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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

For those unfamiliar with Challah, it is a sweet egg bread which is a staple at Jewish holiday meals but enjoyed all the time.  Typically, it baked as a braided loaf or a round swirled loaf, both with shiny tops as a result of an egg-white wash prior to baking.  The recipe here differs from the typical challah by being made in a bread machine with its tall loaf shaped pan.  Another difference is that most store bought challahs are made without any dairy so that those who keep kosher can enjoy the bread with a meat meal.  This recipe contains butter and milk and is very delicious (I find the top 1.5 inches of the loaf to be heaven – almost as enjoyable as cheesecake).

Bread Machine Challah

Bread Machine Challah

I assume if you do not have a bread machine, you can combine the ingredients below and prepare it as you would any white bread.  In addition, many people enjoy adding ingredients.  Feel free to add a half cup of golden raisins (but possibly reduce the sugar content to compensate for the added sweetness of the raisins).  Some enjoy a little vanilla extract in their challah.For those with a bread machine, you know how simple making bread can be.  Place your wet ingredients in the pan first and then place the dry ingredients on top; let the machine do the rest.  I find with some bread machine recipes that the machine has some trouble combining all the ingredients together.  That is not the case here.

Bread Machine Challah – 1 Rolling pin

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup milk (I use ½% milk and have found using whole milk makes no difference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt (approximate)
  • A pinch of saffron, crumbled (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, either melted or softened
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons dry yeast (not rapid rise)

Cook:

  • Measure milk into a measuring cup and microwave to a slightly warm temperature (settings vary based on microwave strength – start with 20 seconds and go from there if needed)
  • Pour milk into the bread pan
  • Add the next 6 ingredients (though you might want to beat the eggs first)
  • Top with flour and yeast.  If you are starting the machine with a time delay, place the yeast on top so it does not come in contact with the wet ingredients.
  • Set bread machine to the standard white bread setting, 1½ pound loaf, light crust.  Start and wait (about 3 hours).
  • When done, remove from loaf pan to cool on a rack.  Try not cool in pan as the bread machine paddle may have trouble coming out.  You don’t have to let it cool too much before you can slice.  Who doesn’t love fresh, warm bread?  Enjoy!
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I just arrived home from vacation and boy am I tired, and hungry!  I wanted something really quick that I could prepare with ingredients I had lying around and that would require little to no effort.  I was also planning a run to the grocery store to supplement if necessary (for once I have had time to run to the store for lunch food recently).  I decided to cook up this faux-caccia.  Cute name huh?  It’s like focaccia, but its faster, lazier, and could be more accurately described as a flatbread.  But I like the name, so it sticks.

For the dough you can use any store-bought pizza dough, or you could make it from scratch.  But who has time for that?  I used a “can” of the thin crust stuff from Pillsbury.  It was my first time using it, but I like the results, though I do prefer homemade usually when there is time.  Also, whichever dough you use make sure to follow the baking instructions for that particular dough.

I will also add for posterity that I happened to have sitting around a teeny-tiny can of sliced olives I had picked up at CVS, so that explains the weird measurement.  It was a 2.25 oz can, seriously!

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Faux-caccia – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (enough for one pizza)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 3-2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup medium black olives
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes (about 6 tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on the pizza dough container or recipe.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with about ½ teaspoon of the olive oil.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and set aside.
  4. Drain the olives of their liquid and cut them in half, either direction works fine for this recipe.  Set aside.
  5. Peel the garlic and cut into a fine mince, or use a garlic press to mince the garlic, and set aside.

Cook:

  1. Spread the pizza dough evenly across the baking sheet.  The dough should be about ¼ inch think and should cover the pan.
  2. Using a pastry brush or your hands spread the olive oil across the dough.  You don’t have to use the whole amount, just be sure that all of the dough has been oiled.
  3. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the pizza dough.
  4. Spread the garlic evenly over the pizza dough.
  5. Spread the tomatoes and olives over the dough, distributing evenly.
  6. Press the toppings gently into the dough so they are imbedded a bit.  I didn’t do this, so all of my toppings jumped for freedom when I’d try to eat a piece.
  7. Sprinkle the oregano evenly over the top.
  8. Bake the dough according to the instructions.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes.
  10. Cut, serve and enjoy!

 

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I spent my 20th birthday in Ireland, which was one of my better birthdays (I have spent birthdays in so many weird middle-of-nowhere type places just being in a city was a big deal).  I was studying abroad in London at the time and took a long weekend with my classmates to Dublin to explore the city.  The trip was a blast.  I remember that during the weekend Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, so I spent my last hours in Dublin with my head buried in a book eating away at a loaf of soda bread I had bought at a bakery that morning.  I’m quite the cultural tourist.

This St. Patrick’s Day I decided to draw from my time and make some soda bread.  No corned beef and cabbage this year, though I did buy a corned beef brisket on sale at Safeway that is now residing happily in my freezer until the time is right.  I plan on eating this bread for the rest of the week, and enjoying every bite of it.

Irish Soda Bread – 1 Rolling Pin (Adapted from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons butter (cold)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk

Bake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl.  Work the butter and flour mixture with forks until it looks like a coarse meal.  If you aren’t sure what that looks like, just stir it for about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir the raisins into the bowl.
  5. Pour the milk into a measuring cup, and the egg and beat until the yolk is broken.
  6. Add the milk and egg to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.
  7. Flour your hands and gently knead the dough in the bowl until it forms a ball shape.  Be careful not to over-knead the dough as it will become tough.
  8. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet and cut an “x” across the top about 1½ inch thick with a serrated knife.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the bread is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Allow bread to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a plate to cool further if needed.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!

 

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“Cornbread: Ain’t nuttin wrong with that.” That Chris Rock lyric is always pops in my head when I even think the word “cornbread.”  I blame MTV for this.  But Chris Rock is right; there is nothing wrong with cornbread.

Now everyone has their own cornbread preferences.  Some insist on cooking it in a cast iron skillet (my skillet is too big otherwise I would).  Others like to add flavors like maple syrup and currants to the corn bread.  And others, me included, love to have corn kernels in their cornbread.  I don’t know what it is about the kernels, but they are super tasty.

The one problem I have with cornbread is that it can spoil quickly if left out on the counter, so be sure to refrigerate it.  Also if you know you can’t finish it all fast enough you can freeze it and bring it back out the next time you have a craving, or a bowl of chili that needs a friend.

Cornbread – ½ Rolling Pin (Adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • Butter (to grease the pan)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yogurt (or you could use buttermilk)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons honey (or you could use sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup frozen corn (defrosted)

Bake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  2. Measure out 1 cup of frozen corn and set aside to thaw out.
  3. Grease your 8-inch square pan, or a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet, with butter.
  4. In a large bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. In a separate medium bowl combine yogurt, egg, honey and melted butter.
  6. Combine the wet ingredients from the medium bowl into the larger bowl of dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.
  7. Add corn to the batter and stir to combine.
  8. Pour batter into the greased pan, using a spoon or spatula to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched (mine needed 25 minutes for this).
  10. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature and enjoy!

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Every Sunday night my friend Ben hosts a potluck dinner for our group of friends.  It’s a great way to kick back and enjoy new food.  Each week has a theme: “Japanese Curry,” “Crepes,”  “Russian Food,” etc. These potlucks give me a chance to experiment with foods and cultures I wouldn’t ordinarily cook.  As I explore different foods, or sometimes go into my own recipe archives I will share them here so we can explore together.

This Sunday is “Red, Green and Ham” themed.  I decided to bring two dishes: the spinach-artichoke dip recipe from yesterday and bread pudding.  I have a rock-hard, couldn’t-get-more-stale-if-it-tried loaf of French bread that must go so bread pudding it is!  This recipe is in the “New Orleans” style and has lots of great flavors, and goes well with the WWOZ FM New Orleans Jazz Radio I have playing in the background.  So on to the cooking!

Bread Pudding – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf stale French bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup Sweet Bourbon or Rum (or vanilla extract)

Prep

  1. Take the raisins and place them in a bowl with the Bourbon or Rum and let soak for one hour.  Stir halfway through to make sure all of the raisins are coated.  After an hour remove raisins from the liquid and discard the liquid.
  2. Cut the loaf of bread into 1 inch pieces.

Cook

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl add sugar and melted butter.  Mix in eggs and milk until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins to mixture and stir until incorporated.
  4. Add bread to the mixture and stir so that all of the bread is coated.  Let the mixtures sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the liquid.
  5. Transfer the bread mixture into a 9×13 inch pan or 2 quart casserole.
  6. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour.
  7. Let pudding cool before serving and enjoy!

Now things don’t always go right in the kitchen.  In my case I only had ½ cup of sugar and my loaf was closer to half a loaf when I cut it up – and of course I had already melted the full amount of butter and was soaking a full load of raisins.  My bread was also so rock hard (really, really stale) that I soaked for 30 minutes to let the crust soften  a tad.  I do LOVE the flavors used in this recipe though, so I did not hold back on the spices.  My revised experiment in bread pudding in the end was:

  • 1 loaf stale French bread (the small baguette from Whole Foods)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cups brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup Wild Turkey American Honey

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