Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On the Making of Bread!

I have been reintroducing myself to breadmaking recently. I got another bread machine from the thrift store for all of 4 bucks and am improving on previous attempts. So far, there have been some great successes. One thing that's pretty important in the bread machine thing from my experience, is they're really only good for the dough cycle. I have tried dozens of times to get good bread from one of the regular bread settings, and the loaves are simply too dense for any regular bread purpose. The dough cycle however allows for fresh, homemade delicious bread with the right texture and density without the constant hand kneading, proof, knead, proof cycle.

So far, I've made a dense (baked in the machine) white loaf. It was delicious but only good for french toast and bread crumbs once the rest of the loaf went stale. I've made an awesome fluffy whole wheat bread and an amazing Italian bread. Those recipes are below.

Since I believe in doing the dough cycle only, the order of ingredients is important, no setting this up and letting it work overnight, or in the morning after setting overnight.

Italian Bread
In this order place in the machine:

1 1/3 cups of very warm water (let the hot tap run then put measure your water from that)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp of active yeast (1 package)
1 1/2 tsp of olive oil
2 cups of bread flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp of salt
about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano

Close your lid select dough cycle and let it go. When done, just barely flatten onto a flour surface, roll it and place on a greased baking sheet seam side down. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise 30-40 mins. With a sharp knife or razor blade, slice a ~one inch deep slit down the center of the loaf (leaving an ~inch on either end) Brush with an egg wash and dust with garlic powder and salt. Bake at 350 about 30 mins.

Whole Wheat Bread
In this order add to the bread machine

1 1/4 cup of very warm water
2 tablespoons of honey
2 1/4 tsp of active yeast (one package)
2 tablespoons of oil
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of bread flour
1 1/2 -2 tsp of salt

Close your lid and select dough cycle. When finished pull out and place directly in a greased/floured loaf pan. Cover with warm towel and allow to double in size (approx 30-40 mins). Bake at 350 for half an hour and remove immediately to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rustic Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a from scratch chicken noodle soup that I made for the sick hubby. I used the veggies I had on hand, so its not a traditional soup, but super tasty all the same.

First you need to poach a couple of pieces of bone in chicken (I used 2 thighs) in boiling water. Add in your favorite herb bundles, in this case I used bay and rosemary. I also lightly salted the water...this is the only place I added salt making for a lower sodium dish, but you can add salt in other places, or a little more at the end to finish the soup.

While that is going, prep your veggies. I used some sliced mushrooms, one small onion, blanched broccoli, cooked corn that I cut off the cob (4 small cobs), and a tomato-carrot puree stash from the freezer (about 4tbls). Then garlic is an absolute must have for just about everything for me.

I sauteed the mushrooms and onion and grated in 3 cloves of garlic. I omitted salt so the mushrooms would brown faster, but once they begin to brown, this is the best place to add any other seasonings you would like.

Once the chicken was cooked, I pulled it out and shredded it off the bone with a couple of forks, threw it back into the pot with all the veggies and one box of tri-color rotini. By the time the rotini was cooked, the other veggies were soft and pliable and heated through. I served it up with peanut butter and honey cracker sandwiches. So delicious! This one takes awhile, but will feed a crowd and is very flexible!