Posts tagged ‘bread’
Valentines Day always tends to send the blogosphere into a tizzy with all things red, chocolate, heart-shaped, and/or shareable, and despite my irregular blogging habits over the last year or two, I seem to be no exception (see these Mexican Chocolate souffles for two or the little valentine cheesecakes for two– two surprisingly popular posts, mostly due to the for-two-factor!). This year, I was feeling a bit lazy about planning any sort of special dessert (especially because Stephen nearly always prefers chocolate chip cookies to anything else I might make), but then it occurred to me that one needn’t go dessert to get valentiney, and I had enough fun to want to blog about it! Valentines Day isn’t a particularly big deal around here, but we do like to try to do something involving cooking together, and this fits happily into that category.
I totally love soft pretzels, but most of the time I am far too lazy to make anything yeasted. Somehow, scaling the recipe back to just make a handful (well, a couple handfuls) of pretzels made it feel much more approachable, which was good because I decided to make these, dough-rising and all, at like 9:30 pm on a weeknight. It may have been a tad foolish given the timing (definitely not a bowl-to-belly in 30 minutes kind of snack), but it was surprisingly doable, and when we had the pretzels in hand it was all worth it. If you have some quick yeast (I didn’t), I bet you could shave the waiting down even more. Even with normal waiting time, I felt like the recipe made enough pretzels that my effort was justified, but not so many that I was shaping and poaching all night just to be left with a Super Bowl amount of snacks that we could never take down on our own. It made for a lovely Valentine preview snack!
I have a lot I could say about the origins of this recipe and the importance of stuffing, but I’m going to cut to the chase first. For me, this is The Best Stuffing Ever. The only recipe I’ll need from now on. The One.
This stuffing strata comes out so fragrant, moist, and flavorful, you would never know it hasn’t been cooked inside the turkey. But the fact that it hasn’t set up camp in a turkey means that you can shorten your turkey cooking time, and serve the stuffing to vegetarians without that out-of-place taste of vegetable broth that usually flavors vegetarian stuffing. Also, it’s a total snap to whip up; you can assemble it the day before and just pop it into your already-350-degree oven on the big day. It features all the traditional flavors of a really homey stuffing (sage, thyme, celery, and of course the bread) bound together by a magical mixture of egg, milk, wine, mustard, and gruyere cheese. The strata gets moistness and richness from the egg mixture, but doesn’t turn out soggy or taste of breakfast; essentially, it tastes like everything stuffing should be, but more…better!
I love my River Cottage Bread Handbook. I tend to go through obsession phases with new cookbooks and then let them fall neglected for months, but this is a book that I’ve returned to reliably over the last few months of owning it. It is a great resource for bread making– concise, clearly written, well photographed, and full of recipes for really tasty breads of all kinds. The author recommends no fancy tools (his bread/pizza peel is a board nailed to a stick), and doesn’t really advocate shortcuts or secrets, he simply shows you how to make delicious rustic bread.
When I was considering whether to buy the book or not, one of the things that really sealed the deal was the promise of a five minute bread recipe. Was this possible? Turns out it is! Enter roti, a simple, unleavened flatbread from India/Nepal that is great for scooping up puddles of stew or chasing the heat from a mouthful of spicy curry. It’s crazy easy to make – flour, water, and salt – and while I wouldn’t call it a showstopper when it comes to flavor or texture, it’s tasty in a simple way and provides some palate-relief from whatever you’re dipping it in. And for five minutes and three ingredients, I think that’s a pretty reasonable result! There’s really no excuse for not trying it– even if you’re in the middle of cooking right this minute, you could probably still whip out some roti and have it on the table before your main dish!
The kitchen first this time is not a new ingredient, but instead the conquering of a kitchen technique: the poached egg, no cheatsies! Up until now, whenever I was called on to create a poached egg I would simply reach for my handy dandy egg-poaching device, let the eggs cook in their little metal cups, and then slide them out, looking all freakishly disc-shaped. I am not a fan of runny yolks, so poached eggs are not a huge deal for me and I was happy enough with this arrangement as it allowed me to quickly and easily make poached eggs for Stephen. But, the more I cook and blog, the more I realize how obsessed food people are with poached eggs, so it kind of bothered me that I wasn’t able to create a normal-looking, old fashioned poached egg in a water bath. Enter my new favorite cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking For Two: 2010, and I finally found a poached egg sandwich recipe that I could master, and even enjoy. (more…)