Saturday, June 27, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread

Steve and I are always saying we ( ahem, I) should make homemade bread more often, so today I tried my hand at a whole wheat bread from our newest cook book, The Cook's Book. I really like this book because not only does it have great recipes it really takes the time to explain techniques and such. I've actually been reading it like a regular book :). I'm hoping to learn more about food, cooking, and techniques in general so that hopefully I'll be able to cook more creatively and come up with my own recipes.

Anyways back to the bread. This is just your basic whole wheat bread and I'm pretty happy with it. One thing that I think is holding this bread back is the yeast. The recipe calls for compressed fresh yeast, which I can't find so I have to use dry active yeast instead. However, I'm still happy with the way it turned out.

Whole Wheat Bread


  • 1 1/2 tsp (10g) compressed fresh yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (350g) water at 72 degrees
  • 4 cups (500g) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp (10g) fine sea salt
  • olive or sunflower oil for kneading
Now, two things to note: 1) you see that it also has grams as a measurements, this is a more precise way to measure the ingredients and is recomended for baking in general.

2) if you have to use active dry yeast things are a little different... here is what i did:

Part 1
  • 5g active dry yeast
  • 58g water at 92 degrees
  • 7g flour
Part 2
  • 292g water at 72 degrees
  • 493g whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp (10g) fine sea salt
  • olive or sunflower oil for kneading
To make up for having the active yeast, put it in a bowl with your water and flour from part 1. Mix and let rest for 10 minutes. Then pour this into the other water and continue on with the recipe as follows.

In a seperate bowl mix the flour and salt with your hands. Add in the water and yeast and mix quickly with your hands making sure everything gets moist and mixed together.

Cover it with a dish towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Once the 10 mintues are up pour some olive oil onto your kneading station and set the bread there. Wash out your bowl and coat it in oil. Now you have to knead your dough.

Fold and knead the dough 10-12 times ( if you don't know how to knead I would recommend looking at a book that has pictures), then put back in the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes. Do this three times. After the third round of kneading let the dough sit for 30 minutes, knead one last time then place in your oiled/floured bread pan.

Cover with a towel and let rise for 90 minutes.

Once risen to double it's size, preheat the oven to 425. Cook at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 for 30 minutes. It will be done when you tap it on the bottom and it sounds hollow.


Farm Share

So for 10 days we are cat sitting for some friends. In return they are letting us have their farm share for 2 weeks! WOOT! This is really exciting, we've been on the fence about getting one of these and actually seeing what you get out of it is making me think we will be signing up for one next year.

The first week, this past Tuesday, we received the following:
-2 bunches of radishes
-daikon radishes
-salad greens
-garlic scapes (which our friends used to make us a yummy pesto dish!)

Since it's still early in the summer you can see we got lots of leafy greens. It's been interesting trying to come up with things to make with these ingredients because we don't really ever make Salad.

To use up the Kale we made a rice and white bean soup thing that turned out more like a porridge but still very tasty. We also made pizzas last night that we used the arugula on.

The other things that we've done so far are as follow:

First we decided we finally wanted to use our little grill that we bought last summer. We grilled up some chicken rubbed in spices and the asparagus. It was a yummy fresh meal. I made a home made vinaigrette to go with the asparagus and it came out very nicely.

The Vinaigrette recipe is from Cooks Illustrated

Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon juice plus 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon ( I did not use zest as I used bottled lemon juice)
  • 1 large shallot, minced (no shallots around so I used an onion)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves ( we used dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • table salt and ground black pepper
Mix everything together and pour over asparagus

We also made a yummy salad with the salad greens, mizuna and other veggies we had around. I poured the left over vinaigrette on it and it turned out very well.

And finally, to use up those radishes we made some little open faced radish sandwiches. I cut 2 pieces of bread into fourths, grilled them for a few minutes til nice and crispy and brown then topped each piece with a little bit of butter and a slice of radish. Finish it off with some ground sea salt over it all and yum.


Spanish Tortilla Take 2

So a while back we posted a Spanish Tortilla. Steve and I both really enjoyed it, but it was somewhat disappointing in the healthiness arena. It had so much oil in it that we really could only eat one slice and that didn't really cut it in terms of dinner. I searched around and again found a recipe on Cooks Illustrated. This one used MUCH less oil (although still a good amount) and in general we were much more pleased with the way this one held together and turned out. We also just got a new fancy cookbook and after reading the section on sauces I decided to make a garlic mayonnaise which is a traditional accompianment to the Spanish Tortilla.

Spanish Tortilla with Roasted Red Peppers and Peas from Cooks Illustrated


  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/8th thick slices
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers ( we did not use this we just used a red bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
Much like the last tortilla first you toss the potatoes and onions in oil and throw them in a skillet. Cook covered for about 30 minutes til potatoes are done.

In another bowl mix eggs and salt. When potatoes are done cooking, fold them into this egg bowl with the peppers and peas.

Throw this egg/potato mixture back into the same skillet and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Shake the pan every 30 seconds or so.

Then the tricky part. Slide the tortilla onto a plate then flip it over back into the pan. At this point lots of problems will arise and you'll want to throw the tortilla on the floor because this is really hard to do. You will persevere and it will taste good. I promise.

Cook it for another minute or two, let it cool and serve with your garlic mayonnaise.

Garlic Mayonnaise from The Cook's Book

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
In a bowl place egg yolks, crushed cloves, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper, and vinegar. We didn't have vinegar so I replaced this with extra lemon juice. This worked, but I would like to use the vinegar sometime because I think it would give it a slightly nicer flavor.

Now here is the tough part. Measure out your oil in a liquid measuring cup. Begin whisking your egg concoction while SLOWLY (drip by drip) adding the oil. After adding a bit of the oil you can begin to slowly drizzle it in. Make sure you are whisk constantly. Once all oil is in add the remaining lemon juice.



We haven't posted for a bit but that doesn't mean we haven't been cookin' up a storm. So here is a back log of some recipes. First off is a delicious Cheesecake I made for a BBQ a few weeks ago. I don't have any final plated pictures because I took it to the party and it got gobbled up. People seemed to be pleased with it and it's definetly a keeper recipe. I also made a nice strawberry topping to go with it. However, it's about as far from healthy is a food can get so be warned.

Cheesecake from Cooks Illustrated

It seems that I've misplaced the recipe for this one and my membership with Cooks Illustrated expired. I'll still give you the picture montage, but I don't think I can trust myself to remember the correct measurements and times. If I do come across the recipe I'll repost it because it's a very good one.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Indian Chicken Dishes

Here are two delicious Indian Chicken Dishes. The first we made about a week ago, the second we had for dinner tonight! Both Recipes come from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra.

Chicken Curry with Dry-Roasted Spices


  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (we made this, basically blending ginger and garlic. For the 2nd recipe we just bought it pre-mixed. Much easier cause we only have a stick blender.)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp white poppy seeds ( we did not include)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp green cardamon seeds
  • 1 tsp ground dried pomegranate seeds ( we did not include)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 lbs chicken (we used thighs)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt - whisked til smooth
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
First you have to prepare the ginger-garlic paste. Like I said, this was kinda of a pain and we couldn't get it blended really well. It would probably be worthwhile to just buy the paste if you plan to cook a lot of Indian.

Next in a little dish put the cumin, garam masala, poppy seeds, ginger, cardamon, and pomegranate seeds.

Throw them into a small skillet and roast on medium low for about 2 minutes, or until they start to smell all yummy.

Next in a big pan heat up your oil and cook the onion til well browned. Here is some onion browning. I'm pretty sure I have a picture like this in almost every blog post.

Add the ginger-garlic paste to the onions.

Then add the chicken, coriander and salt.

Cook for about 7 minutes, flipping the chicken a couple of times. You want the chicken to be nice and browned.

Add the yogurt. You have to do this slowly and only add a little at a time. Also you have to stir it while you do it so it doesn't curdle...cause that's icky.

Once all the yogurt is mixed in throw the roasted spices on and then cook everything on medium heat until all the liquid evaporates and the chicken is done. Roughly 15 minutes ( according to book, ours took closer to 25ish).

Serve with some rice and enjoy!

Traditional Indian Chicken with Spinach

  • 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (from a jar)
  • 1 chicken- 2 to 3 lbs skinned and cut into pieces. Don't use the wings or back.
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt - whisked til smooth
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves ( did not use)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika ( did not use)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( did not use, we substituted 1/4 tsp chili powder)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion - chopped finely
  • 2 larges bunches of spinach, washed and cut coarsely
  • 1/4 cup lowfat milk
In a bowl place the chicken, garlic-ginger paste, yogurt, mint, fenugreek leaves, garam masala, paprika, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt, and 1 tbsp oil. Mix so that all the chicken is nice and coated and marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 24.

24 hours later...

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan on medium heat. Throw your onion in there and let it cook til nice and brown.

Then stick your spinach in the pan, cover and let cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Let it cook until its all wilted. I had to drain some water out at the end, I don't know if it's necessary or not.

Once the spinach is wilted put the chicken and all the marinade in the pan. Increase the heat to high for 2-3 minutes and let cook. Stir frequently. After about 3 minutes reduce the heat back down to medium, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes (or when chicken is done) add the milk and let that simmer for a minute or two.

Serve with some potatoes and enjoy!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Asparagus Risotto

I love risotto, especially from this one BBQ joint in Maine. For some reason I just assumed that there was no way I could make risotto at home that would taste as good as that. I don't know why I thought this as I've never even tried to make it before. So going through the cookbooks trying to plan our meals I came across asparagus risotto. Well I love asparagus and I love risotto, so why not.

Turns out it was amazing. I really wanted to just eat the entire pot. Just as good as the restaurant risotto! However, it is kind of a pain to make because you have to sit and stir it constantly and with that cooking and pork in the oven it was very toasty standing there. I will definitely make this again though. Recipe comes from our box of Mediterranean Cooking Recipe Cards

Asparagus Risotto


  • 1 lbs fresh asparagus
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 onion - sliced
  • 1 1/2 short grained rice
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan

First cut the asparagus up and throw them in a sauce pan with water. Cook for about five minutes drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a big skillet over medium heat. Add the onion an let brown.

Meanwhile in a sauce pan heat up your chicken broth so it's at a nice simmer.

Add the rice and half the asparagus pieces to the onion pan. Then stirring constantly add the broth one ladle full at a time. Stir until it's all absorbed and then add the next ladle full.

Keep doing this until you have used all of the broth. It takes a while.

Once all the broth is used up, stir in 2 tablespoons butter and the Parmesan . Mix well and add the rest of the asparagus.

We had it with some pork. Very tasty!!

Chocolate Oatmeal Bon Bons

So I've been given the task of typing up some of my Great Grandmothers recipes. I was having a terrible chocolate crisis one evening and decided to try one of her recipes. This is the one I choose mostly cause I had everything on hand, but also cause someone had written "Very Good!" next to it on the recipe card. Turned out that little note was true. These are extremely tasty cookies!

Here is the description that she has on the card: "A rich chocolate cookie, slightly high in the center with a rather unusual texture and flavor due to the chocolate-oatmeal combination. A crunchy, crisp cookie that stores well."

(Sorry for blurry pic :( )

Chocolate Oatmeal Bon Bons


  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/4 cup soft shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick rolled oats.

First mix together butter, shortening, sugar, egg, chocolate, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this bowl to butter/sugar bowl and add the oats. Cover and chill throughly. Roll into small balls about the size of a walnut.

Place about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

That Eggplant Parmesan

Never make this dish unless you have ten to twelve helpers. I made this dish and I only had two helpers and they were cats. It takes a long time and makes you cranky. You have to make a tomato sauce first unless you have some tomato sauce already. Then you fry all the eggplants. Those steps are boring. The final step you layer the eggplants and sauce and cheese and basil in a baking dish and bake it, which is a lot of fun.

Then you eat it and it's delicious but you are tired. "Good night," you say, as your eyelids begin
to droop...