Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bread Recipe: Whole Wheat.

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Plain whole wheat bread can sometimes seem a bit dull. This whole wheat bread recipe uses a combination of flours, including rye and pumpernickel, as well as nuts, seeds and oatmeal to jazz it up a bit. The flavors from the rye and pumpernickel flours are subtle and add a nice texture to the loaf. Olive oil is used for the fat and maple syrup for a touch of sweetness; neither flavor is intrusive in the final product. This bread recipe is easy to make. Give it a try!

Happy, Healthy, Hippie Bread

Two hours before you plan to bake, combine the following ingredients in a small bowl:

1 ounce flax seeds
1 ounce raw sunflower kernels
1 scant ounce sesame seeds
1 ounce old-fashioned rolled oats.
2 ounces water


3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup spelt flour (plus more as needed when kneading the dough).
1 cup rye flour
1 cup pumpernickel flour (also called dark rye meal)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup maple syrup (you may substitute honey)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 and 3/4 cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the flours together. Slowly stir in the 1 and 3/4 cup water. It will be dry. The point of this process is to allow the flour to absorb the water.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Let this sit for five minutes. Add the maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Add all of this to the bowl with the flour and water. Stir (or mix in your stand-mixer) until everything is combined.

Stir in the seed/rolled oat mixture.

Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Add additional spelt flour as needed to get the dough to come together. It will remain a bit sticky due to the rye flour.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn the oiled side up. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until double, about an hour.

When the dough has risen, gently deflate it and turn it out onto your work surface. Divide the dough into two equal halves. Shape each piece into a rectangle that will fit into your bread pan, about 8 1/2 by 4 1/2. With the dough orientated toward you as if it were a page in portrait (not landscape) format, fold the dough like you are folding a business letter. Seal the final fold and gently shape the dough into loaf shape.

Please the dough, seam side down, into oiled 8 1/2 x 41/2 x 2 1/2 loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in its pans until double, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, until deep brown. Cool for five minutes in the pans. Then remove the bread from the pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another Menu for a Late Summer Meal

Reading Amy Goldman's book, The Heirloom Tomato, inspired the following meal, which was declared a grand success by all:
  • Baked garlic. If possible, choose garlic with large cloves and purchase it at your local farmers' market. Break the cloves from the bulb and remove some, but not all, of its loose outer paper. Place garlic in its remaining paper skin on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and grind a bit of pepper over everything. Wrap the garlic in the foil and bake at 450 for about 40 minutes.
  • Baked ricotta cheese with kalamata olives. Mix 3/4 pound ricotta with a tablespoon of olive oil. Grease a shallow, glass baking pan or gratin dish with additional oil. Top cheese with pitted kalamata olive halves, pepper, a sprinkling of paprika, and an additional drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 450 until hot.
  • Cherry tomato salad. Toss tomatoes with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, add salt, fresh-ground pepper, and torn, fresh basil leaves from your kitchen garden.
  • Homemade French bread.
  • Thinly sliced prosciutto purchased from your trusted purveyor of fine Italian foods.
  • Cold bottle of white wine.

More Small Chocolate Cakes: The Wacky Cake

This recipe is from a discussion on Chowhound. It's great! I was skeptical at first about the use of white vinegar and and entire tablespoon of vanilla, but this little cake has excellent flavor and it is so moist. I topped it with an improvised caramel frosting.


1-1/2 C flour
3 Tbs. cocoa
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 Tbs. vanilla
4 Tbs. melted butter or vegetable oil (I used butter)
1 C cold water

Mix dry ingredients together. Make three wells in the mixture. In the first well, pour vinegar, in the second vanilla, and in the third, the liquid fat. Pour cold water over the whole thing and mix together well. Pour batter into a 9x9 pan, ungreased, and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Caramel Frosting

1/2 C unsalted butter
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C milk (more as needed to get the correct consistency)
1-1/2 to 2 C confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
A few grains of salt

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir for two minutes to cool. Add milk, vanilla and a few grains of salt. Slowly add sugar and beat until thick.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What's For Dinner: Rib-Eye Steak Sandwiches.

Serve these rib-eye steak sandwiches with sides of corn on the cob and a fresh tomato salad for a delicious late-summer treat.

Steak Sandwich (2 servings)


A cast iron grill pan.


2 thinly cut rib-eye steaks for sandwiches (from the butcher).
2 Kaiser rolls
Cheese (Your choice. I used provolone but you may prefer something with a stronger flavor.)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


An hour or so before cooking, remove steaks from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a generous pinch of paprika. Set aside.
Slice rolls.
Slice sufficient cheese to top each sandwich.

Pre-heat the oven broiler on High.

Slice the onion and saute in a bit of olive oil. While the onions are cooking, heat the cast iron pan on the stove top for about five minutes. Rub a bit of olive oil on the steaks; add salt and pepper. At the end of the five minutes, lightly brush the insides of the Kaiser rolls with the olive oil / paprika combo. Toast the rolls in the toaster oven. Set a timer so you don't forget about the rolls!

Place steaks in the hot grill pan. Carefully put the pan under the broiler in the oven. Broil for about 2 minutes. Flip the steaks and broil for approximately another 1-1/2 minute.

When the steaks are finished, remove from the pan and cut them in half to fit onto the bottom half of the rolls. Top with onion, cheese and the top of the toasted roll.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dessert Everyday: Chocolate Cake.

If you want to really live life to its fullest, then you must eat dessert as often as possible. I'm not talking store-bought foam cakes or cardboard cookies, either. I'm talking about the good stuff.

Fortunately, good stuff in the world of dessert is often easy to make at home. Take Alice Medrich's chocolate cake: It is simple to prepare, produces a manageable quantity, and tastes fantastic.

Bake and eat cake. Live your life.

Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Alice Medrich

1 cup flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar
7 Tbs. unsweetened (non-Dutch process) natural cocoa powder.
(What's the difference between non-Dutch process (such as Hershey's) and Dutch process? Check out this link.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs, gently stirred with a fork to combine the yolk and white.
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted.
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease either an 8-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch round cake pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until fully combined. Stir in the eggs and milk. When combined, whisk the resulting thick batter vigorously 30 to 40 times. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack and cool for ten minutes. Remove cake from the pan and cool completely.

Top with either a light dusting of confectioner's sugar or chocolate frosting.


2 Tbs. butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa
1/4 tsp. espresso powder
1-2 Tbs. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla

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