Sunday, October 31, 2010

English Muffin Toasting Bread

I woke up Saturday morning with every intention of making Eggs Benedict for breakfast but first I wanted to make an English muffin batter bread.  I rely on a favorite recipe from King Arthur Flour, and when I goggled it, I saw that they had another version, this time using instant yeast and not active dry yeast.  Immediately I was intrigued, and as I have both types of yeast in bulk, on hand, I chose the (new to me) version.

Let's just say that the Eggs Benedict were never made.  The aroma of the freshly baking bread woke up Ole Sweetie-Pi from a heavy sleep, and he came downstairs to see what all the good smells were about.  He virtually pounced on the still steaming loaf as I set it on a rack to cool, cut two thick slabs, toasted them, and slathered on melting butter. 

English Muffin Toasting Bread
(King Arthur Flour)
Makes one 8 x 4 loaf

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan

In a large bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and yeast.

In a microwavable container for your microwave or using a small saucepan  for your stove top, combine the milk, water and oil.  Heat until temperature reaches 120*F to 130*F.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Beat at high speed for one minute. (see my note)

Scoop the dough into the pan, and level as best as you can, you may have to pull or stretch it a bit.  Cover the pan and let rise in a warm place about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough rises approximately 1/4 inch over the rim of the pan.  Remove the cover.

Preheat your oven to 400*F and bake the risen dough 20-22 minutes, until it's golden brown, sounds hollow when it's thumped, or has an internal temperature of 190*, if you are using a thermometer.

Remove the loaf from the pan and place on a rack and allow to cool thoroughly. 

The recipe at the KAF website describes this dough as soft and scoopable.  This was not my experience and as a result mixed the dough with a large spatula and quickly kneaded it. There was no way I was going to be able to use a mixer for this dough without burning out the mixer's motor, smiles.  I read through some of the comments by other reviewers and saw that someone else had the same experience and the response was that perhaps too much flour was used because the baker just scooped the flour, not fluff and sprinkle and level into their measure.  Guilty.  I scooped and leveled, but did not aerate the flour first by fluffing it and sprinkling the flour into the measuring cup.  Live and learn.  Bread was still good though, smiles.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Broiled Grapefruit

I think I should be embarrassed to post this, but when I served this for breakfast this morning, Ole Sweet-Pi said he had never in his life seen a broiled grapefruit.  At first I thought he was kidding, because this is something that we'd have on rare occasion when I was growing up, but when he sincerely insisted he had never seen this, I thought, naturally, photo-op!

There's not really a recipe for this.  Just a how to.

Broiled Grapefruit

Preheat your broiler.  Cut one ripe grapefruit in half (for 2 servings).  Using the point of a sharp knife, gently cut completely around the grapefruit between the fruit and the rind, and then cut between the fruit and the membrane that separates the sections of the grapefruit.  Sprinkle the top with a couple teaspoons of brown sugar.  Place in a baking dish and broil about five minutes or so.  Place a maraschino cherry in the center and serve while warm.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parsnip, Apple and Thyme Soup

When I was youngster, creamed corn was about the only vegetable I'd ever eat.  I never grew tired of it  and when entreated to try something new, I would practically convulse at the thought. And heaven knows I'd never eat parsnips or even try them. Never. Parsnips were something that my grandmother ate (she also ate tripe and pickled pig's feet, so, in my mind, she was not exactly a reliable taste tester).

Time passed, I've made a conscious effort to "grow up" my taste buds and  I have learned to appreciate the cruciferous vegetables, greens, gourds, root vegetables, but parsnips escaped me until much later.  And now?  Well, I've acquired a taste for them, and quite frankly they'll never be a favorite, but they are so good for you that I keep trying them.  If you've never tried them, they look a lot like carrots in shape, though they're creamy white.  To me they taste somewhere between a carrot and a turnip--they have a natural sweetness like a carrot but have a more assertive flavor akin to a turnip.  

One of my favorite blogs is The English Kitchen.  Marie is a transplanted Canadian now residing in England, and she is discovering English cooking and sharing her delicious results and discoveries.  Her blog is beautifully photographed and written; everything she prepares looks delicious.  And it was there that I found this recipe for parsnip, apple and thyme soup.  I hope you take some time to peruse her blog and maybe even try this soup. It reminds me of the soups I've tried from Campbell's Select soups.

(from The English Kitchen)

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large cooking apple, peeled and chopped (I used 3 small Granny Smiths)
5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive, croutons and some fresh thyme leaves as garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and curry powder. Cook and stir over medium low heat until the onion softens.

Stir in the parsnips, apple and thyme sprig. Cook and stir to coat in the oil and spice. (You may need to add a bit more oil). Add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the apple and parsnip is quite soft.

Puree until smooth with a stick blender or in a blender in small batches, taking care to cover the blender so you don't get burned. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to the pot and stir in the cream and heat through.

Serve hot, ladled into heated bowls. Top each serving with a drizzle of olive oil, some croutons and some thyme leaves.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chicken with Lemon Sauce

Chicken and lemon has to be one of my favorite all-time pairings, and this recipe did not disappoint. While I didn't love it as some of the other reviewers on, I did like it and would certainly make it again. (This recipe is still my favorite, but eeks, all those delicious calories!)   It's pretty quick and easy,  has lots of flavor, and lots of eye appeal.  The crust on the chicken is a beautiful golden brown; the lemon sauce  is nicely flecked with parsley.  The sauce that ran into the broccoli did wonders for the broccoli.  Yum!

Chicken with Lemon Sauce

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved **
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
2 eggs **
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried  parsley

Flatten chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.
In a shallow bowl, combine 4 tablespoons flour, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, beat the eggs. Dip chicken into eggs; coat with flour mixture.

In a large skillet, cook chicken in 1 tablespoon butter and oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour, salt and pepper; add broth and stir until smooth.

Add apple juice to the skillet you cooked the chicken in, stirring to loosen any browned bits. Stir broth mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Stir in lemon juice; cook for 1 minute. Add parsley and remaining butter; cook and stir until butter is melted. Serve over chicken.

Recipes says it serves 2, but I would say it serves 4, giving each person one half of the chicken breast.  

NOTES:  I used 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and skipped flattening them as they are already pretty thin.

No way did I think I needed 2 eggs to dip the chicken in; reduced the amount to 1 egg and it was more than adequate.

The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley;  I substituted 1 teaspoon dried and it worked fine.