Sunday, 31 May 2009

Summer Soup and Sammie

For this week's Souper Sunday, I made a menu for my friends who are already suffering from high temperatures, even though it's not quite June.
I made a chilled cucumber soup, my very first, and, to go with it, some adorable little curried chicken salad sammies. A fun lunch or dinner for the warm weather, enjoy!

Alan Harding's Chilled Cucumber Soup
originally adapted from The Greenmarket Cookbook
The New York Times Country Weekend Cookbook

8 medium cucumbers, peeled
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
Pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup plain yogurt

1. Chop all but one of the cucumbers. Place half of the chopped cucumbers in a blender with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, vinegar, curry powder, cardamom and cayenne. Puree. Transfer to a bowl. Puree the remaining chopped cucumbers, and mix with the first batch. Stir in the yogurt. Chill until ready to serve.

2. Quarter the remaining cucumber lengthwise, remove the seeds and slice thinly. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve garnished with cucumber slices.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling

I served the soup with these adorable little Curry Chicken Salad sammies, made on the cranberry-pecan pull-apart buns from yesterday's post. Looking at the picture, I should have photographed them with the lid off, so you could better see the yummy filling.

Curry Chicken Salad
Barefoot Contessa, Family Style

6 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
olive oil
fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup major grey chutney
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup medium-diced celery
1/4 cup chopped scallion, white and green parts
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted salted cashews

Preheat oven to 350.
Place the chicken breasts on a pan and rub the skin with olive oil.
Sprinkle well with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken in large bite size pieces.
For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder and 1 1/2 t.salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
Process until smooth.
Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well.
Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well.
Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavours to blend.
Add the cashews and serve the salad at room temperature.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Cranberry Pecan Pull-Apart Rolls

Hubby has been home all week, and so far I have not tried to sell him to the highest bidder.. but give me time. We got lots of the garden cleaned up, the tender herbs in and the pond scrubbed and freshened for the new season.
I have still spent my fair share of time in the kitchen though, baking up a storm. Today I made these Cranberry-Pecan Pull-Apart buns with whole wheat flour. We have already been in the practice of baking with whole grains lately, but I am always happy for an excuse to try a new recipe. I thought I would try a fun looking one, and turned to King Arthur, the king has never let me down. These are soft and tender, made even more so with a coating of butter while they are still warm. Perfect for the chicken salad we are having for dinner. Come back tomorrow for that recipe, if you wish.

Cranberry Pecan Pull-Apart Buns
Whole Grain Baking
1 cup traditional whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cool water
Pinch of instant yeast
All of the pre-ferment
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1.5 cups traditional whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp. salt
3 Tbs packed light or dark brown sugar
2.5 tsp instant yeast 1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
To prepare the pre-ferment:
Combine all the pre-ferment ingredients in a small (2- to 3-cup) bowl. Cover the bowl, and let the pre-ferment rest overnight at room temperature.
To prepare the dough:
Combine the pre-ferment with the remaining dough ingredients, except the cranberries and pecans, and mix and knead them- by hand, mixer or bread machine- until you have a medium-soft, smooth dough. Cover and allow the dough to rise until it is quite puffy, though probably not doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
Lightly grease a 9 x13-inch pan.
To shape the buns:
Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and knead the cranberries and pecans into it. Divide it into 16 pieces, rounding each piece into a ball. Evenly space the balls in the prepared pan. Cover and let the buns rise in a warm place until they are crowding against one another, 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Toward the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350F.
To bake the buns:
Uncover and bake the buns until they are a light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and after several minutes transfer them to a rack. Brush them with melted butter, if desired; this will keep their crust soft. Serve warm or at room temperature.

These buns have been Yeastspotted!
This particular toad, I call him Virgil, was quite happy to see the now pristine state of the pond as well as the new plants and spitter.

The plant life is water lettuce, water hyacinth, and the little tiny stuff is duck moss. The fishies like it. The hyacinths look like they are falling down because they were just put in before the photo, they right themselves up pretty quickly. This is just a small pond, as I have a tiny backyard, but it gives me great joy.

Friday, 29 May 2009

BBA #3 Whole Grain Bagels!

For the third week of baking through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, we made bagels! Bagels are universally loved, whether you are partial to New York or Montreal style, or any other style that I am not familiar with, and they are actually made much like pretzels are.
The shaped dough gets a dip in boiling water, in this case made alkaline with baking soda, and can be sprinkled with a topping to complement the delicious bagely flavour.

For my toppings, I used sesame seeds, nigella seeds, and Hawaiian black sea salt crystals. Next time I would go with the egg wash, I think Peter was optimistic about the small seeds being able to stick without it.

Although I didn't follow Jude's version of Peter's Whole Grain Bagels exactly, I was greatly influenced by his changes. I used whole wheat flour and 100 grams of dark rye. I would have used even more rye but I got carried away with the whole wheat.

The end result was better than I had even hoped for. The bagels are chewy and light but dense at the same time, wonderful this morning for breakfast with a little cream cheese and a cup of coffee. I am happy.

Next week: Brioche and Brioche Relatives!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Tyler's Mac and Cheese with Peas and Bacon

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays, I made Ty's Ultimate Mac and Cheese with Peas and Bacon. It seemed to be a popular dish and hubby loves mac and cheese. I subbed whole wheat elbows in for the mac part but otherwise stayed true to the recipe.
Hubby loved it, I liked it too but have to admit that I am partial to Ina's Grown Up Mac and Cheese. Tyler's would be more kid friendly I think, and it is certainly less expensive to make than Ina's version, but I couldn't help wishing it was more tart or picante or something. I served it with a big salad that had a zingy dressing and that really helped the dish out, I thought.

Tyler's Ultimate Mac and Cheese with Peas and Bacon
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence


1 pound elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups warm 1% milk
5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
leaves, from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme (about 1 Tbsp.)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming. Gradually whisk in the milk and, whisking vigorously, cook until mixture is thick and smooth.

3. Stir in 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley to the skillet, and stir to coat. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 11/2 cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

4. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon, onion, garlic and thyme and sauté for about 5 minutes to soften the onion, stirring. Fold in peas and season with salt and pepper. To serve, scatter pea-and-bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Top with more cheese, if desired.

I just wanted to throw in this picture of the lilacs that are in bloom in my back yard, I love this time of year! They used to surround the yard but I have one evil tree-hating neighbour who chopped them all down, but I still have two big lilac trees that he couldn't reach. The Lily of the Valley are blooming beneath them and my yard smells divine.

Join us for Tyler Florence Fridays!
Choose, cook, share.
Round-up every Friday, check out the Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Daring Strudel

Have you ever said a word just too many times and then it doesn't sound like a real word anymore? I am having that sensation with the word strudel. Doesn't even look right as I type it.

Ok, on to the Daring Bakers Challenge:
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I made this delicious strudel on Monday, and am still eating it. It isn't much to look at, and I am not sure I got the dough texture right, but it is tasty and I did it. What more can I ask?
I got my dough to stretch out about two feet by two feet, and added some cardamom to the mixture, otherwise I made it as directed. Enjoy!

Apple Strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Now, when you are making apple strudel, don't forget to sing Peggy Lee's A Doodlin' Song:
Do do-de-oo do-de-oo do-de-oo-de-oo
Do do-de-oo do-de-oo do-de-oo-de-oo
Do do-de-oo do-de-oo do-de-oo-de-oo
Why don't you join the group?
It's better than being a party-poop
Obbligato, pizzicato
Guy Lombardo, it's the craziest
When you noodle with a doodlin' song
Two, three, four
Like it so much, I'll doodle some more
Little softer, Perry Como
Even softer, pianissimo
Say you love me with a doodlin' song B, C, D
Ooo, what you doodle-de-do to me
Say you love me, really love me
Say you love me true
Say you love me, please believe me
When you do, that makes two who
Go together, bet your boodle
Like the apples in a strudel do
When you noodle with a doodlin' song
What you call a real ball
Do do-de-oo do-de-oo do-de-oo-de-oo
Do do-de-oo do-de-oo, I love you
Do do-de-oo do-de-oo do-de-oo-de-oo
Here we go now, bet your boodle
Like the apples in the strudel do
When we noodle with a doodlin' song
All through, thank you

Ok, you may think I am crazy now, singing this song that you probably think I made up... but I know that my friend Mary knows exactly what I am talking about and now has this song stuck in her head, right Mary? :)

Strudel Dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Cookbook Review - Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes

Pity me and my family, we spent the week testing Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes recipes. Only for you, of course, purely a selfless act on our part. Oh how I suffer for the sake of my art and my friends!
Bobby Flay's newest book, riding on the heels of the opening of Bobby's Burger Palace in Lake Grove, New York, celebrates his love for the simple foods done right. What does a chef want to eat at the end of a grueling day, or on the dock of his buddy's cottage? Not foie gras or smoked duck, but a good, honest burger, cooked to perfection.

Bobby starts off with the basics, how to craft the perfect burger, the correct meat, fat, temperature and cooking times. He eshews "meatloaf" burgers and lets good quality meat speak for itself. To learn his technique, we started with Bobby's Perfect Burger. It was a great success, and hubby was surprised that he had something to learn about grilling burgers.

Later on we tried his Greek Burger, which was absolutely delicious. They were served to the adults while the kids had the Crunch Burger, below. As Bobby has over 30 burger recipes, it was hard to choose!

I was not as successful with the Beer Battered Onions Rings. I am not sure if there was something wrong with the recipe or something wrong with me (could go either way..) but there didn't seem to be enough flour in it. After an unsuccessful couple of rings in the written recipe, I dumped a bunch of flour in and made the rest. I actually over-compensated with the flour, but it was still better than not enough.

The Sweet Potato Fries were tender and delicious with the Mediterranean Seasoning and we gobbled them right up. I am thinking I like sweet potato fries better than regular ones.

As we were feasting for my son's birthday weekend, I made him the Dark Chocolate Milkshake with "Fluffy" Whipped Cream, with homemade chocolate syrup no less. Yep, I looked like a hero this weekend.

I thought this book was a lot of fun. Bobby goes into depth about all the elements of the perfect burger, fries, and shakes. The properties of different kinds of cheese, alternative kinds of fries as well as the perfect potato french fries, and truly decadent shakes.
I like how he includes recipes for sauces, condiments and seasonings, and even suggestions for making the drinks more "adult".
I would recommend this book as a Father's Day gift for the dad who likes to cook, a host or hostess gift for a big barbecue party or weekend at the cottage or cabin. This is simple fare done upscale - and no foie gras in sight.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Salad, It's What's for Dinner

Coming up to dinner after a hamburger rich lunch, I decided to go healthy and offer a fully balanced salad. There is a funny pause when offering salad to a man for dinner, salad that does not come with sliced steak on top, they look at it and wonder visibly to themselves, "where is the rest of my dinner?".
Well, I am here to tell you that this is it, and it is quite delicious. And if you are still hungry after.... eat another bowl.

Sound familiar? They'll get over it. Eventually.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
The liberal use of garden herbs is very important in this dish.

1 19 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 ripe tomatoes, in a 1/2 inch dice
1 English cucumber, in a 1/2 inch dice
2 ribs celery, with leaves if they look good, sliced
2-3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely microplaned
1 can top quality salmon
Big handful each fresh oregano leaves and mint leaves. Just tear the (washed and dried) leaves off the stem and toss in.

To season:
White wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper

Combine all the veggies and garlic in a bowl, add salmon and toss. Add fresh herbs, toss, and season to taste with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I like to let it sit in the fridge for a while before serving so the flavours can meld, at least 1/2 hour.

This salad is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. A good antidote to a meat and carb rich lunch, or to serve on a day that's too hot to cook.

Summer salad for Souper (Soup or ... salad, sammies..) Sundays.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Artos that Ate Ontario

This is the second loaf of bread baked for the Bread Baker's Apprentice worldwide baking group. This week we crafted the Artos/Greek Celebration Breads on pp. 111-114.
I chose to make the more decorative Christopsomos, which is supposed to be a representation of the cross, although some have likened it to an octopus and I myself think it looks like a giant tarantula. Either way it is quite delicious; with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, orange zest honey and almond extract. The little legs are fun to pull off and eat with your hands and the sticky glaze makes it sparkle.

I used about 1/3 whole wheat flour, primarily in the poolish, which I let ferment for three days to soften. This may have led to how huge it grew, because baby did it grow!

Next week: Bagels!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Tyler's Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango Basmati Rice

What a simple and flavourful dish this was. The taste is unique; lemon, curry powder and toasted sesame seed oil, blending a few cultures together; and the yogurt tenderizes the chicken while amplifying the other flavours. I don't know why, but it just works. The high colour of the chicken is because of the liberal amount of turmeric in my particular curry powder; turmeric is the spice that gives ballpark mustard it's brilliant yellow colouring.
I chose to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, as I was making the dinner for my daughter, who, although mostly vegetarian, likes to sometimes eat chicken as long as there are no reminders of the animal it came from. Thus no bones, fat or skin for her!

Lemon Curry Chicken
Tyler Florence, Tyler's Ultimate

1 (31/2-4lb) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (I used 4 large chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness)
2 cups plain yogurt
2 tbsp curry powder
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.
Stir together the yogurt, curry powder, lemon zest and juice, sesame oil, and salt and pepper in a big bowl. Add the chicken and toss gently to coat with the yogurt marinade.
Put the chicken on a baking sheet and roast, using the remaining marinade to baste twice as it cooks, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes total.
(I marinated the chicken in the yogurt dressing for 1/2 hour in a lasagna dish, then baked at 400 in the same dish until cooked through)
Mound the rice salad on a platter. Arrange the chicken on top.
For the rice, I took a look at Tyler's recipe and freely adapted it to my rice cooker. I cooked 1.5 cups of rice with 3 cups of water, a little leftover seasoned butter and a little salt until done. In the meantime, I got together a bowl of things to add to it. A couple of handfuls of frozen peas, 1 diced mango, a generous handful of cashews, the juice of one orange, freshly grated ginger, 2 green onions, sliced and salt and pepper. When the rice switched to warm, I let it sit for about
1o minutes and then added the rest of the ingredients. Stir and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Voila! Easy peasy. I love my rice cooker.

I garnished the platter with fresh cut chives and fresh mint from the garden.

Join us for Tyler Florence Fridays!
Choose, cook, share.
Round-up every Friday, check out the Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

This Babe is Twice as Knotty

It's that time again, the Bread Baking Babes have been baking up a storm and this month's Host Babe is none other than Ilva from Lucullian Delights. Ilva chose a beautifully soft and satiny smooth knotted bun, a family favourite and perfect for your Sunday dinner or even the holiday buffet.
Please see Ilva's site for a pictorial on how to form the buns, and to see how you can earn a Bread Baking Buddy badge for your site.

Notes are Ilva's

500 g /1,1 lb normal bread flour
5 g/0,17 oz fresh yeast
240 ml/1 cup water (I usually need a little more)

- Dissolve the yeast in a little water and quickly work the dough together.
- Put it in a high container, cover it with a half closed lid or a kitchen towel and leave it for 15-24 hours.

0,500 g/1,1 lb biga
1 kg/ 2,2 lb 00 flour
450-550 ml/ 1,9-2,3 cup water, finger warm
30 g fresh yeast (this is what I found: 18 grams of fresh yeast = 7-10 grams of active dry yeast = about 4-6 grams of instant yeast, I don't dare trying to calculate it right now)
50 g/ 1,7 oz extra-virgin olive oil
60 g/ 2,1 oz lard
25 g/ 0,88 oz honey
25 g/ 0,88 oz salt

- Put the flour either in a big bowl or on a baking board, add the lard and mix it with your fingers until it has 'crumbled' and is completely mixed with the flour.
- Dissolve the yeast in little tepid water and add it to the flour.Mix as well as you can.
- Mix salt, olive oil and honey with the finger warm water and add it to the flour. Now work it it until it holds together and then add the biga.
- Work the dough until it is smooth and doesn't stick. I do it by hand and then it takes between 5-10 minutes.
- Put it into a big bowl, cover it with plastic film and leave to rise until it has doubled.
- Now take up the dough and divide it into smaller parts, about 100 g/3,5 oz each, and roll them it into long snakes about 25 cm/9,8 in long but you can do them smaller if you want, no need the follow these indications religiously!

- Form the knots as per the pictorial on Ilva's site.
- Put the knots on baking sheets and leave to rise until they have doubled in size.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (200°C/390°F) for 30-35 minutes. As always it is useful to check the bread and to use your common baking sense!

I loved these adorable little rolls, and found they also made excellent buns for mini burgers. I made them a second time with all whole wheat, just as an experiment, and found that they were also quite good. I used Peter Reinhart's method of using a soaker as well as a biga, to bring out the sweetness of the whole wheat flour.
In my soaker I put 2lbs of the flour, 4 grams of the yeast, all the lard and 15 grams of the salt. I soaked them overnight in some leftover whey that I had on hand. The next day I mixed the biga, soaker and remaining ingredients with some extra whole wheat flour to bind them all and get a smooth dough. This dough took longer to knead but turned out quite nicely.
I now have a lot of cute little buns in the freezer.. and am ready for burger season.
I didn't glaze the whole wheat buns with anything, and much of the flax fell off... next time I might try a little egg white or something.

The Bread Baking Babes
Check out their buns!
BBB blogroll is on left sidebar, click on each Babe to visit.
This knotty, knotty bread has been Yeastspotted!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Cookbook Review - Whole Grains for Busy People

James Beard award-winning cookbook author Lorna Sass has come out with a follow-up book to her tremendously popular Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way. Titled Whole Grains for Busy People, the book is just that. We all know by now that the smart thing to do is to add whole grains and healthy foods to our diet, what we don't always have is the time to do this successfully. In this new book, Lorna has provided 125 recipes that are, for the most part, one pot meals and ready within half an hour.

Quinoa Paella with Chicken and Chorizo

Lorna incorporates quicker cooking grains, like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, bulgur and whole wheat couscous, as well as introducing us to some pre-prepared grains like quick cooking barley, wild rice and brown rice.
She shows how to identify whole grains as ingredients while shopping, how to substitute whole grains in quick breads,and explains the nutritional benefits of the grains.
I found the information that she provided very helpful.

Aztec Couscous Salad

I love the concept of this book. I am so happy to have a cookbook that I can turn to when I didn't plan ahead, and still get a healthy meal. The recipes are tasty and economical too. Exactly what we need right now.

One caveat that I have is that I find Lorna seasons lightly in her savoury dishes. The seasonings are well chosen, I just like more. This is easily remedied though, just modify to your own tastes. Oh, and the use of granulated garlic. In my life there is always time for fresh garlic.

These points are minor though, the book is an asset to anyone making the effort to eat better and enjoy doing it.

The book is in trade paperback, which means it is not too expensive, and there is a section of glossy photos in the middle.

Spelt Buttermilk Waffles

Some of my favourite parts of Whole Grains for Busy People were the quick mixes in the Breakfasts and Quick Breads chapter. There are recipes for basic dry mixes that you can prepare at the beginning of the week, for pancakes, scones, waffles, biscuits, etc. All you need to do when you want to bake them up is measure out the amount needed of the mix that you made, add the wet ingredients and flavourings and voila! Never buy a mix from a store again. Plus you know exactly what went into your mix because... you made it! Genius.

Cran-Apple Scones

All in all I find this to be an excellent book, and recommend it highly. Of the recipes that we tested, my favourite was the Quinoa Paella with Chicken and Chorizo (my daughter went back for thirds!) and hubby's favourite was the Spelt Buttermilk Waffles.

Other recipes that I have bookmarked - Quinoa Banana Pudding with Dried Mango, Bulgur Salad with Tuna, Olives and Feta, Goat Cheese and Corn Enchiladas, Coconut Chicken Curry with Thai Black Rice, Moroccan Spiced Beef Burgers with Harissa Couscous.. the list goes on. This is going to be a tasty summer!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A Very Moosey Sunday

"When they talk about healthy food, they usually mean things that don't taste very good."
Julia Child

It's true, I have had many an unpalatable healthy meal served to me. Come to think of it, I have had many an unpalatable unhealthy meal served to me too. So I suppose the trick is to remember variety and big flavour are just as important in healthy eating as in the fun stuff.

The Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks are a great resource for flavourful healthy recipes, and I was lucky enough to pick a couple up at the used bookstore a couple of months ago. Adapting for my palate and what I had on hand, I created an uber healthy meal to end the week, without sacrificing flavour. And nobody walked away hungry.

White Bean and Red Pepper Spread
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

1.5 cups cooked white beans
2 jarred roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Juice of half a lemon, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whiz up in a food processor until combined. Chill for 30 minutes for flavours to meld. Serve with crudites or as sandwich spread.
Seen here spread on pumpernickel and topped with avocado slices

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

3/4 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1-2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 slice fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter
2 dried hot peppers

1 tomato, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped

1 small-medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sort and rinse the lentils. Put them into a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, garlic, and ginger. Cover and place on high heat.

Prepare the tomatoes and peppers, and add them the pot. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

While the veggies simmer, saute the onions on medium heat in the olive oil in a heavy skillet for about 10 minutes or until browned. Add the cumin and coriander, and saute for another minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat. When the lentils are tender, remove the bay leaves, hot peppers and ginger from the pot. Stir in the sauteed onions and the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I garnished mine with some black beans as I had some on hand. Chives, yogurt, green onions, basil, would all work.

I love cooking with red lentils, they cook up so quickly. No thinking ahead necessary.

Soup and sammies for Souper Sundays!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Tyler's Green Curry Chicken

Ok, can we talk here? Foodie to foodie?
This is one of those dishes that makes me remember why it is that we love Tyler Florence so much (and no, it's not just because he is a cutie-patootie!). When Deb and I were discussing a cooking club where the participants could choose their own recipes to make, we could have picked any number of talented chefs. We chose Tyler because he had a wonderful variety of recipes available online and in his books, and Megan couldn't agree more. Each week we see the exciting range of cooking styles that he offers, something for everyone.
This week I made his Green Curry Chicken.. because chicken breasts were on sale and I had some green curry paste that wanted using up.. and we were so thrilled with the dish. My whole little house was perfumed with the exotic scent and we couldn't get enough of it.
I served it on a bed of basmati rice, a personal favourite, and had enough leftover for a couple of gourmet lunches. Who needs take-away?

Green Curry Chicken
Tyler Florence, Real Kitchen

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges
2 green bell peppers, cut in 8 wedges each
1 stalk lemongrass, white bulb only
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh ginger
4 tablespoons Thai green curry paste, recipe follows
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch strips
Sea salt
1 lime, juiced
Fresh Thai basil leaves (I just had regular basil)
Fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for garnish

Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. Saute the onion and green peppers for 3 minutes to soften. Split the piece of lemongrass down the middle and whack it with the flat side of a knife to open the flavor. Add the lemongrass, ginger, curry paste and lime leaves to the skillet and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Lay the chicken pieces in the mixture to poach; add a pinch of salt. Stir together and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze in the lime juice and shower with basil and cilantro; serve in dinner bowls with lime wedges.

His online version of this recipe is a little different, and includes a recipe for green curry paste, in case you don't have any.

Perhaps I should garnish with basil after I season with black pepper!

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Round-up every Friday, check out the Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.