Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sourdough French Loaf

Sourdough French Loaf
Do you have things in your cupboards that you have long since forgotten?  While preparing Thanksgiving dinner I stuck my head up in a high cupboard searching for my turkey thermometer.  While I didn't find the thermometer I found a clay oven that is a good shape for a french loaf.  I felt that it was taunting me into action and so I placed it on the counter for Friday morning.

If I lived in France I believe my recipe would not qualify as a baguette in that I use a small amount of honey. It is not enough for you to taste the sweetness but it seems to help make it a bit fluffier.

As with most of my sourdough recipes this takes both evening and morning time as well as an established sour dough starter.  If your starter is in the refrigerator you should get it out at least 2 days early and get it fed so it is rolling.

Difficulty: easy to moderate
Time: 15 minutes the night before, 2.5 hours in the morning

1/2 cup of sourdough stater
2 cups flour
1 cup water
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon yeast
corn meal, roughly 1/4 cup

In a bowl combine 1 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, 1/2 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of honey.  This dough should be mixable with a spoon and pretty sticky.  Add water if necessary.  The bowl needs to be at least 2.5 times larger than the resultant ball of dough.  Place a towel on top and leave in a warm place over-night (75 degrees is ideal, I use a heating pad on low in the winter).  Ideally you will let this sit for 18 hours before you work on the next step.  If you only have 12 hours that will work too the dough will be a bit less sour and will still be delicious.

In the morning kneed in the remaining 1 cup of flour, 1.5 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 cup of flour.  You are looking for a very moist dough, just on the edge of sticking to your fingers as you kneed it.  Don't be afraid to drizzle more water on as you kneed the dough.  In a clean bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray place this dough and leave in a warm location for an hour.  The dough will rise to at least double it's original size.

After an our turn out the dough onto a clean surface and shape into a long loaf shape.  Sprinkle corn meal onto counter where the loaf can be allowed to rise again and leave loaf there for another hour.

After 45 minutes of the second hour, place clay oven (with lid on top) into your oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  At one hour (or longer if you need your loaf to rise more) remove the clay oven from your oven and carefully transfer the loaf into the clay oven.  Please be careful as the clay oven is extremely hot.

Bake for 30 minutes with the top on. Once 30 minute has elapsed, reduce heat to 350 degrees and remove the top to allow the top of the loaf to brown.

That's it!  This bread is simply delightful with a crisp crust and soft steamy center that instantly melts the butter.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hearty Sausage Spinach Quiche

There are few things as easy to make as quiche.  We also made our own crust but to be honest we don't mind the premade crusts when we are in a hurry.  I originally got this recipe from my sister-in-law Julia V.  and I have done some updating to our family's tastes.  The ingredients of quiche make all of the difference so don't skimp on quality when selecting your sausage and cheese.  I purchased fresh, uncooked brats from our supermarket's meat counter and choose to use Manchengo cheese.

Diffulty: easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes

3 eggs
1 cup  shredded sharp or medium-dry cheese
1 tablespoon chicken bullion
1/2 pound sausage
2 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 shallot, chopped ( this is about 3 tablespoons )
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large handful baby spinach
Deep Dish Crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook sausage and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix eggs, milk, bullion and flour together until eggs are well beaten.  If your spinach has large leafs chop it up a little but don't mince.  Combine spinach, shallots, cheese and onion with egg mixture.  Pour everything into your deep dish crust.

Place unbaked quiche onto a cookie pan.  It is not uncommon for quiche to out grow the sides of a pie crust and spill over.  Place all into oven and cook for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Thats it! Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sourdough English Muffins

Sourdough English Muffin

I can think of nothing more inviting on a cold fall morning than warm and buttery Sourdough English Muffins.  Making these delicious treats has been somewhat of an exercise in patience and I am delighted that I finally turned this corner on the recipe.

In a previous post I discussed how to build a sourdough starter and I am happy to report that my starter is alive and thriving.  Sourdough starter is much like kids.. if you keep feeding them they will stay around.

This particular recipe takes a while to create and there may be more time efficient recipes out there but since I generally rise before 6 in the morning I have plenty of time to deliver the goods.

Difficulty is moderate and you will start the night before and need to have 1 1/2 hours of time in the morning before serving.


1/2 cup Levian ( sourdough starter )
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dry yeast 
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp honey


Mix 1/2 cup of sourdough starter with 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1 tsp honey.  Place this in a bowl and cover with a moist towel or put a top on it that can leak the sourdough gasses. 

In the morning combine with remaining ingredients  1 cup flour,  1 tsp yeast, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1 tsp honey.  Kneed by hand adding enough flour to get the dough to the point where it isn't sticking to your hands.  As dough goes this is very soft.  Form into a large ball and place in bowl in a warm place for an hour.  This dough should rise at least double its current size.

Dough ready to cut
After allowing dough to rise for an hour, pull it out into a long cylinder.  Cut into eight even chunks.  Form each chunk of dough into a flat round muffin. Once formed place the unbaked muffin onto cornmeal. Allow the muffins to sit for 1/2 an hour.

unbaked english muffins on cornmeal
Warm a griddle up to a just a bit lower than a medium heat.  Once  warm sprinkle corn meal onto the griddle.  Carefully transfer the muffins to the griddle by hand.  

Muffins cooking on griddle
After 4-5 minutes flip the muffins carefully. The objective is to keep the dough from falling. Continue flipping every 4-5 minutes until you cannot feel doughiness in the sides of the muffins.

That's it!  Use a fork to split the muffins and pop them into the toaster.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simple Wheat Bread

Simple Wheat Loaf
As is not uncommon I woke early today. It is a curse that my father passed down to me and I hope not to pass to my own sons.  Nonetheless I found myself in the kitchen waiting for the coffee to drip and thinking about what I could make that would make our Sunday morning more enjoyable.  Already this weekend I had failed on a couple of experimental recipes and I wasn't up to trying something new so I decided to make a nice loaf for the family.  Since I was starting at 5:00am I would have plenty of time to allow for a nice long double proof/rise cycle before the troops arrived.


3 cups of flour ( I use 1/2 whole wheat & 1/2 unbleached bread flour)
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup honey ( roughly measured )
1 cup very warm tap water
1 large egg

Difficulty: easy!
Time Required: 2 hours 15 minutes


1) Mix all ingredients.  

The dough needs to be soft to the point of being almost sticky.  For me I know I have the softness done correctly when it feels tacky but doesn't leave anything on my fingers while I am kneading it.  If your dough is too hard it won't rise nicely.  Too soft and you won't be able to work it.  Add flour to stiffen add water to soften.

2) Kneed for several minutes.  Mold into a ball shape.

3) Place ball in a slightly oiled bowl that is at least three times the size of the ball.   Spray the dough with cooking spray to keep it from drying out.

4) Put bowl in a warm place. And allow to sit for about an hour.

In the winter I put it on a heating pad on low.  I believe the ideal temperature is 85 degrees or so but anything over 75 seems to work well for me.  The dough will expand to at least twice it's kneaded ball size.

5) Knead dough once again.  This time shape it in a cylinder the length of your bread pan.

6) Place dough in oiled bread pan.  Allow this to sit for another hour in a warm place.  Spray cooking oil on top of dough to prevent it drying out.

7) Preheat oven to 350 degrees (do not use convection setting, it will prematurely brown the top)

8) At the end of the hour your dough should be above the top of your pan.  Place in hot oven.  Bake for 25 minutes.

9) Pull freshly baked bread from oven.  Allow it to sit on counter for 5-10 minutes before touching it again. 

After this time I move the loaf to a cooling rack.  Fresh baked bread has a lot of moisture in it and at 350 degrees that moisture is steam.  If you leave it in the pan your crust will get soggy.

That's It!  Enjoy!!

Simple Wheat Loaf Sliced

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First sourdough bread

Sourdough Bread - came out nice!
As you know I really enjoy trying new recipes. One thing I have avoided is sourdough.  I attribute my hesitance primarily to my perceived difficulty of getting the levian (starter) going.  With a three day weekend ahead (Veteran's day) it seemed like the perfect time to give this a try.

Something that I find really appealing about the bread in the picture is the absolute simplicity of making it.

Recipe for bread:

1.5 cups white flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
0.25 cups levian ( sourdough starter )
1.5 cups non-chlorinated water ( easy if you live in country )
1.5 tsp salt


Combine ingredients and allow it to sit for 18 hours.   This is probably best done in a bowl allowing room for the dough to double.  Cover with a cloth for this time, I believe this is called proofing.  

After your 18 hours is done, move dough onto a floured surface, fold it back onto itself a few times until you have a nice round ball. Put back into a clean bowl that has some flour or bran or something in the bottom that will allow you to get the dough out relatively quickly.  This needs to sit again for about 1.5 hours.

Heat up a dutch oven to 475 degrees in your oven.  Once the oven is at 475 degrees pull it out (be very careful it is extremely hot)  Sprinkle some flour into oven lightly covering the bottom.   Transfer the dough into the dutch oven, place the top back on.  Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the top from the dutch oven and cook for 15 more minutes.

Sourdough Starter

The starter is pretty simple but just takes a few days to get rolling.  For four days in a row add  2 Tbs whole wheat flour and 2 Tbs of unsweetened grapefruit juice.  The mixture needs to stay at 75ish degrees. On the 5th day pull 1/4 cup of the mixture into a separate container and add 2 Tbs of flour and 2 Tbs of non-chlorinated water.  That's it.. you have starter.  To keep this around it is pretty simple.  Put mixture into the fridge and once a week move 1/4 cup of the material into a new container, add 2 Tbs of water and flour.  When you are ready to use again, remove from fridge a day or two early and feed it daily with the normal weekly mixture ( 2 Tbs water / flour ).  When you are moving 1/4 cup during the weekly feedings you are throwing out the remaining mixture. 

Give it a try!!

Checkout - I found most of my information on this page.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Empanadas de Calabaza

Pumpkin Turnovers

Empanadas de Calabaza
It all started with Rachael Ray and her wonderful show 30 minute meals.  The particular episode that I picked up was in preparation for Halloween.  On the menu were two particularly delectable items; Green Garlic Bread and Pumkin Pasta.  So what does this have to do with Pumpkin Turnovers?  Simple, I purchased too much pumpkin. I ended up making both the pumpkin pasta as well as the green garlic bread and they were both quite a hit but I didn't take any pictures so that will have to wait for another post. Sorry for getting your hopes up on that one.  If you are in a hurry just follow the links, Rachael surely does it better than I do, although I have a slightly different take on the pumpkin pasta.

Having made pumpkin pasta I found that I had a half a can (8 oz) of pumpkin available.  I decided that I should make some pumpkin oat cookies.  Again this is just back story as I didn't take any pictures and I completely winged the recipe.  So I took the cookies to work to share and here is where we actually get to the turnovers.  One of my co-workers shared that one of her favorite pumpkin related treats were these emapanadas de calabaza.  So good for you for sticking with me through all that.

So here is where I found the recipe for empanadas de calabaza. I did very minor substitutions to this recipe only switching out the white flour for 1 part white flour for 3 parts whole wheat flour.  I also found that I have no crushed anise and substituted caraway seeds.  Finally I added 1/8 tsp of cayan pepper.  The recipe otherwise worked 100% and was a big hit around home.

This weekend I plan to make the green garlic bread and pumpkin pasta again and take pictures for your benefit.  I will also publish my pumpkin oat cookies recipe.