Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brother Bandera's Italian Bread

A new one from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking. I was looking for a good italian bread for this coming week since I have a lot of soups on the menu and I wanted one that didn't require a 24-hour slow rise in the fridge.

This one was a workout to knead! The dough ends up being very dry but the resulting loaves were unbelievably tender.

Brother Bandera's Italian Bread

2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
2 cups hot water
4 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
8 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cup whole wheat and 6 1/2 cups all-purpose)

Combine the yeast, honey, water and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir until the yeast and salt are dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup of oil. Beat 10 minutes, gradually adding in about 6 cups of flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.

Lightly grease a large bowl with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk - about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough. Turn out again and knead gently for 2 minutes. Divide into 3 balls and flatten each ball with a rolling pin into a rectangle approximately 10 x 12 inches. Roll each rectangle into a torpedo shape. Start from the longer side of the rectangle and fold in approximately 1/3 of the dough, pinching along the seam to seal and remove any air spaces. Fold the remaining 1/3 piece of dough over, pinching along the seam again, rolling it back and forth a little to be certain. Fold the ends under towards the seam side and pinch closed.

Grease two baking sheets. Place the loaves on the baking sheets, seams and tuck sides down. Make three 1-inch-deep diagonal slashes evenly spaced along the loaf. Mist with water until they are thoroughly damp. Cover with a lightly damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Mist the bread again. Place in a cold oven set at 375º. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. During the baking, spray the loaves a couple more times - at the 10-minute mark and the 15 -minute mark. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Beef Stock

I've been making my own chicken and turkey stock for a couple years now. It's unbelievably tasty and easy to do.

This is my first time at beef stock. I had some leftover beef rib bones from a standing rib roast. I added a couple of neck bones to round out the amount. Since the beef bones were already well roasted, I did not roast them a 2nd time. If the bones you pick up are raw, roast them with the vegetables first and then add them to the stock pot.

Beef Stock

3 lbs beef bones
2 medium onions, quartered, skins on
2 large carrot sticks, cut into 3" pieces
2 celery sticks, cut into 3" pieces
1 leek, cut into large pieces
3 dehydrated tomato halves
1 bouquet garni
16 cups of water

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer for 8 hours, skimming off foam as it appears and adding water as necessary.

Remove from heat. Remove and discard solids. If desired, run thru a fat separator to skim off uncessesary fat. Let cool. Remove any additional fat that appears. Store in air-tight containers (I'm a big fan of the Ziploc Twist n' Loc 4 cup ones) overnight in the refrigerator.

Stock will keep in the fridge for a week or so and frozen indefinitely.

Healthy Granola

This is an oldie but goodie from my very first cookbook - The Healthy College Cookbook. Over the years I've modified it (surprised?) and, this last time around, I gave it an interesting twist - making a reduction of the barley malt to substitute for the corn syrup.

Healthy Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup hot (but not boiling) water
1/4 cup barley malt

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, seeds and nuts.

In a 2-cup, microwave proof measuring cup, combine the hot water and barley malt. Stir until dissolved. Place in the microwave and cook on high about 3 minutes - be careful to not boil over. Stir, then heat another 3 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. In a separate bowl, combine the malt mixture with the butter, vegetable oil and molasses, stirring until well combined. Pour onto the oat mixture and stir until well coated.

Spread the mixture on a shallow baking pan. Bake about 15 minutes, stirring periodically, until it's dry.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This recipe comes courtesy of that bastion of authentic Indian cuisine - The Joy of Cooking. It actually turned out fairly well, I think. Personally I would have liked to have a longer rise time but I started it at 8:30pm so we could have it with Curried Chickpeas with Veggies the next day.

This was an easy one to mix by hand rather than hauling out the KitchenAid. If you've never made bread with just a bowl and wooden spoon, this would be the place to start. The other thing I liked about this recipe is it re-heated well the next day when wrapped in a slightly moist paper towel.


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast

3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon water, as needed

Optional garnish - minced scallions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced garlic....

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand until a soft ball of dough is formed. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours.

Place a pizza or baking stone in the oven. Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Punch down the dough and divide equally into 4 pieces. Roll into balls, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out each ball of dough on a floured surface to an oval, 1/4 inch thick. Brush the tops with melted butter. If desired, sprinkle garnish on top.

Place as many dough ovals as will fit without touching each other directly on the baking stone or sheet and bake until each oval is puffy and just beginning to turn golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve warm.