Erica Lea on Mar 29th 2012
So I saw lots of people raving about how awesome no-knead bread is. Super easy and delicious.
“Yeah, right,” I thought. “You have to knead bread for ages to get a good crumb.” Boy, was I wrong.
Faced with having to knead bread by hand (horrors!) since we can’t afford a stand mixer just yet, I decided to give no-knead bread a try. After all, Hannah had made it and loved it. It had to be okay.
It’s more than okay. WAY more than okay. The crust is crunchy and the inside is soft, light and flavorful. And it takes about 5 minutes to mix up. In all honesty, I would make bread much less often if it weren’t for this recipe. Downside? Well, there’s no more excuse for buying store-bought bread when you can make it so easily.
Think you can’t possibly tackle making bread at home? Give this recipe a try. You’ll be so happy you did.
Not only is this bread so quick & easy to throw together (you literally just dump all the ingredients in a bowl & mix it a bit with a big spoon), but it’s also very versatile. I have made this with sour milk in place of water and whole wheat flour in place of some of the white with awesome results.
If you must, you can skip the steaming step. The last couple of times I made this bread I forgot that part with no ill effects. But I highly recommend steaming for the best crust.
I really like shaping the dough into a boule, but you can also shape it into logs or braids.
No Knead French Bread | Printable Page | Makes 2 large loaves
- 3 cups of lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1) Place the water, yeast and salt in a very large mixing bowl. Dump in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is nice and moist. And you’re done mixing!
2) Cover the bowl loosely and let sit until it has risen and deflated a little. Now your dough is ready to be baked or stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
3) To bake the bread: (If the dough is coming from the refrigerator, let it come to room temp before continuing) Wet your hands with water to prevent your hands from sticking and grab a piece of dough (I usually make half a recipe and use all the dough for one loaf, but you can make smaller loaves if you wish). Form it into a boule by pulling the sides of the dough towards the underside of the dough ball and rotating the dough until you get a roundish shape with a smooth surface. You can also shape the dough into logs or braids.
4) Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper (recommended) or a cornmeal-dusted cutting board. Let the dough rest and rise for about 40 minutes.
5) About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, put a cast iron skillet or pizza stone on the center rack of the oven and place a roasting pan (I use a 13×9-inch pan) on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
6) Dust some flour over the top of your risen loaf and cut a few slashes into the top about 1/4-inch deep. Transfer dough onto the skillet or pizza stone, quickly pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and shut the oven door to keep the steam inside. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown. Cool completely before cutting. You may manage to wait that long…I never have.
Erica Lea on Mar 23rd 2012
Over two years ago, I first developed this recipe for sausage & potato soup because of some freezer-burnt broccoli. It’s still very much a staple at our house - the perfect supper when you can’t think of anything else to make.
Here’s the original photo (bearing my watermark, ha!), taken in February of 2010. Which photo do you prefer?
All of this to say, go check out my guest post over on the Tasty Kitchen Blog!
Erica Lea on Mar 14th 2012
There’s something clear and fresh about lemons that whispers “Spring” to me. The bright tartness reminds me of one of those nippy spring days that seem to hold onto winter. The clean, fresh tastes speaks of new beginnings. The cheerful, warm color says sunny days.
Thus, as these Minnesota days are finally warming up, the birds are beginning to sing and the snow is almost gone, I bid farewell to winter. I love winter for its nostalgia and (most of all) for the skiing, but I am quite ready to say hello to jackets and flats and good-bye to heavy coats and snow boots.
But on to the pudding!
I was very much surprised by the creamy smoothness of this pudding - I was half expecting it to curdle horribly. However, the only lemon that hits the pudding while it cooks is the zest. Only after the pudding has completely cooled do you gently whisk in the lemon juice, ensuring that the pudding stays velvety.
The lemon flavor isn’t loud and sharp; it’s soft and slowly curls out as you savor each bite. Little bits of zest find their way into the finished pudding, even after straining, and give you a pleasant surprise. It’s marvelous.
- I used white sugar because I didn’t want to compromise the delicate color, but you could easily substitute a more natural sweetener for a healthier treat.
- I highly recommend serving with a dollop of whipped cream. It elevates a delicious treat to a decadent dessert.
Creamy Lemon Pudding | Printable Page | Makes 4 servings
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (make sure you lemon is organic!)
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1) Begin by putting a fine-mesh strainer over a heat-proof bowl set on top of a hot pad. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and egg yolks. Slowly whisk into the cornstarch mixture.
2) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and strain into the prepared bowl. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.
3) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Gently whisk the lemon juice into the chilled pudding until smooth. Spoon into small bowls and serve.
Erica Lea on Jan 13th 2012
Can you believe it? A new year is upon us. In fact, we’re almost two weeks into 2012.
I’m usually not one to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new one. I hate making resolutions that I’m bound to break. But sometimes listing goals is a good way to give you some perspective and push you forward. Last year I started a Project 365, but only got to 146 photos. I’m not sorry at all that I started that project; even though I didn’t finish, I still have many moments preserved and I feel that I learned so much from the experience.
So I’ve decided to write down some food goals for myself for 2012; goals I know that I’ll break. But they’ll give me something to works toward.
My Five Food Goals for 2012:
1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods.
2. Eat less processed, prepacked baked goods.
3. Make new recipes; don’t get stuck in a rut of making only the recipes you know.
4. Try to overcome your fear of sharing your food creations with others. You can’t always please everyone, and sometimes you’ll make something that just isn’t that great. Get over it.
5. Try something new, even if you think you won’t like it. You never know!
On to the cookies!
I believe that these cookies are a good representation of a few of my food goals. They’re made with natural ingredients (whole wheat flour, demerara sugar, rolled oats, etc.), they contain an ingredient that I was a bit afraid of (carob chips), and I had to overcome my fear of sharing them with others.
You see, Reuben loves carob, but, I must admit, I’m not the world’s biggest fan. Give me a choice between 70% cacao chocolate and carob and I’ll take the chocolate 9 times out of 10. But I wanted to make something that he loved. And I found that the carob chips added a lovely malty flavor that fit these cookies very well.
However, I was so scared that everyone would think they were gross and too “healthy” tasting that I always put a caveat before them: “They’re healthy,” or “They’re made with Carob chips.” To my surprise, no one hated them, and a gentleman even asked for the recipe. Just goes to show that you should get over your ego and share your work.
- These cookies are none too sweet: just the way Reuben and I like them. If you prefer something a little sweeter, simply add some extra demerara.
- If you can’t find any carob or you can’t stand it, you can easily substitute it with chocolate chips.
Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies | Printable Page | Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup demerara sugar or sucanat or rapadura
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I really like this kind)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour (aka soft white wheat)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup regular rolled oats
- 1 cup semisweet carob chips (we really like this kind), or chocolate chips
1) Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.
2) In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together the butter, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the oats and chocolate chips.
4) Form the dough into balls the size of golf balls and place on an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly.
5) Bake in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing.
Erica Lea on Dec 22nd 2011
My Dad hates citrus in baked goods. Thus, I have always been leery of cooking with lemons, oranges, limes, etc.
Reuben loves lemon bars. When he informed me of this, I promised to make him some. I searched the internet over for the perfect recipe, and settled one entitled “Lemon Curd Squares.” When I saw that the ingredient list included cream, I knew I needed to make them.
And I wasn’t disappointed in my choice. Reuben loves them. He requested I send several bars in his lunch so he could share them with the other guys. That day he posted on my Facebook wall: “Best lemon bars ever. :)” <— Proudest. Moment. Ever.
These lemon bars are the perfect medium between overpoweringly sweet and mouth-puckering sour. The crust is wonderfully tasty, enhanced by a smidgen of cinnamon. Dust with a little powdered sugar, and you have an elegant, scrumptious dessert.
Lemon Curd Squares
Adapted from Willams-Sanoma | Printable Recipe | Makes 12 Bars
For the crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used half white, half whole wheat)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used demerara)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the lemon filling:
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used ground demerara)
- 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tbs. heavy cream
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
To make the crust:
In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs and sticks together when pinched, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness. Press the dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish, lightly flouring your fingertips if necessary to prevent them from sticking. Bake the crust until pale golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the filling:
1.) In a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the baked crust.
Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to the wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes. Run the tip of a small knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.
Cut into 12 small rectangles (fewer if you want larger bars). Grab the sides of parchment paper that stick out from the pan and carefully remove the bars from the dish. Just before serving, sift a dusting of confectioners sugar over the bars.
Now for the Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!