Friday, January 27, 2012

Orange Honey Butter-Rich and Sweet

Nothing dresses up a tray of muffins, bread or a plain potato like a compound butter.
  On fresh bread...
It is also one of the easiest ways to add flavor.
1 stick butter (the real thing), room temperature
4-5 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon orange zest or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Stir it all together.

Put it in a small crock or serving dish. Or roll in wax paper to form a log and refrigerate for later use, when cold it can be sliced into discs and arranged decoratively on a serving plate alongside muffins or toast.
So yummy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maple Sweet Potato Bread

Bread is one of the easiest foods with which to play, once you get a good basic recipe you can hide all kinds of healthy stuff in it. A week ago I was bless with several sweet potatoes, one could more accurately say "an abundance". Now, one member of my household will not eat sweet potatoes, won't touch them with the proverbial "ten foot pole", if he doesn't know they are in the grocery bag then he will carry them in (slight exaggeration, he would carry them in regardless). So what else is there to do but hide these nutritionally dense tubers in a rich bread dough. I also replaced the white sugar with maple syrup which only enhanced the flavor and gentle orange color.
My camera stopped working half way through this recipe so I pulled out the little power shot to finish up, a good camera for tucking in my purse for outings but not what I needed indoors so the last several photos are a bit blurry.
1 cup warm water
1 envelope dry yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup maple syrup (only the real stuff)
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted then cooled
1 large egg
2/3 to 3/4 cup mashed sweet potato
3/4 cup oatmeal, quick or old fashioned
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups (more or less) flour (all purpose or white spelt)
In a large mixer bowl, combine water, yeast and a teaspoon of the maple syrup. Let rest for 10 minutes, it will  be foamy.
Add everything else to the bowl, beginning with the wet ingredients, then the dry adding the flour last.

Mix well, knead for 5 minutes. Form into a ball, place on counter or back in bowl, cover with clean towel and allow to rise for 40 minutes or until double in bulk.
Knead for 5 more minutes, divide in half for 2 loaves or in smaller portions for odd sized pans. I used 1 loaf pan and 2 stoneware crocks. Place dough in well greased pans, cover and let rise another 40 minutes, until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake 25 minutes for small pans or 35-40 for loaf, until golden, internal temperature will be 190F if you want to be accurate.
This is why I really like my stoneware, look how cleanly this lifted out...
This is good as toast, sandwiches, or with soup, it sliced well and had a wonderful aroma. If it lasts long enough it would make great French toast!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fresh Bread Crumbs--Anytime

Don't let stale bread go to waste, make bread crumbs, I have used French bread, brioche, parker house rolls, sandwich bread, even cornbread.
Wait until the bread is stale then break it into large chunks and put it into the food processor.  
Process on high until all is crumbs. 
Use immediately or store in a zipper bag in the freezer. 

You can season them with Italian seasoning if you like.
Use them for this  or what ever you want. I like having them in the freezer all ready when I need them and nothing wasted. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fresh French Bread

I have been using this recipe for years, it is always good and a very versatile loaf of bread. I use it for garlic bread, dipping in soups, French onion soup, along side pasta and for bread crumbs if it lasts too long, good stuff.
French bread is very low in fat, airy, and has a crisp, chewy crust. So make this soon and enjoy however you like...I am thinking a grilled mozzarella and tomato sandwich, mmm.
Makes 2 loaves ( Don't be confused by the photos, it was half the recipe )
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large mixer bowl, combine 1/3 cup water with the sugar and yeast. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, it will become frothy.

Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, if the dough is sticky just add a bit more flour until you have a soft dough that forms a ball.

Knead for 5 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes.
Knead for 5 minutes.
Roll into a rope. Put on a sheet pan or baguette pan that has been lightly sprayed with oil, for the last 15 years I used a sheet pan, my daughter just gave a baguette pan to me, they both work well.

Cover with the clean towel again and allow to rise 40 minutes or until it is double in bulk.
Bake in preheated oven, 425F. for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.
Just waiting for the garlic butter....maybe some tomato soup.  There you go, make them both, yum!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beer Batter Onion Rings

Fried foods are something from which I generally stay away. However, everyone has something for which they will cave.
Mine is battered onion rings, so much more if it is a beer batter.
Frying anything is time consuming but not difficult. Probably a good thing it is so messy, that alone keeps me from frying anything frequently.
1 small can of beer, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch dry mustard powder
1-2 cups all purpose flour or spelt
oil for frying
If you have a little (or large) fryer that's nice, I don't, I use what I have because I have no where else to store things I only use occasionally.
Pour at least 3 inches of oil into a medium/large sauce pan. Using a candy thermometer, bring oil up to 350F. watch and adjust the temperature as necessary.
Mix everything except the flour in a large, shallow bowl.
Add the flour, first 1 cup then bit by bit until you have the consistency of thick Elmer's glue, not quite pancake batter because that makes thick, doughy o-rings; unless, of course, you like doughy, gloppy, thick onion rings, then by all means go for it. I like mine lightly battered and crispy.
Using a fork swirl the raw onion rings, a few at a time, in the batter, thoroughly coating each one.

 One by one drop them into the hot oil until you have several in the oil but they are not crowded at all.
 As they begin to turn golden turn them over in the oil, use another fork or a slotted spoon. Remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet. Keep in 200F. oven to warm until all are finished.
Serve warm or freeze for another day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick Creamy Pasta Sauce

If you like rich, creamy, garlicky pasta with a little bite then you will love this one. The kick in the Rotel tomatoes, softened by the cream then poured over your favorite pasta is the perfect combination for any time.
I used spelt pasta and flour but have also used rice pasta and rice flour with equally good results, so it could be wheat free or gluten free as well.
This makes about a cup and a half of the sauce so depending upon your own preference of sauce to pasta ratio adjust the amount of pasta you cook.
1 can Rotel tomatoes or another brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 -1 pound pasta, any shape
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour (all purpose, spelt or rice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1 clove garlic, pressed, optional
This is going to be great!
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. While it comes to a rolling boil (that's when the water boils rapidly with big bubbles) begin the sauce. The sauce will only take a few minutes so when the water boils add the pasta and stir occasionally.
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour of your choice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until thick. Add the garlic, salt, Rotel tomatoes, and cream.

Heat through then turn down heat to warm until pasta is tender.
When the pasta is tender drain and toss with the sauce.

Serve with a big salad to offset the rich sauce and pasta. 
Quick and easy, ready in 15 minutes and so good.