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Saturday, September 15, 2012

chocolate chunk and sea salt challah

chocolate chunk and sea salt challah

Believe it or not, but making challah with chocolate and sea salt had been on my mind for awhile now. Years ago, while on a walk getting lost in the city, which was still new to me, I got caught in the mother of all storms. Or so it seemed, because typical to my habits, I never check the weather when I head out for a day-long excursions. It’s a good thing I married a guy with several radar apps on his iPhone, otherwise, I might have gotten blown away by now.

Anyway, seemingly out of nowhere, the skies opened up and dumped what seemed like buckets and buckets of rain on New York. I couldn’t even see individual drops or streams. It was a wall of water coming down with the mightiest of forces. I ducked into the first café I could find to pass the time. Once seated, I quickly scanned the menu and ordered a chocolate brioche bread pudding. I expected a chocolate brioche made into bread pudding, but instead what arrived was regular brioche with generous chunks of chocolate tucked between the bread slices. Even better, I thought. But that wasn’t all. On top of the bread pudding, there was a slight shimmer – a delicate sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

challah

challah with honey and orange juice

This might be the worst week to be posting a recipe. From where I sit in the living room, I look over to the kitchen – a kitchen I’ll approach only tonight to make an easy weeknight dinner. We’ll feast on shrimp and roasted broccoli night per Andrew’s request. It’s a regular in our house.

Normally, my way of dealing with deadlines is to do a deep dive into the work and disappear in it all together. Sometimes I find myself at two o’clock in the afternoon still wearing my pajamas while typing furiously. The look of me, yet-to-shower, hair in a messy bun, glasses on the tip of my nose – is definitely not bringing sexy back, that’s for sure. But I get work done and by the time Andrew gets home – I somewhat try to pull it together, and by that I mean, yoga pants are my best friend right now.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

sourdough, pear and chestnut stuffing

sourdough, pear, and chestnut stuffing

I got so excited to make this stuffing, I forgot to take pictures. I mean, I took two here for you, but by the time this stuffing was ready and coming out of the oven, I was so excited to just eat it, I was all, camera what? And that’s how you, my darlings, got the shaft. Two measly pictures that are mediocre at best. This is what I’ve got for you. Sometimes I’m a selfish lady who thinks only of herself. And you know what’s even worse? This is the fourth year in a row that I made it and forgotten to take pictures. Oh Thanksgiving, you are such a distraction!

Stuffing is near and dear to my heart. I didn’t grow up with it, but perhaps it is precisely because I had a stuffing-less childhood that I am particularly attached to it. I get really upset when someone tells me they don’t like stuffing. I take it personally and feel a challenge coming on – the kind when I hear someone denouncing Brussels sprouts, except I’m pretty sure that more people will say they like stuffing than Brussels sprouts. And I’ve all but made it my personal duty in the cold fall and winter months to spread the Brussels sprouts love around. I’ve made a few converts so far.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

no-knead bread

no-knead bread

Oh hi, I know I’ve all but vanished into the void. I’m sorry about that. I’ve been wanting to write for over two weeks now, but somehow the words fail me. You see, dear reader, I found myself in a perfect storm, where too many pieces of my life came to a head all at once. And still yet, around me, so much uncertainty still swirls that when I sit down and want to write about bread and cabbage and biscotti, all of which I owe you belatedly, I just stare at an empty page with no so much as a single sentence that can be squeezed out.

Certainly, there are some lovely, shimmery things going on. Things that bring me to smile, and keep me grounded and sane – like running, and my upcoming half marathon on April 26, for instance. I ran a 10K in the pouring rain on Saturday in the park and felt so elated and overjoyed, I wanted to bottle up that feeling and send it to everyone I love. My friends have been unbelievably supportive and nurturing, reaching out, checking up on me, keeping up my spirits. I want to hug them all at once – a girl can get so lucky sometimes.

amazing things are to come from this... floured surface - up-close

Without going into much detail, there are some possibly dark uncertainties insofar as family health is concerned. There is much left to be learned and we’ll wait patiently on the results, but until then, it’s a lot of worrying and waking up in the middle of the night and just sitting quietly in the dark listening to a wind chime somewhere outside. That wind chime, I tell you, has been a sore spot for me ever since I moved into this apartment, which in every other way, has been idyllic. But in the last few weeks, when I have found myself piercing the inky darkness of the room, that wind chime with its infrequent sounds, made me feel a little less alone. I hope, I pray, for good news in the meantime. This is all I have – hope.

bubbles!!! cornmeal coating -- a bit much?

Quite frankly, there’s a small maelstrom of worrysome activity that all kind of came down all at once. Within days, really. And all I could do was just go for long runs, alphabetize my books, reorganize my kitchen. Little areas of control. They ground me.

ready for the oven

And it’s so easy, at a time like this, to feel very much not in control of anything – it gets quite overwhelming. My mind feels a bit scattered, like pieces of a puzzle that need to be put together to form one coherent thought, one complete picture. And it’s at times like these that I turn to my kitchen for guidance and comfort. For me, the kitchen has always been a place of clarity and sorting out my thoughts – it’s my equivalent of a yoga studio, except for head stands and downward-facing dogs and warrior poses, I have doughs and soups and roasts and cookies to make. I control the outcome and the results bring comfort.

no-knead bread

So when I found myself, two weeks back, so completely defeated I was at a loss for words. My parents were on the other end of the phone and I just stayed quiet – no words came to me, my mind drew a complete blank. When we finally hung up, I went to my pantry and took out the flour.

I had meant to make no-knead bread for so long, I am embarrassed to even say. I think I am the last person in the blogosphere to do it. And perhaps I was saving this recipe for just the kind of moment when you just have to bake bread. All else has failed – and you bake bread instead. You mix the flour and the yeast and water and somehow dough comes together and then rises and permeates your house with that sweet, fermented smell – the kind that makes your home smell comforting and cozy.

warm bread is pretty much the most amazing thing

I must say though that I wasn’t floored with it. I wanted more from my bread, and that, I suppose, comes from kneading and working with the dough. I loved eating the warm bread, loved it with eggs and cabbage, loved spreading ricotta over it and eating it with figs, drizzled honey and black pepper (oh yes, that’s coming!). But I wanted something more from it – what it is, I can’t quite put my finger on. Still, the satisfaction of having made my own bread brought great comfort and desire to make more. I’m curious to experiment with different flours and recipes. And I long for that smell to fill my apartment once more.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

pizza with caramelized onions, gorgonzola and pecans

Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola and Pecans

I’ve been trying to find a good way to tell you about this pizza – but haven’t found a clever way. I’ve been feeling rather un-clever, which might have something to do with a dire need for a short break from work. I did some quick math in my head and realized it’s been like eight months (8!) without a vacation – I need to get some time to regenerate, and I need to do it soon!

after 90 minutes of caramelization

So I’ll get right to the point – like my last post, I adapted this recipe from several sources: Deb over at Smitten Kitchen – and a combination of ideas from Epicurious.com. I had a friend coming over for dinner and I wanted to impress and please. I envisioned us having a dazzling conversation over pizza, salad and wine. I used Deb’s dough and the mustard part, but improvised with the onions, Gorgonzola and pecans. And people, if I had any figs on hand, they would have gone right on top of the onions! So, if you do make it, see if the figs work – I bet they’ll be excellent.

pecans

Deb notes that if your yeast/water blend doesn’t foam, start with a new batch. I gave this practice three tries and on the fourth, I gave up, and threw my foam-less yeast mix into flour and held my breath. My dough rose beautifully and was delicious – I think the foaming is always a good sign, but I was having issues with it that day and I wasn’t about to take no for an answer.

Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola and Pecans

Was the result delicious – yes! Was it easy to make? Again, yes. I know I keep claiming these recipes are easy, and I swear to you they are. The only thing with this pizza is that it takes time. Short on time after work? Make the dough the night before and let it rise overnight in the fridge. Cook your onions on another day and throw the whole thing together the following night. With a little planning, it’s totally doable and even more so, you’ll be rested in time for dinner to provide your companions with your usual wit and sparkle.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

potato, onion and swiss chard pizza

potato, onion and swiss chard pizza

Sometimes letting the recipe speak for itself if the best thing ever. Which is why I will keep this short and sweet and flood your screen with pictures and just the recipe. Pizza dough is one of the easiest things to make, and yet it gives you an amazing sense of accomplishment and this certain satisfaction of working with your hands.

pizza dough

I was very scared of working with yeast, and I’m not sure why. For some reason I thought it was a temperamental thing, yeast, that would not yield to me. But it did and so beautifully too. Pizza dough is going to be a regular thing, I tell you. And if you are short on time and can’t wait 2 hours for it to rise, just stick it in the fridge overnight and the next day it’ll all be ready for you. You just have let the dough come to room temperature, which could take a bit of time, but at least you have your work already done.

mise

I can’t tell you how easy this was and how much fun! Clean-up, I’ll confess was way less fun as scraping the doughy bits off the granite counter took Herculean patience – they are sticky little buggers. But it’s well worth the effort, I promise you. And unlike delicate pastry dough that fears humidity, this dough is way more robust. Just prepare for your apartment to heat up substantially – as the temperatures you’ll be using to cook your pizza will be scorching hot!

cornmeal

And speaking of scorching hot, July is finally upon us and with it are the scorching temperatures. I hope everyone’s 4th of July is festive, hot, and filled with picnics!

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