Archive for May, 2007

Bread Update

[UPDATE:  I have added some photos of the no-knead bread method here.] 

The loaf of NO-KNEAD bread that I baked today was partly whole wheat. I used only 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. Artisan’s bread flour, and 2 c. unbleached bread flour. I put no seeds on the outside crust, baked it in my oval 3 qt. Corningware casserole and it turned out beautifully.

I had some with my lunch with a little butter. Very good. Just enough whole wheat flour for good color but not so much that it was bland and dry. Try it. Here is a repeat of the basic recipe.

No-Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (or 2 1/2 c. flour, and 1/2 c. whole wheat flour)
1/4 t. instant yeast (yes, one-fourth teaspoon)
1 1/4 t. salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 c. water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) on oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is OK; shake pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

A dough scraper or metal “hamburger” flipper makes folding the dough over on itself easy. The dough is very wet, and looks like it won’t hold together. It does.

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The official name of this recipe, from Epicurious.com, is Chicken Paillards with Tomato, Basil and Roasted-Corn Relish. Too long a name for me. I will think of a decent name for it later. In the meantime, it’s Delish Chick.

The recipe calls for roasting fresh corn kernels in a 375 degree oven for 18 minutes. I didn’t bother. The house was hot enough and so was I. Because I had no fresh corn, I used canned white shoepeg corn, drained. I didn’t cook it at all. If you want to follow the recipe exactly, go ahead. I probably will try it someday. Let me tell you, it was very good without the extra step of roasting the corn. I wonder if I can get an energy credit for not using the oven. Somebody call Al Gore.

Simple in preparation, my variation is a perfect last minute entree for a busy day. It has meat and two vegetables in the main course. All that’s needed is a salad, fruit, bread or pasta of some kind, and you’re good to go. I fixed a quick tossed salad (just lettuce and dressing) and some rice and dinner was on the table in about 15 minutes.

Here’s the recipe for the chicken.

Delish Chick – Serves 4

3 T. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 c. fresh corn kernels
12 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. chopped green onions
3 T. finely sliced fresh basil (I just rough chopped it)

4 skinless chicken breast halves, tenderloins removed, pounded evenly to about 1/2″ thickness
1 1/2 T. butter
1 1/2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper

For relish: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush rimmed baking sheet with 1 t. oil. Toss corn and 2 t. oil on the prepared sheet. Roast until the corn begins to brown, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Mix in tomatoes, green onions, basil, and 2 T. oil; season with salt and pepper.

For chicken: Pat chicken dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dust with flour to coat. Melt butter with oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and saute until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plates; top with relish and serve.

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I rarely use cocoa for making cocoa. With all the available varieties of Swiss Miss and her clones, there is no need to make hot chocolate from scratch, at least not just for me. If I wanted to make it for a group of people, I would probably make it from scratch.

I mostly use cocoa for a chocolate cake that is divinely moist and rich. I also use it for the following recipes for chocolate sauce and for quick and simple brownies.

If you are hungry for an ice cream sundae and have the ice cream but don’t want to go out for the fudge sauce, never fear. A well-stocked pantry might provide the necessities for you to prepare your own. What’s more, it’s easy and quick. If you can afford the caloric binge, try making cocoa chocolate brownies, top a piece with vanilla ice cream and drizzle it with the following fudge sauce. Diet tomorrow.

Lacey’s Fudge Sauce:

Mix in a small saucepan:
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 T. cocoa
dash salt
4 T. water
dash cinnamon

1-13oz. can evaporated milk

Cook, medium heat, stirring constantly; bring to a boil and boil gently 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

4 T. butter, 2 t. vanilla, dash cinnamon and dash almond extract.

Let cool. Store in refrigerator up to a week.


Granny’s Cocoa Brownies

(This recipe is nearly as easy as making a boxed mix. It makes a lot and costs very little.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 pan.

Mix in medium large bowl:
2 c. sugar
4 T. cocoa
2 sticks melted butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. vanilla

Pour into pan and bake about 25 minutes. Cool and cut into pieces.

Sometime I will give you the recipe for the Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe that used to be on the Hershey’s Cocoa package. I am not a big fan of cake, but that recipe definitely makes the best chocolate cake I ever tasted. Rich and chocolately and very moist.


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We had a remarkably great dinner at Jag’s last night with Franco and Jeannette. Jag’s striving for perfection, in food prep and presentation, has paid off. Everyone’s dinners were excellent.

I had Morel Scallops, “Dry Morel Encrusted Diver Scallops over Madeira Shallot Reduction.
Accompanied with Wild Mushroom Risotto & Steamed Asparagus”, as described in their menu.
There were 4 large scallops, more than enough, perfectly cooked, in a sauce that was just a tad sweet, and jam-packed with flavor. The risotto was wonderfully creamy with bits of mushrooms scattered throughout. The plate, decorated with an orchid, was beautiful, as well.

Mac and Franco had beef steaks, tender and flavorful, with mashed potatoes, rich and buttery, seasoned with just the right amount of garlic. Mac had the “Julius Caesar” salad with his meal.

Jeannette had sea bass, which is what I enjoyed the last time I was at Jag’s. It is flavored with Thai chili beurre blanc, and served with asparagus and mashed potatoes, although she asked for the risotto instead.


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[UPDATE: I have added lots of photos of the no-knead bread process here.] 

I mixed up dough for two more loaves of bread yesterday and they are nearly ready to pop into the oven or should I say “plop” into the oven. One of the loaves is pretty wet. I guess I put in a few drops too much water. It is hard to handle and refuses to stay in anything resembling a loaf shape. The other loaf is much better behaved. Not so sticky, is containing itself quite nicely in a round “boule” attitude. The dough is supposed to be quite wet. The wetter, the better, but it does make it hard to handle and “plop” into the hot pan without having it stick to the sides. I need to turn the ovens on now. I will keep you posted about the loaves.100_2164.jpg
The “Blob” Prior to “Plopping”

I am using a Corningware oval covered casserole for one loaf and my Mario Batali Dutch ooven for the other, 450 degrees F. for both ovens. I will salt each and coat them with seeds prior to baking.


Update: They are in the oven and baking, covered, for the 30 minutes necessary.

Update: The lids are off for 15 more minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned. They smell great!

Update: Out of the oven and basted with melted butter. Hmmm.100_2168.jpg


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I bought golden/orange cauliflower from a grocery near my house this week. I had read about it and purple cauliflower but never tried them before. These colorful vegetables are natural mutants, not genetically altered by man. The orange cauliflower has an abundance of vitamin A which gives it the extraordinary color that lasts even after cooking. It tastes the same as the white does, maybe a little stronger, but since I like cauliflower, it was fine with me. I fixed a little cheese sauce to go with it. We also had potato salad and BBQ pork ribs.

I stopped at another store on the way home from an appointment to buy real “homemade” storemade potato salad. As I approached the deli, I caught the aroma of something delicious cooking in thekitchen behind the deli counter. I told the deli staff that I had to buy whatever it was that smelled so wonderful, the ribs that they cook every Friday. The employees I spoke with said that they sellout every Friday. I wanted to dig into them right in the car, but, since I bought them for dinner, I took them home and put them in the refrigerator until supper time. They just needed a gently reheating and they were ready for us.

All I had to do for dinner was prepare the cauliflower and cheese sauce, and wash some tomatoes. Pretty easy and not very expensive. The ribs were on sale and the total for them was $5.99. I pay a lot more than that when I buy ribs to cook for the two of us from scratch. The potato salad was $4.66 and we have over half left so the cost of the potato salad was about $2.00. The cost of a handful of cherry tomatoes was negligible. I don’t remember how much the cauliflower was; let’s guess $2.00. The cheese sauce is hard to calculate to let’s just say $1.00, although it had to be less than that (1 T. of butter and flour, 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 c. cheddar). Anyway, this Friday night meal cost about $11.00. That’s a lot less than going out to dinner on a Friday night. Our regular pizzas cost more, and a typical Friday night out to dinner costs a lot more.

We are going out tonight with friends, Franco and Jeannette. Heading toward Cincinnati for dinner at Jag’s. I’ll review that dinner tomorrow.

One of these days, I’ll get back to the vegetable alphabet. I think we are ready for “K”. Ketchup, anyone?


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I had a request from Kim to share one of my butterscotch pie recipes. I referred to butterscotch pie in a prior post about the Goody-Goody restaurant that featured that pie on its dessert menu.

Here it is; I think it is from an old Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens Dessert Cookbook.

Butterscotch Pie

9″ baked pie shell

1 c. brown sugar (either light or dark or a mixture)
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 t. salt
1 c. water
1 2/3 c. milk (2% is fine)
5 1/3 T. butter
3 beaten egg yolks (save the whites for meringue if you want)
1 1/2 t. vanilla

1. Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium large saucepan with a heavy bottom. Gradually stir in water and milk, stirring to mix well. Add the butter.

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly till thick and boiling. Boil for one minute.

3. Remove from heat. Gradually stir at least half of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks. (Doing this slowly prevents the eggs from scrambling.) Return this egg mixture back into the cooking pan with the rest of the sugar mixture. Boil one minute more, stirring constantly to prevent the custard from burning. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Immediately pour into the cooked and cooled pie shell. Finish with meringue if desired (we never do) and let sit until the custard filling cools a bit before storing in the refrigerator with a circle of waxed paper directly on top of the custard. This prevents an unattractive skin from forming on the custard.

Some notes:
1. I use a 4 qt. pan and a long-handled wooden spoon to make the custard. A 3 qt. pan is fine, but I use a larger one to prevent splashes of the hot custard from burning my hand. That happened once and I had a nickel-sized burn that hurt for a while. I still have the scar.
2. I prefer the dark brown sugar, but either works well.
3. I save the egg whites for poaching rather than meringue which I don’t like. (One of my favorite breakfasts is poached egg whites on toast with hot milk and butter poured over. Great comfort food.)

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