Saturday, October 27, 2012

New York Deli Rye

Growing up, my grandma was the best cook and baker that there was. Most of her best recipes consisted of a dash of this and a handful of that. Many of them were not written down anywhere. Unfortunately, that means that now, many of those recipes are forever lost. I have been on a quest lately to find a recipe similar to hers for German Rye Bread. I tried a recipe a few months ago, but it wasn't quite it (you can find that version here).
A few weeks ago, I came across this version on Smitten Kitchen. This version is getting closer. This bread has a great flavor that is very similar to what I remember, maybe a little light on the rye. The texture fresh from the oven was a crusty crust and a soft center. This seemed different than Grandma's bread, but after a day of resting it was a bit more chewy in the crust and the center - which is closer to what I remember. The crust was a lighter color than I was used to.
I think next time that I make it I might swap in a little rye flour in place of some of the bread flour in the flour mixture. Not a lot, but maybe 1/4 cup. I might see about swapping molasses for the honey too. I am thinking that might give me a darker crust and a deeper flavor. I also did not include any ground caraway seeds, because I'm not a fan of the seeds themselves. Perhaps I might try adding a bit of ground seeds - I know my grandma's bread was seedless, but I don't know if she added ground seed to it.

New York Deli Rye
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon honey or malt powder
1 1/2 cups water at room temperature

Flour Mixture
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt

Dough and Baking
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cornmeal

Make the sponge: Combine sponge ingredients in a large or mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth, to intentionally incorporate air — this will yield a thick batter. Set it aside.

Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge: In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture in places.)

Mix the dough by hand: Add the oil and with a wooden spoon or your hand, stir until the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then scrape it onto a very lightly floured counter. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, after which it might still be a little sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is very smooth and elastic.

Let the dough rise: Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Flip the dough out on to a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold it back into a square-ish ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.

Shape it and wait out the final rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled baking stone. Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. You will know it is ready, when after gently pressing with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.

Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Slash and bake the bread: With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the top of the dough. Mist the dough with water. Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400°F and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Ravioli with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

Recently, I came across a recipe that sounded really yummy. It used a jar of sauce and then it was kicked up a notch with the addition of other items. Unfortunately, it called for sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce, which was not available in my stores. Since it sounded so tasty, I decided to do some improvising and make my own sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce. The family enjoyed it - although my son, who will eat tomatoes right from the garden, picked out the fresh diced tomatoes. This is a definite keeper - it is an easy to make, tasty, quick dinner option for a busy night.

1 pkg frozen Cheese Ravioli
1 jar Light Alfredo Sauce
3 sun-dried tomatoes (6 halves)
2 tbsp white wine
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp basil
Parmesan cheese

Prepare ravioli according to package directions.

Steep the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water, then drain. Use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes into small pieces.

Pour the Alfredo sauce into a saucepan. Add the wine to the pasta jar, recap and shake well. Add to the saucepan, along with the sun-dried tomatoes. Cook over medium low heat. Add the diced tomatoes and basil. Stir to combine. Continue heating until heated thoroughly.

Toss the sauce with the pasta and serve with Parmesan cheese.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mini Meatball Soup

I enjoy having soup for dinner. It is a great way to get the family to eat their vegetables and a variety of them.

When the kids were little, soup was a great way to easily get the kids tender vegetables and meat that they could eat. I would prepare soup and then, pull out the meat and vegetables leaving the broth behind. I also would get the salad bar when we went out, so that I could give them the tender peas and diced fruit from the salad bar, along with the stuff in soup.

When it comes to having soup for dinner, it needs to be hearty. We like to pair it with a side salad (more veggies!) and bread (to soak up the broth and to give you something to really sink your teeth in).

A soup that we tried recently is Mini Meatball Soup. I liken it to an Italian Wedding soup. The vegetables are a little different and it only has one meat. I have made this following the meatball recipe below and using ground chicken and the next time, I made up a larger than normal batch of meatballs following my Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe using ground turkey and set them aside for soup the next day. You probably could even use premade meatballs if you don't want to mess with preparing them, although, I prefer homemade meatballs.

You can save time by dicing the vegetables and making the meatballs ahead of time. I also have been known to leave the soup on a medium high heat after adding the meatballs and pasta and serving it then. Of course, the longer you can let it simmer the more flavors will develop and the more tender the meatballs, pasta and vegetables will be.

Mini Meatball Soup

Servings 6

1 pound ground turkey (or chicken)
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion diced
10 baby carrots diced
2 stalks celery diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup small pasta like Ditalini
2 cups baby spinach
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Combine the ground meat, egg, bread crumbs, Paremsan cheese, garlic, Italian Seasoning, and parsley flakes in a bowl. Form into mini meatballs and cook over medium heat until cooked, turning after a few minutes.

In a large pan, heat the oil and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute for 4-5 minutes, with constant stirring. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add meatballs and pasta. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Cheese Soup

When the weather turns cooler, I am a big fan of soup. I could eat soup for several meals a week - whether as a side course or a main course. There is just something so satisfying about the warmth of a soup - the steam coming off the bowl as you sit above it eating and the warmth of it in your stomach. When I make it a meal, I love to serve it with a hearty bread (and sometimes I even add butter).

When I added this new soup to my weekly meal plan, I had an ulterior motive. The soup was to be pureed. For years, I have either skipped puree steps for my soup or I have tried to transfer a portion of it to a standard blender to puree. The problem with that is two-fold. Hot liquids seem to seep out of my blender, so I have to cool them some before blending and since you can't puree it all, the texture is never quite right. I decided that since I had some Kohl's Cash and a 20% off coupon, that this time I was going to get something for me. I picked up a stick/immersion blender with my discount. It cost me about $4 plus tax after my discount. A great investment. A specialized tool that is worth finding the space to keep.

Roasted Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Servings 4

1 head cauliflower cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon thyme
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the cauliflower with 2 tbsp oil. Sperad on a large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. The florets should be lightly browned.

Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Add thyme and cook another minute. Add broth and cauliflower to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Puree the soup to desired consistency. Mix in the cheese and allow to melt. Mix in milk and remove from heat. Season to taste.

Notes - I used chicken bouillon and water instead of broth. I garnished my bowl with additional shredded cheese. I recommend leaving a certain amount of chunks in your soup. According to my recipe software, this soup has about 300 calories per bowl (plus any garnish you add). I think I could do the same recipe with broccoli, although I would probably use regular cheddar.

This post shared at the Ultimate Recipe Swap.

This recipe is thanks to the time I spend wandering on Pinterest. You can find the original post on Riches To Rags by Dori here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Apple Crisp

It is really beginning to feel like fall outside and of course, in my world, along with fall comes apple cider, apple dumplings, and apple crisp.

It's funny, when I was a kid and they would serve us apple crisp in elementary school, it was one of my least favorite desserts. I'm not sure how they made it but I'm guessing that in their crisp portion they must have had oats and maybe even nuts. (would they have been able to do that thirty something years ago?) I can remember picking through it to try to 'save' the apples, but wanting with all of my heart to avoid getting any of the crisp.

At home, well, that was a different story. My aunt gave had a recipe for apple crisp, that I can only describe as satisfyingly simple and wonderfully delicious. There are five ingredients - apples, flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon. The topping is very similar to what you would receive on top of a crumb pie.

It is a family favorite for my kids too. Even my coworkers request it special from time to time - 'not just for my birthday' said one coworker.

I don't use a specific type of apple when I make it, in fact, I generally prefer to mix it up and use at least two varieties of apples when I do. I have even been known to substitute in a couple of peaches for an apple and peach crisp.

Apple Crisp
8 Apples, peeled and diced

1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
6 T butter

Place diced apples in a square baking dish.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Crumble together the flour, sugar and butter. Distribute evenly across the apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Enjoy! I prefer it served warm and typically reheat it if I am having some later.