Thursday, May 24, 2012

flexible bread

I love bread. I love those baskets of bread brought to the table at a restaurant. I especially like it when there is a variety of bread within one basket. Oh the choices! And then there's that fun bread you can get at a bakery. It has oats on the crust and each slice is cut thick and when you take a bite of that bread, it's so soft and sweet. I love rolls too. Specifically rolls that come hot, making the little packets of butter in the basket melt just enough so you can spread it smoothly on your dinner roll. Heather and I have a bread problem. It's something we have a hard time controlling. Bread goes well with just about anything. Well, depending on the flavor and texture...etc. It definitely has more flexibility than say, biscotti.

The above picture may resemble biscotti, but I can assure you that it is not. I just cut it to look that way. Biscotti has never been exciting to me, mostly because all the biscotti I have ever tried has tasted like almond extract. It gives me chills just thinking about it. As you can tell, I'm not an almond fan. You know those Italian cookies that look so yummy and beautiful? I wish I liked them. I really do. They look so delicious! Sadly, I just can't stomach them. I've tried. I have at times forced myself to eat almond flavored things, just in the hopes that my taste buds changed. I regret to inform you that they have not changed. Not when it comes to almond extract. Sorry, I'm running off on a subject that has nothing to do with what we made this week! We attempted bread. Yes, bread! And this bread tasted like wheat and honey. Plus, it was soft, unlike biscotti. Yes, I know biscotti is usually for dunking in coffee or having with tea. The bread we made isn't for that purpose. I don't think it would taste quite right dipped in a coffee, but it's for just about anything else you can think of. I brought some to work and had it along side my salad. It's also an awesome little treat to have with soup or chili. I have yet to actually try making a sandwich out of it, only because it's very thick and heavy...but, why not try it? I shall attempt that tomorrow! Talk about a bread having more than one purpose. 

If I were this bread, I would feel extremely important and versatile.....

"Hello, my name is Honey W. Bread. I'm a flexible bread. By flexible, I mean versatile. Take me anywhere, dip me in just about anything, or spread some lovin' on me in the form of butter or whatever suits your fancy. The choices are endless. I'm not picky and you shouldn't be either. I'm a sweet loaf of wheat goodness. Thanks for cooking me up. I'm glad to be a part of your meal today!" -HWB

the bread experiment, part 1

You may recall that I hate dough.  Or, more accurately, I am intimidated by the yeasty, stretchy, has-a-mind-of-its-own substance.  But, I decided that the day has come for me to overcome this fear. Dough and bread and yeast are far too wonderful of things to avoid for my entire kitchen career.  Thus, the adventure begins.

To get our toes wet without completely scaring ourselves off, we decided to start slow and simple...with a nice yeast-free bread.  My good friend, Mercedes, had made this particular recipe for Dan and me over a year ago, and I remembered how delicious it was.  But, more than anything, I also remembered how blissfully simple it seemed, without the pesky requirement of yeast.  Once I got my hands on the recipe (which Mercedes was kind enough to share), the bread-making experiment was underway!

Now, for starters, let me state that this bread recipe is one that I was able to make with a 22-month-old underfoot.  If you're a parent or have ever spent time with a toddler, you know that this speaks volumes.  I am not under the delusion that I'll be able to attempt the same thing with next week's yeast bread recipe.  But, I really like knowing that I can create a healthy, delicious bread in a minimal amount of time and with my little guy present.  Two major pluses. 

This bread is a really lovely addition to a dinner, especially served alongside a soup or a salad.  The consistency, of course, is not light as a yeasty wheat bread would be, but rather more along the lines of a moist, slightly dense cornbread.  The flavor is fresh and delicious, with the sweetness of the honey blending perfectly with the wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour, which was wonderful!)  If you want to try bread-making but have been as intimidated by the whole process as I've been, this is the place to start.  I'm sure you'll enjoy both the satisfaction and the taste of your accomplishment!

The only slightly strange thing about this recipe is that, if you are following the directions, your bread turns out pretty large and flat.  The slices resemble biscotti, which isn't a bad thing per se.  It just doesn't look like your typical loaf.  It tasted so yummy that I barely cared about the appearance.  Still, I plan on experimenting a little next time, bulking up the loaf and seeing if it still bakes all the way through.

And with that, you have it!  Part one of this bread-making adventure was a success!  Let's hope I've built up enough confidence to take on the yeast!

The Recipe: Honey Wheat Bread

Lord's Chapel Communion Bread (Honey-Wheat Bread)
from "Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader"

1/2 cup vegetable oil, more for greasing the pan
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup honey
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water

Lightly coat a baking sheet with vegetable oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Place the honey, milk, water, and oil in a small saucepan over low heat and simmer until the ingredients are combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick and shape it into a round.

Cut a cross into the surface of the dough with the blade of a sharp knife. Place the bread on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

two goes a long way

From the look of this fancy hummus, you wouldn't think that it was spicy. However, it did have a little bite to it and I didn't even put in the three chilies that it called for. That's right, three hot chili peppers in adobo! Two went along way and the hummus still had a zing of spice. It was a big hit at a recent game night I had at my house. Boy did it get eaten quickly!! Hooray for new hummus recipes! I'm definitely a fan of this one!

Friday, May 18, 2012

hot stuff

All I can say is that this is the hottest hummus I have ever tasted.  For my spice-loving husband, that's a great thing.  For me, a spice-lover (but not an extreme-spice-lover), it was an okay thing.  In all honesty, I'd probably love this concoction if it had been made with one chili pepper.  Three was pushing it.  Dan's eaten the majority of the hummus thus far, which is fine by me.  I figure that it makes up for the spaghetti creations I've fed him recently. 

In any case, I don't really have much to say other than...this is HOT STUFF.  If you like heat and a touch of smokiness, you'll probably adore this!  If you like a little heat and a touch of smokiness, try the recipe but cut back to one single chili pepper (and add more from there after tasting).  I plan to give it another go, next time with the scale-back plan in place.  Dan may long for more spice, but I'm pretty sure that my own tastebuds will be forever grateful!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Recipe: Chipotle Hummus

adapted from Coconut & Lime

20 oz canned chickpeas
3 chipotle chiles in adobo (with at least 1 teaspoon of a adobo)
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt to taste

Drain chickpeas, reserving liquid. Place chickpeas, tahini, chiles, garlic powder, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt into a food processor. Blend on high until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved chickpea liquid to achieve a smooth texture. Sample and add more garlic, chiles, lemon or salt according to taste. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

sauce it up

I'm Swedish and German. However, my taste buds would beg to differ. I like such a variety of foods that you might say I'm closer to Japanese, Mexican, or Indian! Ok ok, not really. But, when it comes down to it, I crave flavor and if a meal doesn't have it, then my taste buds are most definitely bummed out. Mexican food has a lot of flavor and a lot of spice. This enchilada sauce has that spice and it made my enchilada so full of flavor that I wanted a second helping despite being extremely stuffed! Make your own enchilada, put something exciting inside and then SAUCE. IT. UP. Happy Cinco de Mayo! 
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