Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bread pt 3

Are you sick of me making bread yet? I just love experimenting! For some, finding the right recipe for any given meal or single food seems tedious, exhausting, too much effort, or you'd rather just make do with the meal/food that you've got because that is what you are comfortable with. Me, this is not true. I pick and prod and explore and attempt (sometimes futilely!) to find and prepare the meals that I feel suit my family and I's palette best. Finally I will make peace that this is the bread for us. I have made it 4 times now with much delight for everyone involved. This recipe comes from The Queen herself! (Martha Stewart)

This makes one 9 inch loaf.

Whole Wheat Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp bran
1 cup water
3/4 cup warm whole milk
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
2 tbsp coarse ground cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill)
3 tbsp + 2 tsp old fashioned rolled oats
3 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 1 tsp whole for sprinkling
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour

Mix the whole wheat flour, bran, and water in a bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together the warm milk and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved then add the yeast. This will take about 5-10 minutes to get frothy.

In a mixing bowl add the flour mixture, the yeast mixture, cornmeal, 3 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp flaxseeds, and salt and mix on medium speed until combined. With you dough hook on, add the bread flour and mix all of this together about 2 minutes until well combined. Once it is, knead it for another 5 minutes until it is elastic.

In a warm, draft free place cover this and let it rise for at least an hour. You can refrigerate this but bring it to room temperature before baking later. Punch it down and line a bread pan with parchment paper and spray or brush it with oil. Turn the dough into it and let it rise again (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400. Martha says to "mist the oven" when you put it in, then wait 5 minutes and "mist again". If you're into that, go for it, but I just popped mine in and it turned out beautifully. The misting provides a nicer crust apparently. Continue baking 25-30 minutes turning once during baking. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blueberry Peach Pie

I bought a few peaches yesterday. haha. I've been really getting into them recently. Last week I made the best blueberry peace pie and it was indeed blogworthy I felt. Sometimes I make my own pastry, sometimes not. Whole Foods usually sells whole wheat crusts which is very convenient.

Blueberry Peach Pie

pastry shell: (this makes two 9inch crusts)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp shortening
4-5 tbsp cold water

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shorteing in using a pastry blender until particles are the size of peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves the sides of the bowl. If needed add 1-2 more tbsp of water.

Gather the pastry, halve it into two balls and shape into a flattened rounds on a floured surface. If you like your pastry more flaky, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes before proceeding. Roll pastry onto lightly floured surface until it is 2 inches larger than your pie pan. Press this into your pie pan. Cut slits in what will be the top pastry.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 1/2 cups fresh sliced peaches (2-3 medium peaches)
1 tbsp butter if desired

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Place blueberries in the bottom of the pastry shell and cover it with half of this mixture. Add a layer of the peaches and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture. Cover with top pastry shell and pinch it, fork it, or tuck it in.

Cover edges with 2-3 inches of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove this foil the last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 35-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust. Cool on wire wrack 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mala String Beans with Tofu

One thing that I really enjoy doing is making dishes similar to those I love from restaurants. This is much easier said than done since the staff typically isn't in the habit of passing out recipes for their signature dishes. Also let's keep in mind that the chef has many many years of culinary education and I have oh, none? Well no formal education unless you count the school of life that is. One dish that my husband David orders nearly every time we get Chinese food is spicy bean curd with string beans. This is my homemade version that got rave reviews from him. The beans came from our garden so it was extra delicious!

Before I start I'll interject a tip about working with tofu that I found helpful. This tip comes from my friend Maggie. If you like your tofu firm firm buy extra firm tofu and freeze it. As you are thawing it squeeze as much of the water out of it as you possibly can. I did this by putting the block in a colander and putting my cast iron skillet on top of it. When I came back an hour later, POOF! Something about freezing it and thawing it makes the texture more firm.

Mala String Beans with Tofu

1 package of extra firm tofu
1/2 - 3/4 lbs of fresh green beans
chili oil
canola oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1- 2 cloves of garlic, minced

First cube the tofu into 1-2 inch cubes. Keep in mind these will shrink by maybe 1/2 as they fry up. I wish I had cut mine slightly bigger but the taste and texture was still great. If you leave the cubes too large they won't fry evenly, the inside will be mooshy and I personally dislike a non-uniform texture to my fried tofu. Moving on, add 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/3 cup chili oil or so to a skillet and heat it over medium high heat. Add the tofu and fry it until it is golden brown. If you like it hot add some of the chili flakes at the bottom of the jar. Drain the fried tofu on a paper towel.

While the tofu rests add more of the oils to the skillet. This recipe is easily customizable to how hot you like your food. More chili oil = spicier. So use your gut on how much to use. I like mine mild-medium but my husband is a hot-a-holic so i compromised and my recipe was medium-moderate I'd say. Reheat the skillet to medium-high with the new oil and soy sauce, add the beans. Saute 8 minutes or so until they are crispy but cooked. Only add the garlic the last few minutes or else it will burn!