Monday, April 30, 2012

Bread of the Week: Ciabatta

I think I've found a new favorite bread recipe! This ciabatta recipe came from Bread.

The manual kneading method using a bread bowl is perfect for this recipe. I added some olives as suggested for more flavor. Just add the olives in to the yeast mixture before adding flour.

Bill says, more olives next time! But, adding the olives made it a little salty, so modify the salt amount as needed. Mix with a spoon for a while then switch to hands. Dip fingers in water if it gets too sticky. When it's well-mixed, about five minutes, cover with a towel and let rise in room temperature for half an hour.

Knead twenty times and let rise for an hour. After two rounds of kneading and rising...

Divide the dough into six pieces. Time to bring out the pizza cutter.

Brush pan with olive oil. Put bread pieces on the pan and brush them with olive oil. I thought I added too much, but it turned out perfectly. Let rise next to the stove or a warm spot for 45 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes with a pan of hot water on the lower rack.

They are so tasty! By itself, the ciabatta is flavorful and filling. It's also great for sandwiches.

We made fish sandwiches.

I just wish we made more ciabatta. It's the beginning of the week and there's only one left!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Overnight Baked French Toast

Weekend breakfast is the best thing in the world. Of course, it's the weekend, so right off the bat, every meal is better than a weekday meal. This weekend, however, we made some extra decadent french toast with the leftover Hawaiian bread. The recipe is almost too rich. We tried to scale it back. Be forewarned, too much delicious french toast in your mouth may result in an upset stomach.

Oh, and one more thing...even though most of the work is prepared the night before, you still have to bake it for 40 minutes. Don't be like us and wake up an hour before we had to leave the house to make it. 

Baked French Toast with Walnuts
Adapted from NPR

1/2 loaf of Hawaiian bread
4 large eggs
2 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, cut in pieces
1/4 cup cream

Night before: cut and place bread pieces in baking dish. 

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour mixture into baking dish. Turn the bread slices to soak the other side. Cover and set in fridge overnight.

Prepare toppings: roughly chop walnuts and sugar in food processor. (We pulverized's still tasty though!) Add butter and cream. Blend until just incorporated.

Next day: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread topping over the bread. Bake for 40 minutes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bread of the Week: Hawaiian Bread

Hawaiian bread, aka Portuguese sweet bread, was a new experience for us in Hawaii.

We were offered unlimited Hawaiian bread at one bed and breakfast. (I'm pretty sure Bill booked this place specifically for this feature.) There were three different types! From left to right: regular, guava, and taro. They were so colorful and delicious. Note the empty spaces...we ate more than our share. Guess, which one was my favorite flavor?

Authentic Hawaiian bread, obviously not made by an amateur
Of course, all this reminiscing make me crave some Hawaiian bread. Fortunately, my favorite bread book has a recipe! It uses dried milk powder, favoring that flavor over regular milk. Even though the book specifically mentions the dark mahogany color of the crust, we still think it's too dark. If you are baking one loaf at a time, decrease the baking time from 50 minutes to 30 minutes (or less). The resulting bread was delicious, especially right after it chilled, however, the texture is is not as I had remembered in Hawaii. I'm going to try using coconut milk next time. Perhaps I will have my own bread recipe to share in the future!

Make a paste-y starter
Let rise in a pie pan, then brush with egg wash
I swear it's suppose to be this brown!
Enjoy with a tropical drink, maybe some coconut milk?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Flashback: Hawaii Part I

Hawaii, the big island, is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Everything you've heard about it is true, and then some. Good food, good people, amazing views.

Two years ago in April we got the chance to vacation in Hawaii. It was the best vacation I've ever taken. My favorite part was snorkeling. We bought two sets of snorkeling gear at Walmart and spent most of our time under water. It never got tiring (just a little chilly). One day we will certainly make our way back there again.

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so to recapture our experience, here are some noteworthy photos of our trip.

Hawaiian juice trio

Seaside dinner at sunset

top of Mauna Kea

Life after volcanic eruption

Sea turtle

horseback riding in Waipio Valley

Waipio Valley shoreline

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arroz con Pollo

"What are we having tonight?" my husband asked. "Arroz con Pollo. Rice with Chicken." I replied.
"I see you remembered something from your Spanish classes after all."

Yes. Yes I did. Five years of Spanish, and I remember enough to translate what we're eating. That's better than nothing, I guess.

I think you're suppose to have more chicken in the dish, but we only had two drumsticks. Ours is truly Rice with Chicken. Lots of rice, not a lot of chicken. Just enough for two, and some rice leftover.

In our household, we usually eat Chinese fried rice. This Spanish fried rice was a much welcomed flavor change. It's an easy, delicious, and homey meal.

Arroz con Pollo
adapted from Simply Recipes

2-4 chicken drumsticks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
4 tbsp olive oil, separated
2 cups medium or long grained rice
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp green pepper, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1/8 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Rinse and pat dry chicken drumsticks. Mix salt, black pepper and paprika with flour. Dredge chicken in flour. Fry chicken until all sides are browned.

In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in medium high heat. Add rice, spread it out and let it brown for three minutes. Stir to let the other side brown.

Add onion, peppers, and garlic. Stir until onions have softened, about three minutes. Place the chicken on top of the rice.

Add chicken stock, tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Bring it to a boil and turn the heat down to low.

We don't have a lid for this pan. But no worries...I covered it with tin foil. Simmer for 25 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and it's time to eat!

Served with cilantro and lime wedges.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Morning Cherry Lime Dutch Pancakes

After watching Paula Deen make Dutch pancakes with apple pie filling, I couldn't wait to try it myself. This Dutch pancake recipe was very easy to follow, and the result was fantastic! Instead of apple pie filling, I used cherry pie filling with lime zest. It was a simple yet fancy Sunday breakfast.

dusted with powdered sugar and paired with hazelnut coffee

Cherry Lime Dutch Pancakes
Makes 3 servings

3 oz cherry pie filling
Zest of 1 lime
3 eggs
Scant 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix lime zest in cherry pie filling. Evenly fill three ramekins with cherry pie filling.

Whisk eggs until fluffy and light-colored. Sprinkle in salt, sugar, and flour. Beat in milk and butter until frothy. Add egg mixture in ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes.

When they first come out they are puffed up like souffle.

Thank goodness they're not souffles, because they will fall. But it's ok!

This is the first time Bill and I have tried dutch pancakes and we weren't sure what to expect. The verdict? We were very impressed. They are delightful, fluffy pancakes. The cherry lime filling bubbling out makes me want to just dig into it.

And that's just what I did. I think I burnt my tongue.

But it was all worth it. A good breakfast is the best way to start any day of the week, especially a Sunday. And this was a great breakfast!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Crockpot Country Style Pork Ribs

I'm getting lots of use out of my crockpot this week. Truth is, I've been too busy working on my crow pose to cook. But that doesn't mean we can't eat well!

Ribs. If I have to pick only one thing to eat for the rest of my life, I'd choose ribs (because you can't sustain off of ice cream). Surprisingly (to me), I don't make it that often. Well, there's no time better than now.

This recipe is adapted for for slightly less ribs. But we made two meals out of it :)

Crockpot Country Style Pork Ribs
Makes 4 small servings

2/3 cup ketchup
2 tbsp distilled vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb country style pork ribs
1 onion slice into rings
1/2 cup of water*

Mix ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar, black pepper in a small bowl. Place ribs in crockpot. Pour sauce over the ribs. Place onion on top of the ribs. Add just enough water to cover ribs. Cook for 6 hours on high or 9 hours on low.

Served with steamed broccoli and white rice. Get ready for some fall-of-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Soup With Shiitake Mushrooms

It's still kind of chilly in the Northeast. It's after Easter, so I should getting some spring cleaning done, but it doesn't feel much like spring. Well, that's my excuse anyway. There are flowers blooming but I still need a coat when I go outside. On the bright side, it's perfect weather for some chicken soup in a crockpot. We made two dinners out of it. Once with rice, once with noodles. Mmmm noodles.

Crockpot Chicken Soup With Shiitake Mushrooms
Makes 4 small servings

3 chicken drumsticks
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 potato, scrubbed & cubed
1/3 cup Marsala
1 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine everything in the crockpot. Add one more drumstick and mushroom if you wish. Mine simply won't fit. Pour more water in to cover everything if needed. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 9 hours. Enjoy with cooked rice or noodles!

We had Chinese style noodles from the Asian food market. It's almost as good as Japanese ramen. Speaking of which, I can't wait to go back to Boston and have some more. But in the mean time, chicken soup with noodles will do!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bread of the Week: English Muffins

It's been too long. We're back from sunny California. Aaand there's no bread in the house. But we happen to have just enough to make bread! Flour, yeast, butter, milk, and my trusty bread book.

This is the second time I attempted making English muffins. First make a soft dough and let it rise for three hours.

Heat a frying pan and cook the dough for eight minutes on one side.

Eight minutes on the other side.

Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for eight more minutes.

"Fork-split" muffins after they're cooled. nooks and crannies this time. The dough has to be even softer. Nonetheless the enriched dough is soo tasty. Maybe I'll make a loaf next time.