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Apr 26, 2013

Cheese and Herb Happy Bread

Cheese and Herb Happy Bread

I so enjoy the bread baking community. For example, I learned about this bread by hanging out with bread bakers online. The recipe for this bread was contributed by Yuko to the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook page Bread of the Month (also known as the BOM). Yuko found this bread recipe from Maya's blog, Foodiva's Kitchen. Maya adapted the recipe from Eva Toneva.
Cheese and Herb Happy Bread

What I love most is that Yuko lives in Japan, Maya lives in Borneo, and Eva  originally wrote the recipe in Bulgarian. How cool is that? Eva originally called it Holiday Bread, and Maya renamed it Happy Bread. I'm sticking with that because just looking at it makes me happy. 

I used the dough to make a savory cheese and herb bread. I used a 10 inch cake pan, thinking that it would be large enough to allow the bread to spread. It grew larger than I expected, so it looks more like cinnamon rolls with the outside petals kind of squished. If you want your bread to be more free form, bake it on a baking sheet. 

You can make this bread into sweet rolls, savory rolls, or just bake the dough as is. It's really flexible. 

Food Diva's Kitchen has some excellent demos of how to shape the bread. I don't think I could describe it any better, so check out her blog. 

Apr 25, 2013

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

Imagine a sable cookie...  only it's not a cookie, it's a savory herb butter cracker that is perfect with an aperitif or a glass of white wine before an elegant dinner.

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

Are you planning a dinner party? These are perfect.

Or.... imagine yourself sitting at a bistro or brasserie in Paris or Aix en Provence with a few friends, a plate of these, and a bottle of champagne. (Be sure to invite me btw)

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

These crackers would also make an excellent hostess gift. I was able to use some of my home grown thyme... always a win.

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

Make ahead tip: You can freeze this dough for up to a month and slice and bake the wafers.

Apr 23, 2013

Tomato & Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos are these tart little tomato-y looking green things with husks. They are not tomatoes, although they are evidently from the tomato family. To me, they taste a little bit like unripe tomatoes dipped in lime juice. They are most commonly used as the base for salsa verde when combined with jalapeños, garlic, and salt. They add a brightness to this salsa.

Tomatillos are a plant native to the western hemisphere, particularly Mexico.

As a side note, did you know that tomatoes were a native food to the western hemisphere and did not reach Europe until the 16th century? It's true. Who knew that Sunday gravy and pizza/spaghetti sauce originated after the Spanish colonization of Mexico.

By the way, the potato, that traditional Irish food, was introduced to Europe in the 16th century by the Spaniards from the Americas. Tomato... potato... both from the indigenous languages of native Americans. (Apologies to my graduate school advisors for not using proper citations here.)

This recipe combines both tomatoes and tomatillos, along with Anaheim, Poblano, and Jalapeño chiles to create a fairly mild salsa. Boiling the ingredients mellows the chiles and tomatillos, and the salsa will last about a week when refrigerated. This salsa has the flavor without the heat... for your friends who like their salsa mild.

If you are doing a taco bar, I would suggest serving this salsa with a medium strength pico de gallo, and my very spicy roasted jalapeño salsa. All of your guests' tastes will be covered.  Feel free to play around with the ingredients to suit your tastes and accomodate the availability of ingredients.

Tomato & Tomatillo Salsa

4 Roma or medium vine ripened tomatoes
2 tomatillos, husks removed
1 poblano chile, split, stemmed, and seeded
2 Anaheim chiles, split, stemmed, and seeded
2 Jalapeño chiles, split, stemmed, and seeded
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
Salt to taste

  • Boil the tomatoes, tomatillos, and chiles for five minutes. 
  • Strain the ingredients and add them to a blender. 
  • Add the garlic.
  • Pulse about 3 to 4 times.
  • Add salt to taste. 
  • Cool and refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld.
That's it! Enjoy!

Apr 18, 2013

Pain à l’Ancienne Baguettes

I have not had the best of luck baking baguettes. They get all squiggly when I move them to the stone and they collapse when I slash them. I try to put a positive spin on it. "While they don't look that great, they sure are tasty!"
Apr 16, 2013

Genoise Madeleines | Tuesdays with Dorie

Madeleines Karen's Kitchen Stories

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie group is tackling Madeleines. For something that had intimidated me, these Madeleines were pretty easy.
Apr 10, 2013

100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
100% whole wheat sourdough bread (actually about 98% or so because I used a bread flour starter). While I am giving you the whole wheat version, you can substitute some of the whole wheat flour with the same weight of other grains such as rye, cornmeal, maseca, and/or oatmeal.

This recipe calls for a 66% sourdough starter, but I don't think you have to go crazy maintaining multiple starters. Just use your 100% starter and add a little extra flour to your dough.

One of my favorite ways to eat this bread is toasted with cheddar. The two flavors seem to work so well together. It also is great for tuna melts.

Apr 7, 2013

Fresh Tomato Salsa | Pico de Gallo

Fresh Tomato Salsa | Pico de Gallo Karen's Kitchen Stories

I took this salsa to a party with a Mexican theme. This salsa was clearly the winner in the "salsa wars." Just saying. Or people were just being nice =)

One of the tricks to increasing the intensity of the tomato flavor is to salt the chopped tomatoes and let them  sit over a strainer to drain off some of the water. The salsa is best served the day that it is made, but can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Fresh Tomato Salsa | Pico de Gallo Karen's Kitchen Stories

Apr 2, 2013

Gruyère Cheese Bread

This Gruyère Cheese Bread is dripping with melty cheese and is absolutely delicious.

Gruyère Cheese Bread

The dough for this Gruyère Cheese Bread is high hydration, which means it can be little hard to manage, but you really shouldn't stress too much about achieving perfect looking loaves.
Apr 1, 2013

Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies

Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies #chocolateparty

Ho hum. Just another chocolate chocolate chip cookie. Not.
These cookies are chewy kind of like brownies, and have a very rich dark chocolate flavor from the large amount of cocoa powder.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies #chocolateparty

This dough does not need to be refrigerated before baking and you don't need to wait for the butter to reach room temperature. You can have chocolate cookies in a few minutes. Perfect for spur of the moment baking with kids. I think this is the first cookie recipe I've tried that does not include eggs (and is not a butter or shortbread cookie).

Strawberry Scones

Strawberry Scones for #twelveloaves

One of the nice things about living in our part of southern California is that the minute winter turns to spring, strawberry stands pop up on what seems like every corner where there is a vacant lot. These strawberries are huge. They are the kind you might imagine they use to make chocolate dipped strawberries. We usually have at least three or four baskets of strawberries in our house at all times.
Strawberry Scones for #twelveloaves

Thus these scones. They are made with vanilla, cream, and butter, and brushed with a vanilla glaze. I also added a couple of drops of Fiori di Sicilia, which is a concentrated blend of vanilla and citrus. You could also add a few scrapes of orange zest if you'd prefer.