Stecca, a no knead baguette

I love me some no knead bread. I mean, really, kneading is what makes bread work to make. So take away the kneading? Well darn, you’ve just taken away the work. This may be one of the most impressive yet low effort breads I make. Simply stir together the flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast, then let sit. 6 hours? Sure. 18 hours? Why not. It’s a lose time frame that works either way! Jim Lahey, of course, master of the dutch oven bread is where they recipe is from! Of course I’ve bastardized it in a few ways but whatevs, it works for me! (The book out by the way, is for spring rolls. It has nothing to do with the baguette. And that bottle on the right? Ketchup. The keys to the left of the book? To the storage space where I needed to grab some things. My mind is really. really. really. all. over. the place.

Now lets talk toppings. You have loads of options so lissen-here-fellah.

1)Dump dough out onto floured counter, turn once so all floured, then divide in four, like picture below.

IMG_6227

(That spring roll recipe from Steamy Kitchen cookbook is wicked by the way. And no, that’s not an afflilate link)

2) Dump your dough out onto an olive oiled counter, turn to coat so all covered in oil, then cut in four.

Once you’ve got it cut, you turn the oven on, the dough needs to rest for 20 minutes (really, don’t skip this.) minimum, up to 1 1/2 hours. When your oven beeps, get your pan ready. It needs to be 18 inches long and however wide those pans usually are. I cover it in parchment paper because it’s easier. You could just grease it, although I don’t have experience with that.

Of course I didn’t take a picture, but you take one end in each hand of the dough, stretching it to 18 inches long, and putting down on the pan. From here, you can leave it how it is and bake, OR;

1) Sprinkle with salt (Not best on plain floured as it doesn’t stick)

2) Press garlic cloves, sliced sweet onion, olives, slices of tomatoes/cherry tomato halves or dried herbs into the top

3) Add extra olive oil with a pastry brush for a crisper crust.

4) Salt and Pepper

Then bake!

And if you REALLY want to wow people, take it out of the oven, put fresh basil and mozzarella on, then broil for a minute or two until nice and bubbly! Sea salt and fresh ground pepper on top of the cheese please!

stecca

We had them with hummus, olive oil+balsamic vinegar on a plate, and fresh veg for dippin’ and snackin’!

Stecca from Jim Lahey’s Book, My Bread

3 cups (400 grams) flour (half and half white and fresh ground is my favourite. Less white=more dense but still tasty. All white=good too but I like nuttyness of whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (350 grams) cool 55-65F water
additional flour for dusting

Mix together dry, then add in wet ingredients. If you want closer to 6 hour rise, add 1/2 tsp yeast instead. This can rise 6-18 or even 24 if you have a cooler house.

Turn onto oiled or floured surface (see above options) and push into loose 4×6 rectangle, then cut into 4 chunks. Turn oven onto 500F and let bread rest 20 min while oven heats up. Oil a baking sheet, or line it with parchment. Take each chunk of dough and stretch it to 18 inches on the baking sheet. Top as desired (see above options)and bake for 15-25 minutes until golden. Enjoy!

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Quick tip for rising bread dough

I don’t know about you, but I like to make a big batch of bread when I’m going to the effort of making it. I’m going to all the effort, and even though we’ll eat just a loaf a week, I might as well make multiple! Problem is, I don’t have a bowl big enough to rise the dough in!

Enter: the stock pot!

bread dough

This here is my 7 qt pot. This was a batch of bread to make 4 loaves, with 11-12 cups of flour. I want to have twice the amount of space for that to rise, meaning I need a big huge bowl…or repurpose a pot! If your pot has a lid with no hole (this one has a vent hole) then use it instead of saran wrap or a wet towel.

Here’s it risen…

 

 

bread dough 2This is the recipe here: Whole Wheat Bread from The Frugal Girl.

I doubled the recipe, used organic unbleached white flour and fresh ground Red Fife flour. I made 2 loaves and 19 medium sized buns. I baked the buns then, but you can freeze then unbaked before their second rise. Just increase baking time by 10-15 minutes.

I needed some sandwich bread for Marius’ lunches and this fits the bill! On sandwich bread I ‘splurge’ on more white flour as I find 100% whole wheat bread is best when the sandwich is toasted and he doesn’t have that ability at work.

Happy Baking!

 

 

Render your own Lard

Lard feels like one of those scary things. Every aspect of it really. We’re told it’s horrible for us, it comes in shelf stable packages in the baking aisle and it’s just plain weird.

Allow me to change your mind! We love us some lard up in here. Our favourite uses for it are, but not limited to;

Cooking the best eggs or hashbrowns, making soap, pie or tarts, empanadas, seasoning cast iron and this afternoon I’m making old fashioned donuts and frying them in lard. I’m so excited it’s not even funny.

Lets start with sourcing. The shelf stable package in the baking aisle? Step away. Thats not lard. Thats margarine in disguise. I can’t get organic pastured pork fat, but I can get it from not quite pastured but not penned up tight antibiotic free pigs. Which is better than nothing and I work with what I have! I get it through the butcher counter in our grocery store. It’s super frugal at $14 for 10 pounds of back fat. I can pay $18 for kidney fat/leaf lard but I don’t find a big enough difference to pony up the extra few bucks. Leaf lard is supposed to have a cleaner taste, but is it wrong if I don’t mind a bit of a piggy taste in my pie crust? If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. Anyways, I have to order it by Monday and it comes on Wednesday. Also try farmers, farmers markets or health food stores. Don’t be afraid to ask about how the pig was raised! I can get fat for free from the butcher, but it’s just from feedlot pigs and I don’t want that. I feel like $14 is so reasonable it’s not even funny. I sure think things aren’t even funny today.

I find the crockpot the most hands off way to make it. It’s not the fastest, but it’s the laziest. I choose the latter. My 5 qt crock fits 5 pounds of chopped up fat. I have my Moms old crock as well so I can use a whole 10 pound bag at once. This will yield you 8 pounds of lard! (Don’t hold me to it as all lard is cleaned up differently)

IMG_5082I start the crock off on high for half an hour or so until some of it is melted, then turn onto low. My crockpot runs hot, so after a few hours, I turn it onto the keep warm setting. This takes close to all day. You really only need to stir once mid day, but I can’t keep my paws off and therefore it takes me hours longer as I always take the lid off and stir. I can’t help it’s like a nervous tick or something…

My Mom did Tallow (from the milk cow we butchered) all day on low once and I just went up to her place at lunch to stir it and it was done when she got home from work.

When it’s all melted and there is ‘cracklins’ floating in the top, strain it through fine cheese cloth or a dish towel you don’t care too much about. It will be yellow-ish at this point. Pour it into canning jars for easiest storage, or whatever you want to freeze it in if you’re not going to use it up within 3 months. This will be about 4-5 quart jars worth. Are you excited yet?!

lardDon’t worry! I won’t leave you hangin’! I’ll be posting up some recipes on how you’ll use it in the mean time. Now go forth and source your pork fat!

 

 

Saucepan Kisses.

**Warning: I am not responsible for you becoming addicted to whippin’ these babies up when you need something sweet**

I don’t even know where this recipe came from. My Mom and Grandma have been making them forever. We’ve changed different ingredients over the years, but the base of it has stayed the same. A no bake treat thats easy to make. So easy, if fact, that a certain Grandma I know might have told me “They’re bad”. Why I asked? “Because you know how easy they are to make that you end up cooking them and eating them out of the pan with a spoon.”.

I love that woman. I also know where I get my sweet tooth from.

saucepan kisses

I almost like them more once they’ve dried out a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, still warm and gooey also blows my hair back.

You’re going to have lots of choices for each ingredient here. For example, instead of butter, you can use coconut oil or olive oil. It makes them easily adaptable to allergies as well as what you have in your house!

I used to like quick oats in these. One day I was ordering quick oats from our organic food co-op and the guy said, “You don’t want to know what they do to quick oats”. So I decided I didn’t want to find out what they did and switched to old fashioned thick rolled oats. I like them much better than quick oats now!

 

Saucepan Kisses

Makes 40. Scratch that. Makes 37, ’cause you’re going to eat a bit before it gets to the tray.

2 c sucanot, rapadura, panella, or coconut sugar. If it’s a drier sugar lacking molasses, add a teaspoon worth of molasses. (Not preferred but you can use plain brown sugar)

1/2 c milk. (Cow, goat, coconut or almond)

1/2 c butter. (Coconut oil or olive oil)

1/2 tsp sea salt (If using an unsalted butter or oil add another 1/4 tsp)

1 tsp vanilla

3 c old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 c raw cacao (a superfood versus it’s stripped cousin cocoa. Use cocoa if thats all you have as they’ll still taste good, but the raw cacao gives it a superfood boost)

1 c unsweetened coconut. (You can use those huge flakes or just regular size)

Bring Sugar, milk, butter and sea salt to a boil for 5 minutes stirring a few times. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Using a 1 or 2 tablespoon portion scoop, scoop out onto a parchment, wax paper or butcher paper lined baking sheet or tray. Alternatively, use two teaspoons to scoop and scrape off.

 

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Cowboy and Mac went to a friends house before meeting at my Grandma’s for dinner…I’m waiting for bbq sauce to cook down on the stove, I figured I’d use this quiet alone time to update a few things 🙂

 

On Fathers Day I was laying with Cowboy on the couch flipping through Modern Baker Cookbook. He gave it to me for Christmas in 2008 and I’ve loved it. I was going to be making pita bread from there so I wanted to refresh my mind on how long it took. Every other page he would go “Ooooh make that!” and I’d say we didn’t have all the ingredients, (and I don’t grocery shop until Wednesday at the earliest). We got to the Blueberry Crumble pie and he repeated his mantra. Only this time I took a quick peak and realized everything was there to make it between freezer and cupboards. Score!

 

I’ve never made a crumble top crust, and until I mixed the topping together I was expecting more of a struesel crumble like topping, this was drier and sweeter, just how Cowboy says he knows it. Go figure!

 

The whole premise of this book is using food processors and electric mixers to do the hard work and speed up baking. I don’t have a food processor and still made this recipe just fine! I’ll give both methods.

 

The filling used a wierd method, as you cook one cup of the berries first and thicken them, but it makes for a pie that sticks together like a hot damn! I’d say this pie takes a bit more work than a normal double crust pie with the cookie of the filling and making a separate topping, but it’s worth it. Very very worth it! I can’t wait to experiment with other fruit on the inside.

Don’t be intimidated by all the steps, most of them are pretty simple, just broken up so it’s easier to read.

 

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Makes a 9″ pie

SWEET PASTRY DOUGH Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cups and level off)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

CRUMBLE TOPPING Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

BLUEBERRY FILLING Ingredients

  • 3 pints (6 cups) blueberries, rinsed, drained and picked over
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces

 

1. For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is mixed finely into the dry ingredients. Add the egg and water and pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball. If it resists, add another teaspoon of water. OR: Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until smaller than peas. Add egg and water and mix again. I had to add a few tablespoons more water to make it hold together.

2. Invert the dough to a floured surface and carefully remove the blade. Press the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough until it is firm. (Or use right away! No one will know, especially if you used very cold water and did it by hand)

3. To form the crust, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it is malleable and clay-like. Press the dough back into a disk and roll it on a floured surface, flouring the dough too, until it is a circle about 14 inches in diameter.

4. Fold the dough into quarters and place it in the pan, lining up the point with the center of the pan. Trim away all but 1/2-inch of the excess dough at the rim of the pan, then fold the excess dough under so that it is even with the rim of the pan. Press down with a floured fork or flute the edge of the piecrust.

5. When you are ready to bake the pie, set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

6. For the crumbs, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl and stir well to mix. Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and scrape the mixture into the bowl of flour. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the butter so that all the flour is evenly moistened. Set aside while preparing the filling,

7. For the filling, put 1 cup of the blueberries and all the sugar in a medium saucepan. Set the pan over low heat and stir often to bruise the berries so that they release their juices as the mixture heats up and they dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the berry mixture is boiling.

8. While the berry mixture is coming to a boil, whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Stir about 1/2 cup of the blueberry juices into the

cornstarch mixture, then pour the cornstarch mixture into the boiling berry juices, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Cook, stirring constantly, until the juices thicken, return to a boil, and become clear.

9. Put the remaining berries in a large bowl with the nutmeg and use a large rubber spatula to fold in the thickened juices. Fold in the butter and scrape the filling into the prepared piecrust.

10. Use your fingertips to break the crumble mixture into 1/4 to 1/2-inch crumbs. Evenly scatter the crumbs all over the filling.

11. Bake the pie until the crust and crumbs are well colored and baked through and the filling is gently simmering, about 40 minutes.

12. Cool the pie on a rack and serve it at room temperature. If you try to serve it while it’s still warm, the filling won’t stay together, but you won’t loose friends over it either. I honestly don’t care if my pie doesn’t stay together as long as it’s not watery runny. Even at that it still gets eaten, especially if you cover part of your sins with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Dog Treats

Everyone loves treats in our house…even the dog! We don’t personally have a dog but my Mom still has the small dog I had growing up, Cricket and my Stepdad has a yellow lab, Roscoe.

My Mom took this picture of Mac a few months ago, with Cricket. The mini box of cereal he’s eating is his ‘forest fairy’ treat. Everyday when we milk the cow, Mac looks for this treat which my Mom, the ‘forest fairy’ hides for him. It ranges from almonds to chocolate coins. The healthy outweigh the non, but he sure enjoys finding a dozen jelly beans! It all started when I had to milk on my own a bunch and I needed to keep Mac amused while I did. Mom started giving him a small treat and now he looks forward to it everyday.

This is Roscoe! He was my Sister #2’s dog, but she was living in the city, which is not the best place for a large dog, so my Stepdad ‘adopted’ him. Roscoe is very lucky because Doug is a carpenter and takes him to work with him everyday. Some places he can just hang out where Doug is and others he’s got to stay in the truck, but gets taken on a walk at lunch.

When I put the treats on a little tray to take a picture outside, Mac REALLY wanted me to put them on his table, where all winter I get the only natural light and have to take pictures. You probably are familiar with the tile by now.  He also wanted to help with the pictures!

The chickens and dogs are just over an inch big and the candy canes are 2 1/2 inches. I just used Mac’s playdoh cookie cutters for them.

Dog Treats


1 egg

1/3 c butter

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp beef boullion (I use Better than Boullion)

3/4 c hot water

3 c flour (Use whatever you have, but I used a mix of spelt, whole wheat, quinoa and buckwheat)

 

Mix all but water together, then add in flour. I used my Kitchenaid mixer but you could use a bowl with spoon or handmixer. Knead together a few times until it makes a good workable dough, thats not sticky. Add more flour if neccesary.  Roll out to 1/2″ thick, cut out with preferred cutters and put on cookie sheets. No need to space as they don’t rise or spread. Bake at 325F for 35-50 minutes, depending on the size. Animals were 35 minutes, candy canes were 45, but if you used bigger ones they would need longer. When they are done they will be hard to the touch.

Rustic Fruit Tart+Announcement!

I’ve been gone for an embarrissingly long time. I’m sorry, will you forgive me? See the thing is, I’ve been really busy. Not just your average “Oh I’m been busy” statement.

 

I’ve been growing a baby.

 

Wooohooo! I’m just entering my second trimester, and hoping the nausea and exhaustion will wane a bit, as I honestly haven’t planned a menu or cooked much of a real dinner in about 6-7 weeks. Lots of snacks. My poor poor Cowboy. Lucky for you, shortly before this onslaught, I did bake a rustic fruit tart and take a picture for you! And since this was approximately 7 weeks ago, I now want to go make one right now. Dang it. (Don’t have time, need to milk the cow in an hour!)

 

I’ve been making this for eons. Or as much as a 20 year old could have baked in their life. It’s the perfect palette for whatever fruit is in season, your fridge or your freezer. This one was rhubarb, peach and cranberries. The cranberries were just a hint, enough to add a zing. I find it much easier than a dish pie to make and it’s great for a casual dessert, yet has a rustic greatness that you could put on any fancy plate to dress it up. No plate needed! So take it to a summer bbq and share it around.

 

I hope you enjoy it, because it’s a family favourite!

Rustic Fruit Tart

Makes 8 slices

 

Dough:

1 1/3 c flour (your mix of white+whole wheat+pastry flour+fresh ground flour+hint of spelt)

3 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

7 tbsp cold cubed butter

water

 

Filling:

3/4 c sugar (lower or increase for your taste and fruit tanginess)

1/4 c flour

lemon zest (optional)

cinnamon

3-4 c fruit, fresh or still frozen if using from freezer. (Be creative! Fall fruits in fall, summer fruits in summer if you really want to show case the seasons. I’ve used frozen tropical fruit mix before at my Dad’s and it was great)

2 tbsp butter

 

Glaze:

1/4 c icing sugar

1 1/2 tsp milk

vanilla/almond extract

 

Filling: Combine all ingredients and stir together.

Dough:

Combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry blender (or grate frozen butter). Add enough water to form a dough. Knead a few times for it to hold together. Roll our on a cookie sheet/pizza pan to a 14″ circle. (Alternatively flour your counter, roll it out and transfer.) Pour filling on dough and spread out to within 2″ of the edge. Fold over those edges!

Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes. When you bake it, juices will go all over the pan, and most likely burn or heavily brown a bit. Put it on tinfoil or parchment to save clean-up. It’ll still turn out just great and come off the pan fine! Cool slightly, then drizzle with glaze.

 

Glaze: Mix all together in a bowl. Add more milk if needed to get desired consistensy. It needs to be pourable but not so that it will run off of the tart.

 

 

Someone can’t wait to dig in!