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Archive for August, 2011

Honey Wheatberry Bread

 What do you do with extra (cooked) wheatberries that’s not a grain salad?  Bake bread.  Although I had never heard of it, there’s a childhood favorite made by Oroweat known as Honey Wheatberry Bread.  Maybe it’s Canadian, I thought, because I’ve never heard of friends purchasing the bread, nor have I seen it on store shelves.  (Sorry, Canadians, I don’t mean that in a bad way.)  But when I searched for it, the ubiquitous product came up everywhere from Walmart to Amazon.  Bakers and bread consumers alike waxed poetic about this bread so I found the recipe below and gave it a try.

Simple to prepare, this all-natural bread has a nutty flavor, hearty texture, and an insanely rich and buttery aroma.  It tastes fairly substantial, but that didn’t stop FHE from pairing it with leftover prosciutto and delcaring the combo a match made in heaven.  It doesn’t hold up as well on the counter as store-bought bread (obviously), but days-old leftovers are perfect for custardy french toast.  This has become one of FHE’s favorite breads and gives me reason to pick up extra wheatberries at the store.

Wheatberry Bread, from A Year in Bread

 

Ingredients

3 cups of water
3/4 milk, at room temperature
3/4 cup wheatberries (I’ve read bulger also works)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp instant yeast
1/4 cup honey (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
1/4 cup melted butter
5-6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt

Directions

  1. Soak wheatberries in 3 cups of water for one hour. After an hour, leave the wheatberries covered and cook on medium heat until the wheatberries are soft and are popping open. Let cool. Puree in the blender until desired consistency, you may need to add a little more water.
  2. Note from A Year in Bread about wheatberry consistency in the bread: 

Do you like your wheat berries smooth or chunky?

There are two distinctive states of wheat berries: smooth and chunky. You need to decide which form you want your wheat berries to take and prepare them differently based on your desired results.

On one end of the continuum, there is the nuts-and-seeds style of bread, with fairly intact wheat berries. While I like this effect occasionally, particularly when making rolls (add a smidge more yeast, too), the berries have a tendency to stick out of the dough and aren’t what I usually want from this bread.

Totally opposite this is the Oroweat bread that set me on this quest. This bread, oddly enough, has no discernible wheat berries.   For a texture more akin to the Oroweat bread, let the cooked wheat berries cool to body temperature, ~100F (38C) and then smoosh, or not, to your heart’s content with an immersion blender or a regular blender.

  1. In mixing bowl, combine wheat berries, milk, yeast and whole wheat flour. Mix until well combined, cover and set in a warm spot until bubbly, 20 – 30 minutes.  Add the softened butter, honey and 5 1/2 cups of bread flour.  Mix until it forms a shaggy mass.  Continue to add flour, a tablespoon or two (or more at first), until the dough stops readily absorbing it.  Mix for another minute, two if mixing by hand.  The dough will still be a bit rough.  Cover and let rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
  2. Add salt.  Spread a cup of flour on the counter and knead for 4 – 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed. Knead.  Roll the dough in flour, put it in a clean bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).Turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter, divide in half and shape into loaves.  Grease two loaf pans.  Put the shaped loaves in the pans and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake bread for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn out of pans onto cooling rack for at least an hour.  (Note: I baked at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.)

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These cookies are crisp on the edges and cake-like in the center.  Delicate and mild in flavor, the zucchini is present only for aesthetic purposes.  Enjoy them straight, or sandwiched with a rich cream cheese filling (marshmallow is also delicious!).

Oatmeal Zucchini Bread Cookie Sandwiches, adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of coarse salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (original recipe is 1 1/2 sticks)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (original recipe is 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar (original recipe is 1/2 cup)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated zucchini
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used reduced fat Neufachel)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Beat 1 stick butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. Beat together remaining 1/2 stick butter, the cream cheese, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon filling onto the flat side of 1 cookie, and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.

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This is a delicious vegetarian pizza recipe.  (Yes, we added a scant amount of pepperoni.  It wasn’t me.  It was Rice Kernel and his Dad.)  The squasage mixture (so called because it is made from grated zucchini and takes on the flavor profile of Italian sausage) requires some idle time to prepare.  But the final product is a zucchini mixture that is remarkably flavorful and dry – nothing akin to its unprepared state.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Shredded Zucchini “Squasage” Pizza, from Delicious Living

 
Ingredients
 
2 packed cups grated zucchini

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon coriander seed (or ground coriander)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
Whole wheat pizza dough, rolled into one 9-inch crust
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
¾ cup tomato sauce, or as much as needed to cover the pizza dough
About ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
(Sausage, pepperoni, etc. optional)
 
  1. Combine all “Squasage” ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl. Toss to combine.  Marinate 2 hours at room temperature, tossing ingredients every 20 minutes or so.  After 2 hours, squeeze zucchini and discard water. (Makes about ¾-1 cup.)
  2. Top pizza crust with tomato sauce and then top with sliced mozzarella and zucchini mixture. Grate a couple tablespoons of parmesan over pizza.
  3. Transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Once done, sprinkle with another tablespoon of parmesan and garnish with parsley or basil.

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What do you bake when your vegan friend calls one afternoon and exclaims, “I’m ten minutes away – well, maybe five.  I just gave blood and I’m on my way home.  Can I stop by?” 

Now, I’m a scheduler by nature.  I’ve learned to roll with the punches, particularly with Rice Kernel, but I’d rather reserve surprises for someone a bit more spontaneous.  I knew my friend needed a pick-me-up – at the very least, for the sake of her blood sugar.  With a sparse vegan arsenal and the clock ticking, I recalled a green tea cookie recipe posting awhile back.  A one-bowl recipe with few ingredients (and no requirement for room temperature butter), this earthy cookie boasts a beautiful green hue and has a refreshing matcha flavor and a subtle sweetness.  The oats become nutty and crispy around the edges while the center retains a moist, almost cake-like quality.  Hardly a decadent cookie, my famished friend had half a dozen during her brief stay.   

Easiest Vegan Matcha Oatmeal Cookies, from Little Corner of Mine

Cookies are greener in person; camera lighter/user failure.

1 vegan egg substitute like Ener-G or 1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil (I used 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup canola oil)
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp sugar (I’d love to find a way to replace with agave)
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1 cup old fashioned oats (I’d use more oats and less flour next time)
 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine wet ingredients.  Then add in dry ingredients.  Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  4. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack.  Store in air-tight container.

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Lemon, Zucchini & Chicken Pasta

Another recipe drummed up in response to the overflowing bounty of zucchini from our garden and our neighbors’ gardens.  While FHE has yet to adore the vegetable he considers slimy and bland, the fine shredding of the zucchini in this recipe (along with the extra step of squeezing out excess liquid) paired with shredded carrots and onions gives the vegetable medley a crunchy texture and carmelized flavor. 

Lemon, Zucchini & Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

12-16 oz shaped pasta, such as farfalle
2-3 zucchini, coarsely grated (liquid squeezed)
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 medium lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
1 cup fresh spinach
grated parmesan cheese, optional, to serve

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a few tbsp of olive oil (or butter) in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent and carmelized, about 5-10 minutes.  Add zucchini, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until heated through.
  3. Add pasta, additional oil or butter, green onions, lemon rind and 1/4 cup lemon juice  to chicken mixture.  Cook, stirring, over low heat until heated through.  Fold in spinach.  Sprinkle with parmesan, if using.  Season with salt and pepper.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.

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Homemade Bagels

Along with my affinity for latkes for breakfast as a child, there was my (and my Mom’s) beloved bagel – the other breakfast item I could never deny and always wanted more of.  Mom’s favorite was always sesame and we enjoyed the bread with any and every accoutrement – the traditional lox, capers, and cream cheese, peanut butter, eggs and ham, and even stir-fry.  Oddly enough, I have fond memories of my mother cooking asparagus and beef stir-fry and the two of us sandwiching the filling between sesame bagels - the sauce deliciously absorbed by the dense, doughy bread.

Growing up on Long Island and in NYC, dense, chewy bagels were always a street corner away.  Years later when my family moved to Northern California, our luck ran out and New York bagels were nowhere to be found.  I believe my Mom had her sisters mail bagels from time to time.  And each time we flew East, Mom’s carryon was sure to contain a dozen bagels for the ride home.

On the West Coast, the bagel (as we had known it) was soon forgotten on our breakfast table.  It wasn’t until college that I resumed my bagel-eating habit, courtesy of Einstein’s bagels.  Softer and more airy, these weren’t the bagels I was accustomed to.  But FHE turned me on to non-traditional flavors such as chocolate chip, blueberry, and asiage cheese – flavors I’d never seen growing up.

Today I came across an article about homemade bagels – about their deliciousness and ease of preparation.  Didn’t take much to convince me to try at home.  Nearly as easy as making a loaf of bread, the only difference in making bagels is the two-step cooking process: boiling and baking.  These may not duplicate my childhood bagel – they are, afterall, of the “soft” variety - but the dough is delicious and once you try a homemade version, no supermarket variety will compare.

Homemade Bagels, adapted from Baking Bites

1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1 egg, for egg wash

Directions

  1. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.
    If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F.
  3. When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (first quarters, then thirds). Shape each piece into a tight ball, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.
  4. Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.
  6. Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown.  If you wish to add toppings (sesame, poppy, garlic, onion), dip the wet bagels (from boiled water) into the topping. 
  7. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Slice and toast to serve.

Makes 6 sandwich-sized bagels or 12 smaller ones.

Note:  To make flavored bagels, you can mix in dried blueberries, chocolate chips, or cranberries.  I topped half our batch with asiago and gruyere cheeses.

  

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Yaki Udon

As fond of brothy noodles as we are, hot broth leaves us a bit hot and bothered in the summer months – and not in a good way.  But that doesn’t mean FHE’s favorite noodle, udon, is neglected from our dinner menu.  My stir-fry King started preparing yaki udon years ago and it has become one of our favorite preparations for the thick, toothsome Japanese noodles.  Savory and full of vegetables, this recipe template is endlessly versatile and always delectable.

Yaki Udon, from Rice Kernel’s kitchen

Ingredients

1 pack of udon (about 6 oz)
1 egg (optional)
1/4 onion
2 carrots, grated
1/2 head small cabbage, sliced
Handful fresh spinach
1 half inch piece of ginger
1/2 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 oz thinly sliced pork, beef, ham or whole prawns (optional)
Scallions and pickled ginger, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Using a large pan or wok, add 1 tbsp oil and ginger and cook meat, if using, and then vegetables. 
  2. In a bowl, mix egg with 1/2 tbsp sugar. 
  3. When the meat and vegetables are about 90% cooked, set aside and cook egg to a scramble.  Return the meat and vegetables to the pan.
  4. Add udon in the wok, and stir fry for about a minute, adding chicken stock or water, if necessary, to break up the noodles.  Add soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. 
  5. Serve with scallions or picked ginger, if desired.

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