Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bread Baking Day #43: Onion Breads

One month ago I was visiting friends in Reston, Virginia. We took an afternoon drive up to Frederick, Maryland, and stopped at Volt for an afternoon snack.

One of the items we tasted was scallion biscuits. They were tops!

Early the following day, I received a message from Zorra, asking if I would host the August Bread Baking Day. Well, that was an honor indeed. I pondered a theme, then remembered those scallion biscuits, and decided to see what bread bakers would do with onions. I'm looking forward to the roundup in a few days, because there are some scrumptious entries.

Meanwhile, for my entry, I chose a deli rye bread, stuffed with onions. It makes wonderful sandwiches with a sharp cheese and either roast beef or chicken.

First, I caramelized some sliced onions.

Then, I spread them over my rolled-out rye dough.

This was the end result -- a lovely loaf, fragrant with caraway seeds and caramelized onions.

It's been the perfect accompaniment to lunches and dinners, and makes a killer sandwich.

The recipe I used was from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. You can find the recipe on The Fresh Loaf.

For the Onion Rye, just slice and caramelize one medium onion, then flatten the dough into a half-inch thick oval. Spread the onions over the surface, then roll it like a jelly roll into a log. Proceed with the regular baking procedure.

Keep an eye out for the roundup in the next several days.

When you have a moment, head over to Zorra's website to see all the many tasty themes from previous bread baking days, then feel free to join in over the next few months.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TWD: Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf

This has been such a crazy week -- weather and people. I was glad to have the distraction of baking.

My younger daughter is off to college again, back in New York. We were chatting on the phone last week, when she paused and said the house was shaking and the cats were going crazy, and if she didn't know better, she'd think it was an earthquake.


It was.

I immediately checked the USGS earthquake site, and saw this ginormous red square smack in the middle of Virginia.

Yes, my dear, I guess California misses you.

And then, there was Irene.

She left for education and adventure, and she's getting both.

Too bad she won't get to taste this delicious, fruity cake. It has a crumbly texture and isn't overly sweet. Perfect with tea or coffee.

This was Caitlin's choice. I think she has a thing for cornmeal.

For the recipe, head over to Engineer Baker. Then stop by Tuesdays with Dorie to read what the other bakers thought.

As for the people issues, one is sad, so I'll let that pass.

But, the other is terrific -- a new baby in the family! Born early Monday morning and surprising everyone with his arrival. He will join two sisters and will be spoiled.

Life is good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BBB: Dutch Crust Nostalgia

When I was growing up in the Seattle area, my mother would occasionally stop by a Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakery and buy various treats*. One of those treats was bread with a most delicious crunchy top.

With this bread, you actually ate the crust first.

This month, the Bread Baking Babes, with Astrid as hostess, chose Peter Reinhart's Vienna Bread. The Dutch crunch crust was optional.

Not for me. Especially when I read Reinhart's note about how perfect this bread was for sandwiches. That's what brought back my childhood memory.

I have made this bread before, during my artisan bread class at Santa Barbara City College several years ago. My buddy, Chris, and I made the Vienna bread into pistolets and coated them with the Dutch crunch mixture. They were some of my favorites, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make them again.

I don't know if my two loaves will last long enough for sandwiches, though. The slices are just heavenly when toasted and buttered.

Be sure and visit the Bread Baking Babes to see how they transformed their Vienna breads. If you don't already own Peter Reinhart's book, you can find the recipe on Astrid's blog.

And, do try the Dutch crunch topping.

*While the photo is from the 1930s, the bakeries were still around into the 1960s when we lived in the Seattle area.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beer-Braised Chicken Thighs

I'm always on the look-out for easy and delicious chicken recipes. When I returned from vacation two weeks ago, I was eager to give this recipe a try, and I wasn't disappointed.

Using boneless chicken thighs was the only change I made. I liked the blend of flavors, the carrots and green beans, and the rich, creamy sauce. This is a winner and I'm planning on making it again soon.

If you want to try it as well, the recipe can be found in the September issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray, or online at this site.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TWD: Tropical Crumble

I always forget how much I like mangoes.

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Tropical Crumble, featuring mangoes and bananas, spiked with ginger and lime, and topped with a butter-rich streusel.

I did choose to reduce the amount of butter in the topping. Clearly, 4 tablespoons was quite enough. I also made it the old-fashioned way, cutting the butter into the sugar-flour mixture, then stirring in the nuts. I was out of pecans, so I used walnuts.

The crumble came out just fine, the streusel topping was crisp and golden, and the whole dish was bubbling away. It did soften up some upon standing, but that didn't affect the flavor.

On the positive side, I loved the cooked mangoes, the bananas were so-so, and I was somewhat dismayed to see pools of butter leaking out from the filling, especially when they congealed. Not particularly appetizing, even for a butter lover.

In the future, I can see a mango-ginger crumble, individual-sized, with a tad less butter in both filling and topping.

This week's hostess was Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen. I probably wouldn't have tried this recipe on my own, so thanks, Gaye, for taking me out of my comfort zone.

Head to Gaye's blog for the recipe, and to the TWD site to read the other bakers' opinions.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Circle the Wagons: Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

The food blogging world is a wondrous thing. Amid all the joy and sharing there are times of sadness and tragedy, times when all food bloggers gather together (virtually), circle the wagons, and take care of their own.

In this case, it is Jennie Perillo, a chef, a food blogger, a mom, a wife and an all-round good person.

Except . . . .

Her world was turned upside down earlier this week when her husband, Mikey, suddenly passed away.

To honor Mikey and support Jennie, the food blog world has designated today as Creamy Peanut Butter Pie day.

Read about Jennie's story here and here. Then bake the pie and share it with those you love.

Remember, it's the thought that counts, not the calories. .

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TWD: Carrot Spice Muffins

I'm not a fan of carrot cake.

That said, I decided to make these muffins anyway, and I'm glad I did. They are moist and delicious, perfect for a late morning snack.

I made sure to finely grate the carrots, and I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins. I used toasted pecans, unsweetened dried coconut, and overflowing measures of cinnamon and ginger. Also, I ended up with 14 muffins rather than 12. My muffin tin must have smaller openings, perhaps.

These are tasty enough to bake again.

Thanks to our hostess this week, Nancy of
The Dogs Eat The Crumbs. Check in with the other TWD bakers to see what they did.

(Just writing about these makes me want one.)


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Announcing Bread Baking Day #43: Onion Breads

Last Sunday I had the good fortune to eat at Volt restaurant in Frederick, Maryland. Volt, in case it doesn't sound familiar, is owned by Bryan Voltaggio, one of the past contestants on Top Chef. One of the menu items was Biscuits and Gravy. These, however, weren't just any biscuits. They were delicious scallion biscuits, topped with a home-made-sausage gravy. So delicious!

Monday morning, when I read my email, I was delighted to find that I had been asked to host this month's edition of Bread Baking Day. How perfect was that timing!

Bread Baking Day is the monthly event for bread-lovers everywhere, creat
ed by the talented and gracious, Zorra from 1x umr├╝hren bitte . Each month, the current host chooses a theme and calls on all bread bakers to get creative and submit their freshly baked bread by the beginning of the following month.

The previous roundup, Bread Baking Day #42, was hosted by Palmira of Come Conmigo El Blog de Palmira. Do stop by Palmira's blog and see all the delicious picnic breads that were submitted.

Because of my tasty experience at Volt, I chose the theme of Onion Breads for BBD43. Let your imaginations run wild! Just use some kind of onion in your bread -- chives, scallions, shallots, spring onions, leeks, red, yellow, or white onions; diced or sliced or whole; caramelized or roasted or sauteed. The form of the bread is up to you.

Here's how to participate in Bread Baking Day #43:

  • Bake any kind of bread that includes some kind of onion
  • Post about it on your blog with a link back to this post
  • Send in one recipe per blog
  • Please write your recipe in English
  • Non-bloggers can email me the necessary details and your entries will be included
  • Send your email to me at jahunt22(at)gmail(dot)com and include:

  • Your name
  • Your location
  • Your blog’s name and URL
  • The name of your bread and the post URL (permalink)
  • A picture of the bread 250 x 250 pixels
  • Subject line: BBD#43: Onion Breads

  • Deadline for submission is September 1, 2011
  • Roundup will be online September 5, 2011

No crying now. I'm looking forward to seeing all the yummy bread!

(If you want to see all the breads from past Bread Baking Days, follow this link to the archives.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TWD: Cocoa Almond Meringues

I'm back from vacation and ready to start cooking again. These Cocoa Almond Meringues were a lovely welcome-back recipe.

One of my very first cookbooks was the Joy of Cooking, which I received on Christmas day, 1965. (Santa was clairvoyant.) There is one cookie recipe in Joy that I have been making for over 35 years -- Chocolate Cracker Kisses. They are my go-to chocolate meringue cookie, with a secret ingredient of -- ta da -- salted soda crackers.

Dorie's cookies are a really close second to the kisses, and I suspect I'll go back and forth between them when I bake meringue cookies in the future. I'll have to make sure I have both almond meal and saltines in the pantry now.

This week's host was Mike of
Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude. You'll find the recipe on his blog.

You'll also find other meringues from the TWD bakers on the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Now, it's back to the kitchen for a whole bunch of make-up baking and cooking.