Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm like a regular old Betty Crocker.

First pasta and now bread!  I jumped on this bread baking bandwagon recently and I'm officially converted.  Please pray for the success of my diet in the midst of all of this rising dough.  Seriously.  The just keeps rising.  And rising.  And rising.  Picture some sort of Willy Wonka scene where the rooms gets overtaken by bread dough.

The crazy comes from this book.  Which I'll be buying on Amazon later this morning.  The recipe itself was really easy and I'm looking forward to having a little variety in choices of bread.  Hopefully something with whole wheat that will also be a little more waistline friendly.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes
  • 1 1/2 T yeast
  • 1 1/2 T kosher salt
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
In a large bowl, mix the yeast and salt with the water.  Add in the flour and stir until the flour is no longer dry.  Let is sit, loosely covered, for 2-5 hours at room temperature.  Cover with an airtight lid and move to the fridge.  The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

When you're ready to bake the bread, use a LOT of flour on your hands before pulling off the dough.  Pull off about a grapefruit sized amount, cutting it with a serrated knife.  Roll the dough around until you have a smooth top, pulling it creating a rougher bottom.  Place the dough on a pizza slide (or a flat cookie sheet - you just need to be able to slide it onto the pizza stone) dusted with cornmeal.  Let it rise for 40 minutes before baking.

Set the oven at 450.  Place a roasting pan on the bottom rack and your pizza stone on the middle rack while the oven preheats.  When you're ready to bake the bread, use a serrated knife to cut slash marks on top.  This will keep the bread from breaking (I think that's the right term) while it bakes.  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone and add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan.  Close the oven to trap the steam and let it bake for about 30 minutes.

I thought I would get about 4-5 loaves of bread out of the recipe, but since it keeps rising I may get 8!  I left some dough at my mom's house (about 2 loaves worth) and brought home what I thought would make 2 more loaves.  However, by Saturday I could have 10. 

Monday, January 17, 2011


Bruschetta is probably my favorite appetizer.  It is also one of those things I do fairly well without following a recipe.  If we're tossing around the idea of a snack or appetizer, I'll pick up a few tomatoes and a loaf of french bread and voila - instant appetizer.

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced small
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • about 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • shredded parmesan cheese
This is a good mix for the two of us.  I guess on all of it, though.  Bruschetta is one of those recipes that tastes a little different everywhere you go, but you probably have an idea of what it should taste like to you.  Sliced a baguette about 1/4" thick, brush with EVOO and bake in the oven until crispy.

I actually made pasta.

And I cooked my first Pioneer Woman recipe.  Actually it could count as two recipes.  The pasta and the sauce.  But still - both were a success.  I did learn a few things.  First, I want a pasta roller.  Second, next time I'm going to mix it with the dough hook on my mixer instead of by hand.

Homemade Pasta from The Pioneer Woman
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
According to the recipe, you need 2 eggs to 1 cup of flour.  That will also feed 2 people, so 4 eggs will (in theory) feed 4 people.  Although, that's what we did and we really had about 5 servings.

Either in a bowl or on the counter make a well with the flour.  Crack the eggs into the well and start mixing, gently.

Eventually you'll get dough.  But you have to work at it.  A lot.  Knead, and mix, and roll, and twist again and again until you have a nice ball a dough.  According to PW, it should be smooth and not tacky.  That is kind of hard to describe, but it made sense once we got there.

Break the dough into smaller, more manageable pieces, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.  I used a pizza cutter and sliced fettuccine sized noodles for dinner.

To cook the pasta, boil in salted water for 2-3 minutes. 

Pasta alla Vodka from The Pioneer Woman
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 whole medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 14oz can tomato puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I actually used cream, not half & half so I'm not sure if this would still be as good)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil & butter.  Add the vodka, stir and cook 2-3 minutes.  Pour in the tomato puree and stir.  Reduce the heat to low and add the cream, stir and simmer.  Add the red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.

Drain the pasta, keeping about 1 cup of the water in case you need to thin the sauce out.  Toss the pasta in with the sauce and Parmesan, coating the pasta in sauce.