Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chicken in Red Sauce

Recipe coming soon.

French Bread

Ahh bread! You know, I am not a huge bread eater - unless I am at a restaurant, or if it is straight out of the oven. I do however, love working with dough, and get a kick out of seeing it rise successfully. I have made bread before, using a recipe from my mother in law, but this time I chose to make French bread, with Google as my guide. I still have to work on my food photo skills, but I think you can get the idea from the pic - this recipe rocks! Not only was I amazed at how great the bread was, but I was also impressed that I could do this with a 3 month old around. Luckily for me, my husband was home to watch the little guy between risings. I highly recommend this recipe - very easy and well worth the effort!

French Bread

From: Baking Desserts . Suite 101

* 2 packages dry yeast
* 2-1/2 cups warm water
* 1 tsp. sugar
* 6 cups all purpose flour
* 1-1/2 tsp. salt

Make sure water temperature is 110 to 115 degrees F. Place water in a large bowl and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble. Stir in 2 cups flour and salt. Cover and let rise for 1/2 hour.

Then gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. (Knead by pressing on the dough, then folding over and pressing with the heel of your hand.) Then clean the large mixing bowl, grease it with solid shortening, and place the dough in the bowl. Turn it in the bowl so the dough is greased (this prevents the top from cracking as it rises).

Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2-1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk. With your fist, punch down the dough. Divide in half and place one half on a lightly floured surface.

Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 12x6" rectangle. Starting with the 12" side, roll up tightly. Seal seams and edges by pinching. Repeat with remaining dough.

Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves on prepared sheet. Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the loaves with a bit of water, then using a blade, made a few slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until loaves are golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Karythopita - Greek Walnut Cake

For a long time I have never been a successful cake baker. I think I have been rushing the recipes, and therefore not giving the poor cake a chance to become what it should be. My other dilemma is that I do not make enough Greek dishes or desserts, which is a real shame considering both my husband and I are proud Greeks. So armed with a Greek cookbook (that my sister in law lent me), I was ready to tackle a Greek dessert.

Karythopita is a spiced walnut cake topped with a sugar syrup. It is a truly moist and delicious treat that my mom has mastered , thanks to a great recipe from one of my aunts. Unfortunately, I don't know that recipe, so I used a recipe found in Greek Cookery - 200 Mediterranean Flavors. I really needed the recipe to workout since I was going to serve it to my aunt who was in from Greece, and lucky for me, it was very successful -- phew!

Beat 1 cup of olive oil with 1 1/2 cups of sugar. To this, add 6 eggs, 1 cup milk,3 cups ground walnuts, 1 tbs cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Then add 2 cups of flour that have been mixed with 2 tsp baking powder. Add this batter to a greased baking dish and bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes.

While the baked cake is still hot, poke a bunch of holes over the top with a toothpick for the syrup to soak through.

For the syrup, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and then add 2 cups of sugar. Boil for 5 minutes to create a light syrup. Pour the syrup over the cake while the cake is still nice and hot. Let sit, and cut after it cools.

I was really happy with this recipe. I used a Corning Ware dish, but I would suggest using a real cake pan or Pyrex dish for better results. As well, I think I should have left the cake in for a bit longer (for some reason I removed it after 35 mins, but another 5-10 mins would have been fine) My mom also mentioned that she uses semolina in addition to the regular flour, and the cake turns out more airier. I will definitely keep all of this in mind for Karythopita : Part 2!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

One of the easiest cakes to make is Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I decided to make this as a dessert for a little brunch I was doing, and it was a tasty and simple decision! It's topped with a brown sugar and butter combo that goes great with pineapple, and the cake is always super moist. Needless to say, you should definitely keep some pineapple on hand so you can make this in lightning fast speed.

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

Lightly butter an 8inch cake pan. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and to it, add 1 cup of dark brown sugar and stir to blend. Add this to the bottom of the cake pan. On top of this tasty layer, place some pineapple rings. Set aside.

For the cakey goodness, separate 4 eggs. Whisk the egg yolks lightly and add the juice of one lemon. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites, and add a pinch of salt. Once the egg whites become stiff, gradually fold in 1/2 cup caster sugar, and then the egg yolk mixture. Sift 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Carefully fold this into the egg mixture.

Pour the fluffy batter over the brown sugar and pineapple layer and bake for 30mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center.

While the cake is still hot, invert onto your prettiest of plates, and enjoy savoring this tasty tropical treat.

Recipe from: 1000 Best Every Recipes by Martha Day

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Welcoming Myself Back

Well-- 3 months have passed since giving birth to my son, so it is now time to return to normal life! Things have settled quite nicely and I can't wait to learn more recipes and post them here. You know, like many others, I have loads of cookbooks but never USE them. The time is now -- yeah!