I’m always on the look-out for recipes that can be turned into a skillet meal, too, and this chipotle chicken from G’Day Soufflé was perfect for that. Just the thought of smoky chipotles and chorizo, along with braised chicken was enough to convince me. But what really sold me was the unsweetened chocolate in the background that ties it all together. [Read more...]
I would be happy to say that I’ve discovered the world’s best and most perfect smoothie recipe, and share that recipe with you. But the truth is that I don’t think such a recipe exists. Your perfect smoothie is a combination of what you’re in the mood for and what you have in the kitchen. But I’ll tell you how I make my favorite breakfast smoothie.
It starts with a frozen banana, which are never in short supply in my freezer. I don’t even do anything to prepare them after they’ve gone all spotty-brown on the kitchen counter. They get tossed in the freezer peel and all. When I’m ready to make a smoothie, or even Dorie’s yummy banana Bundt cake, I plop them in the microwave about 30 seconds. Then I just barely slice lengthwise down the peel, open it up, and cut the fruit into a few chunks. Ready. [Read more...]
I’ve never thought twice about buying English muffins from the grocery store. For years I’ve opened that store-purchased bag, sliced one open, dropped it into the toaster, and been content with what popped out.
But the first time I looked through the Dahlia Bakery cookbook and saw pages of English muffins topped with ham and eggs, Hollandaise, and fruity jam, I wanted to try making them myself. This project required waiting for a Saturday that I could commit the time for all the steps involved with resting and proofing the dough, but let me tell you, it was worth the wait.
As suggested by the authors, I prepared the dough the first day, then shaped and baked the muffins the next day. I won’t lie; the shaping part turned out being pretty messy. When the instructions said to divide the dough into equal pieces, I reached for my food scale as I always do when making dinner or hamburger rolls. But that wasn’t going to happen. The dough was much too wet for that, and I couldn’t be tempted to add more flour. I used a bench scraper to finish dividing the dough, and they may not have all been the same size but I was okay with that.
When the muffins finished baking and I pulled them out of the oven, they actually looked like I hoped they would. I cut into one and saw the beautiful, craggy holes that are perfect for soaking up endless varieties of toppings. And then I took a bite. You know when you spend a decent amount of time on something, and it actually meets all your expectations? Yeah, that’s totally what happened. [Read more...]
When I was growing up, my mom occasionally baked bread, although I don’t think I really appreciated it. When I was in high school, she got a bread machine. My sisters and I thought it was the best invention ever.
First thing in the morning, she would dump all the ingredients inside and set the timer. Then we’d all come home after school and stand in the kitchen together and eat bread. We sliced the almost perfectly square loaf (with a hole in the middle for the blade), and drizzled it with squeezable butter and honey. It was the best.
Years later when I wanted to make my own bread, the only way I dared was to use the bread machine my mom bought for me. I thought that working with yeast was way too scary. Even when I began baking bread in the oven, I actually mixed the dough and let it rise in the magic box that made perfect dough every time. What? But eventually I got brave enough to try, and it turned out that there was nothing to fear.
The most intimidating part was getting the water to the right temperature for the yeast to do its thing. A food thermometer makes that part easy, but it isn’t completely necessary. King Arthur Flour has some great tips for activating yeast and working with dough. And one thing I’ve learned to do, whether or not it’s in the recipe, is add a bit of honey to the yeast and warm water. Yeast really likes honey.
Once the yeast gets going, the rest is easy and fun. In just a few hours when your kitchen smells like fresh baked bread, you’ll be ready for a slice. Just remember, it tastes the best standing right there in the kitchen.
Bakes Two Loaves (8 x 4-inch)
1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3 ½ cups bread flour, as needed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sprinkle the yeast over 1/3 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees) and honey in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes, and then stir well to dissolve. Pour into the mixer bowl. Add 1 cup cold milk and the sugar and whisk to combine.
Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. On low speed, beat in half of the flour, then the salt. Add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until it is absorbed into the dough. Continue adding enough of the flour to make a soft dough that cleans the bowl. You might be tempted to keep adding flour to make it easier to work with, but please don’t do it. You want the dough to be a bit tacky or sticky to make soft bread. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.
Spray the inside of a medium bowl with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a taut ball. Place in the bowl and turn to coat with spray on all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 ¼ hours.
Lightly spray the insides of two 8 x 4 x 2 ½-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide the dough in half. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pressing to deflate the dough, shape into a thick 8-inch long rectangle. Starting from the long side, rolls and shape into an 8-inch long loaf and press the long seam closed. Place, seam side down, in the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Slip the pans into tall food-safe plastic bags. Tightly close the bags, trapping air in the bag to partially inflate it. Let stand until the loaves gently dome about an inch above the tops of the pans, about 45 minutes, then remove from the bags.
Bake the loaves, uncovered, until golden brown 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully slide the bread out of the pan. Turn the bread over and tap the bottom. It will sound hollow when done. The internal temperature should be about 190 degrees. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, unmold onto racks, and cool completely.
Recipe from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands To Yours
I don’t have the best of luck with computers. Last fall, I went through three laptops in the same number of months. I thought I finally had one that could keep up with me until it crashed and burned last weekend. So it’s off being repaired and I’m going through major withdrawals. There’s not much internet surfing, no playing with photos, and zero new podcasts on my ipod for the last two weeks. Ugh!
The geeks tell me that I’ll have my laptop back and good as new in a couple days. That’s good because I have baked goods to share. Until then, perhaps you’d like to try this tres leches cake that I made last year for Cinco de Mayo. Wish me luck!
(image from Glam & Graffiti)
I understand that you try to have a healthy breakfast most days. Really, I do. Monday through Friday is all about high-fiber cereal and green smoothies. But when the weekend rolls around and you just want to have cake for breakfast, I’m here for you.
This recipe for baked chocolate doughnuts is another winner from Tracy at Shutterbean. Imagine soft, chocolaty cupcakes topped with a rich espresso glaze, and baked in a pan with holes in the middle. There you have it. It helps that they’re so easy to whip together. Perfect for mornings after you’ve slept in (just a little). [Read more...]
Ina Garten’s recipes never disappoint me, and her latest collection, Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, is no exception. With a name like that, the recipes better work, right? And it’s true; everything I’ve made from it so far has been a winner.
I chose to make this soup because it reminded me of the comforting tomato soup with elbow macaroni my mom used to make for lunch on rainy Sunday afternoons. Where I am, the season is just about to make that leap from winter to spring, otherwise known as soups and stews to burgers and salads. Although we’re close, I’m convinced there are a few soup days left, and this Tomato Soup with Orzo would be a good choice. [Read more...]
I used to wonder what the fuss was about with Meyer lemons.
I would see recipes for baked treats like Meyer lemon bars, Bundt cakes, or muffins, and the author would usually recommend adding a little more sugar to regular lemons for those “not lucky enough to have Meyer lemons.” I felt so left out. How different could they be? As it turns out, they are quite a bit different. My local Smith’s grocery store recently starting selling these little gems, so of course I was excited to try them out.
The first time I saw them at the store, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see them again, so I bought a large handful. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make with them, but I knew it should be something simple that would highlight the lemon flavor. I’m already a fan of lemon curd, so I figured that Meyer lemon curd would be a real treat. I started looking for recipes, and found this one from David Lebovitz. He’s never let me down before, so I went with it. [Read more...]
May I share a little story with you about the first time I made my own pasta noodles?
Well, a few years ago, my baking assistant gifted me the pasta attachments for my Kitchenaid. I was pretty excited to make my own fresh noodles, so I quickly got to work online looking for recipes and advice on how to make it happen. One Sunday afternoon, I had my attachments, recipe, and new fancy flour all ready to go. From there, things got pretty discouraging. As I fed the dough through the machine, it was turning into a clumpy mess. My baking assistant was standing behind me and was just as excited to watch the pasta magic happen, but soon got scolded out of the kitchen. Soon after that, the mess was thrown out and we picked up a pizza for dinner.
I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of making my own pasta, so I kept looking, and soon found The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles from the experts at Cooks Illustrated. If only I’d known how easy it could be. I didn’t need fancy flour or other ingredients; I only needed flour and eggs. That was it. Since trying their formula of 2 cups flour to 3 eggs, I’ve turned out delicious noodles every time.