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May 28, 2013

Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia

Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia

This pain à l’ancienne focaccia is made from a high hydration dough that ferments up to four days in the refrigerator to develop flavor. It is actually the same dough formula that I used for this ciabatta, but the dough is shaped very differently. 

While I sprinkled the top of this bread with King Arthur Flour's pizza seasoning, you can use any combination of herbs, spices, salt, and infused olive oil. You can use this dough as a base for pizza. You can also add additional flavor by pushing chunks of cheese, cherry tomatoes, onions, or anything else that sounds tasty into the dough. 

Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia

We enjoyed this focaccia dipped into olive oil and balsamic sprinkled with a few crushed red pepper. 

Look at those holes!

Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia

May 26, 2013

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

These slow cooker baby back ribs are so easy. I'm sure the barbecue pros out there turn their collective noses up at the idea of cooking ribs in a slow cooker. These never even come within the vicinity of a barbecue. Regardless, they create the fall-off-the-bone slow grilled awesomeness of the barbecued version of ribs.

After seeing how much the boys enjoyed these ribs, I wanted to make a great weeknight version for them. Serendipitously, +David Leite posted this on G+. I was all over it.

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Here's the deal. The ribs are braised in the slow cooker in a barbecue sauce and then broiled in the oven with a barbecue sauce reduction to give them a great char. They are E-A-S-Y.

Let's just say the kids LOVED them. All capital letters. It was so fun serving them up and having them say "yes please" when I asked if they wanted more. I just love feeding boys.

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Adapted from Leite's Culinaria, adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution.
Regarding the membrane, I left it on, and didn't notice it when the ribs were done.

Equipment needed:

6 qt. or larger slow cooker
Rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan) or broiler pan
Rack that will fit in the baking sheet
Cutting board
Two sets of tongs (not mandatory, but very helpful for moving the racks and flipping them over)
Lots of napkins!


3 T sweet Hungarian paprika
2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
6 pounds of baby back ribs. About three racks. 
3 C barbecue sauce, homemade or bottled. In this case, I used Bullseye original. 


  1. Mix the rub ingredients (paprika, sugar, cayenne, salt, and pepper) and rub it all over the racks of ribs. 
  2. Place the ribs, meat side out (facing the slow cooker wall). into the slow cooker, standing up. They should curve along the wall of the slow cooker. The third rib rack should be stacked against the first two racks. 
  3. Pour the barbecue sauce over the ribs.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for six to eight hours. 
  5. Once the ribs are done, remove them from the slow cooker and let them sit, tented with foil while you prepare the basting sauce.
  6. Remove the slow cooker insert to let it cool for about five minutes and then skim the fat from the  top of barbecue sauce and juices. Pour the sauce into a sauce pan and simmer to reduce it for about 20 minutes. 
  7. Line a half sheet pan with foil and top with a cooling rack that has been sprayed with a nonstick spray oil. 
  8. Place an oven rack about 10 inches below the broiler and preheat the oven to broil.
  9. Place the rib racks, bone side up, on the sheet pan and wire rack, and brush liberally with the reduced barbecue sauce. 
  10. Broil the ribs for about 4 minutes.
  11. Turn the ribs over, brush with barbecue sauce, and broil for another 10 minutes, brushing again with sauce about half way through. 
  12. Move the finished ribs to a cutting board and tent them with foil for about 10 minutes. Cut the ribs individually and serve with the basting sauce.
  13. Watch your family enjoy every bite. 
May 24, 2013

Korean Style Barbecued Flank Steak

Korean Style Barbecued Flank Steak

This is my favorite supermarket steak barbecue recipe. It's not all that expensive (for beef) and it's really good. 

I'm not that well versed in preparing excellent steak, and I am not thrilled with the steaks you can buy at a typical grocery store. If I'm going to prepare beef at home I'd rather have this beef tenderloin or a roast, neither of which is prepared on the barbecue.  

Which brings me back to flank steak. I absolutely love this cut of meat for barbecuing for a crowd. And I absolutely love this recipe. I have served this steak with this salad and fried rice. So good. 

Korean Style Barbecued Flank Steak

This dish also is perfect for a week night dinner. Throw together a salad and some rice in the rice cooker and you have dinner. 

Korean Style Barbecue Flank Steak

Adapted from Food Network

2 T steak seasoning such as Montreal. I've been using the Bronzeville Rib Rub from the Spice House
1/4 C Tamari soy sauce
1 T honey
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, chopped
A drizzle of vegetable oil
2 pound flank steak
Kim chee (optional)


  1. Combine the ingredients and coat the flank steak. Cover and marinate for several hours.
  2. Heat a grill to medium high. 
  3. Cook the meat 5 minutes per side. 
  4. Remove the meat from the grill, tent, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Slice the meat on an angle against the grain, top with the optional kim chee, and serve. 
May 21, 2013

Savory Brioche Pockets | Tuesdays with Dorie

Savory Brioche Pockets

This week the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking Savory Brioche Pockets from page 421 of Baking with Julia, a book edited by Dorie Greenspan, and based on the PBS series, Baking with Julia (Child).

Savory Brioche Pockets

These brioche bread pockets contain a mixture of mashed red potatoes, goat cheese, chives, caramelized onions, and asparagus tips... a pretty amazing combination of flavors. They are topped with an egg wash, poppy seeds, and a sage leaf. Just to make them pretty. They are supposed to have this little rim around the edge and look like little pies. but my brioche had such great oven spring and ended up looking like dinner rolls. The contributing editor, Nancy Silverton (one of my idols... seriously, read her prose about bread baking in her book.. you will be hooked), suggests that these could be served as appetizers, but I had just one for dinner and it was quite filling.

Savory Brioche Pockets

Making these is pretty involved. First, you have to make the brioche dough and then allow it to ferment over night in the refrigerator. Oh yeah, and there's 30 minutes (thirty minutes!) of high speed kneading in your stand mixer.

After you make and chill the dough, you steam and mash the potatoes, par-cook the asparagus, and caramelize the onions.  Thankfully, once you shape the rolls, you can freeze them and bake them when you need them.

Savory Brioche Pockets


This brioche is the best I have ever tasted/made. Wow. I had some trouble working with it, but it doesn't matter. The texture and taste were perfect. Not heavy, not greasy, but light and airy despite the high butter content. I never understood the appeal of brioche hamburger buns... now I get it. I can't wait to try the portion of the dough that is in the freezer to make them.

What did I do differently from the original recipe? Not much. I nuked the the red potatoes without peeling them ( I used minis) and mashed the skins into the mix of potatoes and goat cheese, and I used the entire trimmed asparagus spear (the recipe calls for just the tips).

To see the recipe, visit Loaves and Stitches.  To see how other Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers fared (and to see their creativity with the recipe) visit the Tuesdays with Dorie site.

May 19, 2013

Asian Take-out Style Spareribs

Believe it or not, I had never made ribs before. Ever. And I love them!

One of my favorite things to do is cook both with and for my grandsons. I just learned that one of their all time favorite foods is spareribs when their grandpa asked the oldest to list their favorite foods, and he said, "Ribs, pizza, and orange chicken."

I can do this!

Unlike other recipes I've seen, these spareribs are baked uncovered at a fairly high temperature after being marinated in honey, ketchup, hoisin, and Chinese five-spice powder.  The marinade also includes dark soy, which I found at an Asian grocery store. If you can't find it, regular soy is fine.

The verdict? The kids mowed through them. I think the four adults each had one rib and and the boys ate the rest. The rest of the adults weren't thrilled about that, but it sure made me smile.

Luckily for the rest of us, I served these with orange chicken, a pork tenderloin, wok-seared vegetables, and white rice.

Asian Take-out Spareribs


2 1/2 pounds spareribs, preferably St. Louis style, cut into individual ribs
3 T honey
2 T dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
3 T ketchup
1 T hoisin sauce
1 T dark soy sauce (regular is fine, the ribs will be lighter in color)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice


  1. Mix all of the ingredients (except the spareribs) and divide it in half.
  2. Place the ribs in a shallow dish and cover them with half of the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the ribs for about three hours. 
  3. Refrigerate the reserved marinade.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the middle.
  5. Line a half sheet pan with foil and place the ribs, bone side up, on the foil.
  6. Bake for an hour, basting the ribs with the reserved marinade every 20 minutes.
  7. After an hour, baste the ribs one more time and turn on the broiler. 
  8. Broil the ribs for about 5 minutes, until crusty. 
  9. Place them on a serving platter and watch them disappear. 
I mixed up some Chinese mustard to go with these ribs but forgot to serve it. The spareribs were good on their own and I don't think the boys would have touched the hot mustard anyway. =)

May 18, 2013

No Knead Rustic Dinner Rolls

No Knead Rustic Dinner Rolls

Want to have fresh rolls for dinner that require very little hands on time? If you mix up the dough before you go to bed, you can bake these in the morning, and, boom, you have fresh rolls. Just reheat them before dinner to have warm rolls. Your friends and family will be impressed. I promise.

These no knead rolls are based on the same concept as no knead bread. Mix flour, salt, water, and yeast  with a spoon and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours, usually over night.

No Knead Rustic Dinner Rolls

These rolls contain about 23% whole wheat, which. along with their random shapes, makes them seem more rustic. They are amazing warm with butter, and also are great for sandwiches when sliced in half.

You will need a flexible dough scraper or a large rubber spatula to remove the dough from the bowl. You will also need a bench scraper to divide the dough into eight pieces. A knife would work but you could damage your cutting surface. You will also need a sheet of parchment paper.  A scale is really helpful and means less dishes because you measure right into the mixing bowl that sits on top of the scale.
No Knead Rustic Dinner Rolls

Use your baking stone if you have one, but you can make these just fine on a parchment lined baking sheet.

May 16, 2013

Multigrain Bread with Sunflower and Flax Seeds | Naked Bread

Multigrain Bread with Sunflower and Flax Seeds | Naked Bread

This Multigrain bread with sunflower seeds and flax seeds (and whole grains) is densely packed with seedy goodness. I recently read on the Interwebs that both flax seeds and sunflower seeds are super foods (and if you read it on the Internet, it has to be true!).

Multigrain Bread with Sunflower and Flax Seeds | Naked Bread

If you toast your sunflower seeds in a hot dry skillet, you will get an amazing flavor from them. Just be sure to watch them or they will burn very quickly. Trust me. I speak from experience.

This bread is great as a sandwich bread. You can slice it very thinly and it holds up very well. I used it to make one of my guilty pleasures, a tuna and egg salad sandwich. If you have not tried this combination, do not turn up your nose. It's great.

Pedestrian? Bourgeois? Try it in the privacy of your home. No one has to know.

Multigrain Bread with Sunflower and Flax Seeds | Naked Bread

Naked bread you say?

This bread was meant to be covered in lovely seeds and oats. The post from which this recipe was inspired has a gorgeous photograph of such a loaf (posted at the beginning of the recipe below).  Here's what happened to my topping when I de-panned the bread.

Multigrain Bread with Sunflower and Flax Seeds | Naked Bread

I need to work on this.

Multigrain Bread

Adapted from Pastry Affair


9 1/2 ounces (2 C) bread flour
6 ounces (1 1/2 C) whole wheat flour
1 C old fashioned oats
1/2 C sunflower seeds, toasted
2 T flax seeds
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 ounces of lukewarm water
Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and rolled oats for coating the top of the bread. (Good luck.. try an egg wash to help the toppings stick... I didn't. Obviously.)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the dry ingredients together (except the toppings). 
  2. Mix in the water with a dough whisk or large spoon until all of the ingredients form a shaggy ball. 
  3. Knead the dough with the dough hook for about 7 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for 10 minutes. 
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for about 2 to three hours, until doubled. 
  5. Deflate the dough and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes. 
  6. Press the dough into a 9 inch square and roll it into a tight log and place it into an oiled 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan. 
  7. Brush the loaf with and egg or egg white wash and sprinkle the loaf with the toppings. 
  8. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise for 30 to 60 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
  9. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until lightly browned and the interior reaches 195 degrees F. 
  10. De-pan and cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour. 
  11. Make yourself an egg and tuna sandwich. Yeah-ah. 

Sharing with Yeastspotting

May 14, 2013

Wok-Seared Vegetables | Wok Wednesdays

Asparagus, shallots. ginger, garlic, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and grape tomatoes. All of these vegetables have different textures and density. The beauty of stir frying is the ability to add the vegetables at the right time to ensure that everything turns out perfectly... all within just a few minutes.

The asparagus is briefly blanched prior to beginning the stir fry. After blanching, I rinsed mine with cold water to stop the cooking process and set it aside while I worked on other dishes for our dinner.

These vegetables are so fresh and easy to prepare. The entire process takes about three minutes. Just stir fry the ginger and garlic, add the asparagus, carrots (I used this tool to shred the carrots, it's amazing), and mushrooms, and then add the tomatoes and seasonings and sauce. Bam. Done. Just have everything prepped in advance.

I was a little worried about adding tomatoes to my two month old wok. I have read that you shouldn't add acidic foods until after six months of using your wok. Fortunately, these tomatoes are added at the very end, and my newly seasoned wok survived. I think it also helped that I popped some popcorn and fried some orange chicken in my wok just prior to preparing this dish.

Another cool thing about this dish is that it does not require any exotic ingredients. It's super easy. We served it with rice and an Asian seasoned pork tenderloin. It was a big hit.

I am participating in Wok Wednesdays. We are stir frying our way through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories by Grace Young. Buy this book. It's not just a cookbook. It's filled with stories and history lessons.

If you'd like to participate in Wok Wednesdays, please visit the Wok Wednesday's page.

The recipe for this dish can also be found here.

Green Bean Salad with Basil, Parmesan, Shallots, and Balsamic

Green Bean Salad with Basil, Parmesan, Shallots, and Balsamic

This salad is a perfect for picnics.

Don't tell anyone this... on days when I'm feeling guilty about what I had for lunch (or dinner yesterday), I have a big bowl of these beans for dinner. The combination of the parmesan, basil, shallots, and balsamic give these beans such an amazing flavor.

Green Bean Salad with Basil, Parmesan, Shallots, and Balsamic

Don't tell anyone this either, but I can eat them like French fries. They are pretty addictive. You won't hear me say that very often about vegetables.

My husband had been religious about consuming the "recommended daily allowance" of vegetables, and he is kind of sick of beans. I sort of have to say "there's a green bean salad in the garage fridge if you're interested. You don't have to have any, but if you need a vegetable, it's pretty good....." and then leave it at that.... well, he totally loved it.

May 13, 2013

Fresh Blackberry Margarita

This blackberry margarita is super refreshing and maybe even a little less guilt producing. It's fairly low in sugar, and gets its sweetness from the fresh fruit. Rather than sweet and sour, it has a little added limeade concentrate.

This recipe is for a single cocktail, but it can easily be sized for a pitcher. Just puree the blackberries in a food processor or a blender with some of the lime juice and then strain. I think a blackberry garnish would be nice too. It can also be served straight up.

As Mr. Kitchen said when I gave him a taste, "there's a lot of flavors going on in here."

Berries are supposed to be really good for you, right? They are a super food... oh wait, that's blueberries. At least this week. So while the food / health experts work it out, I'll just sip one of these. Because you never know.

Fresh Blackberry Margarita


6 - 8 fresh blackberries
1 1/2 ounces white tequila
1 ounce triple sec, Cointreau, or Patron Cintronge 
1 ounce lime juice
1 1/2 tsp limeade concentrate
Sugar or salt for the glass rim
Lime wheel for garnish


  1. Rub the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with lime juice and dip the rim into sugar or salt.
  2. Muddle the blackberries in the lime juice and strain through a fine mesh strainer into an ice filled cocktail shaker or tall glass. Press down with the back of a spoon to get all of the lovely juice.
  3. Add the tequila, triple sec, and the limeade concentrate. 
  4. Shake or stir.
  5. Strain over ice into a "rocks" cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel. 

May 10, 2013

Sourdough Bread Twists

sourdough seeded bread twists

These sourdough bread twists are amazing.

I love bread. I love sourdough. But you knew that. These little sourdough pull-apart bread sticks are ideal for a dinner bread basket.  They are also awesome for appetizers spread with an olive tapenade or a fabulous cheese. I like to dip them in oil and balsamic or slice them in half and toast them with butter, garlic, and parmesan. Keep them attached to each other until you serve them to preserve freshness.

sourdough seeded bread twists

May 9, 2013

Almost White Sandwich Bread | Pantry Bread

Almost White Sandwich Bread Karen's Kitchen Stories

I wanted to play around with a white bread recipe by adding some whole grains while keeping the structure and "look" of sandwich bread. I replaced about 25% of the white flour with a mixture of whole grains and nicknamed it "Pantry Bread" because I grabbed whatever I had on hand and added it to the dough.

This bread can be sliced very thinly without crumbling. You will find this handy because you never know when you will be asked to make tea sandwiches. =)
Almost White Sandwich Bread Karen's Kitchen Stories

I added a combination of corn flour, whole wheat flour, and a whole grain blend of ancient grains. Rye flour would be good as well.

The dough performed well, was easy to handle, and had fantastic oven spring. I love this bread for sandwiches, toast, and grilled cheese, and it had great flavor without being overpowering.

May 7, 2013

Fresh Rhubarb Upside-down Baby Cakes | Tuesdays with Dorie

This is a lovely little butter cake with a topping of fresh rhubarb and pecan caramel laced with a bit of bourbon. These cakes are baked as upside down cakes in eight little four inch pans. Who has eight four inch cake pans? I do... of course!

I bought them to host the Gingerbread Baby Cakes Tuesdays with Dorie.

The cakes were super easy to prepare, and are amazingly moist, probably thanks to the full cup of crème fraîche incorporated in the batter. I was able to easily prepare these cakes in an evening without any trouble. 

I am participating with Tuesdays with Dorie, a group that is baking recipes from Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers.

Every other Tuesday, we bake a recipe from this book based on the PBS Series Baking with Julia (Child). This week's host is Erin of When in Doubt, Leave at 350. For the recipe, check out her site.

My thoughts on this recipe:

Sadly, it's not as pretty as it tastes. The green parts of the rhubarb kind of look gray after baking. I think next time I will slice the rhubarb more thinly and crush some raspberries or strawberries and toss the rhubarb in them to add some red color. It's really needed to make the look of these cakes more appetizing.

The cake itself is amazing. I can think of so many things I would like to try out with this batter.

There is not enough caramel/pecan mixture. I'd amp that up a bit too.

The book described the cake batter as "bourbon-boosted" yet instructs you to throw the bourbon in with the caramel. What does a baker do??? Drink the bourbon instead?  =)

This cake is seriously, seriously, seriously good. I can't wait to check out how other bakers made it more pretty. Go to this link to see other bakers' results. Check out the recipe over at Erin's blog and come back and let me know what you think!
May 6, 2013

Strawberry Chocolate Anniversary Cake

Strawberry Chocolate Anniversary Cake

You know how when people celebrate their one year anniversary, they are supposed to bring out the top of the cake from the freezer and share it with each other? I'm pretty sure that top tier cake ends up in the trash (well, maybe it is Instagrammed and then dumped in the trash).

Why not make a new little anniversary cake?

This little cake is baked in two 5 inch cake pans, perfectly sized for a first year anniversary celebration. I have made the chocolate cake many times, sometimes with chocolate, and sometimes with vanilla frosting. This time I wanted something a bit fresher to go with the Chocolate Party theme for this month, strawberries. Why not whipped cream? Strawberries and cream on a little devil's food cake.

Strawberry Chocolate Anniversary Cake

This cake is layered with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and a fresh strawberry reduction. It's light and seasonal. If you like, you can prepare the cake layers and the strawberry Cointreau reduction in advance. When you are ready to serve the cake, whip the cream and assemble the layers.

Strawberry Chocolate Anniversary Cake

This cake also is in celebration of the one year anniversary of my blog. Happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary, haaaaa-ppy anniversary.

What especially touches my heart about this cake is that I have baked variations of it several times with my grandson. He decorates it with as many candies and sprinkles as he likes. I keep a large assortment on hand of course. You can't have too many sprinkles in life.

May 5, 2013

The Tuxedo Martini

Tuxedo Martini

Supposedly, this cocktail was created at the Tuxedo Club in New York in the 19th century. In another version of its origin, the cocktail was part of a slew of drinks created during prohibition. These cocktails contained liqueur to conceal the atrociousness of the bathtub gin that was available at the time.
May 2, 2013

English Muffins | Avid Bakers Challenge

English Muffins www.karenskitchenstories

Homemade English muffins have been on my list of breads to attempt. While I had made the recipe in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, I wasn't that happy with the results (sorry Peter). The dough seemed too firm  and dense for English muffins.
May 1, 2013

Velvet Chicken with Asparagus | Wok Wednesdays

Velvet Chicken with Asparagus

Who knew that "velvet" was a verb?

Well, it is! Do you get as annoyed as I do when you hear "boneless skinless chicken breast (BSCB)?" Once you "velvet" your chicken, you won't hate it anymore.

Velvet Chicken with Asparagus

Velveting involves marinating meat, poultry, or fish in egg whites, cornstarch, rice wine, oil, and a bit of salt, and then simmering it in water and oil for a very short period of time prior to stir frying. The resulting BSCB is "melt in your mouth" amazing.

If someone told you dinner was boneless skinless chicken breasts and asparagus, would you be excited? Me neither. With this dish, you will be.

Velvet Chicken with Asparagus

This recipe requires a little bit of pre-preparation, but the actual stir frying time is two to three minutes. Boom!

Velvet Chicken with Asparagus

The ingredient list includes chicken, asparagus, garlic, ginger, an egg white, salt, chicken broth, salt, white pepper, rice wine, and cornstarch, plus oil for boiling and frying. That's it. All easily available.

The chicken is marinated in the egg white, rice wine, cornstarch, and salt, and then blanched. The asparagus is also blanched. Then all of the ingredients are stir fried. Fast.

Amazing Grace (Young). I cannot tell you how amazing this dish is. Seriously. Get yourself a wok. Buy the book. Give this dish a try. And join Wok Wednesdays. You will get support from Grace herself. She is amazing.

Check out this video of one our Wok Wednesdays members. He demonstrates how to cook this dish.

This recipe is from the award winning book Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young. We encourage you to support the publishing industry and buy the book.

You can also find the recipe here.