Monday, 31 March 2014

Grandma's Simple Sandwich Bread

I already have another white bread recipe, but it is an adaptation of a recipe from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, and while it does make a lovely loaf, it just isn't grandma's. . .

Side note, if you need a solid basic cookbook, The Better Homes and Garden is seriously the best cookbook I own I am sure. Plus you can customize it by buying new/different sections, and since the book is bound binder-style, you can just easily add them in.

Tip: to get the perfect water temperature for yeast, turn your hot water on, let it run until it's warmed up. Next slowly turn on the cold a little bit at a time while checking the temperature with your hand or wrist. When the water is barely noticeable as you touch it ie neither hot nor cold to your touch, it is at about your body temperature which as it turns out is a happy temperature for yeast as well.

I also usually turn my oven onto about 200°F for about 10 minutes, then turn it off. This gives me a perfect draft free place to let the bread rise.

Simple Bread Recipe




Ingredients:

2 Cups warm water
2 Tablespoons dry active yeast
1/4 Cup sugar or honey
Liberal pinch of salt
About 6 Cups Flour
Olive oil


Instructions:

In a large bowl whisk the sugar or honey into the water until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and lightly mix together.

Allow the yeast to proof for between 10-15 odd minutes, or until it has a nice thick creamy-foamy layer on top.

After the yeast has proofed, sift one or two cups of flour over the top and then sprinkle the pinch of salt over the flour. Use a sturdy wooden spoon or fork to mix together. Add flour 1/2 or 1 cup at a time until it is too difficult to mix. Liberally flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Sift more flour over the top of the dough and begin to knead.

To knead the bread fold the lower end of the dough up towards the middle of the loaf and use the heel of your hand to push the fold in and down. Stretching the dough as you push. Turn the dough about 90 degrees and repeat kneading process, adding more flour as needed until the dough is smooth, not sticky and elastic. This can take up to 10 minutes and yes you should feel like your arms got a work out.

Use a bit of olive oil to lightly grease either the mixing bowl you were using or a clean one, as well as lightly oiling the outside of your dough ball. Place greased dough ball into greased bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. The oil on the dough will help it stretch more easily, and the grease in the bowl will help us out later when we need to turn the risen dough.

Allow dough to rise for about 1 hour.

After one hour, punch the dough down in the center. Literally, make a fist and push it into the center of the loaf and down to the bottom. This gets rid of air bubbles. After punching the dough let it recover/rest for another 10 minutes.

Next divide the dough into either two halves to make normal sized bread loaves, or if you are like me and find bread goes bad before you finish it all, you can divide it into quarters and make four mini loaves.
No matter what you choose the instructions are about the same.

After dividing the dough, roll each piece out separately into a long rectangle. Starting at the smaller end of the rectangle begin to roll the loaf up. Tucking the ends underneath, and placing the prepared loaf seam side down in a lightly greased 8X8 inch brownie pan. If doing two loaves place them side by side, if doing four place one loaf on each corner and just kind of make them all fit.

Rolling the dough out and then rolling it up helps give the bread more lift on it's second rise and makes a less dense loaf at the end. You could just shape the blobs of dough into loafs if you want to take the easy way out.

Once each loaf as been prepared, shaped and placed into the pan, cover with the tea towel again and let rise for another 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F while the dough is rising.

Once loaves have risen a second time, place them into preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, when the tops are a nice golden brown and when tapped the loaf sounds pretty hollow.

If your bread tops are getting too dark you can brush them with a bit of milk and cover with tin foil to prevent excess browning.

Once baked, let loaves cool on a rack, cut each loaf away from the others and enjoy.

You can wrap extra loaves up in saran wrap tightly and then place loaves into freezer bags and keep in the freezer for about a month. Just make sure the loaf is completely cool before you try and freeze it.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Did you know some people believe that having a hole in your loaf of bread can be bad luck or signal death is coming, as the hole looks like a buried coffin in the bread.

Other Places:

Something for breakfast:

Pancakes

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Hard Boiled Eggs

Because Miss Busy Bee is a total scatterbrain and can never remember how to do this...

Hard Boiled Eggs

Ingredients:

Eggs
Water
Salt

Instructions:

Make sure you can arrange your desired number of eggs in a single layer on the bottom of your pot.

Arrange the desired number of eggs in a single layer, cover eggs with about one inch of cold water.

Lightly salt the water.

Place pot on stove and turn the heat up to high. Let the water come to a boil and let it boil for about a minute.

After a minute, either reduce heat to low or turn it off and cover. Let eggs stand for between 10-12 minutes.

Either drain eggs from the water or remove from pot with a slotted spoon and rinse in cold water.

Eggs can be stored in a sealed container in fridge for about 5 days. If they aren't in a sealed container they will make your fridge smell.

Enjoy!

Other Places:

Something for dinner:

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lemon Pesto Salmon

Unreasonably easy especially if you get a jar of pesto from the store. I know it's cheating a bit, but I prefer the store's to mine. . .

Lemon Pesto Salmon

Ingredients:

1 Lemon
Pesto
Salmon Fillets
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to about 350°F.

Spoon about a tablespoon of pesto per salmon fillet onto the parchment paper. Season one side of the salmon fillet with salt and pepper, and squeeze some lemon juice over top. Place the salmon seasoned side down onto the pesto on the parchment. Season the other side of the salmon fillet with salt and pepper, squeeze of lemon, and then smooth some more pesto over the top of the fillet.

Zest some of the rind of the lemon over top of the salmon fillets and place one half of the lemon, cut side down onto the pan with the fillets.

Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the baked lemon over top, and serve.

Enjoy!

Notes:

What was cooking one year ago?

Lemon and Herb Salmon (How similar these two are made me giggle)

Sausage and Chicken Casserole

It might be the end of March, but I am preparing for a blizzard. . . Warm comfy food for all!

Sausage and Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

2 Small Onions
3-4 Cloves Garlic
About 1 cup diced Mushrooms
1 diced Red Bell Pepper
1 Zucchini
3 Sausages, I used a spicy Italian
2 Chicken Breasts
About 2 cups dry Penne noodles (or a bit more)
1 can tomato sauce, unseasoned
1 can diced tomatoes
Oregano
Basil 
Salt
Pepper
olive oil

Instructions:

To save time, I wrapped the sausages in tinfoil and baked them in an oven at about 400°F for 40 minutes, turning half way through cooking time.

In a large pot heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Finely dice the onions and had to the heated oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir fry the onions until they are turning translucent. Finely mince the garlic cloves and also add to the pot. 

Dice the uncooked chicken breasts and add to the pot, season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook until cooked through. If you are using precooked sausages add them after the chicken is also cooked, if using chopped raw sausage meat, add it when you add the chicken.

Start a large pot of salted water to boil to cook the noodles. Prepare noodles according to package instructions.

Chop the pepper, mushrooms and zucchini. Add to the pot and cover. Let cook for about 5 minutes.

Uncover, and add the can of tomato sauce, and canned tomatoes, stir and season to taste with basil and oregano. Stir well and reduce heat. Let simmer while the noodles cook.

Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. 

Drain the noodles and return to the pot. Ladle the prepared sauce into the cooked noodles and stir to evenly coat and until there is enough sauce for your liking. I found I had a little sauce left over, but I will use that to make this again some other time. All I need to do is freeze it until then.

Transfer the coated noodles to the casserole dish.

Optional: Cover the top with shredded cheese!

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F.

OR if using a slow cooker, after combining everything together, dump it all into the slow cooker stoneware, and then either heat it up on low for up to 5-6 hours, the noodles might get mushy, or between 2-3 hours on high.

Garnish with some fresh parsley and serve in a warmed bowl with fresh bread.

Enjoy!

Notes:

What was cooking one year ago?

Meat Balls

Butternut Squash Chips

Easy but takes some time. . .

Butternut Squash Chips

Ingredients:

1 Butternut Squash
1-2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Basil

Special tools:

Either a slicer attachment for a standmixer or food processor or a mandolin(vegetable slicer). Otherwise this super easy recipe, becomes a tedious pain of a recipe.

Instructions:

Carefully peel the squash of the tough skin.

Get a good solid and sharp knife and slice the butternut squash as  best as you can tell where the bulb ends and the longer slender "neck" begins. The goal is to hit the seed cavity hidden in the bulb. If when you slice the squash open you don't see a seed cavity, don't worry, just slice again closer to the bulb end. Empty out the seed cavity of the seeds and any stringy membranes.

Next set up your vegetable slicer of choice, and thinly slice the squash. About 1/8th inch thick.

Toss the sliced squash with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and basil to taste.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and turn the oven on to 200°F. Bake the chips for about 1 hour. Turn the chips over and bake another hour. If your chips are good and crunchy stop now and let the chips cool on the pan. If your chips are still a little chewy, bake for another hour. 

Let Chips cool on the pan and then transfer to a bowl and serve, or into a bag to save for up to week.

Enjoy!

Notes:

What was cooking one year ago?

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Twice Baked Potaotes

Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:

Potatoes
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Thyme or Rosemary or Basil
Butter
Milk

Extra Options:

Shredded Cheese, about 1/2 ounce per potato
Cream Cheese, about 1 Tablespoon per potato
Green Onions, Diced
Salsa, about 1 Tablespoon per potato
Bacon, 1/4- 1/2 strip per potato
Pancetta,
Diced Peppers
Etc. . .

Instructions:

Heat the oven to between 400 and 425°F.

Place either a large baking pan or a long strip of tin foil on the lower rack of the oven. And place the other rack in the lower middle of the oven, above the "splatter zone" we just set up.

Select a few nice sized and reasonably unblemished and firm russet or baking potatoes. Clean the skin with either a potato brush, or by buffing all over with a dish towel. Be sure to put that towel in the wash when you are done with it!

Use a fork to deeply pierce the potato all over between 6 and 8 times. This will help the potato cook more evenly and allow steam to escape as the potato cooks. 

Rub a little olive oil all over the skin of each potato, season with salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs. 

Place the oiled and seasoned potatoes onto the bare rack in your oven. Bake for 25 minutes, turn the potatoes over, and continue baking until potatoes are soft and cooked through. Usually takes between 50 minutes and just over an hour.

Once potatoes are cooked through, remove them from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes or until they are cool enough for your to handle without burning yourself.

Use a very sharp knife to cut the top 1/4-1/3 of the potato, creating a little potato boat shape. Ie cut the potato along the long side, not the short. Use a spoon to scoop out the soft potato and transfer the soft potato innards to a mixing bowl. Repeat with all the potatoes.

Now we should have some potato skins that I suggest covering with cheese and serving with salsa as an appetizer/ snack, hollow potato boats, and a mixing bowl of fluffy cooked potatoes.

In your mixing bowl of potato, add about a tablespoon of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of milk and mash well. Season with salt and pepper and anything else you want, see the above list of extra options for some suggestions. Mix everything well.

Use a small spoon to transfer the prepared mashed potatoes back into the potato boats. Fill the potatoes back up as evenly as possible. Use a fork to add some texture to the tops of the potatoes and garnish with parsley or shredded cheese as desired.

Return to oven and reheat for about 10 minutes or until the tops get just slightly golden. 

Serve hot, and enjoy!

Notes:

I bought a bag of Nova Scotia potatoes last week and when I opened the bag it smelled like home. I love potatoes. 

Other Places:

What was cooking one year ago?

Swedish Meatball Gravy

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Toad in the Hole

First British Recipe!

Toad in the Hole

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
3 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Butter Milk (or another 1/2 Cups of milk)
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

4 Sausages, I used some homemade Polish style ones I made last week, but any mild Sausage will be delightful

Special Tools:

Stoneware baking dish, or another heavy-style bake ware dish. a light pan just wont do this recipe justice

Instructions:

Gently spray the stone ware with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 425°F, with the bake ware also in the oven heating up. Nothing in it yet though!

In a large bowl combine the flour and the salt, make a well in the center of the bowl and set aside for a moment.

In another bowl gently whisk the eggs. Whisk in the milk and butter milk (or just milk, no harm done). 

Pour the egg mixture into the well of the first bowl, and whisk until the batter is pretty smooth. Like a nice pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside for about 30 minutes.

While the batter we just prepared sets for a bit, let's brown the sausages a bit on all sides in a skillet over medium heat. They do not need to be cooked through, but you want the casings to be browned a bit before proceeding.

Once sausages are browned, place them in the stone ware in a single layer. Pour the batter over the sausages and return everything to the warmed oven. 

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the batter has cooked, puffed and is turning a lovely golden brown.

Let sit about 2 minutes before cutting.

To serve, use a sharp knife to separate the batter from the edges of the pan, and then cut the loaf so everyone gets a sausage and some "bread".

Goes great with maple syrup on a lazy Sunday morning.

Enjoy!

Ps. March 5, 2014- I dreamed that I par-cooked some hashbrowns most of the way through until they were just starting to turn golden and get a crunch to them, and then put these on the bottom of the heated stoneware, then the sausages and then the batter. This might have been my first prophesy dream. 

Notes:

I made toad in the hole for the first time during a themed dinner party I was throwing, where the general theme was just "Northern Europe" so we had polish Sausages, and lamb, cornish game hen, Irish Boxty, Scottish Clapshot and a few more veggie dishes to try and keep it almost healthy. Everything turned out pretty good, I just don't like Turnip very much so the clapshot wasn't my favorite, and while the Boxty and Toad in the hole are more breakfast foods they were a pretty big hit. Toad in the hole being the clear top food of the night though.

I used a pork and beef Polish sausage that I made myself, and I made my sausages large so this dish was a big crowd pleaser when I served it at my house. But like I said, any mild sausage is going to work well, though I might not use a spicy or Italian flavored one is my only suggestion.

This is a real traditional British recipe, and I myself have no claims to any British ancestry, in fact my "people" aren't real fans of the old English. But soon my last name will change, I will give up my Scottish/ Nova Scotian roots and take hold of new traditions in the bliss of matrimony with a fresh English Name. . .  


However I still think boiled/steamed puddings are gross and will likely never ever accept them as proper food, but I will try my best to make some traditions from the English part of my heart. 

Sausages baked in batter is a pretty good place to start on this mission if you ask me. Much better than trying to learn to like mushy peas.

Other Places:

What was cooking one year ago?

Perfect Home Fries

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Slow Cooker Roast Beef and Smashed Potatoes

Slow Cooker Roast Beef, Gravy and Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

About 1 pound mini potatoes, washed, skin on
1 Small Beef Roast
1-2 Onions
3 Bay leaves
Salt
Pepper
Basil or Thyme
2-4 Cloves Garlic
Water
Cooking spray
1 Tablespoon Olive oil or Butter

About 1/4 Cup Flour
About 1/4 Cup Ice water

Instructions:

Alrighty so this is a slow cooker recipe which means that you can either do all the prep-work the night before and throw the stone-ware insert into the fridge for the night or you can just do the prep and cook right away. Either way you go about it make sure the roast is given at least 30 minutes out of the fridge before it goes into the slow cooker. This will help prevent it from being in a food dangerous temperature zone for too long. Be safe my friends.

Lightly mist the insert of the slow cooker with cooking spray.

Wash and pat dry the mini potatoes and pierce each with a fork before throwing it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season with some salt and pepper.

Slice the onion, and layer some over the top of the potatoes, saving about half or more for placing on top of the roast. Place two bay leaves on top of the onions.

Season the beef roast all over with salt, pepper. and the basil or thyme. Place the roast on top of the onion/bay leaf layer. Place the last bay leaf on top of the roast and smother it with the remaining onion slices. Mince or grate the garlic and also add it into the slow cooker.

Add enough water to just cover the potatoes and onions in the lower layer.

Turn slow cooker on. Either about 4-5 hours on high heat or about 7-8 hours on high heat.

After the roast is cooked, Remove the roast from the insert to a plate and tent with foil.

Fish out the potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl.

Strain the pot-juices from the slow cooker insert through a sieve and into a large pot.

Take about 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of the liquid you just strained and add it to the potatoes and lightly smash them with a fork or potato masher.

Bring the rest of the pot juices to a roiling boil on the stove. Thoroughly mix the flour and ice water so there are no lumps and slowly whisk into the boiling pan juices. Reduce heat and continue to whisk until the pot juices thicken and become gravy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed, ie extra garlic, onion, salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, etc.

Carve the beef roast and serve with hot smashed potatoes and gravy. Add another vegetable and this is pretty much company worthy as a meal.

Enjoy!

Notes:

I don't always include measurements for the seasoning in my recipes because most of the time it's a personal thing. See I really love pepper, but for some people the amount I use would blow our their palettes and overwhelm them. Same for things like herbs, I might love a particular herb and use a bunch of it but someone else might not enjoy it. So use your own brain and consider what you like and add some of your own input to the recipes. I promise it shouldn't go too badly with my recipes. They tend to be forgiving.

Other Places:

What was cooking one year ago?

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Salmon