Naan

I’m told this isn’t an “authentic” naan recipe – well, I don’t have a tandoor oven either. This tastes pretty damn good. I got the original recipe at allrecipes.com.

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet, which is 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg

2 or 3 cloves minced garlic (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup butter, melted

You’ll need two large bowls. In one whisk the yeast and honey in the warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes until frothy. In the other bowl add most of the flour, sugar, and salt. Add this to the yeast mixture and give a brief stir; crack the egg and sprinkle the milk onto this mixture. Mix and add flour until the dough comes together and you can easily scrape the flour out the bowl.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in the flour bowl, after oiling it. Cover with a cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough and knead briefly. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.* At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

* Alternatively, fry in a cast iron skillet.

Cypress Easter Bread

This recipe is adapted from Paul Hollywood’s book 100 Great Breads. Personally, I think his directions lack something. However I’m experienced enough of a breadmaker I worked it out and it was divine! One way it’s “adapted” is that I accidentally doubled the butter. No really, it was an accident. A happy one.

4 cups bread flour
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fennel, crushed
3/4 cup currants
zest of one orange
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
1/3 cup milk
3 eggs, hardboiled and dyed red (this product will give a deep red)
1 egg, well-beaten, for eggwash

Mix flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, fennel, currants, orange zest, and salt in a bowl. Whisk the yeast in half the warm water. Stir the yeast mixture and milk into the flour mixture. Add remaining warm water until you have a nice soft dough consistency.

Take dough out and knead on a lightly floured surface for about five minutes. Put back in the bowl to rest for one hour.

Divide dough into three strips and braid together. Place on a floured baking sheet and let rise until roughly doubled in bulk, about one hour. Preheat oven to 400. Brush dough with egg wash and place colored eggs along the top of the bread. Bake for 25 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Rustic Baked Beef Stew

Let it not be said I don’t take shortcuts nor enjoy comfort food.

1 round peasant or sourdough loaf
1 1/2 – 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
3 potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I use petite dice)
2 bay leaves
1 – 2 cans beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Take your sourdough loaf and cut out the top, leaving the “wall” of the bowl about one inch thick. Slice the top crust off to make a lid and set it aside with the bowl. Take about half the remaining bread and shred; put aside on a plate. You can freeze the rest of the bread for later use as croutons, bread crumbs, etc.

In a large saucepan (or dutch oven) over medium heat, brown the stew meat; drain. Add the meat to a large covered casserole dish. Place the chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, and bread on top of the meat. Combine the tomatoes, bay leaves, 1 can of beef stock, cornstarch, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour into the baking dish. Add remaining beef stock or water as needed; it does not need to cover the veggies but you don’t want the stew to dry out. Cover and bake for 2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender (alternatively, you can bake for 4 hours at 325).

Take the stew out of the oven to briefly cool; raise the temperature of the oven to 400 and place the bread bowl and lid inside to warm and crisp it. When the bowl is done, ladle the stew into the bowl (it won’t all fit) and top with bread lid. Refill the bread bowl as needed until you’re scraping into gravy-soggy bread – the best part of this dish!

Graham and Chocolate Bread

I love the toasty flavor of graham flour. You can make a whole wheat confection that is decidedly lighter and more tender than you’d typically predict. This recipe is adapted from a Sunset, April 1990 recipe. The directions are for a loaf, but the parenthetical instructions are for a larger amount (i.e. what I’m making for Sophie’s kindergarten class today).

2 (3) cups graham or whole-wheat flour
1 (1 1/2) cup all-purpose flour
1 (1 1/2) cup semisweet chocolate baking chips
1/2 (3/4) cup chopped almonds or walnuts
1/2 (3/4) cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 (2 1/2) teaspoons baking soda
1/2 (1) teaspoon salt
2 (3) large eggs
1 1/2 (2 1/4) cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix graham flour, all-purpose flour, chocolate, nuts, sugar, soda, and salt. In a small bowl, beat eggs and buttermilk to blend; add to dry ingredients, stirring until moistened. Pour batter into a buttered 5″ by 9″ inch loaf pan (13″ by 9″ baking pan).

Bake until edges begin to pull from pan sides and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour (45 minutes). Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Tip bread out of pan and let cool on a rack.

Wanda’s Delight

This is my great-aunt’s recipe and much celebrated in my FOO. She was full-blooded Polish and skinny as a rail, if that can possibly excuse this fat-laden dish (I mean please – mayonnaise, condensed cream soup, and butter!?!).

3 full chicken breasts
2 head broccoli*
2 cans cream of mushroom soup**
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
2 oz. cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Cook chicken 40 minutes. Cook broccoli ten minutes. Arrange broccoli lining casserole dish. Put chicken in center. Combine soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice to pour over. Sprinkle crumbs, dab butter, and sprinkle cheese. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

* Original recipe called for 2 packages broccoli, whatever that means.

** Original recipe called for cream of chicken soup but I can’t bear to use it.

And Another Thing Salad

Last night we had company and I made calzones and this delightful salad, inspired by one from – surprise! – allrecipes.com. My parents return from a trip to California today and so my version of this recipe is named in honor of my father; even though it’s something he likely wouldn’t eat.

1 cup dried garbanzo beans, sorted, washed, and soaked*
1/2 cup chopped celery (about two stalks)
1 apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
juice from one lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons? I dunno)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
fresh lettuce or savoy cabbage (I used the latter)
sea salt

Prepare the beans by rinsing off the soaking water, putting them in a pot with plenty of water and bringing to an active, covered simmer for an hour and a half or until tender.

When the beans are almost done assemble the chopped celery, apple, and pecans. Prepare the dressing by whisking the honey and lemon together. Add the mayonaise, mustard, and salt to taste.

Drain the beans and rinse with cool water. You can wait for them to cool or (and I like this method better) fold the dressing into the beans, toss, and add the rest of the salad.

Serve on a bed of lettuce or cabbage, either whole leaf (garnish) or shredded (to eat).

* ask me about cooking with beans!

Sausage & Green Bean Slow Cooker

Modified from this recipe, which is in turn taken from the Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook (a book of crockpot recipes). This is fast to assemble and smells amazing when your man or woman comes home after a hard day of work.

I don’t have a crockpot – a couple years ago I gave it to someone who wanted one. The dutch oven I had (given to me used) finally wore out. So for this I use my one large-ish stockpot with tinfoil on the lid. It works great. Since this current stockpot’s lid is warped and it wasn’t a great piece to begin with, later this year I will be putting something on layaway (warning: kitchen porn, in kiwi or cherry please!) but for now I’m making do.

2 lbs. green beans, washed with ends trimmed
2 – 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
16 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, celery salt, or garlic salt
1 lb turkey kielbasa

Before you do the veggie work, cook the sausage until browned. Remove and let cool a bit and cut up carrots and green beans. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high about 4 hours. Serve over noodles or with hot french bread.

10 Minute Eggs

Also called Perfect Hardboiled Eggs.

I had to name these to remind myself how long to boil them. These eggs are perfectly done and always easy to peel (fresh or less fresh doesn’t seem to matter). If you like your yolk a little bit softer try seven minutes on the boil.

Boil enough water to cover the eggs by an inch. At the boiling point, turn the water down to gently roll / simmer. Lower each egg in by spoon gently to make sure they don’t crack and assure yourself the action of the water won’t do the same. Time them ten [seven] minutes. If you want you can stir them during the boil to insure the yolks are dead-center in the finished egg! I like my deviled eggs imperfect, though.

Remove each egg one at a time and immerse in ice bath or running cold water until relatively cool. Peel and eat or use in recipe.

If you make deviled eggs out of them, just use a bit of mayo, lemon, soy sauce, celery seed, salt, fresh ground pepper, and a teensy bit of mustard. Then stick black olives impaled on pretzel sticks in the top.

Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding

My father doesn’t like to eat like he used to these days. However he does enjoy pudding and will stubbornly buy the store-bought mixes over eating say, steak or chili or heartier fare my mother attempts to interest him in. This recipe is from Bob’s Red Mill.

2/3 cup tapioca (Small Pearl Old Fashioned)
1 1/2 cup water
4 1/2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Soak tapioca in water for 30 minutes in a saucepan. Add milk, salt and lightly beaten egg yolks to tapioca and stir over medium heat until boiling. Simmer uncovered over very low heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir often. Beat egg whites with sugar until soft peaks form. Fold about 3 /4 cup of hot tapioca into the egg whites, then gently fold mixture back into saucepan. Stir over low heat for about 3 minutes. Cool 15 minutes then add vanilla (I always forget the vanilla!). Serve warm or chilled, plain or with fruits, nutmeg or coconut mixed in. Makes 6-1/2 cups.

Honey Wheat & Oat Bread

In a few months I’ve gone from not really understanding bread and not always succeeding at it to making my own recipe with a lot of success. My goal here was a half whole-wheat that is soft enough for sandwiches. The recipe makes two loaves and I guarantee the first one will be gone before the evening. If you start the bread about noon you will have it by dinner.

2 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 stick butter (or 8 tablespoons margarine, for a vegan loaf)
2 cups wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup extra-thick oats (or any kind of oats, really)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

Sprinkle yeast on top of water and allow to stand a bit, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile melt butter over low heat. In a large bowl combine all the flour except one cup of the all-purpose, the oats, the sugar, the salt, and the gluten. Add to water and yeast; add butter. Set aside dry ingredients bowl for a minute. Stir the mixture and add flour if necessary until it clumps up. Use your last cup of flour to sprinkle on the surface and knead the dough five minutes (dough will be smooth but slightly stiff).

Grease the dry ingredient bowl and put the dough in; turn a couple times to coat. Cover with cloth and set aside for one to two hours until doubled.

After the first rise, punch down the dough, divide into two balls, and allow to rest about 20 minutes. Grease two loaf pans. Knead each loaf briefly, roll out into a rectangle as long as the loaf pan, and fold in thirds lengthwise. Pinch ends and seam together and place in pan, seam-side down. Cover with cloth and let rise a second time, again about one to two hours or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush loaves with milk or a honey / melted butter mixture and bake about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before digging in. Store wrapped in cloth in the breadbox.