Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

 *oy*  This was work, mentally and organizationally for me. *laughing*  I'm almost never this organized, and it's an effort to do so with menu planning.  I cook by mood, keeping a well stocked interesting ingredient pantry....or so I think.  I kind of have a rough idea of what I can and will make when the mood strikes, sometimes days in advance, but write it down?  That I do not do.  But having the need to clear off my plate since the first of the year to allow for some re-grounding to be more present, more respectful to myself...organization and little efforts are being re-worked. I'm not looking into the future to maintain this, but knowing that writing things down, spending less money, making less waste is easy on the heart and mind.  

I hope to post some of the recipes such as the apple cheesecake bars, barley soup and now a new favorite as of dinner tonight - our new everyday bread as it was dubbed this evening.

Monday ~

After school snack - - Vanilla yogurt parfaits with banana and blueberries
                                       ¼ c. peanuts

Dinner ~     Beef barley soup
                    20% whole wheat homemade baguettes
                    Apple cheesecake bars

Tuesday ~

Breakfast - -     Hard boiled eggs
                          Homemade raisin bread, toasted
                          Grapefruit supremes

After school snack -    Blueberry crumb cakes

Dinner - -     “Brinner” - according to Sofia - breakfast food at dinnertime.

                       Turkey sausage links
                       Scrambled eggs with cheese, shallots and herbs
                       20% whole wheat homemade baguette for French toast

Wednesday ~

Breakfast - -  Oatmeal - Sofia Favorite ~ :)

After school snack --  Hummus and crackers

Dinner - -     Chicken stewed in coconut milk and spices - inspiration will be from here.
                      Jasmine rice
                      Roasted asparagus

Thursday ~

Dinner - -     Fish sandwiches using cod, blackend spices, served on homemade challah rolls (less sugar)

Friday ~  

Dinner - -     Black bean soup from freezer
                     Cheddar scones
                     Spinach salad, homemade croutons


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cauliflower soup critiqued with love ~

Blue soup bowl purchased just for Blue Monday ~ :)

Soup with kids.   On Wednesday.

Sitting at the computer, I say, "The soup had too much sage didn't it?  I'm going to reduce the amount of sage."  

Former Little Dude - "Yes, it did."  Looking over at me, "You're not going to post that soup on your blog are you?"  Said tenderly, "It wasn't that great of a soup.  The picture you took doesn't look very good.  I don't care for cauliflower a whole lot"  Well, now.  Okay.  

A few minutes later Miss Annie and Little Miss Sofia enter the room.  I mention the soup.  Annie, "I loved the soup!  It was great!  It tasted cheesy, it was delicious."  Okie dokie.  I have not lost my soup palette mind.

Miss Sofia, "It was okay.  I don't care for that flower stuff."  Young, honest, verbal.

It seems Annabelle and I liked it just fine.

Fast forward to Soup with Kids on Saturday afternoon - they happily and quickly ate leftovers of this, all with lots of yummy sounds and expressions - all three of them.  Go figure.  Me?  I love this brothy soup and will impose it on them again.  :)

Just Fine Kitchen Sink Cauliflower Soup ~
(A bunch of leftovers redone)

2 - 4 T. olive oil
1 medium onion
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced in rounds or half rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. flour
1 qt. chicken stock, more if desired
1 tsp. sage, chiffonade
Two bay leaves
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Stalk or two of rosemary with leaves - no old brown stalk. This is an infusion, to pull out like the bay leaves
1 1/2 c. shredded chicken breast
2 c. roasted cauliflower 
3/4 c. heavy cream 
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
Salt and pepper
  • Heat a stock pot over medium, add olive oil.  Add onion and carrots, toss in some kosher salt, saute until onions have some color. 
  • Add the garlic, saute for 30 seconds or so longer.  Add 2 more tablespoons oil, then the flour.  Cook the flour for a minute or less.  
  • Add the stock, herbs, chicken cauliflower, and cream.  Heat to under a simmer so as not to break the cream and cheddar, 30 minutes to marry all flavors.  

Happy Blue Monday!!

Homemade whole wheat sandwich bread with oats and walnuts for grilled cheese and shallot sandwiches, served with this soup

Sustenance Sunday ~

From last weeks sponge starter batch, I made whole wheat bread with oats and walnuts, walnut scallion baguettes and fig-walnut bread.  The first two were almost a straight take from recipes in Amy's Bread baking book.  Though I didn't get the nice airy holes in the end result with the baguettes, it was a tasty bread.  It made three loaves, one frozen.  The baguette did not freeze well, even being in the freezer only less than a week.   The walnut-scallion bread was nice split lengthwise, brushed with olive oil, a dash of kosher salt and broiled to toasty, then rubbed with fresh garlic.  :)  The whole wheat sandwich bread was only frozen three days, and it did just wonderful for toast.  It was particularly tasty with jam or honey - kid approved.


Buried in the earth, a kernel of wheat
is transformed into tall stalks of grain.
Crushed in the mill, its value increases and it becomes bread, invigorating to the soul.
Ground in the teeth, it becomes spirit, mind, and the understanding of reason;
Lost in Love, that spirit delights the sowers after the sowing.
- Rumi

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday lunch in the hood ~

Lunch for two

At 2:18p. I blurted out, "Oh my gawd!  I love myself!  If good cooking attracted men, I'd have a man harem."  :)  My son is used to talk such as this, he laughs with me.

Every so often I have moments when I fall in love with myself.  This happens when I cook or bake something that I am very happy with.  Today that was at 2:18p.  A late lunch, but what a great lunch today.  I had company.  Former Little Dude has been home ill, so I had a little extra motivation to take extra time to make something special for lunch this Friday.  This was it.  And it will be repeated for dinner many times over in our future family lifetime.  Never mind that he only ate half the pepper itself, I loved a cutting of the pepper with each bite of the filling.  

I found this recipe earlier in the week, it was such an appealing picture to me.  Especially appealing because I had two poblanos on the counter.  Two, not four.  This meant this wasn't going to be a dinner without a store run - no, thank you.   FLD becomes ill, but no loss of appetite...suitable lunch for two.  

I strayed quite a bit from the recipe.  First off, 1/2 an onion?   I won't cut an onion unless I use the entire thing.  This is one reason I love shallots - they are the perfect size for the flavor without waste.  I was out of cumin seeds to grind. I'm not sure what is up with that, that's almost unacceptable.  No cinnamon, and I forgot the lime entirely.  I didn't roast the poblanos, but charred them over the gas burner flame, leaving the skins intact.

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 T. olive oil
2 poblanos
1/4 c. thinly sliced shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 c. diced tomatoes, fresh or canned 
1 c. cooked brown rice (I used jasmine)
3 oz. cheese, shredded (I used half jack, half sharp cheddar)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • Char the poblano peppers over gas or roast in the oven.  Put them in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap to steam them a little - or to peel the screen.  I did gas, kept the skin.  This doesn't make them as soft as roasting, but gives a nice bite when eating.  Slit open, clean out all the seeds.
  • Heat a small saute pan over medium.  Add olive oil when hot, add chicken that has been salt and peppered on both sides.
  • Saute 5-7 minutes on one side, turn and cover until just cooked through.
  • Remove from heat to cool enough to handle.
  • Save the juices in the pan.  Shred the chicken.
  • Heat a 12 inch saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil when hot, and onions.  Saute to some color.  Add garlic and oregano, stir.
  • Add the tomatoes, cooked rice, shredded chicken and cilantro, and the reserved chicken pan juices.  Heat through.
  • Add the cheese, mix well.  Divide and stuff into the peppers.  Use a pick to hold the pepper together if you have lost a stem. Top with a bit more cheese.
  • Heat in a 450 degree oven as desired, or simply broil to melt the cheese.

Warm wishes

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday ~

January 19th, 2011   8:34a.

My moment of morning gratitude

Now I'll be quiet and let silence separate what is true from what are lies as threshing does.

  -- Rumi

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eight precious bagels ~

Nutmeg-golden raisin

Very soft, yet still chewy bagels - no high/gluten/bread flour included.   Dense and chewy - not this recipe.  

I just don't make bagels often, it's rare in fact.   We can get good boiled bagels here in town, thank goodness.  A few years ago there was only one local bagel place that didn't boil their bagels, yet still called them bagels.  This is one of the few time I will get on the Food Soapbox.  If they aren't boiled, they are simply rolls with holes.  Anywhoo.  I consider these a major treat to make.  If I am making bagels, something complex is going on and I'm baking these to keep me busy.  That's not always bad, and neither are these bagels. 

I do like bagels that are made with bread flour.  As I mentioned, these are that not particular recipe, they are quicker due to the amount of yeast...and today, ready for the kids after school snack.

Eight precious bagels ~
(on the light side, soft)

4 1/4 tsp. yeast (whoa, that's alotta yeast)
1 1/4 c. warm water
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
2-3 T barely malt syrup
Egg white wash at the ready 

Love the brass, the time worn handle

  • Have ready two baking sheets lined with parchment and sprinkled with cornmeal.
  • Bloom the yeast in the water, five minutes.
  • Mix the salt and flours, add to the yeast. Knead or mix with dough hook for five minutes.
  • Let the dough rest 10 minutes, then knead another 10 minutes - or mix with the dough hook.
  • Remove the dough to an oiled bowl.  Let rise until double.
  • Get a stockpot full of water, approximately five quarts in an 8 quarts stock pot, add the malt syrup.  Let it come to a boil, reduce to a simmer when ready.  Meantime, shape bagels.
  • Divide the dough into eight pieces.  Roll each into a tight ball.  Place a finger in the middle of the roll and go through.  Use a finger from each hand an twirl the hole open wider.  Set them to rest ten minutes. 
  • Boil the bagels two at a time, 30 seconds on each side in the simmering water.  Remove with a slotted spoon of some sort and dab the bottom with paper towels of excess water.  Place on baking sheets.
  • Brush on egg white wash, top as desired.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes.

Leftovers for our breakfast tomorrow

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fig-walnut bread ~

~ in hands so tender ~
Fig-walnut bread ~

3/4 tsp. yeast
1/4c. warm water
8.5 oz. sponge starter
2/3 c. water - room temperature
2 T. honey
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. flour - more if needed
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. dried figs, chopped (or more)
1 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Bloom the yeast in the 1/4 c. warm water, let it sit a few minutes.  Appreciate it's scent.
  • Add the 2/3 c. water, the sponge, the honey.  Break up the sponge in the water, like a child would - with fingers damp, joy and awe.
  • Add the salt to the flour, mix.  Add the flour to the wet ingredients.  Mix or knead five minutes.  Let the dough rest 20 minutes.
  • Knead or mix in the figs and walnuts.  Add a bit more flour if needed - up to 1/4 c. but let the dough be a sticky dough.
  • Shape the dough into a roll for a 9x5 pan.  Oil the pan well.  Set to rise until double.
  • Before it's almost double, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • When double, bake for 15 minutes, then reduce to 375 and bake another 20 minutes or until done.  Tap the bottom of the loaf for the hollow sound to check.  
  • Remove from pan to cool.
I do like an egg  yolk wash on this particular bread.

~ Latte snack, with blackberry honey ~
  I had a little leftover sponge.  Figs were on my mind for some reason, no need to question, only to head to Nature's to purchase them.  I had a beautiful flour that I also felt moved to buy this week, whole grain additions.   I was craving bread that is earthier, a feeling cradling appeasement to what is not yet forgiven in self.  Whole grain, breads that take extra time and care, something that gives fuller when one slows down to build a foundation that will yield something with more depth, lasting good memories  I've been baking a lot of sponge starter bread as of late.  This bread is one that I will make many more times in my life, I was quite fond of it. 

 ~ I know what real love is ~
Bread love ~

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sustenance Sunday ~


Rewinding back to the last bread post, now comes the lower two in the picture...

My poor heart shrank that day

Rosemary bread ~
Adapted from the baking book, Amy's Bread

1 tsp. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
3 T. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh rosemary - chopped
15 ounces starter
3/4 c. cool/room temperature water
3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 T. kosher salt
  • Bloom the yeast in the 1/4 c. warm water.  Let sit for a few minutes.
  • Add the water, oil and the starter.  Break up the starter with your fingers.  This is fun!  Squishy-squishy!
  • Smile, laugh, squish some more - who says being middle-aged isn't as fun as being a young child.  Only you ~ ~ :)
  • Add the salt, flour, rosemary in a bowl, mix.  Add this to the wet ingredients.
  • Mix or knead for 5 minutes, let rest 20 minutes.
  • Mix or knead 5 minutes more.   Removed to an oil bowl, let rise for an hour.
  • Put in the fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  • Remove from the fridge, let come to room temperature.  
  • Form into two rounds, cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap rise until almost double, allowing time to preheat the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Bake for 20 minutes.  (mist oven if desired).  Reduce heat to 400 and bake 10-15 minutes longer.
  • Oh, so yummy is rosemary in bread ~
A wonderful place ~

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday lunch in the hood ~

Lunch on a Friday
Now what to do with that little bottle of toasted sesame oil?  It doesn't keep long in the fridge, I use only a few drops when I open a new bottle.  Oh, but what a luscious, earthy, smokey scent.  It's lovely.  It's worth the price if only used once and tossed.  I'll try not to toss it.  I might impose a Toasted Sesame Oil Tuesday on myself to use it.

This was easy-peasy, using leftovers from the night before.  If I want to make fried rice, I plan it a day ahead.  I heard long ago that to make good fluffy fried rice, the cooked rice needs to dry out a little.  Making it fresh and using it right away will usually result in a sticky fried rice.  Not that sticky rice isn't good.  :)   This was just a quickie put together dinner - I prefer scallions, though didn't have any that day.  I would have liked peanuts, though I didn't have any.  I usually add egg, but (shock and horrors!) I didn't have one spare egg.   A pattern.  I was happy with what I had.  :)   I learned that I prefer my fried rice sans egg.

5 c. cooked rice
3 - 5 T. neutral oil
2 T. peeled, minced ginger
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 - 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 - 1 1/2 c. cooked diced chicken 
Leftover broccoli, diced
A few dashes coconut aminos (or tamari sauce)
Cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Heat a large saute pan or wok on medium.  Add oil when hot.  
  • Add onions, some kosher salt and saute to some color.
  • Add minced ginger, saute a minute with the rice.
  • Add a few dashes of the coconut aminos, and the diced chicken.  Warm through.
  • Add a few dashes of the toasted sesame oil, mix, then add the rice and broccoli.  Warm through.
  • Add the cilantro, more toasted sesame oil, (but only a dash or two at a time, it goes a long way in seasoning), more coconut aminos if desired, salt and pepper if needed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bread, bread, and more bread ~

Sponge starter started.
Go do other things.
Pass by the starter.
Wonder when it will start visually moving.
Go do other things.
Notice that the starter has grown.
Check on it often, just for fun.
Squeal in delight.

My unbalanced heart
I often crave making good rustic bread, but since I have never had anything close to what I can get so perfectly done here in the area, and I sooooo love bread done well...I rarely give into my need to play with bread when it requires a starter and it's two days before I have a hot loaf out of the oven that still lacks the kind of crust I prefer.  There are tricks that one can do at home to get a better crust, truth is...I just don't feel like making the effort.  :)  That and I feel my home gas oven does not produce the kind of crust in either crispness or browning that resulted from my past electric ovens.  What I do end up with is more flavor in the crumb, if not a crisp crust, when I use a sponge starter.  Flavor ~ flavor ~ flavor.  

 ~ One boule, two boule, three boule, you ~

Honesty and decent homemade bread, that is this post.  I'm done with the honesty, now onto the decent bread.  Soft bread.  

Hopefully you know a bit about working with a sponge when making an overnight rise in the fridge kind of dough.  My instructions will be lacking if it's new to you. 

1/4 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water - 105-115 degrees
3 1/2 c. unbleached flour

Mix the yeast with the warm water, let sit 3-5 minutes.  Mix with the flour, knead or use a mixer for 5-10 minutes.  Put this in a lidded container to rise for 6-8 hours.  Use before it collapses, when approximately 4x it's original size. 

**You will use only part of this sponge.  The other remaining amount I used to make rosemary bread.   I will post that recipe sometime next week for entry into the weekly blog posts at Yeastspotting.

1 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 warm water
1 c. cool water - room temperture to 75 degrees
12 oz. sponge starter
4 c. flour
1 T. kosher salt
1 c. rouch chop walnuts
5 oz. roasted red peppers, patted well with paper towels to remove moisture, diced.
  •  Add the warm water to the yeast, let sit five minutes. 
  • Add the cool water, sponge starter and break up with your hands for a few minutes.  This is fun.
  • Add the salt, 3 1/2 c. flour and knead by hand or dough hook and mixer for ten minutes.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the red peppers and walnuts, knead (or mix) until combined.  The dough will become very wet and slippery from the peppers. Let rest 10 minutes.
  • Add more flour if you need it.  I started with 1/4 of the 1/2, then added the remaining.  It is a soft sticky dough.  I left it that way.
  • Let rise in an oiled bowl for one hour, covered.
  • Put the dough in the fridge overnight.
  • Remove the next morning.  Let it warm and when it starts to rise again, form into three boules.
  • Before they get to almost double, preheat oven to 450.
  • When double, flour and slit (or not) and bake for 15 minutes.  
  • Steam oven if you know how.  Use a tile if you have it.
  • Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  It should sound hollow.
  • Let cool completely. 
Love heart
 Tah-dah.  Roasted red pepper-walnut bread.  Give one away, it feels good.

The crumb, a bit underdone wouldn't you say?

A peek at the rosemary bread.

A peek at the rosemary bread

Happy moment to you the moment you read this ~

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh boy, oh boy!!


Clam chowder, honey!!!  *sighing* with recent memories of warm, light, creamy spoonfuls of a delicious nature.  (I'll never be a writer.)

Former Little Dude, now a teenager, said that my chowder is lighter, taste more like clams, less creamy than Mo's.   I sure do like that he talks about these things that he notices.  He likes both, but prefers a lighter version.  So do I.  I like brothy.  Maybe this is clam soup.

Pretty rounds
Clam soup ~

5-6 slices of thinly sliced proscuitto
1-2 T. olive oil
One large-ish yellow onion, diced
5-8 yukon gold potatoes, washed, skin left on, chopped into 1 1/2" chunks
Two pints clam juice
1 lb. frozen baby clams in juice, or clams of choice.  Reserve the juice if thawed.
4 T. cornstarch
1/2 - 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper
  • Heat a stockpot to medium heat, add olive oil and proscuitto.  Cook to not quite crisp.
  • Add onions, toss of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, saute to soft.
  • Add the two pints clam juice, heat to simmer.  Add potatoes.
  • When potatoes are shy of being done, place a cup of the clam juice (from the frozen clams) into a bowl with the cornstarch.  Whisk thoroughly and pour into the stockpot, cook for five minutes.
  • Add the clams, cream and heat through.  
  • Taste for seasoning.  

With rosemary-walnut bread

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dip it, dip it good ~

I'm getting tired of my poor pictures.  *sigh*

 I wanted something I could re-heat.  Yes...not eat it when I made it, but prepped for later.  Okay, eat a little when I made it.  Something to pull out of the fridge when I had the last of my baking done, before turning off the oven for the day.  Something made when I had the desire and energy, to use later when I wanted easy and little effort.  Of course, this is something that needs to be used in a two-three day window.  Oh, the up and down energy of motherhood.  No problem.   We can have all those feelings plus six others in three hours.  Three days..pishshaw.

Cheese dip ~
('cuz as much as I'd like to go here for their dip instead, I have three young children and I'm poor. :)  Okay, that's not true.   I am poor, but I love being at home.)

1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. diced shallots
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded, minced.
2/3 c. ale of choice - I picked up this
(Accurately, this was the beer I was craving at the moment in the store.)

  • Pop open the beer, sip away.  You only need 2/3 of a cup for the recipe.  Plenty in the bottle.  Mmm, refreshing.
  • Heat saute pan to medium heat, add olive oil. 
  • Add shallots, a toss of kosher salt, saute to slightly soft. 
  • Sip the beer.  Cool.  Refrehing.  Make that "ahhh" sound.  
  • Add the ale, jalapenos and reduce on a low simmer until thick. 
  • Inhale the shallots.  Ooooooo.
  • Dang, 2/3 of a cup took a noticeable part of my beer.  Good thing I have a porter in the fridge.
  • When the ale has been almost all evaporated and/or absorbed, remove it from the pan.  But first...
  • Lean down and inhale the shallots.  Oh, baby.  Dip your finger in the syrup.
  • This tastes so good you tell yourself, I could eat it with a spoon.  Or schmear it on someone. 
What is happening next is simply a bechamal sauce.  The cheesy level if up to you, as is the tartness.  Jack being so mild, I prefer some other oomphf in there.  Play around with the cheese and spices.  If you don't have chipotle on hand, a pinch of cayenne is a decent substitute. 

4 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 c. milk - I used 2% 
2 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. jack cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese - optional
Chipotle puree, 1/2 - 1 tsp. - optional
Salt and pepper

  • Return pan to medium heat.  Add butter, melt.
  • Add the flour.  Stir and cook for a minute.
  • Add the milk, stirring constantly.  Toss in some kosher salt.  Let thicken over medium heat.
  • Taste for any salt adjustment 
  • Add the cream cheese first to melt. Then add the jack cheese, melt.
  • Add pepper, salt to taste.  
  • Add the shallots to the cheese mixture.
  • Now add parmesan if you like...more cheese if you like...spice if you like...salt and pepper to taste.
Serve it or save it to warm later in the oven.  Think of it like a cheese and macaroni, without the pasta.