Friday, October 31, 2008

October Bread Baking Buddies

Updated again to add - all buddies this month, please feel free to copy and paste the badge to your blog! If you are not able to do that, please email me and I will send the badge to you.


Thank you to all you fab people out there who baked this months Bread Baking Babes bread, the Challah. It's a beautiful, fun and surprisingly easy bread. You should try it too!

As always, a big Thank You to Lien for creating our badges!

Our Bread Baking Buddies for October are:

Arundathi from My Food Blog

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Gretchen from Canela & Comino

Judy from Judy's Gross Eats

Astrid from Paulchens FoodBlog

Natalia from Gatti Fili E Farina

Here's a whole wheat version from Soepkipje

From Hanne at Freshly Made

Mary from One Perfect Bite

Caitlin from Engineer Baker

Zorra from Kochtopf

From Jude at Apple Pie, Patis and Pate

From Marie at breadbasketcase.

Thanks again guys! You're the best! And if I missed anyone or got anything wrong, please let me know - iliketocook at shaw dot ca.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

breakfast burritos

This is a recipe Scott and I made earlier this month, and although it needs just one small tweak (in my opinion) I am very pleased with it.
Almost every Saturday from April until October Scott and I went downtown to the Farmers Market. And almost every Saturday we'd share a piece of bannock for breakfast. The mornings that the the bannock table weren't there always bummed us out. One morning when they were absent we were just too hungry to hold off until lunch time, so we walked a couple of blocks over to one of Scotts favorite places downtown, Cowboy Coffee. We were standing in line to order our coffee and tea when Scott spied a little pile of breakfast burritos in the glass pastry case. We ordered one which they warmed in the microwave and then crisped up in the panini press. It was wonderful, with egg, bacon, cheese, onions and some salsa. We gobbled it down and from then on were secretly pleased on Saturday mornings when there was no bannock so we could have a burrito.

But now the market is over, and those burritos aren't free, so we decided to try to make some at home. It was surprisingly easy, and we soon had 10 good sized burritos wrapped up in foil waiting to be eaten.

Here's our ingredient list:

1 1/2 lb potatos, cooked and chopped
1/2 lb bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, chopped
salt and pepper
300 g cheddar cheese, grated
12 eggs
10 large flour tortillas

I had planned to cook the potatos the night before, but forgot so while we were getting the other ingredients ready, I steamed the potatos in the microwave, then cut them into medium chunks. You don't want the chunks too big so they fall out of the wrap while you eat it, but not too small so they don't disappear into the mix.

Chop up the bacon. Heat a large pan over medium high heat and cook until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tb of the bacon fat, reserving the rest. Add the onion and peppers to the pan and cook until the start to color and soften. Add the potatos and continue to cook until the peppers are soft and all the ingredients have some nice color to them. If you think the pan needs it, add some of the reserved bacon fat. Stir in the cooked bacon.

Crack your eggs into a bowl. Add 1/3 of the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the eggs are all broken up.

Turn the heat down to medium low and carefully pour the eggs in over the meat and veggies.

Cook slowly, stirring and turning as needed, until the eggs are set; not runny but not hard. Remove from the heat and set aside.

While the eggs are cooking, set out your 10 tortillas on foil, or just on the counter if you are going to store them some other way. When your eggs are done, divide the eggs between the tortillas.

Top the eggs with the remainder of the cheese and some salsa.

Then wrap them up.

I'll mention the one adjustment I will make for next time. My tin of salsa was small, about 200g, and it wasn't really enough. It was ok, but not great. My parents were our only testers on this recipe (I thought taking breakfast burritos to my co-workers was a little weird), and we all thought it was a little skimpy on the salsa. Next time I'll start with maybe 1 1/2 times that and see how it looks. But that's totally a taste thing, and what I think is not enough salsa someone else might think is perfect.

But how did they taste?

FANTASTIC. We loved them. Other then the salsa issue, there is nothing I would change. We ate one that morning after wrapping all those other ones up, and then a couple of days later I tried the coffee shop method and nuked one a little before finishing it off in our counter top grill. It was so, so good.

We tossed the rest in the freezer, and I'm happy to report that they still taste great! I was afraid that freezing might affect the taste or texture, but not at all.

When we went to the last market of the year, the bannock guys weren't there. We headed down to the coffee shop and tried their other flavor of breakfast burrito - Southwestern! Look for a recipe here soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 33 - Fall Vegetables

I am loving the theme of this months Weekend Cookbook Challenge (Fall Veggies if you didn't know), and if you saw my last post you'll see that Fall has completely descended on Kamloops. And while I don't like it for many reasons (snow is coming, the Farmers Markets are over, I have to wear socks and shoes instead of sandals, I'm cold all the time and did I mention SNOW IS COMING), I have to admit that it looks and smells beautiful out. There are apples just everywhere, waiting to be eaten out of hand and cooked with, and earlier this month I came across the most fun and easy apple recipe that I just have to share with you for Weekend Cookbook Challenge.

Apple Butter you make in the crock pot!

Nothing could have sounded more wonderful to me, especially since I'd been to the market that morning and bought a big tub of apples. I love apple butter, but have always been scared to try it, because it seems to take so long and I was afraid I'd burn and ruin it. But this recipe I was dying to try.

I don't know how I found A Year of CrockPotting but I am so glad I did! It looks like so much fun and I am looking forward to going through the archives as I definitely don't use my crock pot enough.

But back to this recipe. You only need a few things. Apples, brown and white sugars, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. And a crock pot:

I peeled and cored the apples, tossed them with vanilla, and cooked on low.
The next morning, I mashed them up, added the rest of the ingredients, and cooked some more.
By the afternoon, I had 5 1/2 small jars of apple butter.
It is absolutely wonderful. Possibly even better than Scott's Grandmothers Apple Butter, but we won't tell her that.

Thank you to the Crockpot Lady for sharing this tremendous recipe with us. Please click here for her recipe.

And thanks to Lisa from Confessions of an Apron Queen, who is hosting the October Weekend Cookbook Challenge. Get your posts to her by October 31.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bread Baking Babes - Challah

I am verrrrrry excited to be the "Kitchen of the Month" for October with my bread baking friends The Bread Baking Babes. It's a lot of pressure to come up with a recipe for these ladies; something interesting, fun, different....
I sat myself down with my copy of The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook that Scott bought me from a book sale earlier this year (we love book sales!), and at one point I had 18 bread recipes marked! It was a tough choice, but I decided on Challah (pronounced hallah) bread.

I chose the recipe for 2 reasons, first because the dough didn't sound too difficult to make, and second because I've never made a braided dough before and these baking groups have woken up the part of my teeny brain that wants to experiment more with bread baking. Damn them! In the nicest way of course.

So you make the dough, let it rise, and then divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, for 2 loaves. Then you split each piece into two unequal (2/3 and 1/3 pieces), and split each of those pieces into 3. Roll the pieces into ropes, and braid them.

Lay the smaller braid on top of the larger braid and seal the ends together.

Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds (if desired, I didn't) and let rise again.

Then bake, let cool, and stand back and admire your beautiful loaves of bread. The one on the right lost some definition because I covered them with plastic wrap for the second rise. I guess I shouldn't have done that.

Please check out my bread baking friends today and see how amazing their Challahs turned out:
Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna),Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Thyme of Cooking (Katie), and Grain Doe (Gorel).

Edited To Add: My apologies to all the Bread Baking Buddies out there! If you'd like to be a Bread Baking Buddy, please make the bread and send me a link to your post by October 31! My email is iliketocook AT shaw DOT ca.

from The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook

Makes two loaves

5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups flour, unsifted
3 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 package dry active yeast
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
pinch powdered saffron
1 cup warm water (120-130'F)
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp cold water
1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves. Add a little at a time to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer and medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally. Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Blend the single egg white and the other 3 whole eggs into the batter. Reserve the single egg yolk. Stir 1/2 cup of flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board about 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free place until double in bulk (approximately one hour).

Flour a pastry board lightly and set the dough on it. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 2 pieces, using 1/3 of the dough for one piece, and 2/3 of the dough for the other. Divide the large piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes together tightly, using your fingers to press the dough together at the ends. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 10 inch ropes and braid tightly. Place the smaller braid on top of the larger one and seal the ends. Repeat this process to form the second loaf.

Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet. Mix the reserved single egg yolk with the 1 tsp of cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and let the loaves rise until double in bulk in a warm draft free place (approximately one hour). Bake in a 400' over for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

That Cookbook Thing II Poulet au Porto, or Dinde au Porto, or a good use for turkey leftovers

We're back from a little longer than usual break with our fourth Julia Child dish for That Cookbook Thing (part deux). Up this round is Poulet au Porto (Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream and Mushrooms). I'll wait a second while you wipe the drool off your chin. You take Julia's roast chicken, and serve it with a most delicious sounding sauce of port wine, mushrooms, cream and cognac. I know!

Even though we had plenty of time to make this recipe, I still missed the selected posting date. I just couldn't get organized before or after our holiday, and then all of a sudden Thanksgiving was upon us and how could I make a whole chicken when we'll be eating turkey in a few days and how can I make a chicken now when we've got 85 pounds of leftover turkey in the fridge? Since I'd already missed the posting date I almost skipped this one entirely, but those in the group who'd already made it seemed so pleased with it I didn't want to miss out. And then it hit me - I could kill 2 birds (hee!) with one stone and make the dish with leftover turkey!

So I did that tonight. If you follow the recipe properly, you roast your chicken before starting the sauce. The sauce itself takes about 30 minutes to prepare and is pretty straightforward, although you will dirty many a pan. I made the sauce and while it was having its last simmer, warmed up some turkey in the microwave and then continued with the recipe. It was wonderfully delicious; creamy and mushroomy and boozy. A perfect cool weather dinner.

Not pretty, but pretty tasty.

I'd make this again in a heartbeat, both my leftover turkey way and the true way. And if you'd like to try it, here's the recipe, posted over at Mikes.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 33 - Fall Vegetables

I don't know about where you live, but here Fall has arrived with a bang. I feel like I haven't been warm in a week. My salad greens are sitting quietly in the fridge as I've been making foods to keep us warm; soups, casseroles etc. I had planned to find a soup or stew recipe that would fit into October's Weekend Cookbook Challenge theme - Fall Vegetables, as chosen by Lisa, our host from Confessions of an Apron Queen.

But last month Scott bought me a new cookbook for my birthday - Classic Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals. And the first recipe I opened the book to last week was perfect for both the challenge and a warming dinner - Potato and Apple Home Fries.

This was very nice, and I'll make this again with a few changes. I'd definitely add some onion, and I might add a little more apple. I'll also play around with the seasoning. Our grill spice blend didn't add anything to the dish.

Get your Fall Vegetable posts to Lisa by October 31! Her email is winnx5 at yahoo dot com.

Potato and Apple Home Fries
from Classic Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals

3 tb butter
24 oz diced breakfast potatos (aka hashbrowns) or 24 oz cooked diced potatos
1/2 lb ham steak, dinced
1 green apple, cored and diced
1 tb grill seasoning

Heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add potatos, ham and apple and season them with the grill spice. Turn every 5 minutes or so, letting the potatos brown on all sides. Cook 20 minutes, then serve.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Food TV Cooking Club - Anna Olson's Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and this month's cooking club recipe was a perfect dish to make this weekend, Anna Olson's Perfect Pumpkin Pie.

I am not a fan at all of pumpkin pie. But it's one of Scotts favorite desserts, so we made it to take to my parents house for Thanksgiving dinner last night.

The recipe calls for you to make your own crust as well as the filling. I have never had luck with pie crusts, but this one was very easy to make. I had no trouble rolling it or lining the pan. I was very surprised to see that the crust was not baked before the filling is poured in. But I figured Anna must know what she's talking about.

The filling was just as easy to make. Canned pumpkin, brown sugar, molasses, spices, eggs, cream and brandy are whisked together.

I poured the filling into the crust - well, most of it. Not all the filling would fit in. Then I followed the baking instructions: 10 minutes at 400', then 20 to 30 more minutes at 350'.

I had to cook mine for an extra 10 minutes to get it set enough around the edges. It smelled wonderful and the color was so deep and beautiful. We barely had the pie cooked before it was time to go to my parents house, so the pie cooled out on their balcony until after dinner.

The day before, we'd run into my parents at the grocery store. My Mom showed me a magazine cover with Paula Deen on it, with a pumpkin pie decorated as a jack o lantern. So we tried that too:

The pie was amazing. Really, truly, amazing. The filling was smooth, creamy, perfectly spiced, and almost mousse-like. It was borderline being slightly uncooked, but none of us complained. I cut myself a little sliver to be polite, gobbled it down and went back for a second sliver. We all loved it, even my Dad who is not a dessert person. He gave it a 9 out of 10. The rest of us gave it an 8 because the crust was definitely slightly undercooked. The crust should have been pre-baked before the filling was added.

Thanks very much to Elana at the Food for Thought blog for picking this recipe! This truly is the perfect pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!