Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No Knead Challah

This is another fabulous and easy recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I made this bread last year around this time and I am about ready to make the dough again so I thought I would share it. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread but I love to make it around Easter. It is very similar to Paska which is also a rich egg-based bread that many Eastern Europeans put is their Pascha Baskets. I included it in my basket last year and will do so again.


Makes four 1-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (or neutral-tasting vegetable oil such as canola), plus more for greasing the cookie sheet
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
Poppy or sesame seeds for the top


1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter (or oil) with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (no airtight) food container.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using. Then allow the usual rest and rise time.

5. On baking day, butter or grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper, or a silicone mat. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

6. Divide the ball into thirds, using a dough scraper or knife. Roll the balls between your hands (or on a board), stretching, to form each into a long, thin rope. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. Braid the ropes, starting from the center and working to one end. Turn the loaf over, rotate it, and braid from the center out to the remaining end. This produces a loaf with a more uniform thickness than when braided from end to end.

7. Allow the bread to rest and rise on the prepared cookie sheet for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

8. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. If you're not using a stone in the oven, 5 minutes is adequate. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with the seeds.

9. Bake near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. The challah is done when golden brown, and the braids near the center of the loaf offer resistance to pressure. Due to the fat in the dough, challah will not form a hard, crackling crust.

10. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cranberry Upside-Downer

This recipe is for sure not a 'downer' but what is a 'downer' is that I did not make anything new or exciting this week. I made this tender yummy cake back in December I think. I brought it to a friend's house and it went over very well. It is very simple, a little rustic but still very pretty.


1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups of cranberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup red currant jelly, for glazing the cake


1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350F. Put an 8x2-inch round cake pan on a baking sheet.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

3. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour the mixture evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, then scatter the nuts over the mixture and top with the cranberries, smoothing the layer and pressing it down with a rubber spatula.

4. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the remaining stick (8 tablespoons) of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes (35-40 for a 9-inch pan), or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the berries stick to the pan, just scrape them off and return them to the cake.

6. Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave. Gently brush the glaze over the hot cake.

Recipe courtesy, Baking From My Home to Your by Dorie Greenspan

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I decided to be adventurous the other day and take on the challenge of making homemade Calamari rings because I found squid for a great price. They were such a great price that even if the whole endeavor was a complete disaster I was only going to be out a few bucks and some time. I searched the web on how to clean whole squid and at first I felt like I should have been in science class rather than my kitchen. It was really fun actually but I have always liked that kind of stuff. I loved cleaning fish growing up. Cleaning the squid was a little time consuming but easy and the Calamari turned out really well. I was surprised I thought they would be rubbery or soggy but they were much, much better then a lot of the Calamari I have been served in restaurants. I made up a few different dipping sauces and my husband and I really enjoyed our appetizer. So don't be afraid to give homemade calamari rings a try.


1/2 pound cleaned, whole squid
1 cup all-purpose batter mix for deep frying (basically flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic minced
oil for frying


Preheat deep fryer or deep pan with required amount of oil to 375 degrees.

Chop the squid bodies into 1/4" rings and cut the tentacles off just under the eyes. Rise with water and shake of excess moisture. In a zip-lock baggy, add the dry batter mix, pepper, parsley and garlic. Shake to mix and then add the squid and continue to shake until all the squid in coated.

Fry in batches until the rings are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Don't over cook or they will be tough. Remove from oil and let drain on paper towels. Serve warm with salt and pepper (if need), lemon, and dipping sauces of your choice.

Recipe by me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

This is a pretty healthy pasta dish I tossed together. I had some left over coconut milk so I decided to try and make a pasta sauce with it much like you would with cream. I think it turned out really well and will make again.


  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
  • 1 pound whole wheat Fettuccine
  • 1 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • ½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • ½ cups White Wine
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Sea Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente. Make sure not to overcook whole wheat pasta.

Toss the shrimp with 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice mix and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and vegetable broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in coconut milk, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until sauce starts to thicken (if the sauce needs help thickening just add a little corn starch mixed with water. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste.

Add the vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Then finally, add the shrimp. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until shrimp are opaque and mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Top with fresh parsley.

Recipe by me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Whole Grain Artisan Free-Form Loaf

I'm so excited! For one of my birthday presents my husband got me the new Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day cookbook called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You guys all know how much I love their method and this is even better because it is all about using whole grains. I can't wait to try all the recipes but I decided to start with their "Master Recipe" and above is a picture of how it turned out....awesome! It is not too dense and is still very moist and tender. Because I want you all to buy the book I'm not going to share the recipe but you can find it here. :)
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