Lion House Rolls

November 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

A love affair? Maybe, but I guess I justify it since it only happens once a year. And, like me, you won’t believe you made these pudgy little suckers, nor will your guests. Yes, I know, bread is not exactly nourishing, but smothered with ghee or creamy butter, it sure is a perfect indulgence once and a while (i.e. once a year at Thanksgiving).  Lion House rolls are heaven. This is not my recipe but I’ve adopted it, made them the last three years and I must say, if every family chef made these buttery babies, we’d never have to rely on Pillsberry for pokable perfection ever again.

If you’re a visual learner, watch this Lion House video and get to swingin’ your dough!

Lion House Rolls
2 cups warm water, 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk, 2 tbsp dry yeast*, 1/4 cup white, granulated sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup organic butter, plus 1/4 cup for brushing 1 egg, 5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, organic butter for topping
*2 tablespoons are equivalent to 2 packages of dry yeast.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the dry milk, stirring until everything is dissolved. Add the yeast to the mixture while milk mixture is still warm. Proof the yeast (let it dissolve and start to react before adding anything else) for a couple of minutes then add the sugar, salt, butter, egg and only 2 cups of the flour.

Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet and shaggy; turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour (total of 4 cups added at this point). Mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes.

At this point, the dough will be stiff.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and knead in the remaining flour by hand.

Add approximately 1/2- 1 cup of flour and knead. The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. Note: It’s not necessary to use the all of the 5 1/2 cups of flour.

Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl. Coat the sides of the bowl with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Turn the dough over, keeping it in the bowl, so it is covered with the oil. Coating the dough with oil ensures moisture won’t escape. Cover the bowl with a small towel and allow it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Dust a cutting board or the counter with flour to prevent sticking, and roll out the dough (see the video above). Roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick and brush with about 1/4 cup of melted butter.

You want to cut the rectangle into smaller rectangles that are 2″ by 4″.  If you make and “L” with your thumb and pointer finger, as it shows in the video, that will yield the right width and height to cut the rectangles.

Roll or flip them (like in the video) and place them on greased baking pans with the end of the roll resting on the pan. Cover with a towel so they don’t dry out as they rise. Let them rise until they double in size; this usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half (in a warm kitchen).

When they’ve risen, bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Serve immediately. Leftovers (although there probably won’t be any) can be frozen- they make a great base for bread pudding!

Happy Thanksgiving.
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Bread & Brown Buttered Hen of the Woods

October 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

It’s short & simple: the best ingredients yield the most impressive products. Now, enter foraged mushrooms, the epitome of good ingredients, into the equation & you’re bound to have a product that even the meek-mushroom-deniers will desire.

Hen of the Woods, Grifola frondosa, or Maitaki is a common mushroom in the Northeast.

The art (or sport) of foraging mushrooms has been seriously dismissed in some parts of this country, but it’s certainly exciting that there is a rising interest in the sport (we can call it a sport right?). Because mushrooms occur in the same, much sought after “secret spots” each year, mushroom knowledge is usually passed down between generations. Once someone in the family finds a spot, it’s to that spot they’ll return annually when the season for the mushrooms arrives.

This recipe is easy & can be duplicated with anything from fish to eggplant. The most important thing to keep in mind is that what you make your bread crumbs out of does mater. Like I said earlier, what you put in is what you get out. An old loaf of sourdough, buttery crackers, or a stale grainy baguette all work, but the secret is to mix whatever you use with a cup of walnuts (a trick that my mom taught me).

Looks like chicken, but it's not, I promise.

Bread & Brown Buttered Hen of the Woods

2 packages of your favorite whole wheat crackers*, 1/2 cup walnuts,  10, 2-3oz hen of the woods “filets”, 1 egg,  1/2 cup organic whole milk,  2 Tbsp butter** &  salt & pepper to taste

*You can use anything, Late July, Barbara’s Wheaties, Back to Nature, or even Ritz crackers. If you do use bread, be sure the loaf is at least 2 days old & has been baked so that it hardens (like toast).

**olive oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, or ghee works well here too, they just should not be browned.

Beating lightly, combine egg & milk in a large bowl until homogenous. Add the “filets” & let them soak for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pulse crackers & walnuts in a food processor until they become granulated, but not dusty. Dump half of the bread crumbs in a plastic bag & the other half on to a large plate.  In a skillet brown the butter over medium-high heat. Browning the butter (for more about brown butter check out the last post) will take about 3-4 minutes over high heat.

One by one coat the soaked filets in bread crumbs & add them to the pan (if needed, add more bread crumbs to the plate as you go). Adjust the heat to medium & let the breaded filets cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Flip & repeat until both sides are golden & slightly crunchy. You may need to add more butter or oil if you notice the pan looks “dry”.

Serve over a bed of greens or as a grilled pizza topping. This recipe can also be used to bread any white fish or for eggplant. If you are using it to bread fish, soak the fish filets & prepare the bread crumbs the same way, but bake the fish (in a baking dish coated with olive oil) at 350 degrees F, for 35 minutes, or until flaky.

Have you ever foraged wild mushrooms before? If so, please share your experience & your suggestions for cooking/baking/pickling them!

Open-Face Savory Egg Sandwich

October 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

It’s a shame that this recipe isn’t what McDonalds uses to make their “Egg” McMuffins. Maybe if it was, our country wouldn’t be suffering from an obesity epidemic. I hate to start on such a negative note, so I’ll change my tone, but I had to say it.

We’ve finally got eggs! At first, I was hesitant to believe it, but after pulling the petite golf-ball-like orbs from the hen’s laying quarters for the past seven days, I’ve realized that it’s probably only going to get better.

The Rooster, also known as our neighborhood's new alarm clock.

The eggs in this sandwich were probably some of the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten (we have a while until our inputs & the hens’ outputs break even). Although the eggs were definitely the most expensive, they were by far the tastiest little morsels around. We’ve been letting the hens out to roam around the garden, torture the dog, flock into trees & to hop. Yes, hens hop, or at least ours do. But hey, the happier the hen, the better the egg- that’s my hypothesis.

All around the country the number of people rearing their own chickens (mainly for laying), keeping bees & planting their own gardens is increasing exponentially. It makes sense. As this nation has become more educated about the way our food is grown & raised, the energy required to ship it to us (food miles) & the actual nutritional quality of what we’ve been consuming, people have begun to lose their faith in the integrity of our food systems (& for good reason). So, instead of relying on a system that we can’t count on, why not take a whack at self-sufficiency (just a little whack).

So when I say this is the ultimate breakfast, lunch & dinner sandwich, you have to understand, the eggs did come from my backyard & that makes all of the difference. It’s a pretty damn good feeling to eat something you helped grow or grew yourself.

Aside from the egg, how can can anyone go wrong with a hearty artisan multi-grain loaf, roasted butternut squash, a block sharp cheddar (Melted. I know, even better right?) & arugula? You can’t.

Oh & yes, eggs do have cholesterol, but don’t let anyone fool you, eating eggs is much more nourishing than a bowl of some “healthy” cereal every morning. If you don’t know already, eggs are a prime source of choline, folic acid & vitamin A. They provide the perfect ratio of fat to protein & are probably not what is causing your high cholesterol. In fact, it is generally accepted that dietary cholesterol is not the persecutor of high LDL (bad cholesterol). Also, the fat in eggs is predominately good for you, as they are relatively low in saturated fat.  High consumption of saturated fat is positively correlated (when consumed in high amounts, e.g. grain-fed & processed meats, processed cheese, butter, etc.) with high cholesterol.

The squash here is from my backyard & the bread is a Multi-Grain Round from Seven Stars.

As you can see, the quality of bread you use  is important in deciding the the outcome of this sandwich. It’s got to be robust enough to not get lost under all the toppings that are added. Actually, the quality of everything in this sandwich is important; the bread, the cheese, the butter you used to brown the sage leaves in, the sage itself, the fresh bitterness of the arugula, and of course the egg.

Here I removed the toppings so you could see the bright yellow "leakiness" of my homegrown egg.

By the way, if you’ve never made brown sage butter, you’re in for a treat.

Open-Face Savory Egg Sandwich

(Serves 2 or 1 really hungry person)

1 butternut squash*,  cut in half, seeds removed,  1/2 loaf of bread,  5 oz organic sharp cheddar, 2 eggs, 1 cup of arugula,   2 Tbsp honey mustard,  2 Tbsp shredded organic Parmesan cheese,  1 Tbsp organic butter,  6 sage leaves, broad leaf if available,  salt & black pepper to taste

*You won’t use the whole butternut squash, but it will keep in the refrigerator for several days or can be turned into Butternut Squash Soup.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit & roast the squash for 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Then, switch the oven to broil. Cut two 3/4 inch thick slices of bread & broil, flipping the pieces every minute until golden on each side. When broiling you should use the middle-top racks (the heat comes from the roof of the oven) & should be vigilant about keeping an eye on the bread.

Meanwhile cook butter in a skillet over medium-high until the milk solids begin to brown, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Add the sage & cook until crispy, no more than 1 minute. Remove the sage & set it aside.

Once broiled, spread 1 Tbsp of honey mustard on each slice of bread, cover with a thin piece of butternut squash & top with the cheese. Broil the cheese-topped bread for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts (this happens very quickly).

Add the two eggs to the brown butter & cook until the bottoms turn white. Season with a little bit of salt. Flip the eggs & cook for no more than 1 minute. The yoke should be runny when they are finished. When finished top the broiled cheese bread with the sage, the eggs, some arugula & a pinch of Parmesan cheese. Broil for 30 seconds to melt the Parmesan. Season with black pepper & serve immediately.

While you enjoy, consider the following: What is holding you back from getting some laying hens?

Peg’s Favorite Zucchini Bread

September 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

The humidity that hangs crippling fall’s crisp coolness might not inspire you to turn on the oven, but those few zucchinis that linger on your counter may. After harvesting a full summer’s bounty of delicata & butternut squash, I pulled the last & final zucchini from the ground before stripping the garden bare (well almost, the eggplants are still hanging in there).

This recipe is special; it’s tried & true. It was given to me by Peg, a wise friend who has seen it all. Peg is spunky, creative & extremely thoughtful- after a conversation about what to do with lots of zucchinis, she took the time to write out her entire recipe with coordinating pictures.

I’ve modified the recipe a bit, but the outcome is still the same earthy cake-bread that promises to please. Although it’s sweet, this whole wheat & quinoa based bread is truly nourishing. If coconut oil isn’t in your pantry, organic canola oil works almost as well. The crunchy topping that forms from the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on top makes this my favorite way to eat zucchini.

Peg’s Favorite Zucchini Bread

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour,  ½ cup quinoa flour,  ¾ tsp baking powder,  ½ tsp baking soda,  ½ tsp sea salt, tsp cinnamon,  2 eggs,  ¾ cup unrefined coconut oil,   2 cups zucchini, shredded,   ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup roasted cashews, chopped &   3 Tbsp cane sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit & grease a loaf pan with coconut oil. Shred the zucchini in a food processor. Mix the 1 tsp of cinnamon with cane sugar & set aside.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt & cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat eggs & brown sugar until fluffy, then fold in the shredded zucchini & the nuts.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture & fold until well fully blended. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan & sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the middle is dry. Let it cool completely in the pan, then slice & serve.

This bread freezes wonderfully. I “butter” it with coconut oil then quickly pan fry it until the outer edges are slightly crunchy. Enjoy!

Sweet Challah Bread

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Not much compares to the fragrance of a fresh log of dough morphing into a shapely loaf of bread. It is no surprise that every culture & ethnicity boasts its own unique bread. Italians are crazy about ciabatta, the French obsess over sourdough, Mexico is known for its corn tortillas & tamales (flat bread, but bread non the less), the Irish love their soda bread, Americans have a thing for Wonderbread (that I have not quiet figured out) & so on and so forth.

I personally like grainy breads, but all artisan bread, so long as it’s fresh is kind of magical.

This recipe comes from Jessamyn Waldman of the Hot Bread Kitchen in New York. It is a flavorful Mediterranean Challah graced with fragrant caraway & cardamom, then wrapped into a “turban shaped loaf”.


Sweet Challah Bread

3 Tbsp sesame seeds, 1 1/2 Tbsp caraway seeds, 1 1/2 Tbsp of cardamom pods (ground into small pieces) , 1 envelope active dry yeast, 2 cups lukewarm water, 5 cups all purpose flour, 2 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp kosher salt, Cornmeal for dusting, 2 large egg yolks
In a skillet, toast the sesame seeds, caraway seeds & cardamom over moderate heat until fragrant. This should only take about 2 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool. In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 2 tablespoons of the water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Combine the flour with olive oil, honey & the remaining water. Knead until the dough forms. Add the kosher salt, yeast mixture & all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds.
Knead for ten minutes (yes, it’s worth it). Using oiled hands, transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl & let stand in a draft-free spot until the dough is risen. This takes a little more or less than an hour depending on the temperature of your house.
Oil a pizza or bread stone, then dust with cornmeal. Flip the dough onto a floured surface & press gently to deflate. Cut the dough in half & let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope & let rest for 5 minutes longer. Carefully roll rope into a 32-inch rope. Beginning at the center, work your way to the outside, coiling the rope like a turban. Tuck the ends under the coil, cover with an inverted bowl & let stand for an hour
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks & 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves & let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more and sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon of seeds. Bake the loaves one at a time in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until they’re golden. Transfer the loaves to racks to let cool completely before slicing.
Ah… it’s good to be back!

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Good bread recipes are hard to come by, or at least for me they are. The bread recipes I try always seem to come out too heavy, or too dry & sometimes they don’t rise enough, or are lacking in any flavor besides that of flour. So, as you can imagine when I came across this bread recipe in Vegetarian Times & it actually was good, I was ecstatic!

This is not a recipe for the faint of heart because the magic happens over the course of a week- needless to say patients are essential. Good things happen over time & time is vital to the flavor of this loaf. Sourdough is centuries old & came about when early bread artisans realized that when moist flour was exposed to warm air it fermented. Leaving the starter out actually allows it to collect wild yeast from the air. Don’t act so surprised, you have probably seen these wild yeasts before. For example, if you’ve ever noticed white “blooms” on grapes, that is wild yeast.

These frisky little yeasts break down the complex carbohydrates in grains to produce sugar & alcohol. Think about the “malty” taste of some beer, that flavor comes from germinating the grains, aka the “hydrolysis” of a starch. Hydrolysis is the break down of the starch (we’re using wheat as our starch) which converts the starch to a sugar, maltose, & an alcohol.

Fermentation then produces bacteria; specifically, lactobacillus & acetobacillus. (These are the “friendly” bacteria you are paying top dollar for in the form of probitotics.) The bacteria work digest sugars in order to create lactic & acetic acid while preventing any “bad” bacteria to colonize. Lactic acid, is heavily responsible for the sour taste of sourdough bread.

The “sourdough” starter, also known as the sponge or the mother, should be thought of as a pet. It needs to be kept warm & should bet fed a couple of times a week if you choose to keep it past the first loaf you make. Here, we will cheat a wee bit & add a small amount of yeast to the starter initially, in order to speed up the process- but I’m experimenting with not adding it. I’ll keep you updated!

Sourdough Sandwich Loaf:

3 cups of all-purpose flour (bread flour works too), 1 1/4 tsp of dry yeast, 1 1/4 cups starter, 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

Sourdough starter:

1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup very warm water, about 110 degrees F & 1/4 tsp dry yeast.

Mix flour & yeast in a glass bowl. Add water and continue to mix, gently until smooth. Starter in a warm, away from any drafts. Feed the starter every 24 hours for three days. To feed: throw away half of the starter & mix in a 1/2 cup of flour & a 1/2 cup of water.

Bread:

Combine 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tsp of yeast. Stir together starter, 3/4 cup of water & brown sugar in a bowl. Mix flour-yeat mixture into the starter-water mixture. Combine, cover & let sit over night. After letting it sit for at least 6 hours (or over night), stir in 1 cup of flour & salt. Then knead in 1/2 s cup of flour, 2 Tbsp at a time until a shaggy dough begins to form. Knead for 5 minutes. Roll into an 8 inch cylinder and cut 3 slashes, a half inch deep into the top of bread. Put the loaf in a baking pan to rise for an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Once doubled in size, bake the loaf for 40 minutes or until internal temperature in 198   degrees F.

Enjoy with a side salad of fresh spring greens & olive oil, topped with jam, or smothered in olive relish, cheese, or other tapenade. Alone is perfectly delicious too.

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