Monthly Archives: October 2010

Intimidation

Bread seems pretty intimidating to me. All this talk of starters and rising and bread machines…I never thought I would make bread. Ever. Then I stumbled upon a recipe at CooksIllustrated.com that seemed totally doable. Especially since the recipe is titled “Almost No-Knead Bread”. So, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try it out. It was seriously so incredibly easy I could not believe it. It really takes almost no effort to make. The only thing it really takes is patience. Which, I usually have none of. Luckily I now have a day job, so I could allow my dough to rest and rise in peace while I’m busy at work.

Here’s what you’ll need:
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs water, room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs Guinness
1 Tbs white vinegar

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, salt, cranberries and walnuts with a whisk.

Add remaining wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Cover bowl tightly with a piece of saran wrap and place bowl in a dry, warm spot in your house. Let this rise for 8 to 18 hours.

HE HAS RISEN! (He has risen, indeed!) Ha, moving on….

Lightly flour your work surface. On floured surface, knead 10-15 times and form into a ball. Gather edges of dough to the top of the ball. Like this…

Take a large skillet and place a piece of parchment paper over it. Spray with some non-stick spray, and place dough-ball onto greased paper with the gathered side down. Spray some non-stick spray on the top your dough and loosely cover with saran wrap and allow to rise for 2 more hours.

Half an hour before your bread is ready to go, place your dutch oven (or any large, oven-safe pot with a lid) in your oven and crank the temperature up to 500 degrees. When dough is done rising, lightly flour the top. Take a knife and make a slash in the top that’s about 5 inches long and a half an inch deep.

Using the parchment paper as a sling, transfer your dough and paper into the hot dutch oven and put it back in the oven. Turn oven down to 425 degrees and allow to bake for 30 minutes.
It’ll come out looking like this…

Yeah. It’s THAT easy. It looks like I bought that from some expensive Artisian bakery, doesn’t it? You don’t even have to add the berries and nuts to it. If you just want some yummy sour dough just leave them out. I served this last night, on girl’s night, as something to top with yummy cheeses and stuff in our faces. Enjoy!

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Coconut Granola

Granola and I are pretty close friends now-a-days. I throw some in my oatmeal or cereal nearly every morning. The first batch I made was about 3 months ago and it was pretty mediocre. It wasn’t very sweet and it didn’t have the big clumps stuck together that I expect when I think of granola. I made a new batch on Saturday and it was a total success! I even made this recipe up on my very own without any help from the interweb!

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 cups of oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup prunes
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup maple syrup (the REAL stuff)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Now, ALL of this stuff is sort of unnecessary. I just had all of this stuff in my pantry. All you really need are the oats, the maple syrup, the vegetable oil, some kinds of dried fruit and some kind of nuts or seeds. But this granola was really yummy, so if you want to follow suit I wouldn’t blame you.

First put your apple juice in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. While that’s heating up roughly chop your prunes into smaller pieces. Once it’s boiling throw in all your dried fruits and let them simmer for about 5 minutes. This is just to moisten and plump them up so that they don’t dry out when you bake the granola.

When they’re all plumped up, strain and set them aside.

Oh! Go preheat your oven to 250F. I always forget to preheat when I’m cooking in my oven, and I’m so impatient I end up putting things in there before it’s ready. Probably not the best idea.

Now, in a large bowl combine your oats, brown sugar, coconut, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Give it a good stir with a big wooden spoon and then add your dried fruits. Stir in the maple syrup and vegetable oil until everything is well coated. Spread the granola out in an even layer on two cookie sheets.

Put them in the PREHEATED oven and bake for an hour and fifteen minutes. Take out and stir it around every 15-20 minutes so that everything toasts evenly. And there you have it! Homemade granola! Tomorrow I’m blogging about a bread recipe that is seriously out of this world and really easy. If you don’t like delicious sourdough bread that’s chewy with a thick crust, then you can just ignore it. But if you like that sort of thing I’ll see you right here tomorrow!

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Cinnamon Rolls

I am not a baker. I repeat; I am not a baker. During college I almost killed my roommate and myself multiple times.

Exhibit A:

Almost burned my tiny little apartment to the ground and shards of glass shot everywhere.

…I actually don’t have an exhibit B but trust me, there is an exhibit B I just didn’t get a picture of it. It involved a confetti cake for a friends birthday and an oven that apparently liked to make bake goods time travel and burn way too fast.

However, I am determined to get better at it! So I decided to make cinnamon rolls. I don’t like my sweets to be too sweet, so this recipe does not include frosting. But if you’re into that kind of thing you could find your own recipe for frosting and schmear it all over the top of them.

For the dough:
3 eggs (room temp)
3/4 cup buttermilk (room temp)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 packet of INSTANT yeast (make sure it’s instant)
4 1/4 cups flour
6 Tbs unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Start things off by bringing 3 eggs to room temperature. Just put them in a bowl and cover them with warm water for about 10 minutes. Also, set out 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk out and bring it to room temp. In a large bowl combine eggs and buttermilk with a whisk, then slowly add in the sugar, salt and yeast.

With a spatula, stir in 2 cups of the flour and melted butter until fully incorporated. Lightly dust your work surface with some flour and dump your gooey dough onto the floured area. Slowly add in the remaining flour by kneading it in. I probably kneaded this dough for about 15 minutes. Make sure you knead it quite a bit. Lightly spray a bowl with cooking spray. Also give your kneaded dough a light spray and place it in your oily bowl. Cover tightly with saran wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (it should double in size).

Check on your dough an hour and a half later and realize it has barely risen at all. This might have something to do with the fact that your heater broke last week and your house is a frozen tundra. Oh, yours is working? ……show off.

Relocate your dough on top of your oven and turn it on. Also turn two of your burners on low heat and let it warm up.

There! That did the trick.
Combine 6 Tbs butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbs corn syrup, 2 Tbs heavy cream and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan over medium heat until it is all melty looking. Pour into a 13×9 baking dish and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, pinch of salt, and 1 Tbs melted butter.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently shape dough into a rectangle with your hands with the long side nearest to you. Lightly flour the dough and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle.

Now, take that dry sugar mixture you made and cover this doughy rectangle with it. Leave a quarter of an inch around the edge of the dough so that it’s not spilling out.

Starting in the center, start rolling this up. When you reach the end, tightly pinch the seam closed. Flip the sphere so that the seam side is down.

Using a serrated knife, cut it in half.

Then cut those halfs in half. Now you have four even pieces. Cut each quarter into thirds so you have 12 even pieces. Place them cut side down in your 13×9 baking dish with the goop in it. Cover with saran wrap and let these rise for about an hour and a half.
They should look like this at first…

And like this after the hour and a half…

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

While they’re baking combine 3 Tbs butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbs corn syrup, pinch of salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup of chopped pecans in a sauce pan over medium heat until it’s all melty.

Hello browned sticky buns!

Let them cool in the baking dish for about 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto a cutting board. I just put a cutting board over the top of them and them flipped them over really quickly. Risky move for someone who usually messes up baking, but it worked out fine.
Top each cinnamon roll with the sugar/pecan mixture.

These are unreal, especially right out of the oven. Jon and I shared one….and then shared another one. It was kind of a lot of work, but if you have the time you could make these and give half of them away. Or, if you’re selfish, keep all of them. However, I recommend giving some away…12 cinnamon rolls is a lot of cinnamon rolls…

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Perfect Soup for Fall

Is it freezing where you are? Were you not quite ready for summer to end? Are you mad at me for not posting a recipe in half a decade? If the answer to all of these questions is YES, I have just the thing to cure your woes. Home made minestrone soup. I know I’ve been slacking, but this soup will make everything in the world right again. It’s really easy to make and it will impress everyone. Ready? Lets do this.

Here’s a list of things you’ll need:
10 cups of chicken stock
8 cloves of garlic (smashed with the side of your knife)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1/2 lb rigatoni
2 cans kidney beans
1 28oz can of chopped tomatoes (drained)
3/4 lb loose sweet pork sausage
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium carrots (chopped)
2 stalks celery (also chopped)
1 medium onion (yeah….chopped)
8 fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch fresh parsley (chopped)

I know that’s a ton of stuff, but this soup is totally worth it. Just make it. Just this once. I’ll get you hooked.

Pour all of your chicken stock into a large pot and bring to a boil and plop your 8 smashed garlic cloves into the boiling chicken stock. Boil for about 15 minutes until that broth is nice and garlicy.

Remove garlic from broth and set broth aside.
Bring another pot of water to a rolling boil and cook rigatoni for 6 minutes. Drain and set that aside.
While all of this boiling is going on chop up your carrots, celery, and onion.

Place large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil, sage and rosemary. Once the herbs start popping remove them from the oil. Add carrots, celery and onion to hot pan and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to the same pan and brown your ground pork sausage. I do really mean BROWN it. Make the edges kind of crispy, this adds tons of flavor to your soup.

Add cooked vegetables back into pan along with the can of drained tomatoes. Cook this for about 5 minutes and then add all of this to your broth. Place broth back over medium heat, add the beans and tons of black pepper. Simmer this for about 15 minutes. At the very end, add your rigatoni and chopped parsley.

I served mine with a little bit of grated parmesan on top and chewy bread on the side.

Tomorrow I have another post all ready to go. It’s sweet, cinnamony, and you’ll feel kind of guilty after you eat it….but love every minute while you’re eating it. Trust me. It’s worth every bite.
See you tomorrow!!

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