Monthly Archives: October 2015

More Sourdough and a Turkey Soup

Never say never … to sourdough starter.

Soup is a great way to use up leftover diced turkey meat, especially the white meat which can dry out quickly.

For this creamy turkey soup, I used potato gnocchi, and chopped baby spinach and grated carrots for colour, flavour and added nutrition.

Creamy Turkey and Potato Gnocchi Soup – makes 8 cups/ servings

4 tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
1 tbsp extra virgin oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
4 tbsp/1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups turkey stock (home made if possible)
3/4-1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 pound potato gnocchi
1-2 cups turkey breast, cooked and diced
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2-1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese – optional

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, drain and reserve until needed. Since it only takes 3 minutes to cook the gnocchi once your water is boiling, wait to cook them until you’re almost ready to add them to the soup.

Mise en place

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil, over medium heat. When the onion becomes translucent, add the flour, and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 4 cups of turkey stock, the starting amounts of salt and pepper and the dried herbs.

Into the roux add the carrots and diced turkey. Once the mixture becomes thick add the whipping cream. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi and the spinach. Taste for seasonings, add more salt and pepper if needed, then simmer until the soup is heated through.

Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on each bowl if desired.

And what goes well with soup?

Home made buns or rolls.

I decided to activate some dried sourdough flakes. I ground them up in my coffee/spice grinder first to make rehydrating them easier and converted an old yeast recipe for Dilly-Onion Bread to use the resulting sourdough starter.

The results were pretty good if I do say so myself. Next time, I’m leaving out the dill seeds though as I don’t feel like crunching on them.

Hybrid Dilly-Onion Bread – 2.2 lb/1 kg loaf

1 medium onion, finely diced and fried in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp dill seed
1 tbsp dill weed
1 egg (a second egg may be used for an egg wash)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter, fed about 4 hrs earlier
3 cups all purpose flour, divided

Fry diced onion and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water with 1/2 tbsp sugar. Stir well and sprinkle in 2 tsp dry active yeast. Let proof for 5-10 min or until the mixture is foamy.

In a large bowl, add 1 cup of all purpose hour, salt, remaining 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, dill seed and dill weed, fried onion and oil/butter it was fried in.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, add one egg and beat slightly with a fork. Spoon in 1/2 cup sour cream so you have a total of 3/4 cup of egg/sour cream.

Sourdough Starter

Stir in the sourdough starter and the egg/sour cream mixture. Beat well for a few minutes.

Stir in flour, 1/4 cup at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is too thick to stir. ( I had about 1/2 cup of flour left at this point.)

On a clean work surface, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour and turn out your sticky dough onto the flour. Knead gently adding more flour until you have a dough that’s still soft but not sticky. This should only take a few minutes. (You will probably have about 1/4 cups of flour left at this point.)

Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rest until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shape as desired using remaining flour to prevent sticking to hands.

Bake as per loaf, buns or braid. Buns were baked at 375 deg F for 30 minutes. The epi was baked at 450 deg F for 15-16 minutes.


And then cause I had some starter left over I fed it and made a sweet sourdough starter recipe … Cinnamon-Raisin rolls. The recipe came from here.



You can’t tell in the savoury buns, especially with the sour cream in the dough, but with these rolls, there was a definite sour back note. It was good but I’m not fond enough of the taste of sourdough that I’d make it again, especially when regular cinnamon rolls are so good.


Sourdough Dinner Rolls

I think (hope) I’ve exhausted my sourdough starter experiments for this year. In fact, I only made a second starter because I wanted to know if my first attempt had been a fluke … beginner’s luck.

It’s 70 deg F in my kitchen, even on top of the fridge, which is the warmest free spot I have for a ‘sourdough starter nursery’, so it took a while to get it going well, compared to the one started in June. I could have babied this second starter along for a few weeks but after dumping (horrors!) all but 2 tbsp after a week and transferring the starter to a new jar, I knew I had to end it as soon as possible.

The result was a tasty batch of buttery dinner rolls to eat with the stuffed pepper soup from my freezer.

I have trouble estimating the amount of starter in my jar so I ended up with less than 1 cup in my dough. No worries there. There was plenty to ‘flavour’ the dinner rolls, I think. Not too sour at all as I don’t really like SOURdough.

As to shaping the rolls – well I wanted something a bit different. So I made cloverleaf rolls. Fiddly, as you have to divide the dough into 1 inch balls (3 for each roll) and then place them into oiled muffin tins. I sprayed the muffin tins with baking spray and had minimal sticking on a couple.

Inside the roll

Sourdough Dinner Rolls – makes 12-16 dinner rolls

1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp yeast (optional)
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp white sugar or 2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cups flour (can use 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat)
butter, melted

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch glass or metal pan or line with parchment paper.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, add the warm water. Stir in the sugar with a spoon until it’s dissolved. Pour in the yeast and stir well so you don’t have any clumps. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is foamy.

In a large mixing bowl add 1 cup of the flour and the salt. Mix through with a large wooden spoon. (It’s very satisfying to use a wooden spoon.)  Add the starter, proofed yeast mixture and oil. Beat well until you get a smooth batter.

Add in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir well until the dough is pulls away from the edge of the bowl and you can no longer stir it.

Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead gently for 8-10 minutes by hand. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Set in a warm place to double in size.

When double, press down the dough and with lightly floured hands, form into rolls.

Risen dough cut into 4ths to help estimate shaping amount. Each quarter of the dough was shaped into 4 rolls.

Place the rolls on your prepared pan, cover gently with a clean towel or oiled plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 35-45 min in a warm place.

For cloverleaf rolls, make one inch balls of dough (in multiples of 3 for every roll you’ll make) and place 3 balls in an oiled muffin tin and let rise until they’re 1/2-1 inch taller than the rim of your muffin tin. (The balls of dough were pretty sticky as I didn’t want to flour and over-handle them.)

Preheat oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

Bake your rolls approximately 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven. During the last 5 minutes of baking, brush with melted butter and return to oven.

Trial 1: Stirred a total of 4 cups of flour into the dough. Used only about 150 ml of starter as I didn’t have more. Used an additional ~1/4 cup of flour and kneaded the dough for about 8 minutes until it was soft and no longer tacky, though it would stick to an unfloured surface if allowed to sit too long. Made 16 cloverleaf rolls … could make 18 comfortably. I baked my rolls for a total of 25 minutes, as I wanted them darker. I could try 400 deg F next time.

Home-made Hot Dog Buns with Sourdough Starter

I’ve got a package of bbq’d sausages (Grill ‘Ems) in my freezer and had pictured eating them inside hot dog buns.

But nothing so crass as PURCHASED hot dog buns.

I made my own using a half batch of the hamburger recipe found here. I made a couple of changes in the recipe … first, I wanted to reduce the amount of sugar used so I halved the amount. I still got the quick rise so I was quite pleased. Also, I had some leftover sourdough starter from an experiment I had started early in the week and I added 1/2 cup in place of some of the water and flour.

The result … well, what do you think? 🙂

The buns were shaped after letting the dough rest for 10 minutes. Then, they were allowed to rest covered for another 10-12 minutes, brushed with an egg glaze, and baked.

The buns were baked for 17 minutes at 400 deg F.

My Sourdough Starter Hot Dog Buns – makes 8 x 2 oz 6″ long buns

1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 egg (2 tbsp or 1/8 cup lightly beaten egg)**
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 tbsp vegetable oil

** Add a splash of water to the other half of the egg and use it to glaze the buns

Preheat oven to 400 deg F.

Warm milk in microwave, until lukewarm, and stir in sugar. Stir in the yeast making sure that you don’t have any lumps of yeast. Let proof for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.

In a large bowl, add 1 cup of flour and salt. Stir to mix in the salt evenly. Add yeast mixture, starter, oil and egg. Stir well with a wooden spoon until you get a smooth batter. Beat for a couple of minutes.

Add, flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the edge of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for a minute or two. You may need another 2-3 tbsp of flour.

Form the dough into a ball, cover with bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough (you should have about 1 pound of dough) into 8 equal portions. Shape into a rectangle, fold over in thirds and pinch edge closed. Roll the dough ‘snake’ to even it up and place about an inch apart into a lightly oiled 9x 13 inch baking pan in two rows. Cover pan with a towel and let rise for 10-12 minutes.

Brush top of the buns with the beaten egg.

Bake for 14-17 minutes until the top is golden brown and your base is set/golden brown.

Let buns cool on rack until room temperature.

Happy Thanksgiving, 2015

I had an inexpensive turkey in my freezer … too ratty to ever present to company, if I had had plans for any, because it was missing most of the skin over the breast. However it was perfect for making a bunch of tasty goodies. Some were eaten immediately but most were wrapped up and frozen away for the future. A lot of good meals starting with a $10 turkey.

I jointed my defrosted turkey. Here are some of the parts in a large enamel bowl from my mom’s hoard.

Supper was breast meat trimmed from the carcass, mashed potatoes and gravy from the drippings, giblet and rice stuffing with the help of a couple of boxes of Stove Top stuffing. And a bit of salad.

Turkey gravy … SO good.

The two turkey breasts ready to be sliced and wrapped away in the freezer. A jar of mint lemonade in the background.

Dessert was fresh strawberries macerated in vanilla sugar and a couple of splashes of Cointreau over French Vanilla ice cream because I was too tired to make anything more ambitious.

The turkey wings were marinated and roasted. The result was Asian Sticky Turkey Wings.

The legs were jointed and braised in a combination of Mexican flavours for Turkey Tinga. Sorry, no pictures of the shredded meat and sauce before it was frozen away … just the pre-braise mixture.

Baked Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas and some Pepperoni and Cheese Balls

On the weekend, I thawed an 8 oz package of cooked ham, diced it up, and intended to use it in a pot of soup, along with a ham bone. There was a generous amount of meat on the bone, which I removed and added to the soup, so I only used half (4 oz) of the ham I’d diced up. The rest, along with a cup of thawed green peas, went into a baked mac and cheese. I started with Alton Brown’s recipe … but I made a couple of changes as I didn’t have Panko crumbs. And instead of chopping up an onion to add to the bechamel/cheese sauce, I used the last of a container of fried onions purchased from an Asian grocery store.

My usual cheese sauce is quite thick and the baked mac and cheese doesn’t really need to be baked … just warmed through. However, this version is much looser, and uses an egg to add creaminess, so the baking is essential. My substitution of regular bread crumbs was a bit disappointing in that it didn’t brown as much as I would have liked so I turned on the broiler. And then got distracted by prepping the romaine for a salad. Disaster almost struck. It didn’t burn but a few spots were quite dark. I tried to spoon them off and then just gave up. 🙂

Baked Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas

Baked Macaroni and Cheese – makes 6 to 8 servings

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced (or 1/4 cup fried onions)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
1 large egg
12 oz sharp cheddar, shredded (8 oz only used)
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh black pepper


3 tbsp butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a large (2 qt/2.5 L) casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

These are the fried onions, I used instead.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into the casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. (I chose not to do so and only use 8 oz of cheese.)

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes. (You may want to turn on the broiler for a minute or so if your breadcrumbs aren’t as dark as you’d like. Watch carefully though so you don’t burn the bread crumbs. ) Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes before serving.

NOTE: use 1 tbsp melted butter combined with 1/2 cup regular fine bread crumbs. No cheddar on top … just 8 oz in the sauce

Ham and Pea Variation: Stir 4-8 oz diced ham and 1 cup peas (thawed if frozen) into pasta/sauce mixture before pouring into casserole dish.

* * * * *

Sometimes you thaw pizza dough and then decide you really don’t WANT to make a pizza. These Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese Balls are a great appetizer idea for company or to treat your family on a week day.

Basic Bread/Pizza Dough – makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf or 2 12-14 inch diameter pizzas

3 – 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading
1 1/4 cups warm tap water (test on the inside of your wrist)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 packet ( 2 1/4 tsp) granulated yeast
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sized bowl, stir 1 tsp sugar into 1 1/4 cups warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let rise for 10 min until the mixture is frothy.

Put about 2 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the activated yeast mixture and the olive oil. Stir with a fork until it holds together into a rough ball. Remove the ball of dough to a floured surface and, using the remaining flour, knead 8-10 min until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Compare the smoothness and texture to your earlobe if you don’t have a baby’s bottom handy. 🙂 )Oil the large mixing bowl lightly and put the ball of kneaded dough in, rolling it around so that the ball is covered lightly with the oil. Cover with a piece of saran wrap and a large towel/cloth and put the bowl in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Prepare a baking sheet with sprinkled cornmeal. Shape the dough into 2 baguettes onto the baking sheet, cover again and let rise a second time until the baguettes have doubled in size. That should take 45 min to 1 hr depending on the warmth of the room.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brush or sprinkle the tops of the baguettes with water and place a pan of boiling hot water on a lower shell in the oven. Place the tray with the breads so they’re in the middle of the oven. Bake at 400 F for 20 min. Remove and test for doneness by rapping the bottom (knocking) with your knuckle. It should sound hollow.

For Pizza: Divide dough into two pieces, roll out to fit pan. Brush edge of dough with olive oil, top and bake in a preheated 475 deg F oven for 20-25 min or until the crust is browned and toppings are cooked.

For Pepperoni and Cheese Balls: Divide your dough (1 1/2 lbs) into 16-18 portions, stretch each portion out into a 2 1/2 inch circle and stuff with a chunk or two of pepperoni and a mozzarella cube, pinch into a ball and place on a prepared baking sheet. Use either a greased baking sheet or line a regular baking sheet with parchment paper. and bake in a preheated oven at 375 deg F for 25-30 minutes.

Dip into your favourite pizza or spaghetti sauce


Split Pea, Ham and Potato Soup with Fresh Peas

In the fall, before work gets busy, I make soup in my free time. I keep making soup until I use up all my storage containers and then, I’ve got several weeks of no fuss meals to look forward to.

I was certain that I had about a cup of lentils in my pantry but it turned out it was yellow split peas so the classic split pea and ham soup seemed a no-brainer. With a few twists. Like a cup of green peas from the freezer, a meaty ham bone and yellow potatoes for additional substance.

Split Pea, Ham and Potato Soup With Fresh Peas – serves 6

1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
3/4 cup (~4 oz) diced ham
1/2 medium (1/2 cup) onion, finely diced
1-3 tsp dried dill weed
2 stalks (1 cup) celery, finely diced
2 medium (1 cup) carrots, finely diced
1 pound/3-4 medium (2 cups) Yukon gold potatoes, medium dice
salt (start with 1/2 tsp) and freshly ground pepper (1/4 tsp)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or, if you have it, ham broth
1 cup dried yellow or green split peas**, picked over and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
water as needed (~2 cups)
3-4 tbsp plain yogurt

** Yellow or red lentils may also be used.

Mise en place

Heat the oil in a large saute pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden.

NOTE: If you have a meaty ham bone, add it to the pot, along with the chicken broth and enough water to cover it, after having sauteed the vegetables. Simmer the soup for about half an hour. Remove the bone, cut off as much meat as you can and return the meat to the pot. Discard the bone.

Add the potatoes, split peas, diced ham (broth and water, if you didn’t use the ham bone), salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and split peas are just soft, 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the peas, yogurt and simmer until the peas are thawed.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve.

Freeze away extras for another day