Awesome Artisan Bread

Berries and Cocoa

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This bread is amazing. I have been making it for several years – and it always comes out great. This is truly the easiest to make, best tasting and cheapest (less than a dollar a loaf) bread you will ever make – and when I say easy – you might not want to tell your friends and family how really easy it is to make or they will expect you to make it ALL the time! There are only four ingredients and while it does take some planning, it is easy even for the novice baker. This bread is easy to prepare but you need to do it the night before you want to serve it as there is a long “resting” time – that is what makes this bread taste so great!  This recipe is adapted from Jim Lahey’s My Bread, available on Amazon.com.

Ingredients:

5  3/4 cups…

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Summer Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

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Happy end of summer! I love late August – it finally starts to cool off around here (meaning the temperatures finally start to dip into the double digits), and people who have gardens have so many extra veggies they start giving them away. They magically appear in the break room at work and in little plastic bags on your front doorstep- yay! The tomatoes are perfect- they have fully ripened on the vine and taste nothing like those red cardboard globes you find in the produce section in January. This dish is both easy to make and really delicious – and there is no such thing as using too much garlic in it….promise.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

6 ounces good feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
1/2 sourdough or french baguette, sliced on the diagonal

3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil, plus more for garnish

For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

For the tomatoes, up to an hour before your’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.

Place baugette slices on a foil lined pan and set oven to broil for 4-5 minutes.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Easy Bisquick Cinnamon Rolls

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Happy April – I’m back! I am overdue for a post – and I have been thinking about what my first April recipe should be. I am always working on healthy and seasonal recipes and am working towards cooking and baking with only what is in season. That is my plan for this spring – no excuse when I live in Northern California and there is an abundance of local fresh fruits and veggies.  In my role as a non profit event manager (I haven’t yet figured out how to pay the bills blogging – ideas, anyone?) the last six weeks or so I have been planning for my first two events of the season (back to back weekends) so this is the first weekend that I have time to write. We are spending the weekend at our family cabin on the west shore of Lake Tahoe and  I brought along a couple of books I have been wanting to read – Anna Quindlen’s “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” is on the top of the stack.  This recipe is nether locally sourced or healthy – but for a holiday weekend brunch it is perfect! Sometimes you just need some comfort food and a good book to recharge your batteries…. and yes we are going on a long bike ride later this afternoon to burn up all of the carbs!

Ingredients:

4 cups Bisquick dry mix

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons melted butter, divided

3/4 cup butter melted and cooled

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

4-5 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine Bisquick, buttermilk and 4 tablespoons sugar, using a fork and just combining until a dough is formed. In a separate medium bowl, combine brown sugar, remaining granulated sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, stir to mix thoroughly and set aside.

Generously flour rolling surface, then turn dough onto surface and using floured hands. Pat into rectangular shape. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out dough to approx 3/4 inch thickness. Pour remaining melted butter onto dough, using a pastry brush to spread evenly. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over dough. Start rolling dough from long end, away from you , jellyroll style until completely rolled. Slice roll into approximately 1 inch slices, using a wire pastry cutter or a large sharp floured knife. Arrange rolls side by side in a  9 X 13 glass or shiny metal plan, sprayed with a flour nonstick cooking spray or generously buttered. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until tops of rolls are just lightly browned. Make glaze and thin with additional milk to desired consistency. Remove rolls from pan individually, drizzling each with glaze before serving.

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Here are the rolls ready to go into the oven. Don’t worry they don’t have to be perfect – they will taste amazing!

Awesome Artisan Bread

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This bread is amazing. I have been making it for several years – and it always comes out great. This is truly the easiest to make, best tasting and cheapest (less than a dollar a loaf) bread you will ever make – and when I say easy – you might not want to tell your friends and family how really easy it is to make or they will expect you to make it ALL the time! There are only four ingredients and while it does take some planning, it is easy even for the novice baker. This bread is easy to prepare but you need to do it the night before you want to serve it as there is a long “resting” time – that is what makes this bread taste so great!  This recipe is adapted from Jim Lahey’s My Bread, available on Amazon.com.

Ingredients:

5  3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for your work surface

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2  2/3 cups cool water

In a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer with the nifty dough hook) combine the flour, yeast and salt. Turn mixer on low setting, adding the water slowly, while scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix well, combining ingredients thoroughly. The dough will be wet and sticky and look like this:

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the bread sit 12-18 hours at room temperature. When the dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty and the top is dotted with tiny bubbles, then it is ready. Next, lightly flour your hands and your work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over itself once or twice, then tuck under the ends to make a rough ball. Cover with floured towel or flour dusted waxed paper and let sit for two hours, or until doubled in size. After 1.5 hours, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place large (6-8 quart size) covered dutch oven in the oven and let it preheat. This is the big secret to the artisan loaf – the hot dutch oven creates a mini bread oven! (If your dutch oven doesn’t have an ovenproof knob, cover with aluminum foil). After two hours total, (dutch oven has been in the oven for 30 minutes to preheat) carefully remove pot from oven and “flip” dough over the pot, seam side up. If you need to, shake it a few times to evenly distribute in pan. Cover and bake for 40 minutes, then remove lid from pot and bake additional 10-15 minutes or until top of loaf is nice and crusty browned. Remove bread from pot and let cool completely on wire rack before cutting (I know it will be tempting, but the bread will be better if you wait until it is cooled completely before slicing.) This makes a giant sized  loaf – if you know you won’t use it all in a day or two, cut in half and freeze half for later. The next time you are at the grocery store, it will be so easy to pass the store bought loaves by, knowing how easy to make and delicious this bread is!