Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bread pt 2

If you know me at all then you know that in a culinary sense at least, I tend to be constantly honing my craft (or lack thereof). It bothers me if I have made something that doesn't taste how I want or the texture if off, etc. This does not imply I am a fantastic cook. Nope! I am simply saying that when I set my mind on making something I can't rest comfortably until I feel I've made the best darn ___ or ____ that I can muster. So continues my quest for really fantastic bread. So far of the two loaves I've made, this one is my favorite. I'm trying a third recipe out right now so time will tell.

Light Oat Bread

1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Mix flour and oats in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the warm water with the yeast, butter, and honey and mix well. Let this sit until it is nice and foamy. Once it seems creamy add it to the wet ingredients and kneed for 10-15 minutes. This is where i thank my sweet Jesus for my dough kneading attachment on my kitchenaid mixer. Loosely cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm spot for about an hour - or until it has doubled in size.

While that is rising line a loaf pan with parchment paper and brush with some olive oil. I find this is the simplest way to prevent bread from sticking to the sides of the pan.

Preheat the oven at this point to 350 degrees. Once the dough has doubled punch it down and add it to the pan. Allow it to rise one more time before adding it to the oven and letting it bake for 35 - 45 minutes.

I allowed mine to bake for 35 minutes and it was "light". Next time I'm going to leave it in longer, but it was SO delicious!

ETA: this was my second loaf

Friday, July 18, 2008


Once upon a time I was watching Rachel Ray on one of her many tv shows and she said something about it being controversial whether or not chili was to contain beans or not. If that is true my chili is scandalous because I use three different kinds of beans!


1/2 cup each of red, green, yellow pepper - chopped
1/2 cup onion (I prefer sweet onions to balance the spice)
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can chili beans of desired hotness
16 oz zesty sausage or for a vegetarian chili, Crumbles
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar

This recipe is great because you can make it in a pot on the stove or if you're like me, a busy bee, you can pop it into the crock pot and not fuss with it. Either way brown the meat if using sausage, in a skillet first before adding it to the pot. If using a crock pot set it on high for 4 hours or low for 8. If making this on the stove I usually will add all of the peppers and onion to the pot first and let them soften up before adding the rest of the ingredients. This is a tip for those wanting to make it in a crock too. It can cut your cook time in half simply by giving them a head start in cooking. The brown sugar is my dad's secret ingredient (whoops, not a secret any more!) for balancing the sweet with the spicy. Sometimes I have even shaved in some dark chocolate too

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I have tried many many times to make bread. I can make breads like banana, zucchini, etc. but straight up sandwich bread I have struggled with. I think my problem has been that I have focused too much on it being 100% whole wheat and the result has been thick, dense bread that is unfit for human consumption practically. At one of our garden club meetings my friend Jaime had made a loaf of bread that I could not put down and I asked begged her for the recipe. It is as follows:

2 tsp yeast
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt, regular
1 tsp salt, large crystal
2 cups water
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
optional herbs

Begin by mixing the flour, yeast, & (small grain) salt in 4-5-quart bowl. Add the warm water (90-105 degrees F) and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Stir until smooth; about 2 minutes. Can stir by hand or with paddle on mixer. After a few minutes of stirring, the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a rough, shaggy mass. If the dough is too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp of flour.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30-40 minutes. Additional time in the bowl is just fine. For an early start in the morning, prepare batter to this point in the evening. Leave the covered bowl in a draft-free, warmish place such as the top of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. with rack in middle of oven.

Line pan with parchment paper (this is necessary) and drizzle 1-2 tbsp on top of the paper. Pour dough into pan and smooth with well-wetted hand. Do not fuss overmuch. Drizzle one or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on top of dough. Sprinkle with large crystal salt and optional herbs. Place pan on middle shelf in oven. Keep thermostat set for 500 degrees F for two and a half minutes; then reset to complete baking at 450 degrees F. for a total of about 30 minutes more or less depending on how chewy or desired texture (chewy or crunchy). Alternately, keep oven at 500 degrees F for about 23 or 24 minutes..

You can bake two focaccia breads in one domestic oven. Alternate shelves and rotate pans about halfway through the baking. Greater uniformity is likely if batter is mixed in two bowls rather that doubling the recipe in a single bowl. Remove from pan and cool on cutting board or rack. Bread is still baking while it is hot; wait until it is cool before cutting.