Tag Archives: bread

Avocado Toasts

31 Aug

This is a breakfast inspired by a delicious treat we had last month while traveling in NYC.  We had breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, a great French-style bakery/restaurant chain found in many cities in the US.   We were going to see the “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and needed to make some time before the museum actually opened at 10AM.

China as seen by the fashion and movie industries.

We had only had some fruits and we were hungry…   so we ordered steel-cut oatmeal and Avocado Toasts with Kale and Cumin Salt, a seasonal option for breakfast and lunch at the restaurant.    To be honest, I’ve had better versions of the steel-cut oats from LPQ before, but the Avocado Toasts stole the show!!   I don’t know if it was the awesome gluten-free bread they were made in… or the interesting combination of the kale and cumin salt, but we were blown by the deliciousness of these toasts.  I even had to Instagram-it they were sooo good.

Le Pain Quotidien - Avocado Toasts

These days, I have such an abundance of avocados that I decided to have some for breakfast the other day…  I made it my own by exchanging the cumin salt for garlic salt and adding alfalfa sprouts instead of kale.

Avocado Toasts - KFC

AVOCADO TOASTS

2 slices of bread – I prefer whole grain or gluten-free versions

½ avocado – sliced

Vegan Mayonnaise

Dijon or Stone Ground mustard

Alfalfa Sprouts

Garlic Salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

I make this just like at Le Pain Quotidiene, open-faced.  But you can pile it all up, make it portable and eat it like a traditional 2 slice sandwich… it’s up to you.

  1. Toast the bread to your liking.
  2. Spread a generous amount of vegan mayo and mustard.
  3. Arrange the avocado slices, in shingle like manner.  Season with a light sprinkling of garlic salt.
  4. Pile the alfalfa sprouts.  Drizzle a small stream of olive oil.  Season with a light sprinkle of garlic salt again.
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Panzanella Salad

9 Aug

This is another recipe that combines this Basic Italian Tomato Salad with several other ingredients so you can enjoy its delicious flavors in another format…

 

PANZANELLA SALAD

1 recipe of Basic Italian Tomato Salad
1 whole-wheat ciabatta roll
2 cups of baby spinach, washed and dried well
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Freshly cracked Black Pepper

 

  1. Make Basic Italian Tomato Salad.  Set aside.
  2. Cut ciabatta roll in half.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toast in oven at 350F for about 5 minutes.  Take the bread pieces out and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Set aside.
  3. In a large salad bowl, add the baby spinach, Tomato/Mozzarella salad and bread pieces.  Toss everything to combine and allow the juices from the Basic Italian Tomato Salad dress the salad.

 

That’s it!!!  Easy, no?

No-Knead Bread – Consolation prize for my ego

2 Mar

I already told you about my fiasco story on the Daring Bakers Feb 2008 Challenge – Pain Francais.

So, to give myself an ego-boost, I decided to try out the NY Times No-Knead Bread Recipe…  of course, with a few modifications because I was using whole wheat flour again.  For months I have been meaning to make this recipe… and to me it was a dream come true, because one of the reasons I have never dared to make any breads or pizza dough is the lack of a Stand mixer – remember my Xmas wishes??? So, this recipe eliminated that need…

For this recipe you need a cast iron dutch oven… yikes, I don’t have a cast-iron dutch oven either. But my friend Kathleen told me I could probably do this with a Pyrex bowl on top of a baking sheet.  I don’t have a big Pyrex glass bowl, but my mom has a glass Pyrex dutch oven – the best of both worlds. 

You still need to plan this recipe out… it needs about 12 hours to proof.  It’s not like you get a bread craving and you can make this in a pinch.  You can make the dough at night to bake it in the morning, or make the dough in the morning to bake the bread at night. 

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NO-KNEAD BREAD

Adapted from the original No-Knead Bread recipe from the NY Times.

3 cups of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tbs kosher salt
1 package of dry active yeast
squirt of honey
1 3/4 cups of water
2 tbs wheat germ
Covered Pot – (5 quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel – something that can go into a 450F oven)

Mix the Dough

  1. When using whole wheat flour, I read in several sources that it’s better to proof the yeast before mixing in the rest of the ingredients.  So take like 1/2 cup of the water the recipe calls for and dissolve the yeast packet.  Add a squirt of honey to help it come alive.  (I threw away several packets of yeast thinking they were dead before doing this little trick to it.) 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.  It will be a shaggy, doughy mess.  Control the urge to add more water.  Cover with a plastic wrap and let sit in counter-top for about 12 hours.  The room should be about 70degrees F.  Leave for up to 20 hours if room is slightly cooler.

Shape and Pre-heat

  1. The dough will be wet, sticky and bubbly.  With a wet spatula, dump the dough onto a floured surface. 
  2. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape.  You can use your hands if you prefer.
  3. Generously dust a flour sack towel with flour and wheat germ. Set dough seam side down on top of towel.  Let it rest for 2 hours.
  4. Set 2 timers – 1 for 1:30 hours and one for 2 hours.
  5. When the 1:30 hour timer rings – it’s time to pre-heat the oven.  Put your covered pot in the oven and preheat the oven with the pot inside for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F.
  6. When the 2 hour timer goes off – it’s time to bake.

Bake

  1. The dough should have doubled in size.
  2. Carefully, remove pot from oven.  Holding the dough inside the towel, dump the wobbly dough inside the pot – it does not matter which way it lands.  Cover.
  3. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Set timer again for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover.  Bake another 15-20 minutes uncovered  until the crust is golden brown and beautiful.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool in a cooling rack.

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I ate mine warm with lots of butter.  The crust was superb.  I ate some of it, and gave a piece to a friend and my mom, which loved it too.

I still do not consider myself a bread baker by any means.  However, I will definitely make this recipe again… and I know that as I feel more confident with it, I will start making modifications to it… adding cheese, or nuts or other flours.  You’ll see.  I won’t keep it to myself…

Pain Français- DBC Feb 2008

1 Mar

I am not a baker.  So I joined the Daring Baker’s Challenge.

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If I am not a baker, why in the world would I join a group of  called Daring Bakers???  To get out of my comfort zone precisely.  To try recipes I would never dare to try. To learn things, techniques I may be avoiding…  to indeed, become a baker after all.  

I was inspired last month with January’s challenge – Lemon Meringues.  All the recipes I saw looked sooooo beautiful that I felt compelled to join.  Please remind yourselves… I AM NOT A BAKER!!!  My dessert repertoire extends to cookies and flans – anything else besides that is just baked fruits, fruit sauces, and boiling cans of condensed milk… ahhh, and buying Haagen-Dazs mango sherbet at the supermarket.  Yet, after knowing all of this, I dared and joined the group. No pun intended.

I have to admit, I was daunted and excited when I received my first recipe – Pain Français from a Julia Child recipe…. Oh my gravy!!!!  I was excited, as you know I take French lessons at the Alliance Française.  To say I was super excited was an understatement!!  But, why daunted???  French bread only has really 4 ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt.  What can be simpler???  Anything in this world is simpler, if you ask me. 

And, I am not a quitter.  I was not going to pass this up , my first Daring Baker’s challenge, just because I had an 11-page recipe – yes, this is not a typo, 11 pages… I was sent a video to see the kneading technique, the forming technique, the baking technique…  I read the recipe 3-4 times.  I saw the video twice. Yet… I never achieved the perfect loaf of Pain Français.  The only thing I did change in the recipe… was the flour.  I only like to use whole wheat products when I bake, so I used whole wheat flour…  here are the results:

This is the flour I used – I do not recommend it for this recipe.  This was the dough, before kneading. How dry it was should have told me something then, but I continued with the process as dictated in the recipe.

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This was the dough after “kneading” for about 500 times… I was so tired after that, I had to lay down to rest.  Really.

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 And this was the frustrating moment when, after 3 hours of “rising time” my dough was exactly the same size as it started.

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But, in my opinion, there are many ways to define success.  Success is not only demonstrated by showing here my “perfect loaves of french bread from the first try”… To me, success is also achieved by all the learnings gathered from trying to execute this recipe.  I actually have a list of learnings I would like to share with you and all my fellow Daring Bakers:

  1. You need a really large kitchen with lots of counter space to bake bread. – my kitchen is TINY and trying to knead bread almost inside the kitchen sink is not the ideal of any bread baker.
  2. A Kitchen-Aid mixer is a must if you’re a petite bread baker. – I am sorry, but kneading 800 times by hand is not my definition of a good arm workout.  My arm was about to fall off – I guess because the flour/water proportions were off when using whole wheat… but that’s another learning.
  3. Stone-ground whole wheat flour is NOT ideal when trying to make Julia Child’s french bread recipe. – Start with whole wheat pastry flour and then move gradually to coarser flours, especially when you do not have a stand mixer.
  4. Bread baking is not for the impatient. – You need a good day to make this recipe… no plans to go out, no plans for someone to come over, just stay home and bake bread.  Now I know why Rachael Ray is not a baker…
  5. Bread-baking is not for the compulsive cleaner. – No matter how clean I tried to keep the kitchen floor, there was flour all over… all over!!!  all over my dishes, all over the sink, all over the counters, all over the floor, all over me!!!!
  6. 11 page recipes need to be left to professionals. – I am sure that if I had spent a day learning this by actually watching someone do it, I would have grasped it a little better.  I felt consumed by the pages in the recipe.
  7. I will try this recipe again SOON.– I was not able to do it all over before the posting date, but I will not let this recipe get to me. 

Let’s say I have a new-found appreciation for bread bakers.  And as a consolation prize for my ego… the only thing left for me was to try… The No-Knead Bread recipe. YEAH!!!

Garlic Parsley Breadsticks

22 Dec

This is a great appetizer or accompaniment to any Italian dinner. 

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GARLIC PARSLEY BREADSTICKS

1/2 package of refrigerated whole-wheat bread-stick dough mix
1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix in a small bowl the parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  2. Let it sit on top of the counter to marinate for about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Take the bread-sticks dough and spread the garlic parsley mixture on one side.
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  6. Twist the individual bread-sticks and place next to each other in a baking sheet.
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  8. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the bread-sticks are golden brown.
  9. Serve warm.

You can definitely use this same garlic parsley mixture to make regular garlic bread… just spread it on a cut baguette and bake in the oven until crunchy.

My apologies… the bread-sticks smelled so good, I forgot to take a photo of them.

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