Friday, January 27, 2012

No Knead Bread....

Baking home made bread is something I wish I had more time for.  I would love nothing more than to make all our own bread.  Working full time makes the desire for fresh baked bread very difficult. You can imagine how thrilled I was when this turned out to be so easy, even for a workday.
I found this recipe on a blog and bookmarked the web site she had sited for the recipe.  I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember what blog it was from.  Don't let the lengthy instructions scare you. They couldn't be any easier. The recipe comes right from the King Arthur web site.

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast


*The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 1/2 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure flour by weight, use 32 ounces.
1) Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, "lukewarm" means about 105°F, but don't stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; "OUCH, that's hot!" is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.
2) Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.
3) Next, you're going to let the dough rise. If you've made the dough in a plastic bucket, you're all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you've made the dough in a bowl that's not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.
4) Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.
5) When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.
6) Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.
7) Place the dough on a piece of parchment (if you're going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.
8) Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 450°F while the dough rests. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
9) When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.
10) Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
11) Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.
12) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
13) Yield: 3 or 4 loaves, depending on size.

One of my sons wondered what bakery it came from.  How is that for a compliment?  The crust was crispy and the inside had enough holes to make it similar to a Tuscan Bread,  The next batch of dough will stay in the fridge for three days to see if it will taste more like a sour dough.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shin Bone Soup....

After reading Dom's (Belleau Kitchen) post awhile back about his grandmother's soup, I decided to do a post on my own grandmothers soup.  Growing up my mother made this soup (which was her mother's recipe) all winter long.  This traditions is still going strong at my home.   I have been making this simple and delicious soup for more than twenty five years.  My kids have always liked the fact that every Halloween before they went trick or treating they could count on having big steaming bowls of this old fashioned family favorite.  Having never measured ingredients when making this soup,  I made an effort to measure and write everything down this time around.  Here's the recipe.
  • 2 large beef shin bone
  • 1 large onion,  diced
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 5 carrots chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 heaping tbsp. beef base
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 7 quarts of water water
  • 3/4 of a box of elbow macaroni
Into a large soup pot, add the shin bones, bay leaves, beef base and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Shin bone meat is delicious, but tough and it takes a long time in the soup pot to get it tender.

Next add onion, celery, carrots, tomato sauce, rice and simmer for another hour.

Just before serving remove shin bones from the pot and chop up the beef from the bones.  Put chopped beef back in the soup pot.  I also mash the marrow from the bones into the pot.  The beef marrow adds a ton of flavor to the soup.

Cook the elbows separately and add them to your own individual bowl of soup.  Season with salt, pepper, fresh chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hot and Sour Soup...

We are under the weather at my house.  Coughing, running noses, sore throats.  I would love to buy a hazmat suit with a respirator mask to protect myself from the contagious germs that are contaminating the air through out the house.  Gross!  Good old chicken soup was made earlier in the week and made everyone feel some what better.  Last night on the menu was Chinese Hot and Sour Soup.  It was thrown together in a flash.  It tasted just as good, if not better than the local Chinese restaurant we frequent.  We went through a box of tissues after we finished it.(slight exaggeration)  I took a little from one recipe and borrowed more from another.  Here's the recipe.  It is guaranteed to help the sniffles!!

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups fresh sliced mushrooms of your choice
  • 1 small can bamboo shoots
  • 3 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bag fresh sprouts
  • 1 lb. chicken breast sliced into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 eggs beaten
  1. In a 5 quart pot, combine the first 9 ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Place the chicken strips in a bowl and toss with the sesame oil.  In a separate bowl mix the vinegar and cornstarch together.  Set aside.
  3. Increase in heat under the pot to medium high and bring up to a good boil.  Add the chicken strips, return to a boil again, then stream in the beaten eggs slowly so that it makes long strands of egg in the soup.  Add vinegar and cornstarch, stirring occasionally. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes more until you are sure the chicken is cooked.  Add cilantro and green onions to the pot.  Quick stir and your ready to serve.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Fun...

 My niece Katie and I were at it again.  We made these adorable snowman cookies in hopes of persuading a little of the white stuff to come our way.  The cookie recipe is an old trusted fail proof rolled sugar cookie recipe that has never let me down.  You can find the recipe here .

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year....

May all the simple gifts in your life bring you happiness this New Year.
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