Momofuku Bagel Bombs

This summer has been busy, but it’s also been pretty great. Last weekend I flew out to Toronto to celebrate the marriage of my amazing friend Heidi to her now-husband Colin. It was an incredibly fun trip, flying with my friend Megan and staying with our friend Lauren. I don’t know how I manage, but whenever I visit Toronto, it’s in July, and it’s generally obnoxiously hot, this trip was no exception. Thankfully Lauren had an amazing fan, and we powered through!

The wedding was beautiful and Lauren and her boyfriend, Brian, were awesome hosts (no surprise there)! Food highlight of the trip (other than the amazing wedding food!) was Lauren making Momofuku bagel bombs. I’ve actually had this recipe tucked away for a long time, but as with most things Momofuku, I was somewhat intimidated. But, Lauren confidently whipped these up, and I helped her wrap the dough around the cream cheese plugs, and they were incredible! These are actually really easy, they just take a bit of time to prep, with the plugs needing some time to freeze and the dough needing to rest. That said, prep these on a Friday night, and your Saturday morning will be GLORIOUS. The real perk of these is that you can mix up the filling, and I am planning on adding some smoked salmon and dill next time around.

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Beer Bread Revisited

I’ve corrected the error on the original cover page. Get Beer Breading!

As I sit here sipping on a glass of wine (thanks Uncle Jim and Auntie Karen!) I begin to think about all the things I appreciate in my life. It was my parents’ 30th anniversary yesterday. I thought about it all day, as I sat on the plane from Toronto and when I got home late at night, getting ready for bed. I am glad my parents had almost thirty years together, but know that them and their love deserved another thirty. I appreciate the time I had with my dad, though I too would’ve appreciated at least another thirty. This last week has been both wonderful and very sad in this way. I received the Kenneth Le M. Carter graduate award at a board of directors dinner in Toronto on Monday night. As I took to the stage to accept my award, I thought of how important my parents were in my success, but also how proud my father would’ve been. Similarly, whenever I get a new job or internship, or at a new university, my dad was always the first person I sent an email to with my new address. These little moments that I would like to share with my dad have been whisked away. Now I stop and think of him, bringing both joy in memory and utter sadness in realization of the fact that he is gone.

I muscled through Father’s Day without much trouble as I was busy tooling around Toronto with two wonderful friends. The next day was my awards dinner, and then my parents’ anniversary on the following day. All moments of happiness and sadness rolled up into the neat little package that is my life. Speaking to my mom the day after their anniversary, it was clear that she felt the same roller coaster of emotions. I am so happy that my sister and nieces can be there with her through this first summer without dad. Yesterday, they left for the first camping trip of the season. An event that my dad eagerly awaited, I know that this first trip would be hard and was thankful that it would be made easier for all by the presence of my sweet and funny nieces and my sister.

Anyway, I had an absolutely incredible time in Toronto with my beautiful friends Heidi and Lauren. The R.Kelly sing-a-long was magical (a fairytale some may say… I may or may not have lost a shoe for part of the show). The girls took me around town, we drank great beer, enjoyed the sun, and I really loved getting to know their city. Another highlight, on my last day Heidi toured me around the Coach House coach house and Lauren gave me a thorough tour of her beloved Trinity campus, I certainly better understand the magic.

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Jalapeño Almond Bread

First thing’s first. I just received my fourth wedding invitation for this year. I know I am coming to the age where everyone I know is getting married but I never expected to have four weddings for eight wonderful people just this year! I can’t believe it! The problem is that Genesis and I are under or straight-up unemployed. We have my cousin’s wedding in April, my childhood friend Helen’s in June in the Yukon, my dearest friend Katie’s wedding in Banff in July, and my high-school twin is getting married to her long-time amazing partner in August in Saskatoon. I wish I could attend them all, but that would require one of us to be on Air Canada’s payroll. Alas, we will figure it out, but I am fairly sure I am going to miss a few important events this year.

Anyway, on this beautiful sunny day I decided to make some hearty chili and a really tasty jalapeño almond bread that has all the characteristics of cornbread but with a bit more texture. The meal was super filling and I know it would satisfy even the most carby of carb lovers. I munched down a ton of the chili and happily munched on the almond bread between/with bites. I am going to experiment with a few different versions of this because it came out so beautifully. I suspect I could make a sweeter version of it that uses cream cheese and some cinnamon, maybe even a swirl of chocolate. Hmm weekend-testing ideas!

Jalapenoalmondbread

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Homemade Pita, the perfect pocket for meals of all sorts!

Seriously now, breads are easy. My lovely friend Angela (who is leaving us in a few days for the boonies) brought homemade pita to a party months ago and casually mentioned that it wasn’t that hard to make. We all revelled in her culinary genius but I had never thought to take up the task. Well, consider that task taken up. It was truly not that hard, and it was definitely worth it. Pita made at home is fluffy and delicious. I baked these up in no time and we stuffed them with that Curry Chicken Salad. It was an awesome dinner, made all the better by fresh pita.

Pita Bread

Makes 8 pitas
Preparation: 2.5 hours
Cook time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2- 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • a pinch of sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the yeast, 1/2 cup of the warm water, and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl, stirring until the yeast is just mixed into the water. Set this mixture aside and let it do its thing for 10 minutes, until creamy.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the rest of the warm water with the flour, salt ,and olive oil.
  3. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough has formed. Knead the dough in the bowl until you have a soft, smooth dough that springs back when poked.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, rubbing some oil over the dough as well, cover let it rise for 1.5 hours, until doubled.
  5. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  6. Turn out your risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate and section the dough into 8 equal balls.
  7. Roll each ball into a circle of about 6 inches, about 1/4 inch thick.
  8. Cover your rolled-pitas and allow them to rise for another 10 minutes.
  9. Place the circles on a parchment-lined (or greased) cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or till puffed up and light brown.
  10. You might have to do a couple rounds of baking to get all your pitas done.
  11. Stuff with Curry Chicken Salad, or whatever you gosh darn want.

Soft and oiled pita dough.

Pita in it raw form… also delicious…

Puffed and prime for stuffing.

 

 

 

Mozzarella & Basil Bread

I am doing a terrible job of using my basil plant to its full capacity. I constantly forget that it’s hanging out on our balcony, growing away for us. But when I remember to us it, it is always awesome. Fresh basil on pizza with some sliced tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, perfection. Fresh basil in a loaf of bread, awesome. I’ve gotten so much better at making bread, thanks largely to my birthday mixer. I am a terrible kneader, as I am sure my family will attest, so having a mixer that can do so much of the work for me has allowed me to make fluffy, stretchy, beautifully consistant loaves. I am in heaven, as is my husband. So here is my latest loaf, a cheesy, basily loaf that according to Gen is reminiscent of pizza… It makes great bread for a sandwich, oh my it would be heaven for grilled cheese! It is also awesome when sliced open, slathered with some garlic butter and chives and broiled for garlic bread. Make it: moral of the story.

Also, thanks for your patience with my very-brief hiatus. I needed that time.

Mozzarella & Basil Bread

Adapted from here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsps active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsps milk
  • handfull of fresh basil, about 1/4 cup (or 2 tbsp dried basil) *technique time: layer all your leaves of basil together and lightly roll lengthwise. Cut this roll into thin strips, BAM you’ve cut all your basil in one shot.
  • 1 egg, beaten for eggwash

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a cup, stir lightly and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until creamy.
  2. In a large bowl combine the creamy yeast mixture with 1 cup of bread flour to form a loose batter.
  3. Stir in 1 more cup of flour and the salt.
  4. Add in the third cup of flour with the shredded mozzarella, milk, and roughly chopped basil. Mix in additional flour if needed, until a soft dough forms and pulls away from bowl.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead until the dough is thoroughly mixed, but still sticky, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour into the dough as you knead, if necessary. Form the dough into a ball, and place into an oiled bowl, lightly oil the dough to keep it moist. Cover, and allow to rise until double, about 1 hour.
  6. After it has doubled, punch it down in the bowl, to deflate. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead for about 3 minutes. Form into a football, tucking the seam at the bottom. Place on a parchment-lined (or greased) cooking sheet. With a sharp knife, slash the loaf in your desired pattern… nothing elaborate. Cover again and allow to rise for 25 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  8. Uncover the loaf, brush lightly with your beaten egg.
  9. Bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Allow it to cool for about 25 minutes before slicing. Seriously, try.

Cheese is shredded and basil is plucked!

*Basil ribbons… not precise or even, but delicious!

Crisp crust, fluffy interior with little cheesy pockets. I cut it before it had time to cool, I was just that excited.

My lovely husband brought me lovely flowers. Ooooooh.

Kale and Feta Braid with pine nuts and caramelized red onion

As evidenced by my kale chips of yesterday, I bought a ton of kale that I needed to use up, and I wanted to try something new. My mom makes this killer chicken and broccoli braid, which I will make one day, and I thinking of that tasty loaf, I decided to use up my extra kale, some of the BUCKET of feta that Gen brought home from Costco, the red onions I have on hand, and those pantry favourites, pine nuts. This was easy, delicious, and perfect as a meal. I also finally made my challah bread perfectly, so HUZZAH!

Kale & Feta Bread

Time: 1 hour of rest for the challah + 15 minutes prep of braid ingredients + 30 minutes rest of braid + 30 minutes baking= 2hrs 15 mins to deliciousness (totally worth it)

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 cup feta
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Make your challah dough! It has to rest for 1 hr, so prepare for this.
  2. After the challah has rested for about 45 minutes, start the rest of the braid, saves you time!
  3. Wash kale, cut out the spine, and sauté with a drizzle of oil in a pan over high heat for 5-8 minutes, until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside on paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
  4. Sauté onions with another drizzle of olive oil over high heat. Cook for 5-8 minutes until translucent and beginning to brown.  Set aside.
  5. Roll out 2/3 of the Challah dough (reserve the rest for some sugary rolls) into a rectangle, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  6. Crumble the feta in a row down the centre of the dough. Layer the kale evenly on top of the feta, followed by the onions and pine nuts.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut 1 inch strips along the side of the dough. Twist the strips and pull across the filling, alternating sides. Fold the ends in and pinch to seal. Move the braid onto a parchmented cookie sheet. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  9. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork and brush onto the braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  10. Bake the braid for 20-25 minutes.

Step-by-step!

  1. Make your challah dough! It has to rest for 1 hr, so prepare for this.

    Dough ready to roll.

  2. After the challah has rested for about 45 minutes, start the rest of the braid, saves you time!
  3. Wash kale, cut out the spine, and sauté with a drizzle of oil in a pan over high heat for 5-8 minutes, until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside on paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
  4. Sauté onions with another drizzle of olive oil over high heat. Cook for 5-8 minutes until translucent and beginning to brown.  Set aside.

    Onions and kale, cooking down.

  5. Roll out 2/3 of the Challah dough (reserve the rest for some sugary rolls) into a rectangle, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  6. Crumble the feta in a row down the centre of the dough. Layer the kale evenly on top of the feta, followed by the onions and pine nuts.

    Layered and ready for ‘braiding’

  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut 1 inch strips along the side of the dough. Twist the strips and pull across the filling, alternating sides. Fold the ends in and pinch to seal. Move the braid onto a parchmented cookie sheet. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

    Resting away.

  8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  9. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork and brush onto the braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

    Egg-washed and poppy-seeded, ready for the oven!

  10. Bake the braid for 20-25 minutes.

So flipping tasty!

Challah (Easter Bread)- Updated with proper photos and recommendations!

Well I am loving bread making, but I’ve only made savoury breads (no complaints about this) and wanted to try my hand at something sweeter. I thought that an Easter Bread would be perfect after seeing them everywhere. I will admit that I am a novice at yeast breads and this one did not come together as attractively as I would’ve liked it to but it was delicious and I made some outrageously delicious french toast from it, so no problems here.

UPDATE: Check out the new process photos. I finally made a pillowy-perfect loaf. I am thrilled. And check out the Kale and Feta Braid I made from this lovely dough!

I am going to try another similar bread soon and see if I can get my kneading technique down. As you can see here and in the finished loaf, the crumb was small and it was not nearly stretchy enough for my tastes. I will figure it out, it is sure fun trying things!

Easter Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 – 4.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp active dried yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, just warmed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/4  tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom (my favourite sweet spice right now)
  • 1 beaten egg, sprinkle of sugar

Directions

1. Lightly stir the yeast with the milk and a large pinch of sugar, leave until it starts to foam. Whisk the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl then stir in the cardamom.
2. Melt the butter and sugar together until the sugar has disolved (or mostly). Let cool.

Getting ready for the full combination.

3. Whisk the eggs in with the yeast mixture.
4. Add the melted butter mixture and the yeast mixture to the flour. Mix to combine, until a dough has formed that pulls away from the bowl.
5. Knead the dough vigorously for 8-10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. The dough is ready when it feels soft, springy, and smooth and leaves a thumbprint when pressed.
4. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
5. Knock back the dough on a clean surface by punching the air out and kneading for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces then roll each piece into sausages. Braid the dough and tuck the ends underneath.
6. Lift the braided loaf onto a parchment covered baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth then leave to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
7. Heat oven to 350 F. Brush the loaf with the beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with white sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a rack before slicing.

The dough is cleaning the bowl. Huzzah! Success!!!

Smooth and elastic, finally some wonderful success!

Golden loaf.

Mmm delicious and ready for french toast.

Beer Bread and Caprese Sandwich

This is my second load of beer bread, the first baked a few months ago when I wanted a grill cheese. Gen and I don’t normally buy bread (he eats it way too quickly) so when I have the rare craving for a sandwich I try to make something from scratch. I’ve made a couple of other breads in the past.

Me in my pjs baking bread circa 2010.

The loaf above was my first, just a plain white bread. Tasty but nothing special. So far last month’s Spicy Cheddar Irish Soda Bread has been my favourite because of its flavour and crumb. But today’s beer bread was a pretty big hit and will come back for sure.

This beer bread is fluffy and light on the inside with a substantial crust. I added some spices for extra flavour but feel free to omit these, it stands up on its own!

Easy Beer Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can/bottle dark beer
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (as opposed to sifting, I don’t have a sifter but I find whisking helps this).

    Ready for the brewski.

  3. Pour beer into dry ingredients and mix until combined, will be sticky.
  4. Plop the dough into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, cover the dough with melted butter.

    Buttered. Ready for the oven.

  5. Bake appx 1 hour (check at 50 mins, my oven runs hot), remove from pan and cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

    Yum.

    And what should you do with this bread? Oh, how about make a delicious sandwich?!

    Caprese Sandwich made with Beer Bread

    • Beer bread
    • Fresh mozzarella (preferably di bufala)
    • Tomato
    • Basil
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    Slice the cheese, bread, and tomato. Lightly drizzle a pan with olive oil, layer in bread, cheese, tomato, basil, salt and pepper, and top with a drizzle of olive oil. Top with another slice of beer bread. Brown both sides of the sandwich, eat.

    Ignoring the holiday plate, this was a gorgeous and tasty lunch.

    New, delicious sandwich made for me by my sister. Beer bread, honey ham, marble cheese, poached egg, grilled together to perfection.

Spicy Cheddar Irish Soda Bread

St.Patrick’s Day had my head swirling with recipes for Irish Soda Bread, which made me uncomfortable. Bread… without yeast?!

Now, I am not crazy, I don’t think all breads must have yeast, or a sourdough starter, but I’ve been crazy for yeast since I picked up a fresh jar last month. But I just like the sweetness of yeasted bread; I love the smell as it rises and bakes. I love the chewy, stretchy goodness.

So, with all the talk of these soda breads floating around I scuffawed and tried to ignore it. But last night I was hungry. I hadn’t taken out anything for dinner and I didn’t feel like making anything involved. Remembering the tiny bit of shredded cheddar that had been sitting in my fridge for some time I decided that Irish soda bread was worth a try.

I started with Ina Garten’s recipe but made some changes to make it savory, cheesy, spicy, and delicious.

Spicy Cheddar Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 1.5 cups milk with 1.5 Tbsp of white vinegar to make my buttermilk)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until well integrated (pea-sized chunks or smaller). Add the cheese (note that I think it would taste best with 1 cup of cheese but I actually only had 1/2 cup on hand). Mix the cheese in so that the pieces are coated in flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. The dough will be sticky, at this point I just got in there with my hands and mixed it up until it felt right (helpful huh).

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

When done, tear into it with a pat of butter. Taste particularly good with a glass of beer and 30 Rock on television. Yum.