Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oatsy, Nutsy, Seedsy....Wheatsy?

Its hard to beat a great loaf of wheat bread, shoved full of oats, nuts and seeds! 
You'll feel so healthy eating this bread, you'll want to stop shaving and start a commune.

Weigh up a nice potato, you'll need at least 8 ounces of potato after its peeled.

Dice it up and in a saucepan, cover it with at least a cup of water or so.
Boil until its soft.

Once its soft, remove the potato from the water, weigh out 8 ounces of boiled potato.
You'll also need 3 1/2 ounces of the potato water, add that to your potato.

Mash the potato in the water with a fork until you get a mushy mash. That sounded redundant. Set aside to cool off.

In a mixer bowl:
1 lg. egg yolk
2 oz. white sugar
2 oz. half and half or cream

Add cooled off potato mash and...
2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast (or one packet of dry yeast)

Mix on low until combined, then add:
15 oz. bread flour (your choice of white/wheat ratio, I like 50/50)
1 tsp. salt

Mix with hook attachment for a couple minutes then add:
1 oz. shortening (stay with me here...)

then I add:
2 Tbs. wheatgerm
2 Tbs. oatmeal
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
2 Tbs. sunflower seeds

Let the mixer (with dough hook) work for 15-20 mintes. (its less shaggy when made with some wheat flour), remove the dough from the bowl onto a piece of parchment paper doused (doused?) with a tablespoon of flour.
(if you are making an all white flour dough, only 8-10 minutes of kneading in the Kitchen Aid is necessary)

Roll it around and coat it in the flour and turn the edges underneath itself forming a smooth ball. At this point, most of the flour from the parchment will be incorporated.

Place the smooth dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 3/4 - 2 hrs. or until about double. (wheat bread takes about twice the time to rise)
If your house is cool, place the bowl in a sink with a couple inches of warm water, adding warm water to heat as necessary for your own proof box.

Divide into two equal pieces (this makes two 1 lb. loaves) and place in two greased bread loaf pans, dust with flour. My pans were a little smaller than standard. I think they were about 7 1/2 inches long by 4 inches wide.
Allow to rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until dough is about 1 inch above the edges of the pan, this took me about 45 minutes.
When there is about 10 minutes left on the rise, preheat your oven to 350*F.

CAREFULLY remove the plastic wrap after the rise, you don't want to deflate your loaves for goodness sake.

How tragic would that be?
Babies would cry and angels would weep. So sad.

Bake at 350*F for about 30 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, I quickly opened the oven and placed a piece of foil across the top of the loaves so they didn't get too browned on top. on the agenda...toast with a slice of this bread!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Potato and Cheese Pierogies

Im not Polish, but sometimes I wish I was!
Their comfort food is sublime, to say the least.
Pierogies are a little labor intensive, but your family will love you forever.

what you'll need my little misiaczkus:

•1 large egg, lightly whisked

•2 tablespoons sour cream

•1 cup milk

•2.5 - 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting

(This dough recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart's mother's recipe, who in my humble opininon, had the best recipe ever.)

Mix the egg, sour cream and milk together, then add the flour to form a soft, slightly sticky dough ball.
This is easiest in a kitchen aid with the dough hook, if you've got one.
Depending on the weather, you may need a touch more flour, but go easy on it, you want the dough slightly sticky when finished.
Knead the ball a few turns to form a smooth surface.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temp for 45-60 mins.

Now, your dough is ready, let's roll!
Roll out pretty thin as shown above.
Now, its time to cut some circles, I used a large biscuit cutter.

I was able to get about 3 dozen circles.
There is quite a bit of dough left, but I never roll it back out, it just seems to come out to tough.
So, plan your circles nice and close together to get as many as possible.

I filled mine with a combination of leftover mashed potatoes, shredded cheddar, garlic, basil and pepper.

No more than a couple teaspoons per circle, then fold over around the filling, being careful not to get the filling in the seam.
Pinchy, pinchy!
As you form your pierogies, keep them covered under some plastic wrap so they don't dry out.

Drop them into salted boiling water, about 3-4 at a time.
Keep them moving, gently, so they don't stick to the bottom.
They will float to the top when they are done.  This takes about 2 minutes.

Let the boiled pierogies cool off, at this point, you can lay them out flat on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them, then drop the frozen pierogies into ziplocks for later use.
For the ones you want to use now, melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a saute pan with a handful of onion.
Get some nice brown edges on the onion, then move those over and add the boiled pierogies.
Saute on each side to get a nice crust, sprinkle with a little sea salt and enjoy!
I bet you'll wish you were a little Polish, too ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thai Noodles

Oh lordy, are these good.
Semi-healthy and pretty quick.

what to do:
I ground up 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (Kitchen Aid meat grinder, ground through large die one time, but you can finely chop your chicken with a knife, if you'd like).
Saute that with a couple teaspoons minced garlic in a couple Tbs. olive oil and 1 T. soy sauce till cooked through.

2-3 c. bean sprouts
1 medium carrot, grated

stir fry that for about 1-2 mins.

sauce mix:
3 T. fish sauce
1 T. hoisin
2 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 t. rice vinegar
3 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

mix that up and pour in into pan with cooked meat/veggies.
let that simmer for a few minutes to reduce.
then added 8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked al dente.
toss well and top with 1/8-1/4 c. chopped cilantro and 1/8c.-1/4 c. chopped peanuts (to taste, really.  add the lesser and if its not enough for you, add more like I did)

I almost made myself sick going back for seconds, thirds, fourths....fifths.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What have you been doing, young lady??

There is a terrific blog post about pierogies coming this week, as soon as I can get to it.
They are insanely wonderful in their simplicity.
True comfort food if Ive ever had any.

But, to keep you up to date, if you care, that is.
I reopened Balsam at Etsy.  Its my handcrafted soap shop.
Taking the pictures is really the fun part =)
Here are a few of the products Ive added.  Im going with more of a 19th century apothecary theme.
Natural soaps mostly with essential oils and yummy butters and botanicals.
95% of the soaps will be vegan friendly!  A few will have honey or goats milk.

Ive had so much fun putting this together, from the labels to the photos to making the soap itself.
Hope you enjoyed the photographs.
Love it?  Hate it?  Let me know in the comments, Im a big girl, I can take it!

Im hoping to add some home decor photos (for purchase) to my other Etsy store, Accessoire, at some point.
But, I need to get them printed at my photo lab in NY city.
Okay, Im done with the commercial...back to your regularly scheduled!


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