sourdough loaf with oats and black olives

Here is a fantastic sourdough with a hint of trolled oats and black olives 🙂

This loaf was my first trial of a rectangular shape 🙂 I learnt a while ago that sticky dough do not keep its shape well if does not have enough support. So I used one of my oven pots to prove and bake this loaf.

I would do this loaf again; the crust was thin and soft (the way I love it) and it tasted amazing!

The recipe is similar to others:

  • 1 1/3 cup 100% whole wheat starter (fed Friday night and then on Saturday morning prior to saving half in the fridge; used to make the dough in the afternoon)
  • 2 cups water; mixed the starter and water well with the help of a fork until it became kind of frothy
  • 2.5 tbs sugar; mixed well into the starter/water mix
  • 4.5 cups of bread flour, 1.5 tbs salt, and 200 grms of pitted black olive-halved: (approximately 1.5 cups). Formed a shaggy dough, closed the lid, kneaded every 30 min or so three times until dough looked like forming. At the end of folding stage dough was too sticky (must be the olives’ juice), so I added 1/3 cup of rolled oats to help with the moisture
  • let rest at room temperature over might
  • since it was a kind of sticky dough, I decided to place it in a large rectangular oven pot lined with parchment paper
  • sprinkled top with more oats, placed in a nylon bag, tied the ends, and proved for 4.5 hours at room temperature
  • baked in non-pre-heated oven at 350 F for one hour
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my love affair with self-sufficiency

Life is interesting.

I have never been interested in cooking or being self-sufficient.

In the last two years, however, this has change. I still do not like cooking but baking, pickling, and jamming have been awesome. I could not be more excited 🙂

Fermented food

Sourdough: I first became interested in baking bread and I now even have a sourdough starter that makes wonders every week 🙂 I have not purchased any store-made bread since May 2016. I also shared my sourdough and commercial yeast loaves with my fiends. What a joy 🙂

Kefir: I then was gifted by kefir grains within 2017 and i not only fell in love with kefir itself, but I made cheese/spread from it and even used it in baking bread 🙂 Drinking kefir makes me feel good and I know that it gives me the calcium that I need at my age in addition to many nutrients. I am very happy with it 🙂

Pickles: I did pickles before thanks to my mother, but I have never been this interested in it until recently – I love the beet and cabbage pickles I make! I think it is the benefit of living in a cold climate that the pickle lasts long without going bad and this way I always have a jar or two in my kitchen. I made three batches of beet pickles this fall enjoyed by myself and my friends 🙂

Sauerkraut: And tomorrow I will try my first ever sauerkraut! 

How about this? 

I think I am moving in the right direction 🙂

 

Jam/marmalade:

And just within the last 5-6 weeks, I started experimenting with making jam; dried fig jam first, then orange and tangerine, and today the raspberry jam/marmalade 🙂

I feel like I am doing such a great job refraining from additives and chemicals in store-bought jams/bread/pickles. I must be rightfully proud of myself and I am!

 

Sewing

Okay.. I have not been as productive as I wished, but since I purchased my lovely sewing machine last year, I have done small stuff, including lots of covers for jars and discloth/cloth for the counter and window sills. I am yet to undertake a serious project, like a blouse or a quilt, but I know when the time comes, that will happen too 🙂

 

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These are newfound interests for me and they have been enriching my life, providing me healthy and affordable food/items, and I feel increasingly “able”.

I really am excited about this change in me.

 

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gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/XSKhFtfGr1HYA

 

 

raspberry marmalade

 

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look at this colour. I dare you – look at it! 🙂 doesn’t this look fantastic?

Yours truly continues to explore the world of jamming!

I wanted to try berry jam this time and found raspberries on sale the other day – how lucky I am?

Part inspired from others on the internet, part improvised, here is my frozen raspberry marmalade recipe 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 kg frozen raspberries (around 9 cups)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • juice of one lemon (8 tbs)
  • zest of a lemon

Recipe

  • Place the raspberries on a pot, cover with sugar, give a quick mix and let stand an hour or so
  • In the meantime, clean the jars. I used the dish washer and then placed them and the rings at pre-heated oven (220F) for 15 min. I pat-dried the lids using clean paper towel and set aside
  • At the end of one hour of resting, add the zest and lemon juice and bring the mix to boil on medium heat (takes around 10 min)
  • Continue to boil for 15 min until it reduces to half (make sure to mix to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot)
  • Pour in jars, clean the rims, place the lids, and close the rings (makes one liter of jam)
  • Water- or pressure-can if you would like to keep them for a long time (like a year), otherwise keep at the fridge and consume in 3-4 weeks
  • PS. The recipes I have seen usually calls for equal cups of raspberry and sugar – I used 50% less this time and to me it is perfect. Adjust the sugar levels as you like.

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

corn flour bread

I literally craved for this since yesterday 🙂

I followed the recipe here with the exception of baking at 350F for 40 min, adding 2 jalapeno peppers (de-seeded and cut), and using corn flour (fine).

My verdict is that it is an easy and delicious bread that can be readied in an hour.

It was a little bit sweet for a bread, but it was not annoying. I would maybe add some more sugar next time to make it like a cake 🙂

Jalapenos could have been lightly cooked prior to adding to the mix, but overall that was one great bake today! 🙂

 

 

Orange jam

Here is my second ever jam trial and first ever orange jam 🙂

I was mostly inspired by the recipe here, with minor changes.

Ingredients

  • 7 mid-big size oranges and 2 navel oranges (I decided to add these later and they were what I have had extra) – total around 3 pounds of oranges (including the peel)
  • 3 1/4 cups of sugar
  • Juice of one navel orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon (around 6 tbs)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced orange peel

 

Recipe

  • Wash the oranges, peel, and remove the white coat as much as possible (also the seeds)
  • Piece the oranges as you please; I have used my hand to have around 2 cms of pieces
  • Pour over the sugar, mix, and put aside for 2 hours. Mix with a spoon every 30 min

Peels:

Put the peels on vinegar-water. After 1 hour or so, take out the peels and remove the white coat as much as possible. I found that putting the peels in water helps remove it with the help of a knife. It is not an easy task, but doable. After that, place the peels on a cutting board with inside up and use the knife the scrap the coat – it is surprisingly easy this way.

  • Cut thinly and put aside
  • At the end of 2 hours, add all ingredients except the peels and bring to a vigorous boil, continue to simmer at medium heat for 45 min – it should be reduced a little bit
  • Add the peels, continue to simmer at medium heat for another 30 min. Mix every few minutes
  • Cool down and pour into the jars, close the lid and the ring.
  • Makes 2 x 500 ml jam

Jars:

I washed the jars, rings, and lids in washing machine. Then placed in an oven at 220F for around 40 min in order to kind of sterilize

Verdict: It was somehow too sweet for me, so feel free to use less sugar, but otherwise, yummy :). I love the peels making a contrast with soft orange. I did not water or pressure canned it, so preserve it in the fridge and consume within weeks.

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

Dried Turkish fig jam with sesame seeds

And I present you my first ever fig jam’s recipe 🙂

One of my friends gifted me with 2-pounds of dried Turkish fig a couple of months ago – yum yum yum 🙂 I have been meaning to make jam with it and today was that day, my friends!

I have been inspired by many recipes on the internet, this one and this one particularly. I combined the general recipe of the first one (without the vanilla stuff) and the sesame seeds of the other, and voila here is my first ever dried fig jam!

Recipe

  • Wash briefly 2 pounds of dried Turkish figs (64 big sized and moist figs – one fig was eaten as per quality control(!) before the jamming process. I needed to do that, right? 🙂 )
  • Remove the stalks, boil water, and soak the figs in water for 40 min, close the lid of the container to keep the heat in
  • Strain and drain the excess water (this is a delicious liquid, which I have drank without any reservation 🙂 ) 
  • Dice thinly – around 8 diced figs make up a cup
  • Toast 1/8 cups of sesame seeds, put aside
  • Put the diced figs in a pot; add 3 cups water, 3 cups white sugar, 1 tsp salt, juice of 1.5 lemon (around 10 tbs), and the sesame seeds
  • Bring to a vigorous boil, close the lid and simmer at low heat for 12 minutes
  • Cool for 10 min with pot’s lid open (to prevent moisture from the lid going into the jam) and put in cleaned jars (wash with soap and hot water; then transfer them into an oven at 220F for 30 min – rings included, except the lids which were air dried and patted down with paper towel)
  • Pour into jars , clean the rims of the jars, close the lids and rings
  • cool down and refrigerate. I believe it is supposed to be consumed in a month or so Alternatively water or pressure can it for longer duration. Jam can also be processed in a blender for a smoother jam. You can add less or more lemon juice – this was slightly sour and it complemented the sweet taste so well 🙂
  • This jam fit into four x 500 ml mason jar
  • Bon appetite!

 

 

 

fast beet pickles

I have got a great recipe from my mom which I am happy to share.

1. Peel the beets (I do that – many people boil beets in their skin, but I do remove them so that I can use the beet-water later) and chop

2. Put beet bits in  boiling water and boil for 15-25 min. I like my pickles kind of crisp and not mushy; but you can adjust the boiling time as short or long as you please

3. Put the beets in jars that are clean and sterilized (I wash them in the dish washer and let the steam work on them. This time I also kept them at oven heated up to 212F (100C)  for 20 min. I treated the rings the same. As per the lids, I only washed them in the dishwasher and then dried with paper towel)

4. Close the lids but do not tighten yet; let cool the beet-water

5. Brine: per 750 ml jar; peel and grate 3 mid-size garlic; add vinegar+beet water (1 in 4 ratio), 2 tbs of sugar and 1 tbs of salt. Mix well

6. Pour down the brine over the beets (around 1 1/3 cup brine/each jar), make sure it covers them. Close tightly and preserve the jars in the fridge or a cool place (mine are always on the kitchen counter; we have a cool climate and my kitchen is heated up to around 17C).

7. These pickles can be enjoyed immediately. Consume within a short time (2-4 weeks).

 

TIPS:

  1. You know beets will create a mess and you will clean and clean and clean, right? So, be careful and gentle while handling it 🙂 I placed a number of towels around to make sure the mess will be contained, yet sill needed to clean my wall. Oh, well. I may be just clumsy (and I am) 🙂
  2. You can increase the ratio of vinegar to water and reduce the sugar; this will help with keeping the pickle longer. I personally love this ratio; it does not smell like vinegar and tastes sweet. Just the way I love it 🙂
  3. Since this pickle is not sterilized like in water baths or pressure canners etc, it is best consumed soon (like within a month). Always keep in the fridge to protect it from getting spoiled. Use sterilized tools and cans to reduce the chance of spoilage.
  4. I found the long beets rather than round ones make better pickles; I think it is easier to cut them and have decent sized bites.
  5. Use fresh beets – cannot believe what a difference it makes! One of my colleagues had brought me a bunch from her farm and the pickle I have made using these beets were the best. I purchased today’s beets from farmers market. Crunchy beets they were – the best 🙂

 

 

carrot sourdough loaf

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I am excited to write this recipe 🙂

It gives a strong, slightly sticky dough that forms a great crust and very soft crumb (the softest I have seen in a sourdough). The carrots, I believe, help with the moist crumb and with a fairly good rise. I also believe that yeast loves the carrot (or carrot juice coming out of the grated pieces). In anyway, I suggest you give this loaf a try and see how you like it 🙂

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Recipe:

1. Grate 4 mid-size carrots

2. Add 1.5 cups of sourdough levain to carrots (I fed 2/3 cups fridge-stored starter with 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup+1 tbs water and let rest over-night at room temperature. In the morning it was risen and bubbly. I fed it again two hours before I prepared the dough)

3. Add 1 cup water, 4 cups bread flour, and 1.5 tbs salt. Mix by hand or using utensils.

4. Leave at room temperature (covered) to rise: I had a social to attend, so left it for 4 hours and stretched and folded it twice in between.

5. Place in the fridge over-night

6. The next morning, take it out and rest at room temperature for around 1 hour

7. Shape the dough (I formed a baton today), cover with kitchen towel, and let rise for 1.5 hours

8. The last 20 min; pre-heat the oven and the roaster (if you are using one) to 375 F. Flip the loaf upside down on parchment paper

9. Score the surface, and bake in the roaster; 35 min closed lid and 25 min open lid. Turn off the oven and leave the loaf in the roaster/oven for an additional 1 hour (since this is a moist loaf, I found that this step helps with baking inside the loaf)

Enjoy 🙂

spicy tofu and sour green beans

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I had heard somewhere about the spicy tofu and decided to give it a try today. It was well worth it; tofu had not ony a great texture but also a nutty falour. I improvised the sour green beans (sour because of the vinegar) and I am glad I have – they were interesting and surprisingly tasty 🙂

Enjoy!

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Recipe:

  1. slice up firm tofu (I used around 1 cup for this dish)
  2. coat them with the spice mix consisting of 1 part chili powder, 1 part turmeric, 1/5 part dry dill, and salt to taste
  3. fry both sides for 2-3 minutes in vegetable oil; set aside
  4. coarsely slice 1/2 onion and fry for 1-2 minutes in vegetable oil
  5. add 300 grms of green beans and add 1/2 cup of water – simmer for 5-10 min
  6. add 1/3 cup of vinegar and salt, simmer for an additional 2-3 min

Serve immediately

my finest sourdough loaf

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does it not look awesome? 🙂

This is my finest sourdough so far. I could not be more excited 🙂

For many, the amount of levain in the recipe may be too much, but it just worked wonders for this loaf. I added this much this time because I had extra starter that I did not want to waste.

I reduced the oven temperature to 375 F this time as I am a little bit annoyed by the 400 F (too high; not sure what happens to the roaster at such high temps).

The dough was a little bit sticky but not runny and there was a very nice oven spring, which always pleases me; it is magical 🙂

I note that while the majority of the flour is white flour, the colour and the texture of the whole wheat (from the starter) is quite dominant.

This was the softest sourdough I have ever baked and the crispy crust was surprising and very welcome 🙂

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Levain: 3/4 cup of Monster sourdough starter, 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup water. Mix well and place in a clean glass jar. Left at room temperature over night. The levain should have risen ( around 2x), smelling a little bit sour, and bubbling the next day.

Sourdough loaf:

Add to the levain (around 1 1/3 cup), 3/4+2 cups bread flour, and 1 cup water. Mix well with hand or a spoon. Leave at room temperature covered with a lid and stretch and fold 4 times every 30 min. Leave at room temperature for an hour and then place in the fridge for the night

In the morning take the dough out and let rest at room temperature for 5 hours or so. It should slightly rise

Add 1 1/2 tbs of salt and gently knead and shape (I tried a baton this time). Place on a parchment paper and let rise for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature

Pre-heat the oven with a roaster (or dutch oven if you have one) at 375 F.

10 min before putting the loaf in, place another sheet of parchment paper on top and flip the loaf (I do that because I think it helps with the air packets to occur on both top and bottom of the loaf.. any ideas anyone?)

Place the loaf in the heated roaster and bake for 30 min with closed lid and then another 20 min with open lid.

Enjoy 🙂

bread with green olives and poppy seeds

 

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excuse the shape 🙂 I was in hurry

Another lazy chef edition 🙂

It does not take much time; so if you are in need of carbs 🙂 give this a try. Also, the poppy seed and olives can be replaced by anything you desire.

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Recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup 1% milk

1 tbs of baking powder

1 tbs sugar

1/2 tbs baking soda

2 tbs poppy seeds

3/4 cups of green olives, cut, washed, and drained

 

  • Mix all ingredients and form a round ball
  • Score the surface
  • Bake at pre-heated oven (375 F) for 20 min with a cover and an additional 20 without it
  • Enjoy 🙂

cauliflower dish

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Absolutely one of my favorites dishes:)

I was inspired by a recipe by my sister, which I modified for a healthier version. My sister’s recipe calls for frying the cauliflower covered with the batter. I instead opt for slightly boiling them on stove and then baking with the egg-flour-olive oil-water batter in the oven. I love fried version as well – give it a try if you wish)

 

Recipe:

  • Wash a head of cauliflower and cut florets
  • Boil for 5-6 min; it should not be too mushy. Then drain
  • Mix 3 eggs, 2 tbs of olive oil (or vegetable oil), 3 tbs of flour, 1 tbs of salt and 1/2 cup water
  • Pour the mixture on the florets and make sure they are covered all over
  • Bake at 350F for 45 min
  • Serve with chili pepper flakes, yogurt (add 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, for a lovely kick) and greens of your choice (I have coarsely chopped parsley in the photo)

what is a Sunday without a sourdough bread?

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does it not look awesome 🙂 I LOVE oven-spring 🙂 since I started using a roaster to bake my loafs in, the majority of the time I was able to observe a significant level of rising. I get excited each time I see it 🙂

I tried one sourdough recipe with semolina flour this time. I was worried because it did not rise as much, but the oven spring was there as well as the air bubbles in the loaf 🙂

It contained 1 cup of levain prepared from my Monster sourdough starter, 1 cup of semolina flour, 1.5 cup of bread flour, and 1 cup of water and salt as desired. Minimal kneading at first; 6 stretch and fold every 30 min or so; and resting at the fridge overnight. The next day, I left it at room temperature for 2 hours; shaped, and proofed for 1 hour 15 min; baked at a preheated oven (at 400F) in a roaster (25 min closed lid and 25 min open lid).

Taste is somehow unusual, but the crust was rich and crumb was soft and quite palatable.

As usual, immediately enjoyed with the butter 🙂

banana and hazelnut loaf

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While I love observing yeast and dough rise, collapse, and form bread, sometimes I am in love with the baking powder, too.

Why?

Because it gives quick results, like tea biscuits or fruit/nut loafs. After all, I am a lazy chef 🙂

I tried hazelnut and banana loaf today; totally improvised and totally worth it 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnut (dried and not crushed; you can replace it with walnut or other nuts/seeds)
  • 2 banana; thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter; cut in small pieces
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt (optional; I kind of like the contrast sugar and salt make)
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

 

Procedure:

  • Add sugar, banana, cinnamon, hazelnut, and salt in a bowl
  • In a separate bowl, whisk an egg; add the milk, butter, and flour and form a batter by mixing
  • Mix all together and pour in an oven dish brushed with vegetable oil
  • Bake at 375 F for 35 min
  • Do not forget to enjoy 🙂

collard greens and potato pastry

An easy, tasty dish that is sure to warm the stomach 🙂

I prepared the dough myself, but if you wish, you can rather use pastry sheet.


Dough: 

Add 1/2 cup and 1 tbs of warm skim milk, 0.5 tbs of sugar, and 0.5 tbs of dry yeast. Mix well, cover, and let rest for 10 min

Add 1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour, 0.5 tbs of salt, and knead for 2-3 min

Place in a warm place covered for 1 hr 15 min

Divide the dough into two and roll in rectangular shapes

 

Filling:

Skin and cut two mid size potato and boil for 3 min (do not over-boil)

Chop 1 mid size onion and lightly brown in 1 tbs of vegetable oil

Add 1 tbs of chili or tomato paste

Add 1 bunch of collard greens, washed and cut, stir for 2-3 min

Add the potatoes and simmer for 4-5 min until all the liquid evaporates

Add salt and crushed chili pepper to taste

Pour down the filling on top of the first pastry sheet and cover with the second

Whisk one egg and brush over, sprinkle with sesame seeds and nigella seeds

Bake at pre-heated oven (375 F) for 35 min or until the top browns

Enjoy 🙂

 

green pepper and cheese puff

Here is an easy recipe,  especially for lazy chefs like myself 🙂

Succulent and soft inside. Green pepper made a great contrast with the soft texture of the dough. Try with spinach, zucchini, or other veggies.

Enjoy 🙂


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup skim milk

3 green peppers, thinly sliced

150 grms of cheese (I used Monterey Jack), grated

1/4 cup of salted butter, cut in small pieces

1 tbs of baking powder

1/2 tbs of salt

1/2 tbs of sugar

 

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl – do not over-mix (to help the baking powder do its job)
  2. Grease an oven pan (or place a piece of parchment paper in it)
  3. Pour down the mix in the dish
  4. Bake at pre-heated oven (400 F) for 35-40 min

 

 

mystical sourdough bread

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And the final product 🙂 (where is the score cuts?) Looks like the dough has risen (oven spring 🙂 ) and created “stretch marks” over the surface. I t is also almost doubled in size due to oven spring (use a roaster/dutch oven, my friends – it really does help)

This sourdough bread is mystical because I cannot remember how much water I added to the dough 🙂

Argh… Murphy’s law – this is a wonderful loaf and it would be awesome to replicate it in the future. Anyways, at least I remember how the initial dough felt; shaggy but not runny. Good…

This is my second sour dough bread trial using my Monster sourdough starter. The first one last week ended up being something beyond brick….. Something even stronger… Like steel or something….

This time, it is better. The crust was definitely chewy and inside was very soft. It could use more salt next time. By the way, with this loaf I started to believe in “oven spring”; this dough has doubled in size  while in the oven. I could not be more enchanted right now 🙂

Bon appetite! 🙂

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Recipe

Day 1.

Levain: Activate the starter by feeding a night before and resting at room temperature over-night.

For this purpose, I mixed 1/2 cup of starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Then, I transferred it in a clean jar, secured the lid with a clean kitchen towel and elastic band, and forgot till next morning.

*well… that is not true – I checked it many times during the night. Seeing it rising was magical 🙂 After all, I just had transferred it to fridge last week and this was the first time I tried to revive it back at room temperature 🙂

**basically, the starter I used for this levain is the portion of the starter that I am supposed to throw away while feeding the starter every week. Making no waste feels good 🙂

***it makes a stiff, not runny, levain

It must have at least doubled in size and have bubbles around the jar, indicating an active, robust starter.

 

Day 2.

Dough:

1. Mix 1 cup of levain with 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Add 2 cups of bread flour and just enough water to make a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover and rest at room temperature for 4 hours

*the autolyse step is supposed to hydrate the flour and help develop gluten. At the end of this period, the dough should look a little bit swollen and possibly flattened out

2. Add 2 tps of salt and 2 tps of sugar to dough while still in the container and mix

3. Spread 1/3 cup of flour on a clean surface and place the dough on. Knead for 2-3 minutes lightly and add flour as needed.

*The dough should be fluffy, somewhat sticky but not too sticky

4. Place the dough in a clean container that has been brushed with vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over. Cover and let rest for 30 min

*vegetable oil helps with preventing the dehydration of the dough. i somehow feel like it also helps with the dough structure, but I have no convincing evidence for this yet (many people say that vegetable oil actually reduces the rising capacity)

5. Stretch and fold 4-5 times and let rest for 30 min covered

*this technique is supposed to be a good alternative to kneading. If you do not have a dough mixer or a bread machine and are using your hands to knead, you may want to give it a try

6. Stretch and fold for a total of 4 times and then rest the dough for a final 30 min

*I perform all these steps while the dough is still in the container with the help of a bench cutter

**by the way I use a large pot to mix the dough and for the fermentation/first rise. It is a very practical alternative. Just close the lid and cover with a blanket/thick towel or place in a warm place, like a warm oven, for the fermentation step

*** you will notice that the dough slightly rises/gets fluffier and develops some structure with each stretch and fold. 

7. Take the dough on a lightly floured surface, spread with the help of your hands, and then fold over and shape. I made a round loaf. Cover and let rest there for 10 min.

8. Proofing: I used a bowl covered with a clean white fabric that had around 1 tbs of flour sprinkled to prevent the dough from sicking to it. I covered the dough and let proof for an hour

*they say sourdough does not rise as much as the commercial yeast, which in my experience was the case as well

9. 20 min before the end of the proofing step, pre-heat the oven to 400 F and place your roaster/dutch oven in

*I recently became a fan of using roasters to bake the bread. It provides good heat conductance and shortens the baking time. They say dutch ovens are even better. I bought a turkey roaster which is quite big. The advantage of it is that I can bake loafs with any shape; e.g. baton or boule. Not sure whether I can do this with a dutch oven – they usually looks small and suitable for boule only

10. Transfer the dough upside down on a parchment paper, score with sharp knife (around half an inch), and immediately place into the heated roaster

*dough was leveled down as soon as I scored it, which discouraged me. yet, the spring oven surprised me; the end product had risen and formed a lovely bread

11. Bake 30 min covered, and then an additional 20 min uncovered at 400 F

12. 🙂

🙂

 

 

 

 

left-over bread with poppy seeds

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air bubbles 🙂 (baton-shaped loaf)

I try to bake every weekend to quench my interest in yeast and its activities, and to consume.

This week, I had planned a “left-over” bread that included the left-over green olives (they have been in my fridge for some time now) and the piece of the sourdough starter I was supposed to throw away yesterday (my starter was on its 5th day yesterday and quite a monster, I must say). Since I was inspired by a blog (which, sadly I cannot remember now), I also added poppy seeds to dough.

It was a dough that rested at the fridge over-night (I prefer this kind of dough – in my opinion it makes better breads).

Overall, the green olives were not enough and kind of got lost during the kneading/stretch and fold attempts. I do not know what to think about this now… Poppy seeds are okay and not overwhelmed the taste, which is pleasing. The dough had a slight sour taste – I am almost sure that it was not because of the starter but the olives, but I may as well be wrong. Crust was crispy while inside was soft and tasty.

I also experimented with the roaster I purchased a while ago to see whether baking bread in a container like roaster really makes a difference. I prepared two loaves from the same dough and baked one in a baking dish without a cover and another one in the roaster at the same time. In fact it does; the crust of the roaster-baked loaf was more browned and better looking. I may as well continue to bake breads in the roaster.

I seem to have shallow scoring cuts on the loafs. I will remember to make deeper cuts next time.

On a final note, parchment paper seems to be a baker’s best friend. If you do not have a roll, you may consider having one. It keeps everything clean and helps with not using vegetable oil, spray, or cornmeal that we would otherwise use in the oven dishes while baking.

Recipe

1. Activate 1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast in 1.5 cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar by mixing all and resting at room temperature for 15 min (cover the bowl).

*Note that the amount of dry yeast is really low. I find that dough that rests at the fridge does not need a lot of yeast

2. When the yeast is activated, add 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, 2 cups of bread flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix with spoon or hand and let rest at room temperature for 20 (the autolyse step)

3. Add 1/3 cup of green olives (you should add more if you are looking for an olive loaf), 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 tablespoon of poppy seeds and knead on a clean, flour sprinkled surface for a couple of minutes to make sure the ingredients all mix.

4. take the dough in a clean, vegetable oil spread bowl (i use a pot) and let rest at room temperature for 30 min. After that do stretch-and-fold for a total of 4 times, each time with 30 min rest in between.

*this technique is supposed to eliminate the need for kneading and develop the gluten structure equally. Basically hold a corner of the dough, stretch it as far as you can and then fold it over the dough. repeat this with other corners of the dough (4-6). Turn the dough over so that the folded part lies at the bottom

**my experience with kneading is pretty conflicting. I cannot knead even though I know it would make my bread structure better. So I failed in today’s attempt too as the dough did not become a mature, elastic dough. That is why I decided to stretch-and-fold

***you will notice that over-time the dough becomes fluffy but not necessarily overly risen

5. Put in the fridge over-night. I left the dough in the fridge for a total of 12 hours and then let rest at room temperature for 2 hours

6. Take the dough out and spread over flour-sprinkled surface, degassing at the same time. Cut into two loafs, shape, and let rest on the bench for 15 min (covered)

*since the dough is not sticky, there is no need to add more flour than required

7. Re-shape if needed, cover, and proof for 1 hour 45 min at room temperature. I used a bowl to proof the round loaf and a cookie sheet for the baton/francala. Cover the loafs so that they will not dehdyrate and keep warm.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 400F (keep the roaster inside too). When the proofing is done, transfer the loafs in the oven dish (I used this for the round loaf with parchment paper at the bottom) and the pre-heated roaster.

9. Score the top of the loaf and bake for a total of 50 min; after the first 25t minute take the lid off the roaster.

 

my “Monster” sourdough starter

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5th day – right before the feed. Isn’t it  a beauty 🙂

My 4th attempt in sour dough starter seems to be the best so far 🙂

The Monster started to smell sour this morning and has been rising incredibly, especially after the feed today. 4 hours after the feeding today, I had to transfer it to a new, bigger jar as it had risen up to the lid and was ready to escape! :).

I could not be more excited! I hope that is what it is and it is really a sourdough starter, but not some weird micro-organismal activity.

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Here is the chronicle of Monster:

Day 1.

Procedure: Mix in a bowl 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup filtered water with the help of a fork. Transfer into a clean jar, cover top with a piece of fabric (clean and thin enough to allow air in/out), secure the fabric with the help of an elastic band around the lid, wrap the jar with a small towel (keep the lid part uncovered by the towel), place in a shelf away from the kitchen.

*There is no need to keep the starter away from the kitchen. I just have had pest problems lately, which prompted me to keep the starter away from their active areas.

**I started the starter in the evening around 6.30 pm. I tried to feed it everyday at around the same time.

***I decided to wrap the jar with a towel because I live in a relatively cold climate.

Day 2.

Observations: no apparent rise, a few tinny bubbles, smells like whole wheat – nothing exciting.

Procedure: Mix the starter with the help of a fork; take it out in a bowl and add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of water. Mix all well with the help of a fork. Cover, wrap, and rest the jar/starter at its usual place.

*I made a mistake here. I was planning to add the same amount of flour and water as Day 1 but somehow got confused and ended up with smaller amounts added.

2nd day-after the feed
Day 2 – after the feed

Day 3.

Observations: There was a slight rise, a few large bubbles, somewhat unevenly elated surface, and no distinct smell. There was liquid accumulated at the bottom of the jar.

*slight rise was promising 🙂

Procedure: Remove 1 cup starter. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and mix well with fork. Add the remaining starter and mix everything. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap, and rest as before.

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day 3 – right after the feed

Day 4.

Observations: There is ~0.5 cm rise in the starter – first measurable rise so far. There was no distinct smell and little, if ever, bubbles.

*I decided to take less starter out today, considering the fact that it was not flourishing. So I reduced it by 3/4 cup, rather than 1 cup.

**I forgot to take a photo before the feed today.

Procedure: Remove 3/4 cup starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.

*from today on, the starter become a less runny/batter-like. I prefer this kind of starters – my feeling is that it helps the yeast flourish better.

**I removed a smaller amount of starter today, as the remaining amount did not look enough to me.

4th day-after the feed-2
Day 4-after the feed

Day 5.

Observations: When I checked it in the morning (yes, I have a habit of checking the starter 6-7 times a day – it is very exciting! 🙂 ), it had risen 2.5 x of its original height 🙂 It also smelled sour for the first time and there were many small bubbles and a slightly uneven surface.

In the evening, it had collapsed a little bit ( I think that is because had exhausted itself – definitely it is the time to feed.)

Procedure: Take 1/2 cup of starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.

*I removed less starter today compared to previous days. I kind of improvise. Many people use standard measures/amounts and follow them every day, but I like to adjust things as they develop. 

**I noticed that the starter does not have a smooth texture; it must be the particles in whole wheat flour that give it rather a crumby look.

5th day-after the feed-1
5th day – right after the feed. Excuse the mess around the jar 🙂

Additional observations the same day (day 5): 

2 hours after the feed: The starter had doubled in size. The best activity so far. No distinct sour smell yet.

3 hours after the feed: The starter reached the lid! Now knowing what to do, I decided to try to mix it well with a fork  and hope that it would not rise till morning. No distinct sour smell yet. Forking caused the starter to go back to its size right after the feed.

4 hours after the feed: I was being naive – even I mixed it and it went down to its original size, the Monster did rise and reach the lid again in an hour.

Time to change the jar. I mixed the starter well with a fork, and transferred all of it into a larger jar. Repeated the usual step; cover, wrap, and rest, as before.

5th day-after the feed-post 4 hours -3-changed the jar
5th day – 4 hours after the feed. Transferred it to a new, larger jar

5 hours after the feed and 1 hour after moved to a bigger jar: the Monster has doubled in size. Unfortunate that I could not take a picture (battery was charging). It is such a Monster!

6 hours after the feed and 2 hours after moved to a bigger jar: boy, the Monster is at work – it has risen so much 🙂

I cannot wait to see it tomorrow!

 

Day 6 (added after the post)

Observations at noon: At noon, the starter had collapsed. It smells slightly sour and seeing bubbles were very pleasing. I decided to feed it and use the left-over starter to prepare a levain for sourdough bread.

*This is the only day that I fed the starter twice – one at noon and one at evening (its regular feed time)

Procedure for first feed of the day: Mix well with a fork. I took out 2/3 cups of the starter to prepare the levain. To feed the remaining starter, in a bowl add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter, mix well with a fork, and transfer back to the jar. Cover, wrap, and rest at room temperature for an additional 6 hours.

Observations prior to the second feed of the day: Six hours after the new feed, the starter had doubled and had nice bubbles. The slight sour smell was there, too. The texture is pretty stiff (i.e. not runny at all, which I kind of like).

 *At that point, I decided it was time that I put it in the fridge for future use.

Procedure: Take 1 cup of starter and add 2/3 cups whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, mix well, and transfer into a new jar and cover with a piece of cloth. Let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour prior to placing into the fridge.

6th day-after the feed-before goin into the fridge
right before putting in the fridge, still bubbly 🙂

Observation -3 hours after the fridge: I was right naming this starter “Monster”. Can you believe that this starter is continuing to rise in the fridge???

I love my Monster 🙂


A couple of thoughts.

This was so far the most robust starter.

I am thinking a couple of things may have contributed to it:

  1. whole wheat flour (rather than all purpose flour I had used in the earlier starters)
  2. mixing the starter together with the fresh flour and water in a bowl (i.e. not in the jar). Not sure whether aeration (i.e. getting out of the jar) helps the starter/yeast somehow.
  3. I also used fork rather than the spoon to mix the flour/water/starter – fork may be doing a better job than the spoon. Maybe, again in terms of aeration.
  4. I am almost sure, even though I have no evidence for this, stiffer starters (not runny) rise faster.
  5. Pure luck? 🙂

my sour dough starter attempts

I have started my 4th sour dough starter today, with 2/3 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. I mixed these with a fork in a bowl and then transferred the starter-to-be in a clean glass jar. I covered the lid with a clean and thin clothe, secured with with an elastic band, wrapped the jar with a little hand towel (only because here is colder than many other places), and put it on a shelf to rest.

I go check it time to time by lifting the clothe-lid – curiosity 🙂 I read somewhere else that it is okay as there would be some bacteria or wild yeast in my surroundings that this would help them to be captured in the flour+water mix, and thus, enhance the starter. True or not, I have no idea. My primary driver is the curiosity – is there a bubble? A rise? Some sort of smell? Something???? 🙂 🙂

Of course, it is not realistic to expect that such a young starter mix will do all of these, but, hey, I am excited 🙂

I will use whole wheat flour for this starter. My plan is to feed it everyday by first taking up around half of it and adding the same amount of flour and water as stated above, except the 2nd day when I plan to add these ingredients without taking out from the starter (to nourish it a little bit at the beginning – the wild yeast is not in great amount anyhow and cannot strive very fast). Use of fork, if you do not have a whisker, is a better idea than using a spoon to mix the flour and water together.

Anyways; this is my fourth starter attempt. Why?

I started my first one while I was on vacation – the first one, even though the weather was warmer, did not flourish well in 5 days. So I started a new one. Maybe I was impatient or it really did not work out, I do not know.

The second one was a thriver and I baked breads with it 🙂 it was a sour dough alright 🙂 Unfortunately we had to let it go right before I left home; my family does not bake breads frequently.

In both of these, I added 4-5 dry chickpeas in the mixture, slightly cracked. My sister heard that that would make a great sour dough starter. I think she was right mostly. I would recommend it to everyone. I also kept and tended to these two starters in the kitchen, which I am sure had both the wild yeast and the commercial yeast, as I was baking bread with dry yeast then, too. So, the commercial yeast would have also been captured in the starters. Would they make sour dough, too, I wonder though? if not, then I can safely conclude that they were wild yeast in my starter, as the bread I baked with was pretty sour 🙂

Then I arrived my home here and I started another one with only flour (all purpose, white flour) and water. Today was the 11th day. It was sour alright, but very very sour-smelling. The first week or so it just smelled like wheat, but nothing else. And the bubbles was not something I saw before – very lifeless looking, small bubbles. It did start to rise in the last few days, so it was telling me that the wild yeast (and bacteria) were there. But today, I decided it was time to let it go, too. I would not bake with this thin-looking starter. I need something stronger. So, here I am on Day 1 of my 4th starter 🙂

I cannot claim to be a successful sourdough maker, yet I have a couple of observations and “feelings” about the sourdough starters:

1. usually the starter rises like 1/2 of its initial height on the second day after feeding (not counting the flour and water mixed in). It makes me excited each time, as we expect a rise in sourdough starter. But it is not permanent and get lost later until it starts to rise again maybe on the 6th-10th day (which ever the first rise and large bubbles happen). I think these are the bacterial actions in the 2nd day, rather than the wild yeast activity. No need to get too excited.

2. hooch can appear on the second day on. I do not like it and prefer to throw away. Once it occurred in the middle of the starter, which I had to mix with the starter. Personal preference, that is all.

3. the denser starters seem to thrive better than batter-like starters. I do not know why, this is my feeling. If i do see that the starter is runny, I opt to add more flour than water to make it a denser one. you noticed above that I add less water than the flour (cup-wise) even though everybody is recommending a 1:1 ratio (by weight). Looks like 1 cup flour = 240 grams and 1 cup water = 236.5 grms (so almost the same weight). I found in my experience, such a ratio makes batter-like starters (which I do not like for some reason) and thus I cut the water a little bit. Again, a personal preference.

4. I must admit I did not measure my water and flour carefully in the previous trials and rather have had batter-like starters one day and denser ones next day, and so on. I know I must be more systematic and use a constant ratio all the time but this does not happen with me. Again, a personal preference.

5. As expected the starter gets more runny the next day; must be the action of the yeast and bacteria in the flour/water/starter. Just an observation. I guess it makes sense as even a dense dough after the first rise or the proof gets softer/more hydrated than the initial dough.

6. checking the starter for rising or bubbles is a very exciting activity. When I see them, I feel like I accomplished something and feeling pretty happy and excited about my life 🙂

 

……………..

Anyways, let’s see how this 4th sourdough starter adventure of mine will develop 🙂

quiche with spinach and mushroom

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I have been meaning to try this quiche recipe for sometime. Finally, that day arrived 🙂

I have had some modifications:

  1. added 5 tb of chilled water to the dough rather than 4 tb
  2. used 1 cup of chopped mild cheddar as the only cheese source. And since I was kind of lazy, rather than grating it, I cut it out 🙂
  3. added 1 tsp of baking powder to the dough
  4. added chili pepper to the spinach-mushroom mixture. Also added it on top 🙂
  5. rested the dough for 1 hour at the fridge (I was buy with something else at that time) rather than 30 min
  6. used raw spinach (not frozen); first applied salt (around 1/2 tb) on it and mushed well, rinsed well, and squeezed hard to drain off water.  Then, I added it to the mushroom-garlic mix on the stove.
  7. Overall, I cooked the mix longer (around 10 min for the mushroom first and then added the spinach and cooked for another 10 min)

Yummy 🙂 very hearty and high calorie meal. I could not eat more than 1/4 of it at once. Ensured to feed 4 people.

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Added after the post: Next time, I would make some modifications to this recipe. First, I would have the dough a little bit more hydrated and perhaps add another 1-2 tbs of water. Also, I would remove all the liquid from the filling (mushroom – spinach) and reduce the milk to may be 3/4 cups. The egg mixture would benefit from more vegetable oil. I think the dough could have been thicker or the filling would have been thinner.

lemon – raisin teabiscuit

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Well… when it is boring, one thing that comes to my mind is food 🙂

I wanted something sweet, so decided to improvise tea biscuit. Tea biscuits are easy to make and bake. Thus, when the time is short, they are my favorite.

Since it is boring to repeat the same recipe and exciting to try something new, I improvised a recipe based on a previous one with some changes/additions.


Preparation time: 10 min

Bake time: 35 min

 

Recipe:

2 cups of all purpose flour

3/4 cups of raisins

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of baking powder

100 grm unsalted butter (melted)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup yogurt

3/4 cups of skim milk

zest of a lemon + around 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

 

1. Mix all ingredients (except zest of 1/2 lemon) with the help of a spoon

2. Brush inside of an oven pot with vegetable oil and pour the mixture in

3. Sprinkle top with the zest of the remaining 1/2 lemon

4. Bake at a pre-heated oven at 400 F for 30-35 min, or until the top starts to brown

 

*you may shape the biscuits if you wish; I was rather in hurry so rather baked without shaping.

**for a more tangy version, add the juice of 1/2 of lemon

***for another version, sprinkle the top with crushed nuts

Enjoy! 🙂

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right before putting in the oven – looks pretty shaggy 🙂
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soft and juicy inside, chewy outside – excellent companion for a nice cup of tea 🙂

 

today’s bread

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My quest to be able to bake the prefect bread continues 🙂

Over-night dough is becoming my favorite. It rises well, consistently makes better breads, and it fits my schedule better. This loaf too is a product of an over-night dough.

Recipe:

1. Add 300 ml warm water, 1 table spoon of sugar, and 0.5 table spoon of dry yeast together; cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 10 min.

*I use less yeast for over-night dough. Previously I figured that this amount is more than enough to have a well risen dough. Yet, next time I will increase this amount to see whether I can get a better structured bread with air-holes in it.

**The yeast usually move up to the surface of the mixture and starts metabolizing and foaming on top. In this recipe, there is more water than the yeast can cover, so the foamy top may not fully cover the surface of the bowl – do not despair; it still works.

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activated yeast; all foamy and lovely.

2. Add to yeast mixture 3.5 cups of all purpose flour and stir with a spoon till it forms a shaggy mixture. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 min.

***This step is supposed to help hydrate the dough and start gluten development (i.e. the autolyse step).

3. Knead for 10 min or so until the dough becomes elastic and strong, or if you are like me, stretch and fold every 20-30 min and let rise for a total of 2 hours at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel (since it is summer, I do not need to use a warm oven this time.). I failed my stretch and fold attempt with this dough – for some reason. I wished I had kneaded it 🙂

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right before placing in the fridge, my dough looked a little bit unhappy after all the stretching and folding trials. Perhaps I should have left it all alone – I am sure it would look better than this 🙂

4. Cover and place in the fridge. I kept it there around 14 hours. While yeast works better at warm temperatures, it nevertheless slowly continues to strive while in the fridge. The next morning, you should have a fluffy dough looking at you 🙂

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there has been a lovely rise in the fridge

5. When you are ready to work on the dough, take it out and rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours. I left mine for 2 hours while I went out for shopping. Upon my return, when I opened the cover, there was a large bubble in the middle. Well, hello you little miraculous yeasties 🙂

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hello yeasties!

6. Mix 1 table spoon of salt with 1 table spoon of water and add to the dough. Take the dough on flour-sprinkled bench, which will deflate the dough (i.e. no need to punch). Lightly work on the dough to shape and let rest on the bench for 10-15 min (covered).

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7. For proofing, I used a metal basket and a piece of clean clothe sprinkled with flour. I placed the dough upside down (where the seam is; make sure to close them by pinching the dough. Mine below was quite stubborn 🙂 ), cover lightly, and place either in a large nylon bag (works like a green house) or a warm oven (warmed to 100 F) for an hour, or until it rises again.

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8. To transfer the loaf into the oven, I placed a piece of parchment paper on top of the loaf, placed the cookie sheet on top of it, and then turned the entire assembly upside down. Cover and let rest for 10 min.

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****I read somewhere yesterday that whenever we “poke” the dough, we must let it rest for 10 min or so. So, for the first time today, I rested the loaf on the parchment paper covered with a kitchen towel. It does make sense to me as there has been some additional rise at the end of this rest 🙂

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the rest after the transfer to bake-ware made a difference – the loaf risen considerably. I am happy 🙂

9. At this point, pre-heat the oven for 400 F.

10. Pet the dough with wet hands and sprinkle sesame seeds on the surface. Score with a sharp knife and bake the loaf in the oven for 40 min.

11. When 40 min is over, turn the oven off and let the loaf sit there for an additional 10 min.

12. I took out the loaf and applied solid butter on the surface. I also sprinkled with generous amount of water to keep it moist, covered it with a kitchen towel till it cooled down, and cut the bread 10 min after I took it out of the oven.

13. Do not forget to enjoy the bread 🙂 I did with a nice chunk of butter. The bread was soft inside and pretty tasty. I just wished I had more air-packets. Next time 🙂

 

bread for the kind neighbours :)

I mentioned earlier that one of my neighbours has left me 4 pots of yard plants a couple of days ago, after an initial talk with her late May.

I saw her today and told her that I was baking a loaf of bread for her 🙂 I just left the loaf in her mail box. Hope she will enjoy.

This is another trial for a dough which is left at the fridge over night. I wish I could see the inside of the loaf I baked today so that I would know how the crumb was. But my overall impression is that it makes great bread with lots of rise and smell, even though the amount of yeast in the recipe is less than usual 🙂 I think this kind of dough also helps me with my busy schedule. So it is my favorite so far 🙂

*While in the fridge, I stretched and folded it a few times only out of curiosity – I do not  think it is required.

**I think the dough would take another 1/2 cup of flour – well, next time 🙂

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Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Add 1 cup of warm water and 1 dessert spoon of sugar together, mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Cover and rest for 15 min.

The yeast was crazy good with a nice foam on top. I think the temperature of the water was just right 🙂

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2. Add  2.5 cups of all purpose flour to yeast and mix well with a spoon. My dough was sticky but not “batter-like” like last time. Cover the container and rest the dough at room temperature for 25 min.

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3. Stretch and fold 6-8 times and place into a clean bowl covered with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over.

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4. After 60 min, there was a noticeable rise in the dough and there were bubbles 🙂 Stretch and fold a couple of times. The dough is elastic, and not stiff and not like batter, either. That is pretty good 🙂

after 60 min, this is how it looked like. rested 🙂
stretched and folded a couple of times – time to rest in the fridge now 🙂

5. After another hour of resting in the fridge, the dough has kept its shape, is strong and very elastic, not batter-like at all, and there are some bubbles in it.

Stretching and folding was easy – basically held a corner of the dough and let it hang for a second or two, and repeated this 5-6 corners each side of the dough.

Dough is 100% coherent (i.e. did not break or left pieces around the container).

Because of the oil, it is shinny and I kind of believe that oil helps keep inside humid but may also make it have some kind of stiffness/strength, which is not necessarily bad. I also think that oil helps with the crust somehow.. Gut feeling:)

after stretching and folding – back to fridge now 🙂

6.  after the 4th hour at the fridge, dough did rise just a little bit but feels soft and fluffy 🙂 It was exciting 🙂 Stretch and fold was very easy and this time the dough stretched quite a bit. There is a noticeable softness in the dough and 4-5 large bubbles were visible. Happy 🙂 I did not necessarily formed a nice looking ball this time; hope that will be okay 🙂

after 4 hours at the fridge, this is how the dough looked.
after stretch and fold

 

7. After 18 hours of fridge rest (in the morning), dough has risen and looks fluffy. No stretch and fold this time – I gotta catch the bus 🙂

8.  After 21 hours of fridge rest, it looks good.. I added 1 1/3 dessert spoon of salt, stretched and folded and also worked with my hands to have salt integrated. Left at room temperature for 2 hours covered.

 

prior to handling it 🙂

 

after I worked on it a little bit 🙂 the bubbles are gone and it looks good and shinny 🙂

9. At the end of the room temperature rest, dough looked fluffy and gas bubbles were detectable. It was a little bit sticky, but on a floured surface I did 4-5 stretch and fold and tried to form surface tension. The surface of the loaf does not look uniform but that should be okay. Bench rest for 10 min covered with a cling film.

10. I am finally at the proofing stage. I placed the loaf in an oven dish covered in a little amount of vegetable oil, covered with a pot lid, placed in a large shopping bag, and proved for 1 hour at an oven warmed to 100 F. I also left the oven lights on – it increases the temperature to around 123 F. that seems to work for me.

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beginning of the proofing stage

11. At the end of proofing, dough looks good and risen. Looks a little bit too juicy :))) Next time I can increase the amount of flour.

I applied whole egg wash carefully and sprinkled the top with sesame seeds and scored. Baking at oven at 375 F (turned on the oven and put the dough in immediately – not pre-heated oven) with 2 cups of hot water in the lower shelf. At 45 min, I sprinkled the surface of the bread with a generous amount of water. Total time in the oven: 1 hour 30 min

at the end of the proofing stage 🙂
I was not sure whether it was over or under proved. So I tried the “poke” test. I am still not sure what the answer is – help! 🙂

12. After I took it out, I applied solid butter on the crust, let rest for 10 min, and then took it out to my neighbours!:) (she was not there, but at least I tried 🙂 – hope she will remember our conversation earlier this noon and will not be surprised to find the bread in her mail box 🙂

the crust formed really well. I would love to see the crumb, but I could not cut the loaf. I guess my neighbour will have a better idea about it.

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how to bake the perfect bread?

Well; the best way to learn how to bake the perfect loaf is learning through trial and error.

This is the best way for me. No matter how many books or blogs I read, my own experiences with baking bread are the best teachers for me.

More than that, I am an experimenter. I would love to follow recipes, but to tell you the truth, I like improvising better; observing the thickness of the dough, the rise of the dough, the oven-spring of the loaf, the crust, taste, and crumb, and all the conditions (warmth while rising/proofing, minutes/hours of waits/rise/baking, amount of ingredients, etc.). And then coming up with conclusions to bake a better bread next time. That is priceless 🙂

So, last week I decided to try an over-night dough recipe – I have got the idea from internet (there are many useful sites out there). They say that while the fridge will slow down the activity of the yeast, the long fermentation (in the fridge) does enrich the taste of the bread. Intrigued, I decided to go for it 🙂

I must say it has been a great learning experience:

  • Now I know how to handle a very sticky/batter like dough better
  • Now I know that over-night fermentation of the dough is okay and, as they said, may even be better for the texture of the bread
  • Now I know that the sticky/high-hydration dough should not be proofed/baked on cookie sheets – loaf pans/oven dishes that support the dough are a lot better (they support the dough and prevent from spreading/expanding to the sides to form a rather flat-type of loaf that I observed with my trial today.)
  • Now I know that proofing may be extended to 1.5 hours (rather than 1 hour), which yielded a better rise for this dough today
  • Now I know that I will try some other varieties (e.g. with olives) using this dough some other time. The most bubbles I have ever seen in a dough 🙂

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Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

This dough could have been a great flat bread or a pizza dough; crunchy outside, soft and crumby inside – highly recommended 🙂

1. warm 100 ml water and mix with 1 dessert spoon of sugar; mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of yeast – let stand for 15 min. Yeast will start smelling but not necessarily form a foam (only because its quantity is less than regular yeast mixtures. For a same-day bread, I would have used a full dessert spoon of dry yeast)

2. add 2 cups of flour, 75 ml of water, and the yeast mixture – make a very sticky dough (almost like a batter).

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3. let rest for 35 min at room temperature (cover the bowl with a kitchen towel)

4. use a dough cutter (or your hands) and stretch and fold it onto itself (repeat for 3-4 min – the dough will be still sticky). This is supposed to help the gluten form and give a structure to the dough. Note the absence of kneading in this recipe.

5. grease a large pot/bowl (with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil) and put the dough in. Stretch and fold again to make sure it gets oil all over. Close the lid of the pot or cover it with cling film.

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6. keep it in the fridge overnight.

7. the next morning (after 19 hours in the fridge): the dough/batter looks healthy and flattened itself out. It smells great:) There are noticeable bubbles in it.

after over-night rest at the fridgeIMG_8612

8. add 1 table spoon of salt and stretch and fold 7-8 times. Transfer into a clean pot sprinkled with flour. The dough is coherent and sticky, and prior to the stretch and fold there were large bubbles in it:) (they are removed during the stretch and fold procedure). Sprinkle flour on top, close the lid of the pot, place over a kitchen towel and rest at room temperature for 1.5 hours (to help it reach the room temperature)

9. transfer the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour, stretch and fold a couple of times, and form a baton shaped loaf. You may flour the hands and the surface as required, but do not be tempted to add too much flour.

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bubbles 🙂

10. bench rest for 10 min (covered)

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after 10 min of bench rest – the loaf certainly does not keep its shape and has a tendency to flatten…

11. Place the dough in an oven dish sprinkled with a generous amount of cornmeal, [if using cookie sheet like myself; support the loaf on both sides by stretch film-covered long boxes (stretch films better be greased). I would rather recommend using a deep oven dish for this dough if you are aiming for a tall bread…], place everything in a big shopping bag, loosely tie the bag, and put it in a warm oven (warmed to 100 F with lights on), and proof for 1.5 hour.

 

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this is how the dough looked like after 1 hour of proofing

12. Apply whole egg wash gently without deflating the dough, sprinkle with generous amount of sesame seeds, and score the surface. Remove the supports from the sheet

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this is how it looked right before I put it in the oven. when the supports on both sides are removed, naturally it expanded to the sides. I guess this will be one nice flat bread! 🙂

13. Place 2 cups of boiling water in an oven-safe dish and place in the lower shelf. Bake for 35 min (375F the first 15 min, and then 400 F)

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the best crumb ever!

 

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

easy red cabbage stir fry

I love red cabbage in salad. My regular stores do not have it all the time, so when I find it, I buy multiple heads. Unfortunately that also means that sometime I have them in the fridge for too long and almost gone bad.

Today I decided to make use of two heads of red cabbage before they get bad. With one of them I am trying red cabbage sauerkraut (maybe I will post it another time). I made an easy stir-fry with the other one.

here is the recipe for this easy stir-fry:

  1. remove the outer layers, wash-pat dry, and cut one small head of red cabbage
  2. in a frying pot, add 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil, let heat up a little bit (add and fry garlic for a minute or so, if you wish – I just did not feel like eating it today)
  3. add the cabbage and mix time to time for 10-15 min
  4. add 2 table spoon of soya sauce and 2 table spoons of black bean sauce
  5. stir for another 2 minutes
  6. add sesame seeds and take off the stove

Enjoy!

Is there an easier way to consume this delicious and healthy veggie?

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final product 🙂

apple-cinnamon cake with walnut

 

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I have been inspired by a recipe and decided to bake a light cake with apples, which I have had a lot. I changed the recipe quite a bit and made it less sweet and less oily. You can adjust the sugar and oil (use butter – seems it is better than the vegetable oil I have used).

I forgot to put the walnut in the batter so I had to put them on the surface of the cake. Oh, well .. 🙂

Also, for a more a more moist cake, add more milk 🙂

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. cut 5-6 small/medium size apples. Add 3 table spoon of sugar on top and 1/2 table spoon of cinnamon. Mix roughly. Set aside.

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2. add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1.5 table spoon of sugar, 1 table spoon of cinnamon, 1.5 dessert spoon of baking powder, 1/2 dessert spoon of salt. Mix well.

3. whisk 2 eggs and add 3 table spoon of vegetable oil. Whisk again and add to the flour. Add 1.5 cup of skimmed milk and make a batter.

4. Add 4/5 of the apples into the batter. Mix.

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5. Grease an oven dish and pour the mixture into the dish.

6. Spread the remaining apples and 50 grms of walnut on top (better, put the walnut in the batter 🙂 – I just forgot it).

7. Bake at 350F for 50 min

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

plain bread – a success story

My next door neighbours are great people. She brought me some hand-made clothes; she said she loves knitting them and they are very useful. I was touched and decided to take advantage of being home early and bake a loaf of bread or two for them.

I am still not confident about baking bread. But it is a lot of fun! So, I decided to experiment to bake a loaf that can taste and look good. I prepared one dough and prepared 2 small loafs; one round, one baton (aka “francala”) shaped. The baton bread went to my neighbour and I kept the round one.

The crust of the round loaf was amazing (and crunch), so was the taste! I did not have large holes in the round bread but I hope there were some in the baton  – it rose better than the round loaf:)

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“baton bread” that I gave to my neighbour. This little beast looked amazing and I hope it tasted so, too 🙂
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this loaf is mine – I loved it 🙂

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Warm up 200 ml of water and add 1 dessert spoon of sugar – mix well until all sugar dissolves. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Do NOT mix yeast. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

2. Add the yeast mixture to 3 cups of all purpose flour. Add 2/3 cups (150 ml) of water and mix with spoon or with your hands until it forms a somewhat sticky but coherent dough.

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right before the autolyse step – smelling nice and yeasty 🙂

3. Cover the top of the container (I used a pot and its lid for this purpose), wrap with a kitchen towel and rest for 20 min to autolyse at room temperature.

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right after the 20 min autolyse step. The dough is a little bit sticky (just like I wanted it), looks plumpy and risen a little bit. Looks pretty rested to me 🙂

4. Add 1 table spoon of salt and lightly knead the dough while still in the container (no flour is needed at this step as I aim it to be a soft and not a hearty bread). I noticed that dough become “fragmented” as soon as salt is added – but do not worry; it fixes itself during the process. Work on the dough and give it a round shape.

5. Add 1 table spoon of vegetable oil to a clean pot, spread it around, and put the dough in; then flip the dough over to make sure it gets oil on both sides  (top and bottom). Close the lid and put in an oven warmed up to 100 F (I covered the pot with also a kitchen towel).

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ready to rest and rise 🙂 I noticed that as soon as salt is added, the dough lost its structure and get “fragmented”. I am hoping this will fix during the rise

6. Let rise for 30 min and then stretch and fold 4-5 times and then turn the dough upside down and repeat stretching and folding. Let it rise in the warm oven for another 30 min and stretch and fold again. Put the dough back in the oven and let rise for an additional 30 min.

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at the end of 1st 30 min of rise – the dough has risen and conserved its plumpy and sticky nature. I could see the bubbles when I took it out of the warm oven, which is pleasing. The oil seems to help dough keep its moisture – but I wonder whether I applied too much oil. Something to think about. As long as it does not affect the taste, I am okay with this – in my experience the dough with a little bit oil in or around it rises pretty quickly.
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after stretch and fold at the end of the 30 min rise. Dough has lost some of its plumpiness but I am certain it will continue to rise 🙂
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after the 2nd 30 min rise – dough looks good and moist (because of the vegetable oil I used to cover the container). Folding and stretching was not particularly easy as if pulled a lot, the dough breaks. Not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. the final product will tell 🙂
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right after the 2nd stretch and fold. let it rest and rise for one last time 🙂
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at the end of the 3rd 30 min rise – looking good 🙂

 

7. Cut the dough into two (only because I wanted to have two small loafs) on a flour-sprinkled surface. Try not to add more flour and gently shape. Gently press down the bubbles (I had some). Shape, cover with a bowl or kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

 

 

8. Gently shape again and put in floured dishes for proofing upside-down. Sprinkle some flour on top, wrap loosely with cling film, and cover with a thick blanket on stove (I slightly warmed up the stove to help provide some warmth to dough). Let proof for 45 min

 

9. Apply egg wash – that is, whisk one egg and brush over the loafs. On one of them I also added sesame seeds. Score carefully using a sharp knife. Place in oven dishes sprinkled with corn meal.

 

11. boil 1.5 cups of water and place in the lower shelf of the oven in an oven-safe dish (to provide humidity during the bake)

10. bake at a pre-heated oven (400 F) for 45 min. At 30 min I took them out and sprinkled a generous amount of water on top. The round one needed to bake an additional 5 min (its bottom did not get brownish at 45 min)

11. Apply butter on the surface when taken out of the oven and enjoy!

Bon appetite! 🙂

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I cannot see much of a hole in the bread. I guess I needed to rise it a little bit longer. But the recipe is okay and I am excited that I made this beauty! 🙂

 

 

shopping weekend and green bean for freezer

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final product 🙂 – once cool down, I will put it in a freezer bag and place into the freezer for later use

I have been shopping this weekend and I love it 🙂

It is not a secret that I love shopping. There is something nice about looking at all the products, compare prices, and then purchase those that will provide my life with comfort and value. Do not get me wrong – I am not into purchasing things that are not useful to me. I am on a frugal adventure myself 🙂

But when needed, I love shopping 🙂

For the coming family vacation, I needed to purchase a couple of gifts, which I was happy to. I loved every single thing I have purchased and the nice thing is that they do not cost too much. I happen to shop along the year for gifts and accumulate them over time. I love looking at them and the positive feelings they will create in the people for whom they are purchased.

I also purchased freezer bags for the time first time for myself. I wonder why I have not noticed them before… I am interesting indeed 🙂 I will use these bags to store my food. I was once interested in canning but with the freezing route, I will feel better as it is easier and there is no health hazards like botulism. I am not saying canning will always lead to this health problem, but knowing how inexperienced I am, after reflection I decided not to can.

I so far could blanch and store carrot and zucchini in freezer. This time I am going to try green beans with tomato. Beans were on sale yesterday and they really look fresh.

Basically:

  • wash and cut 1 lb of green beans
  • grate or cut in small cubes 2 tomatoes
  • cook on the stove till the beans change their colour, tomatoes are cooked, and the liquid evaporates (around 16 – 20 min at medium heat). I closed the lid during the first 10 min and then removed it to let the liquid evaporate.
  • stir occasionally
  • Do NOT add oil or salt
  • cool down and put in freezer bags and store at the freezer.

When needed, take out from the freezer and prepare your meal as you like. I plan to fry 1 medium onion in vegetable oil, add the beans and tomato directly, add 1 cup of water, add salt to taste, and cook until beans are soft and tender.

Excellent way to preserve vegetables when in season and on sale. Credit goes to my mom 🙂

Bon appetite!

“golden” beef empanada

Today’s baking adventure is beef empanadas 🙂

I called it “golden” because of the turmeric in the dough, which turned it into a perfect golden pastry.

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“golden”, spicy, and delicious 🙂 the colour is mostly because of the generous amount of turmeric I added to the dough.

 

Highly recommended if you like puffy and soft dough with a hearty filling and a kick of spices. By the way, this dough was one of the softest I ever made. I kind of thinking if I had added milk instead of water, it could have been way softer. I like this idea 🙂

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Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

Dough

  1. chill a cup of water in fridge for 30 min
  2. add 3 cups of all purpose flour, 2 table spoon of baking powder, 1 dessert spoon of sugar, 1 dessert spoon of salt (or less depending on how you like salt), 2 dessert spoon of turmeric, and 1 cup of finely cut unsalted butter. Mix well until the butter pieces form small crumbles.
  3. whisk one egg and add to the flour. Add 1 cup of chilled water and form a dough.
  4. cut the dough in small pieces and round up, cover with cling film, and rest in the fridge for 45 min
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I made 4 small dough today. You can see that I am not interested in kneading, yet this recipe does not require a fine dough anyhow (in my opinion). So if you are like me, go ahead and make the dough without much of kneading 🙂

 

Filling

  1. add 2 table spoon of vegetable oil in a pot. Add 2 small onions and 4 garlic (finely chopped). Fry till onions become translucent.
  2. add 1 pound of lean beef and cook till it no longer pink.
  3. add 2 hot peppers (or more) washed and de-seeded
  4. add 1 table spoon of tomato paste, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, 1 pinch of oregano, 1 dessert spoon of turmeric, 1 table spoon of paprika, 1 dessert spoon of cumin, and 1 cup of water. Simmer at medium heat for 30-40 min till all liquid evaporates.
  5. Add two hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped, mix well and put aside.
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garlic and onion 🙂 yum, yum, yum 🙂 next time I will use less garlic as it was at one point all I could smell when I opened the oven to take the empanadas out.
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pepper 🙂 Thus one was hot, which I love. i can use more next time
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after 40 min of simmering, this is how the filling looked. It smelled really good and tasted quite spicy. Excellent treat for winter I would say 🙂
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After simmering and adding the hard-boiled eggs. This is the first time I ever tried adding hard-boiled egg into beef, but it seems to be working fine.

 

Shaping, filling, and baking

  1. On a clean and floured surface, knead the dough for a short time. Then extend the dough using a rolling pin until it reaches the desired thickness.
  2. Cut out the dough using a bowl – set aside. Knead the left-over dough and cut them in a similar way (instead of circle dough pieces, I ended up having triangles at the end, which are more practical if you do not want to waste the dough)
  3. Drain the filling. This IS important – any extra liquid will sure mess the empanadas (I experienced this first-hand today). Put 1-2 table spoon of filling on dough, apply a small amount of water around the dough and fold it over itself. You can also use fork to press on the seams to make sure dough will stick.
  4. Whisk one egg and brush over the empanadas.
  5. Bake at 400 F for 20 min on a cookie sheet.

Enjoy 🙂

 

lentil and celery with eggs

Looking for a way to consume left-over veggies or legumes?

Improvise and make up a meal with eggs – eggs make everything delicious 🙂

I love eggs. I know there is a controversy around consuming eggs and risen cholesterol levels – make your own judgement or listen to your doctor (re; eggs).

As part of my “no food waste” policy, I was looking for a way to use whatever I have in my fridge and my pantry and I decided to come up with an oven dish involving green and red lentils, eggs, and celery.

It turned out to be delicious if you like this kind of food combinations. The celery gave a nice crunchy kick and lentils/bread crumbs formed a soft base. Egg, of course, was the glue that held everything together. It also gave a nice taste to this dish.

If the liquid is drained well, it can also be turned into a “patty”, which can be fried or baked in the oven. I love patties yet today I wanted to see whether I can come up with something less greasy and more healthy.

For variety, replace the celery with fresh herbs.

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Recipe

  1. wash 1/2 cup green lentil and 1 cup red lentil under cold water (the amounts are different only because I have had more red lentils and no more green lentil)
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here they are; the lentils nicely bubbling 🙂

 

2. add 3 cups of water and boil until they become soft and fluffy. Let rest and cool down 15 min

3. add bread crumbs or flour to have a consistent mix. If the liquid is more than 2/3 cup, you can strain the lentils a little bit and directly work on them without needing flour or the crumbs

4. wash and slice 5 sticks of celery and add to lentils. Add salt and a pinch of black pepper

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crunch and chewy – you gotta love celery 🙂

 

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this is the mix of lentils, celery, and bread crumbs. Eggs to be added now 🙂

 

5. add 3 eggs and mix well.

6. Place everything in an oven dish. Spread vegetable oil on the surface and bake at 350F for 50 min

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a hearty and healthy meal with left-over veggies, legumes, and eggs 🙂

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

olive and rosemary bread & plain bread

 

 

I decided to make two different types of bread today: One with rosemary leaves and green olive and the other just plain. I so far have not tried plain bread and I would really like it to work out.

Recipe

It started with the same dough, which later was divided into two loafs.

*1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

1. Activating the dry yeast: add 1 dessert spoon of white sugar to 1 cup of warm water – mix well with a spoon. Add 1 dessert spoon of yeast, cover with a kitchen towel and wait for 10 min. It should happily bubble and smells gorgeous 🙂

I found that the yeast behave the best if I do not mix them after adding to the water+sugar mix. Any ideas why?

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This is how yeast does it 🙂 bubbly, almost formed a film on top 🙂 Have I mentioned I was amazed by yeast? Yep. I guess I have. But it does not hurt to state it again 🙂

2. Add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1.5 dessert spoon of salt, and 1 cup of water to the yeast mixture and mix well with the help of a spoon. Through the end I had to use my hand as it was a little bit sticky and I wanted it to get the flour in. After that, cover it with a towel and let rest for 20 min to autolyse.

I covered the container with a thick blanket this week – I am trying to see whether it will be enough to rise the dough. If so, I will stop using a warmed oven to rise my dough. Just trying to be self-sustained 🙂

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Right before the autolysis step. Do not mind the crumbles on top – I did not want to waste any pieces, hence these pieces from the container, which will rest with the rest of the dough 🙂

3. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes. As you go, you will see it will get smoother and also stickier. Add flour as required, but make sure that it does not get too hard. From now on, the first rise will start.

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This is how it looked after kneading. I like taking pictures at each stage because it tells me how much the dough rise 🙂

4. Sprinkle flour on a container and put the dough in (I use the same bowl I used to form the dough). Sprinkle some flour on top as well. Cover and keep warm for two hours.

During this time, I used the blanket again to keep the dough warm. This being said, at one point I thought I could put the dough-container still wrapped with the blanket on stove as I was cooking and it was warmer there (to help rise). Long story short, I ended up having a chunk of blanket melted and stuck on the stove!! It is good that I noticed 🙂 This was the misadventure # 1 for today 🙂

During this step, every 30 min (three times total) I took the dough out and applied the stretch and fold technique. Basically, I assumed the dough had 4 corners. I grabbed a corner of the dough and stretched as far as I could (gently) and then stuck it in back to the dough. I then repeated this with 3 other corners of the dough.

I have the pictures of the dough before each stretch and fold application:

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This is how it looked right before the first stretch & fold (total rise time =30 min). It seems to be rising 🙂
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This is before the 2nd stretch & fold application (total rise = 1 hour). It is getting bigger! Woohoo :))
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Right before the third stretch and fold (total rise = 1.5 hours). This time it does not look like it did rise more than the previous. I am not worried. I am not worried. I am not.. I am… I…. 🙂
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At the end of 2 hours of rise.- not bad is it? 🙂

 

5. Take the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour. The dough was sticky so I added a small amount of flour, lightly mixed it in, and then cut the dough into two.

a) I shaped the plain dough in a francala shape and placed on wax paper and supported on both sides by two long boxes. I then placed the entire stuff in a large nylon bag, loosely tied up the bag, and placed it in an oven warmed to 103 F with lights on.

b) I added the olive and rosemary into the dough. I thought they would mix well but no; they did not – misadventure #2. So I rather placed everything inside the dough and formed a round loaf. I placed this loaf in a bowl upside down that was covered by cling wrap sprinkled with flour. In the absence of shaping baskets, I thought that would work 🙂 I covered it with a towel and placed in the warm oven.

Rise the dough for 1 hour in the warm oven.

 

6. Take the loafs out and re-shape them gently again.

a) The francala had stuck on the wax paper – misadventure #3, so I literally had to drag it onto a cornmeal coated oven dish. Poor thing….

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poor francala – not looking happy 😦

 

b) the olive and rosemary loaf looked good 🙂 I put it on a cornmeal-coated oven dish (upside down).

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Olive and rosemary bread. We cannot see them as they are hiding inside. My bad! 🙂

7) Score the surfaces as you like. I then brushed them with vegetable oil – for the round loaf I also applied it to the sides as it looked like the dough would expand and stick. For a lazy and careless baker, I am proud of myself for coming up with this idea 🙂 I sprinkled the francala with a few sesame and nigella seeds.

8. Heat the oven to 375 F and place some hot water in another contained (to provide steam during the baking – I hope it did work). Place the loafs in and bake for 1 hour. During this period, I sprinkled a generous amount of water on top of both loafs three times.

9. Turn of the oven and apply butter stick on both loafs – it melts as it touches them. Then I left the loafs for an additional 5 min in the oven.

Bon appetite! 🙂

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plain bread – looking happier after the bake 🙂
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enjoy this bread with a nice cup of tea. This is exactly what I am doing right now 🙂
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the scoring was not successful today, yet this is one juicy, soft, and delicious olive and rosemary bread 🙂

 

volcano soda bread with cheddar and parsley

My love for bread-making is continuing 🙂

I was excited the whole week about my next bread trial. I wanted to give the soda bread a try this time. This recipe does not require yeast or wait-times for rising; so if you are looking for a yummy breakfast bread, I would highly recommend this one or any other soda bread.

After the success of the cheddar+parsley combination I tried earlier, I decided to improvise a soda bread with these ingredients. It ended up being quite delicious and softer than I thought it would be. The cheese when melted and together with parsley gave a yummy taste to this soda bread.

Here it is 🙂

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Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of purpose enriched flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 90 gr mild cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 dessert spoon baking soda
  • 1/2 dessert spoon baking powder
  • 1/2 dessert spoon salt (*use much less as the cheese is salty)
  1. Mix everything in a bowl – it will form a rough dough, which is fine
  2. Form a round dough and let it rest for 3-5 minutes
  3. Oil an oven dish and place the dough in
  4. Brush the surface with milk and make a X cut. (**they recommend it to be a little bit deep to help inside to bake well. Unfortunately, I made the cut too deep which caused its wide-open shape – so is the name “volcanic”. )
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven (375 F) for 30 min
  6. After I took it out, I sprinkled water on top to provide some moisture

bon appetite!

 

sunflower seed bread

While I had opted out for baking my next bread using baking powder, my mom encouraged me to try the yeast again.

Later I almost decided not to, but eventually came to my senses (I would have to figure out how to bake nutritious breads with yeast anyhow).

So here is today’s baking adventure 🙂

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Recipe:

1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

Yeast mixture:

Add 1 dessert spoon of white sugar to a 1 cup of warm water – stir well. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry active yeast. Do not mix and let it stand for 10 min. It should start bubbling and form a foam on top.

Previously I used to mix the yeast with sugar and water with the help of a spoon, which did not work out well. This time, with this technique, I could see the foam on top, telling that the yeast is  activated 🙂

Dough:

1) Add 1.5 cup of all purpose flour, 1.5 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 dessert spoon of salt, and 3 dessert spoon of olive oil. Mix with a spoon..

2) Add the yeast mixture and mix the dough with spoon until it becomes a rough but coherent dough.

3) Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 min.

I admit that I was trying to do an “autolyse” step, which helps with gluten formation and ease of kneading later. It looks like I did not remember it correctly, though – they say the yeast should NOT be added at that step. But I have.. Should I sigh or be okay with it? 

4) Sprinkle flour on a clean surface to start working on the dough.

The dough was sticky so I needed to use some extra flour to make it non-sticky, soft and smooth.

Knead for 4 minutes.

You will notice that as time goes on, it will become stickier again (I guess kneading helps move water within the dough). Apply little amounts of flour but do not over-saturate the dough.

5) Apply olive oil (or any other type) to the mixing bowl and place the dough in. Add *3/4 cups of sunflower seeds and mix until it becomes a uniform mixture. Cover with a thick kitchen towel and place in an oven with lights on. Let rise for **1.5 hours.

*The amount of seeds looked quite a lot at the beginning… But later turned out to be just right 🙂

**At 45 min, I noticed that the dough was not rising well. This can be mostly because a) it contains whole wheat flour that is difficult to rise, and b) the environment was not warm enough. So I turned on the oven till it reaches 102 F and then turned it off immediately. I let the dough rise for another 45 min (with the towel and the oven lights still on) in this warmer environment.

PS: I guess I should have been more liberal with the oil and cover the entire dough with it (lightly) to prevent dehydration during the rising process. I will do that next time.

6) *Lightly “punch” the dough down to get the gas out of it. Put on a floured surface.

*There should be some rising that has happened and when you punch it down, you should see it returning to its original size. And that is okay 🙂

The dough was sticky and I added a little amount of flour on my hands and the top of the dough.

Gently **stretch and fold for 4-5 times.

**This technique is done while the dough is raising to help with dough formation, but I felt like this can be a good alternative to kneading at this stage. Improvised – good or bad I am not sure. Hey, I am experimenting 🙂

7) Shape the dough and put in a greased baking dish. Score the surface of the dough as you wish and let it rise for another 45 min at the oven (with lights on and covered with a towel). It does rise 🙂

8) Mix an egg and brush the surface of the dough. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.

I applied generous amounts of (around 20 ml) of water to the surface of the bread 3 times during the baking process, starting at the end of the initial 30 min. I repeated that when I took it out of the oven, too. I believe that helps with a rather moist bread.

9) Take out, admire the scenery, and let it cool for 10 min. Then slice and enjoy with butter or jam and a cup of nice tea! 🙂

 

fluffy zucchini and savory dish

Baking and oven dishes are becoming my current, newly found excitement in life 🙂

I have had two small/medium sized zucchinis that have been waiting in the fridge. As part of my self-imposed no-food-waste policy, together with my recent interest in baking and experimentation with flour and baking powder, I decided to improvise a dish.

Here is the product 🙂

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*1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

Recipe:

1. Grate two small/medium sized zucchini – I left the skin on

2. Coarsely chop a small onion and mix with zucchini

3. Add salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 3/4 dessert spoon of savory

4. Add two dessert spoons of whole wheat flour and 1 dessert spoon of baking powder (in both of the cases, the spoons were over-flowing with the flour/powder)

5. Add 1.5 dessert spoon of olive oil and 1/2 cup of water. Mix everything

6. Whisk 2 eggs with a fork and add to the mixture. Mix all together.

7. Place in an oven dish and bake for 75 min. At the beginning I was not sure what temperature to use or how long to bake. So the first 30 min I baked it at 350 F. Since it did not look well cooked or brownish on top, after 30 min I increased the temperature to 375 F and baked for another 45 min.

Voila!

Bon appetite 🙂

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cheddar and parsley biscuit

My friends – be ready for the next baking adventure of mine!

I present you cheddar and parsley biscuit – is it not lovely?

Parsley may sound off but you may want to give it a try – together with cheddar it gave a unique flavor to this biscuit.

Recipe

1. Grate 150 grms of mild cheddar (or other varieties) and mix with finely chopped 1/4 bunch of fresh parsley.

2. Mix two cups of enriched all purpose flour, 1.5 tea spoon of white sugar, 1.5 tea spoon of baking powder, and 1/4 tea spoon of salt.

3. Cut little pieces of 100 grms of salted butter coming directly from the fridge. Mix the butter into the flour mix. It is not gonna be a smooth mixture and do not worry- just crumble the butter with your fingers

4. Add the cheddar and parsley to the flour.

5. Add 3/4 cups of skim milk to the mixture and work it out gently.

6. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and put the mixture on top. Knead 4-5 times. Then spread with your hands and cut the dough. I used a small pickle jar lid for this purpose.

7. Place the biscuits on a greased oven pot and bake for 24 min at 400 F.

8. Take the biscuits out and apply solid butter on top – it will melt slightly.

9. Enjoy! 🙂

PS: The recipe is slightly different than the tea biscuits I made yesterday; I used butter less than before as the cheese has a good amount of fat. It required less milk this time – I am not sure of the reason 🙂

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Raisin biscuits:

I also baked raisin biscuits today 🙂 The recipe is very similar to above with the exception that I used 4 tea spoons of white sugar and unsalted butter this time. The remaining ingredients were the same.

I treated the raisins in hot water for 7 min (only because I forgot to take them out after 5 min. I read this somewhere – credit goes to that person) and added them to the flour right before adding the milk (I squeezed the water out of them and pat dried the raisins with the help of paper towels before adding them to the mixture).

I also cut it differently using a bowl to have a circle shaped biscuit cut into 6 pieces.

Also, it felt right to brush the surface of the biscuits after I took them out of oven with skim milk (after applying the butter) – that made them a little bit softer on the surface.

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cheddar and parsley tea biscuit 🙂

 

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raisin biscuits 🙂

 

 

tea biscuit trial – a success story! :)

My friends!

I am so excited! I baked my first tea biscuits today and on boy, are they beautiful, flaky, and tasty! I am so excited!

For someone who is not a great cook or interested in cooking at all, my recent interest in baking makes me awed. After the initial idea that came to me yesterday, I shopped this afternoon and wanted to give tea biscuits a try before I bake for the social on Friday. I am glad I have done this 🙂

The recipe is based on a great one, which is accompanied by a video clip. This eased my anxiety and made me more confident as there is nothing better than seeing how to do things or what to expect. Here is that recipe.

Since I do not have measuring cups and used a different oven temperature, here is my recipe with slight modifications:

  1. In a bowl mix the followings well with the help of a spoon
  • 550 ml of all purpose enriched flour (measured in a liquid measuring cup – I only later realized that one side of the cup shows the “cup” and the other “ml” measures. Sigh…)
  • 1.5 tea spoon of white sugar
  • 0.75 tea spoon of salt (less than the sugar)
  • 1.5 tea spoon of baking powder

2. Cut out 150 grms of salted butter. I took it directly from the fridge and cut into pieces over the bowl. I then mixed it with my hands into the flour. It does not completely mix with it, but that is okay. The idea is to crumble it a little bit. I recommend using unsalted butter only because the final product was saltier than I expected, and there was no or little sweetness in it. Perhaps the sugar amounts can also be increased, depending on the taste.

3. Add 1/2 cup of milk (I used skimmed milk – if you use whole fat milk, you may want to reduce the amount of butter) to the mixture and work gently on the mixture. Add another 1/2 cup of milk and continue until you end up with a rough dough-like stuff. they recommend not to mix it too much. As a lazy person, I did take this suggestion to my heart 🙂

4. On a clean surface, sprinkle some flour and place the dough. Knead 5 times using the fold and stretch technique.

5. Using your hands, spread the dough until its thickness is less than an inch. (This is where I made it a little bit too thick…. The biscuits were higher than what I thought they would be as they also expanded in the oven. So adjust the height/thickness of the dough as you please). Then I followed the recipe and folded it on itself – this is supposed to help the biscuit slightly separate in the middle during the baking process.

6. Cut out the biscuits as you please. I used a glass to do so, which had an oval shape.

7. Sprinkle vegetable oil on an oven pot and place the biscuits on it.

8. Bake at 400 F for 27 min. I used a lower temperature than recommended (425 F) because I am scared of higher temperatures. I took the biscuits out when their surface had started to get brownish. That explains the awkward timing 🙂

9. I applied solid butter on top of the biscuits to soften them. This is not a very effective technique, but certainly doable – just be generous with the amount of butter. Since the biscuits are hot, after a couple of trials, I could see butter on the biscuits.

10. Enjoy with a cup of tea! 🙂

PS: as you can see on the photos, one of the biscuits has crumbled a little bit. This is how flaky it turned out to be 🙂

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I am gonna make that bread thing work

I am feeling discouraged by the unsuccessful baguette trial today.

I made my first bread last week without knowing much about bread-making. I did not measure water or the flour; it included egg and vegetable oil (as I thought bread would contain these), it was 100% whole wheat flour (which rises slowly and usually yields hard breads), and I only raise the dough once and only for 45 min  and at room temperature (it was supposed to raise twice and rest each time around 2 hours at a warm place. At least that is what others are saying) and then baked in the oven at an arbitrary temperature (325 F) until I thought it looked alright.

Then I read a lot about bread-baking and watched I do not know how many videos, and I tried my second bread today. I admit I forgot many things that I had learned (kneading well and making a solid dough, not a sticky batter), adding seeds on top, etc. but, I thought I was more knowledgeable this time and would end up having a great loaf.

Alas….

Anyways… While I was excited to have my dough risen today, I was quite discouraged after the baguettes I made today, but I am not letting this bread making saga leave my hand yet. I will follow recipes if I must. I will watch more videos, read everything I read again, and I will follow my guts. I will make this work.

This being said, I wonder whether sometimes reading/learning too much confuses us or makes us more and, perhaps even falsely, confident (my second bread)? Maybe improvisation and listening to our guts can prove to be better sometimes (i.e. my first bread)?

Anyways. I know that like anyone else, I am capable of making breads. I also learnt by experience now (knead the dough, make a dough not a batter, rise the dough less, add seeds on top and apply egg mixture, etc.). Maybe I will  not become an expert of all bunch of different ones in a short time. Maybe I should focus on replicating my whole wheat bread recipe (the first bread) until I get confident that at least one type of bread I can make without failure. I then can move on with the recipes.

You know that I will be baking another bread next weekend, right?

The hearty baguettes (failed attempt)

Baked my second ever bread today! Yay!

I have been excited the whole week after I have baked my very first bread, quite randomly and without much of a thinking or knowing what I was doing. It turned out to be hearty and lovely loaf 🙂

After watching countless of videos, reading blogs and other written material on the internet, and contemplation, I have decided that this time I would have a better chance of experimenting, recording, observing, and most importantly, achieving a nicely risen bread.

I also decided to go with basic bread today (i.e. no veggie or seeds added) – wanted to see whether I could do this.

I recorded time, amount of ingredients, and poking/kneading activities I have done during the making of this bread. Ahem, I also had lots of thoughts and feelings going thru me; they are too dully noted.

Here they are:

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Yeast mixture

Ingredients: 1 pkg of traditional dry yeast (8 grms) and 1/2 table spoon of white sugar mixed with 200 mls of warm water. I generally followed the instructions on the package – nothing fancy here.

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) This time water was really warm, but not hot (I checked with my finger and it was not an annoying temperature). Mixed well with a spoon and let stand for 10 minutes. I twice mixed the liquid with the spoon in between for a consistent mixture.

Through the end, the mixture started to give its distinct, nourishing, and lovely smell 🙂

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Dough mixture

Ingredients: 400 mls (211 grms) of whole wheat flour and 400 mls of enriched all purpose flour (the conversions are based on an internet site; I do not have baking cups or a balance to weigh the flour; but I do have a liquid measuring cup. So I went with this rather simple measurement).

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) I mixed the flour well in a container with my hands and making sure that the flour gets “air”. I then added the yeast mixture and mixed them all lightly. It very easily formed a nice and smooth dough. It was a little bit sticky but not too much. A little bit of extra flour helped get rid of the dough from my hand.

Surprisingly, I did not need to add flour or water – looks like I just got the right amounts 🙂

2) I then formed an imperfect and round dough to which I also added salt, and put aside for a minute or so. (They say that salt can inhibit the action of yeast- that is why I added the salt at the end).

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Rising of the dough

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) I turned on the oven for a minute to make it a warm environment for my dough to rise. I immediately turned it off after making sure that inside temperature was warm. I placed the dough in the oven, which I had covered loosely with cling wrap.

2) Half an hour later, I took the dough out and tried “pull and fold” technique I had seen in multiple places. This is supposed to help with the formation of “gluten” protein. The pull and fold technique is rather a gentle procedure to prevent from breaking the gluten.

The dough had risen a little bit and was sticky and did not fold well, but I pulled it 3-4 times. This almost brought it back to its original size. I was saddened a little bit, thinking that I have done something wrong 😦 and put it back in the oven, this time also placing a clean towel on top of the wrap).

I also sprinkled the top of the dough with some flour (mom told so – thank you mom!).

3) As someone who is intrigued and not sure what she is doing, I admit I took the dough out around 5-6 times during the 2-hours in-oven rising saga, and checked whether the dough was rising. And the great news: Yes, it was!

Each time I did that I was also aware that the temperature in the oven would have been lost, so I made sure that the container was still warm – and to my surprise it was okay the first 1.5 hours. After that I left the oven light on to keep it warm

I took a picture 1 and 2 hours of rising. 1 hour rising was really cool 🙂 

4. After 2 hours of rising in the oven, the dough had risen so much that I could not even believe that someone like me (who does not like cooking or is patient enough) could help make such a wonderful thing. What a beauty 🙂 🙂 🙂

I was also not sure whether it rose too much – I read somewhere that it was not good for the loaf :((

As recommended, I gently pressed down the dough to let gas out and moved on with shaping the loafs.

But wait…. The dough went down to its original size pretty fast… Did I do something wrong?? Will it rise again?? Is this tears in my eyes and disappointment that breaks my heart??

Considering the small volume of the dough, I decided to make baguettes.

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Shaping the baguettes

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

Dough was stickier than I expected. So, after collecting myself and telling myself over and over that there was still life in the dough :), I added a fistful of flour to the mixture and I rolled/kneaded it gently on a floured surface.

Then I cut it into 4 pieces with a bread knife. I rolled the dough pieces with my hand until they became long and thin, pressed them down a little bit with my hands (well… maybe I pressed them too much….), wrapped around with a dry towel, and let the mini baguettes rest for 60 min again in the oven with the lights on.

I really hoped that they would rise again; they were so tiny….

So after 25 min in the oven with lights on, I checked them and they were not rising!  😦

The oven was not warm enough, I thought – so I turned on the oven for a minute or so until it reached 120 F and let them rest for another 85 min (total 1 hour 50 min), checking in between to see how they were doing.

At around 1 hour of the rising, I noticed that some baguettes (well covered) rose more than one other and were more moist. I also noticed that they were getting a little bit dry – so I sprinkled water on them with my finger tips.

And, boy! They rose  little bit again! 🙂

I believe moisture helped them rise- good thinking 🙂

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Baking the baguettes

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1. Awed by the rising success, I joyfully slashed the surface of my little beauties 5 times (not too deep).

2. Mixed 1 table spoon of olive oil with equal amount of water and brushed the mixture on top of the baguettes.

3. I sprinkled an oven tray with cornmeal and placed the baguettes in it. Baked at 375 F for 50 min (they recommend a higher temperature and less baking time, yet I am a little bit chickened of high oven temperatures).

4. During this time, I took the baguettes out and sprinkled water 3 times (each time around 20 ml/baguette) on top of them to achieve the crispy texture. I also did that after I took them off the oven and covered with a clean towel to keep them moist.

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Lessons learnt

1. Use more flour next time – may be 500 ml of each type (whole wheat and white flour) to have a larger dough.

2. Baguette shaping is important.  Try a more regular folding/shaping technique. Also, I guess it is better to rest the baguettes on the oven tray rather than on another surface -the transfer after the rise to the oven tray caused thinning of some parts of the dough.

3. The first rise was satisfactory, but the second rise was a little bit less than awesome. I wonder whether with a larger piece of dough and better handling, this could have been achieved.

4. Oven rising works. Moisture helps rising. Cornmeal prevents sticking of the dough to the oven tray, but next time I can use a little bit more.

5. I might have pressed the baguette too much while shaping prior to the second rise. They kind of lacked depth 😦

6. Have adequate amount of butter at home!! After the baguettes were done, I could only have a couple of slices of baguette with butter melting in them….. One should have more 🙂

7. Follow a recipe – they are there for a reason.

 

whole wheat bread with sesame seeds

Here is the first ever bread I have baked!

Is it not awesome! 🙂IMG_8319

I am excited as I am getting awed by yeast. This little organisms can do so much in such a short time. i am also excited as I am a big bread-lover and this experience tells me that I can try many different recipes in the future. Why should I pay for the additives and chemicals while I can do my own bread as I want it?

Here is the recipe for this hearty bread:

1. Add 2 cups of warm water, 1 table spoon of sugar, and one pack of dry yeast in a bowl. Mix and let stand for 20 – 25 min. I waited longer only because I had to take care of some other stuff. Otherwise, the yeast package says 10 min is enough. Make sure the water is warm but not too hot or cold; it is required by the yeast to start working.

2. Add two eggs, salt, one table spoon of sugar, and just enough whole wheat flour to the yeast mix. Mix well and knead as required. Cover with a wet towel for 45 min. I kneaded twice in between to make sure consistency.

3. Spread 2 table spoon of vegetable oil in an oven pan. Shape the bread as you would like it and place in the pan. I made 4 vertical cuts on top to give the bread some character.

4. Mix 2 table spoon on vegetable oil with one egg. Mix well and apply on the surface of the bread. Top up with a generous amount of sesame seeds.

5. Place the bread in an oven and bake 45 min or until done at 375 F. I moisturized the surface of the bread 3 times during the process, by applying little amounts of water.

 

Enjoy 🙂

 

added after the post: I am sure I put too much water (and way diluted the sugar needed by the yeast)  at the beginning. I would have been better if I had used a much less amount of water (check the directions on the dry yeast package) and then add water after that while preparing the dough.

lazy apple granola

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here is another lazy chef recipe 🙂

I was craving for granola and also had some apples that were softened quite a bit. What better dish than this purely made up tasty treat (I admit; I am a little bit sarcastic as I have never been a good or enthusiastic cook. But, to my surprise, this dish turned out to be just fine!).

 

  1. boil 1 cup of water
  2. place 2 cups of instant oat in an oven dish
  3. slice up 3 (or more) apples and add to the oat. I sliced them really tiny but I guess next time I will have them much larger
  4. sprinkle with 1 tbs of cinnamon, 2 tbs of sugar (for variety, try brown sugar) and add 3 – 5 tbs of honey; add the water and mix well
  5. place in an oven and bake for 20 min at 375 F

That is all it takes. Try with milk 🙂

For a crunchier version, reduce the water by half and add nuts/seeds like almond.

Excellent way to consume fruits that may soon go bad (limit food waste).

red lentil soup

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Here is a delicious soup just perfect for the chilly fall and winter days.

1. Wash 250 grms of red lentil under cold water

2. Cut out a medium size onion and cook in olive oil (or sunflower oil depending on your choice)

3. Add the red lentil and cold water, boil and cook for 10 min (or longer if desired) until the lentil becomes fluffy and soft. Add salt

4. In a blender, mix the lentil-onion-water mix generously till it is consistent, put back in the pot

5. In a pan, heat up olive oil and put a table spoon of chili powder and let it bubble for a very short time to make sure the chili does not burn; take it off the stove.

6. Pour down the chili mix on top of the lentil soup, cook for an additional 1 minute

Bon appetite! 🙂

this soup can be served with lemon juice. For variety and more nutritious soup, while boiling the lentil, also add cut potatoes or rice.

“soft” meatball recipe

I enjoy meatball every once a while; either fried or cooked together with veggies as meal. There is also a meatball soup recipe that I will share later.

The fact that I am a lazy cook and do not enjoy cooking much, it is not surprising for me to end up with food that are okay but not necessarily tasty.

I have learnt a trick or two from my mom last summer. She provided the recipe and made me try it myself while she supervised me throughout the process. I must say the meatballs I have prepared, even though it was her recipe and she was there when I made them, did not turn out to be like hers :(. But I thought I would share it with you in case you would like to try them yourself.

I called them “soft” meatballs as they are softer than what I used to do. The trick is adding a generous amount of bread to the meatball mix.

here is my soft meatball recipe, not necessarily my mom’s (hers is something a lot better that I cannot possibly demonstrate 🙂 ). Moms rock!

For a pound of minced beef (medium is better as it contains some fat and preserves the smell and taste better. But if you are like me, you will opt for lean or extra lean minced beef, which is healthier);

  1. grate a small onion and one garlic and mix with the beef. Add a little pinch of black pepper, dried mint, and salt to your taste
  2. chop finely 1/2 bunch of parsley and add to the mix
  3. sprinkle 4-5 slices of stale bread with water (also works with fresh bread, but in this case make sure to use much less water; just enough to allow them crumble in your hands when you mush them. It is okay to be hard on the bread during this process; the idea is to make little pieces of them). Drain extra water by squeezing the bread between your hands. I think you can also use bread crumbs, but I have no idea how this one would turn out; so I am sticking up with bread.
  4. Add the crumbled bread to the beef, spice, and herb mix; add one egg and mix everything really well. Some people use food processor at this stage, but I am not in favor of it; it makes everything very fine..
  5. take approximately 30 grms of the mix (or a larger one – I like my meatballs small, much smaller than the burgers. You can adjust the size of the meatball as you please) and work on it with your hands to give a round and relatively thin shape
  6. freeze, deep fry, grill, or add to the meals as you please

Bone appetite! 🙂

PS: for variety, experiment with adding other spices (such as cumin; make sure to use a little amount as cumin has a strong taste that can override the other ingredients’ aroma) or adding 1 spoon of tomato paste; I had eaten the one with the paste which had a very nice color 🙂

limiting the food waste; first blanching and pickling adventure :)

Seeing veggies go bad in my fridge makes me sad. That usually is the case with the herbs, such as parsley and cilantro, which go bad quite easily. I am getting more and more warmer to the idea of frozen food.

In my recent visit to Athens, one of the things I have done was to check a grocery store (I love it – you can find out many different things, which is always a delight for me). I particularly remember how well the frozen veggie section was; okra, spinach, beans, and others; the veggies looked real and fresh. Nothing like what I do see in my store here; frozen, discoloured, and full of little pieces of ice.).

To take this at my hand and to start keeping my veggies fresh and un-wasted, I decided to look for info on the internet (for example, this site) and talked to my mom.

I tried dicing and freezing my onions in the freezer. That is great as I use onion a lot and sometimes buy more than I can consume. I am now checking my onions time to time to pick those which seems like going bad; I chopped them up and put in my freezer last week for the first time and used some for cooking this week – it works! :).

I also learned about blanching. I tried it today with carrots and zucchini. Honestly I do not think it will work with zucchini as it is a moist veggie, but I thought I would give it a try; it is better than wasting them. I am also very hopeful about the carrots.

This is the process I followed:

  1. wash, peel, and trim the ends of carrots
  2. cut in to pieces as you wish: I had cut them in rounds as well as vertically; the latter one I love in meat meals and the round ones can be used in soups or meals. I am also planning to try mashing them up later.
  3. Boil them in water for 2 minutes. I added a little bit of salt as they say it help with keeping the colour.
  4. Immediately take the veggies and place into ice-water until they become cold (2-4 minutes). This step is supposed to stop the cooking process. I think I needed more ice in my case. next time I will put less water and more ice. TIP: blanched carrots taste and smells so good; please give it a try 🙂 I ate a couple of them – it was irresistible 🙂
  5. drain well, place in freezer bags, remove the access liquid and all the air as much as you can, label with preparation date, and place into the freezer.
round or circle cut carrots :)
round or circle cut carrots 🙂
vertical cuts; great for meat meals :)
vertical cuts; great for meat meals 🙂
they are so nicely boiling :) the bubbles made me joyful :)
they are so nicely boiling 🙂 the bubbles made me joyful 🙂
I think I needed more ice :( well, next time :)
I think I needed more ice 😦 well, next time 🙂
look at the brighter color of these lovely carrots after blanching! :) I had read somewhere, exposure to heat does this to carrot and it is supposed to be good for our body :)
look at the brighter color of these lovely carrots after blanching! 🙂 I had read somewhere, exposure to heat does this to carrot and it is supposed to be good for our body 🙂
frezzer bags are ready and labeled (at the bottom; not shown here). I am not hopeful about the zucchini but let's see how it goes :)
frezzer bags are ready and labeled (at the bottom; not shown here). I am not hopeful about the zucchini but let’s see how it goes 🙂

I also got a recipe for cabbage pickle from mom; I do not think I did follow exactly as she said, but here it is:

  1. wash and dice the cabbage (I used half a head)
  2. peel and grate 5 – 6 garlic; mix with the cabbage
  3. add 1 table spoon of chili pepper and mix; I love my pickles hot but you can adjust it as you please
  4. place the mix in jars; fill 1/3 of the jars with vinegar (I used apple vinegar)
  5. in a bowl, mix 2 table spoon of salt, 1/2 table spoon of sugar, and water; mix well. I have a feeling that I needed more salt, but then I would not like too much of salt so I am not sure how this will go.
  6. add this mixture to the jar till it is filled. My mom recommended putting something on top as a “weight”, like a small plate or something, to keep the cabbages immersed in the liquid. I did not have anything that small so I could not, but if you have place it on top prior to closing the lit. Close the lit and set aside. My mom says they will be ready for consumption in a week 🙂
I am sure it will not taste like my mom's, but not bad for the first trial :)
I am sure it will not taste like my mom’s, but not bad for the first trial 🙂

I am so excited! Not bad for a girl who does not like to cook 🙂

I am determined to do whatever I can do eliminate food waste from my life – cannot wait to try others! 🙂

cheers

lazy cauliflower recipe

Having on a healthy eating strategy makes me look for ways to create simple dishes (a little bit lazy in cooking here….).  I thought I would share the recipe for the cauliflower dish I am trying today (made it up big time 🙂 ).

1. Cut and wash the cauliflower florets.

2. Boil florets for 5 minutes (or longer depending on how mushy you like your dish)

3. In a bowl, mix 3 eggs, half a bunch of chopped coriander leaves (parsley suits well too), cheese of your choice (I cut them in little cubes), salt, chilly pepper, and 3 table spoon of olive oil. Mix well. Add 4 table spoon of whole wheat flour and 1 glass of boiled water (or 3/4 glasses if you would like a less moist version). Mix well, stand back, and enjoy the scenery :). The dance of the colors is amazing!

4. Immerse the softened florets in the mix and place in an oven cookware. Pour the remaining mix over the florets.

5. Cook in pre-heated oven for 45 min. I cover the cookware for the first 30 min and then remove it in the last 15 min. Broil for 2 min , take out of the oven, and sprinkle with chilly pepper before serving if desired.IMG_8035

Bon appetite! 🙂

my first ever recipe :) dried eggplant, pepper, and cracked-wheat meal

That is an interesting and tasty meal that one of my friends have got me in to 🙂 Thanks a lot!

I know that those who grow up food (such as in farms) are keen about drying (dehydrating) vegetables for future use. I guess it is a wonderful idea that saves the extra food to be used later when needed. Excellent, excellent, excellent! A great way to reduce waste and appreciate food.

Here how it goes:

  1. When it is the season, wash the eggplants and peppers, cut bite-sized, put them on a shallow tray or something like that (even newspapers in a clean place will make it), and place the veggie bits where they can get a lot of sun directly. Make sure that the veggie bits are spread well (it does help with the sun exposure and drying up). Veggie bits usually dry up in a couple of days.

This procedure can be extended to any other vegetable (such as green beans, okra etc.). With okra, I have seen them lined up on a string with the help of a needle, which is then hung somewhere out to dry up. No idea for this special treatment why but I am sure someone out there has a good explanation for this 🙂

2. Store the dry veggie bits in containers or cloth bags in a dry place  until use. I was told that they can be used for many years if dried and stored properly.

The meal I am going to describe is quite simple:

  1. Rehydrate the veggie bits (eggplant and pepper) by boiling them for 5-10 minutes. Drain the liquid part – this is particularly important with eggplant as it yields a dark and sometime bitter-tasting liquid.
  2. In a pan, add 2 tablespoon of olive oil (or vegetable oil), chop up a middle size onion and stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste if desired and cook for a couple of more minutes.
  4. Add the rehydrated veggie bits and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add boiled water to a level that you like (I like my meal like a soup; so I have added water until I could not see the veggie bits anymore)
  6. Add two or three (or more) table spoon of cracked wheat (bulghur). It takes around 10 minutes for the cracked wheat to cook.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

I think with the dehydrated green beans, the recipe would be a little bit different. Rather than bulghur, I was told that people would have pinto beans added to the green bean meals.

Now, if you ever dried up veggies and prepared meals with them, please comment about how you do these. What are the alternative ways to dry up veggies for example? Can they be dried up in ovens if there is no or limited sun (for example where I am?). What other recipes are there?

let us know 🙂

cheers

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