Dinner with Bittman: Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread

Makes: 1 loaf

Time: About 1 1/4 hours, largely unattended

A super all-purpose bread that’s heartier and more flavorful than most, and relatively light for a 100 percent whole grain bread. It also makes excellent sandwiches, especially when toasted.

Oil or butter for the pan

1 2/3 cups buttermilk or yogurt or 1 1/2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons white vinegar (see Step 2)

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup molasses

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8- × 4-inch or 9- × 5-inch loaf pan.

2. If you’re using buttermilk or yogurt, ignore this step. Otherwise, make soured milk: Warm the milk gently to take the chill off—1 minute in the microwave is sufficient—and add the vinegar. Let it rest while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the molasses into the buttermilk. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients (just enough to combine), then pour into the loaf pan. Bake until firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

 

Posted in Baking

This Week’s Minimalist: Cheddar Biscotti

When it comes to biscotti, the process always stays the same, but the flavors never, ever, have to.

Posted in Baking

Sunday Supper: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Seems like mac’ and cheese weather (more or less). Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

One of the most popular recipes in the original How to Cook Everything, which I attribute to too many people growing up with what the Canadians call “Kraft dinner.” The real thing is rich, filling, delicious, and dead easy. You can change the type of cheese you use: Try blue cheese, goat cheese, smoked Gouda, or even mascarpone. Or mix in some crisp-cooked chunks of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, about 1/2cup.

Salt

2 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)

2 bay leaves

1 pound elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta

4 tablespoons (1/2stick) butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

11/2cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or Emmental

1 /2cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1 /2cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

2. Heat the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand. Cook the pasta in the boiling water to the point where you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.

3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk, and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar or Emmental and stir.

4. Pour the sauce over the pasta, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 ×13-inch or like-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. (You can make the dish to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.) Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve piping hot.

 

Posted in American, Baking

Food Matters Cookbook: Sneak Preview Recipe

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Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Pre-order the book today or pick up a copy when it’s released on September 21st.

Lemon-Almond Florentines

Makes: About 3 dozen        

Time: About 40 minutes, plus time to cool         

Many Florentine recipes call for coating the cookies in melted chocolate, which I think is overkill. I really prefer the touch of lemon. Unsalted butter for greasing the pans

2 cups whole almonds

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 egg white

1/4 teaspoon salt

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

1. Heat the oven to 300°F. Grease 2 baking sheets with a generous smear of butter.

2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until they are just beginning to form a paste; this takes less than a minute. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and add the sugar, egg white, salt, and lemon zest. Stir, adding some lemon juice, a few drops at a time, until the mixture drops easily from a teaspoon. Save the leftover lemon juice.

3. Use the teaspoon to put dollops of the batter about 3 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Dip a fork in the reserved lemon juice and spread the batter into thin (about 1/8 inch) circles, roughly 11/2 inches in diameter. Bake, rotating the pans once or twice, until firm, golden brown on top, and slightly darkened around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to wire racks to let them become crisp. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for no more than a day or 2.

Orange-Hazelnut Florentines. Use hazelnuts instead of almonds, and orange zest and juice instead of lemon.

 

Posted in Baking, Mark Bittman Books

This Week’s Minimalist: Citrus-Almond Poundcake

A food processor makes this poundcake incredibly fast and easy; a citrus soak makes it unbeliebably moist and delicious.

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Donut Peach Donuts

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By Cathy Erway

It was so silly I had to do it. When I read that I would be getting a pint of donut peaches in the newsletter of my fruit CSA this week, the idea took hold of me: must make “donut peach donuts.” I just saw Inception like the rest of our society has, it seems, so I know more than ever now that when an idea is planted, it can grow and grow to take over your rational thought. 
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I dreamed and deliberated about how to make donut peach donuts. My first idea had been simple: make a peach jelly with the fresh fruit, and squeeze it in the middle of some sort of homemade donutty thing. Yeast-risen dough or cake-like dough? Both involved tons of steps, especially the yeast, which is actually my preferred donut type. Do I coat it with powdered sugar after it’s been deep-fried and done? Yuck… I know it’s classic, but I could never stand that fine dust of super-sweet. Maybe I don’t really want to make donuts after all? I hesitated.

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Posted in Baking, Produce

On Forgetting How to Cook, Part II

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MB

Another thing I seem to have forgotten: how to make bread. Specifically, how to make Jim Lahey’s bread, about which I somewhat famously wrote four years ago.

Then, at a benefit for the Truro Center for the Arts a few weeks ago, I met a woman named Judith Motzkin, who makes (among other things) ceramic pots specifically designed for baking Lahey-style bread. This roughly coincided with the arrival of an actual oven at the place I stay in on the Cape (until recently we had a weird kind of oven/microwave hybrid, which was inadequate to every task, from heating coffee to baking bread), and a pledge on my part to resume breadmaking. (The Outer Cape, notorious for bad bread, now boasts a “boulangerie” in Wellfleet which, from my pre-summer experience, seems pretty good, but right now it’s more than your life is worth to try to get anywhere near it. You might as well try to get into Mac’s Shack at 7pm on a Saturday.)  

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Posted in Baking

Pie on the Fly

Cherrypie

by Barbra Walton

(Barbra cleverly improvises a fix during a crisis – a baking crisis no less. – mb)

I hate it when I screw up a dish. So when I moved the flour and found the unopened package of tapioca behind it, I said all my favorite swear words and pulled my freshly-made cherry pie out of the oven and plopped it on the counter. This pie already had a long history; I bought the sour cherries at the farmer’s market Saturday morning, but by the time I pitted them and made the crust, the temperature had hit 95 degrees and we don’t have air-conditioning. Running the oven would have made the house uninhabitable. Everything went into the fridge until a milder day.

Monday morning was cool. Shortly after my first cup of coffee, I decided to get the pie in the oven before the day heated up, and that was my first mistake: never do anything requiring skill or precision before two full cups of coffee. I wanted to make a lattice-top, which I’d never done before, and took my time getting it perfect. I congratulated myself as I put it in the oven, at least until I found the tapioca. Continue reading

Posted in American, Baking