Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread Recipe

This bread recipe is all over the Internet so by reproducing it here I'm not really contributing anything new except for my thoughts and opinions about it. Lately I've been having a hard time with the sourdough so this is my fall-back favorite.

This is the recipe that sparked my interest in bread baking. The best features of this bread:
  • it's easy ("no-knead"). You really need know nothing about bread making whatsoever to make this recipe. It's perfect for a beginner.
  • the bread is crusty and rustic looking, with an airy, light crumb
  • good shape with many flexible applications: sandwiches, toasts, garlic bread
  • as a "prepare the dough one night, bake the next night" recipe, this works for people like me who work all day


  • it requires a 6-8 quart pot with a lid. The pot I use is slightly smaller--probably no more than 4 or 5 quarts. I had to buy this pot specially for making this bread. It was a great investment. By the way, I've made this bread in a ceramic casserole dish without a lid and I can safely say it makes a difference. The crust was wrong.

I had my daughter make this loaf, so the pictures below were taken of her.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Recipe (as featured on his website and in his book, My Bread--but I just noticed that the recipe on his website is slightly different than the recipe that I copied by hand out of his book) Preparation time: about 15 minutes of actual work, 24 hours to make a loaf

*Note that my version of this recipe is slightly different from the original, namely in the proofing time. I go for a longer proofing time so I can bake during the work week, but I've also found that the longer proofing time makes for a lighter loaf.

3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon active or instant dry yeast
1 1/3 cup cool water

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the water. Work ingredients with your hands to form a wet and somewhat sticky dough. This takes about 4 minutes. Once the dough has been mixed, place it back in the bowl and cover with a hand towel. I usually do this around 8PM at night. Let the dough sit someplace warmish for about 18 hours.
  2. Let the dough rise for around 15-21 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. I usually let it sit until 5PM the following night. The dough will be risen and there will be bubbles at the surface. Scrape the sides of the dough off the bowl and tuck the sides of the dough underneath so it forms a deflated, semi-loose ball.
  3. Let the dough sit in a warm place with a hand towel over the bowl. After an hour and a half, turn on the oven to 475 degrees and place the ceramic dish with lid inside.
  4. When the dough has been sitting for two hours, scrape the sides of the dough off the bowl and tuck the sides of the dough underneath so it forms a deflated, semi-loose ball. Lightly flour the surface of the dough.
  5. Put the dough in the ceramic pot, then bake at 475 for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn down the oven to 400 degrees and remove the lid. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
I actually have no wire rack so I cool my bread loaves on a plate and turn them upside down after 20-30 minutes. I make a point to be in the kitchen for the first 5 or 10 minutes after removing the loaf from the oven because this loaf, more than other loaves I have baked, sings:)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Decadent Raspberry Streusel Muffins

I'm going to take a sec to plug an awesome vegetarian cookbook. Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison is the best cookbook I own that I rarely ever use. Why don't I use it, you ask? There are too many awesome recipes. This, like, 700 page tome of vegetarian cooking is so comprehensive that I don't know where to start.

So big and beautiful, I don't know where to start. That's why I don't use it. Pathetic reason.

Need a recipe for pizza? This book has 16. Have only 5 minutes and like 6 different vegetables and you really, really want to make soup? there's a recipe in here to help you. Want to make mayonnaise? Pages 58, 59, 93 and 60.

Most recipes in this book are described in reasonable terms--two paragraphs or fewer--and the ingredients are the sort of foods that most vegetarians--nay, most humans--keep on hand.

Vegetarians will be blown away by this book. Blown away.

So, I pulled this book off my shelf today and made some raspberry streusel muffins. They are delicate and delicious, with a moist interior and a crunchy, crumbly topping. I used fresh raspberries rather than frozen, and that has made all the difference.

Raspberry Streusel Muffins, preparation time: approximately 45 minutes
Makes approximately 15 muffins.

Muffin Ingredients:

3/4 cup whole wheat white flour
1 3/4 cups all purpose pastry flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 /12 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Streusel Ingredients:

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat white flour
1/4 cup oats
1/2 t grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon
4 T cold butter


Preheat oven 375 F. Combine dry ingredients for muffins in one bowl, wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine into a rough mixture; don't over mix. Stir in raspberries.

Combine streusel ingredients in blender or food processor and mix until crumby.

Fill greased muffin trays to the top with batter and sprinkle with streusel. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until brown and risen. Let cool somewhat before eating.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Creamy Corn Chowder

K, so when I get paid or get my tax refund, I'm going to start my next brew, but I can't decide what kind. The stout is fabulous but now I want to go lighter. Maybe an IPA...?

The weather outside the last couple of days is cold and overcast, so I'm sharing this recipe for my family's favorite corn chowder.

Creamy Corn Chowder
preparation time: 30 minutes

  • One large potato
  • One small red onion
  • One red bell pepper
  • One to two heads of broccoli
  • Flour
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Milk (2 ½ cups)
  • Veggie broth (1 ¼ cups)
  • Corn (3 cups)
  • Grated cheese (1 cup)
Cut up potato, red onion, red bell pepper, broccoli (or green beans, or snap peas, or some other green vegetable—I usually use whatever is on-hand) and sauté together in olive oil on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Season with minced garlic and salt. Once it has sautéed to your liking, mix with two tablespoons flour and turn off heat.

In a large pot over the stove, mix two and a half cups of milk and one and one fourth cup veggie broth.

Mix sautéed veggies from step 1 into the pot with the milk and veggie broth. Turn on high heat. Add corn. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes, until potatoes are fully cooked.
Mix in ¾ cup of cheese. When the cheese is fully mixed, the soup is ready.
Serve each bowl with a little of the remaining cheese garnishing the top.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Warm, Comforting VEGAN Beef Stew

People who live where I live have no right to complain about the weather. We do it all the same. It's been cold the last few weeks. The wind picked up the other night and the doors on the plastic shed-like thing in the back yard were flapping and banging and the cat's bed flew around the yard and the stringed lights under the porch awning were clanking against each other and when I went out in my pajamas to secure the fort, my robe flapped around my ankles and my hair whipped around and covered my eyes. And it was COLD. Not like Wisconsin or Canada or Alaska cold, but cold. Possibly even 40 degrees outside. Cold like I want to eat a nice, hot, cheap, comforting bowl of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. That's exactly what I might have done when I was 13 years old, but now as a former-meat-eater-turned-vegetarian I can't eat Dinty Moore anymore. We (in my family) used to call it Denny Moore. Or maybe that was just me. Ahh. Denny Moore.

K, so I have a great beef stew recipe. It's 100% vegan and since I can barely remember what Dinty Moore tasted like now, I tell myself that this recipe is as satisfying--nay, more satisfying than Dinty Moore. Or at least as satisfying. If you knew how high a regard I had for Dinty Moore as a girl you'd realize that this is a seriously good recipe.

Vegan Beef Stew, preparation time: 45 minutes

Stew Ingredients:

1 8oz package seitan, cubed
1 large onion chopped
1 quart vegetable broth
5 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tamari
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
4 of each large carrots and large peeled potatoes coarsely chopped
1 tomato seeded and diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon each of pepper and basil
3 tablespoons soybean margarine
5 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with water until not lumpy

Gravy Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stew Instructions: Combine stew ingredients and heat over stove until the potatoes and carrots are cooked. We like our beef stew really thick in my house, so while this is cooking, I make a separate gravy.

Gravy Instructions:

Heat vegetable oil, onion and garlic in a pan on medium heat until onion is soft and translucent. Stir in flour and lower temperature. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir occasionally.

Serve stew in a bowl with a spoonful of gravy on top. Mix. It's delicious.

As a side note, I like to prepare this the night before and put it in the crock pot on a low setting. I make the gravy when I get home (gravy takes about 10 minutes).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Favorite pasta salad

Monday through Thursday I make lunches for the Other Adult to take to work. Not sure how I got into this routine, I just did. I guess I do it cause I kind of own the kitchen and it's more difficult for her to get into the kitchen and do things in there when I'm doing my own thing in there all night long. Once a week or once every two weeks I'll send a pasta salad of some kind. I try to shake it up and keep the recipes interesting, but the unfortunate truth about pasta salad is this: there's really only one recipe out there, and every pasta salad is a variation of that one recipe.

Every pasta salad recipe that I have come across has the following things:
1) pasta
2) wetting agent (usually like an oily dressing but could be mayonnaise based or pesto or something else)
3) spice/flavor
4) vegetables
5) meat or meat substitute
6) cheese

Of all the pasta salads I've ever made, our favorite is this variation, which I just think of as Favorite Pasta Salad.

Favorite Pasta Salad prep time: 15ish minutes
  • pasta
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • diced onion, bell peppers and tomato
  • sliced sausage (I use Tofurkey Beer Brats)
  • cubed fresh mozzarella

Cook pasta. Bake sausage slices for about 5-10 minutes on 375. Combine ingredients in a bowl. I'm not giving quantities for the ingredients because I never measure, and I think it's all a matter of your own preference anyway. The Other Adult prefers it heavy on the sausage and light on the tomato and onion. Plus she likes the tomato and onion in really, really small pieces. I add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.