There’s nothing like fresh baked bread for noshing, with salads and pastas, french toast and pb&j’s. MMM. Dan has been experimenting with our favorite bread of the french baguette variety for over a year now and has come up with a delicious recipe that he’s finally sharing with us!
If you haven’t made bread before, don’t be scared! This isn’t as time consuming as it may seem. You just have to stick around the house while it’s rising. And once you do it a few times, it’ll be second nature.
A few items that will help make this bread come out perfectly:
a stand-up mixer
unbleached bread flour
active dry yeast
a baguette pan (we use this one from Williams-Sonoma)
Dan’s French Bread
Total prep time with two 45-60 minute rises: about 2 hours
Baking time: 25 minutes
2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
5 cups + 3 tbsp unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white (optional, for shine)
Combine water, sugar and yeast in your mixing bowl and stir by hand a few times. Let sit for 5 minutes, until a little frothy. Here you’re proofing the yeast, to make sure it hasn’t gone bad. Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix on low until just incorporated. Turn mixer up to medium speed and let it kneed the dough for 8 minutes. Check the dough after 2 minutes; it should be moist and elastic, but not stick excessively to your fingers. If that is the case, add a little more flour.
Remove the dough from the bowl temporarily, and coat the bowl with a non-stick spray. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 45-60 minutes at room temperature, or until doubled in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down (gently kneed it with your hands to release excess air). Sometimes, just pulling it out of the bowl and moving it around in your hands will do the trick. Don’t fold it or work it too much here. Divide the dough in two equal parts with a dough cutter or sharp knife - but don’t tear the dough.
Next you’ll shape the baguettes. Gently stretch each section of dough, or allow gravity to pull part of it down out of your hands, to form two long baguettes the length of your baguette pan. Spray the pan with non-stick spray and lay the dough baguettes into the pan. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes. At this point, pre-heat the oven to 400-425 degrees. 400 for a softer crust, 425 will give you a crunchier crust.
If you’d like a shiny crust, lightly brush the egg white wash onto the baguettes before popping them into the oven. If you’d like a rustic crust, leave off the wash. Take a sharp razor blade or knife and make one long slit down the center of each baguette, about 1/8″ deep. Be careful not to press down onto the bread too much, so as not to deflate it. The slit allows for expansion in a controlled way, and also looks mighty nice.
Bake for 25 minutes. Put baguettes immediately onto a cooling rack and let cool for as long as you can wait to slice into it. Ryan and I usually whine right away and Dan cuts us off a piece while it’s still hot. With a little butter - oh the yum.
This absolutely delicious recipe is shared by Elisa, a wonderful mom, wife, teacher, friend and cook…
We just returned from a trip to Turkey where we fell in love with this dish. It is so wonderful I serve it daily. Everyone else loves it, too, even the kids eat it up! It is great eaten immediately and holds well in the refrigerator for days – just like yogurt usually will. I like it best with a medium tart yogurt, and a little heavy on the salt. It is great made with full fat to nonfat yogurt. I especially love it on its own or in a bite with grilled lamb. It has inspired me to explore more ideas with plain yogurt – including making my own. YUM!
Haydari – Turkish yogurt with garlic and dill
(Recipe adapted from Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook)
2 cups creamy yogurt
3 – 5 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
½ tsp salt – to taste
4 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Combine all the ingredients. Serve plain or with olive oil on top. Serve as a salad, side dish, or as a dip with pita slices, pita chips, or crudite.
Written by Renee, Special Contributor
I recently made an awful discovery…I’m gluten intolerant. Truth be told, I suspected it for a long while, I just didn’t want to give up all of that amazing gluten filled food, so I lived in denial. But then there’s nothing like horrible stomach pain and digestive “issues” to push someone out of denial. For a self-proclaimed “foodie” this was a devastating realization. I know that sounds dramatic, obviously there are many, many more horrendous things…but I’m sure those of you who are faced with the same issue are feeling my pain. No more bread, pasta, brownies, cookies, etc…unless I wish to consume one of the myriad of “gluten-free” alternatives out there. Yes, I’m grateful to be living in a time when there truly are a multitude of options, but so far my foray into those options has, with a few exceptions, been less than appetizing.
Being half Italian and growing up in a family where food (specifically pasta) was love, one of my first priorities was to find gluten-free pasta. I tried Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta with less than happy results. Simply put, it was gummy, regardless of my efforts not to overcook it. I then searched a few blogs and found that several recommended Tinkyada, which is another brown rice pasta. I purchased a bag of fusilli and I carefully followed the cooking instructions (as advised by the bloggers). Sadly, I wasn’t impressed. The texture was a little too soft and the taste was well, like brown rice (what a surprise).
Still on the hunt, I ventured into the Simply Gluten Free Specialty Grocery (behind Roxy’s deli on TO Boulevard), and I asked for a recommendation. The woman told me that there was a brand that was virtually indistinguishable from the real deal. I was in, or at least willing to give it a go. I purchased two packages of Schar (made in Italy…and Europe’s #1 gluten-free pasta!). To my surprise and delight, it was actually very good. Not indistinguishable from the real thing, but good nonetheless. Two minor complaints. Number one, if I’m going to pay nearly 6 bucks for a package of pasta, please give me a full pound! The Schar packages are 12 ounces. Number two, the pasta fell apart a bit when I reheated it to eat as a leftover. All in all, I’m loving my Schar pasta and I’m bellyache free!
Stay tuned for quest #2…best gluten-free brownie!
Written by Cris, Special Contributor
There are few things I will turn the oven on for during the summer, this clafouti (cla-foo-tee) is one of them. Sweet summer fruit is delicious enough, but sometimes I want something rich and sinful. Being health conscious creates some guilt, adding fruit to the mix gives me a reasonable excuse to indulge. I have tinkered with this recipe over the years, reducing both sugar and fat, while upping the fruit. Friends have enjoyed all versions and liked the lighter ones just as much. The fruit would sometimes sink and disappear, so now I cut the peaches into thick slices, 3/4″ thick, so they will not be buried under the batter. My lighter version is so full of sweet, healthy fruit that I feel good about treating myself and others.
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Costco sized peaches, peeled and sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 tbsp raw sugar
Put butter in 13×9-inch baking dish in 350-degree oven till melted, set aside.
Whisk flour, sugar, salt (skip if using salted butter) and baking powder in large bowl. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until blended. Pour batter over melted butter and cut through a few times with a rubber spatula. Make sure to push batter into corners of the pan.
Drain any juice from peaches and place slices evenly over batter, dot with blueberries next. Don’t worry if the fruit sinks.
Bake at 350 degrees until top is browned, about 50 minutes.
Sprinkle with raw sugar for a nice crunch.
Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream. Heaven!
Oh the yum. A little spicy, but not too much. Keep the guac cool (don’t add jalapenos, even if you normally do!) to offset extra heat from the chiles.
These were so good that we had them 2 nights in a row. You’ll end up with a little extra chile sauce and guac, so if you have extra beef, too - save the extra ingredients just in case you want them the next night, too!
Here’s what he did:
Green Chile Sauce
1 poblano, 1 anaheim and 1 serano chile roasted, peeled, seeds removed and then diced
2 tsp water
salt and pepper to taste
Gently pulse ingredients in a food processor for 10 seconds, until sauce is still chunky but has a saucy texture. Taste it before you serve it! Fresh chiles vary in heat.
2 ripe but firm avocados, mashed coarsely (still chunky)
1/2 of a white onion, finely diced
4 tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients well in a large bowl.
1lb 22% ground beef at room temp
salt and pepper
2 slices jack cheese
2 slices cheddar cheese
2 fresh onion buns, toasted
Very gently combine the beef and seasoning, with as little mixing as possible to incorporate the salt and pepper into the beef. Form 2 thick 1/2 lb burger patties.
On a pre-heated skillet, toast the buns, then set aside in a warmed toaster oven to keep warm. In the same pre-heated skillet, cook the burger patties for 4 minutes per side for medium rare, adding a slice of each cheese to the patties when flipped.
Place the guac on the bottom bun, then a patty, some chile sauce and then the bun on top.
Serve with chips and dip or fries, or just some coke on ice. Enjoy!
I like eating healthy, but find it difficult to do all the time because I just don’t crave all that healthy stuff, like wheat and greens and apparently, quinoa (disasterous quinoa experience the other night, I’ll try it again later). So I’ve developed a few tricks to fool myself into eating better on a regular basis. I keep healthy staples on-hand (and very few no-no items) and put them together in ways that do taste delicious to me. Here are my tricks, hope you can use them.
1. I keep greens around. I feel too guilty to let them go bad (though there are some weeks I let it slip), so I force myself to whip together a small salad for lunch. Here’s my favorite salad combo that’s super easy to make and really tastes great. Sub any of the items for your favorite type of greenery, nut, fruit, soft cheese, etc.
Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
Dried tart cherries
Sesame Miso Dressing (or any dressing on the healthier side - you know, low-cholesterol, low-fat, etc.) This particular miso dressing, by Follow Your Heart, is also preservative and dairy-free, and tastes like it has bacon in it, it’s so delicious.
2. I make snack mixes, aka trail mixes. Dan loves these and so does Ryan. I follow suit, because I eat what I’m making them for snack!
Easy Snack Mix
unsalted, unsweetened nuts
unsweeted dried fruit
plain or multi-grain cheerio-type cereal
and because you need a little sweetness, a few chocolate chips (dark are healthier) or Annie’s Bunny Graham Friends
These scrumptious little things are dangerously good, especially with my strawberry jam. If you make them small enough, you could probably pop a dozen or so in your mouth in a few minutes and then you won’t feel so good about yourself, now will you? Make them for a bake sale or a party and people will adore you. Jenna became my hero in 6th grade because of these little devils.
Cream Cheese Pastries with Strawberry Jam
(credit goes to Jenna Blackford)
You’ll dirty just: 1 mixing bowl, the beater or 1 wooden spoon, 1 measuring cup, 1 baking sheet
4 Tablespoons of room-temp butter
4 oz of cream cheese (1/2 cup)
3/4 c sifted all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons of your favorite preserves or jam
Blend cream cheese, butter and flour thoroughly til mixture forms soft dough. Be sure to incorporate all the cream cheese into the flour - you don’t want any clumps of cheese.
Place dough on large sheet of wax paper; cover with second sheet. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick between the two sheets. Chill in fridge for 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 425.
Peel off wax paper. Cut dough into 2 inch squares. Spread 1/2 teaspoon jam on each square. Fold corners to middle; overlap ends and pinch together very well. The jam will fight its way out, so secure those edges well.
Place on ungreased sheet. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.
Banana bread has long been a favorite of mine. My grandma Barbara used to make it with me all the time (when I was very little she’d let me mash the bananas and that was the coolest thing ever). The smell of it baking in the house is unbeatable. I can’t wait til it’s cooled to eat it - I always cut into it within a few minutes and eat at least a few slices right away.
This recipe is a standard for me - I adapted it from a number of recipes with twice or three times as much sugar and butter. I wouldn’t reduce those items anymore, personally, but I guess it could be done! But why, it’s already bread!
Banana Nut Bread
3 ripe bananas (the riper, the moister the bread!)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 oz. butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cooking spray for the baking dish
Preheat oven to 375°F
Sift flour and baking soda together and reserve.
In another bowl, stir sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter until well incorporated. Add flour, and stir until smooth.
Mash bananas with a fork and stir into batter. Then add nuts and stir well.
Coat a loaf pan with spray (or other baking dish if you don’t have a loaf pan) and pour in batter. Bake for about 45 minutes. The banana bread is cooked when the tip of a knife comes out clean and dry (although it will come out wet if you’ve stabbed a banana!).
Let cool off for about ten minutes and then remove from baking dish.
Like most toddlers at some point, Ryan is going through a “food phase”. He’s barely eating anything currently. Just a month ago, we were bragging about how he’d eat anything, and a lot of it.
But one thing he still loves to eat is beef - burgers, meatballs - especially with ketchup. So I decided to hide some veggies in meatballs tonight, and they turned out rather deliciously, if I do say so myself. He loved them, and gobbled up three in no time!
Beef and Veggie Meatballs
1/2 lb of beef at room temperature (we use 22% because they make such juicy burgers, but anything’ll do)
1/2 cup veggies (I used frozen corn, peas and brussel sprouts, but of course the possibilities are endless)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat an iron pan (or if you don’t have one, a non-stick pan with a little cooking spray).
Toss the veggies into a small food processor or blender and chop until very fine. Incorporate all the ingredients in a bowl and form into 1-inch balls (I was able to get 14 meatballs).
Cook the meatballs over medium heat, turning every 2-3 minutes, until all sides are browned and the center of one that you cut into reveals that it is cooked completely, about 10-12 minutes. If you’re going to freeze them all, undercook them just slightly, so that when you reheat them in the microwave, they don’t overcook.
I refrigerated half and froze the other for future meals!
This jam is great on french toast and waffles - ask my little guy, Ryan! It’s his favorite condiment after ketchup! I don’t prepare mine for shelving because it doesn’t last that long around here, and honestly it just seems like a project that I don’t have time for. This recipe is super quick and it’s fun, really. It will last for about two weeks in the fridge.
No-pectin small-batch Strawberry Jam
3 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice (depending on your taste)
Put a small plate in the freezer. You’ll use this to test the thickness of the jam.
Put all the ingredients in a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. You want to ensure maximum water loss from the strawberries in as little time as necessary, and the wide pan helps with this. Stirring slowly, bring the strawberries to a boil (mine usually take about 8-10 minutes to boil). After they’ve been boiling for 2 or so minutes, test the liquid part by putting a small spoonful on the cold plate. This will show you the thickness after it has cooled. If it’s thick enough for your taste, take it off the heat now. I let mine go for a total of about 15 minutes on the heat (boiling for about 5-7 minutes).
Put the jam into a large glass container (I use old peanut butter jars) and close tightly!
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!