May 24, 2015

Whole Wheat Peasant Boule with Flax and Fennel Seeds

Whole Wheat Peasant Boule with Flax and Fennel Seeds

This Whole Wheat Peasant Boule with Flax and Fennel Seeds is super fluffy with a very soft and light interior, along with a super thin crust. It's a really easy dough to work with, and comes together very quickly. The second rise takes only 25 minutes.

What is so unusual about this bread is the inclusion of baking powder along with yeast. While I can't find much information about what it brings to the dough, I did find the dough to be really easy to handle after the first rise, even though the dough was pretty high in hydration (over 70%). Shaping it into a ball took very little effort, and I didn't need to flour the counter or my hands.

This loaf was baked in an 8 inch cake pan, but you can bake it free form, or in a sandwich loaf pan. You can also use this recipe for dinner rolls (adjust the baking time). It is really tasty sliced and buttered, and is wonderful for sandwiches.

Whole Wheat Peasant Boule with Flax and Fennel Seeds

It's Secret Recipe Club time again (the fourth Friday of the month for our group), and this month, I was assigned Susan's blog, The Wimpy Vegetarian. Susan describes herself as a "mostly vegetarian married to a mostly carnivore." I love that! In fact, I've loved Susan's blog for a long time. While she shares (mostly) vegetarian recipes, she has created her fare to make it more appealing to omnivores.

She is a culinary school graduate, and she has won quite a few recipe contests, and has even had her recipes featured in cookbooks! Rockstar!!

When I visited her recipe index, I was immediately drawn to her Bread section. After all, I am a total bread head (just take a look at my index). I love how Susan describes the transformative experience of baking bread... first the fear, then the relaxation, then the revelation.

One of my favorite posts on her blog is the Braised Fennel and Endive Gratin. The recipe is amazing, but her reflection on Thanksgiving really hit home with me. It's a wonderful read.

I finally chose this bread, because it involves combining yeast and baking powder, a combination I had not tried before... plus, it's bread!!! Thanks Susan!!!

Whole Wheat Peasant Boule with Flax and Fennel Seeds

Whole Wheat Peasant Boule with Flax and Fennel Seeds Recipe

Ingredients

12 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
3 ounces whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 T ground flax seeds
1 T whole fennel seeds
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 C warm water (about 105 to 110 degrees F)
2 T honey
3 T unsalted butter, melted
Olive oil

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the honey and butter to the warm water, and pour it into flour mixture. 
  3. Stir the ingredients with a large spoon or dough whisk until all of the flour is wet. 
  4. Mix the dough with the dough hook on medium speed for about 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl. I had to add about 1 1/2 T of extra flour to get it to clear the sides. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size. 
  6. Coat an 8 inch cake pan with olive oil. Shape the dough into a tight ball, and place it, seam side down, into the center of the cake pan. 
  7. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil on top. Spread it over the shaped dough with your hands. Cover lightly with plastic wrap.
  8. Place the pan in a warm spot, and let rise for about 25 minutes, until the dough fills the pan. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  9. Bake the loaf for 40 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of about 200 degrees F. 
  10. Tip the loaf out of the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing, as difficult as that may be. 

May 22, 2015

Chicken Chilaquiles

Chicken Chilaquiles

These chicken chilaquiles are sort of like inside out enchiladas.

"What are chilaquiles?" you ask. There are several interpretations of this Mexican dish, but they are typically fried tortilla wedges tossed in red or green sauce as well as shredded chicken or chorizo.

Chicken Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles are usually served at breakfast or brunch, with a side of beans or topping of eggs. I have ordered them at my favorite breakfast place several times, but have never made them myself.... until now!

These chilaquiles are amazing! They are made with homemade (casero style) chips and chicken simmered in a sauce with four different types of chiles, and garnished with queso fresco, cilantro, radishes, and limes. If you'd like to top them with a fried egg, go for it! You can also garnish them with avocado and crema.

Chicken Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles originally were meant to be a way to toss leftover tortillas and sauce together as a side dish, and depending on the region of Mexico, additional ingredients.

This version is perfect as a main course. There is enough chicken in there to make this for dinner. It is so good, and the leftovers are also delicious.

I found casero (homemade style) chips at my local Mexican grocery store, but you can make your own by either deep frying or oven frying corn tortillas cut into wedges. Good sturdy chips are the key to this recipe's success. Don't use brand name tortilla chips.

Chicken Chilaquiles

To make homemade oven fried tortilla chips, cut 16 six inch tortillas into wedges and spread them on two sheet pans. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat. Bake the chips in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

Chicken Chilaquiles

Adapted from Cook's Country, June/July 2015

Ingredients

5 dried guajillo chiles, with the stems cut off and the seeds poured out
1 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 jalepeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped. 
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, plus two tablespoons of the adobo sauce
8 sprigs of cilantro, plus more for garnish
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
50 large, or 125 small home fried or casero style tortilla chips (stir in the chips until you have a good chip to sauce ratio)
1 cup queso fresco
2 radishes, thinly sliced
lime wedges
Optional garnishes: crema and avocados

Instructions

  1. In an 8 quart Dutch oven, toast the guajillos over medium heat for about five minutes. 
  2. Add them to a blender and pulse until finely chopped. 
  3. Add the tomatoes and juices, the onion, the chiles, cilantro, garlic, and salt to the blender and pulse until smooth. 
  4. Pour the mixture into the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the chicken breasts, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken reaches 160 degrees F. 
  6. Move the chicken to a plate.
  7. Increase the heat for the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes. 
  8. Shred the chicken with two forks. Add the chicken back into the sauce, and cook for another 2 minutes. 
  9. Fold the chips into the sauce and chicken until fully coated. Turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let it sit for about 3 minutes. 
  10. Transfer the chilaquiles to dinner plates and top with queso fresco, radishes, chopped cilantro, and garnish with lime wedges, crema, and avocado slices... or top with a fried egg. 

May 20, 2015

Chinese Peruvian Stir-Fried Filet Mignon | Lomo Saltado | Wok Wednesdays

Chinese Peruvian Stir-Fried Filet Mignon | Lomo Saltado | Wok Wednesdays

Lomo Saltado is a traditional Chinese Peruvian stir-fry, and another example of how Chinese emigrants adapted the local ingredients of their new land to their cooking style. Did you know that both tomatoes and potatoes are both "new world foods?"

This is an amazing stir-fry of beef, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, flavored with garlic, soy, red wine vinegar, aji amarillo chile, sugar, cilantro, and salt and pepper. 

Chinese Peruvian Stir-Fried Filet Mignon | Lomo Saltado | Wok Wednesdays

This dish has become such a popular Peruvian dish, that often the only reference to its Chinese roots is the mound of white rice on the side. The Peruvian restaurants in our area prominently feature lomo saltado, and every time, it is accompanied with rice. 

Chinese Peruvian Stir-Fried Filet Mignon | Lomo Saltado | Wok Wednesdays


While you can find lots of recipes for Lomo Saltado online, they typically include marinated beef such as flank steak. The magical ingredient in this dish is filet mignon. This beef is so tender and juicy, and does not require any marinade. Instead, a small amount of soy and red wine vinegar is stirred into the pan after the vegetables are added to the meat. 

At the end of stir-frying this amazing dish, you stir French fries into the wok with the rest of the beef and vegetables. So good. 

I had a lot of fun learning about and making this dish. While I was a bit nervous about over cooking my precious filet mignon, it turned out so juicy and perfectly medium rare. 

Luis Li, a Peruvian immigrant from northern California, taught Grace Young how to adapt the dish for the home cook, and he told her that he uses frozen aji amarillo chiles, which he buys from a local Mexican market. When I read that, I headed to my local Mexican market. There they were!!


Once all of the ingredients are prepped and the French fries are ready, this stir-fry probably takes about 3 to 4 minutes to prepare. First you sear the meat in the hot wok for about a minute. Next you add the garlic, salt, and pepper and stir the mixture for about 30 seconds. Then you add the vegetables and stir, add the soy, vinegar, sugar, aji chili, cilantro, and the French fries, and stir. Be sure to remove the mixture from the wok the minute it is ready so you don't overcook the steak. 


So delicious! This may be my new favorite recipe from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge. You can find the recipe and the story behind it on pages 92 and 93 of the book. If you'd like to join Wok Wednesdays, check out our Facebook page. You don't have to have a blog, and Grace Young herself visits often to cheer us on!

May 19, 2015

Chocolate Caramel Rocks

Chocolate Caramel Rocks

These Chocolate Caramel Rocks are super chewy and chocolatey with a gooey caramel in the middle. If you need to satisfy a chocolate caramel craving, this is the perfect vehicle. They are a lot of fun to feed to the kiddos, who get a big kick out of grandma feeding them "rocks."

Chocolate Caramel Rocks

They kind of look more like mud pies than rocks, and your hands will look like you've made mud pies when you are done shaping them, but trust me, these were a huge hit with my taste testers.

They are sifted with a coating of powdered sugar and cocoa powder right before baking, which helps give them that "rock from your garden" look (and also gets your hands all chocolatey, so have lots of napkins).

Chocolate Caramel Rocks

Honestly, I was a little worried about posting these because they are not exactly photogenic (kind of like a pile of rocks!), but after tasting them and seeing how everyone wanted seconds, who am I to deprive you of this recipe for tasty chocolatey goodness?

Get your Fred Flintstone on and head to the Bedrock Gravel Company (or was it the Cave Construction Company?), and tell Mr. Slate you need some rocks. Yabba dabba doo!!

After the recipe, check out the list of incredible cookies containing caramel from the member bloggers of the #CreativeCookieExchange.

Chocolate Caramel Rocks

Recipe slightly adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook 


 Ingredients

3/4 stick (6 T) unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened Baker's chocolate 
8 ounces (1 cup) dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6.25 ounces (1 1/2 C) unbleached all purpose flour
24 individual caramel candies, unwrapped
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the chocolate over low heat until melted.
  3. Pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl and let it cool until it's lukewarm.
  4. Mix in the vanilla, espresso, and egg, and mix, either with a spoon or hand mixer, until smooth. 
  5. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour, and mix by spoon, and then knead with you hands, until all of the ingredients are combined into a dough. It will be fairly stiff. 
  6. Cut the dough into 24 equal pieces and cover them with plastic wrap while you shape the cookies. 
  7. Flatten each piece of dough and wrap it around a caramel. Roll it around in your hand to form a smooth ball. Continue, until you have 24 balls. 
  8. Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a plastic sandwich bag, and drop each ball, one at a time, into it to coat with the cocoa and sugar. 
  9. Place the shaped balls on the baking sheets and bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes. 
  10. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and then cool completely on a wire rack. 
  11. Store airtight. 

The theme this month is Caramel--any kind of caramel in any kind of cookie! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. Please be patient though, as this month Laura is off to Italy and will not be checking email quite as often (I'm totally jealous)! You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

May 14, 2015

Cemita Poblana with Pork Milanesa

Cemita Poblana with Pork Milanesa

This Cemita Poblana is based on a regional Mexican sandwich from the historic city and state of Puebla located southeast of Mexico City. It is distinguished by its sesame seed roll.

I loved this sandwich! It's soooo good! The flavors of the layered fillings give it an amazing depth of flavor. There are no extraneous ingredients, such as lettuce, to fill out the sandwich. It stands on its own.

Cemita Poblana with Pork Milanesa

Fillings typically include avocado, marinated vegetables and chipotles in adobo, meat such as a "milanesa" cutlet (meat that is smashed, breaded, and pan fried), tinga, or carnitas, and a queso blanco such as Panela.

The sandwich also includes palapo, a regional Mexican herb that is usually not available elsewhere. I substituted arugula for the palapo. I've also seen recipes that use a mixture of arugula and mint, cilantro, or fresh basil.

Cemita Poblana with Pork Milanesa

After making these amazing Cemita Rolls, I definitely had to try making this sandwich.

Fun facts:

  • Cemita is derived from Semite, and the bread has its roots from the Middle East. 
  • Milanesa is a term used for breaded cutlets, and refers to its Italian heritage. I used pork, but you can prepare beef, veal, or chicken Milanesa for these sandwiches.
  • Mexico's European heritage is not just Spanish

Cemita Poblana with Pork Milanesa

These sandwiches are all about the layering of flavors. Fortunately, in southern California, we have lots of hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve every kind of ethnic food available, including cemitas. I'm really hoping that these Mexican sandwiches catch on. They are really tasty. In the meantime, here's my version. 

Cemita Poblana with Pork Milanesa Recipe

For two sandwiches

Ingredients

2 5-ounce boneless pork chops, sprinkled with sugar and marinated in balsamic or apple cider vinegar overnight (I used balsamic)
1/2 C flour (I used harina preparada por tortillas) and/or bread crumbs or masa harina
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, scrambled
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Cemita Rolls, or good quality sesame seed kaiser style rolls
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced or smashed
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
Thinly sliced onions, carrots, and sweet peppers, marinated overnight in vinegar and sugar to taste (you can substitute fresh onions and peppers)
2 ounces shredded queso panela or mozzarella cheese
Arugula

Instructions

  1. Pound the pork chops to flatten them to 1/2 inch or less.
  2. Mix the flour or harina with salt and pepper and place it on a shallow plate.
  3. Dip the pork chops into the flour, dip it into the scrambled egg, and dip in the breadcrumbs or back into the flour or masa harina (I used the harina preparada por tortillas instead of the breadcrumbs or masa). Set aside.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat and add oil to 1/4 inch. The oil should reach a temperature of 325 degrees F. You can test a small piece of pork to see if it sizzles. 
  5. Fry the pork in the pan for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through, and place on a plate. Cover with foil.
  6. Slice the bread in half, scoop out some of the bread from the top half to make more room for the fillings, and broil in a grill pan or oven until lightly browned. 
  7. Build the sandwiches, beginning with the avocado, chipotles, vegetables, pork, queso, and arugula. 
Enjoy!

May 12, 2015

Stuffed Pretzel Bites | #BreadBakers

Stuffed Pretzel Bites from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These pretzel bites are stuffed with little sausages or mini hot dogs. They are ridiculously good and amazingly easy to make. They only take about an hour and a half from start to finish.

That I could make something with yeast and serve it as an appetizer is something that seemed impossible to me. Yeast? Seriously? Yes!!

Stuffed Pretzel Bites from Karen's Kitchen Stories

If you still are nervous about baking bread as your guests are arriving, you can also make these in advance and freeze them. All you have to do is thaw them, reheat them in the oven, and serve. So tasty.

Stuffed Pretzel Bites from Karen's Kitchen Stories

To get this gorgeous dark pretzel color, the wrapped sausages are dipped into a boiling bath of water, baking soda, and salt right before baking. I sprinkled mine with pretzel salt. You can also use coarse sea salt or kosher salt.... or nothing! They will still be delicious.

I did not have a gaggle of people coming over to my house when I made these, so after consuming more of these than I am willing to admit, I individually wrapped the cooled leftover bites in freezer wrap, placed them in a freezer bag, and placed them in the freezer. They are wonderful reheated, and they didn't last long. (Confession: I even had some for breakfast).

I dipped these in yellow mustard, but if you prefer a honey or Dijon mustard, those would be amazing too.

Stuffed Pretzel Bites from Karen's Kitchen Stories

After the recipe, check out the amazing list of stuffed bread recipes from the wonderful group of #BreadBakers. We have everything from sweet rolls to savory breads.

Stuffed Pretzel Bites Recipe

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

361 grams (3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
18 grams (2 tablespoons) non-diastic malt powder or 11 grams (1 tablespoon) granulated sugar (I used the malt powder)
1 tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
227 grams (1 cup) water
24 mini hot dogs (I used Kingsford Farms Little Smokies)

Water Bath

1361 grams (1 1/2 quarts) water
1 tbsp salt
64 grams (1/4 cup) baking soda

Topping

Pretzel salt, coarse sea salt, or kosher salt. 

Instructions

  1. Place all of the dough ingredients (not the hot dogs) into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low for about 7 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. The dough should be slightly sticky. 
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. There should be two racks in the oven in the upper and lower third. 
  4. Mix the water bath ingredients in a 3 quart sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat until ready to use. 
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 24 equal pieces. Cover the pieces with oiled plastic wrap. Spray the counter with spray oil. 
  6. Roll each piece into a 4 inch by 2 inch rectangle, and wrap each around a mini hot dog, sealing the seam and pinching the ends. Place each wrapped hot dog onto the baking sheets and cover with oiled plastic wrap.
  7. Bring the water bath back to a boil. 
  8. Add the wrapped pretzel bites to the boiling water bath, six at a time, and let them boil for 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them back onto the baking sheets, seam side down. Immediately sprinkle with the pretzel salt. 
  9. Bake the pretzels for 20 to 22 minutes, turning and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. If you have convection, turn it on half way through. The pretzel bites should be a deep brown. 
  10. Cool the pretzel bites for a few minutes on the pans before serving, or let cool completely and freeze to serve later (see notes above). 

BreadBakers
What is Bread Bakers? It’s a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Bread Bakers Pinterest Board. Links are also updated after each event on the Bread Bakers home pageHow is the monthly theme determined? We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. Would you like to join in the fun? If you are a food blogger, send an email with your blog name and url to Stacy at foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

Stuffed Breads from the Bread Bakers

Sweet Breads

Savory Breads

May 9, 2015

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

Baking bread in a cast iron or clay pot is a great way to recreate the hot, moist environment of a professional oven. The super hot pot traps the steam that is naturally generated from the dough, and also encourages the dough to rise rapidly in the oven. This is called "oven spring." 

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

The bread in the photo above was baked in a cast iron pan that was preheated in a 500 degree (F) oven. I've posted lots of bread recipes that use this method so I finally decided to take some photos demonstrating how I do it.

I've seen plenty of videos where bakers transfer the loaves to the hot pots with their hands, however, when I tried it, I managed to either drop the dough, deflate it, or burn my hands. I finally settled on this method of transferring the dough. It has worked beautifully for me. I hope you find this helpful!

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

The photo above is of the dough after the second rise (I used a plastic banneton for this bread).

First, remove the plastic wrap, and top the dough with a piece of parchment paper.

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

Then top the parchment with a dinner plate, and then flip the whole contraption over.

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

Next, lift off the banneton.

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

and move the dough to the hot cast iron pan by lifting up the parchment paper. If you are scoring your dough, do it at this point.

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

I usually use an inverted Lodge Cast-Iron Combo Cooker(the top is a frying pan), but any hot cast iron or clay Dutch oven will work just fine. For oblong loaves, I use an oval Dutch oven.

Use good quality thick parchment paper, such as Reynolds or King Arthur Flour. The first time I tried this, I used a thinner parchment, and I had to scrape it out of the bottom of the bread.

Also, remember that the pot is screaming hot, so use good potholders or oven gloves.

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

Finally, cover the dough with the top, and immediately place it into the hot oven. Depending on the recipe, you may reduce the oven temperature to 450 to 475 degrees F. After the bread has baked for about 20 minutes, remove the lid of the pan and continue to bake the loaf for the full baking time. I usually remove the whole pan from the oven and transfer the loaf to a baking sheet by lifting the parchment paper, and then returning the loaf to the oven on the baking sheet. I do this to prevent burning on the bottom of the loaf.

Ta-da!! We have bread!

How To Transfer Bread Dough to a Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Bread 101

Here is a very small sampling of breads that I have made using this method:

100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
40% Whole Wheat Boules
69% Hydration Pain au Levain
Whole Wheat Saturday Bread
Country Loaf with Spelt
Basic Sourdough
Bran Encrusted Levain Bread
Harvest Bread
Hearth Sourdough
Kontinentbrot
Nine Hour Crusty White Boule
No Knead Bread

There are many more in my recipe index.

Happy baking!