Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Daring Bakers Dutch Crunch Bread

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

My first post as a Daring Baker! And it couldn't have been a better challenge. This month we got to pick any bread recipe and top it with this awesome Dutch crunch topping. I love bread (or any carb, really). I love baking fresh bread and using it to make a huge sandwich. Anything I can really sink my teeth into.

I chose to top Kneedlessly Simple's English Muffin Bread with the crunch topping, mostly because I'd been itching to try out the bread recipe for a while. This was also my first time using the no knead method. I was a bit suspicious of it at first, but it turned out great! And the Dutch topping... Well, I love anything with a lot of texture, and it was definitely crunchy. Such a great idea to top a bread with. It gives that crunchy tooth action just before you sink into the pillowy bread. 

I used the Dutch crunch topped English muffin bread (what a mouthful!) to make a frittata avocado sandwich. When I was considering what kind of sandwich to make, I started to think about English muffins, which are usually used (here in North America) in McMuffins or breakfast sandwiches. So I decided to do something with eggs. Then I remembered that I'd been wanting to make a frittata sandwich for a while and the rest is history!

Now, this is a kneadless dough, so make sure to start it at least a day before you want to eat it! It's hard enough to wait to stuff your face full of it without forgetting that it takes a day to prepare!

Kneadlessly Simple's English Muffin Bread
Taken from Keadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett
Makes 2 medium loaves
  • 5 cups (25 ounces) unbleached all purpose white flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
  • 2 1⁄2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 2 2⁄3 cups ice water, plus more if needed
  • 1⁄3 cup top-quality instant nonfat powdered milk
First rise: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In a second bowl, whisk the oil and ice water together. Add the ice/oil mixture to the dry ingredients and thoroughly mix until completely blended. If too dry, add more ice water but don't over moisten! Dough will be pretty stiff. Add more flour if it becomes too wet. Brush the top of the dough with oil and tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. 
       Put in the fridge for 3 hours. After, let rise at a cool room temperature for 12-18 hours, stirring vigorously halfway through.

Second rise: Vigorously stir the powdered milk into the dough. Add more flour, if needed, to make the dough very stiff. Grease two 8x4" loaf pans very well. Cut the dough in half with a sharp serrated knife and place one half in each loaf pan. Brush the tops with oil and tightly cover with plastic wrap.  
Let rise either at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours; or refrigerate for 4-24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Let rise until the dough nears the plastic, then remove the plastic and rise until the dough reaches the rim of the pans. 

Baking: 15 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 400F and place a small oven-safe pan filled with an inch of water on the floor of the oven. Make the Dutch crunch topping (recipe follows) and top both loaves.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is cracked and a nice golden brown. Cover with foil and bake for another 10-20 minutes,  or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it. Remove from oven and cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pan and cool completely. 

Can be kept at room temperature for 3 days, fridge for a week, or frozen for up to 2 months. Use it in a sandwich, like my Spinach Frittata Avocado Sandwich below!

Dutch Crunch Topping
From Daring Bakers, March 2012
  • 2 tbsp (2 packets, 30ml) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour (white or brown. Not glutinous rice flour)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with a whisk hard to combine. Consistency should be like a stiff icing: spreadable, but not runny. It should drip off slowly from your whisk. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Spinach Avocado Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches
  • 3 cups of spinach (about a small bunch), stems removed and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper each (and to taste)
  • 4 slices of English Muffin Bread
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced
  • 1 tbsp mayonaise 
  • 1 tsp mustard
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large saut√© pan. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and finely chop. 

Combine the rest of the ingredients with the chopped spinach and mix well to combine. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a saut√© pan. When hot, add your egg mixture and cook until the bottom is nice and golden, about 5 minutes. Hold a plate flat over the pan, invert the frittata onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan to cook on the other side until golden and set, about 3-5 minutes. Cut in half.

Assemble: For the first sandwich, spread half mayonaise and mustard on two slices of bread. Take one slice and arrange half of the avocado on top of it. Top the avocado with half of the frittata, season with salt and pepper, then top with another slice of bread. Repeat for the second sandwich. Enjoy~

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Daring Cooks: Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”. 

This is my first post as a Daring Cook! I was so excited to finally be able to join the Daring Kitchen now that I have a blog. Hilariously enough, I'd never done a braise before this, so it was educational and delicious! I wasn't quite sure what to do at first, but in the end Loblaws decided for me. Chicken thighs were on sale at the same time as Ragu tomato sauce. How could I resist? 

This recipe is probably as simple as a braise can get. The braise itself only takes about 45 minutes, but man does it taste good. The chicken just oozes its goodness into the sauce and the sauce evolves into something epic. Man I'm being poetic, but as you can see, it surprised me how good it tasted! And, sure enough, it got better with age.

This recipe is perfect for those who don't like fussy recipes with a lot of ingredients or steps involved. The recipe I'm giving you is a great starting point for epic personalization. Potatoes would be a great addition to this and can be cut into cubes and added with the tomato sauce. Carrots would be great too, but go even further with the root vegetables! Add parsnips or rutabaga. I used BBQ spice, but really any set of spices and herbs would work great. Also, feel free to make your own tomato sauce, but as I said above, if you don't have the time nor energy, a good store-bought tomato sauce can be just as good. 

I served it with brown rice one day, then ladled it onto pasta another. Any starch would work great. Foccacia (or any bread) would be the best, I think, because you'll want to sop up all that awesome sauce!

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce
Serves 4-6
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 chicken thighs, bone in (skin-on is optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 can (16 oz) of good tomato sauce (or homemade)
  • 1 tbsp your favourite BBQ seasoning
  • 1 chili pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 cup of your favourite root vegetables (potato, carrot, parsnip, etc), chopped into cubes
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. When the pan is hot, add the chicken skin side down. Work in batches if they don't all fit and make sure not to overcrowd the pan. 

Sear the chicken on both sides until a nice golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. When all the chicken is browned, set them aside on a tray.

In the same skillet, add the onions, chili pepper, ginger and garlic. Saute until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add BBQ seasoning and season with salt, to taste.

Return the chicken to the pan. Add tomato sauce and potatoes and stir. Turn down the heat low, cover (leaving a bit of room to let steam out) and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked through, taste for seasoning and serve over pasta or rice, or with bread or foccacia. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bon Appetit Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm such a good daughter, really. My mother was craving some sweets but didn't have time to make them, since she's busy with her Master's degree. So, being the awesome kid I am, I offered to make her some.

She had all the ingredients already, anyway. And the recipe. We bought the March 2012 Bon Appetit magazine when we were at the airport leaving for Jamaica, and I was dying to try out one of the recipes. These babies are thin and chewy, but crispy on the outside. I upped the chocolate chips because you can never have enough chocolate, am I right? I also snuck in some skor bits, just enough to give in that caramel taste. Feel free to leave these out if you want to go classic with your cookie.

Just be careful when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool for at least 20 minutes until you transfer them off the baking sheet and onto a rack. I made the mistake of trying to move some before they were cool enough. I'd even suggest putting them in the fridge for 30 minutes. Makes them extra crispy, actually.

They make for an awesome break from studying and lab report writing. Not like I've been doing much of either today, but that's beside the point. Have fun and have some cookies, I say!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from March 2012 Bon Appetit, pg. 48
Makes about 20 cookies
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup skor bits (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until combined, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again at medium-high for another 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

Add in the dry ingredients and blend at low speed. Fold in the chocolate chips (and skor bits, if using).

Spoon heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2" apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are golden brown, about 6-10 minutes. Watch carefully, because they finish fast.

Let cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely and enjoy.