Archive for January, 2012

whole wheat & walnut bread

This past weekend I wanted to bake some more of Lahey’s amazing bread so I started around 3:00 pm on Friday afternoon. I decided to prepare 2 loaves,  a walnut bread and a whole wheat.  By Saturnday morning around 8:00 both loaves were ready.  The smell of the breads baking in the oven reminded me of our trip to Italy, when we passed by the local bakery in Agnone.  You have to stop and walk in, the smell and the warmth is intoxicating.

Video: How to make Sullivan St. bread at home

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Adapted from: “My Bread,” by Jim Lahey.

Yield: One 10-inch round loaf; 1 1/2 pounds

Equipment: A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot

ingredients

2 1/4 cups (300 grams) bread flour

3/4 cup (100 grams) wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) instant or dry active yeast

1 1/4 cups (300 grams) cool water (55 to 65 degrees)

Wheat bran, cornmeal or flour, for dusting.

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In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt and yeast. Add the water, and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to gently scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a cotton or linen tea towel on your work surface and very generously sprinkle it with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour, using at least ⅓ cup. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam-side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Thirty minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, with a rack positioned in the lower third, and place a covered 4½-to-5½-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack. If using a lid with a plastic handle, be sure that it can tolerate high temperatures. You might have to unscrew it and plug the hole with aluminum foil.

Using thick potholders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam-side up. (Use caution: the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burned, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or potholders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place on a rack to cool thoroughly.

Makes one 10-inch-round loaf.

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Pan co’Santi – Walnut Bread

Yield: One 10-inch round loaf; 1 1/2 pounds

Equipment: A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot

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ingredients

bread flour – 3 cups (400 grams)

raisins 1/2 cup (85 grams)

chopped walnuts 1/2 cup (50 grams)

table salt 1 1/4 teaspoon (8 grams)

ground cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon (2 grams)

instant or other active dry yeast 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams)
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freshly ground black pepper- pinch

cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water 1 1/2 cups (350 grams)

wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting

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In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, raisins, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, yeast, and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. If it’s not really sticky to the touch, mix in another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place the covered 4 1/2 – to 5 1/2 -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution–the pot will be very hot; see photos, page 55.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack.

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For a quick and delicious meal, a vegetable stir fry is not only fast but very nutritious. Use any vegetable you have on hand and mix it with a pasta, rice, quinoa or nothing a all.

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ingredients

3 tbls olive oil

3 shallots chopped

few garlic bulbs chopped

slice or chop any vegetable  (spinach, finocchio (or celery), brussel sprouts, carrots)

a few cherry tomatoes cut in half and squeeze out seeds

parsley and basil

salt  /  pepper

parmesan cheese

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Heat pan with olive oil, add onions & garlic and cook until wilted

Add vegetables and cook for a few minutes until tender

Mix in parsley and basil

Add salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package instructions

Scoop out 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta in a colander

Mix together the pasta and stir fry and reserved water if needed

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese

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ciabatta (no-knead bread)

Jim Lahey, owner of  Sullivan Street  in Soho, is the pioneer of no-knead bread techniques. Simple to make, the downside is that you wait 12 to 18 hours for the dough to rise. The results are well worth the wait. If you like making bread, after you try Jim’s method, you will love making bread. The results will surprise you every time.

With no special techniques, equipment or ingredients, Jim’s method achieves the crisp, crackling crust that bigger bakeries normally have to rely on giant steam ovens to achieve. So passionate is he for everyone to succeed with their bread-making, he published his recipe and released an online video.

His book “my bread”  has step by step instructions and full colour photographs of finished loaves. Today I started making a ciabatta loaf. I sarted making it at 1:00 pm so it will be ready to cook tomorrow morning bright and early. So here is the recipe if you want to try it.

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CIABATTA

ciabatta bread started 1:00 pm / baked it the next day at 8:00 am

Makes 2 loaves.

Notes: This recipe is adapted from “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” by Jim Lahey. He recommends using a Romertopf clay baker to capture the steam during baking, and that makes a wonderful loaf. But a darn good loaf also is possible with a pan of water and, ideally, a pizza stone. Instant yeast is sold as “bread machine” or “rapid-rise” yeast. This recipe must be started a day in advance of baking.

ingredients

3      cups of bread flour

1 1/4     tsp salt

1/4 tsp     instant dry yeast

1 1/2 cups     cool water

additional flour for dusting

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1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450°F. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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pizza dough

There are as many recipes for making pizza as there are cooks making it. If you have the basic steps for making a good pizza, then the variations are endless. Softer, crispier, thinner, thicker….all depends on how much more or less flour you use. Adding a boiled potato to the dough will lighten the dough. Also adding spices in the dough at the same time as the salt works very well.

Some recipes call for sugar  some don’t. The trick is to experiment and try different things. The pizza dough I made is very basic and works very well.

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yield: enough dough for 2 small pizzas  /  my pan is 16″ by 22″  good for 1 pizza

ingredients

flour          3 3/4 cups

instant dry yeast      2 1/2 tsp

water      1 1/3 cups (room temp)

olive oil      2 tbsp

salt      3/4 tsp

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In a medium bowl stir together the flour, yeast , and salt
                                       
Add the water, and using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended for about 60 seconds
                                       
Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours
                                       
Place  the dough on a floured work surface
                                       
Gently form into a rough ball
                                       
Divide dough into two halves or just work with the one
                                       
Cover with a moistened kitchen towel for 30 minutes
                                       
Oil your 2 or one pizza pans
                                       
Pick up the dough and invert and stretch the dough the length of the pan, resulting in the moist side down and the floured side up
                                       
Using your palms, gently pull, press and stretch the dough to fill the entire botom of the pan
                                       
Pinch any holes together , if the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust with flour or coat your hands with oil
                                       
Ready to top as you like
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pizza – vegetable

Making pizza from scratch is quite simple. Maybe it takes a little long but if you work in steps it can be quite fast. If I make tomato sauce during the week, I always make more than I need and put some aside for pizza that I will make on another day. The same goes for a vegetable stir fry.

If you don’t have the extra time to make your own dough, you can always buy the pizza dough at a pastry shop or bakery. However, if you have the extra time it’s worth experimenting, especially if you have kids that can help you.

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Ingredents 

rectangle or round pizza pan

pizza dough (instructions on dough preparation see “pizza dough”)

olive oil

stir fry for topping (optional)

parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, oregano

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After the dough has doubled in size gently spread it on a pizza pan and let it rest for another 20 minutes

Gently spread again and top with your favorite ingredients. Here I used the left over tomato sauce I made  yesterday and the stir fry you see below. Finish off with parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of mozzarella. I don’t use a lot of mozzarella because I find it takes over the other flavors

Sprinkle with drops of olive oil and some dry oregano (very small amount – strong flavor)

Place in a hot 375* oven for 15 minutes or until desired doneness 

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Whenever I make a stir fry I make enough for at least 2 uses. I used a third to stuff the baked potatoes and the rest to make 2 pizzas.
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ingredients for stir fry
olive oil
1 diced onion
1 diced shalllot
1 red pepper sliced
oyster mushrooms shredded by hand
three handfuls of arugula
salt, pepper, garlic, parsley,
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heat oil
add onions and cook until translucent
stir in peppers and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes
stir in arugula
add all the herbs and spices
mix well 
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veggie omelet

Omelets are not only easy to make but there are hundreds of different ways to cook them. Not only that but you can have an omelet anytime, breakfast, lunch, supper or anytime in between.

Any vegetable you have on hand will do, or if you have no time to add veggies, just skip them, your omelet will be delicious anyways.

My solution to the flipping problem is that I don’t flip anymore. Since I aquired my new pan which can be put in the oven, I finish cooking the omelet in the oven, problem solved, no more messes.

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ingredients

a good nonstick pan

prepare a simple vegetable stirfry with your favorite veggies (I added arugula to this one)

4 eggs

parmesan cheese

salt / pepper / parsley / basil

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Beat eggs lightly with a whisk for 15 seconds, add cheese and whisk again until thouroughly mixed

Mix all spices and herbs

Pour over stir fry and with your spatula gently distribute egg mixture everywhere

Let cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes

Put in a hot 350* oven uncovered for another 10 minutes or until done

If your pan cannot go in the oven, cook on low to medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, then instead of flipping over, lower the heat and cover the pan. The omelet will continue cooking with the steam. Check omelet after 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and with a rubber spatula cut individual pieces.

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stuffed baked potatoes

I wanted to make these stuffed potatoes as the main dish for dinner so I chose some big russet potatoes and scooped only half and left the rest of the potato intact. However, if you plan on making them as an appetizer, pick smaller ones and scoop up a little more.
The potatoes are baked, scooped out and then refilled. I filled them with some stir fried veggies that I made yesterday, topped them with the pulp mixture and baked them for another 15 minutes.
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Ingredients
3 large baking potatoes
                                       
for the pulp mixture
salt
black pepper
parsley / basil
1 egg
parmesan cheese
shredded mozzarella and paprika
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Scrub potatoes and pat dry.
                                       
Bake in a 350° oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp and prepare pulp mixture
                                       
Add egg, cheese, salt, pepper and  1/2 of the mozzarella, parsley and basil to the pulp and mix well and shape 6 balls
                                       
Lightly salt the inside of the half potatoes
                                       
Fill the potatoes with the stir fry
                                       
Flatten the potato balls to top the half potatoes (like a cap)
                                       
Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese then sprinkle with paprika. Add a slice of pepper and a few leaves of arugula from the stir fry
                                       
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
                                       
Bake in a 425° oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and potatoes are heated through
                                       

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