Friday, January 4, 2019

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread

Why did I wait so long to try this recipe? Apparently I have denied myself years of delicious and easy homemade bread. If you look through this blog, you'll notice that there are very few baking recipes - I'm just not that into the whole measuring thing, and my tiny kitchen doesn't accommodate much room for kneading, mixing, shaping and what-have-you. Well, none of that is needed (kneaded?) with this bread. The active prep time is like...less than 10 minutes? The Dutch oven helps create a nice crust on all sides, and the crumb is tender and airy. This is the perfect bread for serving with soups, stews, or just slathered with butter, toasted or not.

Besides your flour, yeast, water and salt, you need two things: 1) a Dutch oven, aka large enameled cast-iron pot with a lid, and 2) to remember to start the dough the day before you want to eat your bread. You do have to let the dough sit for 12-18 hours, but that eliminates the kneading and punching down/multiple rises many other breads require. I've been mixing the dough at like 11pm and then I'll bake it the next afternoon.

I've now made this 3 times in the last couple weeks, and have tweaked the recipe slightly to work for me. This seems to be very forgiving, if you fudge quantities & times a bit. Everyone's ovens, flours and yeasts are different, so feel free to experiment and adjust. As long as you don't majorly burn the bread, I think you'll be happy with whatever comes out! My latest loaf came out with a weird lizard ridgey - thing on it...just an extra piece for the baker!

A note on quantities: most recipes call for 3 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups water. I've always had to add a bit more water (usually another 1/4 cup or so) to get a moist enough dough, but start with 1 1/2 cups and add more if needed. You can also use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast if that's what you have. The first two loaves I made with 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, and the third loaf I added a bit more (actually just to finish out the packet). I've seen recipes with instant yeast calling for as little as 1/4 tsp, but it varies.

Parchment paper is optional, but makes it easy to transfer the dough in and out of the hot pot - and you don't have to clean the pot! 

OK, so here's how you make it:

- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups lukewarm water

Put the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir with a wooden spoon. Add more water if needed to make a wet, shaggy dough. It should definitely be wetter than your typical kneaded bread dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on your counter (or in the oven) for 12-18 hours. After this time, the dough should look something like this:

When you're ready to bake:

Put your Dutch oven with its lid into the oven and preheat to 450. I leave it in a few minutes after the oven says it's preheated.

Meanwhile, get a large piece of parchment paper and sprinkle some flour on it. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour over the dough, and flour your hands.

Use your hands to scrape the dough out of the bowl, and form into a loose ball. Plop it on the parchment paper and form into a rough round or oval, depending on the shape of your pot. Cover with a tea towel or paper towel until the oven & pot are preheated.

Carefully take the hot pot out of the oven. Take the corners of the parchment paper and drop the dough (still on the paper) into the hot pot. Cut away excess paper if needed and cover the pot.

Bake for 35 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Most recipes say to bake 45 minutes covered and 15 uncovered, but I found that was too long for me...

Lift the parchment paper out and let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before tearing into it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Tofu Bowls with Curry Mango Dressing apparently I'm only posting tofu recipes now.

Well. I guess this is what the food blogosphere calls a "Buddha Bowl." But I refuse to call it that, because -

1) I'm not one of THOSE trendy food bloggers. I just make real food occasionally, in between eating gig leftovers, takeout & other non-exciting stuff, and I sometimes I post it on the internets for the 3 people who read this (hi, Susan!), plus sometimes I look back on this when I can't think of something to make.

2) I'm really not on board with the whole co-opting of religious figures to name trendy food items. Would you put a "Muhammad Medley" on a menu? A "Shiva Snack?"

[ looks at six-pack of Sweet Baby Jesus chocolate peanut butter porter in the fridge... ehhh, screw it then. ]


So, this is a base of quinoa with roasted vegetables & tofu. I wanted to make some kind of sauce or dressing for it, and noticed I had a mango on the edge of being tossed, so...idea. Thanksgiving is this week, and I'm going to pretend that eating this cancels out the gluttony to come!

I really did not measure anything for any of this, so here's how it goes:

In a blender, whizz up some mango, lime juice, fresh garlic, a dab of dijon mustard, salt, pepper and some curry powder (I used a hot curry). Drizzle in some olive oil & blend some more.

I cook mine in broth, with some Penzey's air-dried shallots.

Roasted Veggies:
I did cubed sweet potato (olive oil, chili powder, salt & pepper) & broccoli (olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder). Roast in 450 degree oven.

Press & cube tofu (more instructions in previous recipes). Marinate for a few minutes in a little soy sauce. Fry/saute in oil until golden brown. Season with curry powder & cumin.

Build your bowl and drizzle with sauce! I garnished with black sesame seeds.

And yeah, I totally drank a Sweet Baby Jesus with this meal.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tofu & Veggie Stir-Fry

I'm generally not that enamored with the stir-fry / Asian dishes that I make. They're edible, but not memorable. So I didn't even take a photograph of this one I made tonight, figuring it wouldn't be blog-worthy...but it was really good! I need to remember this one.

Yes, I'm on a tofu kick. This marinade/sauce has similar ingredients to the peanut noodle sauce, but is thinner and just uses a bit of peanut butter as a binder. I was also trying to use up a bag of broccoli slaw that was on its way out, and that worked well here. Though I would have liked a bit more sauce, it was still pretty flavorful. Increase the sauce ingredients if you want more.

- ~1-inch knob of ginger, minced (save half for stir fry)
- 1 Tbl peanut butter
- 3 Tbl soy sauce
- 1 Tbl rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbl maple syrup or honey
- a few shakes sesame oil
- a few shakes garlic powder
 - sriracha, to taste

Stir Fry:
- 1 block firm or extra firm tofu
- vegetables: 1 zucchini, 1/2 a red pepper, 1 onion, all cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 bag broccoli slaw

Cut the tofu block in half lengthwise and press between paper towels/plates for at least 15 minutes.

Mix the sauce ingredients, saving half the ginger for the stir fry. Add maybe 1/4 cup water, to thin it out.

Cut the tofu into cubes, toss with half the sauce, and let marinate while you chop the vegetables.

Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium-high. Saute the tofu cubes in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil until nicely browned on all sides. This takes a little while - about 15 minutes...but you want to get good color.

Remove the tofu from the pan, and add the zucchini, red pepper & onion. Stir fry until just starting to soften. Season with a bit of salt. Add the garlic & ginger, stir, and then add the broccoli slaw. Cook just a couple minutes more, add the tofu back in, then add the rest of the sauce and turn off the heat. I added a bit more soy sauce.

Serve over rice. I forgot to sprinkle black sesame seeds over it, but I'll remember next time!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Tofu

Last week I was suddenly looking at an usual spate of several days at home alone, with a needed grocery trip on the horizon. And was feeling particularly I DON'T WANNA about meal planning, and tired of my ususals. Somehow I remembered peanut noodles, which I've maybe made...once? Years ago? This was a good choice. Very easy, tasty, and good hot/cold/room temp. Also, I need to buy tofu more often. It's $1.50/pack! I always forget about it, hidden away in a corner of the produce section. If tofu ain't yo thing, use chicken breast...or no protein! This is pretty filling anyway and you'll get some protein from the PB.

The peanut sauce is totally adaptable quantity-wise; I did not measure anything. Add however much looks/tastes good to you. There was more sauce than I needed for my noodles; I've been eating the rest as a dip for carrot sticks and it's amazing! Oh, and if you like cilantro, that might be a worthy addition at the end. Raw, thinly sliced purple cabbage could be good too. Crushed peanuts...etc etc.

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
- ~3/4 cup peanut butter (I used good old Jif, but might try it next time with a natural PB)
- zest & juice of 1 lime
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1-inch piece of ginger, finely minced
- 1-2 Tbl soy sauce
- 1 Tbl maple syrup or honey
- sriracha, to taste

- 1 box firm or extra firm tofu
- soy sauce
- 1 box linguine, spaghetti, or your fave rice noodles or other Asian noodles
- 1 bell pepper (I used 1/2 red & 1/2 yellow), quartered & thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 4 green onions, sliced
- optional: black sesame seeds

Drain the tofu, split the block lengthwise and press for at least 15 min or so. I put paper towels on a plate, tofu on top, more paper towels, another plate and a pot on top. I know, I know, I should use clean tea towels, hush.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and then thin with hot water to desired consistency. Should be pourable but not too runny. Taste and add more of this or that!

Cook noodles & drain (if you want to eat this room temp or cold, you can do this in advance).

Cut the tofu into small cubes, slabs, triangles or whatever you like. Drizzle with a little soy sauce and let sit while you heat up a large saute pan (or wok) and prepare the veggies.

Saute the tofu in some vegetable oil over medium-high heat until nicely browned on all sides. Turn off heat and add the peppers, carrots & green onions. Add in cooked noodles.

Add at least half of the peanut sauce, toss and see if it's saucy enough for you, and add more if needed. Garnish with black sesame seeds, if desired.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Pasta with Summer Vegetables & Bacon

I didn't grab a photo of this, but the recipe was requested...and it was mighty tasty, so I should remember it. Makes use of lots of healthy summer vegetables, and then we throw in some bacon, cream and cheese - because everything in moderation!

- 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut in ~1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise & cubed
- 2 ears corn, kernels stripped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt, pepper & Penzey's Black & Red (or cayenne + more black pepper)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- couple handfuls grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 box short, chunky pasta
- fresh basil
- grated parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon pieces in a large skillet until crispy, then remove & drain on paper towels. If there's a lot of grease left, drain some of it off, but leave some to cook the vegetables. Add the red onion and saute until softened.

Add the zucchini and saute until starting to brown, but still firm. Add corn kernels & garlic. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of black & red. After a couple minutes, reduce heat to low and add cream. Cook over low heat for a couple minutes, then add tomatoes. Toss in a handful of grated parmesan and some fresh basil, then add in bacon pieces. Add cooked & drained pasta and toss well.

Serve with more parmesan.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Chopped Greek Salad with Lemon Dressing

No joke, this salad has been keeping me alive this summer. It's cheap, super easy to make (no cooking), tasty and a refreshing but substantial meal when it's too hot to cook. Also makes a great potluck dish (bring the toppings separately for vegan & GF options). If you don't feel like making the dressing you can use whatever bottled vinaigrette you like, or just drizzle some olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper. If you have fresh herbs like basil, they would be great here. This yields maybe 3-4 large servings. Easy to double - it keeps in the fridge for awhile.

- 1 large cucumber, quartered lengthwise & chopped into bite-sized pieces (peel if waxy, scoop seeds if you want. With the long wrapped English cucumbers, usually not necessary)
- 1 container grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 green onions, sliced - or 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed

- 1 lemon
- small dab of dijon or stone-ground mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup, honey or agave
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (ish) olive oil

Optional but recommended toppings:
- crumbled feta cheese
- croutons
- olives, if you're into them (I'm not)

Combine the salad ingredients in a large storage container. For the dressing, microplane the lemon zest into a bowl and then squeeze the juice (I do this over a strainer to catch the seeds). Add the mustard, sweetener & spices and whisk. Then whisk in the olive oil slowly. I eyeball the amount and then taste and see what it needs.

Add the dressing, toss well and chill for a little while if possible. Mix in toppings just before serving.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pasta with Cauliflower "Cream," Garlic Brussels Sprouts & Parmesan

We decided to take a break from our CSA this year. We felt like we were still letting too many things go to waste with how busy we were, we had to miss a bunch of weeks last year due to traveling, and the weekly pickup - even though it's relatively close by - started to feel like an inconvenience sometimes. This year the CSA started offering a bunch of changes like being able to skip a week, semi-customization, and getting a half share. So we seriously considered keeping with it, but ultimately decided to give it a break.

We have a few friends who do Hungry Harvest and like it, so we've been trying it out for the last couple months. It's a weekly delivery of "rescued" produce - too "ugly" for grocery stores or oversold - and they also donate to hunger programs. For $17 (incl. $2 delivery fee) we get a mix of veggies and fruit; around the same amount as our split CSA share - but I like that you get fruit as well. We would only get an occasional melon with the CSA, but with Hungry Harvest we've gotten all kinds of fruit. I also like the mission in general, the convenience of delivery, and that you can easily pause your deliveries. After getting an email with a list of what you're going to get that week, you can customize your box for a small fee if you want to substitute anything (though you can also make a "Never List" and they will substitute something no charge if a Never item is on the list). You can also add on eggs, fancy bread, coffee and some other things.

Though we've liked it, I'm putting it on pause for the next month as we still feel like some things are going to waste. Either we just don't have time/motivation to cook it all, or some of the fruit goes bad quickly as it's at peak ripeness. Plus I still keep meaning to visit our local farmer's markets. And the other not so great thing is that we're getting things like hard squash, cauliflower & Brussels sprouts - all of which I like, but like cooking in the oven...and ain't no way I'm turning on the oven in this heat.

The heat index is in the 100's, and I'm staring down this head of cauliflower from last week and a bag of Brussels sprouts from this week. I like cauliflower roasted to the point of almost being burnt...but yeah, that ain't happening today. I'm not a particular fan of this whole cauliflower trendiness where it's turned into "rice," pizza crusts or various other carb substitutes. I like my carbs! But realizing I could microwave cauliflower in order to puree it, I thought that would be a good solution.

I looked up recipes for mac & cheese with "hidden" cauliflower, and cauliflower "cream" sauces, and made up my own thing. Then I sauteed the Brussels sprouts in a good amount of olive oil, and they got pretty browned; comparable to roasting. The cauliflower puree will never compare to a real creamy Alfredo sauce, but it does emulate the creamy texture somewhat. Would also be good as a vegan pasta without the cheese (maybe some nutritional yeast?). It is also totally NOT photogenic, but it tasted good. So, here we go:

- 1 head cauliflower, cored & cut into florets
- salt, pepper, garlic powder
- 1 lb-ish Brussels sprouts, trimmed & quartered
- olive oil
- 4 cloves (or more) garlic, minced
- 1/2 box pasta (rotini, penne, etc)
- grated parmesan cheese

Put the cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe bowl (I used my microwave popcorn popper!) with about 1/4 cup of water. Cover and microwave until soft. Mine took about 10 minutes, but I would check after 5 and see how they are.

Let cool slightly, and dump the cauliflower & water into a blender. Blend until very smooth. You may need to add some extra liquid - I added some half & half, but you could use any type of milk product, broth or even water. Add salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste, and blend again.

Heat up your pasta water & cook your pasta. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium high and add about 1/4 cup olive oil. Add quartered Brussels sprouts & let cook a few minutes undisturbed, til they get browned. Toss and keep cooking until they get some good color. Turn heat to low, add garlic and cook briefly. Add the cauliflower puree, and some pasta water to thin if needed. Add most of the parmesan.

Add drained pasta & serve with additional parmesan.

I still have to deal with an acorn squash from a couple weeks ago, but maybe it'll last long enough for this heat wave to pass...