Milk buns from Heaven

Milk buns from Heaven

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I found this recipe in the House & Home magazine, from chef Eric Vellend. I was planning to try the technique of baking bread with a steaming water tray in the bottom of the oven, to get the glossy brown crust for a while and had the opportunity to do so with this recipe.
Perfection! I couldn’t expect for a better result: moist, light, these buns melt in your mouth. As dinner rolls they stole all the attention from the main dish!

Milk buns
1 cup whole milk scalded and cooled
1 cup water at room temperature
3 tbs honey
3 tbs olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast ( 1 envelope 8 g)
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more if needed

1 large egg at room temperature, beaten

Place milk, honey , water and oil in large mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve honey. Add yeast and salt. Gradually stir flour with a wooden spoon, until dough forms.
Transfer to floured surface. Gently knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth, 5 minutes.
Oil bowl, large enough for the dough to double size and place dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in warm spot until doubled in size, 1 hour.
Transfer dough to floured surface and briefly knead to knock out gas. Return to bowl, cover again and let or sit for 45 minutes.
Transfer dough yo the floured surface again and divide into portion the size of a tangerine ( 45 gr). Form each portion into a tight ball. Place 1/2 ” apart on parchment lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F. Bring kettle of water to boil. Pour 1″ layer of water into a roasting pan and place pan on bottom shelf of oven.
Brush tops of buns with egg and bake in upper third of the oven until golden brown, 20 minutes.

The pan of hot water creates steam in the oven, which helps the buns rise better and form a glossy and brown crust.

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The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

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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.

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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.

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Homemade healthy granola bars

Homemade healthy granola bars

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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!

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Large Cinnamon roll

Large Cinnamon roll

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Baking is magic!

And cinnamon buns are an 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. I just kept writing it down and baked it right after.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

Cream of carrots soup

Cream of carrots soup

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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 and for a fast and simple dinner along with a loaf of bread.

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.

Watermelon and goat cheese bites – healthy appetizer

Watermelon and goat cheese bites – healthy appetizer

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Nothing beats watermelon in the summer. Cold, crunchy and sweet, watermelon can trick us on eating more than the our normal share of sugars and fibre. We tend to think that because it is a fruit, so healthy and fresh, we’re good. In fact this wonderful and pretty fruit comes packed with sugar and as I mentioned before, having a diabetic in the family, we have to watch our consumption of these sweet treats. This is why I make these watermelon appetizers instead of serving a big bowl of watermelon slices. It is always a big hit and light enough to not spoil your dinner appetite, perfect to start your BBQ meal.
Simple and easy, you don’t even have to make any fancy presentation (as I did for the picture posting) just quickly spread the goat cheese mix on top of it and you’re ready.

Goat cheese spread

3 oz goat cheese
2 to 3 tbs of light sour cream (light mayonnaise works too)
salt and pepper and any herb you like to season

Mix everything together and spread over pieces of watermelon.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.

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Sweet spinach smoothie

Sweet spinach smoothie

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It might take you some time to get used to the appearance of a large glass of this green fluid standing in front of you before venturing in your first sip. Probably the motivation would be the constant “it’s good for you” factor that permeates our lives these days, as a statement that you’re in synch with the latest trend. It doesn’t matter the reasons, just be brave and go for it. Surprise! It does taste good and it is a meal by itself, super filling!
I had mine while I was reading the fascinating The birth house, from Canadian Amy McKay , in a rare quiet evening by myself at home and didn’t even notice I was having dinner. To balance the green overdose I had some berries for dessert and I was fed and happy.

This is my version of another smoothie’s recipe from Harley Pasternack’s book, The body reset. I added one small white guava, which was not part of the original recipe, as you can see it in the picture. Guavas (goiabas) are not so popular in North America, but very abundant in tropical countries. Seeds and flesh and lots of sugar make up for one of the most popular deserts in Brazil, called Romeo & Juliet, which is a combination of soft white cheese with the “goiabada” (made with red guavas) that actually can be a good idea for a future post.

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Sweet spinach smoothie

2 cups raw spinach
1 peach
15 grapes
6 oz Greek yogurt 0%
2 tbs avocado
1 tbs brown sugar or any sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup ice or cold water
* 1 small guava (totally optional, I couldn’t resist to add it, but it does add a tart zest)

Blend it and voilà!
Tip: start adding the liquid ingredients first to get it all blended faster.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

You might also like:

Raspberry, cashew and Greek yogurt smoothie

Papaya, ginger and coconut smoothie

Avocado and Maca shake for breakfast