Just a little ole working gal, who loves food

Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Artisan Crusty Bread!

I have been a very busy home cook lately and have a tonne of recipes to upload and write. But I have to post this one I made yesterday first....mostly because it was so darn easy and cook! Who doesn't like fresh warm crusty bread...slathered in butter. My husband and I almost ate the entire loaf of the Jalapeno Cheddar...it was THAT GOOD!

Anyhow, Recipe time!!

3 Cups All Purpose Flour (unbleached)
3 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Package Instant Dry Yeast (About 3 Tsp)
3 Cups Warm Water

These are just the ingredients for the basic bread. I got Creative!!

In a large bowl combine the Flour, Salt and Dry Yeast.

 Add your warm water and start to combine with a spatula then with your hands. Add a touch more water if the dough is too dry..you want it fairly sticky.
 I split this batch in half to make 2 large loaves, I also wanted to try 2 different flavours!
 I added 3/4 cup of grated Old Cheddar and 1 Jalapeno Minced.
 Combine with your hands until the cheese and jalapenos are incorporated into the dough. I left the second half of the dough plain.
 Place the dough into 2 bowls and cover with a dishcloth. Leave these alone for 8-10 Hours to rise...preferably somewhere warm like a bedroom or in my case, the dining room table that gets all the afternoon sun!!
 Once the dough has risen and doubled in size, place the dough on a heavily floured surface. You don't want to knead the crap out of this...just round it out. You still want it on the sticky side but with a light layer of flour on the outside. Now here is the key to baking this bread. You need a cast iron dutch oven (Le Cruset makes them, as well as Kitchen aid) with a lid. Heat your oven to 450F and place the empty Dutch Oven in to heat up for about 15 Minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and place the dough in the bottom of the pan. You will not need to grease or flour the pan.

 This was the plain loaf I made. I topped it with Coarse Sea Salt, A drizzle of Olive Oil and fresh Rosemary. Bake in the 450F oven for 30 Minutes covered, then 15 Minutes uncovered.
 I was actually amazed at how perfectly cooked this bread turned out!! Absolutly no sticking to the pan either!!

I didn't get the greatest picture of the Jalapeno Cheddar bread...but it was fantastic as well!
Try out some different flavours with this! Its an excellent base!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Breakfast Hash

I love making breakfast hash. Its a fantastic way to use up a lot of veggies in the fridge, and you can pretty much put anything you enjoy in it. I like it for dinner....mostly because Breakfast is my favourite mealtime!! Here is the Hash I made last week!

 Cook about a half pound of Bacon until Crispy, remove cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate and reserve bacon grease in the pan.
 Get all your veggies chopped up and ready. I used Onion (1/2), Corn (1 Cup), Red (1/2), Green (1/2) and Jalapeno Peppers (2, seeds removed).
 Throw 4 Scrubbed Red Potato's into your microwave for 3-5 Minutes...just to get the cooking process started. Then cube the potato's and add them to the frying pan with the bacon grease over medium heat.
 Start to saute the potato's, adding some Salt and Pepper at this point. Do not over stir...it will prevent the potato's from crisping up and you will be stuck with mashed potato's.
 Once the potato's are pretty cooked through and getting crispy, add your chopped veggies.
 Cook the veggies for about 5-10 minutes then add your bacon. Stir to combine and let all the flavours come together.
 In the meantime cook up your eggs! Sometimes we add the eggs right to the hash and make a sort of scrambled egg hash...but today I wanted over easy!
 Right before serving add a handful of chopped parsley!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Penne with Basil, Pine Nuts and Brown Butter Sauce

Right now I have an abundance of Tomato's and Basil in my Vegetable garden. Like a crazy amount that when friends come over I am sending them home with Ziploc bags full of tomato's. Here is one of my favourite pasta dishes that I use a lot of fresh basil for. Plus its super easy if you need a quick dinner!

 Take a large handful of basil and roughly chop it up. Set aside.
 In a saucepan, lightly toast about 2 tbsp of pine nuts, shaking the pan constantly to keep them from burning. Set these aside.
 In the same sauce pan melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat.
 Keep an eye on the butter, swirling it around constantly over the heat until it starts to get a nice golden brown colour like in the photo above. The butter should also start to take on a slightly nutty smell.
 Add back your pine nuts, basil and a dash of nutmeg. toss to combine.
Add your penne and plenty of fresh ground pepper and fresh shaved Parmesan. Bon Appetito!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meatballs with homemade marinara sauce

Its Tomato season!!! Yayyyy! And boy do I ever have an abundance of Tomato's this year! The hot weather with heavy occasional thunderstorms has given me an excellent harvest! Perfect for making marinara sauce!
Personally, I like using the Plum Tomato when making marinara. More flesh and less seeds then your conventional hot house tomato (Which I prefer to slice and eat raw!).

 Take about 1 dozen Ripe Plum tomato's and dump them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove after the 30 seconds and immediately run the tomato's under ice cold water
 This process allows you to easily peel the skins off the tomato. I didn't even need a knife!
 After the tomato's are all peeled, slice each in half and squeeze all the seeds out. Roughly chop the tomato flesh and set aside.
 In a large heavy bottomed pot add your veggies if you like. I like to add some mushrooms and Spanish onion. Saute over medium heat with a little butter, salt and pepper until veggies have softened.
 Next add all your tomato's and stir, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
 After about 5-10 minutes the tomato's will start letting our their juices and start to break down. At this point you can add about 3 cloves minced garlic.
 Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes on low. Adding any fresh herbs (Oregano and Basil for me) at about the 30 minute mark.
 After 45 minutes of simmering I take my hand held blender and puree the sauce.
 I still like it slightly chunky. Test the sauce at this point. Sometimes my tomato's can be very acidic..so I add a little brown sugar (1 Tbsp). Taste for salt and pepper at this point as well.
 Lastly add about 1/4 cup of red wine and allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. Afterwards, you can allow to cool and bottle up the sauce for future meals. I even freeze this and it works out pretty good. But if you are gonna make the meatballs, and I think you should,  you can start prepping them at this point.
 take 1 lb Lean Ground Sirloin and 1 lb Ground Pork. Combine.
 Add, 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs, 1 Cup Grated Parmesan, 2 Eggs, 3 Tbsp Chopped Parsley, 2 Minced Garlic Cloves, Salt and Pepper to taste.
 Combine really well.
 Form balls with the mixture. I like mine the size of the palm of my hand.
 In a large lightly oiled skillet brown the meatballs on each side.
 Place the browned meatballs in your simmering sauce. I use my spatula to push them in the sauce slightly but I do not stir at all while they are cooking in the sauce for the remaining couple of hours. Just make sure the stove is on really low.
And voila! Perfect Meatballs and marinara!