Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No Knead Bread

I first discovered the joys of this incredibly perfect bread when I lived in Denver. My sweet neighbor, Mary would bake it, and I'd find a few slices in a cute little package on the handle to my apartment. I never bothered making this fabulous bread when I lived in Denver because Mary made it pretty frequently. She lived alone too, so she always shared. Also, if I'm being honest with myself, tasty bread is even more dangerous to me than cake. I can't stay out of it.

It might seem like baking bread is a wintery baking item, but once you try this bread - you'll want to bake it year-round.

Martha Stewart No Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Olive oil, as needed
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed (optional)

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Coat a second large bowl with olive oil. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, but preferably up to 18, in a room about 70 degrees in temperature. When surface is dotted with bubbles, dough is ready.

Lightly flour work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle just enough flour over work surface and your fingers to keep dough from sticking; quickly and gently shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran; place dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with a second cotton towel and let rise until it has more than doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.

After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot, such as cast-iron or Pyrex, in oven as it heats. When dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; turn dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until browned, 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Greatest Gift of All

My grandma was diagnosed with cancer on Christmas Eve of last year. We were given the grim news a bit-by-bit, and learned in January that its terminal. Her wonderful oncologist put her on an oral chemo to hopefully keep the cancer from growing. We found out a little over a month ago that the chemo is not only keeping the cancer from growing - the cancer is actually shrinking! Many, many prayers have been answered and miracles DO happen. It's such a blessing to our entire family. Grandma is, afterall, the glue that makes us all stick.

Bacon Sampling

Let me just say you know you have a true friend when she not only drives to every edge of town to pick up bacon for a tasting, but then flies to Ann Arbor, Michigan to get some more. My dear friend RoxAnn - you have to love her. Or at least I do! (It was probably a good thing my husband was out-of-town that night, or I have a feeling he would have taken bites of my strips.)

Here's a couple pics of our sampling. What fun. This was for our bacon class - which was back in March. I'm a bit behind, but I think it's entertaining to see the photos of sampling 13 bacons all at once.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

Ina Garten is a personal favorite of the celebrity chefs. She's really the only one I pay attention to. I actually had the opportunity to meet her at the 2007 Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. She's every bit as genuine in person as she comes across on television.

On to the recipe, it's in the Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook (which if you don't have - it's a great one). I've made these twice, both times for dinner parties. Can't make them when it's just the two of us because they are THAT good that I'd probably eat three small ones and my husband would eat the other three.

Barefoot Contessa's Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

Makes 4 Large Tarts, or 6 Appetizer-sized Tarts (with 1 sheet of puff pastry)

3 tablespoons good olive oil,plus more for brushing
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme plus sprigs for garnish
1 package (17.3 ounces) puff pastry sheets, thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Use cold.
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces garlic & herb Montrachet goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly

3. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11-by-11-inch square. Using a six-inch-wide saucer or other circular object as a guide, cut 2 (six-inch) circles from each sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.

4. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score a circle 1/2 inch inside the edge of each pastry. Prick the pastries all over with the tines of a fork and place them on the sheet pan. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

5. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edges. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart. If the pastry is warm, chill for 15 minutes.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Garnish each with a sprig of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm.


I've taken a blog vacation for quite some time. Life's been busy and other things have taken priority. But I'm back and excited to share more recipes and slices of life. Most people would never guess, but, yes I am a redheaded Lebanese woman. It sounds like an oxymoron but it is true. Here's my tried and true traditional hummus recipe.

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, reserve liquid
2 -3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

To garnish:
Olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Microwave garbanzo beans with liquid on high fro 5 mins. Pour off liquid and reserve. Mince garlic in food processor, add salt and beans and pulse 10 times. Add tahini, lemon juice and reserved liquid and process until mixture is consistency of a creamy paste. Spoon inot a serving bowl and drizzle with a thin film of olive oil. Garnish with pine nuts and paprika. Serve with pita bread and/or pita chips.