bread quest 2021

White bread recipe from the Amish Baking Cookbook

So in 2020 I learned how to make sourdough bread thanks to my friend Tracey Deschaine at Dixie Picnic in Malvern. But I don’t want to be a one trick pony and by year end I had made German Christmas Stollen and no knead bread as well.

I heard this Amish Baking cookbook was a good one, so I decided to order myself a copy. Why? Because some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted has been Amish baked. And I had a Pennsylvania German grandmother who was an amazing baker, so I was curious.

As much as I like to cook, baking bread from scratch was very intimidating to me. So I just keep trying new recipes, and today it is the “white bread” recipe from this cookbook.

I was going to mess with it and split it in half but I just decided to make the recipe as written the first time to see how I did.

Here is the recipe:

1 package yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

1 tsp. sugar

2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, divided

1 1/4 tsp. salt (I would increase this a smidge next time.)

1/3 cup sugar (white or organic white)

1 3/4 Tbsp. shortening (I used butter)

7-8 cups flour (I used a scant 8)

1. Dissolve the yeast and teaspoon of sugar in half cup lukewarm water. Do this in a little bowl and put to the side.

2. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of water, salt, sugar, and shortening. Then add the yeast mixture and, gradually, the flour.

3. Knead the bread until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and sit in a warm place to rise until double. For me, this took about 45 or 50 minutes and I greased the bowl with canola oil.

4. When the bread has done its first rise, punch it down again. Let rise until double again.

5. Split into two loaf pans lined with parchment and let rise until double again.

6. Bake at 350°F for 1/2 hour

Super puffy and fun bread to make. Two nice loaves. I will add more salt next time, however.

Try the recipe and buy the cookbook! I bought my copy used off of eBay.

yes, semi-homemade…split pea soup with ham!

The weather said split pea soup with ham.

The soup is made using green and yellow split peas.

It’s made from part of a ham I had leftover and a ham bone (I always save the ham bones and toss them in the freezer for occasions just like this one), chopped celery, a chopped onion, a chopped bunch of carrots, two bay leaves, fresh herbs which are still growing in the garden.

I didn’t have any bone broth made so I simply used one salt free beef broth and two vegetable broth. Each container is 32 ounces so it gives me enough liquid as per the instructions on the bags of dried split peas. That is your semi-homemade component for this soup.

How you put it together is first you sauté your diced up vegetables in a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil with some salt. Then you add the ham and the hambone. Then you add your fresh herbs – in my case it was sage and thyme and even a little rosemary. Then I added the dried peas, and after that, the broth.

Now it’s just perking along on the stove at a super low temperature. After a while I will turn it off and let it cool down and see where I am.

For those of you who know I like Great Jones pots this is their big stock pot.

Bon appétit!

new eden microgreens: coming to a dinner table near you!

A lot of people will ask what the difference between microgreens and sprouts are. Microgreens are grown in soil; sprouts germinate in water. I love microgreens, sprouts not so much.

Microgreens and sprouts are both baby plants after a fashion. But microgreens are cut off at soil level and are full of flavor and awesome amounts of nutrients. Sprouts grown in water always sort of have a bland dirt taste to me for lack of a better description.

I love microgreens. So when this nice guy Daniel Drew popped up in a couple of local Facebook groups offering trials of microgreens from his farm I volunteered. His business is New Eden Greens. They are a small farming enterprise in neighboring Delaware County.

Now I occasionally get microgreens in my farm vegetable boxes from Lancaster, but Daniel Drew’s product is the most flavorful I have had.

New Eden Greens has two varieties that I tried.

Variety one “Broccoli Blend” contained the following greens: baby broccoli greens, kale, kohlrabi greens, red cabbage, arugula, and mustard greens. This is the more zesty variety. Arugula and mustard greens are in particular delightfully peppery.

Variety two contained purple radish all by itself.

Thus far I have mixed both varieties together because I like all the flavors and use them in my salads with larger greens. I have other friends who used them as accompaniments to fish like salmon.

Others have used them independently by themselves in a purely microgreens salad. I did that as well. I made a salad with a simple vinaigrette out of them with some minced scallions, as well as the salad I photographed below at the bottom of the post.

If you’re looking for the nutritional aspect micro greens are more nutritional than traditional greens. According to the website One Green Planet:

🖌📌 “According to microgreen research conducted at the University of Maryland, the 1-3 inch delicacies were found to pack anywhere from 3 to 39.4 times the nutritional content of the plant’s mature counterparts. Scientists considered the vitamin and antioxidant levels of 25 varieties of microgreens and compared the results to the full-grown versions. Cilantro showed 3 times more beta-carotene, while red cabbage showed almost 40 times greater vitamin E and 6 times more vitamin C.” 📌🖌

To me, when I am cooking, flavor is everything. And these microgreens are incredibly fresh and flavorful. This business has just been launched and if you are a restaurant professional or a home cook interested in trying samplers while they are available, message them via their Facebook page or email newedengreens<at>gmail<dot>com.

As they are a small business, they have a somewhat limited delivery area at present but I don’t know the boundaries of their area so you have to contact them.

Thank you Daniel for allowing me to be one of the home cooks to sample the produce from New Eden Greens! I look forward to being a regular customer! Support your local farmers!

Happy Friday all!

pumpkin bread with sourdough starter- mmmmm

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (yesterday I used bread flour it was all I had)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup puréed pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter-( fed within the last week and you have to let it warm up from out of your refrigerator for at least two hours)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup or even 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut or raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions: Mix all wet ingredients except for sourdough starter.

Add spices. If you don’t like as many spices in a pumpkin bread as I do just decrease it. I am a cinnamon fiend I love cinnamon.

Stir in sourdough starter.

Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. everything has to be incorporated so you’re just going to have to pay attention. I do this by hand not with a mixer.

Pour into a lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350° for approximately one hour. I use a metal skewer the skinny kind like you used to close the back of a turkey to test to see if the baking is complete. Toothpick or skewer should come out clean.

Cool in pan at least 25 minutes before removing from pan.

My final COVID-19 cooking note is if you can find canned pumpkin at a reasonable price by it because the prices attached to it now are absurd.

a new fall soup (for me)

Curry squash soup….yes it’s a thing.

I made 3 quarts of chicken bone broth in my small Instant Pot. I had a chicken carcass I had frozen along with some gizzards from another roast chicken. To that I added celery, curry powder, salt, onion powder. Salt and pepper to taste.

I strained the broth and put it in my old Dansk dutch oven with two squash I had roasted in the oven (one was a spaghetti squash and one was an butternut squash.)

I also roasted two ears of sweet corn and took it off the cob and added it.

In addition I added two little Serano peppers from the garden with the stems cut off and cut in half and one sweet onion and threw it into the pot with a little chunk of turmeric and a little chunk of ginger and more curry powder.

When everything cooked down a little I cooled the broth slightly and puréed with my hand immersion blender and add 1 can of light coconut milk.

It is refrigerated for a couple of days and I will then reheat and serve.

when smoked brisket is like a religious experience…

So it’s no secret I love Chef Paul Marshall‘s food at Farm Boy Fresh. But seriously? His BBQ brisket is like a religious experience. I never understood why people love BBQ brisket until I tried his.

And even in the rain, the brisket sandwich is off the hook. I like mine messing with tradition on a brioche bun. My husband prefers old school white bread.

Farm Boy Fresh is located at 7 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern at the Sunoco Station. You can place an order through Toast Tab and pay in advance if you like. I recommend that because this barbecue is extraordinarily popular and they do run out.

If you go don’t forget to taste the little pies. My new favorite is the mini pecan pie! Oh and I hear he might be smoking his own turkeys at some point.

And what you see in 1st photo above? That was my sandwich today!

peter’s peasant soup

Every time around this year and even into the winter my late father would make a soup. It was a pure peasant soup. It would be based around what he found fresh down on 9th street at the Italian market and from the local merchants there.

The soup would have cabbage, potatoes or turnips, onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, fresh herbs, beans, and something cured like a small salami – a cured sausage. He liked soppressata. He would cut it into little chunks or rounds.

We were over at a friend’s house the other day and they have this amazing kitchen garden like I dream about but have no room for. So they gave us a bunch of fresh vegetables including Swiss Chard and fresh kale. Today’s vegetable box from Doorstep Dairy had a beautiful purple cabbage. So I knew I was making soup even though it’s somewhat humid out.

My father would often use a beef stock base but a lot of the time it was a chicken stock base. So last night’s roast chicken carcass went into the instant pot this morning to make bone broth. I also tossed in a little salt and pepper and zaatar spice blend.

While bone broth was cooking and cooling I chopped up all the vegetables. I threw them into my big Great Jones “Big Deal” pot. I really love their cookware and I have a few pieces now. I added a few cups of water, maybe four. I added salt and pepper and some fresh herbs. This morning I had picked basil, thyme, sage so that is what I used.

I left the vegetables almost completely covered on low and just let them cook down for probably 60 minutes. The tomatoes I used were a bunch of fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. Probably about enough to fit in a pint container but I halved them. When the bone broth was finished (I just hit the setting for broth or soup) I fished out all the bones and the gizzards and disposed of them and added the broth to the pot.

Then I added a chopped up a small whole dry salami that I had purchased at the Tasty Table Market & Catering in Berwyn. After that I drained two cans of beans and tossed those in. You can use whatever canned beans you like. Things like cannellini beans, pinto beans, even black-eyed peas.

Now the soup sits on a simmer until some point this afternoon when I will start to cool it down and put into containers. Some I will freeze and some I will use now.

I have to tell you the soup smells really good. And it’s also a smell that I have memories of. Of course I’m a little more about cleaning up the kitchen as I go along then my father was and when he would make one of these soups it would look like a bomb exploded in the kitchen afterwards.

This soup is always best when it sits for a couple of days and then you heat it up because it gives a chance for the flavors to completely meld . All you do is serve it with a little crusty bread for the table and some grated cheese on top. It’s a basic peasant soup and it’s loaded with vegetables and you don’t really need anything else.

I hope you can follow along as to how I made this. There is no formal recipe it’s just some thing that my father made and his mother made and who knows how many other relatives in his family made.

I used my small Instant Pot to make the bone broth if you are curious about how much chicken broth to add. The small Instant Pot makes 3 quarts of broth. Now the soup condenses and cooks down because I let it simmer on a very low setting for a few hours.

Buon appetito!

pickling peppers…and tomatoes

I just put up some peppers because I’ve been growing a bunch of different chili peppers all summer.

This is the base recipe I used from A Taste of Home.

You know I can never do a recipe straight, so I will let you know that to my brine I added pickling spice and dill. And a little red pepper flakes because I want hot peppers. I processed them in a hot water bath and I had brine left over for five small jars of pickled tomatoes. I just used the same brine but threw in dill and basil into each jar for the tomatoes.

I don’t know how everything will taste when everything is all pickled up, but I can tell you the brine smelled awesome.

Of course I didn’t pay attention while handling my chili peppers and my hands feel slightly as if they are on fire and I won’t be touching my face anytime soon.

Something I did not expect this year is how much canning supplies have gone up in price since COVID-19 came to visit. We have paid a premium for so much for so many months. But I am guessing that a lot of people are almost homesteading because we’re all home so much more.

I may do more pickled tomatoes as it gets in to fall but I have to decide if I am making apple butter or some kind of a jam this year. Ideally I would like to do fig preserves but I don’t know if any of my friends will have extra figs I can buy from them yet, or if I will be able to source them locally at a farmers market.

When you pickle things they look so lovely in the jar. I know that sounds weird but they just look nice.

Happy Sunday all!

things to do with sourdough starter

I needed to use up some excess sourdough starter so I hunted around and found this banana cake. Delicious.

C Mom Cook: Sourdough Banana Cake
…at home and in the kitchen with my kids

1 cup unfed sourdough starter, at room temperature (if you store your starter in the fridge, just let it sit out for about an hour before starting)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 to 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (I used three large bananas)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

for the glaze (optional):

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 – 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously spray a Bundt pan (you can use a 9″ x 13″ pan if you would prefer).
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, mashed bananas, oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla. Mix together until everything is fully combined.
In a (separate) large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and spices.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The recipe offers a cooking time of 35-40 minutes if you are using a 9″ x 13″ pan.)
Allow the cake to cool in the pan (on a cooling rack) for about 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack itself and allow it to cool completely.
To prepare the glaze, mix the melted butter and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, then slowly add enough milk to make a smooth, flowing glaze. Stir very well to ensure that you have removed all of the lumps. Once the cake is completely cool, use a spoon to drizzle on the glaze.

I also found this recipe on Beth’s Favorite Recipes.

playing mad scientist with sourdough bread

So since March, you all know I have been learning about bread, specifically sourdough (read this post and this post). It has been quite the process and learning curve.

Bread is literally a science to learn, and it’s also trial and error. as I said to my friend Chad who owns the Master‘s Baker in West Chester yesterday it is a fascinating process to see how things like even the weather affects your bread baking.

I am now working with two strains of sourdough starter. One came from my friend Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic in Malvern, and the other strain comes from San Francisco and has a very old strain of starter. As in more than a century old. You can find these strains from places like San Francisco and Europe and I wanted to try one just to see.

So what I’ve discovered in my learning curve here is I like the San Francisco instructions better for feeding the starter, but I use Tracey‘s recipe for making a loaf of bread. The difference between the San Francisco and local instructions for feeding the starter is they suggest you use distilled water. So I’ve been using distilled water. It seems to make a difference. We are on a well here and there are a lot of minerals in the water.

When I make up my dough I use half San Francisco starter and half Dixie Picnic starter. They both live in my refrigerator side-by-side like thing one and thing two when I am not feeding them or using them up to bake with. I’ve also discovered that getting my starter out the night before I wish to prepare dough is more effective.

I don’t know if this is all right or wrong but I am feeling way way through and it’s nice to be conquering my fear of bread making. Because before this I didn’t think I could do it.

But I am discovering I can and it’s kind of fun!

Next up? Learning how to make other kinds of bread. My husband gave me this awesome bread cookbook for a present. It’s called Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. It’s an awesome book.

Stay cool today and I hope everyone’s enjoying the holiday weekend. Thanks for stopping by!