Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quinoa Buns with Sunflower Seeds

This week I decided to switch the usual "loaf" into cute little buns. Well, they turned out kinda big but still really nice. They came out super soft and they are very filling. It would've been a nice loaf too but I felt like doing something different. I used quinoa flakes for a protein boost and a nice nutty taste. And then of course the sunflower seeds are always awesome in bread. Nice and crunchy bite...

You'll need:

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
2 tsp instant yeast
1 scant tsp salt
2 TBSP melted butter
2 TBSP honey
1-1 1/2 cup warm water, at 120-140F.
1/2 cups sunflower seeds

Mix the flour, flakes, yeast and salt in a big bowl, make a well in the centre and set aside.
Heat up 1 1/4 cups of water, add the butter and honey and bring to 120F. Keep 1/4 cup plain water on the side in case you need to add more. *That way all the butter and honey will end up in the bread!!
Pour the liquid in the flour mixture and stir gently with a fork, slowly incorporating the water in the flour. When it starts to come together you can get there with your hands and knead a bit in the bowl, then transfer to a floured CLEAN surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until it's all soft, adding flour or water as needed. Add the sunflower sedds about half-way through the process.
When the dough is all nice and smooth put it in an oiled bowl, cover and let it rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place (top of a stove turned on at 400 for a few minutes, for example...). The dough should double in size.



After it's risen, punch it down gently and transfer to the same work surface, floured, and shape the buns(or the loaf if you choose to do a loaf..).
Cut the dough into small pieces, about the size of baseball, and arrange on an oiled baking sheet.

Cover with cling wrap and let rise again, until doubled again, for about 30 minutes. Now they should be the size of a softball.
When they've doubled in size, score the top with a sharp knife and brush with butter. I added more sunflower seed on top but they didn't really stick after. But still it looks nice...

Bake at 375 for 20-22 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped, or when a thermometer read 170F. Turn off the oven and leave them in there for about 5 minutes. Cool on that same baking sheet, placed on a rack.

Sooooooo soft!!!!!

They are headed to Yeastspotting!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Veggie-Lentil Soup with Ginger

This is a soup I've been making very often, for the past 5-6 years. It's like a cross between minestrone and curry lentil soup. Sometimes I put italian spices in it but this week I had a bit of fresh ginger left, and since I felt a little cold coming, it was gonna be a gingered soup! By the way, the cold didn't make it!! Killed it right in the bud with this wonderful natural medecine. Seriously, the chinese have it right. Ginger heals. Every time I feel a cold coming, I drink ginger tea or use it generously in a soup, like this one, and done the cold is. Miraculous!
Anyway. Other than that I also had a few vegetables that were getting a little soft in the crisper, and soup is the best for rescuing those rather hopeless veggies...

Like any other soup or stew, start by chopping (and peeling those that require peeling)all the vegetables:

1 carrot
1 celeri
1 onion
1 parsnip
1/2 zucchini(or a whole one, but that's what was left in the bag...)
5-6 asparagus
1/2 yellow pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 big chunk fresh ginger

In 1-2 tablespoons of oil, sautee on medium-high heat, first the carrot, celeri, onion, parsnip and ginger. Those are the ones that take longer so I throw them in first. Don't forget the salt and pepper...
After a few minutes add the rest of the vegetables, salt and pepper again, and stir.

Then add:

1 cup canned tomatoes (or if you like throw in the whole can, but again, I only had that leftover from a few days ago when I made a pasta sauce and didn't use the whole thing...)
1/2 cup lentils (I used brown lentils for this one)
1-2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp cumin powder
1-2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp crushed chili

Then add about 4 cups of vegetable broth and when it starts to bubble turn the heat to medium-low, semi-cover and let it simmer until all the veggies are soft and the lentils are cooked. Should be about 20-30 minutes.

Adjust the seasonning and enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Asparagus and Gruyere Omelette

Yesterday I was at a swim meet ALL day, swam over 3000 meters in races, warm-ups and cool-downs, ate little things all through the day: walnuts, protein bars, 1/2 a cheese sandwich, soy milk, energizer juices, banana, apricots...and then in the evening had the usual after-meet beer, chips and take-out. Today I'm a little sore and my body needed a good proper meal. And what's one of the athlete's favorite breakfast? EGGS. It's hands down the best energizer. Some people will say that the cholesterol content in eggs is rather high and we shouldn't eat too many...blabla. Active people eat eggs. It's high in protein, easy to digest, and fills you up for a while. Honestly I don't really care about the "high-ish" cholesterol, they have so many other good stuff in them this small negative aspect gets lost in all the other nutritonal goodness.
When I make omelettes I use more eggwhites though. One whole egg, two egg whites for one omelette. I find it makes the omelette taste lighter and the other ingredients come out a lot more, since egg whites don't really have flavor. But it's necessary to have that one yolk in it, for fat content and that nice egg taste.
SO here's another variation of this swimmers' favorite breakfast:

1 large egg
2 egg whites
Splash of milk(2% is good.)
5-6 asparagus
2-3 TBSP grated gruyere cheese
1-2 green onions
Salt and pepper (and other herbs if you like...)

Start by grilling the asparagus in a bit of oil, on medium heat, until they're al dente.
(At the same time get your potatoes going, cubed, salted, peppered, and rosemaried.)

Whisk the egg and whites, add the milk, onions and seasonings.
When the asparagus are done(3-5 minutes) get them out of the pan, and pour in the egg mixture.
*On the next picture you can see the floors in my appartment are not quite straight...it helps in keeping the eggs on one side and the potatoes on the other. But if you have nice even floors I guess it'd be better to do the potatoes first and keep them warm somewhere, unless you want potatoes in your omelette, which wouldn't be all that bad anyway...)
When the eggs start to cook lightly on the outside line in the asparagus and the cheese:

Then fold once:


And then flip:

After flipping it once, leave it a few minutes, flip it again and turn the heat off.
This should do it. And by then you're potatoes are done too.

Yep. Breakfast of Champions!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sundried Tomato and Rosemary Bread.

I love making bread. It's a little time consuming but it's so rewarding! Lately though I've been worling a lot and since I can get bread from work I kinda stopped making homemade loaves. BUT. Last week I was watching (surprise surprise) the food channel and there was chef Smith making homemade bread, so simple and delicious, and versatile! I got the urge to make bread again. You can take this recipe, keep the 4 main ingredients of flour, yeast, salt and water, and go from there and never have the same bread from time to time! There's usually not much room for changing things in baking but you can play around with a bread recipe. I love that! I don't feel like I have to follow a recipe anymore, I actually make it up as I go along, writing it down so I can pass it along to you all. Kinda like freestyle cooking! And i'm proud to say I've come a long way since my first loaf...

For this "bread of the week" I went for a flavor I love and hadn't used yet in bread: sundried tomatoes!! And I decided to pair it with one of my favorite fresh herbs: rosemary!! (yes, again, rosemary. there's a big plant at work growing like crazy, so lucky me i can take some home!:))). And for even more taste I threw in some parm, because you can't really ever go wrong with the King of cheeses!
This is what you'll need:

3 1/2-4 cups BREAD flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2-2 cups warm water, at 120-130F
2 TBSP olive oil (or if you're using tomatoes in oil, use THAT oil, it's SO flavorful!)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
4-5 slices sundried tomatoes, cut finely.

In a big bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix and make a well in the centre. Keep the 1/2 cup flour on the side for the kneading process.
Heat 1 1/2 water up to 120F and add the oil to it. Keep 1/2 cup on the side just in case..
Pour in the middle of the flour mixture.
Mix with a fork, slowly incorporating the flour to the water, gradually stirring from the middle towards the outer edge.
When the dough comes into a ball, or almost, transfer to a clean, floured work surface and start kneading. This is where you add the parmesan, sundried tomatoes and rosemary, and extra flour if necessary. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup more. Keep kneading for about 8 minutes until the dough gets really soft and elastic and feels like an earlobe.
(I was actually pleasantly surprise how this dough came together like a charm! no sticky mess is always nice!)
When the dough is nice and soft, cover and let it rest for about 10 minutes, while you clean up(...).
Then shape into whatever you feel like; braid, buns, round or long log, or in a loaf pan...
Then just cover with saran-wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until it's doubled in size. Here in Montreal it's getting a little cold, so the appartment is cold. What I did was turn on the oven at 200F and put the baking sheet on the oven's cheminee. That's helps A LOT!
Also when it was done "rising" it was a little too round, so I re-shaped it into an oval log. Delicately of course! You don't wanna break the precious air bubbles!
Then turn up the oven to 375F and while this heats up, score the bread 4-5 times, brush with oil (i used the sundried tomato oil from the jar) and sprinkle some parmesan and a bit more chopped rosemary.

Bake it for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave it in 5 minutes extra.
To make sure it's done tap on the bottom it will sound hollow, or check with a meat thermometer, the temperature should say 180F.

Let it cool on a rack, slice and Voila!

This one is going to Yeastspotting!!

I had toast this morning with apple jelly...insanely good with this flavor combo. Sounds weird I know but the salty sundried tomato with the sweet apple is cra-zy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beef Stew with Rosemary

It seems there's been a lot of desserts on here lately...so here's something salty and meaty to balance it all.
I made this stew almost a week ago, on a cold rainy day. I originaly wanted to use lamb but the lamb I found at the grocery store was a bit pricy, so I got beef. Always cheap good ol' canadian beef!
Now, when I make stews I never EVER follow a recipe. Kinda like soups. There are certain methods that need to be followed but the ingredients and amounts of them and the herbs used are totally interchangeable. I don't think I've even made 2 stews that tasted the same. I love that.

SO here's how it goes:

First and foremost, cut all your vegetables so it's all ready to go. What you use is up to you. In this one I used:

1 medium yellow onions,
2 carrots
2 branches celeri
2 parsnips,
handfull pearl onions
3-4 cloves garlic
7-8 new potatoes(I added them only later on, since they cook kinda fast...)

Sautee all veggies BUT the potatoes in a bit of canola oil on medium-high heat until semi-soft, with salt and pepper. When done set aside on a plate while you do the meat.(...)

Pat the meat dry and throw in a ziploc bag with a few tablespoons of flour, shake it to cover all sides of the cubes. This will help brown the meat and will thicken the stew. Plus because the flour will be cooked ON the meat you won't taste the flour at all. Thanx Food Network as always for that tidbit of info...What would I do without that channel I don't know...
Then take the meat out of the bag, shake off any excess flour and in a heavy bottom pot(some call it "dutch-oven"), brown in oil, in batches, on all sides.

When they're all done return them to the pot along with all the veggies and some of your favorite herbs. I used 1 sprig fresh rosemary (THE #1 herb for stews if you ask me! and the fresh stuff is much more mellow than the dry...), 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and a bay leaf. Toss it all together for a few minutes and pour in 1/2 a bottle of red wine and about 1-2 cups beef broth, just up to the surface, not completely covering everything but enough so that everything has some contact with liquid.

As soon as you see a few tiny bubbles appear on the surface, turn the heat down to low, cover tightly and let it go for 3-4-5 hours.
*About one hour after the stew has started simmering, add the new potatoes and check the seasonning. I added more rosemary and some black pepper...
The longer it simmers the better, acutally because stew meat is tougher and it takes time to break down the tissue. I had this one on the stove from 3:30pm to almost 8pm (I got sucked in a movie called "The lovely bones"...).
But what you get in the end is melt in your mouth tender meat:

The final product is pretty darn good, the night of, yes, especially after crying my eyes out from a sappy movie,...:

But it's even better the next day, on some fusili pasta for example:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Apple Walnut Coffee Cake

Well, I wanted to make muffins last sunday, but since Halloween kicked my butt this year, I was in NO shape of baking on that day. The couch was my haven and could not move. So my lovely Cortlands were still sitting in the fruit bowl, and today on my day off, on this gloomy rainy friday, I felt like baking something more comforting than muffins.

This coffee cake comes from the "Taste of Home-Fall Baking Issue" magazine. Not at all "healthy oven"...no butter in here but LOTS of sugar.
The almond extract in this cake is really delightfull. Different from the ol' vanilla. And the recipe called for only cinnamon but I added cardamom, my new favorite spice, and it's a-ma-zing with the almond flavor!


4 cups chopped peeld apples
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a big bowl, mix the apples and sugar and let it stand for 20 minutes or so.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and extract. Add to the apples and mix well until the apples are all coated.
In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Stir into the apple mixture until just combined, and fold in the walnuts.
Pour into an oiled 11x7in. baking pan, smooth the top and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle will come out clean.
Let cool in the same pan. No need to unmold!

I love how this cake is so moist inside thanks to the apples, and I LOVE how the top becomes slightly crunchy.

It's good as it is...:

Or with a big serving of homemade applesauce on top!:

Did I ever mention how much I love apples?...