Monday, February 28, 2011

BBD37: Breads using sponges and/or preferments

This month's Bread Baking Day was hosted by Champa of Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen. Her challenge was to make a bread using a sponge or preferment.

The bread I chose, Anadama Bread, from Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, uses both a sponge and a preferment. It turned out beautifully, with a soft crumb and a most delicious flavor.

The first step was creating the sponge, a mixture of cornmeal and water that sit overnight until bubbly.

The next step was making a preferment, using the sponge, flour, and yeast.

Finally, the remainder of the flour, molasses, and butter are added and the dough is kneaded, then left to proof.

Risen and ready to shape.

This recipe made two large loaves.

I had to use a lot of patience not to cut into the loaves before they cooled, but, oh, it was worth it!

The bread has a lovely flavor and soft texture. Using a sponge and preferment result in better texture and taste than breads that are made with quicker techniques. I hadn't made this recipe for quite some time, and I'm really glad I chose to bake it for this challenge. It was well worth the time and effort.

Stop by Champa's blog in a few days to see the round-up.

Thanks, too, to Zorra for creating this great event.

Friday, February 25, 2011

FFwD: Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port

Every so often, I try out a new short rib recipe, so I was really looking forward to trying this one from AMFT. I had everything on hand except the meat, and I was lucky to find some gorgeous boneless short ribs at the grocery.

The whole house smelled so good while these were cooking. Even the dog was confused -- it smelled like dinner time, but it was daylight. Something was just not right!

Once these were cooked, I chilled them for about two days, then removed the congealed fat, heated the remaining liquid, and broiled the meat until it was heated through.

The meat was very tender and I loved the hint of the star anise. My daughter didn't like that flavor as much, but she did allow as how the meat was very tasty.

I used a Central Coast Syrah from Cantara Cellars, and a lovely, fruity port from Kelsey See Canyon Vinyards in San Luis Obispo. Adding the port, created such a wonderful depth of flavor in the sauce that I will definitely use this recipe again.

Take a look at the French Fridays with Dorie website to see what the other cooks and bakers did.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TWD: Toasted Almond Scones

This week we had another delicious Dorie treat, Toasted Almond Scones. I make scones quite often, and these are good enough to become part of the rotation.

I chose to make these for afternoon tea, which was a big mistake because they nearly spoiled dinner.

They were like potato chips.

You can't eat just one, especially fresh from the oven and slathered with butter.

Rather than grinding up the almonds, I used almond meal. I did measure equivalent weights, so the meal was just under a half cup. It added a nice texture to the scones. I also eyeballed the almond extract, so I suspect it was a bit more than called for, which is fine because we love almond flavor.

The other change I made was to brush the tops with some milk and sprinkle them with sugar. The sliced almonds would have been nice and probably more attractive, but I just hate when they fall off after baking.

The host of the week was
Mike of
Living Out West.

More scones can be found on the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Friday, February 18, 2011

FFwD: Pancetta Green Beans

This recipe, for Pancetta Green Beans, is very similar to how I usually cook green beans, except for the addition of the pancetta.

Usually, I steam green beans in a frying pan (saute pan) in a small amount of water for about 6-7 minutes, drain, then toss them with butter and salt.

The addition of some sauteed pancetta just adds another dimension to the beans. Quick. Easy. Bacon.

How can it not taste wonderful?

Stop by French Fridays with Dorie for more deliciousness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bread Baking Babes & Friends Third Anniversay

To celebrate the Third Anniversary of the Bread Baking Babes & Friends, I chose to re-do a bread that didn't turn out exactly as expected.

Sukkar bi Tahin is a delicious treat, a sweet roll filled with a mixture of tahini and sugar. The first time I made these, I apparently didn't notice that my tahini was actually a tahini dip that included garlic and savory spices. Did I mention the garlic?

My goodness, who'd have thought that garlic and sugar wouldn't be the best of combinations?

The dough itself was soft and lovely, but a bit recalcitrant when rolled. I had the same experience this time, too, but I was determined to be patient with it. Patience paid off, even at the expense of a gooped up pastry cloth. (That can be washed.)

So, I'm pleased to say, that there was success this time around, and that the filling is really quite delicious, even without the garlic.

Stop by Natashya's blog for the complete list of baked breads.

Head over to Tanna's blog for a round-up.

Daring Cooks: Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this month's challenge, but I managed to squeeze it in on Monday the 14th.

We love soba noodles so I usually have them on hand. Personally, I liked them as a salad, especially with the spicy dipping sauce/dressing.

While I've made tempura before, this particular recipe didn't give me the desirable end result. The batter was very thin and didn't adhere well to the vegetables and the shrimp, even when I dredged them in flour beforehand. Everything still tasted good, but I plan to re-do this in the future, using a different batter.

Check out the Daring Kitchen to see what the other cooks did, and stay tuned for the next challenge.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

Baking cookies is good therapy for a stressful week.

I'm glad they were the choice of the week for Tuesdays with Dorie. They were quick and easy to make, so no issues to report.

They also disappeared in a flash.

Hostesses: Caroline and Claire of Bake With Us

Opinions and stories: Tuesdays with Dorie

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TWD: Bourbon Bread Pudding

We are big bread pudding fans.

We are also bourbon fans, although sometimes we substitute other alcoholic flavors, such as amaretto or kahlua. This time I debated between bourbon and amaretto.

Bourbon won.

Because there are only two of us, I halved the pudding recipe, but doubled the bourbon. (Still couldn't taste it!!!)

Puffy puddings, straight from the oven.

I'll definitely make this one again, giving amaretto a try. I'll also make some creme anglaise or a hard sauce to give the pudding a big flavor boost, although the puddings disappeared in a flash, so there may not be enough time. ;)

Hostess: Sharon from
Simply Southern

Opinions and stories: Tuesdays with Dorie

Saturday, February 5, 2011

FFwD: Basque Potato Tortilla

According to the local school system, my youngest daughter is classified as a truant. Even though she is over 20, this record will follow her for years, if not forever.

When she was 14, and still in regular high school, I pulled her out of school for two weeks to drive around the Iberian peninsula.

Her teachers all gave permission and homework.

The administration deemed her a truant.

She learned more spending two weeks in Portugal and Spain than she would have in the boring classrooms.

One day, we arrived in Santiago de Compostela, and spent our time wandering the streets and looking at shops and the great cathedral.

At dinner time, we found a small restaurant and ordered the local version of a tortilla. It was very much like the Basque Potato Tortilla that we made this week for French Fridays with Dorie.

Eating this brought back memories of our trip.

This is very simple to prepare, and since I always have potatoes and eggs on hand, I will add it to my recipe rotation.

Someday we'll return to Spain and Portugal to visit and revisit all the beautiful and historic sites.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TWD: Great Grains Muffins

The first recipe for February is Great Grains Muffins, chosen by Christine of Happy Tummy. Something quick and simple is just what I need right now. It helps, also, that these muffins are versatile and delicious.

Knowing the preferences of this household, I only added some toasted pecans to the batter.

Cooking time was exactly 20 minutes. The muffins had a nice golden top and were cooked through, but not overdone.

Learning from the previous muffin recipe, I made a full batch of 12 this time. I'm certain they will disappear very quickly!

Stop by Christine's blog for the recipe, as well as the Tuesdays with Dorie website to read about everyone's opinions and experiences.

Next week is Bourbon Bread Pudding. No way I'm going to miss that!