Rustic no-knead bread

Lately I have been on the hunt for a good bread recipe. It has to have simple ingredients I can easily buy, and it cannot be time consuming. I think I have found THE ONE.

In terms of ingredients, it can’t get any easier than flour, salt, yeast, and water. Prep time is 5 minutes, if that. No kneading! Then you let it sit for 12-18 hours, and bake. It’s so good that I baked 8 loaves in 10 days.

You do need a cast iron pot with a lid. I used my 5Q Le Creuset dutch oven for this, and it’s perfect.

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3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F with the cast iron pot in the oven.
Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
Tonight I tried adding shredded oka cheese in the dough, and it turned out divine. I think you can add shredded cheese (whatever you have left over), likely some chives or green onion, or other chopped fresh herbs.
This is so simple that there’s no excuse to not make it. Caution: This thing is very dangerous while it is still warm. I cannot stop at just one slice.
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Day 265/365 {salsa}

Angela Chang Photography Day 265 of 365

I just realized that I haven’t shared a recipe in quite a while. I think mainly because the mister has taken over most of the cooking duties, and I don’t get to play in the kitchen as much as I used to.

Cliff’s mom’s garden produced an abundant of tomatoes in the last couple of weeks. I am not a big fan of tomatoes, but the one thing I do love that calls on them is salsa. This is just my own version of salsa that I enjoy. All measures approximate.

  • 3 or 4 ripe tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 peach or mango chopped
  • 1/2 avocado chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 stalk of green onion chopped
  • 2 or 3 stalks of cilantro chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Throw all the ingredients into a bowl, mix, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld together. Better the next day.

Chicken coconut curry soup

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A few weeks ago, I was stuck in a rut with dinner ideas.  I posted this on Facebook, asking for my friends’ recent favorite recipes.  I got a list of very exciting suggestions.  One of them came from an old friend, Don.  I tried it, and it was a total success.  The curry was so flavorful and fragrant.  I used some pretty potent curry powder, so the dish was quite spicy (and therefore I didn’t give this to the kiddos).  Cliff and I both loved it.  I served it over rice, and it was so delicious and warms you up from the inside on a cool night.

Thanks, Don!!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons curry powder (I used Trudy Ann’s curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs (I used drumsticks)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces and bruised with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled, cut into 3 slices and bruised with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut on the diagonal into 2/3-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cube

Garnishes:

  • 1/2 cup Asian basil leaves, cut in half
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Direction:

1. Combine 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and the salt in a bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat the meat evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a medium pot over moderate heat. Add the shallot, garlic, chili paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon curry powder, and stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the chicken and cook until the edges of the pieces are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, ginger and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, onion and sweet potato and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with Asian basil, cilantro and scallions, and serve.

 

Hot and sour soup

When the weather started cooling off, I started craving soup.  A bowl of hot, steamy soup for dinner is better than anything on a cool night.

One of the easiest hot soups I know how to make is the Chinese hot and sour soup.  It’s pretty foolproof, and you can change up the ingredients to pretty much any veggies you like.  For protein, you can use chicken or pork.  I stick with tofu, because my kids like tofu.

The “hot” part of the soup comes from white pepper.  White pepper doesn’t burn your taste buds like hot chilli does, but it warms you up from the inside.  I find it a lot more pleasant than brutally hot chilli peppers.

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***Edit: I just bought some fresh white pepper from Parthenon, and boy was it spicyyyy!  I suggest using a few dashes of whatever white pepper you have first, and adjust as needed.***

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of medium firm tofu, cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 can of bamboo shoots, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup black fungus (Wood Ear) or Cloud Ear fungus, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and cut into thin strips
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red rice vinegar, white rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Cilantro for garnish

Direction:

1. Heat a little oil in the pot and sautee carrot sticks for a minute.  Turn the heat on high and add chicken broth, tofu, bamboo shoots, black fungus, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and white pepper.  Bring to boil, and turn the heat down low to simmer for 15 minutes, until the carrot sticks are tender.

2. Add in the dissolved cornstarch to thicken the soup.  Adjust seasoning.

3. Turn the heat up high for 1 minute so the soup starts to boil again.  Turn the heat off.  Slowly drizzle the beaten egg into the soup while stirring the soup.

4. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Green Mac N Cheese

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My friend told me about a green mac and cheese recipe, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it when I needed it.  So I called up my buddy, Google, and he gave me a Weelicious recipe that looked good.  The problem is, if Joshua can see vegetables, he’ll reject it before even trying it.

So I made the “base” green mac and cheese based on the Weelicious recipe with a spinach cheese sauce, and skipped adding the broccoli and peas for Joshua.  I figured if there’s *some* spinach in the sauce, that’s better than no vegetables at all.

First of all, let me just say that Joshua’s pickiness is 99% my fault.  He used to eat fruits and vegetables.  But when he started to become picky, I just let it happen.  I made separate meals for him (a big no-no) because he won’t eat what I eat and I didn’t feel like fighting him.  I have no one else to blame but me.  For the most part, I try not to worry about his lack of fruits and veggie intake.  But I am trying to convince him that fruits and vegetables CAN taste good without forcing him to eat it.

Joshua saw the mac and cheese and asked me what it is.  I said it’s green mac and cheese.  He asked again what it is.  Damn it, he knew I was trying to avoid his question.  I said it’s a spinach mac and cheese.  “Spinach?” he said.  He shook his head.  I scooped up a few pieces of the macaroni, and said, “try just one bite.”  He slowly took the bite.  Then he pulled his chair out, climbed onto his seat, ate the entire bowl, and asked for seconds.

Here’s the recipe I modified, based on the Weelicious one.  All measurements approximate.

Ingredients

  • about 6 cups of cooked macaroni
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I like guyere, but any fatty melty cheese will do)

Direction

  1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking. Place the milk and spinach in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. This is key for us, to blend until no visible spinach pieces is left.
  3. In a large pot melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking continuously over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the spinach milk mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is gently bubbling and starting to thicken.
  5. Add cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the pasta.  Serve with freshly grated cheese.

For my own portion, I added cooked broccoli florets and green peas.  Yummy!

My picky eater chowing down the green mac and cheese!

My picky eater chowing down the green mac and cheese!

Ginger molasses cookies

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I love a good, spicy ginger molasses cookie.  Most of the recipes I tried are just a little lacking in the “bite” department.  The recipe below came from Epicurious, but I tweaked the spices to my liking.  I made a batch for Cliff to take to work, and they were a hit.  Have one of these with a cup of tea in the afternoon…heavenly!

If you’re in Vancouver, a good place to get these ground ginger, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, etc is Parthenon on W. Broadway.  They are about $1 or $2 a little bag, rather than $4 or $5 in the grocery store spice isle.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
  • About 1/3 cup granulated sugar for tops of cookies

Preparation

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt in a bowl until combined.

Beat together shortening, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle attachment) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Add egg and molasses, beating until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture until combined.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll 1 heaping teaspoon of dough into a 1-inch ball with wet hands, then dip 1 end of ball in sanding sugar. Make more cookies in same manner, arranging them, sugared side up, 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until undersides are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes total, then cool on sheets 1 minute. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.

Black bean soup

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So a friend (hello Maggie!) commented that I haven’t been blogging about food very much lately.  It’s true.  To rectify the situation, here’s a quick little entry for a black bean soup recipe I tried recently.

Let me just say that I don’t really like black beans.  I find them kind of boring.  And they give me heartburns.

BUT!  This recipe is actually quite good.  So if you aren’t a black bean fan, I would recommend trying this one.  It’s a tasty and hearty soup, and as a bonus, it’s very easy to put together.  Throw a nice chunk of bread on the side, you’ve got yourself a week night dinner.

Oh, don’t skip the green onions, cilantro, and feta cheese (unless you don’t like them).  They really make the dish.

This recipe came from…you guessed it, Epicurious.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile with seeds, divided
  • 2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped green onions
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Direction

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in cumin and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon jalapeño, if desired.

Ladle soup into bowls. Pass cilantro, green onions, and feta cheese separately.