Multi-grain Bread



I know most of you will look at this post and wonder who on Earth has time to make their own bread, but once you start you won't want to stop.  Any time I don't actually have the time to bake our own bread and we have to buy it in the store, we cringe a little.  Good bread is hard to find, and expensive!  So, I encourage you to buy a couple of cheap loaf pans and try it out at least once.  I also encourage you to use a stand mixer as it makes the bread process virtually laborless.  I don't have experience with bread machines, so I'm no good to you there. 

Anyway, I made this multi-grain bread from my favorite bread book, Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart.  It's actually a modification of his "Everyday 100%  Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread."  In this recipe you can substitute about 1/5 of the whole wheat flour with the same weight of grains, so I chose Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Cereal.  What came out was a hearty, moist, and toothsome loaf with a lot of textural interest.  I'd definitely make it again. 

My only word of caution is to bake the dough within that 2-3 day time window as after that the yeast really produces some off flavors.  One more thing- don't be scared off by the length of this recipe!  It's well worth it!

I'll be posting this recipe as I made it, with the cereal.  If you want just a straightforward whole wheat loaf, do a straight weight substitution.  Also, because of the division of the grain and flour, I am posting this recipe using a combination of weight and volumetric measurements.  You will need a kitchen scale. 

Multi-grain Sandwich Bread
from Artisan Breads Everyday

22.5 oz whole wheat flour
5.5 oz multigrain cereal (usually found with the oatmeal- you want something that needs to be cooked), such as Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Hot Cereal
1 Tb (.5 oz) Kosher salt or 2 tsp regular salt
5 Tb (2.5 oz) granulated or brown sugar or 3 1/2 Tb. honey or agave nectar
1 egg
1/4 cup (2 oz) vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) lukewarm water
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) lukewarm milk of any kind
1 1/2 Tb (.5 oz) instant yeast

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together.  If you use honey or agave nectar, dissolve it in the water instead.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and oil.  Combine the water and milk in a separate container and whisk in the yeast until dissolved. 

Add the egg mixture and the water mixture to the dry ingredients.  If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute.  If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir about 1 minute.  The dough should be wet and coarse.  Let the dough rest for five minutes to fully hydrate the flour. 

Switch to the dough hook and mix on med-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 2 mintues.  The dough will firm up slightly and become smoother.  If it's still very wet, add more flour; if it's stiff, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough should be very supple and slightly sticky.  Continue to mix with the dough hook or by hand 4 minutes more, increasing the speed to med-high or stirring more vigorously for the final 20 seconds to develop and organize the gluten.  The dough will still be slightly sticky but will also feel stronger and more elastic. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface with a wet bowl scraper and knead by hand for a final few seconds, working in more flour or water as needed so that the dough is very supple and pliable and slightly sticky; then form the dough into a ball.  Do a stretch and fold, either on the work surface or in the bowl, reaching under the front end of the dough, stretching it out, then folding it back onto the top of the dough.  Do this from the back end and from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball.  Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Repeat this enture process two more times, completing all repetitions within 30 minutes. 

Place the dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size (I personally had to use two large Pyrex bowls).  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days. 

After the dough has rested in the fridge, remove the dough from the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two equal pieces for loaves or small pieces for rolls (about 2 oz each).  For loaves, place the dough into greased 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pans.  Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, until increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size.  In loaf pans, the dough should dome about 1 inch above the rim.

About 15 mintues before baking, preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate.  Bake 20-35 minutes more.  The bread is done when the top and sides are a rich, deep brown  and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom or the internal temperature reaches 185. 

Remove from the pans and cool at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. 

Fried Rice


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Remember the baked rice recipe from a couple weeks ago (the last post)?  As an aside, my apologies for not having any new posts the last couple weeks.  I had been sick and not so able to write or be in the functioning world, but I'm glad to be back! 

I've had this recipe in the queue since then and am glad to share it.  So anyway, back to the baked rice.  I baked all this rice, and since I don't like rice on its own, I decided to make a fried rice.  I had seen a few recipes pop up in recent issues of Cooking Light, maybe Taste of Home, and Everyday Food, and I thought, "what a brilliant idea!"  When going to an Asian restaurant, isn't the fried rice among the things you most look forward to eating?  It's unfortunately not that good for you, but when you make it at home, the nutritional balance shifts a bit in the better direction. 

I'll post the "recipe" the way I made it, and I put recipe in quotes because it seems like more of a method or idea than a recipe- it's so easy!  I have linked the inspiration recipes above so that you can see the guidelines I followed. 

Turkey Fried Rice
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
1 recipe baked rice (see here), or 2-3 cups leftover cooked rice
2 Tb vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup corn
2 Tb. soy sauce
2 Tb. rice vinegar

Heat a wok or large skillet (nonstick preferred) to medium high and add 1 Tb vegetable oil to pan.  Add about 1/4 tsp. soy sauce to eggs and add to the pan.  Scramble until just set and remove to a bowl or plate. 

Add the other 1 Tb oil to the pan and add the carrots and onion and cook until onion is translucent, a couple of minutes.  Add the peas and rice and cook until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg and the rest of the soy sauce and vinegar and cook until everything is coated with the soy and vinegar, about 1 minute.  Serve with any of your favorite Asian sauces (I prefer Sriracha).   

Baked Long Grain Brown Rice


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So growing up I never really liked rice.  I never found it very appealing, but after a month of living in Costa Rica and sometimes eating it three meals a day, I grew to at least appreciate it.  I still don't love it, but I do like brown rice to a degree and will intentionally eat it on occasion.  With all this new health consciousness out there, brown rice seems to be a far superior choice to white rice anyway.  The only problem I've encountered is that I haven't had a lot of success with cooking rice.  It often ends up unevenly cooked and the liquid evaporates long before the rice is soft enough, but if I add water and cook it longer, it just ends up gummy.  I don't want to buy a rice cooker, because why clutter up my kitchen with a bulky unitasker that I'll only use once every blue moon? 

What's to be done?  Well, the people at America's Test Kitchen have decided that the answer is to bake your rice.  I tried it, and I'm a believer.  This rice came out perfectly cooked and there was an abundance there that I could use for gallo pinto (more on that later), fried rice, or whatever.  It's easy, mostly low maintenance, and, well, it's delicious.  From now on, I will bake my rice. 

Baked Long Grain Brown Rice
from The Best Slow and Easy Recipes, America's Test Kitchen

1 ½ cups long grain brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the rice in an 8 inch square glass baking dish.

Bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil in a covered medium saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, stir the mixture to combine, then immediately pour over rice.

Cover the baking dish tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil. Bake until tender and no water remains, 60-70 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, uncover, and fluff rice with a fork. Re-cover and let rice stand 10 minutes before serving.




I've said it before and I'll say it again, that cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts.  Dense and indulgent, it doesn't make any excuses for its decadence. 

I have made this plain cheesecake a couple of times, and I love its flavor.  It's classic but there's a faint whisper of lemon.  Its texture is just a bit soft for me (which could be baker error), but it has been received with rave reviews every time I've made it.  This cheesecake is one that plays well with others; chocolate, caramel, and fruit toppings all pair well with it.  It's also fairly easy to make, but does take some special care.  Don't be too scared by all the steps. 

This particular recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours, and I recommend that book for anyone who loves to bake.  It's fantastic! 

New York Style Cheesecake
from Dorie Greenspan

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two

Make the crust:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn't have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the filling:
Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

Slow Cooker Honey Lemon Chicken With Potatoes


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Drew and I have had sort of a hectic life lately, with little time at home together.  This means that I haven't cooked very frequently and we've eaten fast things, like sandwiches, quesadillas, and any leftovers that might be in the fridge.  We've decided that we'd like a less busy lifestyle, but until we can figure out what to cut out, our eating shouldn't suffer as a result of busyness.  He has made the statement that he'd like us to become champions of the slow cooker.  Oddly enough, I think the slow cooker is a great kitchen tool, but really don't use it for much more than cooking beans and soups. 

A few weeks ago I ran across today's recipe where Rachael Ray showcased the top ten downloaded recipes of 2010, and decided to have a crack at it on Sunday.  It seemed simple and yet full of potential.  After trying it, I can tell you that it's an easy recipe that makes for a satisfying, delicious dinner.  In less than 30 minutes of prep, you throw everything into the slow cooker and come home to an amazingly fragrant home.  I really don't have any notes to give you because this recipe is so straightforward.  It's definitely one to add to your slow cooker repertoire, and one I'm adding on my way to becoming slow cooker champ.

Honey Lemon Chicken With Potatoes
from Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
4 to 5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chicken stock or water

To finish:
Zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Balsamic drizzle

In a skillet, heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides.

Scatter the potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and lemon slices in the bowl of a crock pot. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the browned chicken over the veggies and drizzle with honey. Add stock, cover and cook, undisturbed, for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Serve each portion topped with a combination of lemon zest, parsley, toasted nuts and balsamic drizzle.




Dear everyone who reads this blog with any regularity,

I apologize for not posting as regularly as I normally do.  I'm back! 

I made this ratatouille a few weeks ago, and, while it's never going to be my favorite meal, it's pretty good, and great if you want a versatile, affordable dish that can be served as a sauce over pasta, baked with eggs, or even stuffed in phyllo or other dough, this is your recipe. 

Because I had never made ratatouille, and eggplant can sometimes go either way with me, I made this recipe with half the ingredient quantities.  I also served the ratatouille over pasta, like a thick and chunky vegetable sauce.  That was absolutely delicious, especially when you add in just a little drizzle of olive oil and shave parmesan over the top.  Mmmm.  One word on the dish- in the pictures that are provided in Everyday Food, there is a little more liquid than what I ended up having, so I'm not sure if too much evaporated when I roasted the tomatoes or what.  I also used a home canned jar of tomatoes, which may have caused the liquidity to vary slightly, but if you make this recipe or have made ratatouille before, let me know your experience.

from Everyday Food, October 2010

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and marjoram to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving.