Tuesday, April 7, 2009

strawberry shortcake

2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream and more for brushing
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
(which I replaced with brown sugar)
4 cups strawberries, hulled and slice
1 can of whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Mix together the flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix only until the mixture forms tiny, coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk together the egg and the heavy cream. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until the mixture is moistened. Spoon out the dough onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or foil. The mounds should be 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch high. Brush the top of the shortcakes with heavy cream and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake until the shortcakes are a light gold brown. While the shortcakes are baking, brush 1 cup of strawberres with a fork in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 cups of berries and 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Mix well and refrigerate. When the shortcakes have baked, transfer them to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully slice the shortcakes horizontally in half and spoon berries onto the bottom half. Top with whipped cream and cover with the shortcake tops

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

south african chicken pie

this is one of my favorite dish's I had in South Africa this year. It's great for a family and hearty and warm.

1 - 5-6 pound chicken
1/2 teaspoon mixed pickling spices
1 tablespoon salt
2 medium onions, peeled, halved
4 carrots, peeled, halved
2 ounces butter
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup white wine
Salt, pepper
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
4 ounces Danish ham, sliced thinly
Pie crust dough
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In a stewpot, place the chicken, spices, salt, onions, and carrots, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Strain the broth and reserve. Cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces. Slice the carrots and reserve.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add flour and stir well, forming a roux. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then add 3 cups of the reserved chicken broth, the wine, salt and pepper. Stir until thickened slightly. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and lemon juice together until frothy, then add to the sauce. Beat well, and continue cooking until sauce thickens more. Remove from the heat. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a 4 quart deep-dish baking pan, place the chicken uniformly on the bottom. Arrange the hard-boiled egg slices on top of the chicken, and then top with the ham slices. Spread the reserved carrot slices, then cover with the sauce.

Roll out the pie crust, and lay it over the baking dish. Press along the edge firmly and trim excess. Score in several places to allow steam to escape. Brush dough with egg. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake 30 minutes longer. Crust should be golden brown.

banana nut bread

this is the perfect solution to the too ripe banana problem and smells amazing. just bake and put on a little butter, pour your self a glass of milk and relax...mmmm!

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 egg well beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Combine bananas, oil, sugar and egg. Add flour, salt, soda, baking powder and cloves. Blend. Stir in nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

If you have a blender, just put bananas, sugar, oil and egg in the blender and puree together. Add salt, baking powder, soda and spices to puree. Pour into measured flour and stir in nuts.

steak marinade

in my family, we love our meat and especially steak. this recipe will make your steak delishious with every bite!

1 (10 oz) can orange juice
10 oz. bottle soy sauce
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 can water
1 tbsp. A-1 sauce
10 steaks

Place steaks in marinating dish or plastic freezer bags. Pour in marinade. Mainate fot three hours, turning steaks over every 1/2 hour. Make sure steaks are two-thirds covered.

eclair cake

my cousin mindy and I love this recipe so much that we came home one day from a walk and almost cleard the entire thing. it's so simple and delicious and in my opinion almost better than the actual pastry!

1 (1 lb.) box graham crackers
2 sm. pkgs. instant French vanilla pudding
3 1/2 c. milk
1 (9 oz.) container Cool Whip

Butter bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan, line with graham crackers. Mix pudding with the milk. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Blend in Cool Whip. Pour half the mixture over graham crackers then place second layer of crackers over pudding. Pour remaining pudding mixture over and cover with more crackers. Refrigerate for 2 hours then frost. Serves 12 to 14.


2 pkgs. Nestle chocolate, premelted (Baker's (unsweetened premelted baking chocolate flavor)
2 tsp. white Karo syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk

Beat all ingredients until smooth; spread over cake. Refrigerate 24 hours.

soft pretzels

who doesn't love pretzels while watching sports, movies or anytime really...these are so easy!

2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp. salt
4 cups flour

soda solution:
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. soda

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add salt and flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Cover and let rises 15 minutes. Divide into 8 poritions (16 for smaller pretzels). Roll each pience into narrow ropes and shape as pretzel. Dip in soda solution. Sprinkle with kosher salt. If desired, brush with butter as they come from the oven. Enjoy!

coconut rice

this is one of my favorite side dishes to various types of chicken and fish. It's simple and sweet. you will love it.

Coconut Rice
2 cups jasmine or basmati rice, uncooked
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped, fresh parsley

In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the coconut milk, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir, making sure sugar dissolves. Add the rice and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve.

seven layer salad

My mom made this salad often growing up for parties and special family dinners. It's a chunky, meaty salad and the dressing goes perfectly with the bacon!

1 pound bacon
1 large head iceberg lettuce - rinsed, dried, and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed
10 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white sugar
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
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Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Crumble and set aside.
In a large flat bowl, place the chopped lettuce and top with a layer of onion, peas, shredded cheese, cauliflower and bacon.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, sugar and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle over salad and refrigerate until chilled.

toll house pie

an easy recipe that everyone loves. It tastes like a giant chocolate chip cookie. Go all the way and serve it warm with a scoop of ice cream or fresh whipped cream

2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

in a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the flour and sugars and beat until blended. Blend in the butter. Stir in the chips and nuts. Pour into the pie shell.

Bake for 1 hour. Serve warm or cooled completely

swiss chicken

this recipe is so simple and perfect if you need a quick meal during the week. it goes great with rice or pasta and with all it's saucy, cheesy goodness it makes a perfect meal for the winter!

4 large chicken breasts
8 slices swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

preheat oven to 350 degrees. cut eat piece of chicken in half and place in baking dish. place one slice of swiss cheese on each piece of chicken. mix water and cream of chicken soup together and spread on top of chicken. sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. bake for 35-40 minutes and viola!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

lemon bars

Sometimes you just need a little something sweet...AND sour! These are SO SO SO yummy! The perfect summer treat!

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar

Saturday, March 22, 2008

apricot glazed easter ham

Serves 15 to 20

1 bone-in smoked ham (10 pounds)
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap ham completely with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Transfer ham to oven and bake for 1 hour. Place apricot preserves in a 1-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Transfer preserves to a blender and puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a small bowl; discard solids. You should have slightly less than 1/2 cup remaining. Add mustard and vinegar to bowl of preserves; stir to combine.

Unwrap ham; discard parchment and foil. Transfer ham to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, score fat in a diamond pattern, making the lines about 3/4 inch apart. Return ham to roasting pan.

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Brush ham evenly with 3/4 of the preserve mixture and return to oven. Bake ham for 30 minutes. Brush ham with remaining glaze and continue cooking 10 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board until ready to carve.

easter egg bread

This traditional bread comes from Greece and Italy. It is by far my most favorite Easter Recipe. It's a great way to use up some of those died eggs, it looks great and of course tastes delicious!

Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus rising
Baking Time: 35-40 minutes
Makes 10-12 servings

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
3/4 cup hot milk (120F-130F)
1/4 cup hot water (120F-130F)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
5 hard-cooked eggs, colored
Vegetable oil

Place 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl; mix well. Add milk, water and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Add the 2 uncooked eggs; beat until well combined. Stir in enough remaining flour until a soft dough forms.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in a warm place until almost double in size, about 45 minutes.

Grease a baking sheet. Punch down dough. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each piece into a 30-inch rope. Loosely twist ropes together.

Shape twisted ropes into a ring, about 12 inches in diameter, on prepared baking sheet; press ends to seal. Rub colored eggs lightly with oil. Place eggs in spaces between twists. Cover; let rise until almost double in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Uncover dough; bake bread ring until golden, 35-40 minutes. Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on a wire rack.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing

Chocolate Cupcakes

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Peanut Butter Icing

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

fortune cookies

I have had more fun with this recipe than any other. I used to teach children's cooking classes and the kids absolutely loved these. They are simple, delicious and you get to write your own fortunes. I like making them for birthdays with sprinkles and putting birthday fortunes in them. The same can be done with Valentines Day or for just about any occasion. They are fun to dip in chocolate (white, milk, or dark) and sprinkle.

3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter -- melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Combine ingredients in order, mixing well after each addition. Chill 20 minutes. Make cookies 2 at a time. On greased cookie sheet, drop a spoonful of dough for each cookie. It is very important to spread dough very thin with back of spoon to about 3 inch diameter. Bake about 5 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Working quickly, place a fortune** in the center of each cookie. Fold cookie in half enclosing fortune, to form a semi-circle. Grasp rounded edges of semi-circle between thumb and forefinger on one hand. Place forefinger of other hand at center of folded edge, and push in, making certain solid sides of cookie puff out. Place each cookie in small size muffin tin, open edges up, until cookie is set. Store in airtight container. Beforehand: Cut some paper into 2 inch x 1/2 inch strips. Type or write fortunes on them, to insert in cookies.

pan fried onion dip

There are not words to describe how good this is. It's out of control addicting and WAY better than the mix or pre-made onion dip. Men love it, woman too...you really can't go wrong. Serve with crinkle potato chips or fresh veggies for an irresistable appetizer!

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
Cut the onions in half, and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions) Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes, until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well.
Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

garden vegetable soup

I am in a weight loss challenge with my friends here in Connecticut. After day two I was starving and this recipe saved my life. It is filling, healthy, and only has 42 calories. You can't beat that for a hot meal.

2/3 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat free broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups diced green cabbage
1/2 cup green beans
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup diced zucchini

1. In a large sauce pan sprayed with non stick spray, saute the carrot, onion and garlic over low heat until softened about 5 mins.
2. add broth, cabbage, beans,tomato paste, basil, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, about 15 mins or until beans are tender.
3. stir in zucchini and heat 3-4 mins.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

perfect roasted chicken

I make this recipe about once per week for the children I nanny. The chicken comes out tender and juicy every time and I love it because it doesn't take long to prepare and I can just pop it in the oven and go on to doing something else for an hour. It fills the house with the most wonderful aroma! You do not have to use all of the vegetables if you don't have them lying around. If all you have is an onion and a lemon to stuff it with, it will still come out great!

1 (5 to 6 pound) or 2kg roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic cut in half crosswise
(1/4 stick) butter melted
1 large yellow onion
thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F or 220degrees celcius. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

bean salsa

This recipe got me through many college study nights. I made it over and over because it's SO easy and very tasty. It is full of protein and fiber as well. Can't do much better than that!

1 can black beans
1 can navy beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn
1 large avocado, chopped into small pieces
1 large tomato, chopped into small pieces
1 bottle Italian dressing

Add beans and corn to strainer and rinse with water. Drain excess liquid. In a medium size bowl add bean and corn mixture, avocado and tomato. Stir in whole bottle of Italian dressing. Serve with Tortilla chips


tip: how to get children to eat a balanced meal

I have been a nanny for over eight years now and have spent my share of time trying to get babies, toddlers and school age children to eat healthy balanced meals. You can buy these trays at Pottery Barn and they are real lifesafers. They are dishwasher safe and come in bright and pastel colors to match your kitchen. The best part is that because I find that children often want thier food seperated, this does it for them. It also helps them to make healthy choices. The children I nanny know that when they eat dinner each section will contain a fruit, vegetable, protein and starch. They can choose either water or milk.

It is always a debate in child development as to how much you should feed your child. I have spoken with several pediatricians and what I most commonly hear is that children will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are fool. Arguing over meal times isn't fun for the child or parent and really isn't healthy. It can cause issues with food in the future. Make your child a part of meal planning and they are likely to be more excited about it. I may suggest taking them on an outing to a produce market, butchery or bakery so they can pick out some of the food items. In any case, teaching your child to eat well comes from introducing them a variety of foods and spices. One twelve month old I looked after, her favorite meal was salmon with curried cous cous and broccoli. I don't believe in "Kid" food. I like to offer them what the adults are eating.

For infants, I suggest not feeding them fruits or juice at first so that thier palate develops a taste for vegetables and rice first. If you are offering them bananas or beans, which do you think they are going to prefer? Obviously bananas. Developing a sweet tooth before the age of one isn't necessary. After a couple of months of eating the vegetables and rice, then start offering fruits. I don't usually give infants juice. They will get enough nutrients with milk and it isn't so good for thier teeth. With toddlers I dilute the juice with water but even then it is very limited.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

roast beef with mushrooms

This recipe has a fond memory for me. I was sitting in sunny South Africa with a wonderful family and this is what was served for a Sunday meal. It's so savory that I was craving it for weeks after. I highly suggest adding the sour cream to it.

2-2.5lb. or 1 kg fillet
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1 teaspoon or 5ml dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon or 2ml paprika
2 Tablepoons or 25ml vegetable oil
Salt and milled black pepper
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces or 200g mushrooms, wiped and sliced
6 sprigs thyme, chopped
1/2 cup or 125ml red cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon or 2 ml each salt and sugar
Sour cream (optional)

Spike meat all over with garlic. Rub with mustard and paprika and brown gently on all sides in hot oil.Transfer to small roasting pan that is a little larger than the meat, and season lightly.In the same pan, fry onion, mushrooms and thyme. When beginning to brown, remove from stove and add wine,Salt and sugar. Pour over fillet and roast at 325 degrees farenhiet or 160 C for about 1 hour 10 minutes for rare. Remove meat to serving platter and stand in warm place for 5 minutes. Serve the gravy thickened, reduced, or with the addition of a little sour cream.

Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

food focus: yeast

What is yeast? We know that bakers use it to make the dough 'rise'; without it, our bread would be like flat, hard cakes. In the days when people made their own bread, they would go to a brewer and get a jug of brewer's yeast. It was fluid and yellow. Nowadays, yeast is made commercially on a large scale. The yeast you buy at your market, the yellow lumps done up in paper, has been compressed for convenient handling.

Commercial yeast is a by-product of the whisky distillers. If you are a yeast producer your by-product will be methylated spirits.

Yeast is a plant, according to the biologists, and is capable of reproducing itself. A piece of yeast consists of minute cells, with walls composed of cellulose, and an interior of living matter called protoplasm. You can feed it with a solution of sugar to make it grow, or it can be 'killed' by 'starvation' or heat. The ancients did not use yeast as we know it today; they prepared a leaven or 'barm' (which has the same action) from ground millet kneaded with 'must' out of wine-tubs. Wheat bran was also used, kneaded with a three-days-old must, dried in the sun, then made into little cakes. When required for making bread, the cakes were soaked in water, then boiled with the finest flour, after which the whole was mixed in with the meal. Another old method for making barm was to prepare cakes of barley meal and water; these were baked on a hot hearth, or else in an earthen dish upon hot ashes and left until they turned reddish-brown. Afterwards, the cakes were kept shut up in a vessel until they turned quite sour. When wanted for leaven, they were first steeped in water. Eight ounces of this was enough to make a quantity of bread of about 14 lb. or 6.3kg to rise.

The primary function of yeast is to supply carbon dioxide gas which inflates the dough during proof and the early stages of baking (oven spring).

Carbon dioxide cannot form a gas bubble on its own it requires a 'nucleating site' (i.e. somewhere it can gather to form a bubble). In fizzy drinks microscopic projections on the side of the bottle provide those sites which is why when you release the pressure as you open the bottle you see 'streams' of gas running from the sides. In bread dough the nucleating sites are provided by the nitrogen gas bubbles trapped in the dough during mixing. The oxygen from the air having been used up by the yeast.

During proof stages the carbon dioxide goes into solution until the solution is saturated and then any more which is generated makes its way into the nitrogen gas bubbles which grow in size and the dough expands. The more yeast and the warmer the temperature the faster the expansion - we get oven spring because the maximum gassing rate occurs at 40-45C.

In bulk fermentation stages we also get dough expansion from carbon dioxide generation but most of that is lost when the dough is knocked back and divided, so the yeast has to start over again.

Yeast also contributes to dough maturity/development. Though its role is minor compared to in improvers no-time doughs, it is more significant in bulk fermentation where the enzymes, especially the proteolytic ones (they modify the gluten proteins), play a significant role.

To sum up, then, the dough is aerated by the action of the yeast. The little cells we mentioned ferment the dough, and produce tiny bubbles of gas inside it. As a result, the dough gets fatter and bigger, and rises, of course. Thus when the dough is baked, you have a 'bold' loaf, light and airy; when you cut it you can see all the tiny holes formed by the gas, so that it looks like a sponge.

swee roll (or use for anything you want) dough

I've made a lot of different rolls in my life, but this recipe never fails me and is sweet, fluffy, and easy to work with. Use it for dinner rolls, pizza dough, lunch loaves or cinnamon buns.

2 cups or 480mL warm water
2/3 cup or 80g nonfat dry milk (instant or non instant)
2 tablespoons or 15g dry yeast
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
2 teaspoons or 2 pinch's of salt
1/3 cup or 80g butter
1 egg
5-6 cups or 500-600mg flour, or bread flour

In a large bowl of electric mixer, combine water and milk powder. Stir until milk dissolves. Add yeast, then sugar, salt, butter, egg and 2 cups or 200g flour. Mix at low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 2 cups or 200g flour, mix on low speed until ingredients are wet and then for two minutes at medium speed. (Dough will vbe getting stiff and remaining flour may need to be mixed by hand.) Add about 1/2 cup or 55g flour and mix again, by hand or mixer. Dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour)

Scrape dough off sides of bowl and pour about one tablespoon of vegetable oil around sides of bowl. Turn dough over in vegetable oil all around sides of bowl so it is covered with oil. (This helps prevent dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and allow to rise in warm place until double in size. Sprinkle cutting board or counter with flour and place dough on floured board. Roll out and cut rolls into desired shape and size. Place on greased (or parchement lined) baking pans. Let rise in warm place until rolls are double in size (about 1-11/2 hours).

Bake at 375 degrees fareinhiet or 190 degrees celcius for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Brush with melted butter while hot. Makes 1 to 1 1/2 dozen Rolls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

culinary skill: blanching

The term blanching refers to the technique of plunging a food, usually a fruit or vegetable in to boiling water usually until either it's color is set or the food has softened slightly. This takes anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on what is being blanched.

Then the food is removed and put into an ice bath to "shock" or stop the cooking process and to set the color.

Why do you use this technique? It makes it easier to peel the skin of fruits like tomatoes and peaches . It also enhances the color of vegetables like green beans, asparagus or broccoli.

It's also a good idea to blanch fruits or vegetables that you intend to freeze, because blanching inactivates the enzymes that promote spoilage.

food focus: ginger

Ginger: a knobby, fibrous root, has smooth light brown skin with a sheen to it. The flesh of the root is white. Ginger root is a seasoning and flavors sweets, including cakes, cookies, breads, and beverages. It is also good in sauces, and fruit dishes, and is often used heavily in Asian cooking. When buying, look for ginger root with the least amount of knots and/or branching.
Nutritional Value:Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs.
Storage:Ginger root should be kept in a cool, dry place, usually at 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. After purchasing, ginger may be refrigerated in plastic wrap for up to one week. For longer storage, peel ginger root and cover it with sherry wine before refrigeration. Freezing for up to three months is also an option.

chinese chicken salad

Okay Friends...the holidays are almost over and I am sure we all have on our list of resolutions to start eating healthy and stuff. This is a recipe for the most delicious chicken salad and it's very appealing to the eye as well as the appetite! I've used it for parties several times and it's always a topic of conversation...cause it's just SO good!

Barefoot Contessa Chinese Chicken Salad
12 Servings

chicken breast halves (bone in, skin on)
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1lb or 450g
asparagus, ends removed,cut into thirds diagonally
red bell peppers, cored and seeded
scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons or 8g
sesame seeds, toasted

For the Dressing:
1 cup or 240 mL vegetable oil
1/4 cup or 60mL good
apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup or 80 mL
soy sauce
3 tablespoons or 30mL dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon or 15 mL
2 cloves or
garlic, minced
1 teaspoon or 5mL peeled grated
fresh ginger
2 tablespoon or 15g
sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup or 120g smooth peanut butter
4 teaspoons or 20mL
kosher salt
1 teaspoon or 5mL
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees celcius.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil.
Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large, bite-sized pieces.
Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.
Cut the peppers into strips about the size of the asparagus pieces.
Combine the shredded chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste.
Serve cold or at room temperature.