Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

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After about a month of....testing? I finally produced a good bread from my mother starter.  I kept trying to do the "purist" versions of the breads and it just wasn't working out for me, so I broke down and added some yeast and let the bread sit in the refrigerator for 3 days to let it mature and have a nice sour flavor.  I was so stoked when I tasted this bread because it is 100% whole wheat and tastes really really good.  So here is the recipe, keep in mind it does require a lot of patience because it takes almost two weeks to make it.  But once you get the system down, you can refrigerate batches to have at the ready and even freeze it.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter Ingredients:
2 oz. (1/4 c.) of mother starter (see previous starter recipe)
6 oz. (1 1/2 c.)whole wheat flour
4.5 oz. (1/2 c. plus 1 T.) warm water

Wheat Wheat Sourdough Ingredients:
sourdough starter (above)
1 oz. (1 1/2 T.) honey
12 oz. (1 1/2 c.) warm water
1/2 oz (2 T.) oil
10 oz. (3 1/2 c.) whole wheat flour
1/2 oz. (2 t.) salt
1 1/2 t. yeast

Mixing the starter:
On a clean surface, make a crater of the whole wheat flour.  Take the mother starter and break it up into a couple pieces, place pieces in the crater.  Add some of the water to the crater making sure it doesn't overflow.  Soften the mother starter pieces in the warm water by mixing gently with your fingers.

Begin bringing in the flour from the sides of the crater and slowly add in the rest of the water.  Until all the ingredients are mixed into a slightly sticky ball.

Place the starter ball into a clean, lightly oiled container, cover loosely with saran wrap, and leave the starter out to ferment for 6 to 8 hours until 1 1/2 times original size.  You can then either use the starter immediately or place it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  I let it ferment in the refrigerator to build more sour flavor.

Making the dough:
Pull the starter into a bunch of pieces (10-12) and places them into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.  Add the warm water, honey, and oil to the bowl and stir on low speed to soften. Next add in the flour, salt and yeast and mix until all ingredients are combined and form a crumbly dough.  Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, turn the mixer to medium-low speed for 5 more minutes.  The dough should be slightly sticky and supple.  If the dough it too dry, add in a little water.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and fold it onto itself starting back to front, front to back, and then the sides.  Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl for 10 mins.  Repeat the folding process three more times for a total of four times.  After the last fold, form the dough back into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap and refrigerate for up to four days (at least 8-10 hours).

Pull the dough out f the refrigerator at least 4 hours before baking.  Shape the dough into a loaf and place on a lightly oiled sheet pan.  Spray dough lightly with oil, and cover to let rise.  Uncover dough about 15 minutes before baking and score with a knife.

About 30 mins before baking, place a deep metal pan into the very bottom rack of the oven, place the top rack in the middle positions, and turn the oven to 500 degrees.  Just before baking, pour 1 cup of water into the meta pan on the bottom rack and place the sheet pan with the dough on the top rack.  Bake for 35-45 mins until the dough reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees and sounds hollow.

Let bread cool on a wire rack for at least one hour before slicing (preferably 3 hours).  I snuck in a taste as I was taking the photos and oh wow!  This is good sourdough bread.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So What If I'm Too Cheap To Run The Heater Vegetable Soup

One of the things that I am known for is being super stingy about running the heater in the winter (and the air conditioner in the summer).  The only three exceptions are if company is coming over, if I am trying to make bread rise (yes, our house gets cold enough to prevent bread from rising), or if I can see my breath in the house.  With that in mind, I try my best to make other things perform double duty to help keep warm.  Things like waiting to do the laundry until the coldest part of the day, or baking more meals, or eating tasty soup :)

Soup is easy, quick, filling, and healthy (as long as it isn't loaded with sodium).  The soup I made for dinner last night was all of those things plus an added bonus of tasting amazing.

1 T. Olive Oil
2 medium carrots (small dice)
2 stalks of celery (small dice)
1 medium yellow onion (small dice)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 t. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 15oz. cans of cannelli beans (rinsed and drained)
1 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
4 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
1/4 c. fresh parsley (chopped)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat olive oil a large pot on medium-high heat.  Add in the carrots, celery, and onions.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add in the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until you can smell the garlic.  Add in the rest of the ingredients (beans, tomatoes, stock, parsley) and bring the soup to a boil then turn to low and simmer until vegetables are tender (20-25 mins). Serve the soup with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top.  Makes four servings at 300 calories each.

Other ingredients that would taste good:
Kale (added in with tomatoes)
Spinach (added in the last couple of minutes of simmering)
Garbanzo beans (in place of cannelli beans)
Zucchini (added in with garlic)
Potatoes (added in with carrots)

The best part is that it takes less than an hour to make :)

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

OMG These Are Soooo Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been mainly focussing my recipes on healthier food lately.  But I have to be honest and say that my husband and I do not eat uber healthy all of the time.  I wish I could say that, but we really just don't have the will power.  So we have instituted something called "Cheat Day".  This glorious day is what keeps our healthy eating habits alive.  One day a week we go a little crazy and then it is back on the bandwagon by Monday, in theory.  In actual practice, sometimes cheat day spills over into Monday.  This week has been a double-cheat week and with good reason:

OMG These Are Soooo Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday night at 11:30 pm my husband turns to me and says "I want some cookies!".  He knows that cheat day is about to end and he wants to squeeze in one last cheat.  Cookies sounded good to me so I obliged.  After a little bit of research, I came across what is in my apparently not so humble opinion, the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe thanks to America's Test Kitchen.  I made it again last night for my friends and the response from them was "Oh My Gah.....! These are so good!".  So with two stamps of approval (we made them two nights in a row) I decided to post this not so healthy, but good for the soul recipe.  The ingredients are the same as any old recipe, but the ratios and execution make all the difference.

2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
12 T. unsalted butter (melted and cooled slightly)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 t. vanilla
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and place the oven racks in upper-middle and lower middle positions and line two cookie sheets with parchment.  Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, mix butter and sugars on med-low speed until well blended. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the eggs and vanilla until they are roughly combined and then turn the mixer up to medium until well combined.  Turn the mixer to low again and add in the dry ingredients.  Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, add the chocolate chips until they are well dispersed in the dough (about 10-15 seconds).

Now these cookies are big!  I describe them as "Brian Size" appropriately named for my friend Brian who esteems quantity just as important as quality in his food.  So keep this in mind for the next step.

Click to enlarge ;)
Take a 1/4 c. of dough and roll it into a ball.  Then pull the ball into two equal pieces to create two balls with one side of rough surface.  Bring the balls back together, rough sides facing up to make one big cookie again.  Make sure that you do not compromise the structural integrity of the rough parts when you bring the dough back together.  The purpose of this step is to create a nice crumbly surface on the cookie, do not skip this step, it is so worth it.  These cookies put Mrs. Fields AND Pepperidge Farms to absolute shame.

Place dough balls on cookie sheets and give them plenty of space, at least 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are lightly browned and the edges are a little crispy (about 15 minutes for gas ovens and 18 minutes for my jenky electric oven).  Switch and rotate the baking sheets half way through.

Now when these beauties come out of the oven, you will be tempted to eat them right away because they are soooo pretty.  You will also be tempted to put them on a cooling rack.  Don't do either of those things.  Take the cookie sheets out, place them on a heat-safe surface and leave them alone for as long as you can stand it  or 10-15 mins.

Good luck!  and feel free to post comments or questions if you have them.  For all my Church friends, I am bringing these to the Relief Society activity tonight so you can try before you buy :)

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