Bread

Baked Products to be used as Bread

NATIONAL APPLE MONTH

October is ‘National Apple Month’ so I decided to look up and see how many different kinds of Apples there are.  Wow, I did not expect to find the number I did – there are literally dozens and maybe hundreds – the only letter in the Alphabet that does not bear the name of an Apple is  ”X”.  There are numerous kinds of Apples for each and every letter, however most of us are familiar with only a small number of them.

 The most common Apples are the Red and Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Pippins and Granny Smith.  The best for eating are the Delicious, of course and the Gala and Fuji.  The best for baking are Granny Smith and Pippins.  The last two are not terribly sweet and have a firm flesh which lends them well to baked goods such as pies and pastries.  For cooking and Applesauce the Winesap and Gravensteins are excellent.  

My favorite use for Apples is to make Pie and of course, there is nothing as American as ‘Apple Pie’. I also love Apple Turnovers made with Puff Pastry.  Puff Pastry is a pain to make but you can purchase frozen Puff Pastry Sheets which work very well.  You can also use Pie Crust or even Yeast Dough for your Turnovers Shells.

There are also many other ways in which we can use Apples and so I am going to explore some of them here and reference several really great recipes.  The first one is for Apple Bread – what a good way to use up those Apples from your tree or even the ones you bought.   You can even use Applesauce.  Try the referenced recipe. This recipe makes two to three loaves, depending on the size of the pans you use.  You can also make Muffins from the same recipe.  If there is too much for your family to consume at one time, these loaves freeze well or you can share them with your friends.  www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/apple-bread/

Apple Pie can be made in various ways – there are French Apple Pies with a streusel topping and then there are the traditional ‘American’ type Apple Pies with both a bottom and a top crust.  The referenced recipe is for a French Apple Pie  which always easy to make because there is only a bottom crust and you don’t have to worry about getting the top crust to fit and look beautiful.  www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/pies-pastry/

Apple Turnovers are absolutely my favorite way to go!  You can eat them out of hand without utensils;  they are good for Breakfasts on the Go  or for snacks or Desserts.     You can use Puff Pastry or Pie Crust or any of your favorite pastry doughs.

www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/pies-pastry/apple-turnovers/

Apple Brown Betty is an old fashioned dish which can also be used for dessert or for Breakfast.  There is no Pie Crust to worry about, just a cumbly topping.  It is fast and easy to make and is great with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream on top.  www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/deserts/apple-brown-betty/

Caramel Apples are one of my favorite ways to eat Apples.  I love Apples and I love Caramel and nothing goes better together than Apples and Caramel.  And since Halloween is this Month what better treat than Caramel Apples to share with the kids.  This recipe is simple to make and the Apples are fun to eat.  The best Apples to use for Caramel Apples are Granny Smith or Golden Delicious.  Pippins are also good, but make sure that they are somewhat ripe or they will be to tart to eat, even with the Caramel.  www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/halloween-recipes/caramel-apples/

Remember, October is ‘National Apple Month’ and there is no better time to buy and eat Apples than now.  Even better is if you can pick your own, either from your own trees or nearby orchards.  Play around and experiment – Apples are a wondrous fruit and don’t forget ‘An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away’.  Try a different Apple Recipe for the Month of October – ‘National Apple Month’.  And another reason for eating and using them now is that later on, the Apples you buy will all have been in cold storage which makes them mealy and less tasty.  So take advantage of ‘National Apple Month.  

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Posted by sylveee - 2014/10/04 at 10:53 AM

Categories: Baking, Baking Tidbits, Bread, Main, Pastry   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

NATIONAL BISCUIT MONTH

 September is ‘National Biscuit Month and today is the last day of September so we have to take last minute advantage and promote Biscuits.  Biscuits are just one of those foods that provide comfort and joy – they are good for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner or even Snack Time.  Most Biscuits are made from a Baking Powder or Baking Soda Recipe but there are some that are leavened with Yeast.  There is one of each in the Baking Recipe Section of this Blog.  Try them and then let me know how you like them or don’t.

Baking Powder Biscuits are more commonly made and served than Yeast Biscuits.  Baking Powder Biscuits are made from a shortened Dough, which means that a Shortening Product either animal or vegetable is cut into the flour to shorten the wheat fibers which in turn helps to tenderize the product.  A Flour and Water product would pretty much taste like hardtack whereas a product that has a fat in it will be tender and flaky, if made properly.  The recipe referred to within this blog is a standard Baking Powder Biscuit and can be enhanced by adding other products to the mixture such as herbs or cheese.  Try them in various ways and see what you can come up with.  In addition to using them as a bread product for dinner or lunch, they can also be used as dessert.  Strawberry Short Cake is called ‘Short Cake’ because a traditional Strawberry Shortcake is made from a shortened Dough which means that some type of fat has been cut into the flour to tenderize it.  For Strawberry Shortcake you can make one large biscuit in a 9″ round pan and then cut it in half to make two layers.  Fill the middle with Whipped Cream and sliced Strawberries and do the same to the top layer after you put it on the filled bottom layer.  You can also make individual portions by making 4 or 5″ round Biscuits.

www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/buttermilk-biscuits/

Pictured below are the ingredients needed to make  Baking Powder Biscuits:

Buttermilk Biscuits 1I
Ingredients Needed – Flour, Baking Powder, Salt,  Butter & Buttermilk
 
Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits are unusual in that they contain Pumpkin, a product which is not usually found in Biscuits and they contain Yeast.  Most Biscuit products are leavened with Baking Powder which is a chemical leavening agent.

 www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/pumpkin-yeast-biscuits/

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Posted by sylveee - 2014/09/30 at 1:49 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Cooking for Everyone, Main, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , ,

ADVENTURES IN CHEESE MAKING

One of my sons who lives in a country where Cheese is not a commonly found product has experimented with making his own.  His adventures have inspired me to try my hand at Cheese Making even though Cheese is readily available where we live.  So the first Cheese that I tried making is Ricotta.  Ricotta or Cottage Cheese is probably the simplest of all Cheese to make.  It took about an hour and a quarter and that includes draining time.

 

The products you need are readily available at your local grocer and you probably have the cooking vessels and containers that you need at home.  Listed below are the groceries that you need and the equipment you should have.

 

Let’s start with the Equipment so that when you go out to buy the groceries, if you don’t have all the equipment, you can purchase it at the same time you purchase your groceries.

 

5-6 Quart Cooking Vessel

Large Colander or Sieve (Strainer)

 

Cheesecloth on Colander

Cheesecloth on Colander

Cheese Cloth

5-6 Quart Bowl

 

The Groceries that you will need are:

1/2 Gallon of Milk  (preferably from a local dairy and is not over-pastureized

1 cup of Heavy Cream

Heavy Cream

Heavy Cream

1/2 tsp. Salt

3 Tbsps. Lemon Juice

 

Start by combining the Milk, Cream and Salt in your large cooking vessel.  Place it over high heat and bring to a rapid boilstirring continuously to prevent burning.

 

Once the mixture comes to a rapid boil, stir in the Lemon Juice, lower the heat and cook (again stirring continuously until the mixture curdles completely.  (About 2 minutes)

 

Curdling

Curdling

 

Remove from the heat and pour into the Cheese Cloth lined colander.  Allow to drain for one hour.

 

Draining in Colander

Draining in Colander

Wrap in the Cheese Cloth and plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  This Cheese will keep for only 2 days, so plan on using it as quickly as you can.

 

Completely Drained

Completely Drained

You can see that the drained Cheese has taken on the shape of the colander and is formed into a perfectly round parcel.  This is not so important with Ricotta Cheese as it usually gets mixed with other ingredients to form a filling for Ravioli, Lasagna or Blilntz, but if you are making semi-hard or hard cheeses this is a bonus.

After the Ricotta had completely drained I had about a quart of the residual whey (the portion of milk that does not form the curd)  Some people feed this to their chickens ( if you have them), their cats or dogs (again if you have them).  I no longer have pets but I did find uses for the Whey.  I made a loaf of Wheat Bread with some of it and used another portion to make Crepe Shells for Blintz which I will show in my next blog.

This was the best Ricotta Cheese I have ever eaten and I usually buy an expensive brand that is made from whole milk and is very good.  This at least matched it, but I think it was better.  It costs no less to make it at home than it does to buy, but it is good and it is fun.

Check my next blog to see what I did with this Ricotta.

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Posted by sylveee - 2014/07/28 at 7:07 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Dairy, Main   Tags: , , , ,

FOOD NOSTALIGIA

The other day my husband said “you know what you haven’t made in a long time and I would like to have”.  No, what?  “Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast’.  Now, quite honestly, I have never ever made this particular dish for him.  However, I did make it once or twice for my sons’ Father.  Well, I don’t like it now and I didn’t like it then.  But I do know where their desire for this dish came in.  This is one of the few dishes that they both remembered from their Navy days.  Why, I don’t know.

So, I told my husband that I would make it for him for dinner the next night.  “Dry Chipped Beef” anyone?  I don’t think it exists anymore except maybe in ‘camping stores’.  I went to three markets and no one had anything close.  Then, I figured that if I am going to make this dish, I would make as close to a Gourmet Version as possible.  So I purchased some Rare Roast Beef from the deli and went home and made Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast for dinner.

 

Rare Roast Beef & Mushrooms

Rare Roast Beef, Celery & Mushrooms

I sautéed some diced Onion and Celery and some sliced Mushrooms in a combination of Olive Oil and Butter.

Sautéing Diced Onion

Sautéing Diced Onion

 

While the vegetables were cooking, I cut up the Beef into small pieces.  Once the Vegetables were done, I added 3 Tablespoons of Flour to the pan and stirred it all around until the Flour had absorbed the Fat and coated the Vegetables.  Next I added 1 ½ cups of Milk and Half & Half and stirred and cooked until a thick Sauce (Béchamel) had formed.

Milk and Half & Half added

Milk and Half & Half added

 

The Beef Added

The Beef Added

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I added 1 cup of Petit Pois (baby peas) and the Beef. I seasoned this mixture with my ‘Basil Salt’ and White Pepper.   I kept this mixture on low heat while we made the toast and put together a salad.

Since I had just made a ‘Country French Bread’ the day before we decided to use it for the toast.  This was dinner, one of my least favorite ones, but Ev loved as did Arnold before him.  I did tell him though that he would have to wait a long time before I made it again – at least one year.  I can’t think of anything that I would like to eat less.

 

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

 

The Roast Beef would have been so much better as a sandwich with olive spread, mustard, mayo and tomatoes!  Actually I did save a few pieces and that is what I will have for lunch tomorrow while Ev eats the leftover Creamed Beef!

 

Rare Roast Beef on Croissant

Rare Roast Beef on Croissant

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Posted by sylveee - 2014/06/25 at 11:52 PM

Categories: Bread, Dinner Ideas, Main   Tags: , , , , , ,

FOOD ODYSSEY – CONCLUSION

The Monday after our Mountain Trip we hit another spot on my son’s  Food List.  This was Hooter’s which recently opened up a Restaurant in our locale.  Again, Monti had made sure to be on their mailing list and had Birthday Coupons for Kratae and himself.  We indulged in 3 different kinds of Chicken Wings with Bleu Cheese and Ranch Dip.  Kratae had a Shrimp Sandwich which she said was delicious and it certainly looked like it was.

On the way home Monday Night, we stopped at the local deli and picked up some Pastrami, Corned Beef, Pickles and Rye Bread.  Once we got home, I made my special Potato Salad and Cole Slaw which Quinn had requested.

 

Pastrami and Cole Slaw

Pastrami and Cole Slaw

 

The next day was David’s Birthday and for it, I made Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Sausage (which Monti had requested) along with a big Salad.  For dessert we had Brownies and more Peanut Butter Fudge.

 

Vegetable Lasagna

Chocolate-Brownies -- before being Cut

Chocolate-Brownies — before being Cut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

 

 

On Wednesday, Monti, Kratae and Quinn took the Bus to the Valley and transferred to another bus (Kratae wanted to see what a bus ride was like here) and then transferred to the Subway which they took to Hollywood.  After making some purchases in Hollywood, they then re-boarded the Subway to Union Station.  From there they walked to Phillipe’s (a very old famous restaurant in downtown L.A.) and had Lamb Dip Sandwiches and Cole Slaw fbid=10151471226746122&set=a.10150683053886122.425502.294891686121&type=1

 

Next they took the bus to the Santa Monica Pier where David picked them up and took them to My Father’s Office, a well-known restaurant in West L.A.  where they had Hamburgers.  Again, they weren’t quite what they remembered.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/fathers-office-santa-monica

 

Thursday night the crew went to In & Out where they had Animal Fries and Ev and I went out for Chinese Food.

On Saturday, the 22nd we had a Family Birthday Party (3 Birthdays in March) for which I spent almost two whole days cooking for.  We had Roast Turkey Breast, Tri Tip with my special marinade along with Vegan (for Joel) Pasta Salad, homemade Baked Beans and White Bean Bruschetta.  I also made Ciabatta and Croissants.  For dessert it was a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie and a Vanilla and Chocolate Genoise Cake with a Mocha Buttercream frosting.  Beverages were water, sodas and bubbly.  This event was attended by all the Riemans (except Joel who wasn’t feeling well) and lasted for about 10 hours.  Fortunately, I had engaged one of my TA’s who help with my cooking classes to help with this event.

 

Homemade Croissants and Ciabatta

Homemade Croissants and Ciabatta

 

Family Dinner

Family Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was the last day that my out of the country family were going to be here.  They wanted to make one last trip to Jack in the Box (Kratae loves Breakfast Jacks) so we did that.  They also purchased Bacon Insider Burgers and Potato Wedges.  Somehow, we also managed to fit in the leftover Turkey and Tri Tip from the party the day before.

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Posted by sylveee - 2014/04/24 at 10:56 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Cooking for Everyone, Family Fun, Holiday Meals, Main   Tags: , , ,

FAMILY FOOD ODESSY – DAYS FIVE & SIX

 

 

On Day Six which was a Monday set out on our Road Trip to Mammoth. On the way there it seemed that we stopped at numerous ‘Starbucks’ to get Lattés and for Monti and Kratae to use their ‘Birthday’ Coffees from Starbucks. Starbucks has a new ruling where you cannot use an American issued card in foreign countries so they had to use up the dollars and gifts on their cards while they were here. When we got to Bishop, I had a stop I wanted to make which was at Schatt’s Bakery which makes delicious Sheep Herder’s Bread. Along with the Sheep Herder’s we also bought Cheese Bread and Croissants.

 

 

 

 

Next stop was Mammoth and our Condo in the Village. We had a two bedroom condo with a kitchen and two baths. The kitchen meant that we could make breakfast there instead of purchasing an expensive breakfast in the restaurants. Dinner that evening was at the ‘Smoke House’ where we all had ‘Pulled Pork’ Sandwiches and soft drinks. Breakfast the next day was Scrambled Eggs and Bacon and ‘Grandma’s Buns’ along with Coffee that the guys had purchased at the market. Grandma’s Buns are Cinnamon Rolls made like Croissants but in a small size. My Mother used to make these for the kids and now I do.

 

Grandma's Buns

Grandma’s Buns

 

Ski School was on the Agenda that day for Kratae; David went along to help her and Monti was there to record the event on Camera. (Kratae had never been in snow before) After a brief time of observing the action, Quinn and I went back to the Village and visited the different shops and had lunch with the gang at the Side Door Restaurant.

 

Ski School

Ski School

 

For dinner that evening we did ‘Happy Hour’ at the Westin Hotel. Kratae had the Mini-Taco Trio and I had steamed Mussels. Various other small dishes were eaten by the rest of the crew. The next day was more skiing for David & Kratae and Monti decided to join the ski party. Quinn and I took the bus to town and walked around, did some shopping at the Bass Outlet and then took the bus back to the Village. We ended up for lunch at the Mexican Restaurant where Quinn had Chili Rellenos and I had the Appetizer Trio which consisted of Chicken Tenders, Mini-Corn Fritters and grilled jumbo Shrimp. That night it was dinner at the Side Bar where I had Minestrone (the strangest Minestrone I have ever had) and David and Quinn had Sandwiches. For Dessert I ordered the Crepes with Chocolate and shared them with Quinn and David.

 

 

Crepes at the Side Door in Mammoth

Crepes at the Side Door in Mammoth

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2014/04/22 at 7:55 PM

Categories: Bread, Dessert Ideas, Dinner Ideas, Lunch Ideas, Main   Tags: , , ,

THANKSGIVING FAVORITES

Thanksgiving in the United States is a family holiday that is usually celebrated with a huge Turkey Dinner.  Although Thanksgiving Celebrations occurred sporadically since the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving, it wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be the official National Holiday. 

In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November to be the official Thanksgiving Holiday.  Before 1939, it was on the last Thursday in November and it was suggested to him, that if it was officially on the fourth Thursday there would be more time for Holiday Shopping and thus help to improve the economy which at that time was not very good due to the Great Depression.

The history of Thanksgiving in the United States goes back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, but the actual tradition goes back to ancient times to the Druids in Ireland.  Societies all over the world and back into prehistoric times have always given thanks for a good harvest.  In Jewish tradition, Sukkoth is celebrated shortly after the Jewish New Year.

Our tradition of Turkey dinner goes back to the first dinner that the Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians.  Wild turkeys were plentiful at that time and that was one of the many protein foods that were eaten during the first Thanksgiving.  Most of us have our family traditions which include not only Turkey but Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and Cranberries.   Even though most of us will probably have the traditional turkey and dressing some of you may like to make it a little different this year.

This year, for the first time in 125 years (the last event like this was in 1888) the first day of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving.  Because of this dual event, many families will be celebrating both holidays with food that may be somewhat untraditional for both holidays.

In our family, Sweet Potato Latkes (pancakes) are going to replace our usual Sweet Potato Casserole which is really very good.  What I am going to do is take the flavors from our usual casserole and incorporate them into the Latkes.  Other families will probably make the traditional Potato Latkes, but we do like our Mashed Potatoes and Gravy on Thanksgiving.  Pictured below are Apple Latkes;  the shape and texture are the same as Sweet Potato but the color is different.  The method of making is the same.

Apple Latkes

Most of the recipes featured here are traditional, but with a slightly different twist from the original.   The traditional Roast Turkey is on the menu but with a not so traditional Curried Fruit Dressing.    Instead of candied yams try a Golden Squash Jubilee made with banana squash and dried apricots; for color contrast make fresh Creamed Spinach in minutes with the aid of your Food Processor and Microwave Oven.  For the bread make Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits and instead of Pumpkin Pie, try a French Apple Tart made in a Pecan Crust.

You have all the traditional items in this menu, but made just a little differently for a surprising taste twist.  The turkey is present with a traditional bread stuffing made not so traditional by the addition of dried fruit and curry powder.  The orange vegetable in the form of squash (yams or pumpkin may be substituted) are present and so is the traditional pumpkin, but in the form of biscuits.  The Thanksgiving pie is also present but made with apples, a fruit favored by more people than pumpkin.  Add your own choice of appetizer and condiments and you will have a Thanksgiving feast that your family and guests will not only remember for years, but will request repeats of, over and over again.

RECIPES:

 

Golden Squash Jubilee

Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits

Creamed Spinach

Curried Fruit Stuffing

 

Vegetables for Stuffing

Vegetables for Stuffing

French Apple Tart

Cinnamon/Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

 

Cranberries and Cinnamon Stick in the Pot ready to cook for Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries and Cinnamon Stick in the Pot ready to cook for Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/23 at 4:46 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Condiments, Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Fruit, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Main   Tags: , , , , , ,

‘NATIONAL HOMEMADE BREAD DAY’

Baked Asparagus Bread (4)Today is ‘National Homemade Bread Day’ and what better way to spend a cool Sunday than to make a loaf of bread or two.  I love homemade Bread and contrary to what most people think, it is simple and easy to do.  Especially if you have a Food Processor or Standing Mixer, but even by hand it is easy to do.  Bread Making is especially therapeutic if you have had a hard and stressful day or week.  Bread Making is a great way to get rid of pent up energy, frustration or irritation.

 

 

 

 

To make Homemade Bread you don’t even need a recipe.  For a basic loaf you only need 5 ingredients:

  • Flour    –    provides the structure of the bread – gluten, the protein in wheat     provides the strength needed for the bread’s walls.
  • Yeast   –   is a live Organism which consumes the Sugar and gives off Carbon Dioxide, the same gas we breath out – the Carbon Dioxide makes the Dough expand and raise up.
  • Sugar    –   Provides food for the Yeast
  • Salt       –   Adds flavor and also keeps the Yeast from growing too much – too much growth will make the bread collapse (just like a balloon)
  • Water    –   Holds everything together.

You do need to combine the above ingredients in correct proportions to yield a soft, but not sticky, Dough.  If you use too much flour and the Dough is hard and stiff, the Bread will be tough and dry.  Too much water and the Dough will be sticky and hard to knead and shape.

 

For a simple loaf bread that you are making by hand follow the proportions and directions below:

4 cups Flour

1   cup Liquid  (If using Milk, you must scald it first or your Dough won’t rise – the enzymes in Milk, unless inactivated will prevent the Yeast from rising)

1 Tbsp. Yeast

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 1/2 tsps. Salt

 

Place the Warm Liquid in a bowl along with the Yeast and Sugar;  allow to stand about 5 minutes or until the Yeast starts to bubble.  This is called proofing and will ensure that the Yeast is alive.

 

Proofed Yeast

Proofed Yeast

Stir in the Flour 1 cup at a time.  After the second cup of Flour, add the Salt.  After you have added about 3 cups Flour and  the Dough holds together turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed.  REMEMBER!  YOU WANT A SOFT DOUGH, NOT A STIFF ONE!!

Once the Dough has been kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to raise.  The Dough should raise to double its original size.

Once the Dough has risen, punch it down and shape it into a loaf.  Place the loaf on a greased pan that has been sprinkled with Corn Meal and cover and let raise again.  The bread in the photo below has been placed on a Pizza Peel that has been sprinkled with Cornmeal – this Bread was baked on a Baking Stone that was preheated in the oven to 500 degrees for one hour.  The heat was turned down to 375 when the Bread was Baked.  The Baking Stone ensures that the bottom of the Bread will have a nice crunchy crust.

 

Shaped Loaf on Pizza Peel

Shaped Loaf on Pizza Peel

Once the Bread has risen, het your oven to 375 degrees;  brush the loaf with a beaten egg and bake until golden brown;  the bottom should be somewhat darker than the top and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

If you don’t trust your judgement use a meat thermometer to test the temperature – the inside of the loaf should register 140 degrees on the thermometer.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool;  when cool enough to handle, loosen the sides with a straight-edged spatula, turn the pan oven and allow the Bread to drop down onto the rack.

 

Baked Bread

Baked Bread

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/17 at 2:15 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Main, National Food Days   Tags: , ,

MONTH OF THE PUMPKIN

 

October boasts of 13 different food Titles.  Except for two (Eat Country Ham Month and Vegetarian Awareness Month), all are National Food Months) A few among them are ‘National Caramel Month’, ‘National Popping Corn Month’ and ‘National Chili Month’.  However, I think one item is missing and that this should also be ‘National Pumpkin Month’ or at least ‘Pumpkin Month’.  This is the time when the Pumpkins are making their way into the markets for Halloween and Thanksgiving and possibly even December Holiday Meals.  Therefore I am declaring October the ‘Month of the Pumpkin’.

Think of all the things that can be done with Pumpkin and I am not just talking about ‘Jack O’ Lanterns for Halloween.  I am talking about ‘foodstuffs that can be made with Pumpkin’.  There are at least two different types of Pumpkin on the market.  One are the larger Pumpkins which are used for carving ‘Jack O’ Lanterns’ and other Fall Decorations.  Then there is the ‘Sugar  Pie Pumpkin’ which is used for baking and cooking.  This is the Pumpkin that this blog will be dealing with.  For those of you who think that Pumpkin does not taste good, you have another guess coming.  Combined with spices, sugar and other ingredients Pumpkin can be very tasty and quite delicious.  Pumpkin is rich in Beta Carotenes which provide Vitamin A, a necessary nutrient for ‘Night Vision’ and other bodily functions.

 

Just what is a Pumpkin?  Well, first of all it is a fruit that belongs to the squash family.  All squash are classified as fruit because they bear seeds thereby making the shell that contains the seeds the ovary.  The meat inside the shell (skin) is edible and can be cooked as is or chopped or ground or pureed and can be baked, stewed, or made into Ice Cream, Shakes and Smoothies.  My favorite use for Pumpkin is in Pumpkin Bread or Pumpkin Waffles.  Roasted Pumpkin Seeds are also a favorite among many people.  In addition, the seeds contain Oil which is also used for culinary purposes

 

 

Listed below are just some of the table items that can be made with Pumpkin.  Listed below are some of the many foodstuffs that can be made with Pumpkin. (In Alphabetical Order) During the month of October, this blog will post various recipes and photos made with Pumpkin.  Please do try out some of these items for your family meals.

 

Pumpkin Bread & Muffins                                   Pumpkin  Pasta

Pumpkin Biscuits                                                Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Waffles                                                Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Cornbread                                           Pumpkin Stew

Pumpkin Ice Cream                                           Pumpkin Turnovers

Pumpkin Milkshakes

 

Starting today you can check for recipes to try.  For starters, go to the links below.  These are delicious for your Thanksgiving Dinner or Breakfast.

 

pumpkin-yeast-biscuits/

breads/pumpkin-cornbread/

double-duty-pumpkin-waffles/

pasta/ravioli-de-zucca/

                                                                            

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/10/01 at 10:23 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Breakfast Ideas, Dinner Ideas, Halloween, Holiday Tidbits, Main, National Food Days, Pasta, Pastry   Tags: , , , , , ,

LASAGNA DINNER – RECORD BREAKING PREPARATION!

My Stepdaughter was scheduled to come over our house for a belated Birthday Dinner Tuesday Night, but Monday afternoon at about 3:45 Tina called and said she had forgotten that she had concert tickets for Tuesday Night and that she was working all the rest of the week.  (She works 12 hours day in the Emergency Room of our local hospital)  Could she come over tonight instead?    She had requested Lasagna for dinner along with Chocolate Cake for dessert.  My plan was to spend most of Tuesday baking and cooking and I was going to make home-made pasta for the Lasagna.

Well, plans got shifted dramatically.  Fortunately, I had done the shopping for dinner on Monday except for the Lasagna Noodles which my husband went out to buy.  At 4 in the afternoon I started cooking Lasagna (usually an all-day project) for dinner at 6:30.  Here is how it went.

This was going to be Mushroom Lasagna and I had purchased 4 different kinds of Mushrooms for it.  We had:

 

 Crimini  (Baby Portobello      

Baby Portobello (Crimini)

 

 

White Mushrooms

 

Lobster Mushrooms

 

Sliced Lobster Mushrooms

 

Oyster Mushrooms

 

 

Oyster Mushroom

 

 

                                                        

Oyster Mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put on a big pot of Water so that it would be ready when my husband returned.  I then diced an Onion and started sautéing in Olive Oil in my Dutch Oven.

 

Diced Onions Cooking

 

While the Onion was sautéing, I cleaned and sliced the Mushrooms.  The Brown Crimini were first.  While they were sautéing, I then cleaned and sliced the Lobster Mushrooms.  The Lobster Mushrooms are named, not because they taste like but Lobster, but look like Lobster Meat.  These Mushrooms are somewhat denser and tougher than the Brown ones and need to cook for a bit longer.

Next came the White Mushrooms and then the Oyster.  Again, the Oyster are named for their appearance.  They have the shape of an Oyster and when growing are clustered together almost like Oysters do in the Oyster bed.  I did salt the Mushrooms while they were sautéing.  Salt not only adds flavor but tends to pull out the excess moisture from the Vegetables.

 

 

Brown Mushrooms Added to the Onions

 

Mushrooms & Onions Sautéing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I crushed some Garlic and added it to the Mushrooms.  To this I added some Marsala Wine and cooked it on high heat to reduce it down to just its flavor.  To all this, I added 2 cans of Crushed Tomatoes.  You want to use a good quality of crushed Tomatoes (or use fresh and crush your own).  Lesser quality Tomatoes will be watery and you want to avoid this.  I turned the heat down to simmer and let it cook while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.  The time now was about 4:45.  At the end of the cooking period I added some fresh minced Basil.  Fresh Herbs should always be added at the end so that they do not lose their flavor.

 

 

Mincing Basil in the Mini-Food Processor

Usually I will make a Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce) as a vessel for the Ricotta Cheese but today I did not have time, so I just added two Eggs to 1 lb. of Cheese and thoroughly mixed them in.

 

Ricotta with Eggs

 

 

Then I shredded the Parmesan Reggiano and cut up the Mozzarella.  Usually I will chop the Mozzarella in the Food Processor but the Cheese I had purchased this time was sliced, but sliced too thickly so I had to cut it up into small pieces.

 

Block of Parmesan cut into quarters

 

Shredding the Parmesan in the Food Processor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Water had come to a boil and my Husband had returned with the Pasta.  I put a good portion of Salt into the Water (this was a big pot) and added the Pasta.  Salt not only adds flavor to the pasta but also helps to increase the temperature of the water and therefore shorten the cooking time.  This particular Pasta took about 10 minutes to cook.  I recommend using Italian Pasta for all your Pasta dishes, unless you prefer to make your own which in that case is the ‘best’.

While the Pasta was cooking I washed the package of Asparagus that I had purchased and cut off the bottoms to save for Cream of Asparagus Soup.  I then placed them in a oven-proof baking dish and sprinkled with Sea Salt and Olive Oil.  Over this I added a package of Beech Mushrooms, diced Tomatoes and African Blue Basil Leaves.  You can use any kind of Basil.  The African Blue has small leaves and does not need to be snipped or crushed to use.  I covered this with Aluminum Foil and set it aside to put in the oven when the Lasagna was half-done.

 

Asparagus with Beech Mushrooms, Basil and Tomates

Next I drained the Pasta into my largest Colander and rinsed it just enough to keep the pieces from sticking together.  Next  oiled my Pasta Baking Dish and started assembling the Lasagna.  First came a lengthwise layer of Pasta which was then topped with the Ricotta Cheese Mixture.  Next came a layer of Sauce topped with Shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella.

 

 

Ricotta on Pasta before spreading

 

Sauce Added

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the next layer the Pasta was laid cross-wise (this makes it easier to cut the Lasagna when serving) with a layer of Ricotta, Sauce, and Parmesan.  The next layer repeated the first except that no sauce was added.  Layers one & two were repeated with Mozzarella being on top.  I could have gone another layer but there were only four of us for dinner and I didn’t want to have too much left over.

 

Adding the Second Layer of Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked Lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then set the Lasagna aside to prepare the Salad.  The time now was 5:15.For the Salad I had a mixture of different types of Organic Baby Salad Greens.  Added to this were diced Home-Grown Tomatoes & Cucumbers.  The dressing was a Balsamic Vinaigrette which was added just before serving.

Since this was a Spur of the Moment Dinner, Appetizers were re-heated Vegetable Tempura from the night before (Mushrooms, Carrots and Home-Grown Asian Egg Plant.

 

The Bread that was served was an Olive Bread that I made from leftover Pizza Dough.  Purchased Olive Salad was spread on the Pizza Dough that had been rolled out to a thin rectangle and then rolled up Jelly Roll fashion.  It was baked at 400 degrees until the bread was well-browned.  About 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Slice of Olive Bread

 

Dessert could not be the Chocolate Cake that was planned for today, but we did have Chocolate Brownies that I had made the day before and since this was the cake version of Brownies, they worked perfectly for dessert.

Out Beverage was home-brewed Iced Tea.  All in all, in spite of the short time notice, dinner turned out very good and everyone loved the Lasagna, especially my Step-Daughter for whom the meal was made.  I figured this could be a rehearsal for a Cooking Competition Show in which the contestants have a limited amount of time to prepare their dishes.  Watch out guys!  I may give you some competition!

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/08/29 at 11:40 AM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Italian, Main, Pasta   Tags: , , , , , , ,

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