Monday, February 28, 2011

50% Whole Wheat & Flax Bread

Another day, another loaf of bread. But before I get to that recipe, I got a shot of C's borscht and what it looks like when she makes & cans it. As you might recall from my previous post, I deviated from her recipe's instructions and got a different-looking soup. Here is what hers looks like, in a 1L jar. Isn't it pretty?

Now, onto the bread.

I adapted this recipe from my Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook book, where I also go the milk bread recipe from. I don't like 100% whole wheat bread; I don't like the texture and my stomach has a hard time with that much fibre. So I cut the whole wheat flour in half and also added about 1/4 flax seeds, which I had hanging around my freezer.

50% Whole Wheat & Flax Bread (adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook, page 463)

1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white bread flour
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp barley malt syrup (or honey)

Directions here. And this is what she looked like:

The original recipe called for 2 tsp barley malt; I have no idea what is meant by that - whether they're talking about a powder or a syrup or what. I've had a jar of barley malt syrup kicking around since I made bagels a couple years back, so I use it whenever I get a chance. It adds great colour & flavour to bread.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Milk Bread

Milk bread (pain au lait) is one of those standard French breads that was heavily drilled into us while in culinary school. There are a zillion recipes for it (here is the culinary school recipe I've made several times). In need of a good basic loaf this week, I went for a different milk bread recipe, this time from my Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook book, which is just excellent. The recipe is for buns (petits pains au lait) but I just shaped the dough into a loaf and...forgot that it was proofing...Yeah, not my prettiest loaf by far, but still edible and it makes great toast. The texture was a bit crumbly, so I prefer the other milk bread recipe, but this one did the trick, and now I know that I need to put the timer on when I'm proofing something in addition to putting it on when I bake something! We live and learn.

Milk Bread/Pain au Lait (adapted by me from the recipe on page 462 of Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook)

1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
2 tbsp melted butter

Directions here.

And here is my loaf...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sometimes I crave stuff, and since I've been icing my shoulder because I have some tendonitis in my right deltoid, I have been craving pumpkin. This might have to do with the fact that I am using frozen blocks of pumpkin I stashed away over a year ago to ice my shoulder with. I have also been craving chocolate, and I do love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which I have made before. It's a great combination. But, I wanted muffins! So I searched around the net and found this recipe on In Erika's Kitchen. I made the recipe this afternoon.

I halved the spices (1 tsp each) because I didn't want such strong spices overwhelming the chocolate, and I used plain white sugar. These turned out really well and made quite cakey muffins. But the recipe was so large I got a bonus pumpkin chocolate chip loaf out of it as well. I baked this in my largest loaf pan, but I think because the batter was so delicate, it didn't have enough structure to support itself as it rose during baking and therefore it never rose in the middle. I topped it with some sugar crystals.

Still the flavour is there! A really great treat and it hit the spot. I'm going to freeze the loaf to take to a family member's place on the weekend.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Magazine Monday #75: Three Seed Biscuits

This recipe from Canadian Living's November 2010 issue caught my eye. Biscuits can really be indulgent in my world because they are so buttery, so fluffy, so good. These looked healthy, so I could enjoy them with a little less guilt than normal. I made them yesterday to go with the borscht I made & froze last week. They were excellent! I didn't have any sunflower seeds on hand, so I put in poppyseeds. Also, I didn't have any wheat germ, so I substituted quick oats.

The biscuits were great, nice & crunchy, and right out of the oven, they were a perfect accompaniment to the soup! This morning, I had a left over one with eggs for breakfast, and I have one more to enjoy later on, perhaps with some jam.

This keeper recipe is here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Boss's Goulash

I am blessed with some excellent bosses at the Telegraph, and one of them (that I know of) happens to also be a pretty good cook, if what he brought to our Christmas party is any indication. We had our Xmas shindig at the local cross country's not really a hill...) where there is a big cabin groups can book for events. There was a big wood stove and an outhouse, and that night we got a huge dump of snow, so the kids were happy (and some adults, too, though I was not one of them). Everyone brought something for dinner; I brought a cake for dessert, Boss A brought sangria and mulled cider, Boss D's wife made homemade bread, which she makes professionally at a local coffee shop; and Boss AB brought Hungarian Goulash and some egg noodles. The picture above is of that meal, served on fancy paper plates!

I have always enjoyed goulash, and indeed my next article in Bread 'n Molasses Magazine will be about the goulash I enjoyed as a kid, made by my mom. That recipe, however, came from an old edition of Betty Crackpot's (AKA Crocker) definitive cookbook and is a highly Americanized version of the traditional Hungarian dish. AB's is different, and it was so good when we chowed down on it at the ski cabin in the middle of a snowstorm. During a my recent big batch freezing spree, I asked AB for his recipe so I could make a crock pot full of it to freeze, and he very nicely shared the recipe with me.

I quote:

Fry up stew meat and onions in quite a lot of butter until browned on the outside. Then I put enough cans of pureed tomatoes in the crock pot with the meat that it looks 'stewy'. Then I cook it for a whole day, adding some salt and a fair bit of paprika (I like the smoked). I'll add carrots and mushrooms, though some say this is a sin! I may even splash in some hot sauce to bring it up to the level of tangy-ness I like. Finally, if it feels too watery I'll add some cornstarch to thicken it a little. Oh, I also put garlic in because I put garlic in almost everything.

So, using this as a template, I got a family pack of stewing meat at Safeway that was about 1.2kg in weight. I had most of a bottle of passata left over from the quinoa salad recipe, so I dumped that in, along with a partial can of leftover diced tomatoes from the borscht I made last week. I have two kinds of paprika on hand, Spanish and Hungarian. I used a few tablespoons of both. After letting the goulash cook on high for several hours in the crock pot, I added some Worcestershire sauce to make it a bit tangy, but when I tasted the broth, I found it lacking. It needed something to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, so I added a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.

It was fantabulous. Not as fantabulous as AB's, but fantabulous enough for me. I may not even freeze any; I might just spend a week eating this. For the initial meal I had, I served the goulash with what my mom used to serve her goulash with, Noodles Romanoff. A sinful side dish indeed - but wonderful, and nostalgic. It was perfect!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Awesome Lunch & Artistic Coffees

On Saturday, my dad and I had a day out that started with some excellent wildlife photo ops at a location out on the Kootenay Pass where volunteers from two local wildlife associations feed a herd of big horn sheep. The purpose of the program and the feeding is to keep the sheep off the highway so there aren't any accidents that can kill or seriously harm both sheep and humans. The sheep were very placid and allowed me to take photos with no problem, and I also got a Telegraph article out of it, so if you want to read more about this unique opportunity, you can go here. I have a full Flickr set with all the big horn sheep photos here.

After that, Dad and I went to Nelson to do some grocery shopping, something we do very regularly, and we always have lunch! We had wanted to go to The Preserved Seed, but they are closed on the weekends, which we were very disappointed about. So, we opted instead to go to Max & Irma's (previously blogged about here) where we had a lovely lunch.

I had the Pollo Calzone, which had in it chicken, sauteed onions, artichoke hearts, and three cheeses. The crust was perfect and spectacular! I complimented the chef on my way out because it was so fabulous!

My dad had the Santa Fe melt, on multigrain bread. The bread was homemade. Not sure what was on the melt other than chicken, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Dad said it was excellent. Both meals came with a fresh house salad and Dad's came with a side of tortilla chips.

Max & Irma's always has really great homemade desserts, but we were both full, so we didn't have any. Great meal!

On Valentine's Day, my brother Jem came up to town and we went for coffee at a local shop called the Alpine Grind. I had to take a picture of these very lovely drinks they made with the decorative tops. Beautiful! The one on the bottom, the darker one, was my mocha, and the other one was a vanilla latté, which my brother claims is the best in town. It was a crummy day weather-wise up here on Monday, so a big hot drink was just perfect.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Magazine Monday #74: Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

After a disappointing last couple of issues, Canadian Living's March 2011 issue has a lot in it that I have bookmarked. This quinoa recipe is the first of a few recipes I plan on making. I love quinoa, and it makes me feel good to eat it because it's so nutritious. This was an easy salad to put together and I have lots around in my fridge for lunches & snack attacks.

I used fresh dill from my AeroGarden, which I had in abundance until I harvested it all a few days ago to make this dish and the borscht I posted about yesterday. Fresh dill is the shizz!

Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups green beans, trimmed & chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
(my addition - a whole pile of fresh dill, chopped)

Tomato Vinaigrette

1/3 cup bottled strained tomatoes (passata)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp liquid honey
(original recipe: 1/2 tsp each dried Italian herb seasoning and salt)
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch cayenne (which I skipped)

In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 12 minutes. Fluff with fork & let cool.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan of boiling water, blanch green beans until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain & refresh in a bowl of ice water. Drain & transfer to a large bowl. (Fresh green beans at this time of year around here are scarce and not worth the money if you can find them; I used frozen beans which I steamed & then cooled.)

Stir in cooled quinoa, chickpeas, red pepper, and feta.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients and pour over the quinoa mixture; stir to coat.

This is an excellent salad, and the dressing has a hint of sweetness that nicely compliments the saltiness of the feta. Definitely a keeper recipe!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

C's Borscht

You might recall C, my SIL's mom, who does catering on top of her busy day job. She also created a homemade cookbook with some of her favourite recipes in it, as well as the fave recipes of some of her friends and family. Last weekend, I helped C cater the concession at the curling club, and one of the items on offer was C's homemade borscht.

I have previously posted about borscht here, and that post included some information about this hearty Russian soup as well as a recipe I've previously made with great success. C's version is also extremely awesome, and although there are beets in the soup, they are there more or less for colour and are discarded during the cooking process. I only like non-beety borscht because I am not a fan of that particular root veggie; however, C's borscht is the most brilliant pink colour I can barely describe it. I was too busy during that concession to take a picture of her borscht, so you'll have to trust me when I say that stuff was PINK, man!

Anyway, I had a bowl of C's borscht for lunch at the curling club one day and it inspired me to make some of my own so I could freeze it in portions for quick nuking when I don't feel like cooking. Yesterday, I got down to it and made the soup. The total cost for ingredients was $9.95; I got 11 portions, which makes each portion $0.90! You cannot beat that! That's even cheaper than my cabbage rolls!

Here is the recipe, which C generously allowed me to share here.

C's Borscht (I am taking some liberties with the method; these directions are not exactly how they appear in the original recipe)

2 beets
2 large carrots
4 large potatoes
dash of salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream (35%)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 quart canned tomatoes (I used 1L diced)
1 head cabbage
2 tbsp dill, preferably fresh, or to taste (to be honest, I used WAY more than that!)

1. Peel the beets, potatoes, and carrots; chop and add to a large pot. Cover with water & add a dash of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until veggies are tender. (I personally wouldn't dice the beets again; I'd keep them in chunks; they are there more to impart colour and you don't want to spend a lot of time fishing them out when it comes time to discard them.)

2. When the veggies are tender, drain everything and discard the beets. Save the water! Mash the carrots and potatoes with 1/2 cup of butter and half the cream. Add back the water from the cooking vegetables. (Now, I deviated from this and it was a BIG MISTAKE. I just fished out the beets with a slotted spoon and mashed the carrots & potatoes in the pot with the water, but I couldn't get a nice smooth mash. No wonder. It wouldn't happen in the water; you have to do it out of the water. I ended up pureeing mine with an immersion blender. This was my first mistake on the path to getting a completely different borscht than the one C makes.)

3. In a large frying pan, saute the onion & pepper with 2 tbsp of the butter until the onion is clear and soft. Add tomatoes and dill & simmer.

4. Chop the cabbage very fine. Add it to the sauteed tomato mixture. Cook until cabbage is tender. (I had to deviate from the original recipe at this point, too, because I didn't have a pot big enough to accommodate the cabbage; I was using the big pot to boil the root veggies. So I wound up added cabbage to two pots and making two pots of borscht in the end, which I mixed together to make it all consistent.)

5. Gradually add the cabbage mixture to the potato mixture.

6. Very gradually add the rest of the butter and cream to the soup, stirring frequently (if added too quickly the acid in the tomato mixture will curdle the cream). Do not boil. Serve. (I just added the cream with the cabbage and didn't experience any curdling. I also boiled! No ill effects at all, but I had to in order to cook my cabbage since I was splitting it between two pots.)

My soup looked like this:

Yeah...very different from C's. But it tastes fantastic! Which is what counts, I guess. Next time I'll follow C's directions more closely and hopefully get that fantastically pink borscht she does!

Corset Cookies = Awesome!

I just did a post here about my love of corsets, and one of my readers sent me a link to this photo:

OMG! These are awesome! I want one badly - very badly! Think of all the decorationg possibilities! I am going to have to see if my local kitchen store can find me one of these cutters! These have got to be some of the prettiest cookies ever, too. The piping is amazing and took considerable control and experience. Whoever thought of this deserves a some kind of big giant cookie award.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cadbury Mini Egg Ice Cream

In a fit of premenstrual pique last weekend, I purchased a 1kg bag of Cadbury mini eggs. It felt so evil, but they are so good! I just finished the bag off now, and let me tell you, it took considerable will power on my part to not inhale the whole bag within a day of purchase.

I didn't eat them all in their natural state, however. I had a brain wave during my PMS craziness: ice cream! Why not? I am out of store-bought ice cream and it's so frakking expensive here for the good stuff and the stuff I like that I'm not going to buy it. But it's cheap as hell to make, so make it I did! And the results were excellent!

Cadbury Mini Egg Ice Cream

2 cups whipping cream (35%)
1 cup whole milk (3%)
3/4 cup sugar
3 vanilla beans (I have a package I'm trying to use up because they're getting dry, so that's why I used this many)
1 cup chopped Cadbury mini eggs

This is my typical ice cream recipe (minus the mini eggs, of course). I just combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla, really well in a large measuring cup, and pour it into my ice cream maker. Close to when the ice cream is ready to come out of the machine, I added the chopped mini eggs. Freeze till firm. And Bob's your uncle!

The shells turned the final product a bit of an odd colour, but that's OK. It tastes great!

I may need to buy another bag...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Dill = Awesome

My AeroGardens continue to produce awesome stuff, providing some much needed zazz to my diet. The dill has done tremendously; I couldn't be happier with it. And I finally got around to using it tonight.

I inherited some nice baked potatoes from a catering job I did over the weekend, and this was very exciting because A) they were free, B) I didn't have to bake them myself, and C) I immediately knew what I was going to do with them once they were in my hot little hands - and I knew that my plans would involve dill.

I have felt a need for a shot of summer now that we are in the dead of winter, and nothing says summer more than potato salad! With lots of dill!

Very simple:

2 large baked potatoes, cubed
4 green onions, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
a whole bunch of dill, chopped
enough mayo to bind everything just nicely

And voilà:

Sooooooo looking forward to this winter being over and done with. In the meantime, I have another use for my dill, also inspired by the catering I did on the weekend, but that is a post for the near future!


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