What’s up, blogfanzz? I know I normally write up a big schpiel for each post, centered around one main idea. I don’t know if I’m in the mood for that right now. However, I do have a whole hell of a lot of recipes for this post, so just bare with me and keep reading! I’m part way through Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Say what you want, I don’t care! I like it!), so I’m doing the best I can. Lately I’ve been feeling pretty rotten about my lack of posting, because I’ve been doing so much cooking. Christmas was goooooood to us this year. Santa brought a Kitchen-Aid Mixer and Food Pro, amongst other things. That being said, expect a lot of bread recipes to come. There’s one in this post!
We’ve been playing around a lot recently with whole wheat flour. Taking on the annual New Year’s Resolutions that never seem to be fruitful (or remembered) for 96% of the population. We made a whole bunch of whole wheat muffins (healthy ones, like, going to extremes, subbing applesauce for real fat. Crazy talk.), and they were good for a while, along with most of our other health expeditions. It’s January 17, and readers, I am done with that tomfoolery! Back to my usual grandeur, moderately-I-don’t-give-a-damn-fattening recipes and kitchen wisdom. I’ve been channeling my inner Paula Deen (and using the treadmill from time to time). I think it’s a fair compromise.
Whatever. Here’s a whole slew of bread recipes and some other good stuff.
The first recipe I’m posting is one that I am commanding you to make right now. Just something to sip on while you read. It’s the best smoothie I’ve ever had. Look for the Europe’s Best brand frozen fruit at the grocery store, they have a 4 berry mix, and it’s superb for things like this, and muffins, all kinds of things.
Fourberry Smoothie (Fourberry is now officially a word)
1/4 cup each: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
1/2 ripe banana
3-4 heaping Tbsp vanilla yogurt
1 cup milk
1 tsp honey (I used wildflower honey. It was nice.)
Whazz it all up in a blender. I personally like the novelty of Magic Bullet. Revel in the glory of your new-found favourite drink.
Coonass Bourbon Steak
The title sounds enticing, doesn’t it? COONASS? STEAK? What could be better?! For those of you who don’t know, Coonass is a self-given name, slang for Cajuns. I hate when I’m searching for recipes, particularly something Louisiana-ish, and the only thing “Cajun,” that comes up is some kind of degraded potato with McCormick/Club House “Cajun” spice sprinkled in until there is so much stale cayenne, you can’t even eat the damn things. That’s not Cajun. This recipe is Louisiana/Cajun inspired (not Creole), and it does not require even a milligram of that bottled abomination, “Cajun Spice.” It does however, require bourbon.
4 sirloin steaks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme (substitute about 2 tsps dried, if you reeeeeeally have to)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed (I crush mine in a MAGIC BULLET first)
1 tsp paprika
zest of 1/2 lemon, juice of half
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1-2 Tbsp Tabasco
2 oz good bourbon
2 Tbsp mustard (I don’t really care what kind)
2.5 Tbsp oil
Combine all ingredients from garlic to onion (in list) in a mortar and pestle and mash it up into a paste, as best you can. If you have a food pro, use that, just don’t liquefy it, or I’ll be all up on you like a bad rash!!! After it’s all pasty and nice, put it in a large bowl or fairly shallow pan (something to marinate in), or a big freezer bag. Add the remaining ingredients, except the steak, and mix well. Put the steaks in, and let marinate overnight. Don’t try and get away with 2 hours on the counter, because it won’t work. Just leave it overnight, and you will have great results.
When it comes to cooking them, you can grill them for about 8-10 minutes per side for a nice medium, or alternatively, broil them for about 5 minutes per side in the oven/broiler.
Creamy Spinach Casserole
You’re probably going to hate me, if you’re a pretentious foodie who has no soul or genuine appreciation of mom’s cooking. I may not be a mom. I may only have a cat who hates me. But the creaminess in this casserole (yes, I made a casserole) comes from our old friend, mushroom soup. Yes, there is a lot of sodium, and yes, it comes out all schlumpy and weird looking from the can. Sometimes, schlumpy is just the caterpillar waiting to turn into a beautiful butterfly. Or casserole. Sodium? Schmodium! This recipe is actually really delicious. Jon got more excited about it than the steak.
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/16-1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup milk
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 lb fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup finely grated mozzarella
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except spinach, mozzarella, and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly, stir in spinach. Stir until they are completely coated. In a 9×9″ casserole pan, spread spinach mixture out evenly, and sprinkle on mozzarelly. Bake for 15 minutes, and using a fork (this part is weird, but I feel necessary), squish all the spinach down back into the bubbling mass that is green and delicious. Just to make sure you don’t get any possible crunchy bits. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top, to make it pretty and not obscene-looking. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until breadcrumbs brown.
(This recipe initially went with the Coonass Bourbon steak, and I would recommend that.)
Cinnamon Pecan Muffins
Okay. Here is a muffin recipe that is good. I know you all make muffins at home. I know they always turn out insufficiently muffin-y. Sunken tops, or the tops you can’t rip off like an actual muffin top, the kind you get at a cafe or bakery. Here is a recipe that works. You will be throwing away muffin stumps like there is no tomorrow (but don’t, because stumps need love too)! Don’t even think about reducing the hefty amount of cinnamon, either. I’ll find out about it…
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp (or more) cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pecan halves (chop them up if you feel like it)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. The method here is a bit different than most muffin recipes that you’re probably used to. It gives these their great texture, similar to that in a bakery or cafe. In a mixing bowl, using either an electric mixer or stand mixer, mix flour, butter, sugar and salt and cinnamon to a fine crumb. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the mixture to sprinkle on top of muffins before putting in the oven. Stir pecans into large portion of the mixture. Mix in baking powder and soda. In another smaller bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, and then stir into dry, only just until mixture comes together (otherwise prepare for muffins hard enough to use as weaponry). Fill lined muffin tins, somewhat heaping, sprinkle with reserved crumbs, and bake near the bottom of the oven for 25 minutes, or till a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Eat shamelessly. (This recipe makes about 8 large muffins – use a regular sized muffin tin though)
Pumpernickel Bread (No rye?!!)
Okay, we all like Pumpernickel. We all like the spinach dip in the little tub, next to the hummus and baba ganouj. So, save yourself like ten bucks, and a lot of preservatives, and mix up some sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and chopped fresh spinach. Then make this bread. A lot of Pumpernickel breads don’t have caraway seeds, but I think that is criminal. This one has lots! It also has a nice sweetness to it, which comes from the molasses. The other plus – it’s kind of non-traditional, but this recipe doesn’t require any rye flour. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find that stuff?! Screw it. Just leave it out. People think rye bread tastes like caraway. Caraway tastes like caraway, fools!
1/4 cups hot water (not hot enough to burn your hands, but just about. It’s all about keeping the yeast alive!)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup hot water (same principle applies here)
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1.5 tsp salt
4 tbsp cornmeal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp caraway seeds
So, I’ve posted the ingredient list in three sets. The first is your sponge. The second, your wet ingredients, the third, dry. The first thing you want to do, is proof your yeast. I don’t care if you made bread yesterday, and you know your yeast is active and living. I just find it reassuring, and I think somehow it helps it rise better. So, what you want to do is get a large bowl (or use the bowl for a stand mixer). Put in your sugar, and add the 1/4 cup hot water. Stir to dissolve, and sprinkle in yeast, giving it a quick swirl around in the bowl. Let it sit for ten minutes or so, have a coffee or something. Then, come back, and it should be nice and foamy.
Stir it up again, and start adding your wet ingredients, mixing as you go.
In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, and add them a cup at a time to the liquidy-yeasty mix. Stir them in well using a wood spoon, or a dough hook on a stand mixer. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, or 5 with your dough hook on the mixer.
Shape into a nice little ball, oil it, and put into an oiled bowl. I like to put oil on the bottom of the doughball and use that to rub oil around the bowl, then flip it so the smooth side of the dough is covered, and flip it again, in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled. Punch down, shape into a ball again, and let rise on a baking sheet or stone until doubled (or almost tripled, if you want). Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.
New Orleans style French Bread
Oh god, this bread is fantastic. Crunchy outside, soft, chewy inside. Kind of like me (har har). This recipe is from http://www.recipezaar.com, but I have to share it with you anyways. The secret is the water bath during the baking process, I think. Serve it with your gumbos, étouffées, red beans and rice, etc.. This recipe makes 2 loaves, although the initial recipe says 3. This is an EASY, damn-near fail-proof recipe.
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups water
5-5 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp cornmeal
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast, salt and sugar in warm water.
- Gradually stir in flour, adding only until the mixture refuses to absorb more.
- On a floured board knead the dough for 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and brush the top lightly with butter.
- Cover with a damp cloth.
- Set the dough aside in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until it is double in bulk.
- Butter a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal, shaking off the excess.
- Punch down the dough.
- Transfer the dough to a floured board and divide it into thirds.
- Roll each portion into an 8 x 13 inch rectangle.
- Roll each rectangle up from the long side, seal and shape ends.
- Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet and with a sharp knife make several diagonal cuts across the tops.
- Brush lightly with melted butter.
- Let rise in a warm place about 45 minutes.
- Place the bread on the middle rack in oven.
- Place a pan of hot water on bottom of oven.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes.————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Megohm over and out!