Sunday, February 28, 2010


There are so many ways you can top this bread, and so many ways to eat it.  I love to dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, make sandwiches out of it, or just eat it plain.  I divided this recipe and made one loaf with sun dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives, and the other with just a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  So good.

This is a two day process, but it is fairly easy
Basic Focaccia
from Fine Cooking Magazine:

1 lb 9 oz unbleached bread flour (5 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 cups cold water
2 Tbs plus 1 tsp granulated sugar (1 oz)
2 tsp table salt or 3 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/2 oz)
1 packet (1/4 oz) instant yeast
10 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt, for sprinkling

The day before baking:
 *Combine the flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl of a stand mixer (use paddle attatchment).
 *Slowly mix until the ingredients form a ball around the paddle, about 30 seconds
 *Switch to dough hook; let rest for 5 minutes and then mix on medium for another 3 minutes
 *Stop the machine to scrape the dough off the hook, let the dough rest or 5 minutes and then mix on medium low for another 3 minutes, until it's relatively smooth
 *Coat a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size with 1 Tbs of the olive oil
 *Transfer the dough to the bowl and rotate the dough to coat it with the oil
 *Hold the bowl steady with one hand, wet the other hand in water, grasp the dough and stretch it to nearly twice the size.
 *Lay the stretched section back over the dough.  Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat this stretch and fold technique.
 *Do this 2 more times so that you have rotated the bowl a full 360 degrees and stretched and folded the dough four times.
 *Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil over the dough and flip it over.  Wrap the bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8-10 hours.

3 hours before baking, shape the focaccia and let it rise:
 *Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator and start shaping the focaccia 3 hours before you intend to bake it (2 hours on a warm day)
 *Cover a 13X18 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat and coat the surface with 2 Tbs olive oil
 *Gently slide a rubber spatula or dough scraper under the dough and guide it out of the bowl onto the center of the pan. The dough will sink beneath it's own weight, expelling some gas but retaining enough to keep an airy gluten network that will grow into nice holes
 *Drizzle 2 Tbs of the olive oil on top of the dough
 *Dimple the entire dough surface, working from the center to the edges, pressing your fingertips straight down to create hollows in the dough while gently pushing the dough down and out toward the edges of the pan
 *Set it aside to rest for 20 minutes
 *After letting the dough rest, drizzle more olive oil over it and dimple again
 *Cover the dough loosely with oiled plastic wrap, put the pan on the rack to let air circulate around it, and let the dough rise at room temp until its about 1 1/2 times its original size and swells to the rim of the pan.  This will take 2 to 3 hours depending on the temp of the room
30 minutes before baking:
 *Heat oven to 475, gently remove plastic wrap and sprinke a few pinches of sea salt or kosher salt over the dough
 *Put pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 450
 *After 15 min, rotate the pan to ensure even baking
 *Check the dough after another7 min.  If its done, it will be golden brown on top and the underside
 *Set on cooling rack

Here is the plain focaccia sprinkled with kosher salt and Parmesan cheese. (Sprinkle cheese at last minute so it doesn't burn)

Fresh Fruit with Yogurt Sauce

This yogurt sauce is so good, it doesn't even need to be put on fruit to enjoy.  I had leftover kefir cheese so I used that instead of yogurt and it turned out just as good.  Here's the recipe.

Yogurt Sauce for Fruit:

2 cups plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, or kefir cheese *I highly recommend Greek!:)
2-3 tablespoons good quality honey (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix together and spoon over fruit

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cappellitti with Tomato Cream Sauce

I first learned how to make these in a pasta making class when I was 19 years old.  21 years later, this is still my all-time favorite pasta recipe.  I hope it becomes one of yours.   Cappellitti means little hats, and these hats are filled with a simple ricotta mixture and covered in a divine tomato cream sauce. 

These are a bit time consuming, but the results are well worth the work.  The only special equipment you will need is a basic manual pasta maker. They are fairly inexpensive and they last forever.  I have had mine for over 20 years and it is still going strong.  There is a link at the side of my site where you can purchase one if you don't already own one. 

At the bottom of this post are step by step pictures on making the pasta as well as the basic pasta recipe.

Cappellitti with Tomato Cream Sauce:

1 recipe pasta

1 cup ricotta
1 teaspoon grated onion
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks or 1 whole egg

*Combine all ingredients, mix well

Tomato cream sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small rib celery, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 can whole tomatoes (1 lb)
1 teaspoon basil
Dash salt
Dash pepper
¼ to 1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make sauce:
  *Melt butter in a wide frying pan over medium heat.
  *Add onion, celery and carrot, cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned.
  *Stir in tomatoes and the liquid, (crush tomatoes with spoon first)
  *Add basil, salt and pepper.
  *Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  *Stir in enough cream until the sauce has the consistency of gravy.
**If made ahead, cool and refrigerate. When needed, reheat over a low heat, stirring frequently.
To Assemble:
   *Roll out pasta dough thin
  *Cut with a round cookie cutter, about 1 ½ inches in diameter
  *Place a small amount of filling in the center of each circle
  *Fold over making a half circle; bring the ends of the semi-circle together forming a hat shape
  *Seal edges with water.

To cook:
Drop Cappelletti into boiling, salted water. Cook gently, stirring occasionally until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, place pasta in a wide shallow serving dish, pour sauce over and sprinkle with parmesan.

Basic All Purpose Pasta:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs
3-6 tablespoons water

  *Mound flour on a work surface or in a large bowl, make a deep well in the center
  *Break eggs in the well
  *With a fork, beat eggs lightly and stir in 2 tablespoons of the water
  *Using a cirular motion, begin to draw flour from the sides of the well. 
  *Add 1 more tablespoon water and continue mixing until the flour is moistened.  If necessary, add more     water, a tablespoon at a time
  *When the dough becomes stiff, use your hands to finish mixing.
  *Knead the dough until the dough is no longer sticky, about 10 minutes
  *Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a bowl, and allow the dough to stand and rest 20 minutes.
  *Roll out and cut into desired shapes

  **Roll small pieces at a time starting with the highest setting.(Mine is a 7)  Roll out, fold.  Change the setting to 6, then roll out again and fold once. Lower the setting again, and repeat process until you have the dough rolled out to a 3 for Cappelliti.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crispy Waffles with Fresh Berries

Breakfast of champions? Hmmmm...only if they're very, very good.
The best part of these waffles? They are so easy and fast.

Crispy waffles:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

*Whisk all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
*In separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.
*Whisk the wet into the dry and let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes.
*Heat waffte iron about medium high to high heat. Brush the grids lightly with vegetable oil and pour enough batter onto each waffle grid to cover. Spread evenly with a spatula. Close waffle iron and cook until waffles are golden brown and crispy.

Top with fruit of choice, whipped cream, syrup and butter, powdered sugar, or anything else that makes you happy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Iron Skillet Cornbread

Whenever I make ham, my family pretty much knows that beans are in their immediate future. What better way to use up a hambone then to cook up some beans or bean soup? The beans are riduculously easy and good, but the true star of today's breakfast (that's right, this was breakfast) was the cruchy bottomed, tender and fabulous cornbread.

This is a recipe by Crescent Dragonwagon and it is the best cornbread I have ever had. A cast iron skillet is a must for this recipe. It's really what makes it. Well, that and the butter that you melt in it.

Skillet-Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread:

1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1cup unbleached all-pyurpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar (you decide how sweet you want it)
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil such as corn or peanut (I omit this and it still turns out great)
Pam cooking spray
2 to 4 tablespoons butter

*Preheat oven to 375
*In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt
*In another small bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk
*In third bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar to taste, and the oil, then whisk into the buttermilk
*Spray an 8 or 9 inch skillet over medium high heat, add butter and heat until the butter melts and is just starting to sizzle. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom and the sides
*Add the wet ingredients to the dry and quickly stir together, using only as many strokes as needed to combine.
*Scrape the batter into the hot, buttery skillet and immdiately put the skillet in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
*Cut into wedges to serve

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Light, Heavenly, Orange Muffins

I am not a huge fan of orange flavored desserts or sweets, but these incredibly fresh tasting muffins are a major exception. These are made with fresh oranges and that's exactly what they taste like. Fresh, soft, delicious, warm bites of heaven. The muffins are not overly sweet and the glaze tastes just like fresh squeezed orange juice.

Orange Muffins:

Cooking Spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your muffins
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 orange
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 large orange
1/4 to 1/3 cup of milk, as needed
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Orange glaze:
Zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (Use the orange you just zested)
1/3 cup of sugar

**This recipe makes about 10-12 medium sized muffins. You may consider doubling**

*Preheat the oven to 400, spray the muffin pan with cooking spray
*In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
*After juicing the oranges, add enough milk to measure 1/2 cup PLUS an additional 2 tablespoons of milk
*In second bowl, add the orange juice mixture, the butter, egg, vanilla, and baking soda and whisk until blended
*Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine with as few strokes as possible.
*Fold in the zest
*Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each one 1/2 to 2/3 full.
*Bake until golden and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes (test by inserting toothpick)
Prepare the glaze
*Bring the orange zest, juice and sugar to a boil
*Turn down the heat and let it simmer until slightly thickened, stirring frequently
*Let cool slightly (the glaze should be liquidy so it soaks into the muffins)
*Let the muffins cool 2 minutes and spoon the glaze over them.

Serve warm. Mmmmmmm:) ***OH! And a big shout out to my 10 year old daughter who helped make these!***

Friday, February 12, 2010

Scallops Provencal and Potato Gratin

Tonight's dinner was scallops and potatoes. Although both dishes were great on their own, I don't recommend serving them together. They are both exceedingly rich dishes and it was a bit much all in one meal. However they are both must try recipes and ones that I will make over and over again.

I used Ina Garten's scallops Provencal recipe and as with most of her recipes, it was fabulous. The simplicity of this recipe makes it worth trying.

Scallops Provencal:
1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour for dredging
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, cut in half

If you're using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you're using sea scallops, cut each one in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour and shake off excess.
In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in one layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side without moving them. then turn and brown lightly on the other side. Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic , and parsley and saute for 2 more minutes tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Add the wine, cook for 1 minute, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Potato Gratin:
2 pounds Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled
3 cups whipping or heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere, Emmental, or Comte

Heat the oven to 400. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut the potatoes into 1/8 inch slices. This is what 1/8 looks like.

Put the slices into a bowl of cold water until ready to use.
Put the potatoes in a heavy-based saucepan and add the cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat until the cream is boiling, stirring occasionally (gently so you don't break up the potatoes). Taste for seasoning. You don't want bland gratin.

When the cream boils, pour the mixture into a 2 1/2 to 3 quart baking dish. Fish out the 2 cloves of garlic. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake until deep golden brown, the potatoes are tender, and the cream has thickened. Even if it looks a little watery, it will thicken up as it cools.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hand Mixed Country Loaves

This is a start the night before bread. And it could actually be a no knead bread as well, but I prefer texture of kneaded bread. I also really love the process of kneading. To me, it makes bread making feel like bread making. Hope you try this recipe and enjoy it.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 packet of active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour

1 2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
5-6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

cornmeal for baking sheet
1 egg white for glaze

Make the starter the night before:
In a large bowl, mix the water and honey and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand until foamy.

Add flour and stir vigorously for about a minute. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place overnight.

The next day, to make the dough: To the starter add the water, whole wheat flour, 4 cups of the all purpose flour, and the salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Gradually stir in the remaining flour 1 cup at a time (if needed. I only used about 5 cups of all purpose flour) Knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic

Oil a large bowl , add the dough, and turn to coat it. Cover with a clean, damp, non-fuzzy cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Punch the dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a large round loaf.

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal. I just used some flour on my very old baking stone and it worked great.

Cover with the same damp cloth and let it rise until doubled again, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425. Paint the tops of the loaves with egg white carefully. Bake the bread. I used a spray bottle and every few minutes spritzed the inside of the oven with water to keep the humidity level in my oven high. After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Let the bread rest and cool on wire racks.
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