Thursday, March 11, 2010

Busy Bee Baking

Yesterday I wrote about cabbage rolls and that you should bake other things while the oven is at 350 for four hours. Well... today, I threw in some frozen cabbage rolls and rolled up my sleeves...

Starter: White Sandwich Bread

1tsp sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1 2/3 cups warm milk

2 Tbsp active dry yeast

Dissolve sugar in warm water and milk,

and sprinkle top with yeast. Let stand for 5-10 minutes or frothy.

3 Tbsp honey

2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp oil

5 cups flour (may need more for kneading

Add honey, salt, and oil. Add flour two cups at a time, until dough pulls from side of bowl and becomes hard to mix with spoon. The actual amount of flour you will need depends on your environmental factors. Turn dough onto floured board and knead for 10 minutes or so. You don't want the dough to stick to your hands, but you don't want it to become too dry either - so be careful when adding flour to your work surface.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat it. Cover with damp dishtowel/cloth and let rise for 1hr or until double in size.

Punch dough, removing most bubbles. Cut as evenly in half as you can and shape your loaves. There are online tutorials on how to shape loaves if you need help with this step. Place loaves in prepared bread pans - I use parchment paper but you can grease your pan lightly. (If you use parchment, re-use it over and over again until it flakes apart - it's a great way to save time and money. Just keep it in your bread pan until next time).

Cover with damp dishtowel/cloth, and let rise for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Cool 10-15 minutes before cutting. Enjoy.

*If you want to cut home made bread into nice thin pieces, just wait until it's completely cool (or even wait overnight if you can). We usually lop off a nice thick piece while it's warm and devour it, saving the rest for actual sandwiches.*

Rewind.... 10 minutes until bread is done and it's time to start some muffins:

Ready-to-go snacks and breakfast foods are key to keeping yourself on a budget. We don't have a lot of sweets around right now, and the cookies Ron made on Sunday have completely disappeared so I decided to make....

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup milk (or 1/2c milk and 1/4 cup water)

2 large

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups chocolate chips

1 cup fresh or frozen whole raspberries

Preheat your oven to 350°F Lightly grease (or line with cupcake papers) a 12-cup muffin pan

In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, milk, and eggs. Be sure your melted butter is not hot or you'll cook the eggs! In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips. Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir until combined. Add raspberries and stir until it's evenly distributed in batter.

Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean (there may be raspberry or melted chocolate on it). Your baking time will depend on whether or not you used fresh or frozen fruit, and if you chose to replace raspberries with blueberries or blackberries. Keep an eye on them from 25 minutes on, you may find you need to cook them a little past 30 minutes. Remove muffins from the oven, and let them cool.... if you can.

While my muffins were baking, I had a peek through the fridge and found 1/4 pack of bacon that needed to be used almost that minute! The meat wasn't bad (please don't use rotten meat) but it was definitely ready to say adieu. Wasting food is not an option, so I threw the frying pan on some heat and got ready to cook the bacon. I decided to make:

Bacon and Cheese Biscuits

These look shiny because I JUST brushed them with milk.

Tim Hortons charges 2.50 for a bacon and egg biscuit, and I've had it - it's yummy. Is it worth almost double what it costs to make breakfast for a whole week? No. Even if you decide to slice this open, fry and egg and make a sandwich you're still WAY ahead of the game. This batch made 13 biscuits and cost a little under 1.50 for the whole thing (that's a mere 11 cents each). If you do cook an egg, they average 40c each which would bring you to a grand total of 51 cents for brekkie!

I started with a basic biscuit recipe from a Depression Era cookbook my Mom gave me:

2 c flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp shortening

3/4 cup milk (or mix milk and water)

Sift dry ingredients together and cut shortening into flour mix with fingers or pastry cutter.

I added scraps of cheese that were in my deli drawer (maybe 1/4 cup of mixed shredded cheeses), and a tsp of dried herbs. I used my Epicure Tapinade mix, but you can add whatever you like - chives, garlic, basil are all good for this recipe. Once the bacon was cooked and cooled I chopped it into tiny pieces (as small as bacon bits) and added it to the dry biscuits BEFORE adding my milk. I've heard of people cooking breakfast sausage, chopping it up and putting them in biscuits as well.... could be yummy. This is also a good opportunity to use up any leftover chicken, steak, etc. you may have in your fridge from a previous dinner. Don't make it too deluxe or you'll never go back to "normal" biscuits again.

Add milk and mix until it needs a brief "kneading". You may find you need more milk/water than the recipe calls for. In this case, add it 1tsp at a time (like pie crust) until it reaches desired consistency.

After a quick knead on floured board, roll out to 1/2" - 3/4" thick and cut with biscuit cutter or floured glass.

The recipe calls for these to be baked at 425F for 12-15 minutes, but our oven is at 350 for the cabbage rolls. I bumped my oven to 375 for the biscuits and cooked them for 20 minutes, turning it back to 350 when they were done. Brush with water or milk when out of oven (if desired) to keep the tops soft.

For a little treat, here's an exerpt from my Depression Era cookbook:

"The chief requirements for "good biscuits" are: 1. Very soft dough, so soft as to be almost sticky; 2. Very little handling, because much manipulation destroys their lightness; 3. A very quick oven. If biscuits are not allowed to touch each other in the pan, they will be lighter and more delicate than when placed close together."

You'd think that would be enough for the day, but my two youngest aren't keen on cabbage rolls and I'd like to make a sort of bruchetta to go with the meal.

Bruschetta and Garlic Bread

Make a batch of my basic pizza dough, if necessary cut the rising time to 1/2 hour.

Shape your dough into the classic pizza circle/oval.

Finely mince garlic and cook in a little bit of butter until soft. If you belong to my family, you may want to use an awful lot of garlic here.

When garlic is soft, add a few chunks of butter (maybe 2-3tbsp) and let soften until half way melted. Remove from heat (you may want to transfer it into a small bowl) with a hand blender or fork, begin to "mash" the butter and garlic. Because half of it is melted and half is not, it will make a creamy butter/garlic paste you can then use to top your pizza dough.

After spreading your garlic butter, sprinkle with shredded cheese. How much you use is optional.

You can bake this as-is for a garlic/cheese bread, or go the extra mile and top it with bruschetta topping. There are toppings in your refrigerated section of the grocery store, the canned aisle, the tomato sauce aisle - pretty much everywhere. You can also make your own, but since I have a jar I got on sale I'm going to use that and call it a day!

You're going to need to bump your oven up for this bread, so when its almost time to eat - turn the oven up to 450F, take the cabbage rolls out and leave the tin on the top so it can begin to cool but not get too cool. The bruschetta/garlic bread should take 12-15 minutes to cook - serve piping hot with delicious cabbage rolls!

1 comment: