Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

>Pizza Anytime

>When was the last time you had pizza? Did you make it, buy it from a local pizza palace or was it frozen from a box?

I’m picky about pizza, really picky and I’m not picky, usually; unless we’re talking about “science food”; you know, fake food? Seriously, any food product that has more than 30 letters in it’s name is not food; and contrary to popular belief, pancakes do not come in a box or have 27 ingredients and for the record cheese is NOT EVER powdered.

Science food! Geesh!

Ok so maybe I am a little picky but only about the stuff that goes into my food and where is comes from, not so much as what it is as long as it’s all natural, real food. I’ll eat brussel sprouts and seaweed and be happy, Medicine Man….not so much.

Pizza however is one of those foods that just needs to taste good. The sauce need to be tangy, rich with the aroma and flavor of herbs with just a hint of salt. Dough should be light and airy, cooked to a golden sponge. The cheese should be gooey and melted into a pool of creamy heaven. Mmmmmmmm.

Thankfully we have this amazing born and bred family that run a pizza parlor near home and their food is so amazing. The sauce recipe has been handed down from generation to generation and is a closely guarded secret. Everything is cut up fresh each day, dough is made from scratch and perfectly hand tossed, and pies are cooked in fire ovens to perfection.

We’ve eaten there so much over the last four years the whole family knows us and treat us like part of their own. I just love going in and getting an authentic Italian double cheek kiss from Senore Raymondo when I see him.

Alas eating out is expensive and I just don’t have the time to stop down in the middle of the day to get WizKid and Me some lunch. Now that Medicine Man and I are experimenting with the whole “one car thing” I also don’t have the means to get there.

I love making bread so it made sense to just make our own. Why not? Dough is remarkably versatile and can be frozen for whenever you need it.

So that’s exactly what I did last weekend. Along with breakfast muffins, cookies, bread and sweet rolls I whipped up some pizza dough, divided it into six separate little balls, froze them individually and presto, fresh pizza whenever we want. In my house we all like something different so I made them single serving size.

The best part about pizza is it can be completely different each time, even dessert! It just may be a perfect food. I have no doubt when I get my new freezer I am going to have a lot of pizza dough on standby. Along with Swiss Buttercream courtesy of Rosie from “Sweetapolita“.It is the perfect solution for all the left over egg whites I have from making pastry cream, cream puffs etc. If you haven’t stopped over to see Rosie’s amazing creations you seriously need to. She is incredible!

WizKid is a meatsa-pizza kinda kid so I cooked up some bacon, sausage, cut up ham and pepperoni then bagged them all up for quick access whenever he wants. Thank goodness he’s young and has enough energy to power a small city or else he’d have arteries that flowed like sludge. I think that boy could eat a pound of bacon and not think twice about it. Medicine Man and myself on the other hand are more veggie admirers so I did the same for peppers, broccoli etc.

The very best part of making our own is it’s something we can all do together and have fun. Wiz even gets in and helps roll them out. It becomes a family affair and now any time is pizza time.
Come on let’s go put a pie in the oven.

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PIZZA DOUGH

Ingredients
8 2/3 C. bread flour
3 1/2 C. warm water
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 tsp salt
3 Tbs cornmeal
2 Tbs seasoned oil (see recipe below)
Preparation
1. Mix flour, water, yeast, salt and cornmeal in large mixing bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated.
2. Increase mixing speed to medium and mix an addition 2 or 3 minutes slowly adding the oil in four increments. 
3. Coat a bowl lightly with oil or cooking spray and scrap dough into bowl. Cover bowl and put in warm place for about one hour. 
4. After first hour remove dough and kneed for 30 seconds or stretch and fold.
5. Put dough back into proofing bowl for another 45 minutes. 
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide evenly. The size will depend on your preference for us. For individual pizzas cut into 9 ounce section. 
7. Roll each section into a ball and set refridgerator for 4-6 hours. Or wrap each in oiled plastic wrap and freeze for future use. To thaw let rest on counter for a couple of hours or in refridgerator over night. 
8. To roll and bake: heat over to 500 degrees – these babies need to cook on some serious high heat. Roll dough flat to about 3/8 inch thick for thin crust. Don’t try to force the dough. Give it a good roll and then let it sit for a few minutes to roll again. Allowing it to rests lets the dough relax and more pliable with each rest.
9. Transfer dough discs to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking peal dusted with additional cornmeal. 
10. Using left over seasoned oil, lightly brush just the edges of the pizza trying to avoid dripping on pan. 
11. Top with your favorite seasoning and cook for about 12 minutes.

SAUCE

Ingredients

 2 14 oz cans of organic tomato sauce
1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 small onion minced – really small
2 cloves garlic minced – even smaller
2 Tbs basil and oregano or italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Preparations

Combine all ingredients and let sit in fridge for several hours before use ( you can use it right away but letting it sit gives the ingredients a chance to mix and meld.

Store in air tight container in fridge or freeze.

Some freezing options. Measure out enough for pizza size of choice (or several so you have your choice) and place in ice cube trays or small muffin pans (perfect for personal pizza) and freeze. Once completely set, remove and store in freezer bags until ready to use.

I like to keep a bin in my fridge for my pizza dough and sauces so they are both readily available when the craving starts.

SEASONED OIL

Ingredients

1/2 – 3/4 C. olive oil
1 tsp dried basil or italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation

Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container or oil dispense. I keep this stuff on hand for pizza, pasta dishes you name it.

Feel free to play with the ingredients. I grow tons of fresh herbs and like to add these as well for a richer flavor.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Blueberry Almond Cream Sweet Rolls

>Remember when you were young and your mother would tell you “dessert” is not a breakfast then turn around and feed you sugared speed from a box that would send you into a souped-up hyper state just before sending you off to an educational institution where you were expected to sit still and learn?

Yeah, I never saw the logic in that one either.

I say “Let them eat cake..or at least the closest equivalent.”

Today called for something warm, sweet and high on the “carb-o-scale”.

The idea for this recipe came to me a couple of weeks ago while I was trying to get to sleep – talk about “sweet dreams”.

Initially I wanted to make this with raspberries and several other ingredients all together but when I made the dough yesterday I realized I didn’t have some of the necessary food-stuffs. So perhaps we could say this was a new idea.

I love making bread, even moreso than desserts and although this can be a dessert it’s also a breakfast or a “middle of the day, sweet tooth attack” snack.

The beauty of dishes like this is they give you a perfect excuse to eat sweets first thing in the morning.
It takes some time to prepare but the end result is wonderful. Medicine Man was in heaven and I had a new recipe to add to my repertoire.
The dough and sweet cream are adapted from recipes by Ciril Hitz.

Isn’t it great to be all grown up?

Blueberry Almond Cream Sweet Rolls

Steps In Order Of Preparation:

1. Dough – prepared the day before
2. Sweet Cream
3. Blueberry Sauce
4. Roll Preparation
5. Sweet Glaze

Dough

The day before

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C. whole milk (room temperature)
1 large egg (room temperature)
1/2 Vanilla bean split (or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder) – this is optional if you do not have either
5 1/4 C. bread flour
3 tsp instant yeast
1/3 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbs unsalted butter (refrigerated)

Preparation:

1. Split the vanilla bean in half and add the seeds to the milk.

2. Pour milk and egg into large mixer bowl and add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed until dough begins to come together – do not over mix.

3. Using a rolling pin hammer the butter on a sold surface between two sheets of parchment paper until butter resembles plastic. Cut butter into 7-9 separate sections.

4. Increase speed of mixer to medium and slowly add the butter pieces in stages. Make sure the butter is completely incorporated in to the dough before adding the next piece.

5. Mix until sold soft dough forms. If dough is ragged or tears easily it is underdeveloped. Continue mixing until stretchy.

6. Wrap dough securely in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight. Dough will expand so be sure it’s wrapped tight and can’t break free of plastic.

COOKING DAY

Sweet Cream

Ingredients:

1 C. whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 Tbsp sugar
3 egg yolks
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs unsalted butter

Preparation:

1. In saucepan bring milk, 1/2 vanilla and second portion of the sugar to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Once milk boils set aside and cool slightly.

2. Add egg yolk, cornstarch and first portion of the sugar in a bowl and whisk until light yellow and smooth.

3. Here’s the tricky part so be careful – using a whisk temper the egg mixture with the warm milk by SLOWLY add a little milk at a time, constantly stirring until fully mixed in.

4. Add mixture back to pan and reheat on low temperature, mixing with which constantly until cream begins to thicken. Careful not to let the sauce burn or coagulate to the bottom of the pan.

5. Remove from heat once it begins to bubble and stir in butter and other 1/2 vanilla.

6. Transfer to a cool bowl and cover with plastic wrap being sure wrap completely touches the top of the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming. Place in fridge until needed.

Blueberry Sauce:

Ingredients:

 1 C. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 C. sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg or apple pie spice

Preparation:

1. Add all ingredients to small sauce pan and cook until just slightly thickened but blueberries still retaining most of their shape.

2. Set aside to cool until needed.

Rolls

Ingredients:

Dough
Pasty Cream
Blueberries
1/2 almond slivers coursely chopped

Preparation:

1. Roll out dough on a slightly floured surface into a large rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick or less. Try to roll out as symmetrically as possible to ensure even rolling.

2. Spread pastry cream over the entire surface of the dough from edge to edge. More for thicker dough, less for thinner. Don’t be too sparing with it, you want these good and creamy.

3. Sprinkle almonds over layer of cream.

4. Using a small spoon add blueberries in small dollops over complete surface. Do not spread in order to prevent mixing with the cream.

5. Roll the dough lengthwise into a long roll pulling the ends gently to keep edges even.

6. With a sharp knife cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch sections placing each on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

7. Cover sheets and allow to proof for about an hour or until nearly doubled in size.

8. Heat over to 350 degrees (180 C.) and bake for 15 minutes. Cook in additional 2 minute increments until golden brown.

9. Drizzle with sweet glaze and serve warm. Keep in refrigerator and reheat for 20-25 seconds.

Sweet Glaze

Ingredients:

4 Tbs milk
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 3/4 C. powdered sugar
4 Tbs butter – softened

Preparation:

1. While dough is rising combine milk and corn syrup in small sauce pan and heat until approximately 140 degrees. Remove from heat.

2. Add powdered sugar to milk mixture and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until rolls go into the oven.

3. While rolls are cooking, with a small mixer whip the butter until fluffy. Add the cooled sugar glaze and whip.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Be Brave, Make Bread

>You’ll never learn anything new unless you just set your mind to it. The first part of any task is deciding to “get’er done” and not looking back or for excuses.

When I was 19 one of my first “off the diving board” decisions was made completely on a whim…and yes I only considered it because “my girlfriend was doing it.” I can’t say it was peer pressure really, it was more just something I just found myself doing one day wondering how the heck I had gotten there. Katie was having problems at home and her parents had given her an ultimatum, get a job or go back to Texas.

So she did what any young adult would do when faced with limited decisions; she joined the NAVY. Yep the United States Military Naval Services – THAT NAVY.

Hey they didn’t specify what “kind” of job.

When I found out, the first thing out of my mouth was “Are you crazy!?”
The second thing out of my mouth was “Well good luck, you better write to me. I sure hope you know what you’re doing girl ’cause there’s no way I would go and do something as insane as that.”

Eleven days later I was at the MEPS station in Denver swearing on my honor to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America. I had just signed over the next four years of my life and went from being a daycare aide to a sailor.

Just like that….and I hadn’t even told my folks until the ink was dry on the paper.

Interesting conversation that was. I think it went something like this.

Mom: “Hi there how was your day?”
Me: “Good, busy. We having dinner?”
Mom: “Yeah soon. What did you do today that kept you so busy?”
Me: “Not much really. Got gas in the car, did a little running around…joined the NAVY.”

Needless-to-say dinner was eventful.

I can’t say I’ve done anything as major or as crazy as that since then but I’ll never regret that. It was a great experience and I accumulated vast amounts of knowledge that serve me no use in my quiet little suburban life; except I can still tie a mean boatswains knot when I need to.

To be honest I think some of the best learning experiences happen when we just dive in, feet first and hope for the best.

My first car for example. I had no idea how to drive a stick shift (back in the early 90’s you could still buy one as the standard for cars – automatic was something “special”).

I figured “well if I buy one then I’ll have to learn right?” So that’s what I did. I didn’t even test drive that cute little Plymouth Sundance. I took my friend along with me and HE test drove it because I couldn’t. I didn’t know how. That was WHY I was buying the car in the first place.

I’ll spare you the gory details of how I was completely screwed over by the car salesman; let’s just say big, hulking, scary, musclebound Medicine Man buys all the cars now, because as intimidating as he is….I am just NOT a nice person to car sales people.
The point is I learned and fast.

Going to school when I was 29 again was another dive into the pool. I was pregnant with Wiz Kid and working as a cashier at Home Depot. I knew I did not want to get stuck working crazy, unpredictable shifts with a new baby but other than my retained NAVAL skills, which at this point were of no use (except for that occassional knot) I had no options.

So I went to technical college to become a medical transcriptionist right after Wizzy was born. Somehow I ended up a medical coder and now 11 years later I’m working from home, pulling in a very respectable income as a medical coding analyst for one of the fastest growing medical technology companies in America.

In the more recent past, and along the lines of that first car experience (minus the evil car salesman) I wanted to learn how to shoot with a DSLR camera. My moto “Buy first…learn as you go.”

I have a pretty new Nikon D7000 and am completely and totally clueless how to use it. I realize now I probably did NOT get the best lenses for close up photography. Being they are a 55-200mm and an 85mm I have to stand across my kitchen and zoom in to shoot anything I’m cooking, or I have to stand on a chair.

It’s not a pretty sight in a restaurant trust me. “Excuse me, pardon me. Would you mind if I sat here on your dinner so I could get a picture of mine?”

Not pretty. Things like aperature, shutter speed, ISO, White balance, metering and the most terrifying of them all.. “Manual”… are slowly starting to make sense to me. Right now my photos fall somewhere between mediocre to completely stink like pig gas (was that too much) with an occasional “just got lucky” shot. The multicolored autumn hued walls in this house don’t help. They absorb nearly all natural light.

By nature of necessity I’m learning how to fix them via Gimp, a free photography software. I don’t have Lightroom or Photoshop yet because I’m still trying to pay off the camera.

Then there are the smaller things; things that don’t require an extra $1000 down, hundreds of dollars in users guides and accessories or find you hanging over the side of a ship with a 40 foot drop between you and the steel bottom of the boat.

Sometimes those “be brave” decisions find us in the kitchen staring down an empty mixer and a new recipe; that sort of dish that you always wanted to make but didn’t have the courage to try.

My obstacle: focaccia bread.

I’ve never made it but it’s been on my wish list. See most people I know love to make sweets treats but I love to make bread. Don’t get me wrong I love dessert and love making dessert but if given the choice I would make bread; yeast breads to be exact. Its the measuring and mixing; the kneading and stretching; it’s therapeutic.

So today, well yesterday really since the yeast poole has to sit overnight, I pulled out Cyril H’s recipe, made my normal modifications and voila my first ever focaccia is a wonderfully light and airy success.

Maybe I got lucky but it is so gratifying to set my mind to something and reap the rewards.

If there is something you have been wanting to do, learn, experience or undertake but have always had something hold you back then I challenge you to do it. You might just surprise yourself.

All you have to do is jump.

Recipe to follow.

>The Basics

>I have a confession to make; I wasn’t going to write a post tonight.
I had one planned out but tonight wasn’t a stellar night and I’m a complete Miss Cranky-pants. In no mood to blog.

But then I asked Jessica at How Sweet Eats Blog if she writes a post every day, even if she’s had a bad day and she said “Always”.

Being she’s a veteran at blogging with a faithful following and myself a newbie with a long way to grow, I thought it was sound advice.

That is if one word can be considered advice. I took it as such. So although I’m still cranky and kinda bummed a blogging I will go.

I needed to bake today in spite of work. But I needed to bake something simple. No even more than that. I needed to bake something basic and necessary.

Bread.

Fresh, hand kneaded, warm baked bread.

My weakness is basic unbleached white.

Instead of the two loaves my recipe usually makes, I made one loaf and two baguettes.

The making is therapeutic.
The waiting is impossible.
The baking is sensorial bliss and the eating….

Let’s just say I only had the patience to snap a photo with my iPhone before cutting off a warm delicious slice.


And where fresh bread is

Butter is not far behind; and in case you don’t know yet…..

I LOVE butter!

Basic White Bread

6 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tbs active dry yeast
2 cups warm water.
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbs softened butter.

Preparations

Combine sugar, yeast and a little of the warm water in a small bowl. Dissolve the yeast, cover and let sit until foamy

Combine Flour and salt.

Add yeast, remaining water and 2/3rds of flour in mixing bowl with dough hook. Mix until sticky and combined. Slowly add rest of flour and butter.

Mix on low until soft dough forms. If dough looks dry and breaks apart easy while mixing add teaspoons of water one at a time allowing each to become fully incorporated into dough before adding another.

Add just enough to form a soft dough that pulls away from the bowl.

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter or cutting board. Knead for 3-5 mins.

Form into round ball and place into a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover bowl and let sit in warm area until double; about two hours.

Punch down risen dough and knead for another 3-4 minutes.

Separate dough into two equal parts, shaped into two loaf pans or one loaf pan and two baguettes.

Let rise in pans until double; about 45 mins.

Preheat oven to 425 and cook double loaves for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 for 15 minutes.

Loaves are done when they sound hollow on the bottom when tapped.

Brush with softened butter.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Breads

>Quick Breads
Sweet Breads

Yeast Breads