Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quickie: Cumin Chicken Bacon Burgers

I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late start without me. – Tallulah Bankhead 

No, I did not make the buns. I wish I would have.

Just a quick note: The kitchen gets totally packed up tonight so you'll have to bear with me for a few days until we're in our new home. Then it will be full speed ahead! In the meantime...

Be thankful for my brevity. I don’t have much time to write. It seems like this day has been composed of delays and rushes. Having about half a kitchen that isn't packed sucks the big wazoo as well.

That’s a pity, because this is a really good chicken breast “burger.” And they take hardly any time to make.

I was running late last night and didn’t get to the grocery store until 7pm. I usually get there around noon. No such luck yesterday.

So I was on a mission. By the time I got to the store I had a craving. I think I smelled someone cooking chicken on the walk to the store. It got into my head somehow..

Regardless, chicken it was by the time I arrived. That’s dangerous – especially when shopping for boneless, skinless chicken breast. If it's not on sale you nearly need to take out a second mortgage to buy some.

But I was committed (or committable). You do have to pound them flat, but doing so makes two "patties" per breast. Flattened chicken breasts cook quickly and are relatively healthy. But what to put with them?

First thing I spy when I go into the grocery? Avocados – on sale. Then bacon, lettuce, sweet onion...I quickly picked up enough ingredients to make chicken breast burgers with a definite Tex-Mex slant.

I don’t give a hoot about cooking the chicken in the bacon fat. Get over it. Remember: everything in moderation – including moderation. These would be equally as good grilled or barbecues, of you really can't get your head around the bacon fat.

Round everything off with some appropriate spices and you’re good to go. If you don’t like spicy chicken breast leave out the cayenne. (But you really should put it in. The avocado mayonnaise moderates it all.)

Did I say these were good? They’re definitely going to be back for a second engagement. And third.

Cumin Chicken Bacon Burgers
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Yield: 8 burgers
16 bacon rashers
4 chicken breasts, flattened
1 tsp cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 avocado
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, or 1 tsp dried
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
Boston bib lettuce
8 buns, your choice

Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove to a dish.

While the bacon is frying, place each breast individually between a folded piece of plastic wrap. Pound until quite thin, about 1 cm thick.

Two at a time, fry the breasts in the bacon fat. Season with the cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Let cook on both sides until browned and done through. Let rest 2-3 minutes. Cut each breast in half, to make 8 pieces of chicken.

Whip the avocado, mayonnaise and cilantro in a small bowl until smooth. Slice the onion.

To assemble, place two pieces of lettuce on the bottom half of a bun. Place the chicken on top, followed by bacon and onion. Add some of the avocado mayonnaise and the top half of the bun.


Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quick Goan Chicken Curry

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need. – Sarah Ban Breathnach 

Spicy but not too hot. Make sure you simmer the chicken long enough to cook it through.

It’s getting progressively more difficult to pull off any cooking at all, let alone interesting things, from my kitchen.

On Sunday we sold our kitchen table and chairs. It’s amazing how important that is to a functioning kitchen.

With the move only days away things are starting to form piles around the house: throw, keep and “maybe.” The Maybe pile is more accurately described as the “go through this and throw out what you don’t need. I don’t know what you want to keep.”

I’m married to a good man. I’m lucky, and very grateful.

Brown the onions to add flavour.
So I thought I would pull off a little chicken curry for dinner last night. It's something we both really like.

This one’s interesting. It has no tomatoes so the sauce is yellow. It’s also coconut milk based and not super hot. More spicy (cinnamon, cumin, etc.) than hot, which is always nice.

Why "quick"? Usually the chicken is marinated in a spice paste made of many of the ingredients I list. I shortened the method by combining the marinade into the dish and cooking right in the resulting sauce.

Truth be told it only has to marinate for 1/2 hour, but I was pressed for time.

Here’s a little secret. There’s three different kinds of coconut milk. Low fat, regular, and then a thicker version. The thicker one is always best to use in recipes.

You can buy it at the local Atlantic Superstore. It’s Rooster Brand Gold Label. Since it’s thicker, you don’t have to reduce it as much so you have more sauce in the end.

It’s in the aisle with the canned milk – not the imported foods. Go figure.

Give this one a try. I’m sure you’ll like it.

Slow and low simmering infuses the chicken. I removed
the skin before simmering. It's optional.
Quick Goan Chicken Curry
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 30 min  |  Serves 4
8 chicken things
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds 
2 medium onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp chilli pepper flakes
400ml can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Place the chicken skin side up in a hot sauté pan. Let the chicken brown on the bottom until it releases. Season with salt and pepper. Turn and let brown on the skin side. The chicken will naturally release when it is ready.

Remove to a plate and drain off all but about 1 tbsp of the rendered fat.

Add the onion, garlic and mustard seeds. Let cook until the onions soften and start to brown slightly. If the mixture starts to stick add a little water and scrape the bottom. Add the paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, cumin and chilli flakes. Cook for about 1 minute.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust spices, salt and pepper if desired. Nestle the chicken into the sauce and squeeze in half of the lemon juice. Let cook until the sauce is reduced and the chicken finishes cooking through.

Serve with basmati rice. Just before serving squeeze a little lemon on top.


Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend Baking: Dutch Crunch Bread

Do not annoy the dragon. For you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup. – Unknown

Mmmm, even a dragon would approve.

Indeed. Here's another instalment in the "I hate kneading bread" series, but this time with a twist, or should I say crunch…

Truth be told, I did knead, ever so briefly, to bring it all together initially and for about a minute or two in the morning. Certainly not labour intensive.

My usual unpromising dough.
I'm in "moving mode," being down in the country cleaning out the house so we have room for our stuff next weekend. I actually think the house will be ready for us. What a relief. I was having little panic attacks last weekend looking at the amount that had to be done.

But one must eat, and homemade bread is always a good thing to have on hand. This time I wanted to do something I had never tried before. I found it in "Dutch Crunch."

Dutch crunch is bread that has a rice paste painted on top that dries and cracks during baking. The result is an interesting mottled, crunchy surface.

In the Netherlands, where I believe it originated, it's called tijgerbrood or tijgerbol, I'm assuming meaning "tiger bread". I would perhaps call it giraffe bread. That's what it looks like to me, mottled, not striped. But that's just me.

This is after one minute of kneading.
You can use this topping for any bread or rolls (which would be very interesting), so use your favourite recipe if you like.

I'm in the country so I couldn't run to the store for rice flour. Never one to be bested by a recipe, I took 3/4 of a cup of arborio rice and ground it in a small blender. It worked perfectly.

That bit of resourcefulness bodes well for the future.

The result of the following bread recipe was a moist loaf with some larger holes. When warm it needed no butter at all – as most fresh bread doesn't. But if you want, gild the lily.

Dutch Crunch Bread
Prep: overnight  |  Bake: 35-40 min  | Yield 2 medium loaves
4 cups flour
2 cups water, 110°-115°F
1/2 cup 10% cream
Shape and let rise for 30 more minutes.
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast

Mix all the ingredients together, knead briefly, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise overnight. I mixed at 9pm and began again at 8am.

In the morning, knead briefly again using as little flour as possible. Cut in half and form into two football shaped loaves. Let rise again for 30 minutes in a warm spot.

Preheat the oven to 425°F with a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. 

After the half hour, generously paint the top of each loaf with the crunch paste. Try to minimize the amount that pools on the tray at the base of the loaves. It will burn while baking.

Immediately place the loaves in the oven.

This is the "crunch" topping.
Let bake for 10 minutes and then remove the water pan. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your fingers.

Let cool slightly and then serve. Butter is optional.

Dutch Crunch Paste
Enough for 2 small loaves or one large
1 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups rice flour

Mix all the ingredients together and let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the yeast to react slightly. 

Generously paint the loaves. I didn't have a bruch. I used a spoon.
The result! Crunchy goodness.

Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Moving is 8 Days Away

Just so you all know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth...

Not exactly as illustrated. Photo: JenWaller, Flickr CCL

We have just one week before the "big move" to the country. As you can imagine, I probably won't have the time (or energy) to post on a daily basis for the next two weeks.

Things are in a total uproar. I expect in two days we will no longer even have a kitchen table and chairs... We're divesting as much stuff as we can. Moving into a fully furnished house has its challenges. Like two of everything...

So I'm a little scattered. Never fear. After we're all settled in I'll be up and running as annoyingly as before.

It should be interesting having the closest full grocery 25 km away. No quick runs for shiitakes or dried limes when the urge strikes. I'll have to plan... shudder.

That's when "the well stocked pantry" will become more important than ever.

Thanks for all your views and comments so far. Rest assured, I've only just begun. There's a thousand interesting projects to write about once we move. The village I'm moving to is beautiful. I can't wait until wild rose time and the whole village smells of roses.

And soon after wild rose liqueur! See, I'm planning already.

Stay tuned. I'll post when I can over the next two weeks.

In the meantime, poke around in the blog archive at right for all those gems you forgot I wrote about over the past 2+ years.

I even get a kick out of doing it!

Best – Docaitta

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to make: Baked Shrimp Egg Rolls

It may be the way the cookie crumbles on Madison Avenue, but in Hong Kong it's the way the egg rolls. – Robert Orben

These were good reheated if you don't want to eat 18. The sauce was fantastic, too.

This is my first post from the kitchen table in the country. I just had the wonderful folks from Eastlink in to connect me to the outside world.

What a relief. I feel less “alone.” Isn’t that weird?

Don't make your filling too wet. It makes the
wrappers soggy.
The following recipe is one that I made about a week ago. I was saving it for a day when I couldn’t cook (like today). I hate to have my readers go a day without a “feeding” of my scintillating and sparkling prose.

I’ve wanted to make homemade egg rolls for quite a wile. I’ve made fresh spring rolls before, which are amazing, but they require no cooking.

This recipe is a combination of one I found online (for technique only) and my own filling. They're bakes, so supposedly they're healthier than fried.

The technique is the most important thing to understand. Now I can make any type of egg roll  I want.

This recipe uses shrimp, but it would be just as easy to substitute beef, or pork, or just veggie. You could also throw in things like shiitake mushrooms, five spice powder, ouster sauce or hoisin. Maybe even teriyaki.

An important thing to remember is to keep the filling veggies on the crisp side and don’t let the filling be too wet. Wet filling will soak the wrappers and make the rolls soggy before they have a chance to crisp up.

These really aren’t a lot of work as far as “filled things” go. Now tortellini – they’re a lot of work.

This would be fun if you had guests in that like to help in the kitchen. Give them a try. They’re not the grey filled things you buy. That’s for certain!

This is the way the egg rolls... Make an "envelope" and
then roll from the bottom toward the top. Easy.
Baked Shrimp Egg Rolls
Prep: 30 min  |  Bake: 30 min  |  Yield 16-20 rolls
1 lb shrimp, shell on
1/2 small onion, sliced very thinly
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 cups coleslaw mixture
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup of good quality soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
6-inch square egg roll wrappers (1 package)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and let cool until easy to handle. Peel and chop.

In a wide sauté pan heat the oil. Sauté the onion until it turns translucent, but do not allow it to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Season with the black and red pepper. Add cooked shrimp and combine.

Add in soy sauce and cabbage, a handful at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once the cabbage has barely wilted, add the bean sprouts and remove from the heat.

Lat a wrapper on a flat surface. Place 1/4 cup of the shrimp and veggie mixture on the centre of the wrapper. 

Fold in the left and right side corners towards the centre, and then fold up the bottom corner (see photo). Brush the top corner point with a wet finger. Roll from the folded bottom up, tightening the filling inside as you go.

Place seam side down on an oiled cookie sheet.

This next step is easiest done with a spritzer bottle with oil. Sprat the top of each roll with oil. If you don’t have a spritzer, brush the tops lightly with oil. 

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes until the underside is browned. Turn and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving. They’re very hot inside.

Serve with the following dipping sauce. It’s pretty authentic.

Egg Roll Dipping Sauce
Yield: 3/4 cup
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
2-1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 or 2 Thai birds eye chillies, thinly sliced
5-6 thin ginger slices

Combine the lime juice, sugar, water and fish sauce. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and set aside. 

This is best if you let the flavours meld for about 1/2 hour.


Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quick Thai Chicken with Grapes

When you are at home, even if the chicken is a little burnt, what's the big deal? Relax. – Jacques Pepin

I have an eggplant on my counter. That’s what I was going to have for dinner. I had bought two large chicken breasts that were on sale ($4 for two at Superstore this week – good deal) to have with it. Marry those with the already opened tomato sauce in my refrigerator and you have a good start on something tasty.

So yesterday my intentions were clear. But lunch intervened. If you remember, a few days ago I made moussaka. I took some for my noon repast yesterday. It was excellent re-heated.

Unfortunately that took the edge off my wanting eggplant for dinner as well. So the eggplant is still on the counter. And the sauce is still in the fridge.

That left me with chicken. You would think that something pretty simple would be on the menu, and relatively “normal.” This is where a well stocked cupboard can be a godsend. 

Readers of my blog well know that I refuse to be normal, for the most part. With a good pantry you don’t have to be. There are many international staples that can be purchased and stored unrefrigerated to pull out on just such occasions.

Fish sauce, curry powder, coconut milk, onions, garlic... All things that are easy to get and most of us already have. A diverse cupboard lets you cook from pretty much any cuisine you want if you know what to combine. To me the ingredients I listed spell Thai. A quick run to the grocery easily rounds out anything missing.

This is a fast recipe. It’s quite similar to the delicious duck curry that they serve at Talay Thai Restaurant. If you’ve never had it you should. The restaurant is right across from the Waverley Inn (a great place to stay when in Halifax) on Barrington Street.

We’re less than two weeks away from our move so it’s imperative that I use up whatever I can from the cupboards so buying curry pastes and the like just isn’t in the cards. Why haul additional things across the province? Especially things that need refrigeration.

I will have to (shudder) plan my meals ahead much better than I do now once we move. There will be no quick trips to the grocery store to pick up a red pepper. The nearest large grocery will be about 25 minutes away. That will be an interesting development... But it’s a worry for another day.

This is a very Thai tasting curry, with mostly common ingredients. Honestly, if you don’t have fish sauce, buy a bottle. It’s that “mystery” taste in many Asian dishes. You’ll wonder why you never had it in your pantry before.

Quick Thai Chicken with Grapes
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 25 min  |  Serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 medium red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup fish sauce
grated rind of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
16-24 seedless red grapes
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan or wok. Salt and pepper the chicken and fry in the hot oil on both sides until browned. It will not be cooked through. Remove and let cool.

Add the red onion, garlic and red pepper to the pan. Sauté until slightly softened. 

Sprinkle with the curry powder and stir in the coconut milk. Let the mixture simmer for 6-8 minutes. The coconut milk should be reduced a little. Add the fish sauce, rind and lime juice.

Thinly slice the chicken and add to the curry sauce. Toss in the cilantro and grapes. Let the mixture cook only long enough so that the chicken is no longer pink.

Serve on steaming white rice.


Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Solyanka, Spiced Sour Russian Soup

Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is. – Maxim Gorky

Eastern Europe has a love affair with all things preserved and sour. Vinegar, pickles, yogurt, sour cream, pickled cabbage, etc. It's probably to do with the necessary preservation techniques to help food last through the cold, hard winter. This Russian/Ukrainian recipe is no exception.

I had a kielbasa in the refrigerator that needed to be used. That’s why I wasn’t really surprised by the flavours when I stumbled upon this kielbasa soup. What intrigued me was it that had dill pickle as an ingredient. I don’t think I have ever cooked anything hot with pickles in it before. It was about time to fix that oversight.

The few recipes I found all had very interesting ingredient lists. For example, besides the dill pickle this recipe also has capers and kalamata olives.

I had some kielbasa that needed to be used.
Photo: Brad.K, Flickr ccl
This is a combination of a few recipes I found. It came about mostly from what I had in my pantry, keeping the purchases to a minimum.

I didn't mind taking liberties with this dish. This is really a country kitchen meal. Some recipes had cabbage, some pickled mushrooms. Perhaps even others contain the kitchen sink.

Solyanka recipes are of three different types: meat, fish or mushroom (for all you vegetarians).

The meat type most closely reflects my recipe. Meat solyanka usually contains tomatoes, onions and dill. The fish variation has vegetables cooked in the broth and is finished with lemon. The mushroom version has cabbage and bread crumbs and is usually baked briefly.

It's amazing what you can find online. Much of what I have learned about the different types I gleaned from the encyclopedia “wikitannica.” What did we ever do before the Web?

If you’re looking for a little culinary adventure – but not too, too much – seek out Eastern European recipes. I usually enjoy dishes from that area. They remind me sightly of some of my own family recipes. 

I have German ancestry fairly close to the surface on both sides of my family. So I’m no stranger to hearty one-dish meals. And cured meats, and sauerkraut.

In fact I believe I’m expanding my personal tradition with this blog. Many of my recipes dirty only one pot, or two at most. I hate dirty dishes. You know what I mean?

This soup turned out quite nicely. The broth is slightly thickened, rich and full of interesting flavour. The combination of spices isn’t usual to North American tastes but it certainly works.

Because of all the ingredients each spoonful is a little bit different. And the kielbasa and ham add a smokiness. This really hits the spot on a cold day. You would never even know it had pickle in it.

Pass the bread!

Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 25 min  |  Serves 6
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
250g mushrooms, sliced
250 g kielbasa, diced large
200 g sliced ham, diced
2 cups beef stock
28 fl oz can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tbsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 dill pickle, diced
1 tbsp capers
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 bay leaves
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
optional: sour cream

Chop the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown slightly.

Add the diced meat and stir well. Let cook for a few minutes. Then add the beef broth, tomatoes and their liquid, tomato paste and the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer.

Once the soup is simmering, mix the flour and water to a smooth paste and add to the soup. Let cook to thicken. Then add the remaining ingredients, except for the dill.

Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for a further 5 minutes. Just before serving stir in the dill. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings.

Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juices. If desired, ad a dollop of sour cream to the centre of each bowl.


Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wow. Moussaka with Ricotta Béchamel

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. – Aristotle

Have you ever noticed how the simple things in life can bring so much happiness? Good friends, a warm fire, wonderful food? This falls into the last category, but would be excellent with the other two as well.

I had two tasks at hand the night I made this. The first was to use a pound of frozen New Zealand lamb that was lurking suspiciously in the freezer. 

When lamb is at hand the best thing you can do is run for a Greek recipe. There’s nothing better that I can think of to make with it.

The second task sprang from the first. I needed to find out how to make a ricotta béchamel. Why, you may ask.

There’s two amazing Greek recipes lamb: pastitcio and moussaka. I love both and they’re very similar, the former using pasta and the second substituting eggplant. Both have a thick béchamel baked on top.

I’ve taken quite a shine to eggplant lately. They’re an exotic looking beast that are very good for you. When prepared correctly they have a deep, smokey flavour. Mmmm. So moussaka it was. It was not a mistake.

Both dishes benefit from being made ahead and reheated. They seem to “set up” better than when served piping hot. Luckily I had stuff to do (can you guess what...) so making something ahead was de rigueur.

This recipe really isn’t a lot of work. I would say no more than making a lasagna, which is a close relative. The secret, if there is one, is to pre-fry the eggplant slices until nicely browned. That’s what delivers that smokey flavour.

To prepare it you just make layers of eggplant and meat, top with the béchamel and stick it in the oven. Little more than an hour later you’re ready to serve six to eight people. With a Greek salad, definitely eight.

Unfortunately, there’s only two of us. Guess what we’ll be taking for lunch?

Moussaka with Ricotta Béchamel
Prep: 30 min  |  Bake 1 hr 15 min  | Serves 6-8
2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil, or more
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb ground lamb
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
ricotta béchamel
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
454 g ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan

Slice the eggplant into 1/2” slices. You need enough slices to cover the bottom of a 10x14 pa twice.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and cook the slices, a few at a time, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with salt as they cook. Remove to a pan.

Cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent. Then add the lamb and cook until no longer pink. Pour off any excess fat. Sprinkle the meat with the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce and set aside.

Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 10x14 baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom. Then spread on the meat saice, and top with the remaining eggplant slices.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat.

Mmmm... bubbly.

Stir in the ricotta, eggs, nutmeg and salt. Once smooth pour over the eggplant in the pan, making sure to cover the top completely. Sprinkle with the pepper and parmesan cheese.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until the top is nicely browned and the béchamel has set.

Serve with a Greek salad. Try some chopped anchovies and hot banana peppers in the dressing for a delicious, unique taste.

The shadow is me. Sorry...

Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aromatic Baking: Roasted Garlic Loaf

You can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat The New York Times. – Morley Safer 

Mmmm, garlicky...

Whew. What a day. I spent Saturday morning and afternoon with my sister and brother-in-law cleaning out the house we move in to in two weeks. Arrrgh!! Two weeks!

If it wasn't for them I would be in full-on panic mode. Crouched in a corner shivering and sobbing. Not only did they take several pieces of furniture but they hung around and helped clean out a lot of stuff. A lot. They even found a home for a sofa.

Can you smell these?
Thank you, from the bottom of my sanity.

Has anyone else scheduled a move into a house that was already full of furniture? If you have, you'll know how I feel. 

You'll note I haven't said "we." It's not that my husband hasn't been doing (way more) than his fair share. He works weekends. AND he's been dealing with packing up and getting rid of stuff from the house in the city. I can't say how much I love and appreciate him for all he does.

So we all were busy. Thank goodness I made a recipe that did most of then work while I was asleep. I was overnight rising bread again.

This one is an olfactory delight from the start when you roast the garlic, to well after it comes out of the oven.

Before bedtime.
This is not a large loaf, but it packs a punch. I made it flat, but it could be done in a regular bread pan. The result will be taller. This loaf has two whole heads of garlic in it. Buttery, rich, roasted garlic.

People often say to me they don't have time to make bread. To them I say "pooh pooh." If you have time to sleep you have time for bread to rise on the counter. The only hitch with thisloaf  is you have to roast the garlic beforehand. No big deal.

Then you just mix everything together and go sit in front of the Tv before toddling off to bed. In the morning you're ready to flop it into a pan and slap it in the oven.

This loaf tastes great. If I want a snack tonight I think I may try it as a grilled cheese. Can you imagine? I can.

Roasted Garlic Loaf
Prep: overnight  |  Bake: 40-45 min  |  1 loaf
What you'll find in the morning.
2 garlic bulbs, previously roasted and mashed well
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1-3/4 cup warm water (110°-115°F)
1/2 cup butter, melted 

Place the whole heads of garlic on some tin foil. If you want you can trim the tops. It makes squeezing out flesh out a little easier.

Drizzle the tops with olive oil, wrap tightly and bake at 400°F for one hour. Let cool before handling.

Melt the butter while the garlic are cooling.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well and then add the water. Mix together until ragged. Then squeeze the garlic cloves into the bowl and then pour in the butter.

Just flop it in an oiled pan...
Mix with your hands until you can't see any large pieces of garlic. It may take 2 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise overnight on the counter.

In the morning grease whatever pan you will be using. Put the dough in the pan and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the loaf for 40-45 minutes until it is well browned on top and sounds hollow when tapped on top.

Let cool, if you can. Gild the lily by slathering with butter while still slightly warm.



Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer as best I can. If you like this post feel free to share it using any of the links. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site.