stick the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 6 minutes.
11. Take out the dough, add your vegetable toppings and any cheese or sauce, and pop the pizza back in the oven for another 6 minutes.
12. Remove your pizza and serve at once.
13. Repeat steps 10-12 with the other half of the dough.

Great toppings I've used successfully:
7 sweet onions carmelized in butter, olive oil, and a bit of salt and sugar
roasted mushrooms with pats of Gorgonzola

14 January 2012

How to Get Your Yeast to Rise When It's Cold

January: because it's winter cold and winter dry in my house, yesterday I found myself struggling with uncooperative challah dough. It would not rise. It wouldn't! And I couldn't find a naturally warm place anywhere in my house to coax that dough into submissiveness. But after combining two different tricks, I finally managed to get that darn dough to rise. True, the challah ended up slightly denser than usual, but it tasted no less delicious.

Trick 1: Use Your Tea Kettle

Not everyone owns a tea kettle. But if you do, this trick is the first thing you should try so that you can both moisten and heat your dough simultaneously. Your dough should be rising in a bowl covered with a damp towel. Fill your tea kettle with water, put it on the stove, and bring it to a shrieking boil. Now lower the heat to low or second-to-lowest. Put your covered bowl of dough next to the tea kettle and drape the damp cloth over BOTH the bowl AND the gently steaming tea kettle spout so that the steam enters the bowl of dough. Make sure nothing flammable is near a flame. Leave kettle and bowl together like that for an hour or more.

Trick 2: Use Your Oven

Some cookbooks say to stick your dough in the oven and turn the pilot light on. I have never had an oven with which I could do that. So instead, I braided my challah, placed them on a baking sheet, covered them with a very damp cloth and put them on the stove (above the oven). Then I turned on the oven to about 190ºF. The oven warmed the stove top but not too much. After an hour, the challah had risen quite decently. Then I turned the oven up to 375º, stuck the challah in, and baked it until perfect.

Trick 3: Use Your Bread Machine

I always have too much challah dough to fit into our bread machine, but if you're just making a single loaf pan worth of dough—and you own a bread machine—use your bread machine. Set it on the dough cycle. Not only will the bread machine stir and knead your dough for you, it will warm and rise your dough for you. Even in the cruelest winter months, your dough is guaranteed to rise! When the dough cycle ends, take the dough out, shape it how you like, preheat your oven, and bake the bread the normal way.

Trick 4: Wild Ideas

OK, this is just wild speculation on my part, but what if you stuck your bowl of dough on top of an electric blanket, heating pad, or hot water bottle? Maybe that would work! Or you could get into bed with your family or your pets and stick the dough bowl under the sheets so that your body heat could…

…never mind. Stick to the first three tricks.

27 December 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Cinnamon Rolls/ Sticky Buns

The Goofy Family has gone on an intense cooking spree this week, and tonight will be no exception: there will be latkes.

But a few mornings ago, there were cinnamon rolls. Or sticky buns. Or cinnamon buns. Or whatever they are called. Basically, we rolled out a rectangle of yeasted dough, sprinkled cinnamon all over it, rolled the dough into a log, cut it into ten round spirals, let them rise and expand, baked them, and glazed them until they were sticky and mildly sweet. Then we devoured them. Whatever that food is called, that is what we made.  You may comment with your opinion about the proper name in the comments section below.

Maybe you are rolling your eyes and yawning, saying to yourself, Oh No, Self, Not Another Cinnamon Roll Recipe. Yes, I admit one can find endless iterations of this recipe. On the King Arthur Flour website alone I encountered roughly 14 different versions. But what you didn't know about this recipe is that for two days I focused with laser-like intensity on unearthing the absolute best cinnamon rolls recipe in the entire world, one that I could leave in the refrigerator overnight and then immediately upon waking the next morning stick in the oven for the perfect hot decadent breakfast of the century, so as to gently rouse the other denizens with tempting aromas. 

Having never eaten fresh, home-baked cinnamon rolls in my life, I don't know where this obsession came from. But I ran with it and now you will benefit from my research. Because these cinnamon rolls did not disappoint me, with my fevered passion, nor did they disappoint George, a consummate baker and extremely picky eater. They were perfect. They were perfect the first morning I baked them, they were perfect several hours later at room temperature, and they were perfect two days later (today) when I reheated the uneaten rolls. These cinnamon rolls flexibly adapt to your cinnamon-roll-eating needs.

Please check out the original recipe plus the extremely helpful commentary on the King Arthur Flour Website. And do not, under any circumstances, sprinkle sugar into the filling because sugar is hygroscopic and will dry out your cinnamon buns in a matter of hours.

Enjoy.

A note about substitutions:
  • We used a bread machine to mix and rise the dough. You can do this by hand the traditional way or use a stand-mixer.
  • We used plain soy milk (Silk brand) but you can use milk.
  • We substituted 1/2 Cup of white whole wheat flour, which required us to add about 3 Tablespoons more soy milk. This imbued the cinnamon rolls with a slight bit more chewiness and staying power. But if you want the rolls to basically evaporate in your mouth, use only all-purpose flour, and you probably won't require the extra milk.
  • We used 3 Tablespoons fresh baked potato innards (I baked a fork-pricked russet potato in the microwave for 5 minutes until tender)*, but if you have 2 Tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 Cup instant potato flakes on hand, you may use that instead.
Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 10-16 rolls, depending on how you roll and cut them.

Ingredients:
DOUGH
3 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant/ bread machine/ rapid-rise yeast
3 Tablespoons cooked potato*
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons softened butter
2/3 Cup lukewarm water
1/2 Cup lukewarm soy milk + roughly 3 Tablespoons any temperature

FILLING
2 teaspoons cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese cinnamon

TOPPING
2 Tablespoons melted butter

GLAZE
1 Cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 - 3 Tablespoons soy milk

Directions:
  1. In a bread machine, combine all the dough ingredients except the extra soy milk. Set to the dough cycle. See note on substitutions above if you don't have a bread machine. You want the dough soft and supple, so add the extra tablespoons of soy milk to get it to the exact right consistency.
  2. Allow dough to rise for the rest of the dough cycle, or in a greased container for 60 to 90 minutes, until doubled in bulk.
  3. Gently punch the dough. Transfer it to a work surface covered in wax paper and lightly greased. 
  4. Roll the dough out to roughly a 20 x 12 inch rectangle. Don't worry if it's not exact.
  5. Using a small sieve or tea strainer, sprinkle the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon evenly over the surface of the dough.
  6. Starting with the long side, roll the dough in a log (don't roll too tightly). Using a sharp knife, mark the log at roughly 1 1/2 inch intervals. With the same sharp knife, slice the dough into buns. You will get roughly 10 to 16 rolls.
  7. Lightly grease 2 or 3 round pans. Cake pans and pie pans do well here. Put the buns into the pans, making sure that they are loosely rolled and that they have at least 1 inch of space between each roll and its neighbor. This space is necessary so that when the rolls expand, they expand horizontally rather than vertically from the center…unless you want cinnamon towers.
  8. Cover the pans with damp towels and allow to rise 60 to 90 minutes until puffy and lookin' good. FOR OVERNIGHT ROLLS: at this point wrap the pans tightly in plastic wrap and stick them in the refrigerator. You will bake them the next morning for 23 to 28 minutes until golden brown. FOR IMMEDIATE ROLLS: You will bake them now for 20 to 23 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake rolls according to the adventure you have chosen in step #8 above.
  10. Immediately brush all the hot rolls with the 2 Tablespoons of melted butter.
  11. TO EAT ALL THE ROLLS IMMEDIATELY OR SAME DAY: Mix together the glaze and brush the glaze over all the hot buns. Serve at once. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  12. TO EAT HALF THE ROLLS TODAY AND HALF SOME OTHER TIME: Mix together half the glaze and brush the glaze over half the rolls. Serve those immediately. Allow the other rolls to cool completely on a rack. Store them in air-tight containers at room temperature for up to a few days later. When you want hot rolls again, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Put the rolls in pans, tent them with aluminum foil, and bake for 10 minutes. Mix together the other half of the glaze. When the rolls come out, immediately brush them with the glaze. Serve immediately.

19 November 2011

Coffee Cake


For a week, I nurtured the gentle dream of a warm, soft, buttery breakfast cake that I would whip up in the blink of an eye on Saturday morning. George and I would enjoy some slices with a strong hot pot of tea and then spend the rest of the day enjoying the autumn weather. That was my dream.

The reality was rudely different. Ninety minutes into my "blink of an eye," I realized that I had inadvertently chosen an ultra-fancy ultra-decadent holiday centerpiece cake recipe. Ninety minutes after that, I wondered how I had managed to spend so much of my precious time and energy on a coffee cake, of all things, when I'm not even that fond of coffee cake.

I know. I am ridiculous.

The worst aspect to all this is that the cake ended up tasting like a mere upgrade of that stuff Mopsy buys in a box for Passover. Yes, fancy cake-mix-in-a-box with a super-extra-fancy streusel topping. I mean, I know the cake is beautiful. But it's not remotely worth a stick and a half of butter, a cup and a half of sour cream, and more than 2 cups of sugar. And I've never liked coffee so I had no business making it.

I made this error because:
1) The recipe was in the Tassajara Bread Book. Everything else I've made from there (popovers, whole wheat muffins, pancakes) was easy, quick, and not so unhealthy. I mean, this book was written by a commune of hippies for other hippies. I guess even hippies go all out for holidays.
2) The recipe calls for a "tube pan" and I thought that meant a loaf pan which meant a small non-fussy cake. But it ended up meaning I had to use my bundt pan which meant a much bigger cake.
3) I didn't really pay attention to how much butter and sugar and fat and sheer sifting the recipe called for. The sifting took FOREVER.
4) I forgot that coffee cake is not soft and comforting but sort of crisp, dry, and too sugary. I was really hoping for something more of a pastry nature, like sticky rolls or something.

Anyway, Major Failure.

But George seemed to like it.

23 October 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

If you happen to know me outside the fantastic world of the Internet, you know how much I adore pumpkins. My mother still calls me Pumpkin occasionally. Kay gave me a wallet in the image of a glittering pumpkin for my bachelorette party. She also kept a back-up for herself when I wore out the first with gleeful overuse, which I already have. In Japan I cooked weekly recipes with the Japanese pumpkin, called kabocha, which required peeling, seeding, and hewing into rough chunks; the resulting delicious orange goodness completely validated my labor. 

I own a cookbook entirely devoted to the pumpkin; no other foodstuff has earned such an honor on my shelf. (Aside: Ye Orange Cookbooks that Do Not Feature Copious Pumpkin Recipes Should Be Ashamed of YeSelves!) I use the pumpkin cookbook frequently, but I also collect recipes from the Internet that augment the cookbook's slim offerings.  Today's recipe comes from such Webly roamings. These pumpkin dinner rolls scratched my itch for hot fresh fluffy rolls, for the gentle sweetness of pumpkin, and for something golden and round. They go amazingly well with hot tea and soft butter and somehow improve in flavor while they cool, reaching their peak around 8 hours later.

For the original recipe for 48 rolls, go HERE. Tammy has many great pictures and comments from delighted readers that will convince you to make this immediately. Below I provide the original recipe halved, which is great if you want to use a bread machine or mixing bowl for the mixing, kneading, and rising. With the original recipe, the dough gets so huge it's hard to manage. One other edit: Tammy suggests constantly greasing and buttering everything, but George and I experimented a little and found that most of that added fat was completely unnecessary for turning out rich, moist, and golden rolls.

The pumpkin aspect of these rolls is pretty faint—just enough to give extra satisfaction and sweetness and color. Therefore these rolls won't interfere with any Thanksgiving plans for pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie or stuffed pumpkin or pumpkin lattes. You could even use the rolls to compliment any savory pumpkin dishes; they will provide only the gentlest echo of my beloved squash.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup warm water
1 Cup warm milk or soy milk
1/8 Cup unsalted butter, softened or melted
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup whole wheat flour
5-6 Cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Note: If you have a standard bread machine, you can make the Steps 1-4 in the bread machine on the "Dough" setting.

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, water, milk, butter, pumpkin, and salt.
  2. Add whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 to 4 Cups of white flour and yeast. Mix.
  3. Continue adding white flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not sticky.
  4. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch the dough down. With a sharp knife, divide it into equal thirds. Then divide each third into 8 pieces. Flour your hands and shape each piece into a ball. Space evenly on baking sheets. Spray the tops of the rolls lightly with oil (optional).
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden.
Makes 24 rolls. Serve in a bowl lined with a clean cloth.

18 October 2011

Currant Scones

I'm already privately calling them "Monday Scones," because I managed to finish enough homework over the weekend to have time Monday morning for the 25 minutes of cooking and clean-up that these scones required. I think it's good to remind oneself Monday morning that you are a human being and that your emotions count for something in life. So get up a little early, slip on thick fluffy robes and slippers, whip up the scones, stick them in the oven, clean up the dishes, make some tea or coffee, set out butter and cutlery, remove the scones from the oven, plop them on the table, and enjoy breakfast for a relaxed stretch by yourself or with that special someone who still looks cute before showering.

The base recipe for these scones can be found in the British Isles section of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, but I honestly think the original recipe would disappoint in comparison to mine. To boast unashamedly, my scones are solid, fruity, and perfect in proportion. The recommended raisins would overwhelm these little bites, the lack of whole wheat would give you hunger pains in a little over an hour, the amount of sugar would make it too sweet, etc. George also found these scones excellent, so they may become a weekly or monthly tradition on Mondays.

You could use a smaller proportion of whole wheat if you desire, but I recommend you stick with soy milk rather than cow's milk if at all possible. George and I have learned that that soy milk reliably lightens the texture of baked goods and gives them a more pleasing feel; these scones are kind of dense, so the lightening effect of the soy milk is key. And don't worry, it doesn't give bread a beany flavor at all.

Monday Currant Scones

1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and brought to room temperature (in about 10 minutes)
1 1/3 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 Cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup currants
3/4 Cup plain soy milk

a roll of parchment paper and a baking sheet

Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 450º F. Make sure your rack is in the middle. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and flour. Use a pastry cutter first to cut them all together and then stick your hands in there and squish the lumps. You don't have to be a fanatic about it, though.
  3. Stir in the sugar and salt, then the currants. Slowly stir in the soy milk. Use your hands to form the dough into a smooth ball.
  4. Lightly flour a large surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness, which is really kind of thick. If you get it too thin, just reform the dough into a ball and do it over.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This will save you many calories in butter and several precious minutes of futiley scrubbing your baking sheet in the sink.
  6. Cut out roughly 2-inch rounds; we did it with a 2 1/4 inch fluted biscuit cutter and they looked great, as you can see. Reform the scraps into a ball, roll out, and repeat. With the last scraps just sort of mush them into a round shape. 
  7. Line the scones up on the baking sheet, stick in the oven, and bake 20 minutes.
  8. Do all the dishes.
  9. Make a nice hot pot of tea or coffee. Set out butter, plates, mugs, and knives.
  10. Serve the scones piping hot. After 5 minutes or so you may be able to request special favors from one of the recipients!
*About the flowers in the picture: They are called straw flowers, and they make fantastic cut and dried flowers. They also take an amazing amount of abuse in the garden; this summer they survived deer, drought, overheating, Hurricane Irene, etc. I highly recommend them if you want a cheerful bouquet that will keep its color all winter.

    23 August 2011

    Shakshuka and Roti

    During our last night in Connecticut I craved hot comfort food. Meanwhile, Doug demanded I cook something that used up all his garden tomatoes. After some thought, I remembered that when George and I were staying in Queens, NY, we ate at an amazing little Israeli food haven called Mimi's Hummus. There I enjoyed my first shakshuka—a tomato-and-egg dish of North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origins—with a basket of fresh-cooked pita. The meal warmed and comforted me so deeply that I felt it would serve perfectly to combat the latest family cold. However, the last time I attempted a pita recipe, it somehow morphed into matzah! So…to accompany my shakshuka I tried a different kind of quick-cooking bread, Indian roti. I altered a shakshuka recipe I found at Smitten Kitchen while Julia and I mostly adhered to one version of a roti recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.

    Doug's eating gluten-free again, so he enjoyed the shakshuka over a mixture of wild and basmati rice and asked for seconds…and thirds. He and George kvetched that the shakshuka was too spicy (they are sensitive), but I had specifically altered the recipe to be as mild as possible, and anyway they both ate a lot of it so it couldn't have been too painful.

    Julia exclaimed at how quickly the roti came together. If you make the roti and an entree that only takes about a half-hour, you should have everything ready in a little over an hour. Make sure ahead of time that you have access to a wide, deep pan for the shakshuka, and for the roti you will need a broiler and also a smaller frypan that you can stick in the oven. The roti came out in pretty funny shapes, but we shrugged, called it "rustic," and presented it with the confidence that only a dimly-lit room can provide.

    Serves 4-6 hungry people

    Shakshuka

    a lot of fruity olive oil (don't waste your expensive extra-virgin on this)
    3 cubanelle peppers, seeded and sliced into short thin strips*
    1 1/2 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped into little pieces
    1 head of garlic, peeled, smashed, and chopped into little pieces
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
    2 lbs. or a little more of fresh tomatoes
    kosher or sea salt to taste
    6 eggs, or as many as you can cook side-by-side in the pan
    optional: chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

    *or another large, mild frying pepper, like poblano

    1. Blanch tomatoes 30 seconds to a minute in boiling water. Peel and discard peel. Cut into wedges.
    2. With your hands, crush and break down the tomatoes. It's okay if a lot of juice goes into the bowl. It's all going into the pan.
    3. Cover the surface of the frypan with a good layer of oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and peppers. Sauté on medium heat until the onion softens and turns golden brown, about 7 minutes.
    4. Add the garlic, cumin, and paprika. Stir and cook 1 minute.
    5. Add the tomatoes and their juice, plus 1/2 Cup water to the fry pan. Simmer and stir for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened a little. Add the salt to taste.
    6. Break the six eggs directly into the tomato sauce, one egg at a time, so that they distribute evenly across the surface.
    7. Cover the fry pan, reduce heat a little, and let cook for about 10 minutes until white and yolk have thoroughly poached in the tangy liquid.
    8. Sprinkle on the parsley, if desired.
    9. Spoon hot directly from the fry pan over hot rice or with fresh roti or pita.

    Roti

    1 Cup whole wheat flour
    1 Cup cake-flour (not self-rising)

    1. Mix flours with less than 1 Cup of lukewarm water until it forms a dough. Knead for 7 minutes, then cover with a damp cloth and allow to sit for a half hour or more.
    2. Tear the dough into 12 equal-sized balls. For the next several steps, keep all the dough covered with the damp cloth unless you are working with it.
    3. Flour a wooden board or wax paper. Flour your hands and a rolling pin. Pat each ball into a flattened round. Then roll the dough out into a circle until it's quite thin and about 5 1/2 inches in diameter. Set aside and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat with remaining 11 balls of dough, but don't stack all 12 on top of each other or they will start sticking together.
    4. Heat up the broiler. Meanwhile, heat up a heavy fry pan on medium heat.
    5. Slap one of the rotis on the fry pan. After 1 minute, soft bubbles should have formed. Turn it over. After 30 seconds, stick the whole pan under the broiler. The roti should puff up in a matter of seconds. Remove from the pan and store the roti in a clean cloth-lined dish.
    6. Repeat with remaining 11 rotis. Serve at once with hot saucy food.

    23 June 2011

    No-Knead Dinner Rolls

    But you will need a food processor. Total time should be 2 hours: from pantry to hot from the oven. Makes about 12 rolls.

    Fluffy and tender but substantial, convenient and easy but completely made from scratch, impressive to guests but the nine-year old next door could do it while watching cartoons.

    Ingredients:
    1 Cup whole wheat flour
    2 1/2 Cups bread flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise (bread machine) yeast
    roughly 1 to 2 Cups lukewarm water

    Directions:
    1. Add dry ingredients to food processor.
    2. Turn it on. Through the feed tube pour water in a slow stream until all the flour has gathered into a moist ball of dough wadding around the blade. If the dough sticks to the side of the food processor, add a teaspoon of bread flour at a time to dry it out a little.
    3. Dump dough into a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and leave in the warmest, most humid place you can find for an hour.
    4. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
    5. Pull half-fist sized pieces of dough from the ball, roll them into a sphere, and space them an inch apart on the baking sheet. When you finish, cover the dough balls with a damp towel. Let them rise until the oven is hot.
    6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When it hits 400 degrees, stick the baking sheet in and turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Bake 18-22 minutes, until gently browned.

    Wrap the fresh hot rolls in a clean dry towel in a basket. Serve with budder, zham, or hunny.

    02 March 2011

    Potato Rosemary Rolls

    At some point, while I was trying to knead the sticky, sticky, sticky dough and simultaneously finger-squish all the embedded mashed potato bits, I wondered if the rolls were going to taste good enough to warrant this heroic effort. My verdict, after tasting them both hot from the oven and cold the next day, is NO. I am not even going to bother giving you the scorned recipe.

    But it was worth it to see Gavin's face as for the first time in his life he punched down the dough and then tore off chunks to roll into rough spheres. He was also pretty excited at getting to taste bread hot from the oven for the first time in his life. During this same evening of baking revelations, he picked up one of my measuring cups and—I KID YOU NOT—asked me what it was. !!! Apparently he has reached 30 years of age without ever seeing a measuring cup.

    I know what his birthday present is going to be this year.

    15 December 2010

    Chai-Spice Jam Whole Wheat Muffins

    I have to write a 20 page paper today, but a Goofy Gourmet post seems much easier to accomplish. So I'm going to warm up to my assignment by telling you about the lightest and most tender whole wheat muffins I've ever eaten. I invented them by borrowing ideas from 3 different Tassajara Bread Book muffin recipes and making several of my own alterations. I think you might even be able to make them vegan if you add another 1/2 Cup of soy milk and remove the egg. But I haven't tried that because 1 egg per 12 muffins seems a decent price to pay to have them hold together! Please let me know if it works out for you.

    George and I have found that substituting soy milk for cow milk in baking always makes a lighter, better product. And substituting applesauce for butter, teaspoon for teaspoon, moistens the product and also makes us feel happier about eating it. These muffins dry out quickly so as soon as they've cooled off just a little, seal them in an air-tight container. I find that a serving is about half a muffin, so I slice most of them in half before storage. Makes 12 delicious muffins.

    Ingredients:
    2 Cups whole wheat flour (King Arthur is a good worker-owned brand)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 Cup jam/ fruit preserves (strawberry worked well for me)
    1/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 1/2 Cups plain soy milk
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2-3/4 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
    a generous 1/2 teaspoon - 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or several gratings of fresh nutmeg

    Directions:
    1. Combine dry ingredients in a big bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.
    2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    3. Fold wet and dry ingredients together so that they are thoroughly mixed but don't overdo it.
    4. Spray a light cooking spray over a regular 12-muffin muffin muffin tin. Fill each muffin depression 3/4ths of the way full with batter.
    5. Cook 8 minutes. Then turn the muffin tin around in the oven and cook another 8 minutes.
    6. Test with a toothpick. If still raw in the middle or bottom, cook another 3 minutes and check again.

    Serve with a big pot of tea, a quick affectionate squeeze, and a kiss on the keppe. Tell them, "Go ahead, take all time you like!"

    24 November 2010

    Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Sides

    Vegetarians don't think of sides the way meat-centric eaters think of sides. Meatties think a nice dinner means a fancy meat entrée with less-important vegetable bridesmaids decoratively clustered about. Novice vegetarians often try to swap some vegetarian casserole or something in place of the meat and keep eating this way. Eventually they realize this strategy doesn't work long-term. They also begin to realize how AWESOME and TASTY good n' fresh vegetables are; the produce ain't bridesmaids, they're the stars.

    Vegetarians start eating in a more egalitarian way—a normal meal might have three to five dishes that play off each other. So if you don't want to have a Thanksgiving centered around meat or some "loaf," or even a stuffed squash, just prepare a dazzling feast out of a bunch of well-prepared sides.

    Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving sides:

    Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    Shiitake Mushroom Gravy (follows)—blissful
    Lima Bean Gravy (from The Voluptuous Vegan)—yes, it's green!
    Green Beans with Shallots
    Cranberry Molds (follows)—a tiny jeweled mound
    Clover Leaf Rolls (follows)—served piping hot
    Cucumber Spears (follows)
    Blue Cheese Autumn Salad (follows)
    Mulled Cider

    Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

    Ingredients:
    1 small package dried porcini mushrooms, destemmed and minced until almost a powder
    12 large fresh shiitake mushrooms
    butter, unsalted, 3 Tablespoons
    flour, 6 Tablespoons
    red wine
    canola oil
    2 cubes of Knorr's vegetable boullion
    oregano and thyme to taste

    Directions:
    1. Put dried mushrooms in 4 Cups water.
    2. Slice fresh mushrooms thinly.
    3. Sauté shiitakes in wine and a little oil. Set aside.
    4. Bring the dried mushroom water to boil with the boullion cubes.
    5. Remove the shiitakes from the fry pan. Melt 3 Tablespoons butter into the unwashed fry pan.
    6. Gradually mix in 6 Tablespoons flour.
    7. Pour broth into the skillet. Mix and heat.
    8. Add the shiitakes back in. Adjust with herbs to taste.
    9. Let flavors meld overnight and reheat just before serving.

    Cranberry Molds

    Simmer 20 minutes uncovered until soft and juicy 2 or 3 of your favorite fruits (cubed small) with a 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries, 1/2 Cup. freshly squeezed orange or Clementine juice, 1/4 Cup raisins or currants (optional), and 1/4 Cup maple syrup. Immediately spoon sauce into ramekins or small glass bowls. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate over night. Right before serving the meal, slide 1 of each mold out of the bowl and onto each person's plate. Serves 4 to 5 people. (You may need to bathe the bottom of each bowl in a little warm water to loosen the cranberry mold).

    Clover Leaf Rolls

    Ingredients:
    1 to 1 1/2 Cups mashed potatoes
    1 package yeast
    1/4 Cup warm water
    2 eggs plus enough scalded and cooled milk to make 2 Cups liquid
    1/2 Cup melted butter
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 Cup sugar
    6 Cups bread flour

    Directions:
    1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water. Add mashed potatoes, eggs, milk, butter, salt, and sugar. Stir well.
    2. Stir in 3 Cups of flour, beating until smooth after each cup. Add the fourth cup. Beat until dough is smooth and elastic. Stir in the fifth cup to make a stiff dough. Measure the sixth cup and sprinkle of half of it on a large wooden board.
    3. Turn the dough out onto the floured board. With well-floured hands knead the dough 5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Use the remaining flour as needed.
    4. Put the dough in a buttered bowl and lightly butter the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
    5. Punch down. Divide into 6 parts, wrap each part in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
    6. Grease 2 to 3 muffin tins. When the dough is chilled, take 1 piece of dough at a time. Each piece makes 5 rolls, or 15 spheres. A roll is 3 spheres put together in one cup of a muffin tin. Make 30 rolls total.
    7. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size. (At this point, if you need to wait for the oven, put them in a cold place, like outside).
    8. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter.
    9. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until light golden brown on top.
    10. Serve piping hot in a basket, wrapped in a clean cloth napkin to keep warm. Provide pats of decadent salted butter.

    UPDATE: We've had amazing success doing these things: Merely ricing a boiled russet potato rather than making mashed potatoes. Allowing the dough to sit in the refrigerator for 2 days after Step 5. Not sticking the clover leaf rolls in the oven right after something hotter was cooking.

    Cucumber Spears

    Use an English cucumber or small pickling or Persian cucumbers. Peel, slice in half lengthwise. With a spoon scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut into finger-sized sticks. Toss with a little fresh-squeezed lime juice and a bit of freshly chopped cilantro. Serve within an hour.

    Blue Cheese Autumn Salad

    Nota Bene: I'm making this tomorrow, but I've never made it before! I do make an extremely fancy salad every year as a symbol of the Harvest Bounty. Since you will probably have leftovers, and greens go bad quickly if already dressed, the most practical thing to do is store the greens separately from the toppings and serve the dressing on the side. Myra Kornfeld's Voluptuous Vegan features a salad which combines marinated vegetables with fresh lettuce, no dressing required. I made it at a large Thanksgiving a few years ago. That was extremely convenient, as the vegetables just kept getting better and better, and I easily combined them with lettuce last minute. But that salad took me 3 hours to make so I'm trying a blue cheese one this year as a substitute for cheese and crackers.

    For beautiful greens (I learned this trick in New York City's Little Italy): Mix your favorite green greens with bits of red raddichio and white, crispy endive.

    For the topping: handfuls of crumbled blue cheese, toasted chopped hazelnuts, and slivers of unpeeled, crunchy Asian pear (any variety). If the toasted nuts are still warm, they will make the blue cheese melt and ooze in a lovely way all over the greens.

    For blue cheese dressing: Mix 1/2 Cup crumbled blue cheese with 1 Cup hand-beaten whole-milk yogurt, an increasingly rare commodity. Add juice of 1 lemon or more, to taste. Grind on fresh black pepper.

    Serve in a large fancy bowl at the center of the table with dressing on the side. (Everyone always wants a different amount of dressing.)

    09 September 2010

    Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

    I know that we food bloggers are supposed to be ahead of the game and post recipes before our readers want to make them, but how can I tell you how it went if it hasn't went yet? And no one should eat honey cake more than once a year, not unless you want more cavities in your life.

    So yes, it's the first day of Rosh Hashanah and probably many observant Jews won't even check the computer until Saturday night, at which point they will be heartily tired of honey cake. Oh well.

    This is my mother's recipe, but before you sigh "awww" you should know that until this year, my 30th, I had no idea that my mother had a honey cake recipe. I didn't even realize we had a honey cake tradition. My mother told me she bought honey cake every year, but it must have been truly boring for me not to remember it. She used to make this cake from scratch before I attained sentience and then stopped as soon as I could really appreciate her efforts, probably at the same time that I became a real handful. Luckily, she suddenly remembered the cake… just as God remembered his covenant with Israel. Yuk yuk yuk.

    George cooked it up this morning and it tastes nutty, mildly sweet, and on the dry side of moist—probably because I over-baked it by 13 minutes. It sure doesn't taste like he poured a full jar of honey in! (I know, I know. Deep breaths.) We enjoyed it at breakfast with fruit and then sat through morning services with an uncomfortable sugar high.

    Mom would like you to know that she used to bake it at 325, not 350, and she doubled all of the spices except the nutmeg. This is George's and my version.

    Mom's Alleged Honey Cake

    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp plus a little more freshly grated nutmeg
    1/4 tsp cloves
    1/2 tsp ginger
    4 eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    4 tbs oil, like vegetable or canola
    2 cups honey
    1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
    1/2 cup brewed coffee

    Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Beat eggs, gradually adding sugar until thick and light in color. Add oil, honey and coffee to egg mixture. Combine with flour mixture and fold in walnuts. Pour batter into 2 greased bread loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out cleaner than it would if the cake were undercooked.

    21 August 2010

    Sourdough Rye Bread

    On his third try, George perfected his sourdough technique and delivered from the oven two loaves neither too dense nor too insubstantial: a sourdough rye. The guests gobbled down a loaf and a half during dinner and even cast longing glances back as we had a team of huskies haul them out the door. Having fulfilled the mission of Jews worldwide to overfeed each person who enters our home, we digested for five days in perfect contentment. Now, remembering the glory of that night, I share this recipe with you, my faithful disciples.

    George adapted his recipe from the King Arthur recipe for plain white sourdough bread, which you can check out here.

    Sourdough Rye Bread

    Ingredients:
    1 Cup fed sourdough starter
    1 3/4 Cup lukewarm water
    4 Cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 Cup rye flour
    1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    2 1/4 teaspoon salt

    Directions:
    1. Combine starter, water, and 3 Cups of the all-purpose flour. Mix it.
    2. Place dough in a large Tupperware-type container, with the top ajar for air. Let it rest for 4 hours at room temperature. Seal it and place in the refrigerator overnight for 12 hours.
    3. Add all the remaining ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough.
    4. Let it rise, covered, for 2 to 5 hours until the dough is smooth, relaxed, and risen. The amount of rise will depend on the vigor of your starter.
    5. Gently divide the dough in half. Shape into 2 loaves. Line a baking sheet or two (depending on the size of the loaves) with parchment paper. Place the loaves on the parchment paper, cover with a damp towel and let rise until very puffy, 2 to 4 hours.
    6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
    7. Boil a bunch of water. Pour into a cast iron (or other oven-safe pan) and stick on the bottom of the oven floor. The steam will help the continuous rise in the oven.
    8. Make 2 deep slashes in each loaf with a serrated bread knife. Sprinkle loaves with water. Place loaves side by side or stacked vertically in the oven.
    9. Bake 30 minutes plus however long it takes for the loaves to become golden brown and nice and crusty.

    05 August 2010

    100% Whole Wheat Sourdough

    Don't make it if you are hoping for a sourdough flavor.

    24 April 2010

    Challah, slow or fast


    I haven't made challah in about 2 years, but we held a big Shabbat dinner last night, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the craving for my house to smell like fresh-baked bread. George drove to the supermarket in the early afternoon to get ingredients, but hours ticked by and he didn't return. I grew pretty frantic because it usually takes more than four hours to make challah. The only yeast we owned was 1 package of Rapid Rise (bread machine) yeast, and I've always made challah with normal yeast. George was supposed to bring back normal yeast, but I couldn't wait any longer.

    So I looked up substituting bread machine yeast for normal yeast. I found out that if I substituted it I would save a lot of time, but the bread would likely lose some flavor. (The challah indeed may have tasted a little blander than usual, but I couldn't remember because it had been two years since my last taste.) I also read that you should add bread machine yeast to the dry ingredients instead of the usual flour-sugar-water combination because liquid slows down the rising action, but by the time I realized this it was too late. I just let the dough rise an extra fifteen minutes at the end; it wasn't a big deal. Those loaves ballooned enough.

    I made the challah according to recipe but instead of the first 2 hour rise I simply let the dough "rest" (covered with a damp towel) in the bowl for 10 minutes. Then without punching it down, I tore the dough in half and formed two braided loaves right onto the baking sheet (with parchment paper). I covered those loaves with a damp cloth and put the baking sheet in a warm place for an hour. Finally I brushed the loaves with egg yolk mixed with cold water, sprinkled on sesame seeds, and baked the loaves for 25 minutes. The loaves baked into some of the most beautiful challah I had ever seen. My guests scarfed down the first loaf in a matter of minutes.

    I'm going to write down the original recipe, and if you want to save about 2 hours but possibly sacrifice some flavor, you can just do what I described above. I tried 6 challah recipes before I found one that tasted and looked right— I received this widsom from a Jewish friend whose Jewish cousin figured out this recipe. For all those looking for authenticity, rest assured: it's Jewafiable.

    If you want to make this vegan—and I've never tried—I looked it up and I think you can substitute 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp. water (some say 1/4 C. water works better) for each egg, and 1/2 Cup canola or olive oil for the butter. The flaxseed should give it a nuttier texture and flavor. I've also successfully used unsweetened applesauce as a butter substitute in other bread recipes; it makes bread much moister, though.

    I don't think this recipe could successfully be altered for people with celiac disease—I researched all the sites and I think you're better off going with an original GF recipe. Apologies!

    Amazing Challah

    Ingredients:

    1 1/4 Cups unbleached all purpose flour
    4 1/4 - 5 1/4 Cups unbleached bread flour
    3 Tbsp. sugar
    1 package yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
    1 Cup lukewarm water
    1 1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 Cup softened butter (I put thin slices in the microwave for 30 seconds)
    1/4 tsp. turmeric, for color
    4 eggs, room temperature if possible
    1 tsp. cold water
    handfuls of poppy or sesame seeds

    Directions:

    1. Combine all purpose flour, water, sugar, and yeast in a very large metal or glass bowl. Let it sit for a bit, about 5 minutes, until good and bubbly.
    2. Add butter, salt, and turmeric. Beat together with an electric mixer.
    3. Separate 1 egg yolk and save it. To the batter add the remaining egg white plus the 3 other eggs. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Blend in the bread flour one cup at time (After the first cup don't use the electric mixer—you'll break it). You want the dough to become soft and not sticky.
    4. Knead the dough for 10 minutes in the bowl you mixed it in. Form it into a spherical shape. Cover completely with a damp cloth towel. Let it rise about 2 hours until doubled in size. Punch it down! Reform into sphere.
    5. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. At this point you can braid the dough into either 1 or 2 loaves. (I recommend 2). First divide the dough into 2 halves. Then divide each half into three equal lumps. Rolls those lumps between your hands into sausages. Lay the longest sausage between the other two on the parchment paper. Start braiding from the middle, then braid as far as possible to the each of the ends of the sausages. Pinch the remainder of the ends together and fold underneath so that they look respectable.
    6. Cover the loaves with the damp towel and place in the warmest place you can find. Let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    7. Mix the remaining egg yolk with the teaspoon of cold water. Dip a pastry brush into the yolk and brush it evenly over the top surface of the loaves (this will make it shiny). Then sprinkle lots of poppy or sesame seeds evenly over the loaves.
    8. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes if you made 2 loaves or about 35 minutes for 1 loaf. Serve warm, and have a Shabbat Shalom!

    UPDATE:
    I found that this tastes much better if:
    1) You use the slow method
    2) You gently shake the yeast/water/sugar/flour so that it aerates, which makes the yeast really happy and prolific
    3) You use as little flour as humanly possible
    4) You knead until a little pull of dough has the consistency of a nice ear lobe
    5) You let it rise outside in the moist heat.
     
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