Monday, July 29, 2013

Baguette , the "I need baguettes but don't want to go to the store but I don't need them till tomorrow" type. Super easy, no kneading, just combine, stir, flip, roll, bake then eat. OH and they're absolutely delicious

I make a ridiculous amount of bread.  I make all sorts of bread.  I make a ton of different baguettes.  BUT I like THIS crazy easy version as my go-to for quick (you leave it to rise while you sleep!) version for the skinny baguettes that are perfect to take on a picnic, travel to a friend's house, to eat, to slice and toast as bruschetta or just to have to nibble.

This is quick and easy and here's the entire recipe before you can blink:


Before you go to bed, in a large (3 qt or larger) vessel with a lid, combine:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups room temperature water.

Mix with a wooden spoon.  It's a gloppy mess.  Be sure the flour is all combined into the goo.  Snap the lid on the vessel, push it to the back of the counter and go to bed.

DING!  8 hours later.

Dump the dough, it's VERY wet, onto a floured board or cloth.  Fold it over itself a time or two, no kneading, just making it easier to deal with with a LIGHT coating of flour.  Divide into 4 and roll each gently into a very long log.  Transfer the logs to a sheet pan with a very light dusting of corn meal.  OR you can use a baguette pan :)  

Leave them, covered with a tea towel, to rise about 30-45 minutes while you preheat the oven to 425.  They will puff a little.

Put them into a hot oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  Spin at 15 minutes.  No steam or funny instructions, just bake them hot and quick.

Remove to a rack and try to leave it to cool then eat at your whim. Eat as much as you want, you can make more!

I didn't take any process pictures, these are the completed beauty shots

the outside
the inside

it's easy, flavorful, has great crumb and you'll feel like a bread pro.  

go mix a batch :) 


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Meat pie This is my free form meat pie for lunch, dinner, snack, party, gathering, function, take it, keep it, freeze it, reheat it, eat it. It's the one and only meat pie recipe you need.

I love meat pie.  I love most versions of meat pie.  This is one of my favorite versions because it's super easy and quick and takes one frying pan and one sheet pan and that's it.

You can use cooked or raw meat, leftovers, whatever veggies or combinations you love.  It's great hot or cold, it freezes and travels well. 

You can buy your pie crust if that is your preference or make your own easy version or my version or use puff pastry (VERY delicious).  

It's a completely customizable recipe.  It's more a method than a hard and fast recipe rule.  

This is how *I* do it, take it and run with it to make it your own instant family favorite and classic. 


1 1/2 lbs ground meat (your choice, I usually use beef and pork, you can use any meat, lamb is lovely also chicken either ground or in pieces)
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
garlic (if you want)
salt and pepper
tomato paste
water or stock
flour for thickening
ANY leftover veggies you happen to have, potatoes, peas, corn, whatever you like

spice blend for the flavor signature of your choice: 
cinnamon, allspice, mace,
cumin, chili, cayenne, Mexican oregano
salt, pepper, thyme
tomato, garlic, oregano, basil
whatever you love

Pastry for a double crust pie - make it or buy it *my recipe is below*


Grab some ground meat, this is a 50/50 combination of beef and pork,  Chop up some vegetables, carrots and onion.  In a large frying pan, saute the onion and carrot until it's tender, add the beef and fry, pretty high, until it's dark brown.
I add a little tomato paste and fry that around a bit then add whatever spices strike my fancy that day  If I have any left over veggies, I toss those in as well.  I had peas and potatoes so some went in the mix.  

IF it's too liquid, add a little flour/roux and tighten it up.  IF it's too tight, add a little water or stock.  I think you need more moisture while you cook it but then we strain it so whatever excess cooking juices there are can be used to enhance a fabulous sauce to have with it pie. 

Let it all simmer for about 15 minutes.  Transfer it to a strainer!! and let it wait for the pastry.  You don't want to put hot filling on cold pastry.  Keep the juices in a saucepan to make gravy with, skim some of the fat but leave some for flavor!!
Roll out your pastry and transfer it to a sheet pan. This is a half sheet pan.  Pile the cooled filling in a square in the center of the pastry and pat it down pretty densely.  

My vodka pastry is super quick and easy: 

2 cups all purpose flour
1 heaped tsp salt
1 heaped tsp sugar
1 cup fat (butter/margarine/shortening/lard combination)
1/4 cup ice cold vodka
enough cold water to make a soft dough

I put all the dry ingredients in a food processor then add the fats and cut it in to look like small peas.  I toss all the vodka down the tube while it's running then enough ice water in a slow stream until it comes together as a ball on the blades.  Stop the machine immediately.  Remove the ball, divide it into two and wrap and toss in the fridge for about an hour.  Load of people moan at me about my bad method about blending too long or not measuring properly BUT, I make a killer, flaky pie crust so apparently my wrong way works just fine, try it, you'll like it :)

Roll the second half of the pastry and top the square.  Curl the pastry bottom and top together around the edge so your filling doesn't oooooooze everywhere.  

Poke some holes for air in the top and egg wash the whole thing.  Pop it into a hot oven, lowest rack, until it's cooked through, brown, bubbly and looks fabulous, bout 30-45 minutes.

While it's cooking, boil the reserved juices from the strained filling down with a thickener, either a roux or a slurry made from flour and water, season to taste.  This is also lovely with an onion gravy or a tomato sauce with it.

AFTER 45 minutes, pull it out and let it sit on the sheet pan for about 15 minutes.  CAREFULLY transfer it to a rack and leave it another 15-30 minutes
oh look at this beauty
After it's rested, slide it carefully onto a cutting board and cut it into large wedges
Serve it with mashed potatoes, pasta, nothing, salad, veggies or just eat it on it's own.  It's a solid go-to meal that you can have on the table any time, any day.  You can make everything ahead and assemble at the last moment or make the whole thing ahead and pop it into the fridge or freezer before you cook it.

Here's the beauty shots:

So, now that you're thinking about what you have in the fridge and what you can do with it...  go make yourself a meat pie :)  you'll be really happy that you did. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jewish Rye Bread (seeded) Lots of steps but not much work involved in each of them. About 5 hours from start to finish, it's worth it for these delicious, rich, dense, flavorful loaves

I love rye bread.  I find it obnoxious to pay 4 times the cost of most breads in the grocery store for  a small loaf of Jewish Rye.  I looked in a bakery not too long ago and they wanted 7 SEVEN! dollars for ONE loaf of rye bread.  oh, I think not.

I make a ridiculous amount of bread.  I supply me and some of my friends with loaves of it.  I have a friend with half her freezer dedicated to my bread!  *cool*

Anyway, I figured how hard could it be to switch out from white loaves of Italian, french, hard, soft, crusty, crunchy, rolls, baguettes, sweet, salty, sourdough, croissants, brioche or pretzels?  I kind of have mastered the world of yeast.

I scoured old books as well as the Net for recipes and ideas and methods and after all of it, I came up with this alchemied version of Jewish Rye bread.

There are a lot of individual steps but each step only takes moments of time so if you're going to be at home, then you may as well make these loaves.


This recipe has one additional rise which adds incredible flavor but also adds an hour to the time.  It's worth it, trust me, I wouldn't mess with you on this one.

OK, so this is a little convoluted.  TRUST me.  Read it all before you go ahead but it's not nearly so involved or obnoxious as it looks :)

In the bowl of the kitchen aid, combine:

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup rye flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 1/2 cup water

In a small bowl, combine

2 cups all purpose flour (slightly heaped)
1 tsp yeast
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds (or a little more if you're a real fan)
1 heaped tsp of kosher salt


2 tsp vegetable oil
salt water for spraying
ice for steam in the oven

Combine FIRST MIX in the bowl of your kitchen aid mixer and stir with a spoon till it's smooth.  Combine the SECOND MIX in a small bowl and just mix with your fingers till combined.

THEN, carefully sprinkle the dry mix OVER the first (wet) mix.  DO NOT COMBINE.  Cover and leave it until the first mix erupts out through cracks in the dry mix over it.  Weird but a really standard method for this sort of bread.  Mine took about an hour.

So, when it's all oozy, add 2 tsp of vegetable oil and take it to the machine like all the other breads.  The only extended time is the first bit of waiting for the liquid to proof.

I mixed it with the dough hook by hand before I hooked it up to the machine.  Let it mix for a bit then crank it on high and let it knead for you.  It should clear the sides of the bowl and pull up from the bottom.  You can add up to 1/4 cup more all purpose flour but wait at least 5 minutes into the kneading before you do.
Beautiful, clearing the bowl and the bottom.  The dough is SLIGHTLY sticky and very soft.  We want it that way.  Dump it onto a lightly floured board and knead it a few times to feel really involved. We want smooth and soft dough. When you press your thumb in, it should spring, slowly and happily back up.
Lightly oil the top and put it into a bucket with a lid to rise.  We want it to double.  Mine took 20 minutes to do this! WOW!  Happy dough!
Gently tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently flatten it.  Pull the top down and roll it into a log about the size of a snake that would make you run, screaming.  Cut it into two pieces and put it on a cornmeal coated sheet pan.  Cover it with a towel or greased cling film or a tin and leave it.  Mine doubled in about 20 minutes.
Spray the loaves with salt water and slash the tops.  Put them in a 450 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.  I throw ice cubes on the bottom of the oven floor to create steam with all my loaves and I did for these as well.  I think you should as well.

After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 375 and transfer them to a stone and bake for another 30 minutes or until they sound hollow when you knock on them.  Transfer to a rack and wait, painfully, for them to cool completely.


The moment of truth:

Shatteringly crisp crust.  Tender dense but soft crumb.  Flavorful.  Richly floral with caraway. I've nailed it completely and totally.  THIS may be the most successful bread I've ever made.
 the knife shatters the crust and cuts through the soft crumb beautifully.

No tearing, the smell of the caraway is amazing.

The crust is so perfectly even.  The flavor of this stuff is amazing.  The texture and crumb is more than I ever thought I could ever ever produce.

I'm delivering the second loaf to a friend who will test for me to see if it really IS as good as I think it is.  In the mean time, seriously, go make this, now.