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Getting Fresh: Check it Out! November 12, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread, dessert, vegetarian.
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pumpkin scones

My first monthly column for the just-launched Ferndale Patch site is up!   Each month, I’ll be posting a recipe along with step-by-step photos and information on where you can locate the ingredients in Ferndale grocery stores. My first entry is for delicious pumpkin scones with a double glaze–check it out by clicking on the link or the image above.

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A Pumpkin Feast for Two October 10, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread, dinner, good for a group, soup, vegan.
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The weather has been gorgeous in Michigan all weekend.  Temperatures in the upper seventies and clear sunny skies.  It doesn’t seem like the middle of October—more like the middle of August, prime grilling season.  I am completely in the fall spirit, though, and spent Saturday evening decorating the house for Halloween and cooking up a few pumpkin dishes for dinner despite the unseasonably warm temperatures. If the calendar says it’s mid-October, it’s pumpkin time, no matter what the weather might be saying!

Since it is autumn, you’re probably starting to see these appear on grocery store shelves:

pumpkin puree

100 percent pure pumpkin.  No spices, no filler—just pumpkin, pureed and ready to be put to work.  You could buy a pumpkin, seed it, peel it, roast it, and puree it…but in this case, I prefer to let Trader Joe do the heavy lifting and just buy the can of puree, ready to be used in so many recipes.

This one can was split and used in both recipes I made last night, pumpkin chili and pumpkin knots.  Both recipes were modified from/inspired by a great blog, (never home)maker. I tweaked both slightly and will be putting my modified versions here, but please visit (never home)maker to see the recipes in their original, intended form, with really beautiful step-by-step photos and write-ups.

This meal was hands down one of the best we’ve had in a while.  The pumpkin knots are out of this world delicious. They take a little bit of time to prepare but it’s largely hands-off time, and if you have a stand mixer, these come together in a snap.  If you don’t, you’ll just get a little extra arm work-out kneading them by hand! 🙂

Pumpkin Chili
(Inspired by (never home)maker)
(Printable Recipe)

pumpkin chili

Ingredients:

1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 can pumpkin
1/2 cup ( or a little more) pumpkin beer
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt

Method:

Finely chop your onion and peppers. Saute in a dutch oven or large pot until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients (everything, as described above in the ingredients list) and let simmer over low heat for at least 30-45 minutes.  Taste and add more spices if you like more heat.

Pumpkin Knots
(Ever so slightly modified from (never home)maker)
(Printable Recipe)

pumpkin knots

Ingredients:

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm (110-120F) water
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 tbl olive oil
Spices: a pinch of each—oregano, thyme, and sage
Additional olive oil and parmesan for finishing

Method:

Start by proofing your yeast.  Put your warm water in a bowl, and stir in the packet of yeast and teaspoon of sugar.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes.  It should start to get foamy on top—that means the yeast is working.  If you don’t see the foam, your yeast is probably old and should be replaced.

While you are proofing the yeast, mix together the bread flour and salt in a large bowl (if you have a stand mixer, do this step in the mixer bowl).

When the 10 minutes is up and the yeast is ready, stir the olive oil, pumpkin puree, and spices into the water/yeast/sugar bowl.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients on to the flour/salt.  Using a spatula, mix until the ingredients are combined.  At this point, if you have a mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough with the mixer for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is elastic and has a sheen to it.  If you don’t have a mixer, knead by hand for about 10 minutes until you get the same result.  Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise for two hours.

When the two hours is close to up, pre-heat your oven to 425F with a baking stone or baking sheet inside.

You will notice at this point that your dough has expanded and you now have a HUGE amount of dough.  You can do a few things with this:

  1. Make a giant batch of pumpkin knots
  2. Divide it, and put half in a storage bag or container in the fridge for use in the next day or so
  3. Divide it, and put half in the freezer for use in the next couple of weeks
  4. Divide it, and give half to a friend
  5. Divide it, and make half pumpkin knots, half pizza dough with it

Start making your knots.  Break off a piece of dough (go by feel with this—it should be maybe the size of a golfball) and roll it between your hands to make a cord of dough.  Tie it into a knot, and set aside. Continue until you run out of dough.

pumpkin dough

Bake the knots on your pre-heated baking stone or cooking sheet for about 12 minutes.  They will start browning on top when they are done.

While the knots are baking, prepare a large bowl with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and some garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic if you are brave!).

Remove the knots from the oven, and while they are still warm, toss them in the bowl with the olive oil and garlic.  Crush them around in the bowl to make sure they are evenly coated. Sprinkle parmesan cheese in the bowl, and toss again.

These are SO GOOD.  Try them!  Eat them two nights in a row! And then for lunch again the next day!

Pretzel Bread October 3, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread.
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Pretzels.  I eat them almost every day between 10:30 and 11am as my “second breakfast.”  My favorite bagel is the Bruegger’s pretzel bagel (with a slice of swiss!) No matter how many pretzels I eat each week, I’ll never get sick of nice warm pretzel bread.  Trader Joe’s has nice little pretzel rolls, but by the time they leave wherever they are baked and reach the store, they are sort of moist and cold and if you are me, you believe there has to be a better way to get that warm pretzel deliciousness besides heating up a TJ’s roll in the microwave.

I started googling pretzel bread recipes a while back and put this recipe, from Two Bites in Suburbia, on my “must make soon” list.  Today ended up being that day.  This recipe takes a while, but don’t let that deter you.  There’s a lot of waiting time, so if you are going to be around the house for a while you could get plenty done while making time to make this bread.

This was my first attempt at making this bread and I definitely learned from it. Things I would do differently next time:

  • Knead it longer in the final step (I kneaded for 3 minutes with a KitchenAid, would probably do 4 or 5 minutes)
  • Boil the finished dough for 30 sec per side (I did 30 sec total this time)
  • MORE SALT!!! (in both the dough and on top) Put more on than you think you want.
  • I’d slash the final loaf deeper before putting it in the oven.  My crust turned nice and golden but cracked  on top, and I think it is because I didn’t slash the boiled dough enough, giving it inadequate room to expand

Mike’s Signature Pretzel Loaf
(Printable Recipe)
(From Two Bites in Suburbia)

pretzel bread

Ingredients:

2 ¼ tsp yeast
1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
2 Tbsp room temperature milk
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 ½ – 3 cups bread flour

4 quarts water
½ cup baking soda

Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsp melted butter

Method:

First, gather up your ingredients.  You’ll want to use bread flour, and dark brown sugar is preferable (I didn’t have it).

pretzel bread ingredients

Start by proofing your yeast.  I used active dry yeast (one small packet, or 2 1/4 tsp). Melt 3 tbs butter and mix in with warm water (110-120 F), brown sugar, and milk. If your water is too cool, the yeast won’t bubble.  If it’s too hot, it’ll kill it.  You can use a thermometer for best results or just run tap water until it feels like bath water to the touch.  Whisk the water, yeast, melted butter, and milk together in a large bowl and let it set for 10 minutes.  The yeast should start to bubble:

yeast bubbling

When the ten minutes is up, stir in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the bread flour. Start with two cups, and add more as necessary (no more than 2  1/2 – 3 cups total). Mix well.  Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl, and place the dough back in the bowl.

dough

Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes.  Our house is on the chilly side today (67F) so I put the covered bowl in the oven with the oven light on (just the light, not the oven!).

oven light on

After 30-45 minutes, peak under the towel.  The dough should’ve risen, about doubled in size:

risen dough

At this point, you will need to knead the dough.  If you are kneading by hand, knead it for 5-10 minutes.  If you have a KitchenAid mixer, put the dough hook on, lightly oil the bowl, and knead it with the dough hook for 3 minutes or so. After you are done, it should be elasticy and have a slight sheen to it.

dough with sheen

Put it back in the oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise for another hour.

It should get nice and puffy:

puffy dough

During the final part of the rise, start your boiling water.  Put 4 quarts/16 cups of water in a large pot and mix in 1/2 cup of baking soda.  Bring to a boil.  When the hour is up, gently take the puffy dough from the boil and place in the boiling water.  Turn it after 30 seconds, allowing it to boil for 20-30 seconds per side. This is the crucial step for giving the bread the final golden pretzel color and crust.

dough in water

Carefully remove the dough from the boiling water and place on a piece of parchment paper.  Slash the top of the boiled loaf to allow room for the dough to expand while baking.  Sprinkle the top with kosher salt to taste.  You’ll probably want to put more salt on than you think you’ll want—I thought I put a lot on but wished I had more when it was done.

before baking

Alright, now put that dough in the oven!  I baked mine in an uncovered dutch oven but a baking sheet would be fine.  Keep it on the parchment paper, no matter what you do.  I made a single loaf and baked it for about 50 minutes at 400F.

bread after baking

(Printable Recipe)

Green Pizza May 14, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread, dinner, quick meal.
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I wasn’t going to post this recipe because it’s really just a pizza, and who doesn’t know how to make one of those, but Ryan deemed it “the best pizza we’ve ever made,” so I suppose it deserves a post.  I feel like it’s kind of a healthy version of pizza, too, because I piled it high with every green vegetable I could find in the fridge!  For the dough, you can use a homemade dough recipe (which I am including below) or a pre-made pizza dough, like the ones they sell at Trader Joe’s in the cheese section.  I’ve had some trouble with the Trader Joe’s pizza dough, but think I’ve finally found a way that makes it perfect every time.  The key to the TJ dough is to pre-heat the pan or pizza stone in the over before, roll out the dough in some flour, and put it in the oven by itself on the pre-heated pan for about 3-4 min.  Then I like to take it out, top it, and put it all back in the oven for the remainder of the cooking time.  That seems to work the best for me, at least.

Green Pizza

Green PizzaIngredients:

1 lb pizza dough
2-3 tbl pesto
handful of baby spinach
1/2 cup or more asparagus (cut into 1-inch segments and steamed until bright green)
1/2 cup or more broccoli (cut into bite-size florets and steamed with the asparagus until bright green)
1 tomato, diced
3/4 cup cheese

Method:

Pre-heat oven and pan to 400.   Cut the asparagus and broccoli and steam it for a few minutes until it is bright green and tender but not soggy.  Set aside.  While that is steaming, dice up the tomato.

Roll out the dough and put it on the pre-heated pan in the for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the dough from the oven and slather the top with the pesto. Cover the pesto with a single layer of baby spinach.  Top the spinach with the broccoli/asparagus pieces, and put the tomato on top of all of that.  Finish the pizza with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mozzarella, sprinkle with S&P, and return it to the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese looks melted and the crust is golden brown. I like to finish it for a few minutes under the broiler to get the cheese bubbly and brown.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (from Culinary in the Desert)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

Combine flours, yeast, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Combine warm water and oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually pour in enough of the liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Process until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.

Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise about an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes before rolling.

*If you want to knead by hand feel free – knead for about 10 minutes. As made, this recipe makes about 1 pound of dough.