Bread, Round 2

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LOVE this recipe!

Cook’s Illustrated Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
1.5 tsp table salt
2 TB honey
3/4 cup + 2 TB room temp water
1/4 cup + 2 TB mild-flavored lager (I used a porter)
1 TB white vinegar

Whisk flours, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Stir honey into water, then add water, beer, and vinegar to the dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Road Trip to South India

We had the extreme good fortune of being invited on a 2.5 hour road trip to Vancouver today to experience the glory that is Saravanaa Bhavan. Had I been blindfolded and impervious to the cold, wet weather outside, I would have thought I was in Kerala, India. The food reminded me of our homestay cooking class in Kochi.

We were able to taste nearly everything as it was a buffet lunch for only $11.99 Canadian ($11.29 USD, woohoo!). It was very tempting not to make return visits to the line though Alex and Vijay had no issues with seconds and thirds. I’m totally ruined for Indian food now as it was incredibly fresh, light (Indian food isn’t always so gravy-like), and delicately spiced. It’s great to know that such an awesome spot exists only a few hours away. I think our next food adventure will be down to Kent to find a decent burrito. Between Thanksgiving on Thursday, leftovers for lunch and tapas at Tango last night, and our Indian feast today, I think tomorrow I’ll be eating a lot of salad. Vijay and Lakshmi: thanks for an awesome day!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Ever since I found this recipe four years ago, it’s become a mandatory addition to my Thanksgiving table. Even though we didn’t head home for the holiday this year, we still made it and hooked a few new friends onto its deliciousness. It’s from the November 2000 Bon Appetit magazine and is easily found on Epicurious.

Bread pudding

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 cups 1/2-inch cubes egg bread (about 10-ounces)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Caramel sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar

For bread pudding:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Stir in golden raisins. Transfer mixture to 11×7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce:
Whisk brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.

Sift powdered sugar over bread pudding. Serve warm with caramel sauce.

Note to self: check yeast expiration date before baking bread

It was amusing to wake up this morning and see all of the bubbles exploding in the dough. According to the recipe, that was a good sign. However, after 17 hours I tried to fold the very wet, sticky dough over onto itself and I knew I had a problem. I was nervous until I got to the part of the recipe that says, “it may look like a mess, but that is O.K.” Sadly, it just didn’t rise as much as it should have. Instead, it’s a very tasty flat bread but that doesn’t stop us from eating it.

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So, I’m off to the grocery store to buy more instant-rise yeast and I’ll be making the Cooks Illustrated Whole Wheat version over the weekend. I’m already a big fan of the use of parchment paper instead of a towel that ends up a sticky mess.

A hearty meal

With all the rain we’ve been having lately, I came home from school today craving something warm and filling. Lucky for me, a sausage and peppers recipe popped up into my Google reader!

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It took about 20 minutes from start to finish and left enough for lunch tomorrow. You can use any type of sausage (fry up the boar, Mom!) and experiment with other seasonings. We served it over some buttery polenta with steamed broccoli on the side. Yum!

A night out on the town

True statement: Alex’s cousin is a rock star. His band, Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers, came through Seattle last night and we had the opportunity to watch the show and hang out with Stephen backstage for a few hours afterward. It was entertaining to hear all the murmurs in the crowd as Alex and I followed him to the dressing room after he signed autographs and took pictures with adoring fans. The band has been on the road for weeks and is happy to have two “down” days now where they only have to drive 10 hours/ day for two days. Their schedule would put any CEO’s to shame. Stephen is passionate about his music (he went and sang for the troops in Kuwait and Bahrain earlier this year) and is one hell of a dancer (fancy footwork!). We were happy to get a small glimpse into what his life is like on the road.

Since we had to be downtown for the show at 9pm, we decided to make an evening of it and try a new restaurant, Anchovies and Olives, in Capitol Hill. I’m happy to say we found another winner! Actually, we found a great Indian place on Friday night too, so luck has recently been on our side. Back to last night, their specialty is fish and the menu changes daily. Everything is seasonal (we saw a lot of brussel sprouts, pomegranates, and persimmons on the menu) and done in a very simple fashion. The plates are small which allowed us to taste a variety of items. We started with a hamachi ceviche with grapefruit and then a persimmon and prosciutto salad (divine).  For entrees, we had a flaky white fish with pomegranates, and a fresh strozzapreti pasta with pig cheek and leeks (yummmmm).

Good fun all around!

Pumpkin Walnut Bread

There’s a birthday in our program today so I thought I would make some pumpkin walnut bread to celebrate and make our 9:30am class a little less painful. It’s the second time I’ve made the recipe (from Art and Soul of Baking) and am happy to say it’s consistent. It takes all of 10 minutes to put everything together and a little over an hour to bake. The best part is the way the house smells while it’s in the oven. Enjoy!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil like canola
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put the rack in the center. Coat your loaf pan with melted butter and line with parchment (or use a flour/butter cooking spray). In a large bowl, whisk flour, soda, spices, and salt until blended. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and water. Add sugar and blend well. Add pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingregients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add toasted walnuts and combine. Scrape into loaf pan and level the top. Bake 60-70 minutes (takes a bit longer for me) until bread is firm and toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. You can also make this with a cream cheese frosting; slice horizontally and ice the middle and the top.

Back in the kitchen

With Alex away in Colorado this last week, I have been experimenting in the library more than I have in the kitchen. Since I had today off, I decided to try a recipe that caught my eye in last months Bon Appetit. It wasn’t as flavorful as I’d hoped, but it certainly fit the bill as a seasonal high-fiber veggie meal. Maybe the left-overs will taste even better in the library tomorrow…

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Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 3/4 cup French green lentils
  • 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (I used a 3 lb sugar pie pumpkin.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain.

Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.

Combine lentils, pumpkin, and oil from baking sheet (this didn’t exist for me since the pumpkin absorbed it all) with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates; sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.