The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

Standard

20140316-141614.jpg

I finally did it! I’ve been waiting for a long time to try a “no knead” bread recipe. I mean, a long time, years actually. I waited until I made one of my most precious kitchen investments and purchased my Le Creuset – Round French oven pan . I was persistent and lucky enough to find the pan, in my choice of color, at Home Sense – Winners at half price! It is the one I use every day, cast iron spreading the heat beautifully and evenly making my cooking faster and easier. I leave it on the stove since it is so pretty and colorful! Other than one frying pan and one sauce pan, I hardly use anything else in the kitchen pans department.

I had seen Laura Calder making this bread and found the exact same recipe The miracle boule on line. Followed her directions and voilà!

The simplicity of the ingredients, flour, water, yeast and salt makes one appreciate the mystical symbolism that bread has always had in the history of civilization, as one of the basics foods for human beings for centuries.

The exchange is quite simple too, no need to knead but you do need to wait. Start to make the night before, 5 minutes of super easy preparation to put the dough together and then forget about it. Next morning or afternoon it will be ready for the next step, one more raise.
Patience does pay off. It is so beautiful to see the yeast working its magic, no intervention needed, as many times we should behave in life, waiting for things to go its own way…

I just loved the whole process and I am now with 2 more doughs gently sitting on my counter top. Forgot to mention how delicious and indulgent was to have the fresh and still warm bread with butter. Simple and irresistible.

20140316-140200.jpg

I followed Laura Calder recipe completely. The only thing I would add is to cover the dough bowl with a wet cloth to avoid the dough of being dry. I read many other recipes and tips on the “no knead” bread and apparently you can get the same result with pans that are not cast iron like mine. There are some more information about it here.

Now, to the recipe:

No knead bread

3 cups or 375 g all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cup water
Cornmeal, wheat bran or extra flour

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Stir in water to blend. What you’ll have is a wet, shaggy, sticky dough, but not so wet as to be batter. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest in a warm place for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. It’s ready for the next step when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Flour a work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Sprinkle over a little more flour and fold it once or twice. Cover with the tea towel and let rest 15 minutes.
Using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel with cornmeal, wheat bran or flour and lay the dough on it, seam-side down. Dust with more cornmeal, wheat bran or flour. (You need quite a lot because you want to be sure the dough doesn’t stick to the towel). Cover and let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, the dough will be more than double in size.
Half an hour before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Put a 2-liter cast-iron pot or Dutch oven (cocotte) inside to heat.
When the dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough into it, seam-side up. (It will look messy, but this is OK.) Shake the pot to settle the bread evenly. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is nicely browned, another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

20140316-141639.jpg

20140316-141706.jpg

About these ads

Perfect moist and light banana bread

Standard

20140218-163204.jpg

Bananas are very abundant in Brazil, all shapes, many different types, found everywhere, a fruit that is commonly taken for granted, as so there is an expression to describe it: “as cheap as bananas”. You would think that banana bread would be a favorite there too but it is not.

There are plenty of banana cakes, banana pies, breads filled with banana and cream, tons of different types of banana desserts but nothing like the North America’s favorite, banana bread. I tried it for the first time still in Brazil, many years ago, in a friend’s house, who used to be a baker in Montreal and I fell in love since.
I never miss an opportunity to try a different one at any coffee shop and I am always experimenting with new recipes, like my Ultimate and fluffy banana bread, still looking for the perfect banana bread, that would remind me of that first one.
So it happened! I was flipping the pages of the last issue of Canadian Living magazine and found it! I had to try it right away and so far, this will be the one I will be baking, for ever!!
The original recipe is here.

The secret that makes it so special ? Let the mashed ripe bananas soak for 5 minutes with buttermilk and baking soda and the magic of fluffiness gets started!

Moist and light, no surprise that baking with brown sugar and real butter would bring the banana flavor very alive, but it was worth it! I substituted half of the flour with whole wheat flour and half of the brown sugar with sweetener to make it diabetes friendly.
If you like walnuts, chocolate chips or raisins, go ahead and add 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite thing.

Perfect moist and light banana bread

1 loaf – 12 pieces

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir together bananas, buttermilk and baking soda. Let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until combined; beat in egg, vanilla and banana mixture. Stir in flour mixture until combined; scrape into greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.

Bake in 350 F oven until cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack; let cool completely.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

20140218-163230.jpg

Homemade healthy granola bars

Standard

20140207-213441.jpg

For the times when you’re craving something sweet and doesn’t really need that nasty chocolate bar to fulfill your desert desire, I have the healthy solution! These granola bars are sweet, nutty, crunchy and delicious. It is great as a snack, tucked in your purse for work, for kids in school and as a quick breakfast on the go. For me, it has the sweetness I normally miss in the cold nights of this never-ending winter, with my tea and I get the added benefit of being totally satisfied and craving-free.

I love all the ingredients in this recipe, specially the taste of coconut that goes so well with cranberries. Although the original recipe, from Ina Garten, calls for dates, I will replace it next time for a different dry fruit, probably raisins. I found dates were too sweet. It was my first time using wheat germ and I was very pleased with the result and the taste. Easy, fast, healthy and yummy, give it a try! You will never buy granola bars again!

Homemade healthy granola bars
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

20140207-213510.jpg

Shrimp and palm hearts tart for your Super Bowl dinner

Standard

20140129-202246.jpg

My Super Bowl dinner is ready and frozen, just in case we decide to watch the game. We are not big fans of football, for me the commercials are the biggest hit, although here in Canada we don’t get to see all the hot ones. Anyway I guarantee we will eat this tart with or without Super Bowl.
I like to serve with a fresh arugula salad and a soup since the weather calls for a steaming one. It is a good choice for a quick meal, lunch or pic nic. I know, I’ve been a bit delusional lately, dreaming of summer, in this coldest winter in the last 20 years, here in Canada. It would be soooo nice to see some double digits temperatures that are not below zero, for a change…

I used store-bought pie shells this time but if you have the time make your own. Here there is a pastry recipe I’ve been using.
I love palm hearts but I know it is not so popular in North America; you can find it in most grocery stores, canned and they make up for a variety of dishes, from salads – just plain with some extra virgin olive oil – to soups and soufflés.

20140130-090454.jpg

By the way, the soup I am making is my ever tasty Cheesy cauliflower cream soup .

Shrimp and palm heart tart

2 to 4 portions

1 lb uncooked medium or large shrimps, deveined and peeled
1 small can (480g) Palm hearts, water drained, sliced
1/2 small onion chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 package of Tenderflake pastry (2 pies shells) previously thawed
1/4 cup green olives chopped (optional)
2/3 cup frozen sweet peas (optional)
finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
2tbs butter
3 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup liquid (milk, cream of your choice or vegetable broth)

Pre heat oven to 400F and place the shelf in the center.
In a medium pan cook the onion in the olive oil until tender and transparent, add the shrimps and cook for 1 min. just until, pink. Be careful to not over cook at this point since the pie will be baked. Set aside.
In the same pan, medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux, stirring quickly. Add the liquid you’ve chosen, stirring well, until all ingredients are incorporated. Remove from heat.
Add the previously cooked shrimps, the palm hearts, olives, red flakes, peas and parsley, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill the pie with the shrimp mixture, arrange the second crust on top, pressing the edges with a fork. Make a few small slits in the dough to let the hot air out. Brush with egg wash if you like and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 min with the foil and then for more 20 min without it until the top is golden brown.

Enjoy and Happy Super Bowl game!

Silky and creamy healthy green smoothie

Standard

20140126-104312.jpg

I’ve been away for quite a while.
So much going on in the last months, exciting things, busy time and I feel bad neglecting my dear blog. Then I think, wait, that’s the beauty of the whole thing, the joy of posting and sharing has to come with no guilt or self-imposed obligations! I’ve been cooking, yes, as always, but with renovations in the house and the joyful arrival of our new puppy, Stella, my quiet mornings were gone for good. The pleasant and time-consuming exercise of photographing my food became impossible.
We’re probably crazy, diving in this adventure of having a second dog at this stage of our lives, something we have never considered before but it really felt so good to do something on an impulse, out of the blue. After having spent a weekend with our son and his girlfriend who own 2 dogs, we came home and thought we would love to arrange some companion for Turbo, the older dog. And we did! Can’t say it has been a surprise the work and commitment we have to devote to her! It steals time from other things, namely my blog, but wow, what a joy to watch this little thing growing like a weed and integrating into our lives, like she has always been there!
Our cat is not too happy about it but he has endured several dogs already and is coming to terms to having new habitants in the house. Turbo has learned that he doesn’t get less attention from us and is happy to have a more exciting routine. He has established his role as the alpha dog and everybody is happy. And for us, we are feeling refreshed with so much love and action and blessed with the opportunity of looking after this little being, growing like a weed and terrorizing our routines without any concerns.
Enough said, this is a food blog as I remember and for my first coming back post I had to do something easy and healthy, which is the way life has to be now.
Having started the year trying to be on a good note on dieting, I finally mastered my green smoothie, based on the recipes of Reset Diet, from Harley Pasternack .
This has become my ever favorite green smoothie, that I adapted from the book’s recipe. I think I found the right combination of greens that make it really, really tasty, since, being totally honest, who really liked a green smoothie to the point of looking forward to drinking it, no matter how healthy it is?

This recipe is about mixing 0 % Greek yogurt, avocado, ripe papaya and spinach – or any other green leaves – add a bit of ground flex seeds, with a pinch of agave and lemon juice. The papaya and avocado together do the magic of breaking the tart of any green your choose, adding a pleasant silky and creamy texture. Play with the amount of sweet ( agave, honey, sweetener) until you get the right taste. All the right healthy ingredients, with the goodness of premium protein and you feel fed for many hours.

Silky and creamy healthy green smoothie

6 oz of 0% Greek yogurt
2 tbs ripe avocado
1/2 to 3/4 cup of ripe papaya
1 tbs any sweetener of your choice
1 to 1 1/2 cup of spinach or kale or Swiss chard ( My favorite is spinach, which is less tart)
1 tsp lemon juice (optional) – I skip this if I am having this smoothie in the morning
2 tbs ground flex seed
1/2 cup or a bit more of water or orange juice (in this case omit the lemon)

Blend all the ingredients and enjoy!

Stella, our new puppy.

20140126-105654.jpg

Large Cinnamon roll

Standard

20131102-225506.jpg

Baking is magic!

And cinnamon buns are my ultimate indulgence! I had to bake something to bring for a reunion and decided it would be a good chance to make my ever favorite, my way. That means, a generous dough, lots of cinnamon but not too sweet and, very important, packed with raisins. For the icing, just a thin layer of confectioner sugar mixed with milk for a little shine and texture, again, not too sweet. It is a huge treat for me, one I don’t have too often, so I make sure to enjoy eating as much as preparing it. I love to see the dough rising, waiting for the house to be filled with the cinnamon smell and watching the beautiful golden color after is baked. Baking is truly magic!
If you like it richer and sweeter, be more generous with the brown sugar and butter before rolling it out.
I got this recipe from a cooking TV show, but can’t remember which one. I just kept writing it down and baked it right after. I really get hypnotized with cooking TV shows and therefore forgot to write down who I was watching to cook!

20131102-225723.jpg

Large cinnamon bun

Ingredients

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 pouch)
4 oz warm water
1 tbs sugar

3 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsalted butter melted with
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
3 tbs sugar
touch of vanilla
pinch of salt

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs butter

For the filling
1/2 to 3/4 cup of melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
lots of cinnamon

For the icing
For my light icing I just mix 1/2 cup of icing sugar with 2 tbs milk. But an optional way, actually more popular, is mixing: 4 oz cream cheese, 1 cup of whipping cream and 1 cup of icing sugar, blending it together with some vanilla.

Directions:

Start mixing yeast and the warm water with sugar and let it rest until a starts foaming. In the mean time gather all your ingredients.

Combine flour, eggs, melted butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt mixing well. Add the yeast mixture and start kneading for at least 5 min., until the dough is nice and elastic. Let it rest in a bowl lightly greased with oil. Wait 45 min to 1 hour.

Flour a surface, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it out to get all the air out of the dough. Roll it out in an oval shape.
Brush the melted butter on the whole sheet of dough. Sprinkle brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon.

20131109-112533.jpg

Roll it up as tight as possible. Pinch at the end to seal it out. Now you have a long log.

20131109-112703.jpg

Brush more butter, more brown sugar and cinnamon on the top of the log. Roll up the log once more, tight.

20131109-112952.jpg

Melt the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a cake pan, mixing well. Place the roll in the center of this pan, cover and let it rise a second time for 45 min to 1 hour.

20131109-113424.jpg

At this point it can stay in the fridge until the next morning and you can bake it fresh for breakfast!

20131109-114110.jpg

Heat oven to 375 F. Bake for 30 min and then cover with foil and cook for more 20 to 25 min.

20131109-114527.jpg

Take out of the oven and spread your favorite icing on top. Enjoy!!!

Cream of carrots soup

Standard

20131020-223829.jpg

I didn’t know a carrot soup could be so decadent until I tried this one. Carrots are cooked with milk, which brings the creaminess that elevates this hearty soup to another level. I adapted from a recipe from Canadian chef Ricardo Larivée , adding some fennel to break up the sweetness of the carrots and we all loved the result. Perfect to start a meal, perfect for this nice fall weather, perfect for a fast and simple dinner along with a loaf of bread, simple and easy to make, just perfect!

4 portions

4 cups sliced carrots (about 7)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 fennel chopped
2 tbs butter
5 cups milk
1 pinch salt and pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, soften the carrots and onion, fennel in the butter. Add the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom to prevent the milk from sticking. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust the seasoning.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.