August 26, 2011

Multi-Grain Milk Bread

While perusing the farmer's market, I usually am able to bypass the prepared foods. I'm at the market to prepare my own foods, so why buy pre-made (though homemade) from someone else? But often they give away free samples. I tried a slice of a local baker's bread and was hooked. I ended up buying a loaf because it was so good. So then I wanted to try and make my own. I was able to find this recipe on the internet and it turned out perfect. This is my new favorite bread.

I used 8-grain cereal from Bob's Red Mill, because I couldn't find any 10-grain. Also, as I'm typing this blog post I finally noticed that the recipe only uses about half of the tangzhong mixture. I've made this bread three times and each time used all the tangzhong. No wonder it was super moist. Oops.

Ten-Grain Milk Bread
adapted from Une Deux Senses

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup 10-grain cereal mix, plus more for topping
3 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (can substitute regular milk)
120 g. tangzhong (about 1/2 of the mixture below)
3 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

For the tangzhong:
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water

To make the tangzhong, mix the flour and water together and whisk until it is completely dissolved and there are no lumps. Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Begin stirring constantly as the mixture heats up - it will begin to thicken. When the temperature of the mixture reaches 150 F, turn off the stove and remove it from the stove to let it cool.

In the bowl of a stand up mixer, combine the flours, cereal mix, salt, and yeast and mix. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, egg, honey and tangzhong and mix very well. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients into the center. Fit the mixer with the hook attachment and begin mixing on medium speed until the dough comes together, then add the butter in and continue kneading. Knead until the dough is smooth, not too sticky on the surface and elastic, about 18 - 20 minutes (but each mixer varies). When ready, you should be able to take a chunk of the dough and stretch it to a very thin membrane before if breaks. When it does break it should form a circle. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead into a ball. Take a large bowl, grease it with oil, then place the dough into the bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it proof in a warm place until it's doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a clean surface. Roll out the ball with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Take one end of the dough and fold it to meet the middle of the oval, then take the other end and fold it to meet the middle. Flip the dough over with the folds facing down and flatten with a rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it forms a thin rectangle. Begin rolling up the dough along the wide/ long side of the rectangle so you end up with a long skinny roll rather than a short and fat one. Place it into a 9x5" bread pan lined with parchment paper. Cover in plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about another 40 minutes. Beat an egg and brush on top. Sprinkle more ten-grain cereal to cover the top of the loaf. Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

August 23, 2011

Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwich

I love a BLT sandwich. The combination is just right. But I decided to go healthy and try a bacon-less BLT. If you're going to leave out bacon, it better be replaced with something very good. And avocado is pretty awesome, so this worked.

The ALT Sandwich
adapted from Sweet Potato Chronicles

4 basil leaves, torn
1 avocado, pitted and mashed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tomato, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pieces of lettuce
4 pieces of multi-grain bread, toasted
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Makes two sandwiches.

Coat tomato slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Let stand.

Meanwhile, mash avocado in a medium bowl, and then add lemon juice, torn basil, and salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.

Toast bread and then spread about half of the avocado mix onto the bread. Finish by adding tomato slices and a piece of lettuce.

August 22, 2011

Confetti Orzo Salad with Chicken

This pasta salad is bursting with fresh summer vegetables, chicken, feta, and a lemony dressing. I loved it!!

Confetti Orzo Salad with Chicken
adapted from Anderson Farmer's Market

1 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions
corn from 5 ears of corn, cut off the cob
6 small or 2 large zucchini diced
1 sweet red pepper diced
1 jalapeno minced
1 red onion chopped
1 cup basil torn
4 ounces feta cheese
2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil
juice of three lemons
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
salt and pepper

Prepare dressing by combining ingredients and whisking. Set aside.

Sprinkle zucchini with salt and let sit for 15 minutes, rinse.

Meanwhile, pound chicken breast slightly to create a thinner, even thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Saute the chicken for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove from pan.

In large skillet (can use the pan from the chicken), heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and corn and saute for a few minutes, only until tender. Remove from heat.

Dice cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix corn and zucchini with cooked chicken, cooked orzo, red pepper, onion, basil and jalapeno. Toss with dressing and crumble feta over top.
Can be stored in airtight container for 2 days in refrigerator.

August 16, 2011

Mini Cheesecakes with Fruit Topping

A few weeks ago my Saturday morning was spent picking blueberries. It was lovely. Then came several lovely batches of blueberry ice cream. Part of the process includes steeping the blueberries in sugar and water, and then straining out the chunks of berries. I kept the leftover chunks just in case.

I'm always in a constant state of trying to clean out the freezer. I found a bag of leftover graham cracker crust, thought of my blueberries, and voila! Mini cheesecakes were born!

Using my standard cheesecake recipe (but only made one-third) but with a graham cracker crust, I baked the cakes in cupcake tins. I topped them with my leftover ice-cream blueberry mush and fresh strawberries.

Mini Cheesecakes with Fruit Topping

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 slightly beaten egg yolk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. milk

Line two standard-size muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

For crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/3 c. sugar. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of crust into each muffin cup. Pat and pack down the crust to evenly cover the bottom of the cup. Set aside.

For filling, in a large mixer bowl beat together softened cream cheese, lemon peel, and remaining vanilla until fluffy. Stir together 1 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, salt; gradually stir in cream cheese mixture. Add 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk all at once, beating at low speed until just combined. Stir in milk.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups just under full. Bake at 325˚ for 25-30 minutes more or till center appears set and knife comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove cheesecakes from pan and cool on a wire rack. Chill thoroughly. When ready to serve, remove paper liners and top with fruit topping of your choice.

August 12, 2011

Custard with Raspberries

I love berries, and raspberries may be my absolute favorite (but maybe it's strawberries, or blueberries...). I couldn't pass up raspberries at the farmer's market. One of the best ways to enjoy berry jewels is with cream, plain yogurt, creme fraiche, or whipped cream.

These custards are so creamy and dreamy.  I'm excited to try them with other berries.

Custard with Raspberries
adapted from Food 52

1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, egg, flour and cornstarch. Mix well.

Add the milk and vanilla. Stir well with a wire whisk.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook and stir for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the custard thickens. Pour into a bowl.

Add the cream cheese. Stir for two minutes, or until the cheese melts. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the custard cools.

Preheat the broiler. Pour the custard into six custard cups set on a baking sheet. Press the berries into the custard. Broil four inches from the heat for five minutes, or until the custard is golden in color.

Sprinkle with the brown sugar. Set aside for one to two minutes, or until the sugar melts. Alternately, if you want the sugar to brulée, put them back under the broiler briefly. Be sure to watch them carefully and pull them out when the sugar is bubbly, but before it burns. Let cool slightly and serve while warm.

August 10, 2011

Sichuan Green Beans

If prepared with enough flavor, green beans aren't so bad (see this salad). This recipe is bursting with flavor with the ground meat taking backstage to the green beans.

I've tried this several times and am convinced any ground meat will work. The flavor from the sauce even makes ground turkey taste fine.

Sichuan Green Beans
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/3 - 1/2 pound ground meat (any combo of pork, beef, or turkey)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 scallions, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
sambal oelek (optional)

Stir together all the ingredients from the soy sauce to dry mustard. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over high heat until just smoking. Add the green beans and stir-fry for a few minutes until they are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes. Stir frequently until there is some charring on the beans. Remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-high and add ground meat to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes or until no pink remains in the meat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about half a minute. Add beans then the sauce and stir until the latter has thickened, just a few seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl and add the scallions and sesame oil. Serve with a small dollop of sambal oelek over hot rice.

August 7, 2011

Chocolate-Croissant Bread Pudding

Occasionally I buy store-bought croissants for my favorite chicken salad sandwich. With the leftover croissants (stale works better), this bread pudding begs to be made.

I made this a few weeks ago, and I definitely recommend making it in the fall or winter. It's just not a summer dessert. But, of course, it's still delicious any time.

The bread pudding is cooked in a water bath. I have a disposable aluminum pan (like for roasting turkeys) that I use for this purpose.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding
from Ann D

2 large croissants, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large egg yolks
2 c. whipping cream
½ c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚. Arrange croissant cubes on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325˚.

Sprinkle chocolate on bottom or pie or quiche dish. Top with croissant cubes.

Pour cream into heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from the vanilla bean and then add the bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture. Discard vanilla bean. Pour over chocolate and croissants.

Place pie dish in large baking pan. Add enough water to pan until the level is halfway up the sides of the pie dish. Bake pudding until set, about 40 minutes. Remove water; cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

August 5, 2011

Moroccan Couscous

I've been making this couscous dish for a long time, though this is the first time with whole-wheat couscous. It's actually hard to stop eating it once you start.

This time I used fresh peas from the farmer's market, but frozen peas get the job done too.

Moroccan Couscous
from The Schwarzbein Principle Cookbook by Diana Schwarzbein

1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ diced small onion
½ diced red bell pepper
1 minced garlic clove
1 c. couscous (whole-wheat couscous works too)
1 tsp. curry powder
1 c. chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
½ c. fresh green peas or frozen and thawed
1 to 2 tsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
dash cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add couscous and curry powder and sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat. In a separate medium saucepan, bring stock, butter, peas, lemon or lime juice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Pour hot liquid over couscous, stir once, cover and let sit undisturbed 10 to 15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving. Taste, and adjust seasonings.

August 3, 2011

Vegetable-Bean Fajitas

In an effort to eat even less meat, I set out to create a meatless fajita. Usually, I steal other people's recipes, but this one came purely out of my head. Of course, the more time I spend in the kitchen, the more experience I have to know how long things need to cook, what goes well together, etc. So it's not like I re-invented the wheel, but I was proud that this tasted good enough to repeat and share.

This recipe is definitely customizable. Get creative with the vegetables, type of beans, or the toppings.

Vegetable-Bean Fajitas

1 onion, thinly sliced into 1-inch slivers
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 handfuls sliced swiss chard or spinach
2 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels removed
1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch slivers
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch slivers
1 15-oz. can drained and rinsed black beans (or 2 c. cooked black beans)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil
half a lime

feta, Monterey Jack, or cojita cheese, crumbled or shredded
sour cream
corn tortillas, warmed

Heat a large skillet (cast-iron works well) over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions start to soften. Add the swiss chard or spinach and saute another minute. Add the corn and bell peppers. Saute another minute or two. Add the black beans, cumin, and chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until heated through, another minute or two. Remove from heat.

Mix the tomatoes, cilantro, salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a couple squeezes of lime juice in a small bowl to create a simple salsa.

Assemble the fajitas on top of corn tortillas, add the vegetable-bean mixture, add a scoop of salsa, cheese, and sour cream.

August 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Sorry for the posting hiatus. Usually I plan ahead and have some posts ready to go even if I won't be home. That did not happen this time, but I guess I needed the break!

I have trouble with getting homemade granola bars to stick together, but I'm wondering if the secret is to mix them up with your hands. The first time I made these, they were crumbly, but I only used a spoon. The second two times I used my hands with better luck. In any case, I really loved the peanut butter used to bind these bars together. Peanut butter is one of my favorite food items, so these bars really hit the spot. However, my mother-in-law tried them, and even though she does not like peanut butter too much, really liked these granola bars.

These are so simple, hearty, and healthy. I'll be making these often for my stomach-never-full husband.

In this batch, my add-ins were chopped raisins and flaxseed. I've also used dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
adapted from How Sweet Eats

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup natural peanut butter, melted in the microwave for 30 seconds
1/2 cup honey

optional add-ins:
chocolate chips
wheat germ
dried fruit, chopped
other nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, combine oats and peanuts. Add honey and mix to combine. Add melted peanut butter and mix until moistened (I found my hands worked best to make sure every oat was coated). Fold in optional add-ins. If dough is still too dry (this can depend on your ingredients) add more peanut butter or honey 1 tablespoon at a time until moistened.

Press dough in a greased (non-stick spray) 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Once cool, cut into squares. Store in an air-tight container.