Jan 30, 2015

Pain de Campagne Batard

Pain de Campagne Batard

The first time I made this Pain de Campagne, I stuffed it with roasted garlic. It was so good, I had to try it plain.

The dough is so supple and easy to work with, the crust is crunchy and flavorful, and the interior is airy and soft.

Pain de Campagne Batard

While I love baking all kinds of bread, I am particular to lean bread. "Lean?" you ask. By that, I mean bread that is not enriched with eggs, sugar, milk, or a lot of fat. All of the moisture comes from water.

The array of breads that you can produce with only flour, water, salt, and leaven is amazing. Baguettes, epis, boules, and ciabatta all come to mind.

Even when the bread is shaped the same, the techniques used to mix and proof the dough produce breads that affect the outcome. So does the ratio of water to flour. So does the weather!

This bread combines machine or hand kneading along with the stretch-and-fold method. The resulting dough, while high in hydration, does not really stick to your hands as you work with it. It is also very soft and smooth. I love the shiny and moist crumb (interior).

Pain de Campagne Batard

Pain de Campagne Batard


The dough begins with a firm starter, which has a hydration level of about 50% (ratio of water to flour). My mother starter has a hydration level of 100%, but I was able to use it to create this firm starter for this bread with just one feeding.  Leftover starter can be refrigerated or frozen. It actually stays active longer than higher hydration starter.

To convert any starter:

69 g active starter
153 g room temperature water
270 g unbleached all purpose flour
30 g whole wheat flour

Mix the ingredients in a stand mixer until smooth. Place the dough into an oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. Let ferment at room temperature overnight.

If you don't have a starter, you can create a biga with 153 g of water, 270 g of all purpose flour, 30 g of whole wheat flour, and a pinch of instant yeast. Cover and let sit overnight, until it is quite puffy. Also, add about 1/4 tsp of yeast to the final dough.

Final Dough Ingredients

126 g firm starter
506 g water at 80 degrees F
704 g unbleached all purpose flour
19 g fine sea salt or non-iodized table salt


  1. Put the starter and water in the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix it with the paddle attachment on low for about 30 seconds. 
  2. Add the flour and stir a few times to moisten the flour. Mix on low with the paddle attachment for two minutes.
  3. Scrape down the bowl and let the dough sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough, and mix with the dough hook on low for 6 minutes. 
  5. Scrape the dough into a large oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes in a warm spot.
  6. Do three stretch-and-folds every thirty minutes, covering the bowl/bucket each time. 
  7. After the final stretch and fold, place the dough container in a spot in your house that is warm, and let rise for 2 to 3 hours. The dough will have bubbles on top. 
  8. Pre-shape the dough into a ball and place it seam side down on the counter. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes. 
  9. Turn the dough over, and shape it into a large batard (an oblong loaf).
  10. Flip the dough over, seam sided down, and drag the dough toward you on the counter to tighten the outside. Rotate the dough 180 degrees, and drag it again. Rotate a couple more times. The purpose of this is to encourage the loaf to rise up, not out like a pancake. 
  11. Place the boule, seam side up, into a floured oblong basket or in a floured couche (cloth) to support the sides. 
  12. Cover the dough, and let rise until quite puffy, two to three hours. 
  13. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. I baked my loaf on a preheated stone with an upside down foil lasagna pan, but you can use a parchment lined baking sheet. 
  14. When the dough is ready, place a parchment sheet on a peel, and turn the dough out onto the peel. Slash the top of the dough in a pattern that you like, and place the dough, parchment and all, on top of the stone, cover with the pan, and close the oven door. Reduce the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  15. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the pan/lid, and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the bread is golden and has reached an internal temperature of about 205 degrees F. 
  16. Cool completely on a wire rack. 
This recipe was adapted from Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads. I am completely smitten with the book.

Submitted to Yeastspotting 

Jan 28, 2015

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Pancetta | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Pancetta | Wok Wednesdays

This Bok Choy with Pancetta recipe, according to Grace Young, was created by a Chinese expat working in Paris who could not find Chinese Yunnan ham.

What is pancetta? It's Italian bacon (cured pork belly). You'll need to find whole pancetta that is not already thinly sliced, so you can cut it into a 1/4 inch dice.

It's time for Wok Wednesdays again, and this week we are making Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Pancetta on page 226 of Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories.

You don't have to be a blogger to join the group. Just join our Facebook page to view fabulous photos and learn amazing tips for stir-frying. When I first started on this journey, I had no idea what I was doing, but with the help of the group and Grace Young (who is a member of the group and always willing to answer questions), I feel like I can hold my own, as long as I have a copy of one of her books open on the kitchen counter.

Things I have learned:
  1. The importance of mis en place, or else your kitchen will look like a hurricane hit it. 
  2. How to make the BEST popcorn in the world in a wok.
  3. How to keep a wok rust free.
  4. How to buy ingredients in an Asian grocery store (show photos from the book, and when in doubt, post photos that you've just taken in the store to the FB page... someone is bound to answer!)
  5. That I can actually cook eggs in the wok without them sticking. 
  6. All about the Chinese diaspora and the stir-fries that were created by mixing the foods of different cultures.
  7. What Lingham's Chilli sauce (they actually offered to send me some), and Matouk's Calypso Sauce are. 
  8. That fish sauce may be unpleasant smelling in the bottle, but it adds an amazing flavor.
  9. That I love lemon grass. 
  10. That this stir fried bok choy is one of the most delicious vegetables ever!
Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Pancetta | Wok Wednesdays

Bok choy, pancetta, ginger, garlic, soy, chicken broth, and a bit of salt and sugar..... remarkable.

The bok choy is "crisp tender," and the sauce, while not overwhelming, adds such a rich flavor. So good and so tasty. Plus, you get leftover pancetta!

Jan 26, 2015

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake | Tuesdays with Dorie

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake | Tuesdays with Dorie

This brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake is so easy to make and really versatile. When it is first made, it can be eaten plain, as you would any cake. When it gets stale, it is excellent toasted and buttered.

Yes, I buttered a butter cake.

The crust has a wonderful crispy sugary texture, even though it is simply a plain cake.

The story behind this cake, and loaf cakes like it, as told by Dorie Greenspan, is that this is a gateaux voyage, or gateaux weekend (according to Dorie, the French do use the American term, "weekend"). It's a simple cake that the French wrap up and take with them on weekends away.

To make this cake, all you need is a couple of bowls, a loaf pan, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. No electric mixer needed.

Oh, and the browned butter! The butter in this cake is boiled until it turns to a deep amber color, adding such a wonderful caramelized flavor. You definitely need to keep a very close eye on the butter, because when it begins to brown, it can burn very quickly. I poured mine out into a heat proof bowl the minute it was the right color so it wouldn't continue to cook in the hot pan.

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake | Tuesdays with Dorie

Suggested ways to eat this cake:
  1. Plain
  2. Toasted with butter
  3. Topped with vanilla ice cream
  4. Spread with jam
  5. Toasted and spread with jam
  6. Topped with chocolate sauce
  7. Spread with Nutella
  8. Toasted and dipped in coffee
  9. Toasted and used as croutons in hot chocolate
  10. Spread with whipped cream
I'm sure you guys have many more suggestions. 

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's stunning new book, Baking Chez Moi. The stories behind the recipes are such a fun read. I am a total fangirl. 

The recipe for this cake can be found > here <. 

To see how other bakers fared with this recipe, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie group's site.

Jan 25, 2015

Stove Top Tamale Pie

Stove Top Tamale Pie from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Tamale Pie doesn't have much resemblance to tamales, and it really isn't a pie.

"So, what is it then?" you ask. There are lots of versions of tamale pie, but it is essentially made with chili topped with either cornbread or polenta and cheese and then baked in the oven.

Stove Top Tamale Pie from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This version of tamale pie is made entirely on the stove top, and takes no time to prepare. Think of it as chili with cheese and cornbread dumplings!

The sweet cornbread topping is the perfect contrast to the spicy chili. If your mom made tamale pie for dinner when you were growing up, you will enjoy this trip down memory lane. If you've never heard of tamale pie, but like chili and cornbread, you'll love this dish too.

I think the best part is the spot where the cornbread and chili meld together, sopping up that chili flavor into the cornbread.

Stove Top Tamale Pie from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Guess what folks. It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day! What is Secret Recipe Club? We are a group of bloggers who are secretly assigned a blog once a month from which to choose a recipe. On reveal day, we all post the recipes we chose.

This month, I was assigned Jess' blog, Flying on Jess Fuel. Jess is so adorable. She is married to a Navy pilot, and they are the cutest couple ever. Jess always stops by my blog on reveal day and has the nicest things to say (thanks Jess!). Needless to say, I was really happy to be assigned her blog. Plus, Jess likes spicy food (as do I)!

There are so many wonderful dishes on her blog. I narrowed my choices down to Jess's Taco Salad and this Stove Top Tamale Pie. I'm definitely making the taco salad soon.

I added some chopped onions to the beef because I had half of an onion in the refrigerator leftover from making this Stir Fry. I also used fresh oregano, because we have some growing in our garden! Other than that, I followed Jess' recipe pretty much as written. I used hot paprika, but you could probably use sweet (I just couldn't find mine!).

I used a 12 inch saute pan so that the chili could peek out from under the cornbread. A more traditional tamale pie has a solid layer of cornbread "crust." If you prefer that, just use a 10 inch pan. I dropped the cornbread batter onto the chili with a small ice cream scoop, but a tablespoon would work just fine.

This was a very tasty dish, and one that I will be making again.

Stove Top Tamale Pie

Recipe from Flying on Jess Fuel, adapted from McCormick's Cooking with Flavor.



1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped (optional)
2 T chile powder (I used chipotle chile powder)
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
1/2 tsp dried or 1 1/2 tsp fresh oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 T ground cumin
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can kidney beans, undrained


2/3 C all purpose flour
1/2 C yellow cornmeal (I used medium grind)
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 C milk


1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 C sliced green onions
Cilantro sprigs (optional)


  1. In a large skillet or saute pan, brown the meat over medium high heat. As the meat begins to cook, add the optional onions. 
  2. Drain the grease from the pan, add the spices, tomato sauce, and kidney beans. 
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. While the chili is simmering, mix the cornbread ingredients until just combined.
  5. Drop the batter by tablespoon over the chili. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes, until the cornbread is fully cooked. 
  6. Sprinkle with the cheese and green onions and cover to cook until the cheese is melted. 
  7. Top with the cilantro sprigs to serve. 

Jan 21, 2015

Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges

Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges

These roasted Yukon Gold potato wedges are so creamy on the inside and crusty on the outside. They would be the perfect side dish for a steak or fish (as in fish and chips).

Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges

I'm not ashamed to say that I love (luuurve) potatoes.

Mr. Kitchen, a die hard potato lover who happens to be Irish born and raised (and skinny btw), gave them his stamp of approval. Somehow he managed to steal all of the leftovers. That makes me happy.

We had these with crusted tilapia and the combination was very tasty. Yukon Golds are creamy and thin skinned, and are best suited for this dish. Red or white potatoes would work well too.

The shallot pieces get a bit crusty and burnt, but add a wonderful caramelized flavor.

Do you love potatoes? Me too. Make these. They are sooooo good.

Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges

Serves 4 to 6


6 to 8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds), scrubbed
Approximately 1/4 C Olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 to 2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 heaping tsp garlic salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. Cut the potatoes into quarters, lengthwise, and place them into a large bowl. 
  3. Drizzle about a tablespoon of the olive oil onto a sheet pan, and then drizzle the rest over the cut potatoes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and toss with the potatoes. 
  5. Spread the potato wedges in the pan, and place them in the oven. 
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes, turning with a spatula about halfway through baking, until fork tender. 
  7. Serve immediately. 
  8. Make ahead: Cook the potatoes until just done. Let cool and wrap in foil. Reheat at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. 

Jan 20, 2015

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

This Classic Shortbread is crispy, crumbly, sandy, and melt-in-your-mouth all at the same time. With the little bursts of fleur de sel flavor, they are incredibly difficult to resist.

Fleur de sel, a wonderful finishing salt that is hand harvested, brings back memories of a trip to Provence we took about 14 years ago. My dad had rented a farmhouse in Bonnieux for several weeks, and we got to stay for one of the weeks. We spent the week visiting many of the open air markets in the different towns throughout the region. It was truly an amazing vacation.

One of the few things I brought back from that trip was a little container of fleur de sel, which I have used sparingly as a finishing salt, mostly on chocolate and caramel. This little container brings back wonderful memories from the trip, and of my dad (although I did have several white knuckle moments as he drove us from market to market on the French roads).

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

I've since purchased a large container of this wonderful salt, which I use to refill this original container.

Today, the #CreativeCookieExchange is making cookies with the theme, Make Someone's Day!

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

I made a batch of these cookies for someone special to me who loves shortbread even more than chocolate chip cookies! I could tell by the smile on her face that these made her happy. I also am sharing some with my grandkids, who always get excited when I make them a treat. Cookies from grandma usually makes their day.

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

I made the dough for these cookies in the evening, and then cut and baked them the next day. Easy peasy.

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

After the recipe, check out all of the Make Someone's Day links for wonderful cookie recipes.  Make someone's day!

Classic Shortbread with Fleur de Sel Recipe


1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. The butter should be cool.
1 C confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 C all purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons if necessary
1/2 C white rice flour
2 large egg yolks
Fleur de sel for sprinkling (you could use sanding sugar instead of the salt, or just leave them plain)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter on high with the paddle attachment until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and salt, and beat for a minute or two, until incorporated.
  3. Whisk the two flours together, and add the mixture in two additions. Mix on low until just mixed in. 
  4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. If the dough is too wet, add the additional flour.
  5. Briefly knead the dough on the counter until everything is fully blended. Do not over mix. 
  6. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, flatten them into round disks that are just slightly less than 1/2 inch thick. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour to 24 hours. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment. 
  8. Remove one disk at a time from the refrigerator, sprinkle lightly with the sea salt, cut into six wedges, and pierce each wedge with a fork. 
  9. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 17 to 22 minutes, until the cookies just begin to brown on the edges. 
  10. Cool the pans on a wire rack for 10 minute. Move the cookies to a wire rack and continue to cool. 
  11. Keep in an airtight container up to five days. 
Recipe slightly adapted from the wonderful book Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

The theme this month is Make Someone’s Day Cookies! We chose someone in our lives that we loved and baked them cookies that they love! Maybe you will feel inspired to bake someone that you love a 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. 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 here 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:

Jan 19, 2015

Eastern European Rye Bread

Eastern European Rye Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This Eastern European Rye Bread is soft and light with a crispy crust. It is perfect for deli style sandwiches.

Eastern European Rye Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

I was a little nervous about this bread at first, mostly because the dough requires quite a bit of kneading, which is something that normally turns rye dough into glue (at least for me). The dough started out really sticky and glue-like, but an amazing thing happened. After about eight minutes of kneading with the stand mixer on medium speed, the dough became smooth and easy to work with.

This bread also managed to survive a major goof on my part. After the first rise, I carefully shaped the dough and placed it in a heavily floured towel for the final rise. Then I realized that there should have been a second rise before shaping. Doh!

Eastern European Rye Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

I quickly pulled the loaf out of the well flowered dish towel sling I'd placed it in to rise, rubbed it with wet hands to try to absorb the flour coating into the dough, and gave it a couple of kneads. Miracle of miracles, it rose up again!!

Regarding the dish towel "sling," there's a photo of how I suspended a loaf like this in this post. It's pretty fun explaining to your family why it's hanging there.

Bottom line? I loved how this bread turned out! It's probably the most success I've had with traditional deli rye.

Today, the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking Eastern European Rye from the wonderful book, Baking with Julia (as in Julia Child) by Dorie Greenspan.  To see how other bakers fared, follow this link.

Eastern European Rye 

Makes two loaves


1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 3/4 C tepid water (80 to 90 degrees F)
1 T sugar
1 scant tablespoon salt
1/4 C vegetable shortening
3 C medium rye flour
1 T ground caraway seeds (I ground them in a spice grinder)
1 1/2 T caraway seeds
3 T vital wheat gluten
3 1/2 C (approximately) bread flour 
1 large egg white
1 tsp cold water
Caraway seeds for sprinkling


  1. Place the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, and add 1/2 C of the water and a pinch of the sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the rest of the water, the rest of the sugar, the salt, and the shortening. Add the rye flour and caraway seeds to the bowl and stir with a spoon until it is fully incorporated. 
  3. Move the bowl to the mixer. Using the dough hook, mix in the vital wheat gluten. Add 2 1/2 C of the bread flour, and mix on medium low, adding more flour until the dough is soft and clears the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes.
  4. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth. I mixed mine for the full eight minutes. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about 90 minutes, until doubled.
  6. Deflate the dough and let it rise again, until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  7. Press the dough into a 7 inch by 9 inch rectangle, and, beginning with a shorter side, roll it into a log, sealing the dough as you roll it up. Tuck in the ends, place it in a floured towel, and suspend it from a drawer (I just tuck the towel into the drawer and shut the drawer). For detailed shaping instructions, see Cathy's post here
  8. Let rise for 30 minutes. It will be quite puffy. 
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and set it up for steam (I use a broiler pan on the lowest rack, in which I add boiling water. I also spray the oven walls with water after loading the bread). 
  10. When the loaf is ready, brush it with the egg white and water wash, and sprinkle with caraway seeds. 
  11. Slash the dough three times on the diagonal. 
  12. Load the loaf onto the baking stone or baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. 
  13. Turn the oven off, and let the loaves sit for 5 minutes more. 
  14. Let cool completely on a wire rack.