Monday, January 30, 2012

Easy Rustic White Bread


2020 RECIPE UPDATE: I am remaking a lot of my recipes from many years ago, to ensure they are accurate and still work. This bread recipe is an easy recipe to add to your recipe box.  I have updated how I make the bread today using my Le Creuset pieces.

All I can say is this is the best, and I mean, THE BEST bread, that I have made in a little over an hour.  I found this recipe when a fellow blogger shared this with all of us.  All I can say is THANK YOU!

In the last few weeks, I have made this loaf about 7 times.  No lie, it turns out just like this picture …every…time!  AMAZING!

You can find the original recipe on Carol's site.

I have to admit that I love my stoneware.  I have a lot.  Not all of it is Pampered Chef.  I have picked up several pieces at local thrift stores that come from all over the US.  My loaf is round because I have a huge round stoneware bowl and a tart stoneware plate that works really well together.  I use it similar to how Carol has used her oval stoneware set.

I will tell you a secret…I also used this recipe in two loave pans and covered the top with my stoneware cookie sheet…worked, again, like a dream.

The key is keeping the dough surrounded by the stoneware.  It creates a lot of heat and gets the crust nice and crispy without being thick and the center is tender and perfect for fondues, sandwiches, dips and toasted slices for spreads.

You will find that I have not changed Carols' ingredients only the process of making the bread.  This is what worked for me and I like to make things simple.

I live at the beach in a very cold and wet environment. I use about 6 cups of flour for my recipe because the dough is wet. If you live in a dryer climate, use less flour to start and add as needed.

I split the dough between two baking dishes on occasion. This allows me to make a friendship loaf to share with neighbors and friends.



Recipe:  Easy Rustic White Bread

Ingredients:

5-6+ cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups)

2 tablespoons dry yeast (regular, NOT rapid rise, yeast)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups hot water (120° to 130°) Note: water temperature is critical to proper yeast activation (If your measuring cup is cold, rinse it out a few times with warm water.  This affects the temperature of your water if it uses all of its heat to warm the cup…your yeast may not proof right.)

Directions Using a Kitchenaid Mixer:

Grease the Deep Covered Baker/Le Creuset or any other cooking vessel you are using. I used the #22 and #18 Le Creuset pieces. See Picture.



Combine 4 cups of the flour and salt in your Kitchenaid bowl.  In a separate 2 cup measuring cup add the sugar and the yeast.  Let proof for 5 minutes.  Add to the flour and turn your KitchenAid to a slow speed, otherwise, the flour bounces out all over your counter.

Once the dough is formed, you can increase the speed to medium and continue kneading for 7 minutes.

Turn the Kitchenaid off and cover with a dishcloth for 15 minutes. 

Remove dough from bowl and stretch the dough and then ball up and place directly into your stoneware/Le Creuset.

Put the lid on and place in a COLD oven. Turn oven to 400° and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, gasp in amazement, remove loaf from baker to cool on a rack.


 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas



On New Year's Day, I made my family their first batch of Hoppin' Johns.  Black-eyed peas at their best.  I grew up eating black-eyed peas.  My grandfather was from the South and it was a staple, along with chicken fried steak and fried okra.  Two things that I still love to this day, but don't eat much of.

I followed a recipe the first time I made the dish.  My kids did not find the flavor too appetizing.  This was okay because it meant more for Cory and I.  We loved it!  It made such a simple snack and quick lunch.  It reheated like a dream in the microwave.  The best part about this dish is that I was able to make it in the crockpot…SCORE one for the easy team.

I found myself craving this again last week and decided to make our own from memory and from what I thought was missing the first time around.  It came together and we have enjoyed our second batch for this new year.  Does this mean we get double the luck?  LOL

I don't remember how our black-eyed peas were prepared as a kid, I just know I ate them.  I talked to my Mom, who HATES black-eyed peas.  I couldn't imagine someone feeling this way about a cute little bean. I then found out that the only way she had eaten them, and apparently me too, was straight from a can.  A CAN…with all of the slime, she said.  No wonder she did not like black-eyed peas.  She will be visiting me this summer and I will make her a batch of this to see if her opinion will change.  Don't settle for a can of black-eyed peas. They take no time to cook, similar to a split pea.

The fun part of this recipe is the sausage.  You can use any type of sausage that you like and it will enhance your peas to that flavor.  I like to buy my sausage at Whole Foods in the meat department.  They have a huge selection.  I just remove the sausage from the casing before I fry it up.

Enjoy this recipe, I know I will be again soon.

Recipe:  Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas

3 large sausages, casing removed
4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 cup of red onion, chopped
2 tsp. of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of celery, diced
1/2 cup of bell pepper, diced
1 package of black-eyed peas or 2 cups
4-6 cubes of chicken bouillon
6 cups of water
3/4 tsp. cumin
salt to taste, its best to do this after it has cooked

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper for 5 minutes.  Cook the sausage and bacon.  Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  Most of the juice will be gone, you may have a cup left.  Serve immediately.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pancakes from Scratch


My family loves pancakes.  We are constantly trying new recipes to find the perfect one and have decided that there are just too many perfect pancake recipes…LOL




Recipe:  Pancakes

1.5 cups of flour (sifted twice)
3 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/4 cups of milk
3 T. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 egg whites


Sift dry ingredients together. Beat egg whites until peaks form.  Mix wet ingredients, minus the egg whites.  Combine dry/wet ingredients together and then gently fold in egg whites.  The batter will be fluffy.  

Using a hot griddle or pan, cover in butter and start cooking your pancakes.  Serve immediately.





Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Pasta and Ravioli's




I have wanted a pasta machine for years…a long time…forever!  I finally got one for Christmas and it sat in its box for almost a month.  I have been waiting for the right time to "break it in".  I was so busy during the holidays with the blog that I found I was a little bit burned out that first week of January.
I find that I need time off from the blog on occasion.   It gives me a chance to reload, recharge and review what I have done, want to do and will ,without question, attempt over the next few months.

My new toy.

Pasta, that is a glorious word in our home!  We love it almost as much as we like rice.  I have a fantastic recipe for gluten free pasta that I use all the time.  It's easy because there is no kneading..NONE.  The one draw back that I find with it, is,  the recipe uses all starches.  I find these to have very little nutritional value and cringe some times if we eat it too much.  I have slowly been adding gluten back into my diet.  VERY SLOWLY.   If I make something from scratch, I have little to no problems, but if I eat some thing that is store bought or in a box it messes with my system.  I can't figure it out.  So I avoid it and feel much better.

My family would eat pasta daily if I was diligent in producing the dough every day.  I would probably have really nice biceps and nothing "swinging" (If, your over 40 you might know what I am referring too…LOLOL)  

Isabella could not wait to get her hands on the pasta roller.  I had to help her change the widths but other than that she did just fin.


Sunday, I was feeling refreshed and got the goods out of their boxes.  It was red, my favorite color.  Shiny, so beautiful.  I immediately told my oldest daughter that, down the road, she will probably inherit the pasta roller and it could be in our family for years.  It made me smile.  I was determined to use it often so that I could instill in the pasta roller a sense of use, love and family tradition.  

Isabella made her own spaghetti…she was so happy.  A trick I learned when using the small spaghetti maker, is let the sheet of pasta dry for a few minutes.  The strands of spaghetti will be perfect.

I started the dough like all pasta makers do…flour with a well in the middle filled with egg.  I can't tell you how I felt to watch the transformation that the dough goes through as it transorms from a stiff, hard to handle mix to this smooth and silky bundle of yumminess.  Just when you think you can't knead for another minute…it changes right before your eyes.  You become one, you don't want to stop, you smile.  SUCCESS!


The recipe for the dough is just a standard flour/egg mixture that I have used in the past.  I got it from a friend.  The ravioli filling is made up of what I have on hand.  It's never the same.  Tonight I had spinach and zucchini, always a wonderful combination in my opinion.  
I can't wait to get another batch of pasta whipped up so that I can experiment with other types of noodles, sheet pasta and filled shapes.  Oh, the options are limitless.

Recipe: Pasta (filling ingredients listed below)

3 cups of flour
4 large eggs
1 tsp salt
3 T. water (possibly more depending on dough)

Mix the salt and flour together and dump on your table.  Make a well in center of the flour and add your eggs and 3T. water.  With a fork, start mixing the eggs into the flour.  I also like to have a metal pastry scrapper so that with one hand I am mixing and the other one I am keeping my flour from going all over the place.  Work the dough into a ball.

I will be honest and tell you I thought this was never going to work.  The dough is stiff and brittle.  I keep a bowl of water nearby.  As I start to knead the dough and if it feels too dry I wet my hands and go back to kneading.  I might do this 3 or 4 times.  The dough should not be dry.

Kneading time will be about 10 minutes.  Around 8 minutes into the kneading you will notice the dough  start to become softer and it will get more and more so as you get to the 10 minute mark.

After you have kneaded you dough, cut the ball into 4 sections.  I wrap each section in saran wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.  Each wrapped section will make two sheets for the ravioli tray.



You will need to follow the directions for your specific pasta machine.  I do believe they are all pretty much the same but just to be sure, read your manual.

With the ravioli, you will need to take one of the four wrapped doughs and cut in half.  Set your machine to 0, the widest and roll your dough through 2 or 3 times.  Each time it comes out, fold it into thirds and re-roll.

At this point you can start changing the number to make the pasta roller thinner and thinner.  For the ravioli, I stopped at 7. (see pictures below)  Use your hand to guide the pasta into the machine and use your hands to help it stretch out.  The dough is very durable.  If it starts to stick in the machine or tear, then you may need to add a dusting of flour.





Recipe: Ravioli Filling

1/2 cup of Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup of diced green onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
1 egg
1/3 cup of shredded zucchini (optional)
1 cup of spinach, cut coarsely (optional)
 1/4 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp of salt
10 leaves of fresh Oregano or 1/2 tsp. or dried oregano (you can use any combination of your favorite spices)

Mix the filling ingredients together and use the required amount to fill your particular ravioli tray.  Mine happens to be a square tray with smaller raviolis.  The amount used will change with each type of tray.




I learned that with my tray, it helped to slightly dust the inside with flour.  The ravioli's pulled out much easier.  In a large pot you will want to bring 8-10 cups of water to a boil.  Add the ravioli's and cook for 4-6 minutes.

Serve immediately with your favorite sauce.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rack of Lamb



 I have a list of things that I have never made because, in my mind, they have an aurora around them that denotes "chef's only"…Rack of Lamb is on this list.  I have made a leg of lamb without hesitation and it always turns out well.  So what was the hang-up for me with a rack?


I honestly don't know other than I think that they look so dainty and delicate.  I did not want to ruin them in the cooking process and have a failure on my resume.  I am laughing out loud at that thought.  I have a long list of things that have been made through the years that have not turned out "to my standard".

This year is about "action" for me.  I want to be more of a doer than I have been in the past.  In order to accomplish this goal, I will be forced to tackle and try new things.  Mind over matter.  My mind tells me sometimes that I can't, but no matter what, I need to push through the doubt, fear and task.  Go for the gold!



I purchased this lamb on a whim and took it home.  We had a few stare downs as I pondered what I was going to do with it.  I studied a few pages, cookbooks and such to find the best method for cooking this dainty rack.

It seemed much easier than I thought it would.  The main concern is overcooking it.  Lamb should be enjoyed medium-rare or medium.  I knew this would be a concern for my son.  He does not like rare meat of any kind.

It turned out to not be a problem because once the lamb was done and I was able to cut the rack into baby chops, I found the outer chops to be medium and the center was rare….the best of both worlds.

I will definitely make this again.  The texture is so buttery that the meat actually melts in your mouth.  I like to have lamb with mint jelly.  Last night I did not have any around and decided to make a reduction with what I had leftover from searing the meat…it was perfect (another first for me).


ACTION.  I am doing instead of talking about it.

 SIMPLE.  Maybe and maybe not.  LOL

RESOLUTION:  Actions speak louder than words.  I must become more in tune with my ability to do and not just talk about the things I want to learn.  I must take the first step to success, which I have learned is sometimes the hardest…baby steps are still steps.  In the kitchen, I still have a few things to tackle on my "bucket list".  You're never too old to learn and I am hoping this year it will be filled with new skills, recipes, and action.

Recipe:  Rack of Lamb

7-9 rib rack of lamb
2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 cup of chopped green onion
1 T. minced garlic
salt
pepper
1 cup of bread crumbs (I used crumbs with Italian flavorings)

Reduction:

2 cups red wine (You may also use a combination of brandy and wine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425

I preheated a separate cast iron skillet while I was searing the lamb on the stovetop.

In a cast-iron pan, I added the olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Once the oil was hot enough, I seared the lamb on both sides for 4 minutes.


I put the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and rolled the rack in the crumbs to make sure that all sides were covered with a thick layer of the breadcrumbs.

I transferred the lamb to the second skillet that was preheating in the oven.  I laid the lamb with the ribs down into the pan.  I inserted a meat thermometer.

I set the timer for 15 minutes.  A rack of lamb can cook very fast and it will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.

I removed the lamb when the temperature read 125, some people like it much rarer than this and will remove the lamb at 115.  This allowed for the outer edges to be medium and the center to be rare. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then sliced them into individual cuts.  If the meat on the very center is too rare still, you can sear them quickly in the cast iron pan that you used to cook them in.  You don't want to overcook the meat so take your time.

While the lamb was cooking, I added the wine and balsamic vinegar to the cast iron pan on the stovetop.  I set the temperature to medium-high and stirred constantly until the ingredients were a rich, dark color.  This provided me with about 2/3 of a cup of reduced liquid.   I drizzled this on the plate that the lamb was served on and a bit on top.  It was just enough to add some flavor but not take away the lamb flavor.  I also added the rest to a small bowl and served on the table in case more was wanted by my family.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chilean Sea Bass



Recipe:  Chilean Sea Bass

2 lbs of sea bass, cut into 2-inch filets
1 stick of butter
salt, to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp of paprika
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 red bell pepper sliced thinly

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add everything but the fish to the pan.  Once the butter is hot and the onion and bell pepper have cooked for 3 minutes, add the sea bass fillets to the pan.  Make sure your heat is not too high at this point to burn the butter and the bottom of your fish.  Cook each side for 7 minutes.  You will know your fish is done when it is firm to the touch and easily flakes apart.

Gently remove the fish to a serving platter.  The juices and veggies left in the pan can be served in a gravy boat as a topping for the fish and rice if it served with the dish.

Recipe:  Fruit Relish

1 apple, cubed
1 mango, cubed
2 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of cilantro
3 T. Orange Juice

Mix together and serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yummy Neighbor Treats (5)



It has been a few years since we had the opportunity to hand out neighbor treats.  Last year we were in Dallas, TX at the Marriott.  I made a few things (we had a suite with a full kitchen) to give to the front desk and they were very appreciative of them.

I have also been with family and we set aside one day to make enough goodies for a small army.  It was wonderful for several reasons.  First, we got to be together in the kitchen.  Secondly, we shared and learned new recipes.  Thirdly, many hands make light work.  It was just a fun time.

This year we don't know many people but we do have neighbors.  The kids and I talked about what we would like to make and what would be kid-friendly to make.  Some recipes I have you practically have to have a science degree to get them to work.  We don't make those every year.


We always enjoy taking them to the door and wishing them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  This year our neighbors returned the favor and we reaped the reward of our labors.  Thank you for the cookies, candy, and bread!  They were all so tasty good.

This is a list of what we made, along with links, pictures, and recipes.


Recipe: Oreo Balls or Truffles

1 package of Oreos
1 (8oz) package of Cream Cheese
chocolate chips to zigzag or dip

If you have a food processor, add the cookies (cookie and cream) and make them into a fine mixture.

Soften the cream cheese.  Mix the two together and cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  I do not hand roll my truffles…It's too time-consuming.

Melt your chocolate chips using your favorite method and pipe across the oreo truffles in a zig-zag motion. You can also dip your truffle in chocolate and decorate with white chocolate.


Peppermint Bark Popcorn  I used the recipe for this treat from Our Best Bites and it was submitted by Sara.  The recipe can be found here. Picture below.


Peanut Butter Fudge  I used my own recipe.  I did a post about this last week.  It can be found here.

Recipe: Pecan Balls (see picture above)


2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 cups of finely ground pecans
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of flour

Powdered sugar to coat Pecan Balls with after baking.

In a medium-sized bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until lemon color.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Add flours and nuts.  Place dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop pecan balls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Immediately after removing the pecan balls from the oven, roll in powdered sugar and place on a cookie rack to cool.

Peanut Butter NanaimoBars  I use this recipe from my blog found here.  It is out of this world, crazy good!








So there it is.  A lot of yummiliciousness in  one spot.  Enjoy!


Written by Sherron Watson

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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