Posts tagged bread
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.

Continue reading chocolate chunk and sea salt challah.

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.

Continue reading challah.

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.

Continue reading sourdough, pear and chestnut stuffing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

bourbon banana bread with maple sugar

boozy maple sugar banana bread

Ok, so I felt kind of bad on Thursday throwing a salad your way as we were about get served with some serious rain, and by we, I mean those of us in New York and whoever else is dealing with less than June-like weather. A few of you wrote comments about bad weather elsewhere and my sunny thoughts go out to you. For the last few days I felt like I threw something totally ill-timed your way. Suggesting something you clearly cannot enjoy right away, it really isn’t fair, now is it?

Since we’re on the subject of not fair, what also isn’t fair is that for my birthday, which was nearly two months ago, I bought a stunning dress. A dress that made me look past the ridiculous price tag as it whispered sweet nothings into my ear. Oh it was something all right – pretty in an effortless sort of way, which is, as you know, the best kind out there. It was white with beautiful light and dark blue stripes. And I couldn’t wait to wear it. But some sad family news spoiled my party mood so I canceled it, and then, coupled with my grandmother’s passing and now the stress fractures from running, the dress’ outing has been delayed indefinitely (much like my posting of certain recipes!) and now the dress hangs wistfully in my closet awaiting the day when I wear something other than running shoes on my feet. Because you know, party dresses and running shoes are so hot right now.

the culpritsoooh the batter

So, I am posting something I should have posted over a month ago, but as things go around here, I’m very easily distracted. I see a shiny new recipe and whoosh – there goes my attention. Which means, that I hide these recipes from you much longer than I need to. And so I’m sorry, I’m trying to change my ways and do better. And I’m trying to turn our unfair rainy situation around for our own benefit.

I bet there’s not a reader out there who’s not made banana bread. In fact, it’s one of those things that people start out baking. It’s so ubiquitous and sits in every cook’s repertoire, like a little black dress. These quick breads are easy, you need two bowls to mix it and in minutes you have batter. What makes this perfect right about now is that it’s the perfect thing to bake when the weather is not cooperating. In fact, I think it’s the perfect rainy day thing to bake.

Banana bread fills your house with a smell that can only be described as heavenly. I could eat the whole loaf in one sitting, but we’re not going to get into that here. That’s between me and some elastic waist pants. What I want to tell you though is how I managed to make something kind of everyday and pedestrian, albeit comforting, into something rather sophisticated and dare I say, sexy?

mixing the dry ingredientsdelicately mixing

I’ve written about adding bourbon to my banana bread before, so that’s nothing new. And I’ve done the cranberry bit, so that’s old too. But I raised it up a notch this time around using maple sugar in place of regular white sugar, and that my friends, flipped my banana bread-baking world upside down. Because the hints of caramel and that earthy aftertaste you have with maple syrup shows up in this banana bread. I can’t quite sum up what maple sugar does to the banana bread, but trust me – it is good. So good, in fact, that I can’t quite put it into words. I can say this much, while it won’t bring back the sunshine and it won’t make everything better, it might make you appreciate staying in and baking, filling your house with a comforting smell. And afterward, you can sit back on your couch, a cup of tea at your side, a slice of banana bread on your plate while rain pours outside. And you know something crazy – you might not even mind it that much.

Continue reading bourbon banana bread with maple sugar.

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.

Continue reading no-knead bread.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

homemade croutons

for soup, salad, or snacking alone

One of my grandmothers lived through the siege of St. Petersburg
during the WWII. She watched her mother, among others, starve to death
and was lucky to make it out alive. I have few stories of her
experience during the war, as she doesn’t like to talk about it. And
while she doesn’t try to forget it, she is certainly not eager to dig
up and unearth those painful memories. I used to want to find out, but
I figured she’s earned her right to silence – she’s 93 years old,
after all.

Living through the war, when the daily rations of bread, bread that
was mixed with woodchips to increase its density and decrease the
flour content, were sparse; and after the war, when food supplies were
still limited; taught my grandmother not to throw out even food that’s
gone spoiled. She always tried to rescue it and always insisted that I
cleared my plate during a meal. She wasn’t the greatest cook, but
having experienced hunger unlike anything most of us have ever felt,
she just couldn’t bring herself to throw food in the garbage.

So naturally, when our bread would go stale, we wouldn’t dare throw it
out. We’d cut it into tiny cubes and toast them in the oven with salt,
until they got hard and crunchy. These were tiny Russian croutons –
“suhariki” as we called them – made primarily out of Russian rye
bread, the same kind you can now buy in most Russian stores. They look
like big, fat bricks and when fresh, smell like heaven. When our white
bread would go stale, we would sprinkle the cubes with milk, and shake
a mixture of sugar and cinnamon over them before sending them off to
the oven. I can’t even begin to tell you how good these sweet croutons
tasted!

things to do with stale, old bread

You’d think that this easy, practical tradition would stick with me,
but I cannot remember my mother or me making these croutons since we
arrived in the United States. In fact, I think I pretty much blanked
out on this treat until last week, when we had some sourdough bread
and I was lamenting that it was past its prime. KS, the practical boy
that he is, suggested I toast them in the oven to make homemade
croutons! And I jumped on the idea because it was so simple, so
practical and so tasty. So, credit him for the ingenuity!

I am on a cayenne kick lately, and KS loves the spice so much, he’ll
never complain about its presence in practically anything, so why not
give my croutons a little personality? I gave the bread cubes, also, a
generous sprinkling of extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and rosemary,
before sending them to a dry-heat sauna.

I suppose it’s fitting then, that around Russia’s V-Day, perhaps as a
tribute, I post about not wasting foods that are too easily put in the
garbage, even though it’s very easy to save them and create something
altogether. And what is more fitting to salvage than bread – the
staple of so many diets?

Continue reading homemade croutons.