Sunday, September 28, 2014

No-Knead Bread

The smell of bread is intoxicating. The process of making bread by hand can be daunting. The yeast. The kneading. The waiting. I know I was hesitate to try working with yeast. In the past I haven't had much success.

Since my bread maker died a couple of years ago, we had been buying LaBrea bread from the grocery store since we like good bread. And it is good bread though it has was becoming expensive to buy. I had a 50-mile roundtrip to buy the bread and it cost about $4.00 per loaf. Something had to change especially since I should be capable of making bread when I can make cakes, pies, and tarts.

So I've been making bread using this no-knead recipe for about six-months now and for the most part it is fail proof. The key to the success is the proofing process and a cast iron enameled Dutch oven.

I'll be honest this method does take time so be prepared. Being that I run my business from home, I can be flexible in making this bread. For those without a flexible schedule this is a weekend endeavor. That all said, the process is worth it given the bread perfection at the end.

It is four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. That's it. I use bread flour, but you can use all-purpose flour in a pinch. To make this really cost effective, I buy my bread flour in bulk from Sam's Club and store it a big dog food container with a lid. I've lost track of how many loaves I've made with my 25 pound bag (cost about $9.00 at Sam's) of flour and I'm not even half way yet.

Ready to make some bread?

6 cups of bread flour
1/2 teaspoon of yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons of table salt
2 2/3 cups cool tap water

1. Place the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl. You can mix the dough by hand. I preferred to use a stand mixer with a dough attachment. Mix until blended.

2. Add the water mixing until a sticky dough forms. It may take awhile. You may have to add more flour or water depending on what is happening with the dough. Be very conservative when adding more flour or water.

3. Place dough in a large mixing bowl covering with cling wrap and let proof for 10-12 hours. Don't worry about leaving it out. I place in on the stove top and have it sit there. Once it turns a little gray and bubblies then it is done and ready for the second proof.

4. Turn the dough onto a floured surfaced and knead into a ball with floured hands. Only do it two or three times.

5. Transfer with flour to parchment paper. I prefer to use parchment paper over a towel since the dough is less likely to stick to the paper then the towel. Seal up the paper and let the dough proof for another two hours.

6. Around 1 1/2 hours into the second proofing, place the Dutch oven in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 425F.

7. Take the Dutch oven out and roll the dough into it. Please be careful not to burn yourself. This bread will have character depending on how good (or bad) you are flipping it in there.

8. Place back into the oven with lid on and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 10 minutes more.

9. Cool the bread completely. And I mean completely. Cutting the bread when it is warm is ruin the airy texture. Trust me the wait is worth it.

My bread schedule varies. What I mostly try to do is start the process first thing in the morning and by the evening I can bake bread then cool it by bedtime. Next morning we have fresh bread. The Dutch oven is perfect to keep the bread fresh.

As you can see it is a winner in our house!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Baked Homemade Samosas

There are times when you just have to have a samosa. And when don't have an Indian restaurant near-by, you just have to make samosas yourself. Today was one of those days, I just had to have a samosa. If you make samosas, the traditional Indian way then it can be time consuming. They can be unhealthy being deep fried.

I love samosas, but I haven't had the energy nor the time recently to make them from scratch like I usually prefer to do. That's where a tried and true recipe from Real Simple comes in for easy samosas. I've been making this recipe since 2008 when Real Simple still did their "Fake it" section for shortcuts. This recipe is super easy and quick to make for the whole family to enjoy.

I've modified Real Simple's recipe a little bit.

What you'll need while the oven is heating to 375F:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
16 oz prepared mashed potatoes from the store
10 oz package frozen mixed veggies, thawed
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (two crusts)

How to make Samosas:
1. Heat oil in pan then add onion cooking until soft. Add in curry, salt, and pepper cooking for about one minute. Turn off heat.

2. Add in mashed potatoes and veggies mixing throughly.

3. As the mixture is cooling, roll out pie crust cutting into 8 pieces. If you want bigger samosas, make the pieces bigger.

4. Put a generous amount of the mixture in the middle then pinch the ends together placing on a baking sheet.

5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until it is heated through and golden brown.

You can make these ahead of time putting them in the fridge until you are ready to bake. I just put the baking sheet covered to keep them moist directly in the fridge. As the oven in pre-heating, I take them out to warm up.

I serve them with two sauces. Tamarind-Date Sauce. To thin it out, I just add water and stir.

Coriander Chutney. Adds a spicy bite to the samosas.

And the final product is great. Yummy!