Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Breads

I made both of the two breads for the HBin5 group this session. The first one was Carrot Bread, made with whole wheat flour, shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, and dried cranberries. I really liked this one. I used sweetened coconut so this made a lovely toasting bread for breakfast.

Here is a closeup showing the cranberries, freshly sliced and ready for butter! I would be happy having this bread for breakfast every day. Maybe I would alternate this one with the apple bread, both make great breakfast breads.

The second recipe this time was for Olive Bread. This bread was made with spelt flour, plain yogurt, and lots of sliced marinated green olives. I bought the big deli olives, pitted but not pimento-stuffed. We served it with spaghetti and a nice green and orange salad (baby greens, orange sweet peppers and baby carrots). It was very good.

I found this bread to be moist, salty and slightly sourdough in flavor. I probably won't make it again because my family is not really made up of olive lovers, even though I love them. Perhaps I would try it with garlic cloves.

Would you like a slice?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I want to share some of the projects I have finished over the course of the winter. I made a scarf from the pattern "Shaken Not Stirred" by Wendy Gaal to wear with my winter coat. The kit, which included the pattern, fingering weight yarn in the color "Margarita with Salt", beads, and a cute martini stitch marker, was part of a knit-a-long/contest, of which I was a winner! I won a skein of hand dyed sock yarn in the colorway of my choice. Here is the scarf:

I let my daughter Jessica choose the colorway of the yarn I won and promised to make her a pair of socks for Christmas with it. She chose the color "Seabreeze" and I knitted a pattern from the book Toe Up! by Chrissy Gardiner called Gull Wings. She likes them.

I knitted a pair of Entrelac socks from a skein of Scheafer "Anne" yarn, a blend of merino and mohair which is just luscious to work with. However, it is a very fine yarn which I had to work on a size 00 needle. I chose this colorway because it was called Boop, and so I call them my Betty Boop socks. They are super cozy!

I knitted a pair of pretty pink socks from Cascade Heritage sock yarn, using the pattern "Kristi" by Cookie A in the book Sock Innovation. I love working the intricate patterns from this book, they really hold my interest. I am not a knitter who can finish the "mindless" projects with miles of stockinette or garter stitch, I am always looking for a challenge.
I also joined a Mystery Sock knit-a-long where we knitted a mosaic two-color sock designed by Star Athena. At the time, I was listening to an audio book on my iPod by Dan Brown called The Lost Symbol. I think it is a little bit obvious from my color choices, don't you?

This was the first pair I knitted with the 9" circular needle in the photo above. I don't care to work with double points, I am always poking myself or losing one. I do like the 9" needle, but my hands got a little sore because you have to hold them differently. Here are the finished socks, which I gave to myself and wore for the first time on Christmas day.

Just recently while my husband Gary and I were driving to Florida and back on vacation, I worked on a pair of socks made from Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball wool. I love the color changes in this yarn! It is so bright and vibrant. I used the pattern "Changeling" by Janel Laidman from the book The Enchanted Sole. I will share more projects with you very soon! I am trying to get back into blogging more often. I must say I miss it.

See you next time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guacamole Bread

This week we made guacamole bread in the Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day group. The dough called for chopped garlic, chopped tomato, and a whole mashed avocado. In bread? Sounded odd to me, but it was actually very good! It was nice and moist with a slight garlic flavor, and the loaf rose nicely in the oven. Both my husband and son liked the bread, even though neither of them cares for avocado.

With the leftover dough, I made a batch of crusty rolls to serve with our favorite soup, Cheese Vegetable Chowder. It is always a big hit!
I never got around to making the second recipe this time because I came down with a terrible cold, but still want to make the Pesto Bread next. I will post about it later, see you then!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Assignment 4 for HB in 5!

Already on the fourth assignment for HB in 5! How time flies! Well, truth be told I baked these breads early because I didn't want to miss out while I was on vacation. When the March 1 bread braid falls due I will be vacationing in Florida and I can't wait!! I SO need a break from the frigid north.

It is actually Valentine's Day as I write this post, and I wanted to share my delicious lunch with you. I defrosted one of my Soft Whole Wheat Hamburger buns, split it, spread it thickly with fig jam, added ham and swiss cheese and grilled it panini style in my Foreman grill. Oh my gosh was it good... and thanks to Rachel Ray magazine for the idea.

Well this week, we began with a full recipe of 100% Whole Wheat with Olive Oil dough. I had a little trouble getting the olive oil in incororate into the dough. During the initial rise the oil seemed to settle on the edges leaving a greasy crust.

I let it proof overnight in the refrigerator and the next day baked this loaf of bread. The dough was still on the greasy side when I shaped the loaf, but the bread came out okay. Here is a picture:

Gary used it for sandwiches and didn't say much about it, so I guess it was okay. I preferred the Soft Whole Wheat recipe.

The next recipe was Aloo Paratha, which is an Indian style calzone stuffed with curried potatoes and peas. I was really looking forward to this recipe because I love curry, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped. I used Yukon gold potatoes and frozen peas. I am afraid I overmashed the potatoes, they were pretty mushy. I made 2 large ones, and sliced them to go with supper.

Fresh from the oven: And sliced, ready to eat: I felt these could have used a lot more curry powder. When I told Gary they were stuffed with curry he was surprised. He hadn't even tasted the curry. It pretty much tasted like bread with mashed potatoes and peas inside. Just bland. Next time I would stuff it with cheese and tomato sauce.

The third recipe was my favorite this time. It was Southwestern Focaccia Bread with Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese. Doesn't that sound great? However, finding the ingredients locally proved to be a major challenge. I lucked out with the fresh cilantro and even the goat cheese, but finding a fresh poblano pepper in the frozen tundra of Maine in January is impossible. The closest I could come was an Anaheim pepper. No fresh corn either, I had to use frozen. The authors said you could use frozen, but didn't tell you how to go about roasting it. I put some in a pan and stuck it in the oven while it preheated to 450.

I rolled the dough into a circle on parchment so I could slide it onto the stone without fuss. Parchment has become my new best friend in baking! I added the sauce and corn and dabs of goat cheese:

then I baked it. When it came out of the oven I sprinkled the fresh chopped cilantro on top.

And I ate two healthy slices for lunch!

It was really good.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Assignment 3 For HB in 5!

This week the HBin5 group made some recipes in honor of Valentine's Day.
First, we made Red Beet Buns. I started with 3 fresh beets which needed to be shredded. I got out my food processor (which I rarely use), couldn't find the manual, so I reasoned if I wanted the shreds to fall out of the side chute into a bowl I would use the pain plastic disc beneath the shredding disc to prevent the shreds from falling into the bowl. WRONG! All of the beet shreds wedged themselves firmly between the two discs until the whole thing came to a noisy halt. The only thing that came through the side chute was 3 blood red drops of beet juice. I have no idea how to work this darn thing.

After cleaning up that mess and wondering why on earth THIS recipe is in a book claiming to take 5 minutes a day, I added the shreds to the other ingredients and stirred them up in my Kitchen Aid mixer. With all the confusion of figuring out how to use the food processor, I mistakenly mixed up a whole recipe of the beet dough rather than a half recipe the assignment called for.
The dough seriously looked like bright pink frosting!
But as pretty and pink as it was, this dough was not at all sweet. I made a batch of beet buns to have with corn chowder for dinner. I thought Kaylee would be excited by the pink buns, but she took one look and announced she was NOT eating those.
I made another batch the next day to put in the freezer, then still had enough to make a loaf of red beet bread. Gary has been taking pink tuna sandwiches to work this week, the guys at the Home Depot got a kick out of that! Here is a beet bun buttered and hot from the oven.
The taste? Well, I would have to call it strange. I am a beet lover, so much so that I make pickled beets on a regular basis, (using the lazy fool method, dumping canned beets into leftover pickle juice and letting them refrigerate a week) but these buns were, well, strange... When I served them I felt all Jessica Seinfeld-ish. (Here kids, you'll never notice the beets I hid in your buns... NOT!)
Anyway I have had enough beet bread for a while. So has Gary.
The second recipe this time turned out much better! We were to make a half recipe of the Whole Wheat Chocolate Espresso dough and make Chocolate Tangerine Bars. The dough contained bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used Ghiradelli), cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark) and espresso coffee along with the usual ingredients.
For the Tangerine bars, I added the zest of a tangerine, more bittersweet chocolate and dried cranberries. Then I baked them in a square pan as if they were brownies.
It only took half the dough, so I put the rest
into 6 muffin cups, sprinkled them with raw sugar, and baked them into what I call "Wake Up! Muffins".
Although they appear to be fudgy like brownies, the bars are actually breadlike in crumb and absolutely delicious. Not very sweet, but rich, moist and chocolatey! (Not at all dry Josie!)
My breakfast:
A rich Chocolate Tangerine Bar with the tangerine segments, hot espresso and a good book on the Kindle!
This is my favorite recipe from the book so far. Apparently I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, who knew?


Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Healthy Breads!

I have completed my second group of breads in my HBin5 bake-a-long! First we made the Soft Whole Wheat sandwich bread. This one I baked in a loaf pan for a more traditional sandwich bread. I loved it toasted with a little butter and jam for breakfast. The addition of honey to the dough really made a big difference in flavor to me.

The second bread I made was the Apple Strudel Bread. Oh my, I could eat this one EVERY day! It is rolled out and covered with apples, raisins, cinnamon, walnuts and raw sugar, then rolled jelly-roll style into a loaf. You sprinkle raw sugar and cinnamon over the top of the loaf before baking for a crispy sweet crust. Here is a picture of when it came out of the oven.
And here is a cut slice of this yummy bread!
The third assignment was the Soft Whole Wheat Hamburger (or hot dog) buns. I shaped these into 6 mini boules and left them to rise... brushed them with some water and sprinkled with sesame seeds, and this is what came out of the oven -I thought they were very good, however, all of the sesame seeds fell off when you picked up your sandwich! I made mine into a Veggie Burger and Gary took some egg salad sandwiches to work. He reported back that he felt they were "too much", so I have two of these left in the freezer.
A good baking week I would say!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day!

I recently watched the movie "Julie and Julia", which I loved, and became motivated to attempt to bake every recipe in a cookbook. I couldn't use a general cookbook, because, quite honestly, I am a bit of a fussy eater. I would completely fail the chapters on seafood, meat, poultry, and even eggs. But I like bread. ALL breads! (Well, not wonder bread...) There is nothing I love more than a good marbled rye loaded with caraway, a luscious dark pumpernickel, or steaming fresh sourdough loaves straight from the oven. With breads, I am in my element. Yeast is in my blood. I have the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and have made many wonderful breads from that book. The techniques are easy, quick, and I only needed to purchase a pizza peel, an oven stone, and a large container for storing dough to make most of the recipes.
My New Year's resolution this year was to begin eating healthier, and part of that pledge to myself and my family is to eat more whole grain breads and use less white flours. So, I have joined an online group of bakers who have pledged to bake every recipe in the book "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It will take us almost 2 years to make all of the wonderful sounding breads in the book. There are challenges every 2 weeks to make 2 or 3 recipes/breads. I hope to blog about each of them!
As a December warm-up to the challenge, we started with a Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest which Jeff and Zoe gave to us as a freebie on their Artisan Bread blog. I made this bread to serve on Christmas morning. I purchased an orange zester to make the zest, and I was lucky to have recieved a box of fresh Florida oranges as an early Christmas gift. (Thank you Mom!!) The zester made the strips a little thicker than I would have liked so I ended up cutting them down with a knife. I also made orange sugar by running a few strips of zest through the mini-chopper with about a tablespoon of raw sugar and letting it air dry for a day or two. This made a great topping. I had no trouble with braiding the dough as I have made many bread braids in the past. Since it was Christmas time, I formed this bread into a wreath. This is my bread fresh from the oven (I wish I were a better photographer!)
Our January 15th challenge was to make the Master Whole Wheat Dough recipe and form a Boule, an Epi, and with the remaining dough a batch of Spicy Whole Grain Snack Crackers.
The Boule (round loaf) proved no problem, that's the way I normally shape my artisan breads. However, I did take a suggestion from the authors and made my own seed blend to dust the top of the loaf with before baking. I mixed several seeds I had on hand, including caraway, poppy, sesame (dark and light) and cumin. The lesson I learned was not to use 2 strongly flavored seeds in the same blend, the flavors will fight each other! The caraway and cumin seed did NOT taste good together. Next time I am buying flax seed to add, they have so many healthy benefits, and will not be using cumin seed.
Next, I didn't think the Epi (Wheat Sheaf loaf) would be difficult at all. I read the directions and thought I understood them. I just had one small problem, my oven stone is round so I had to shape the long dough into a horseshoe shape to fit onto the stone. There the trouble started! Once I made the clips into dough, I could not alternate the direction to turn each "leaf", and had to turn them all outward. I intend to try this shape again next time I make bread because I considered this a failure... Please don't laugh at my bad Epi! The taste was very good, we tore chunks off and ate it with a beef stew for supper.

The last assignment was intersesting. I have not made cracker in many many years. The challenge was to roll the dough EXTREMELY thin. Papery thin. Then I pricked it with a fork, brushed on a little olive oil, and dusted liberally with chili powder and salt. Then I cut them into squares with a pizza cutter and baked them on a sheet of parchment. They were really good! The thinnest ones were the crispiest. For a healthy lunch today I made a guacamole, sliced up an apple and some reduced-fat cheddar cheese and served them with my crackers. Delicious and healthy!