Archive for September, 2012

Can I say once again how much I enjoy baking bread? It still makes me smile to try out a new bread recipe and have it turn out so tasty. The September Bread Baking Babes host was Elizabeth at From Our Kitchen . She and her husband went for a romantic dinners at a restaurant were served delicious rolls. She asked for the recipe and was kindly given a copy. I baked this last week and thoroughly enjoyed it with a smear of biscoff cookie butter (heaven) and my husband loved it with turkey salad. As usual, I am behind schedule so without much further ado, here it is. Bake On !

Molasses Fennel Rye Bread

  • 1½ tsp ( 5gm) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 c (63gm) lukewarm water
  • 4 tsp (17gm) sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (85gm) blackstrap molasses
  • 1¾ c (438gm) water, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp (6gm) fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp (1gm) ground dried ginger
  • 1 c (103gm) rye flour ( I increased it to 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 c (122 gm) whole wheat flour
  • ½ c (59gm) wheat germ
  • 2 c (254gm) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp (18gm) salt (I used 15 gm)
  • ¼ c (36gm) Thompson raisins
  • up to ½ c (64gm) unbleached all purpose flour for kneading    

(I need all of the extra flour plus 2 tablespoons since it was such a wet dough)

  1. Mixing In a smallish bowl, whisk yeast with the lukewarm water until it resembles cream. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl large enough for the dough to double, pour the rest of the water. Stir in sugar and molasses. (If the molasses is stiff because of a chilly kitchen, use warm water instead of room temperature.) Add fennel seeds and ground ginger. Dump in flours, wheat germ and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is mostly absorbed.
  3. Add the yeast mixture (it should be quite foamy – if it is not after a period of 20 minutes have passed, either the yeast is dead or the water was too hot or far too cold. Check the due date on your yeast container. If the date hasn’t passed, try again.) stir to form a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and let sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.
  4. Kneading Scatter a little of the flour for kneading onto a wooden board. Turn the dough out onto the board.
  5. Wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Please do not be tempted to skip this step.)
  6. Hand knead the dough 10 to 15 minutes, adding the smallest amounts of additional flour if dough is sticky. You don’t have to use up all the flour. When the dough is springy and silky to the touch, knead in raisins.
  7. Proofing Form the dough into a ball and put it in the clean bowl; cover it with a plate (there is no need to oil the bowl!) Let the dough rise in a no-draft place at room temperature (or in the oven with only the light turned on if you want) for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. Gently deflate dough. Recover with the plate and allow to rise until doubled again.
  8. Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board; cut it in half with a dough scraper if you have one, with a knife if you don’t.
  9. Shape into two round balls and place them (not touching) on a parchment papered pan or a cornmeal dusted peel. Dust the tops with flour. 5 Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a large plastic bag overtop let rise until double in size. (about an hour if the temperature is around 20C)
  10. Baking Place a breadstone, if you have one, on the middle to second from the top rack and preheat the oven to 400F.
  11. If you want, slash the top of the rounds with a very sharp knife. Liberally spray the tops with water. Put bread in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350F. Bake the bread on the middle to second from the top rack for 30-35  minutes until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 205-210F or until it is hollow sounding on the bottom. It’s a good idea to turn the bread  half way through baking  to allow for uneven heat in the oven (remove parchment paper at the same time).
  12. Remove to cool on racks. Please wait until the bread is cool before cutting it. It’s still baking inside! If you like to eat warm bread, reheat the bread after it has cooled.

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The September Baker’s Challenge is hosted by Patri from Asi Son Las Cosas. She has challenged her fellow bakers with a recipe for Empanada Gallega, which is a two crusted pie (usually savory), from Galicia, the northern region of Spain.

“My grandparents lived in a country house that my great-grandfather built a hundred years ago. It is in the northwest of Spain, right on top of Portugal, in the region called Galicia. Back in the 70s, the kitchen was the place of gathering, talking, reading… and there was always something cooking on the iron stove, be it a pot of caldo (a hearty soup), or a stew, or a cake in the oven. When I think back to those days, I can smell the sweetness of burnt wood or coal, the almost “chocolate” scent that rose up to your nostrils when you opened the door, the warmth of the air when coming in from a cool, windy and wet August morning…”

How wonderful is that memory????

As usual, I am typing this up the night the post date, but I actually started a round of these in the beginning of the month. Patri, provided a few recipe options for the dough and some savory fillings but  I immediately started thinking about how to turn this into a dessert. I still had a freezer-full of cherries that I picked last month, my raspberry bush out back is having a bumper crop this summer (what a nice surprise to come home to!) and I saw some lovely fresh figs at the farmers market. Mmmm…. Okay, this was going to be fun. With such beautiful fruit, the fillings could be simple and still shine. Time to turn the large savory pie into individual hand pies!

The dough for these were made using a recipe  “La Empanada Gallega”

3½ cups (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon (100 ml) of liquid fat (oil, margarine, lard)
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 10  minutes or place in a standing mixing with the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes.

Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.

Cherry and Frangipane Filling

Frangipane is just an almond cream filling. It is fantastic used as a base for tarts or for pastry filling.

1/2 cup chopped almonds ( or almond meal if you have it)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In your food processor, place the almonds, sugar, and flour. Process until finely ground. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Balsamic Strawberries with Fresh Fig

2 cups fresh strawberries, roughly diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 vanilla bean, optional
2 or 3 fresh figs

Place the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla and add, if using. Bring to a boil and reduce until half. This makes the vinegar sweet and syrupy. Cool and then toss with the strawberries. (This alone is amazing and even better spooned over vanilla ice cream)

Let macerate for 1 hour.

Raspberry and Sweetened Cream Cheese

3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Cups fresh raspberries (one pint will probably be just fine if you make just a few of each)

Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla,and sugar. Slowly add the cream until smooth.


Roll the dough out quite thin so they don’t end up tot thick. I used a round pastry shell for my cutter. It is 4 inch across. If you are using the frangipane of cream cheese filling, add 1 full tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dough. Spread slightly. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of fruit. For the strawberry fig filling just lay 3 slices of juicy fig across the middle and top with the luscious balsamic berries.

Bring the top half of the dough over the filling ans line up with the bottom edge. Using you fingers, bring the two edges together, pinching the dough together.You can use a fork to press a design around the edges if you like.

Brush with an egg, lightly beaten, before placing into a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

All right. No, I mean that they were just all right. Don’t get me wrong, we ate them and enjoyed them.  The fillings were great ,I just think that I would prefer a tender, flaky crust for instead. But, I wasn’t giving up on this challenge. Onto a savory filling.

I hardly ever post savory recipes. I love to cook just as much as baking and am constantly thinking of menus in my head, but I am a “little bit of this, little bit of that” cook so please bear with me in quantities. I will say that this was delicious and we enjoyed it even more the next day. It started with a layer of carmelized onions followed by a thick layer of cheddar cheese polenta. I finished it off with sautéed carrots, zucchini (from the garden), and peppers. This was a very tasty dinner served with a side salad.

Grandmas recipe for dough

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour
2 cups  (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or  (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Sift the flour into a big bowl and add the yeast. Make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.On a clean counter top, knead the dough by  hand or use a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment  for approximately 10 minutes.Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Carmelized Onions (my way)

1 Large sweet onion, sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Place the onion, salt and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add the sugar and continue to cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vinegar, stir again, and  cook for another final 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Cheddar Cheese Polenta

2 cups (16 oz)  water
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz)  milk , divided (I use skim)
200 g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin

Place 2 cups water, 1 cup milk and the butter in a medium sauceopan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir together the  remaining cup of milk and the cornmeal. Gradually stir this into the boiling liquid, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly until the cornmeal is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the salt, cumin, black pepper and cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted into the polenta. Set aside to cool.

Sautéed Summer Vegetables

This is what I had on hand. Please use the vegetables you like; this also goes for the seasoning

1 large zucchini, chopped, equalling about 2 cups
1 Cup chopped carrots
1 red pepper, chopped
1 purple or green pepper chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked Serrano chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, salt, cumin, chili powder and chipotle flakes; cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes, you still want the zucchini to be crisp since it will continue to cook in the oven. Set aside to cool.


Preheat the oven to 350 F

Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling-pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.  For your first time (like me), make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.

Lightly flour your pan or tray.

Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.

Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanadas become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible

Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base.  Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling. roll out the second piece of dough and transfer to cover the top.Trim away excess dough.Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk

When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done. Enjoy!

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End Of Summer Tomato Jam


After a nice long break at my mom’s filled with gardening, swimming at the pool and sunsets at the beach, I am back at home (2 weeks now!) with all the craziness attached.  We had 4 days of relaxation before the school began- 1st grade, full day!!! School starts at 8:10 so we must be in the car no later than 8am. Easier said than done. I wish I could say that I was the sort of parent that prepared my child for the early start time by going to bed at a set time all summer. Yeah, no can do. More like we stayed up late (like 10:30) 2 days before school began. And we are not the type of people who like to naturally wake up early. Our natural body clocks are more like 8:30. Okay… reality check.  So the first week was a challenge. A few crying fits, but we made it through. Now if we can only do it for the rest of the year. Oh, we are also the last ones to arrive every day. Kind of feel like a loser mom but at least I am personally taking her every day and picking her up. And volunteering at the school library. And volunteering to put together a stone mosaic in the schoolyard. Oh, how I miss summer already. Except…

End of summer tomatoes. Everywhere. In abundance. .80 cents a pound. Ready to be peeled, canned, stewed, sun dried, roasted and… made into jam. Savory and sweet luscious jam. While tomato jam has been around forever, I am just reminding you to make it. It is so off the hook amazing.  Wether you spoon it over poached eggs, spread on over a burger, or slather it on crusty bread with oozy cheese, it’s all good.


makes  approx.  1 1/2 pints

3 1/2 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or fresh if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon smoked chili powder (or chipotle, or leave out altogether)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

Put everything into a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Stir, lower the heat and simmer until the liquid has evaporated: about 3 hours. You want it to be a thick jam consistency. Transfer into sterilized jars and can or refrigerate for up to two weeks. Enjoy immensely.

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