Dr. Joe’s Everyday Bread

20 May

bread everyday

This started out as a very popular recipe from the New York Times for no-knead bread. It uses only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast (unless you modify it with other grains). My husband, Joe (the Dr. is for his PhD in English), adapted the New York Times recipe and now makes this bread regularly. It is indeed our “everyday bread” recipe.

You can vary the basic recipe by replacing a cup of the flour with whole wheat flour or raw oats or replacing half a cup of flour with oat bran, wheat bran or fine bulghur.

It’s easy to make a very tasty bread without a lot of effort, but you do need to plan ahead, because the dough needs to rise for 8 to12 hours. We mix the dough in the evening, cover it loosely and let it rise overnight, then shape and bake it in the morning.

You can use all the dough to make two to six loaves, depending on size. You can make traditional oblong loaves in loaf pans or round “boules” (three to six depending on size) on a flat baking sheet. The recipe below assumes you will be using all the dough at once.

But here’s another method, for making just one loaf at a time. After you’ve mixed up the dough, take out enough for one loaf (whatever size you like) and put the rest into a lidded container in the fridge. (The dough will keep rising for a few hours so make sure the container has plenty of headroom.) Follow the recipe below for your first loaf.

When you’re ready to make another loaf from the reserved dough, take out a lump of cold dough and shape it into an oblong loaf or ball. Put the oblong into a loaf pan or the ball on a piece of parchment paper on your counter. Cover the loaf with a slightly damp tea towel (or, for a ball, with a large inverted bowl). Let the dough warm up and rise for two or three hours before baking.

The dough will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Here’s a good method for making a single round “boule.” Take a lump of dough and form it into a sphere that will fit into a Dutch oven or similar heavy metal lidded pot. Let the dough rise on parchment paper on the counter for about an hour for just-mixed dough or for two to three hours for dough from the fridge.

When you turn the oven on to preheat, place the empty pot with its lid into the oven. Just before baking, slash the dough three or four times with a sharp knife and spray or brush it with water. Pick up the parchment paper and carefully place the dough ball inside the Dutch oven. Cover the pot and put it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. (Be sure to use good oven mitts because the pot will be very hot!)

A couple of helpful tips: Joe loves his “Swedish dough hook” for mixing up the dough. You can find them online. (Amazon calls it a “Danish dough hook,”and the King Arthur flour folks call it a “dough whisk.”) And a shower cap is great for covering the bowl containing your rising dough because it will expand if the dough rises byond the top of the bowl.

Ingredients:

7 cups flour, preferably bread flour
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. granulated or instant yeast
3 cups water (room temperature)
1 additional cup flour

Directions:

Mix the 7 cups of flour, the salt and the yeast in a large, rigid bowl. Add the water and stir with the dough hook or a large wooden spoon, being careful to incorporate all of the flour mixture; don’t worry if the dough is a little lumpy.

Cover the bowl and leave it at room temperature overnight, or at least six hours (up to 18 hours).

After the dough has risen (usually the next morning), tip the dough onto a large board or a counter covered with flour; use a rigid spatula to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl.

Knead for about a minute, working in enough additional flour so the dough becomes elastic and is no longer sticky.

Use a large knife to cut the dough into the number of loaves you want. Line your loaf pans or flat baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the dough into oblong loaves or round boules. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slash marks into the top of each.

Let the dough rest for an hour, covered loosely with a clean tea towel or a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bake large loaves for 25 to 30 minutes; small loaves will take a little less time. The bread should be golden-brown on top and should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Vegetarian chili

5 May

chili vegetarian

Here is a very good social isolation recipe, because it takes a long time to measure out the long list of ingredients and it makes a large amount, so you’ll have enough for several meals. It lasts a long time in the fridge, and it freezes well. So make sure you have everything on hand and start measuring! Once you’ve done that, the cooking is a snap.

You can control the heat mainly by the amount of cayenne pepper; the other spices add more flavor than heat.

The original recipe called for less zucchini and a small eggplant, but we didn’t really like the eggplant in it so we used more zuke. I also don’t care for green pepper so I use two red, yellow or orange peppers.

Ingredients:

2 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. dried cumin
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
4 small zucchini or yellow squash, or some of each (about 1 lb.), cut in 1-inch cubes
4 plum tomatoes, peeled (soak in boiling water for 1 minute; peels slip right off)
1 (14-oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Grated rind of half an orange or lemon
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. ketchup
⅓ cup oil
3 cans beans (any combination of kidney beans, cannelini beans, black beans, pinto beans, Great Northern beans, black-eyed peas), drained
¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 Tbs. dried)
Optional toppings: chopped red onion, sour cream, shredded Cheddar or Mexican Blend cheese

Directions:

Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, mustard, cayenne, and cumin in a small bowl. Combine the thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, rind, honey and ketchup in another bowl.

Heat the oil and fry the first group of spices for a few minutes. Add the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the second group of seasonings, the zucchini, and the tomatoes and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the beans and parsley and cook for another 10 minutes or until the zucchini is soft.

Serve over brown rice to make a complete meal.

Top, if desired, with chopped red onion, sour cream and shredded cheese.

Serves at least 8

Greek Lentil & Spinach Soup with Lemon

23 Apr

Lentil soup Greek

Hi friends! I hope you haven’t given up on me although I’ve been MIA for several months. First we were getting ready to move, and then we moved, and then we got locked down. So now that we’re unpacked and as settled as we can be without going out to do any of the things we need to do, we have time to do some cooking. We just made this rather complex lentil soup (complex because of so many ingredients, which took us awhile to assemble), and it was deelish! It’s vegan, gluten-free and low fat too! Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 lb. brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
10 cups vegetable broth or water
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1½ tsp. cumin seeds
2½ tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes ( 1¼ lb.), scrubbed and cut into ½-inch dice
10 oz. baby spinach, chopped
1 small butternut squash (1 lb.) peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt (or more to taste)
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
⅓ cup lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, jalapeno, coriander, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, partly covered, about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, re-cover and cook another 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, stirring, until it starts to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup; deglaze the pan if necessary with a little of the soup liquid. Add the salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves.

Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl.

Lemony garlicky cauliflower

8 Dec

cauliflower lemon & garlicI was preparing a company dinner and didn’t want to have to worry about getting yet another dish heated at the right time but not overcooked , so I pulled out this recipe I clipped from the New York Times a few weeks earlier.

It’s a very tasty marinated cauliflower salad that I served as a vegetable. Be aware that you need to prepare it a day ahead of time so the cauliflower can marinate and all the wonderful flavors can meld.

I didn’t have any whole cumin but I did have whole coriander seeds, so I mushed them up with a mortar and pestle. I threw in a little ground cumin too, just for the taste. The flavors were very good together. I didn’t have fresh basil or dill, and didn’t want to fork out the exorbitant cost to buy it, so I used dried basil, figuring that the ample liquid and long marinating time would soften it sufficiently. Fresh would probably be preferable! Fresh parsley is a must.

If you seed the jalapeno before chopping, it won’t be too hot. If you don’t like a little zing of heat, leave out the red pepper flakes, but I think they add a lot of flavor.

The original recipe called for three-quarters of a cup of olive oil, which I thought sounded like a lot. So I used a half-cup, maybe a little more, and it seemed to work fine. You might have to work a little harder to stir it up so that all the cauliflower florets get coated by the marinade, but you won’t waste as much oil.

Don’t worry if you have leftovers — this will keep for a good several days in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (about 8 cups)
1 lemon, plus more lemon juice to taste if necessary
1¼ tsp. fine sea salt, plus more to taste if necessary
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh dill or basil
½ cup chopped parsley leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves finely grated or minced
2 tsp. whole cumin or cracked coriander seeds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Finely grate the zest of the lemon into a large, heatproof bowl, then halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice. Add the salt and stir to dissolve.

Add the cauliflower florets, jalapeno, scallions, dill or basil and parsley and toss to combine.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil until it is hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and cumin or coriander and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and stir in red pepper flakes, if using.

Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and stir well. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours, to let the flavors mingle.

Toss well before serving, adding more salt and/or lemon juice if necessary. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.

Serves 8 to 10

 

Ginger snaps

16 Oct

ginger-snaps.jpgHere’s a great fall recipe, perfect for Halloween parties as well as any old time. They just taste like autumn! One of the best things about these cookies is they last a long time. They start out somewhat soft (though with a definite “bite”) but after a few days they get hard and crunchy and may be even better than fresh-out-of-the-oven.

I got the recipe from a guy I once worked with, who brought them to a potluck. Everyone wanted the recipe. Of course it was his wife who had made them, and she got the recipe from her grandmother, so it has a pedigree!

Ingredients:

¾ cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2¼ cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
Granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add the molasses and egg and mix well.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

Take a small amount of dough, roll it into a ball in your palms and then roll the ball in a small bowl of granulated sugar. Place the balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Don’t be tempted to flatten the balls: they’ll do that on their own. Bake for 10-11 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

 

Stuffed cabbage

4 Oct

stuffed cabbage

Sukkot, the 7-day Jewish holiday of Sukkot that commemorates the ancient Israelites’ wandering in the desert and also celebrates the fall harvest, starts on the evening of October 13 this year. It’s traditional to serve fall-harvested vegetables, and stuffed cabbage is one of my favorite Sukkot dishes. It reminds me of my Polish- and Russian-born grandmothers. They called the rolls prakas. Others called them holischkes.

How can something that smells so awful taste so delicious? Cooked cabbage is a that cliche of novels and movies about immigrants in tenement houses. I will be the first to admit that the scent of cooking cabbage is not up there with fresh bread and popcorn as an enticing aroma. Cooking it as stuffed cabbage is not as bad, because you also get the bouquet of cooking meat and tomato sauce. But don’t be put off by the fear of cooking cabbage! The end result is well worth it. (When you’re done you can burn a nice-smelling candle to deodorize your kitchen.)

Lots of recipes tell you to boil the head of cabbage and then separate the leaves. This is a mess, because you need a huge pot, and then you have to handle a hot head of cabbage. Others say to cut the leaves off the head of cabbage and parboil them. This is also unsatisfactory, because it’s very hard to get intact leaves off a raw head of cabbage—and then you still have to deal with hot cabbage leaves dripping hot water all over your kitchen.

I have a better way, which I learned from my beloved late Aunt Lili. The only drawback is it takes some planning. At least a week before the holiday, buy your cabbage, wrap it well in foil, and stick it in the freezer. A few days later,  take it from the freezer and put it in your fridge. A block of frozen cabbage takes a long time to defrost, so allow at least five days! You can speed up the process by defrosting it on your counter, but you’ll still need a day or two. Put the frozen cabbage into a large bowl or deep platter, because a lot of water will seep out as it defrosts.

When the cabbage is completely defrosted, cut out the core, and the leaves will just fall away, nice and soft and ready for rolling.

Some people like to make “unstuffed cabbage” by chopping up the cabbage and making meatballs out of the stuffing, then cooking it all together in the tomato sauce. This may be slightly less work, but honestly, the taste is not as good, and you still have to roll the meatballs. The only excuse for doing it this way is if you forget to freeze and thaw your cabbage.

Six years ago I was writing another food blog called Feed the Spirit, part of an online magazine called Read the Spirit, which is still published weekly. I wrote about the Sukkot holiday and included this recipe for stuffed cabbage, and I made this little video to show how easy it is to stuff the leaves.

Ingredients

One large, green cabbage, frozen and then defrosted
2 lb. ground beef
1 cup cooked white rice
1 small onion, chopped fine, or 2 Tbs. dehydrated onion flakes
Garlic powder to taste
1 egg
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 cups water (use the the tomato paste can to measure so you can rinse out the paste that sticks after you spoon it out)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. brown sugar
½ tsp. salt or to taste
Black pepper to taste
A handful of black raisins

Directions

Combine the ground beef, rice, onion, garlic and egg. Mix well.

Cut the core out of the cabbage and separate the leaves. Cut off any really hard core pieces from the bottom of each leaf, but save the pieces you cut off. Pile the leaves on a plate and set aside.

Place a cabbage leaf on a cutting board or counter and place a few tablespoons of the meat mixture on the leaf near the bottom; mold it into a log shape. Fold the bottom of the leaf up around the filling, then fold in the sides and roll up the leaf into a neat package. Set the filled rolls aside, seam side down, on a plate or cutting board.

When you’ve used up all the meat, chop up any remaining cabbage and put it, together with the pieces you cut from the bottom of the leaves, into a large Dutch oven or slow cooker. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, over the chopped-up cabbage.

Combine the tomato paste, water, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. The sauce should be fairly thick. Take a tiny taste to see if you like the balance, and add more lemon juice, brown sugar or salt and pepper if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Try to cover the tops of all the rolls with sauce, but the rolls won’t be submerged in sauce yet. The cabbage and meat will produce a lot of “juice” and increase the volume of sauce, so don’t fill your pot or slow cooker to the very brim. You may need to use two pots.

Throw a handful of raisins into the pot(s) after you’ve put in the sauce.

If you use a slow cooker, cook the dish on “high” for at least six hours. If you use a Dutch oven, cover the pot and heat on a medium-high flame until the liquid boils. Now you have a choice: you can continue to cook on the stovetop at a simmer, or you can put the pot in a 300-degree oven. Either way, you will need to cook the stuffed cabbage for about three hours.

You can probably use an Instant Pot, but I haven’t done so and I can’t advise you on how long to cook it — probably about an hour.

Another suggestion, useful if you plan to freeze the cabbage rolls: place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, in an oblong aluminum foil baking pan and pour the sauce over. Cover with foil and cook in the oven. Then you can just pop the whole pan into the freezer after it cools.

Check periodically to be sure the tops of the cabbage rolls aren’t getting too dry and that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add water as necessary. As the cabbage cooks, the sauce should get much thinner in consistency.

This amount of meat, rice and cabbage will make about 20 cabbage rolls of varying sizes.

The cabbage rolls will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. They also freeze very well.

Red Curried Tofu

16 Jun

Red curried tofuI hosted a lunch meeting last week and one of the guests was a gluten-free almost-vegan (well, maybe she’d eat one egg, she told me). I figured my best bet would be an Asian vegan dish.

I got this recipe from a magazine – which one I do not know, possibly the late, lamented Cooking Light – and I really like it. It’s fast and easy to make, tasty and healthy. According to the recipe, it has only 292 calories per serving, 7 grams of fat and 3.5 grams of fiber so it’s a good Weight Watchers choice. We don’t like cilantro, so we substitute parsley.

This dish is very flavorful and nicely spicy. The heat comes from the Chinese chili paste, so if you don’t like it hot, use less (or even none) and if you like a lot of heat, use a little more.

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked long-grain white or brown rice
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2½ cups onion, sliced vertically
1 cup yellow or red bell pepper strips
1½ tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. honey
½ tsp. Chinese chili paste with garlic
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 12-15 oz. package firm or extra-firm reduced fat tofu
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro (or parsley)
¼ cup chopped dry-roasted cashews

Directions:

Drain the tofu and wrap it in a clean dish towel. Place a dish or bowl on top to weight it down slightly and leave it while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cook the rice as you normally would or according to the package directions.

While the rice is cooking, in a small bowl, combine the curry powder, coriander, turmeric and salt. In another small bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey and chili paste.

Heat sesame and vegetable oils in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper strips and sauté about 4 minutes until tender. Stir in curry, coriander, turmeric and salt, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, then the soy sauce mixture.

Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and add to the skillet. Stir well so that the every piece of tofu is coated with sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two minutes or until thoroughly heated.

(If you want to prepare this ahead of time, do the tofu mixture first. Reheat it just before you’re ready to serve.)

Serve over rice, and sprinkle the chopped cilantro (or parsley) and chopped cashews on top.

Serves 4