Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Five-Minute Artisan Bread

I have had a love-hate relationship with homemade bread over the years. I love the taste of homemade bread, but I hate kneading. I just can't get it right. I have tried using a breadmaker, and also the dough hook on my stand mixer, to avoid the whole kneading problem - but I just haven't been able to make bread with the texture that I want.

Then I found this recipe online. Fancy looking bread that you don't have to knead - really? Am I dreaming? I had to try it. The recipe looked pretty easy, and reviews online made it sound like you couldn't mess it up. I tried it for the first time last week. One word: wonderful. This bread is so easy to make, and it is delicious. Baking it on a pizza stone gives it a lovely crust. We were very happy with the flavor. I love that you make a big batch and just store it in your fridge for whenever you want fresh bread. We had our second loaf tonight, and it was even better than the first. The flavor changes a little over time, becoming more sourdough-like the longer it sits in the fridge.

One tip that I have found helpful - since the dough is pretty wet, it can be difficult to transfer to the baking stone. I don't have a pizza peel, so I just put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and put my dough on there to rest. When it's time to put the bread in the oven, I slide the dough and the parchment paper onto the stone. I let the bread bake for three minutes, then open the oven and pull the parchment paper out from underneath the bread.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chocolate Fondue

My husband and I got a fondue pot as a gift when we got married five-plus years ago. We used it a few times during our first few years of marriage, but then it just sat in the cupboard collecting dust for a while. Until we discovered a few weeks ago how incredibly easy it is to make chocolate fondue. Since then we have had it whenever we have guests over! The recipe we found takes only a few minutes to make, and you just zap it in the microwave and then transfer it to your fondue pot. You really don't even need to use a fondue pot for this, if you are going to eat it right away. We skip the wine, so this fondue only has four ingredients - cream, bittersweet chocolate (we just use Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips), butter, and sugar. We have dipped angel food cake, strawberries, and bananas in it, all of which are very good. This is a great dessert for entertaining - it looks so fancy, but it takes less than five minutes to make.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baked Northern Pike

My husband went on a fishing trip to Canada a couple months ago, and brought back some walleye and northern pike filets so that I could vicariously experience a part of his trip. I have never had northern pike before, and had no idea how to cook them - and my usual dependable recipe websites did not have any recipes for them. So I took a gamble and Googled for recipes. I decided to go with something simple - I figured that if this fish tasted as good as my husband says it does, then it shouldn't need much to dress it up. I found this simple recipe for baked pike on a fishing in Canada website. There are several recipes on the page I have linked to - I used the last one. I guess soaking the filets in milk helps make the fish less oily, or so I've read.

This was very easy, and the results were great. The simplicity of the ingredients allowed the flavor of the pike to shine through (I don't really like battered, fried fish much for that reason - the coating and the oil usually make it so that you can't really tell what the fish really tastes like) (not that I don't like the taste, but I can't tell walleye from cod or perch when it's cooked like that). I served this with white rice and fresh green beans. A nice, quick meal with simple, delicious flavors. We still have four pike filets in the freezer, and I think I know how I will make them the next time....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Phyllo-Wrapped Salmon with Leeks and Red Bell Pepper

Would you believe that I had all the ingredients for this in my kitchen? I guess that marks me as a total foodie. I have had some salmon filets sitting in my freezer for a while. I also got leeks in my CSA basket, and a search on Epicurious came up with this fabulous recipe. This could easily be served at a fancy romantic restaurant for much more than the ingredients cost. The flavors and textures melded beautifully, and the phyllo packets make for a classy presentation.

I was just making this for the two of us for dinner, so I halved the red pepper and leek mixture. Since I have baked with phyllo before, it wasn't nearly as intimidating to work with those thin sheets as it used to be. I served this with wild rice, and corn on the cob because that's what we had. I think this would go well with asparagus or a salad of field greens instead. This is now one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

I was in the mood to bake cookies this weekend. I haven't made peanut butter cookies in my adult lifetime, but when I found this recipe from Dorie Greenspan, suddenly I had this overpowering desire for peanut butter cookies. I followed the recipe exactly, using creamy peanut butter. I was able to get 4 dozen cookies, plus enough dough left over to please my dough-eating, lack-of-Salmonella-fearing husband.

If you grew up eating peanut butter cookies you will love these. They are exactly what a peanut butter cookie should taste like - a little crunchy, but a little chewy on the inside. And of course they have the obligatory crisscross pattern on the tops of them. Somehow that makes them taste better.