More Bread Baking … Pizza and Crusty Rolls

I know it seems like I do a lot of bread baking, but I really don’t. It usually takes me about a year to 14 months to get through a 20kg bag of AP flour between sweet (cakes, pies, cookies) and savoury (breads/buns/rolls, gravies) uses.

I’ve been holding back on the last of the flour from my previous purchase … just in case of emergency. Not that I can really imagine what a ‘flour emergency’ would consist of. Still, after picking up a new bag on Saturday, before going off to donate blood, I’m now flour rich.

So I baked 2 pizzas on Sunday and tried a new recipe for crusty rolls today. I got the recipe from a FB bread baking group.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to make a dozen rolls so I baked a couple of mini loaves with half of the dough, instead. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my go-to crusty roll recipe.

Of course, I had to taste test the rolls so I made a sammie with one filled with a couple of large chicken fingers/small cutlets and a generous slather of Miracle Whip.

SO good.

Crusty Rolls – you can see the crumb on the top of the roll to the right

I wanted to try a higher baking temp (425 deg F) for the loaves so they got over-proved by the time I got them into the oven and there wasn’t a lot of oven spring left in the yeast. I suspected that would happen when I slashed the loaf.

Natalie D’s Crusty Rolls – makes 1 dozen rolls

1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1 large egg
3 – 3 1/4 cup bread flour (added about 1 cup more flour and kneaded for 10 min)

In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit until foamy, 5-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, add 1 cup of the flour and salt and mix togther well. Add proofed yeast mixture, egg and oil. With a wooden spoon, beat well for a couple of minutes. Stir in the rest of the flour, half a cup at a time, reserving about a half a cup for kneading.

Sprinkle some flour on a working surface and turn out the dough. Knead until you have a soft but not sticky dough.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl and let rise for about an hour or until doubled.

Shape into 12 balls and lay out on a greased baking sheet. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise for about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F and bake rolls for 12-15 minutes.

Trial 1:
6 rolls, glazed with water, baked at 400 deg F for 20 min
2 mini loaves, glazed with EVOO, baked at 425 deg F for 20 min.

Rolls and Mini Loaves

Japanese Trio

I’ve had a sushi craving for a while now, but the budget doesn’t allow for an outing as I’m saving up for b’day dim sum next weekend. So, I dug into my freezer (duh!) for a couple of ingredients.

No recipes cause they’re all things I’ve posted YEARS ago, so you’ll have to go looking. (I’ll try to add links back to the recipes.)

I started with a savoury pancake, okonomiyaki, which features shredded cabbage (I used a bagged coleslaw mix as a time-saver) and sliced surimi aka fake crab ‘legs’. Instead of the sauce from the recipe, you can use bbq, tonkatsu or eel sauce, as I did.

Following up with inari sushi, which are seasoned fried tofu pockets filled, traditionally with sushi rice. I topped them with spicy fake crab legs and egg salad. I was tempted to make a third topping of tuna salad but I’d made too much of the other two toppings for the leftover inari from the can which I’d frozen away. For an interesting and tasty variation, you can fill your tofu pockets with somen noodle salad.

The spicy crab was garnished with masago (capelin roe) and the egg salad with shichimi togarashi (chili pepper condiment).The inari was served with the last of my sake. The bottle is pretty too. :)

And since I had a couple of cups of leftover cooked sushi rice, I decided to make a donburi or rice bowl. For a topping, I used one of the larger chicken cutlets/katsu made previously and an egg poached in the simmering sauce. I only used 1 cup of the rice so I think I’ll freeze away the rest. The only recipe you need is for the simmering sauce as the topping choices for the rice bowl are very flexible.

The egg stuck to the bottom of the pan while poaching so I lost a lot of the yolk to the simmering sauce. Oh well. What was there was still somewhat runny, the way I like it.

January Round-Up

WARNING: PICTURE HEAVY

Lest you think the last half of January was all about dessert and bread, I made a couple of pasta dishes this past weekend. I had 4 hot Italian sausages (~3/4 lb) in my freezer, along with most of a 2 kg bag of shucked clams. I was going to combine them in a tomato sauce to serve over pasta, then decided to go with a simple sausage/broccoli olive oil and garlic sauce instead. Then I changed my mind AGAIN and did both. The sausage/broccoli (I also added some fennel seed and dry red chili pepper flakes to the sauce) was served over rigatoni pasta. I combined half of the meat mixture with 1/2 pound of the clams and ~1 1/2 cups of a jarred Classico tomato and basil sauce and served it over fettuccine. If I’d had another couple of sausages, and another stalk of broccoli, I would have added it to the pan.

Great meals but not exactly needing a recipe write up. :)

And there were some odds and end meals like this prime rib (from my British Christmas menu) on a pretzel bun with roasted potato wedges, onion rings (bought frozen) and Caesar salad.

The last pork tenderloin (1 lb) in my freezer was cut up and turned into pork souvlaki and pork vindaloo. The souvlaki was served on couscous with roasted sweet potato while the vindaloo was served over basmati rice with chickpea curry.

I was tempted by a sale on boneless skinless chicken breasts and bought six which I turned into cutlets and a bunch of chicken fingers.

   

The cutlets were individually wrapped and frozen away. Some of the chicken fingers ended up in buns as sandwiches while a few more were part of a more complete meal. A couple of lamb shoulder chops (from a package of 6… I can’t resist a sale) were marinated with chimichurri butter and roasted for another tasty meal.

A couple of meals featured eggs. The chorizo cornbread with giblet gravy came out of the freezer. In the 2nd meal, a more traditional breakfast, the sourdough starter pancakes also came out of the freezer as did the last of the bacon. A bit of mango added fresh fruit to a diet that’s usually lacking. :)

I’ve got some Stilton cheese left over from my Christmas supper so I played with an idea for a cheese puff/gougere ring which could be cut in half and filled with chicken/turkey or shrimp/crab salad. Unfortunately, the ring ended up resembling a relatively flat pull apart gougere ring. Next time, I add another egg to the choux pastry, spoon the choux pastry much close together or smoosh it together into a round. Still, the gougeres tasted good, especially eaten with some of the sparkling wine from New Year. I had enough wine left in the bottle to toss about 1/2 cup into the earlier sausage/clam tomato sauce I made this past weekend. But that was sheer coincidence, not good planning on my part.

I made a batch of lemon curd early in January to use up some softening lemons from my fruit crisper drawer and, between the tarts (leftover pastry from the mincemeat tart bake), the sweet cream puffs filled with whipped cream mixed with the curd and just spooning it over ice cream, it’s all gone now.

I think that about covers my January.

No-churn Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I’ve been doing some more freezer diving lately as a way of keeping grocery costs down and because the frost layer is pretty thick and I really NEED to defrost the poor thing. So, my recycled meals have been quick, tasty and filling (and, of course, economical) but not exactly post worthy. I’ll post a summary of this month’s meals shortly.

While rooting around in the depths, I ran across a clamshell of blueberries, bought on sale a couple of months ago, and debated on lemon blueberry pound cake or muffins. I went with a no-churn blueberry cheesecake ice cream. The sweetened condensed milk (bought during the Xmas baking sales), along with the heavy whipping cream, will also help to clear out the fridge and pantry.

No-Churn Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream – makes ~4 cups

Ice cream base

NOTE: Recipe measures after the slash are based on using the smaller CDN can (300 ml) of sweetened condensed milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream/ ~ 1 1/2 cups
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk/ 1 CDN can (10oz)
7 oz cream cheese, room temperature/ 5 oz
2 tsp vanilla / ~1 1/2 tsp

Blueberry swirl

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Making the fruit swirl:

Combine the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the berries burst and release juices. You can crush some of the berries with your spoon or spatula to release more juices.

Let the berry mixture to simmer for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat, pour into a bowl, and stick your bowl in the fridge to chill. This is a good make ahead and the leftover ‘sauce’ makes a good topping for ice cream or pancakes.

Making the ice cream base:

In a VERY large bowl, beat your cream cheese with an electric mixer fitted with whisk/beater attachments until smooth.

Slowly add condensed milk and vanilla, and whisk the mixture until smooth.

Add the heavy cream and keep whisking until stiff peaks form. (This will take longer than usual due to the other ingredients. About 10 minutes is my estimate.) Spoon about half of your whipped cream mixture into a standard sized loaf pan.

Remove your chilled berry sauce from the fridge and spoon about half of it over your whipped cream mixture in the loaf pan. Blobs of sauce work. Don’t worry about making it pretty.

Cover with your remaining whipped cream mixture, and top with the rest of the berry mixture. Use a butter knife to drag/swirl your blueberry mixture into your cream mixture.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and stick it in the freezer for about 6 hours, or until ice cream is firm enough to scoop. For a faster set, make the ice cream in 2 containers.

Hard, Crusty Rolls made with Sourdough Starter

I’ve made soft, fluffy rolls and buns over the years but recently I got a craving for a hard, crusty version. So I went web surfing.

Hard, Crusty Rolls

I adapted this King Arthur Flour “European-Style Hard Roll” recipe by substituting my own home made sourdough starter for the starter called for in the recipe. Based on the weight of the flour, water and yeast in the starter, I used a bit over 8 oz/225 gm of sourdough starter.

After the initial 3 hr deflate and turns called for, I divided the dough in half (14 oz/400 gm each) and refrigerated one portion in a covered bowl until the next day. I divided the rest of the dough into 4 portions and shaped the dough into balls, which I proofed for 1 hr before baking at 425 deg F in a preheated oven. I placed several ice cubes into a metal pie pan which I put into the oven to give me a steamy baking environment.

Because I was too cheap frugal to crack an egg for the egg white glaze, I just threw some all purpose flour over the proofed balls and slashed the tops.

Remarkably, the relatively flat proofed dough balls rose magnificently.

The bottoms of the buns were browned and firm (tapping gave me a solidly hollow sound) but the tops were still pale so I extended the baking time to 30 min (from the 20-25 min called for.)

After waiting impatiently about 20 minutes for the rolls to cool, I sliced one open. The crust was, as desired, very hard and crunchy, the texture was chewy and the taste was good. The crumb was fairly open so I’m guessing the hydration level was about 60%.

The roll was delicious on its own or dipped into extra virgin oil dressed with freshly ground black pepper and coarse sea salt.

The 2nd half of the dough was pulled out of the refrigerator the next day and allowed to come to room temperature … about 2 hrs. At this point, I shaped the dough into 4 rolls and let them proof for 2 hrs before baking. This time, in hopes of a nicer coloured external crust, I DID use an egg white glaze.

The crust wasn’t nearly as crunchy as the earlier bake but the texture and taste was similar. The colour was beautiful after 25 min of baking.

Dan Dan Noodles

I’ve never had this Szechuan-inspired noodle dish but while surfing the net for something new and inspired to do with a pound of lean ground pork, I ran across this recipe. And it sounded delicious. Best of all, I had all the ingredients or, at least, close substitutions.

So, I cobbled together this recipe using common elements from 3 that I found. The result was well worth the time researching and making the dish. My tummy is full and I’m a happy camper. Even better, the meat sauce is a great make ahead so I only have to cook the noodles and pour the thawed topping over it. A few garnishes and you’re all set.

Before and After …

You may prefer to mix half of your toppings with the noodles and sesame oil in a large bowl and then top with the rest of the meat and garnishes. I’ve served the meat over fettuccine noodles and the rice noodles above. They were both great.

Dan Dan Noodles – serves 4

Cook 4 servings of noodles … rice (4 oz/113 gm per person), whole wheat ie spaghetti or fettuccine (85-100 gm per person), udon etc. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain well again. Drizzle a teaspoon or two of toasted sesame oil over the noodles to prevent sticking and for flavour, toss lightly to coat and divide among 4 bowls.

NOTE: You may want to wilt some fresh spinach in a saute pot as well and add it to the noodles for a healthier dish. I don’t have fresh green onions, only frozen in the freezer so I sprinkled several tbsp into the meat and mixed the onions through until they were thawed.

Meat topping

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground pork
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated with juice
2 tbsp garlic black bean paste
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp black/Chinkiang vinegar
2 pinches of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock
2-3 rounded tbsp tahini paste
2-3 sliced green onions (garnish)

Other optional garnishes include pickled mustard greens, roughly chopped cilantro and chopped dry roasted peanuts.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, add the oil. When hot add the ground pork and brown for several minutes, breaking up the pork as much as possible.

Add the grated ginger and cook for another few minutes until the pork is lightly browned.

Add garlic bean paste, ground Szechuan peppercorns, both kinds of soy sauce, rice wine and black vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes. Stir through and cook for several minutes.

Add the tahini paste and chicken stock and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the ‘sauce’ is as thick as desired. Taste and add a pinch more sugar if too hot.

Spoon the meat topping over the 4 bowls of noodles and sprinkle green onions on top.

Polish Pierogies – Potatoes, Cream Cheese and Caramelized Onions

There were a few dishes that my mother rarely, or never, made when I was growing up. Pierogies were one of them. Oh, she’d make the occasional Romanian “Gomboti cu prune” which my SIL identified as “Szilvas Gomboc” (Hungarian Plum Dumplings) for us, but I never remember eating the savoury version.

I always thought they’d be a huge amount of work so, over the years, I’ve bought the bags of frozen pierogies from the grocery store and boiled and pan fried them at home with diced onions, and served them with a heaping spoonful of sour cream.

I know that FB can be a waste of time/distraction, but one takes food inspiration wherever it’s found, and the recent flood of pierogi posts inspired ME to make a batch. (By the way, prime rib posts have been popping up in my FB cooking groups, like mushrooms after a rain. I don’t want to say that MY Christmas menu post has been the inspiration, but you can draw your own conclusion.)

I used a potato, caramelized onion and cream cheese filling … cause I had caramelized onions and the cream cheese in the fridge. I don’t know when/if I’ll make them again, though I DO want to make gomboti, the next time I find some plums at the grocery store. I think my mom used sour plums but it’s been a long time since I last had them so I’ll use whatever’s available.

The recipe is a somewhat rewritten version of one I found on Youtube. They were called “Polish Pierogies” so that’s what I’m titling this post.

Polish Pierogi – makes 24 – 32

Filling:

1 1/2 pounds potatoes (2 large russets)
2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion**
1 small clove of garlic, crushed or 1/8 tsp garlic powder**
3 ounces (1/3 cup) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Dough:

2 1/2 cups (~11 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup water, you can use a bit less

** I used about 1/4 cup of caramelized onions and the garlic powder, because I was too lazy to fry just the garlic.

Filling (make ahead):

Place peeled, quartered potatoes in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.

Meantime, brown onions & garlic in oil on med-low for 10 min.

Drain and mash the potatoes, adding onion & garlic, cream cheese, salt & pepper. (Or you can rice the potatoes into a large bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients and fork everything together.)

Set aside to cool. Shape into 1-tablespoon size mounds if desired for convenient portioning and to make the filling process go more quickly.

NOTE: I ‘quartered’ the amount of filling I had in the bowl by eye, and then scored the top of the filling with a knife. I took out the filling, a quarter at a time and rolled each quarter into a log, which I divided into 6 equal portions. Then I rolled THESE into balls. After using up half the filling, I thought the ‘balls’ were too big so on the second half, I divided each quarter of filling into 8ths. This should give you 32 generously filled pierogies rather than 24 overstuffed ones.

Dough:

Combine flour & salt in a bowl. Make a well and add sour cream, egg and water, combining with a fork or metal spoon.

Place on a well-floured board and knead for 50 turns (using a scraper if needed) until smooth. Cover with a towel or inverted bowl & let rest at least 10 minutes. You can wrap the dough in food wrap and refrigerate until the next day, if you need to, though it’s a fast dough to put together the day you make your pierogies so it’s not necessary.

Shaping the pierogies:

Divide the dough into thirds. Keeping extra dough covered, roll each section 1/8” thick, adding flour as needed. Cut 3-inch circles, saving leftover scraps of dough. Combine the leftover dough scraps from rolling the three portions for your last portion of filling.

Fill each circle with about one tablespoon of potatoes or your filling ‘balls’, fold into a half circle, and pinch edges tightly. Place apart on a towel or baking sheet sprinkled with flour.

Place the pierogies in boiling salted water, stirring at first (with the handle of a wooden spoon so as not to pierce the pierogies) to keep them separated, and cook about 3 minutes until they rise to the top, then another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove to an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle some more oil over the top of the pierogies so they don’t dry out.

You may also freeze your unboiled pierogies on the floured sheet and then place them in freezer bags.

Saute your boiled pierogies in a pan with butter or olive oil until they’re golden and serve with caramelized onions and sour cream for a delicious treat.

You can also bake them on an oiled baking sheet in a 350 deg. F oven until lightly golden.

A beautiful accompaniment to a simple boiled ham dinner.

Fasole Batuta (Mashed White Beans) and Bacalao (Salt Cod) Cakes

I thought I’d share the recipes for these two dishes from my Christmas eve day menu, in case anyone is interested in making them.

Fasole Batuta/Mashed White Bean Dip

Fasole Batuta/Mashed White Bean Dip

2 cups cooked white beans (cannellini, Great Northern or navy beans)
1/4 cup cooking liquid from beans or water
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely diced white onion and 1 finely minced garlic, sauteed in 1 tsp vegetable or olive oil until tender and lightly browned**

**NOTE: You can use raw onion and garlic but the texture of the dip will be smoother and the taste milder if you saute them first.

In a food processor combine the above and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides a couple of time, taste for additional seasoning and liquid. If making with warm beans and liquid, remember the dip will thicken as it cools so you may want to add a splash more water.

Optional Garnish: 1/4 cup finely diced white onion sauteed slowly in 2 tbsp vegetable oil until golden brown in a small frying pan over medium heat. Remove the onion to a small bowl and add 1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika to the oil. Cook for a minute or so to toast the paprika. Form a shallow circle in the middle of your bowl of bean dip with the back of a large soup spoon. Spoon the paprika flavoured oil into the circle and sprinkle the browned onion over the top. Serve with crackers, pita bread wedges, warm buns or vegetable sticks.

 

Bacalao/Salt Cod Cakes

Bacalao/Salt Cod Cakes – makes 12 logs or patties

8 oz/ 225 g salt cod cut into 3-4 inch portions
2 medium/large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp vegtable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
1 /2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2-3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all purpose flour, divided
1 cup dried, plain breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

The night before, soak the cod in a large bowl of cold water replacing the water a couple of times. Keep refrigerated. Taste a bit of the cod after 12 hrs and if it’s too salty, continue soaking. Otherwise, drain the cod, flake or coarsely chop and refrigerate until needed.

In a small frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil until translucent and lightly browned. Transfer the onion and garlic to a plate covered with a doubled piece of paper towel to drain off the excess oil.

Place cubed potatoes in a saucepan filled with salted water, bring to a boil, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes, return the saucepan back to the heat over medium heat and cook, stirring for 1 minute, to help dry out the potatoes.

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and mash. Add flaked cod, sauteed onion and garlic, thyme, salt and pepper  and 1/2 cup of the flour and stir well to combine.

Using 1/4 cup portions, form into 3 inch long logs or 3 inch diameter and 1 inch tall patties.

Set up a crumbing station with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls. Coat the logs or patties and set aside on a clean, dry plate while heating the vegetable oil to 350 deg F in a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet for shallow frying. You’ll want the oil to be about 1 inch deep.

Fry the logs/patties, turning once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with tartar sauce or ketchup, whatever you prefer.

Butternut Squash – Ravioli and Soup

I hadn’t picked up a butternut squash in ages, so when I happened to spot a heap in my grocery store, before Christmas, I brought one home. And then forgot about it until I ran across it while looking for something else. The question was … what to do with it. I wanted to be creative but after the Christmas eve day and Christmas day meal preparation, I didn’t want to get TOO complicated.

And then I did.

(When I throw together the recipe for the soup, I may post it below. Or maybe I won’t. We’ll see.) DONE

Butternut Squash

Wash off the outside, cut into half. Scoop out the seeds and then cut each half into quarters. Place in a microwave safe bowl with about 1/4 cup of water and microwave on high for 5 minutes at a time until tender. (15-20 minutes should do it.) Peel and then puree.

I turned part of the pureed squash into a filling for home made ravioli.

Butternut Squash, Stilton Cheese and Bacon Ravioli in an Aglio e Olio (Garlic and oil) sauce

Easy Ravioli Dough – makes enough dough for 15 3 inch diameter or square ravioli with some leftover dough

1 cup flour
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Knead the dough for a few minutes, cover with food wrap and let sit on the counter at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Roll out to a thinness of 6 (out of 7) on pasta maker.

Butternut Squash, Stilton and Bacon Ravioli Filling – fills 15 3 inch diameter or square ravioli

4 oz/ 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
2 oz Stilton cheese, crumbled
4 strips bacon, fried to crispy and chopped
pinch of salt
grind or 2 of black pepper

Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce/Aglio e Olio

1 clove garlic, finely mince
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch or two of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Mix the above together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Fill ravioli and boil for about 2 minutes from fresh.

Saute minced garlic clove in extra virgin olive oil until just golden. Add cooked ravioli and toss to coat. A pinch of red pepper flakes may be added for a bit of a kick. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

The rest of the pureed butternut squash (~2 cups) became a curried sweet soup with the addition of some leftover poached pears.

Butternut Squash and Pear Curried Soup

Butternut Squash and Pear Curried Soup – serves 4

1 tbsp butter, unsalted
2 cups butternut squash puree
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1-2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 heaping tbsp caramelized onions
1/2 cup sweet potato, coarsely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 pear, peeled, cored and finely chopped*
sour cream to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

* used ~1/2 cup leftover poached pear puree (cranberry mead, honey, sugar, vanilla pod, cinnamon stick)

In a large saute pan, fry the ginger, garlic and caramelized onion in butter, over medium heat until the garlic is translucent. Add curry and cumin powder and fry for about 1 minute more.

Add 2 cups of stock, sweet potato, pear and butternut squash puree. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender.

Using a stick or counter blender or food processor, puree the mixture until smooth. Return to saute pan if not using the stick blender and taste, adding salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, whisk in additional stock and warm.

Stir in sour cream, if using.

December Round-Up: Bread, soup and a bunch of other stuff

I’m sorry but I’ve been a bit distracted and haven’t kept up with my posts this month. Here are a couple of recipes for buns and a lot of pictures of meals I’ve made to make you salivate. I hope to do better in 2016.

Bread/Buns

  1. Pretzel Buns

Crumb

Pretzel Buns – makes 6-8 buns

200 ml warm water
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil (ie sunflower oil)
2 1/2 cups (about 300g) all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
4 tbsp baking soda
1 egg, beaten
sea salt for sprinkling

Add the sugar to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it rest for 5-10 minutes (it should be foamy).

Put the flour and salt in a medium bowl then pour in the yeast and oil and mix well with a spoon. When it’s well combined, knead the dough with your hands for several minutes. If needed, add more flour. The dough shouldn’t be sticky.

Once ready, shape into a ball and brush lightly with oil. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then with a towel. Leave it to rest somewhere warm. This would take about 1 hour. The dough will double in size.

When it’s ready, take it out of the bowl and knead it again a little bit on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 6 (or 8) pieces and shape them into balls. Cover the balls with a light towel and leave them to rest. This time for about 30 minutes.

Now it’s time for the part that will give these buns their appetizing crust.

First, prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 liters (6 cups) of water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the baking soda little by little (it’s going to foam, so don’t just dump all of the soda at once, because it will overflow and turn your stove into a mess). Place back on heat.

Place 2 or 3 of the buns in the water and poach them for 30-40 seconds on each side. Take them out with a slotted spoon and put them on the baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 200 deg C (395-400 deg F).

Brush the buns with the beaten egg, sprinkle some sea salt (or pretzel salt, if you have). Make several cuts on top of them with a sharp knife.

Bake the buns for about 15-20 minutes or until they’re a nice brown colour.

Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking pan and then transfer to a cooling rack.

      2. Easy White Buns for Xmas

Debra C’s Easy White Bread – makes 1 loaf of bread (in 8″ x 4″, 9″ x 5″ or 13″ Pullman), 2 free form loaves, 15 dinner rolls  baked in a 9″ x 13″ pan.

1 1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp sugar
5 tsp active dry yeast
1- 1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
3 – 3 1/2 cup all purpose unbleached flour

Put warm water, yeast and sugar in small bowl and stir until dissolved. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes or until foamy.

When yeast blooms/bubbles, add salt and oil/butter, stir until salt is dissolved.

Start adding flour slowly (1/2 cup at a time) and stir with spoon until you can’t stir any more.

Flour your hands and turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and keep adding flour as you knead. This is going to take several minutes, adding just a bit of flour at a time. After adding flour just form a ball and cover with your bowl.

Let rise 5 minutes in the bowl, covered.

Roll out or gently press with your knuckles, until it becomes a rectangle (10″ x 14″).

Roll up and place the dough, pinched seam down, into a greased loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let rise 20 minutes or until double in size in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and cut a slit in the top of the bread. Brush with a little egg glaze or milk.

Bake approx. 20-30 minutes until done.

Cool before cutting.

For rolls – Divide into 15 equally sized portions and shape into balls. Place into an oiled 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish and let rise.

Brush with egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp of cold water) and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Let rest in dish for about 10 minutes and ten remove to cooling rack or the bottoms may get a bit soggy.

Soup

  1. Kale and Hot Italian Sausage Tri-Colour Gnocchi Soup

Kale and Hot Italian Sausage Tri-Colour Gnocchi Soup – serves 4-6

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 links hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
4 cups good-quality chicken stock
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced (optional)
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped (and stems removed, if desired)
1 pound potato gnocchi, tri-colour … for colour
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt (1/2 tsp) and pepper (1/4 tsp), to taste starting with amounts noted

optional toppings: freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, cook the sausage and onion until the sausage is browned, breaking up as much as possible. Drain out as much of the excess grease as possible.

Add in the chicken stock, salt, pepper and diced roasted red peppers (if using), and bring the mixture to a simmer (still over medium-high heat). Once it reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and add the kale and gnocchi and stir to combine. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the gnocchi are cooked through and tender. Stir in the heavy cream.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serve warm with desired toppings.

NOTE: If you can’t find hot Italian sausage, use mild and add a sprinkling of crushed, dried red chili pepper flakes.

    2. Turkey Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup – serves 6-8

4 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups water and 2 tbsp chicken soup mix)
2 cups chicken breast (cooked, and cubed)
4 oz long grain and wild rice blend
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced or 2 tbsp dried onion soup**
1 cup corn, canned or frozen (optional)
1/2 cup whipping cream
~1/2 cup water

** What I used

In a large sauce pot, saute the carrots, celery and onion in the butter over medium heat.

After a few minutes, add the flour, stir into the butter and cook for 3-4 minutes to cook out the rawness in the flour.

Stir in the chicken broth a cup at a time until it’s all been added to the pot. Add the corn (if using), onion soup mix (if you didn’t use onion), black pepper, cubed chicken and rice blend. Bring to a boil then cover the pot and reduce the heat until the soup is simmering and cook for 25 min, or until the rice is tender.

Whisk in the whipping cream and check the thickness. If too thick, add the additional water. Taste for seasoning. If too salty due to using the dried soup mix, you may wish to add a bit more water.

    3. Chicken Chile Verde Soup

Chicken Chile Verde Soup – serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water, divided
1 cup masa harina
1/2** – 1 cup cup green enchilada sauce
1/2 jalapeno pepper**, diced or 1 4 oz can diced green chiles
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or old Cheddar** cheese
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

Garnish: additional Monterey Jack cheese and crushed tortilla chips for topping, if desired

** What I used

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add in the chicken broth.

Combine 2 cups of the water with the masa harina, whisking until smooth. Pour into the pot along with the remaining cup of water, enchilada sauce, and jalapeno or green chiles. Season with the salt, chile powder, cumin and pepper to taste. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until thickened.

Stir in the Monterey Jack and cream cheese. Cook until the cheese has melted, whisking if needed, 5-10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.

Serve topped with additional Monterey Jack cheese and crumbled tortilla chips, if desired.

NOTE: This soup will get thicker upon standing. If you like a thinner soup, use more water or chicken broth to thin it out.

Miscellaneous Meals

Mushroom Alfredo and chicken cutlet

Chicken cutlet, mashed potatoes

Pizza – Italian sausage and mushrooms

Meatloaf, baked beans, onion rings and coleslaw

Roasted chicken breast, baked beans and coleslaw

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, coleslaw

Pan fried pork chop, mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, corn and salad