Monday, October 26, 2009

Yet another loaf!

My usual, go-to bread is the french loaf, but I like to play around with different breads. My goal is to find a brown bread recipe that is just as soft and cushy as the bought loaves but without all those scary cushy-making chemicals.

I made this 100% whole wheat loaf a while ago, but it wasn't quite right - 100% whole wheat is a little intense for me. But neither was I interested in the 100% white loaf on which it was based. So I came to a delicious compromise:

2 c warm water
2/3 c sugar (yes it is a lot)
1.5 tbs yeast
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 c oil
3 c white flour
1 c oats
1 3/4 c wheat flour
1/4 c vital wheat gluten.

1. In a small bowl, mix water, sugar, and yeast together. Let the yeast foam - about 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your mixer, mix all the flours and the salt and the oats.

3. Add the yeast mixture and the oil to the flour mixture and mix until combined. Then knead it until you get a cohesive dough that is smooth but not tough.

4. Let the dough rise, in a covered, greased bowl, for about an hour - until the dough has doubled.

5. Shape it into 2 loaves and let rest for about 30 minutes, or until the dough rises 1" above the greased loaf pans you put it into.

6. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Remember to let it cool before cutting! The gluten is still developing. :)

This loaf is as soft as store-bought but you can pronounce all the ingredients. It's really great for sandwiches and does really well in the toaster. It's slightly sweet tasting, so if you're not into that, you could omit some of the sugar, but if you don't add enough you won't get the squishy texture I was going for.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

It's the season for savoury pies again! Get excited! Here to inaugurate the season is chicken pot pie.

This can be made really easily with left-over chicken or turkey - it might even be better that way - so it's a tried-and-true way to get rid of thanksgiving leftovers. Also, you can either make your own or buy your own pie crust, or you can buy puff pastry from the freezer of your grocery! Any way you choose to do it, pot pie is delish. :)

You need:

250-280g (or more) chicken/turkey meat (thigh is more flavourful; breast is lower in fat - a mix is nice!)
1 small onion, diced (if you don't use the leek, get a bigger onion)
1 medium leek (optional), diced
2 carrots, diced
3 medium potatoes (yukon gold are yummy!), diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 bay leaves
2 tbs butter
about 4 c chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package frozen puff pastry, or enough pie dough to cover the top of a 9 x 13 casserole
2 tbs flour mixed in water

1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. If your chicken is raw, cube it and add it now and brown. Add onions, celery, carrot, and leek and saute until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the potatoes, bay leaves, and enough chicken stock to just cover everything (and your left-over chicken, if that's what you decided to use) and boil until the potatoes are just about cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, and thicken with flour if you need it. There should be a nice gravy.

3. Pour the chicken mixture into your baking dish. Roll out the puff pastry according to the package directions and put it on top of the dish; or roll out your pie crust according to your personal whims. :)

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 450ºF for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden and puffy. Allow the pie to cool for 10 minutes, because otherwise you will burn your mouth.

DIG IN! I hope you have a nice crackling wood fire to curl up to while you dine. :)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pho! A Daring Kitchen Challenge

I had never ever before yesterday, as far as I know, had pho. And yesterday, I made my own! This was, as the title of this post implies, the October challenge for The Daring Kitchen, hosted by Jaden of the Steamy Kitchen.

Here's the challenge recipe:

For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Toasting the spices and the additional step of charring the ginger, which isn't in these instructions but can be found at Jaden's blog here, really brought out some amazing flavours. The soup was incredibly rich, even though I cheated and used bought-stock rather than my store of home-made.

I was nervous about cooking this because of all the toasting and charring, but actually, the whole thing didn't take very long, and it ended up being yet another recipe from The Daring Kitchen that will make it into the regular rotation. Adding a dollop of hoisin and some sriracha after it was all assembled really made the dish, as did the squeeze of lime juice. I just wish I had a bigger soup bowl! Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Brown Sauce Noodles

This recipe comes from a book I picked up years ago in the $10 bin at a bookstore. It's called Noodle, which is amusing to me, but it has paid for itself many times over in terms of how yummy these recipes are. One of the ones we come back to over and over again is this recipe for Brown Sauce noodles, which the book says is a translation of "Zha jiang mian."

The author of the book makes a silly joke about how the fight over who invented pasta extends now to who invented bolognese sauce, but he's on to something. The taste is anything but Italian, but the comfort and rich flavours are both there.

You need:

4 tbsp ground bean sauce*
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1/2 c chicken stock
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbs canola oil
5 spring onions, white part, chopped
1 tbs minced garlic
500g ground turkey**
400g fresh Shanghai noodles***
1 cucumber, cut into long matchsticks
2 spring onions, green part, finely sliced****
1 c fresh bean sprouts, blanched

* The recipe actually calls for brown bean sauce, but I've never been able to find it and now I've stopped looking because ground bean sauce is really really delicious.

** The recipe actually calls for pork, but I usually use turkey just because.

*** Shanghai noodles are sold fresh in Asian grocery stores. They are thicker than spaghetti - more like udon but not quite the same.

**** If you don't want to slice the onions, because it is a pain, I assure you that you can still make the dish pretty with chopped green onion and it will taste identical. It's good practice for knife skills, though!

So here's what you do.

1. In a small bowl, mix the sauces, stock, and sugar.

2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the spring onion (white parts) and the garlic for 20 seconds. Then add the turkey and stir until it browns. When the meat is cooked, add the sauce mixture and simmer on a lower heat for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook your noodles in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Drain and place in bowls.

4. Spoon sauce over noodles, then add a sheaf of cucumber strips, green onion strips, and bean sprouts. Enjoy!

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