Bread-making frenzy! I’ve tried out a few different loaves - once I achieved a good baguette, I attempted a simple Couronne ring. Mmmm.
O Hail Jeff Hertzberg, author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
I made my first batch of the book’s master recipe today! I halved the original to make two one-pound loaves, and unfortunately my experience with the first loaf was…. disastrous. Catastrophic. It’s lying at the bottom of the trashbin as we speak, drenched in my tears.
You see, an essential technique taught in the book is adding steam while baking: you place a broiler tray (or any sort of pan that can hold water) in the oven as it preheats, add water after you put the loaf in, and the steam from the pan helps perfect your crust. However, my oven currently only has one rack and my first loaf was a (beautiful, beautiful) baguette - meaning it required a large pan. So, I sort of stuffed a small pan in on the same rack, overlapping my bread pan an inch, and when I poured the water in… my bread was soaked.
It all turned out fine, though, with my second loaf! It isn’t quite as pretty as my baguette would have been (no worries, I’ll be making many more in the future) but according to my taste buds and those of my family’s, it’s really, really good bread.
I’m so gracious for the book that I refuse to give the recipe here - anyway, it’s full of techniques and the master recipe is about 10 pages long sooo if you want to make awesome bread, buy it. Now.
I almost made this for lunch and I’m glad I didn’t. It’s so very hearty and filling! If you’ve got some veggies and sausage and need a big one-pot meal in an hour, this is it.
Note: mine is thicker than this finished recipe - I cut down on the broth because my family, for some reason, detests soupy soup. Sigh.
Italian Sausage Soup (adapted from this recipe)
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups beef broth (I used chicken broth and it was fine!)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup red wine or cooking wine
- 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (how to peel tomatoes)
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 tsp fresh or dried basil (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano (or to taste)
- 1 can tomato paste
- 8 oz pasta (I used a couple of almost-empty Fiori and Bow-tie boxes)
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
In a large 5-quart pot/Dutch oven, crumble and brown sausage over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from pot, leaving the drippings. Turn heat to the lowest setting and let cool while chopping onion and garlic.
Once cool enough so that the onion won’t burn, saute onion and garlic in the drippings on low heat until tender. Add all other ingredients to the pot, including sausage, except for the pasta and parsley. Simmer uncovered on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add pasta and simmer ~10 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.
Rise and shine! For a quick morning pastry, try baking scones; they’re easy to make and look lovely on the breakfast table. The original recipe I used called for raisins, but after a thorough search I couldn’t seem to find mine, so chocolate chips it is! Feel free to substitute a mix-in of your choice.
Chocolate Chip Scones (adapted from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible)
- 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp cold butter, diced
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips (or raisins, etc)
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg, beaten, for glazing
Preheat oven to 425 F. Sift flour, sugar, powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips and make a well in the center. Pour in milk and stir quickly to make a soft dough.
Briefly knead the dough on a lightly floured surface, pat into a ~1” thick circle, and cut rounds with a 2.5” round cookie cutter or small glass. Gather up scraps, pat into a circle again, and continue cutting rounds until all dough is used. Place rounds on an ungreased baking pan and brush lightly with a beaten egg. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden in color.
Serve with fruit preserves, butter, clotted cream, or whipped cream and berries - use your imagination!
This lovely Easter morning - bird chirping, kittens cuddled up beside me, the sun poking through the sheer curtains. I wake up, peek out from under my warm blanket, and once in a fully conscious state become aware of my painful migraine. Ow.
I remain in bed for the most of Easter “dinner” (served at noon), thanking the mighty God that I cooked and refrigerated all of my contributions the night before. Once my headache has gone, so has all of my family. I feel awful, but moreso I feel like cooking. While I’m not so fond of the leftovers that remain, I must do something with a bit of them lest I waste perfectly fine food. So, my solution is one that doesn’t stray from my usual: make something Italian!
Pizza Dough (from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible)
- 3.5 cups bread flour
- two .25oz envelopes active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the bowl
Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add the water and oil, and stir to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface ~10 minutes until smooth & elastic. Roll into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth until doubled in size (about one hour).
Pizza Sauce (adapted from this recipe)
- 2 cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste
- few fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
Sauté onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil on low heat ~10 minutes or until tender. Add remaining ingredients, stir well, and simmer on low heat 30 minutes. (You will definitely have leftovers!)
Add toppings of your choice - I used mozzarella, a variety of leftover meats and sliced a plum tomato to top a vegetarian pizza. I made four 8” pizzas from one batch of the dough, setting two side-by-side on a couple of large baking sheets. Bake at 400 F for 15-25 minutes, depending on how you like yours!
Holidays, despite the plethora of merchandise and Hallmark products shoved in your face every time you step out of your home, offer a perfect excuse for baking desserts. I’ll have 12 people over for Easter tomorrow and I must stuff them all with delicious baked goods sure to ruin their swimsuit bodies! While a large pastel layer cake would probably be more fitting for the occasion, cookies offer two benefits: easier rationing & less cleanup. The latter I’m definitely aiming for, dreading the post-dinner pile of dishes.
Sooo, I found a nice soft cookie recipe, buttercream icing recipe, and learned how to color my own sugar! The end result turned out to be understated, pretty, delicious treats that will hopefully *fingers crossed* be a hit.
Take a long, hard look: this is the best (flat)bread I’ll ever make!
It’s focaccia and it’s delicious. I used a simplified recipe, doubled the rising time, added some herbs of my choosing and it was all in the stomachs of my very happy family in less than an hour. It was meant to be part of my Easter dinner tomorrow… thankfully it’s easy enough that I don’t mind make a batch (or two) again!
I’m so mean to lunch. I hardly ever put any effort into it - it’s just a snack that gets me by in between a hardy breakfast and dinner that’s laboured over for 3+ hours. I’ve never even really paid attention to any “easy” or “quick” lunch recipes, perhaps because I’m afraid a quick-and-easy lunch wouldn’t be worth the little effort it would take. I will admit it: I was wrong. This fabulous lunch I had with my mom the other day was definitely worth the few minutes of work it took to put together! Think of it as a healthier, no-knead pizza… but better.
It’s Baked Bree’s Tomato Feta Tart and it’s a true start in my asking lunch’s forgiveness!
French macarons instill fear like no other. The first time I tried one was a grand macaron in Paris and it was so damned beautiful that I was scared to eat it and thus destroy its beauty. In a much larger way, though, they’re scary to make. The basis of a good macaron is a good meringue, and I was a meringue virgin when I dipped my toe in the oh-so-intimidating pool of macaron-baking. So, I was really quite nervous to see how these would turn out.
Anyhow, this is a photograph of my third attempt - the first batch to form actual feet! It’s a thrilling experience to see those little cookies not getting uglier and uglier as they bake away. Despite my fear, I did it - I made Parisian macarons that were decent enough to deserve the name. Well, maybe one or two of them.
If you’d like to try them yourself (and I suggest you do - even if they aren’t pretty, they’re still delicious!), follow in the footsteps of someone trusted in the area: David Lebovitz. I still haven’t ventured away from his recipe; even when I don’t want chocolate macarons (the ones above are vanilla filled with chocolate ganache) I just alter his.
Bread without yeast or fat (well, almost)! This “Almost-No-Fat Banana Bread” is a great way to use your overripe bananas, is quick & easy to make for anyone who’s never made a homemade loaf, it’s healthy and it’s delicious. Enough said.
I was craving chocolate chip cookies when I made these; alas, I was out of chocolate chips. I did have, however, a load of cocoa powder so I found this very versatile recipe for chewy chocolate cookies! Use your imagination in topping them - I tried out peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and brown sugar, but my absolute favourite was raspberry jam (make sure they cool before you add it lest it slip off!).
Head over to Allrecipes.com for the recipe!
The traditional American apple pie: easy to make, hard to make splendidly. These, however, are made splendid by the mere fact that they’re miniature! Everything’s cuter when it’s smaller, right? Kittens, baby carrots.. so it follows that these must be great. It’s also much more difficult to ruin your crust when it’s a fifth the size. Another benefit is that they’re much easier to ration; you can eat a whole pie without feeling full. ;)
Find the recipe at Novel Eats - oh, and they’re vegan (you can replace butter with a soy substitute)!
It’s become custom for me to fry crêpes after midnight, and tonight was no exception. Turns out, however, cooking half-asleep impairs your ability to remember ingredients. So… tonight’s crêpes were, uh, eggless. Wah.
Crêpes aux bleuets, sauce au chocolat (Blueberry Chocolate Crepes)
You can find a great crêpe recipe here, while I improvised with the sauce. I enjoy a rich, dark chocolate sauce, but my family isn’t so big on it. And without heavy cream, I was finally forced to alter an icing recipe and came out with something suitable:
2 egg whites
5 cups confectioner’s sugar (more or less)
1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder (more or less)
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Directions: Beat egg whites with a whisk until foamy throughout, then beat 30 seconds more. Gradually whisk in confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat until creamy. Thoroughly whisk in vanilla, cocoa, and granulated sugar. Finally, whisk in milk. Taste and adjust according to preference.
After I finished the sauce, I added a few handfuls of blueberries and stirred them in. Use whatever fruits you’d like! Drop by large tablespoonful on one half of the crepe, fold over and press around the filling (pierogi-style). Enjoy!
Garlic! Cheddar! Biscuits!
What could not be fantastic about them? They’re much like those ones you’ll find at a certain seafood chain restaurant… but better. And you won’t have a tank of lobsters watching you in fear as you munch on your appetizer.
Get the recipe here!