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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

KKF gets cookware for Christmas!

When I was a kid, one of my favorite breads was popovers. Mom reminded me of how I used to sit in front of the oven and watch them puff and grow. I must have been good this year because Santa (Mom!) gave me a popover pan for Christmas. Popovers were immediately added to the Christmas Dinner menu.

I had Mom send me a recipe and I pulled one off of Allrecipes.com. I remembered

Mom's recipe

from years ago that the pan was hot when we poured in the batter, something that was unclear on the old photocopied recipe Mom sent over (but it called for butter or bacon fat, which is awesome). The Allrecipes recipe did specify that. So I sort of combined the two, using the ingredients list from Mom and the baking instructions from Allrecipes.

They puffed up HUGE. They were like giant bready snow cones. They came out of the oven all crunchy on the outside and soft and airy/holey in the the middle, just like they should be. I immediately ate two. January is for behaving.

Mushroom cloud popovers

Next on the list was another attempt at deer meat. A hunter friend of mine kindly provided us with cuts from a whole deer that he bagged. (I traded some of my home canned goods – what a deal!!) So far I made some chili with the ground and attempted a marinated venison broccoli stir-fry. The chili rocked. The stir-fry…eh…we ate it, anyway. A 4 or 5 on the kung faux pas scale.

With resolve to do right by that animal next time around, I thought of the pork schnitzel I made not too long ago. Perfect. I love using my heavy metal pounder and that will be super yummy. As I further contemplated, I decided to make it like chicken fried steak with a peppery white sauce.

I cut the meat off roughly a pound of venison chuck steaks. These are kind of tricky. Cutting around the bone is ok, but there’s some connective tissue that sort of segments the meat. Since Test Subject Bill has trouble with that kind of stuff (and I’m not too crazy about it myself) I cut around the tissue as well as the bone. This makes it difficult to get portions that are of decent size. So I ended up with a one large, a few medium and a number of small chunks.

After pounding them down good with the spiky side of my kitchen pounder, I dipped them in an egg wash (one large egg + about a table spoon of water, beaten together) and pressed panko bread crumbs all over the portions. Then this is the best part: I pan fried them in bacon drippings. Can I get an amen??

While the cuts were frying up into deer-y, bacon-y deliciousness, I made a simple white sauce of ¼ c butter, about 1/3 cup flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 ½ cups of milk, then stirred in a good amount of freshly cracked pepper. It made too much sauce but who cares. I can put it on broccoli tomorrow, right?

All of the other reindeer USED TO laugh and call him names.

It looked beautiful plated up with some steamed green beans, and the taste was heavenly! You could definitely tell it wasn’t beef, and it had a richness of flavor that really seemed displayed, rather than covered up, by the cream sauce. The two of us ate almost all of it. To quote Bill, “I think we have a winner here!”

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It’s summer in Georgia. Temps are in the 90’s (a little too early for this kind of heat). Sweet tea abounds. And of course, there’s the peaches. A neighbor of mine has a peach tree in her front yard. Every time I walk by I’m soooo tempted to just reach out and grab one. I guess it runs in the family; I heard my mom was well-known for pilfering fruit from neighbor’s trees as a child…

In addition to straight-up peach munching, I’ve been dicing them up and mixing them with my homemade yogurt. No additional sweetening needed – these things are sweet and juicy and totally delicious! But of course, I can’t stop there. So I looked up a peach muffin recipe and edited it a bit (of course) and made myself some peach bread.

The recipe at Allrecipes.com calls for 1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil. My heart stopped at the thought of using that much vegetable oil, or even that much of any kind of oil. But the reviews were so good. So I replaced the vegetable oil with coconut oil, which is actually good for you. It also calls for TWO CUPS of white sugar. Egads! I used one cup and felt like a bad girl.

The bread turned out super moist, thanks to the coconut oil and juicy peach bits. I didn’t need to even put butter on it, and I definately did not miss that extra cup of sugar. In fact, I think all that sugar would have made it too sweet and ruined it. America is over-sugared. Just a little sweet goes a long way once your taste buds have stopped being inundated with sweeteners.

Since I’m trying to drop a few pounds for my neice’s wedding in a few weeks I ended up freezing most of the bread so I can fatten up on it later 🙂 But it was a yummy and fun use of the peaches.

Ok, so I didn’t pie…I breaded. But the post title wouldn’t have been so snappy with “then you bread.” However, pie sounds wonderful. I’m thinking about this one. Or little individual pies that I can freeze. Oh, the endless peachy opportunities…

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Helping Mom bake bread or make cookies with a chair pulled up to the island so I could get tall enough to see. Getting my hand smacked by Mom when I tried to commit larceny of the crispy turkey skin on Thanksgiving day. Watching Mom think as she leaned up against the warm stove on a winter day. Everyone should have kitchen memories of Mom like that. While I couldn’t be with my mom on Mother’s Day, I decided to do some home cooking to honor her: bread, roast chicken and potatoes.

I found this great peasant bread recipe on Food Network. It sounded pretty easy – a no knead bread. Kneading really doesn’t bother me, I kind of like to pound the dough into submission. But I was ready to change it up so I mixed up the dough and left it to sit for its rise of eighteen hours. Doing good.

It was Sunday morning. I turned the dough out onto a floured counter and tucked the sides in like I was told to in the recipe. I put it on a floured piece of parchment paper. The recipe said to cover it with a kitchen towel, but after one experience where I was scraping gooey dough off of a towel I opted to lay a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with olive oil over it, then add the towel. It started to rise and all was well. It looked kind of pregnant on the counter. If my counter is pregnant, does that make me a mother or a grandmother?

Pregnant counter.

I was looking over the recipe to make sure I was good to go for the bread. Good thing…I failed to read the part about needing a dutch oven to do the baking in. Let’s just say it…I don’t learn. Shoot first and ask questions later. Someday I’ll grow up. But in the mean time, I needed a dutch oven and I needed one fast.

Options: a Lodge cast iron dutch oven. Reasonably priced, good looking and long lasting. Drawbacks: it needs to be seasoned and I don’t have that kind of time. (I don’t trust “pre-seasoned” and if I’m going to do enameled, well….see next.) Next: Le Creuset dutch oven. Expensive, but cool as heck and I’ve always wanted one. So the choice was made.

She is perfect...*sniff*

I had to wait for Williams-Sonoma to open before I could dash in and pick one up. Once I was there…more choices. What color? Round or oval? Luckily I knew what size I need from the recipe and was clearly looking at the 3 1/2 quart. Red would go with my kitchen and honor my mom (her favorite color is red). After some discussion with the clerk at WS, I opted for the oval. I was the proud mother of a Le Creuset baby.

I ran home, cleaned up my baby and stuck it in the oven. That sounds just awful.

In this recipe, you pull the hot dutch oven out of the oven and invert your risen bread dough into it. Carefully. This junk is hot. It sizzles and everything, so that’s kind of fun. Cover it and back into the oven it goes for 30 minutes. De-lid and let it go for another 15 to 30 minutes. Mine was done in 15.

The bread came out nice and crunchy on the outside – perfect! When I cut it open…oh, my. Chewy and moist. My baby can make some bread. I immediately shared with test subject Bill, who announced it far superior to my other bread efforts. Score!

(I made this bread again yesterday, this time doing the optional refrigerated rise of 12-24 hours prior to the 18 hour counter rise. It resulted in a bigger loaf, but didn’t really do much flavorwise. I’ll skip this step from now on. It doesn’t need it.)

While the chicken stuffed with my CSA herbs and surrounded by farmer’s market red potatoes roasted away in the oven, I munched on bread. It was true love.

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Last week I had a produce panic attack.

There are loads of goodness coming in from the local farms, and I think half of it ended up in my kitchen. Between my CSA box and my inability to stay away from the Suwanee farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, my fridge and counter tops were bursting with produce. It was time to freak out.

What do I do with all this bounty??

So I got to work. I froze a ton of green beans and some raspberries (I can get a few raspberries down here and they are great, but they are just not the powerhouses like the ones I got back on the farm in Iowa). I felt better after that, but still…all that squash…

Zucchini bread and squash muffins

Zucchini bread and squash muffins

So I got to work making squash muffins courtesy of a recipe from my CSA newsletter. Sounds weird, but they really do taste good. (Especially with butter and a little honey!) I made two dozen of those, put some in the freezer and some in bags to give to friends. Then I made a loaf of zucchini bread from my How to Cook Everything book. I’ll have to tell you how that tastes later because it’s in my freezer right now, which is just about to explode.

Last night I made a tomato and cucumber salad with Vidalia onions, with just a little salt and pepper, fresh parsley and a drizzle

Tomato and cucumber salad

Tomato and cucumber salad

of olive oil. Super yum.

I also found a recipe for squash fritters so I thought I would give that a try for a little appetizer. You grate the squash, strain and squeeze out the moisture, then combine with flour (recipe calls for almond flour but I had none, so I used arrowroot flour…anyone know if that makes a big difference?), seasonings, and egg. They ended up looking grate and tasting good (test subject Bill had four or five of them) but they were a bit soggy. I think I wasn’t aggressive enough in

Squash Fritters

Squash Fritters

squeezing out the liquid. Next time those squash won’t know what hit them. They were fun to make, though, and it was actually my first time using coconut oil. Tasty stuff!

For a main course I made a beef and eggplant stir fry with red bell pepper, green bell pepper, misc hot peppers and those light green not-hot peppers that grow around here that I have no idea what they’re called. For the seasoning, I coated the beef strips in this Chinese 10-spice I got at the farmer’s market, then made a

Scratch and sniff

Scratch and sniff

sauce with a little water and cornstarch to thicken it up. The beef was a sirloin steak from Nature’s Harmony Farm. I used the leftover coconut oil from the fritters to do the frying.

It was SO GOOD. The beef was tender, the veggies were slightly crunchy, the sauce was phenomenal. Truely, I wish this was a scratch and sniff blog with a taster option because I can’t even explain how great this smelled and tasted. And all I really did was throw stuff together. A smart cook uses good ingredients so they don’t have to work as hard 🙂 Test subject Bill went back for seconds.

Wheaties, hit the road.

Wheaties, hit the road.

When I woke up this morning there was still work left to do on the produce barrel. I stirred some of the sweet and hot peppers into my morning eggs, tossed in some chopped tomato and topped it with a dallop of sour cream for a southwestern southeastern egg dish. I cut up a baby cantelopue (those things are so darn cute) and used the raspberries I didn’t freeze to make a dessert for my breakfast. (Who says breakfast can’t have dessert?) Add some toast made from Ezekiel bread from the farmer’s market, a cup of tea and a glass of real milk and that’s what I call the breakfast of champions. Wheaties is for chumps.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Finally, and this has nothing to do with produce, but after all that effort I needed a sweet treat. A couple eons ago I had this Care Bear cookbook. It was filled with ridiculously sweet treats for kids to make, but the one thing I made over and over again was the Nutty Shake. It has been probably 20 years since I made one. I was due.

I used some of my homemade vanilla ice cream, some organic peanut butter, milk and replaced the white sugar that the original recipe called for with honey and let it rip in the blender. I think I used a tad too much milk because it didn’t come out as thick as I wanted, but it didn’t matter. I sucked it down and was grateful.

I know this all sounds like a ton of work, but I am so relaxed right now. We ate well and there’s more in the freezer for later. There’s just something about real food that makes me smile.

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Rye: An Inspiration

I was perusing the latest issue of Vegetarian Times and came across a recipe for Classic Rye Bread. Up to now, I’ve just been doing my same old bread recipe with a few variations so I was ready and open to the idea of trying a new bread. I can’t post the recipe here since I’m pretty sure that would be copyright violation, but I can tell you that you can get a FREE subscription to Vegetarian Times here – all you have to do is download some software to receive your subscription electronically. That’s what I did 🙂

Rye Out of the Oven

Rye Out of the Oven

ANYWHO – it was pretty similar to what I’ve been doing, just a little different technique and ingredients. I also had a good experience this time with rye flour, unlike last time. It took a bit longer because I had to let the “petrin” (like a starter) sit for an hour before really getting started, but really it’s not active time so it wasn’t a hassle or anything. The recipe called for caraway seeds which I wasn’t terribly familiar with but was able to find at Whole Foods. When I opened them up and took a deep breath I thought, “Yeah, that’s what rye bread smells like.”

Rye Cut

Rye Cut

My hard work and patience were rewarded with two beautiful Rye twins. The smell was incredible, the flavor was spot on and it was so moist. Again I made obscene sounds while sampling it fresh out of the oven.  I was such a proud mama!

Apparently I was really excited because I launched into total chef mode after that. I went hog wild in the kitchen prepping all kinds of small plates, tapas, antipasta, whatever you want to call it. I had planned a tapas dinner for tonight but it turned into an all-out around the world sampler.

Kung Fu Around the World Plate

Kung Fu Around the World Plate

To the left, you’ll see the finished product. Provencal Rosemary Almonds (in the little cup), fresh grapes, Manchego cheese (from Costco), marinated artichoke heart (purchased, Cocina brand), roasted red pepper (roasted at home! My first roasted red pepper!), Marinated Mushrooms, Sage Roasted Potatoes, steamed asparagus, smoked salmon (from Fresh Market), garlic hummus in the middle and of course a slice of rye bread. I washed everything down with a nice glass of organic, sulfite-free Syrah.  I totally felt like I should have been in Tuscany. Or Rhodes. Or the south of France. Or…heck, my back deck would have been nice but it’s a little moist out there today. Santé!

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Bread Update

I’m getting the hang of this bread thing. So well in fact that I’m starting to venture out a little bit, try new things. Last weekend I made rosemary bread. Using the same bread recipe, during the initial mixing phase I added not quite 3/4 cup of fresh rosemary that I grew myself (Ok, nature grew it. But I picked it and harvested the leaves) and because I didn’t think I had enough I tossed in another teaspoon of dried rosemary. Also, I used filtered water instead of tap water because Alton Brown says that chlorine in tap water messes with the yeast.

Man, this bread was out of this world. The flavor was amazing. I took it to a little get together on Saturday night and everyone loved it. Thanks to test subject Bill for encouraging me to do an herb bread. Weee!

Oh, also – I quit using the glass dishes to bake the bread in and instead just make loaf shapes on a cookie sheet and let nature take its course. I prefer it this way – it looks more natural, more homemade and the shape is conducive to many different applications.

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I Got Sconed

Still licking my wounds from Monday’s flatbread disaster, I needed something to boost my spirits. A little pick-me-up. A little sumthin’ sumthin’ that would go with coffee. Enter my mother-in-law’s scone recipe!

1/3 cup margarine, butter, or shortening ( I use butter)

1 ¾  cups all purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 ½  teaspoons baking powder

½  teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten

½ cup currants or raisins ( I use currants)

4-6 tablespoons half and half ( I use 2 percent and it works)

1 egg, beaten

 

Heat oven to 400.  Cut 1/3 cup margarine into flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in 1 egg ,the currants, and just

enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl.   Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead lightly 10 times.  Roll ½ inch thick.    You can cut 2 inch circles out but I just cut it in to 6 or 8 pie pieces.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush with 1 egg. Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet

Cool 1 hour (I can’t wait that long) 

 

You can freeze this. Freeze uncovered until completely frozen, at least 2 hours.  Wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil, label and freeze no longer than 2 months.

 About 45 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and heat wrapped in 350 oven until warm , 30-35 minutes. 

I was already a mess in the kitchen baking my bread for the week (more on this later) so I just kept right along and went after the scones. I didn’t have any currants or raisins on hand so I decided to use almonds instead. I didn’t use a rolling pin to roll it out, I just flattened it with my hands and it worked really well. Using a pizza cutter to slice the round, flat dough into eight pieces, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I put them on a cookie sheet and into the oven they went.

About seven minutes later I realized I’d forgotten to brush with them with the egg before popping them into the oven. If I’d tried it then I’d have scrambled egg topped scones. Nasty. So I let them finish without and hoped for the best. (I used the beaten egg to brush on my bread instead.)

Almond Scone

Almond Scone

What emerged from the oven is something I could be proud of. Not as golden brown and delicious as it could have looked, but let’s talk about the tasty scale. These were super yummy, had good texture and weren’t too dry. (Dry, yeah, but they’re scones…) Even Test Subject Bill (self-professed scone hater), when presented with almond scone, approved. (Though he complained about the nuts.)

Moments after I began digging into my afternoon snack, I dropped my scone onto the kitchen floor. $*#(! It was obscene. A tragedy. Luckily, I had seven back ups so a scone emergency was diverted.

Now, I promised more on the bread. I’ve been making two loaves per weekend since I started this endeavor a month or so ago. I’d been using the rapid rise yeast in packets but picked up a brick of regular active dry yeast at Costco. Today was the first time I used it. The dough ball felt lighter and fluffier, and the loaves puffed up considerably during the second rise. I just pulled them out of the oven and will report immediately on any taste/texture deviations from prior loaves once they cool off.

 

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