you do not knead your daily bread

crusty-artisan-bread-1Bread is so basic, yet what beats the aroma of freshly baked bread filling the kitchen? There are two types—yeast bread and soda bread. I’ll give you one of each here—both made in rather unconventional ways. If you haven’t tried to bake your own, I encourage you to. It’s satisfying, and the varieties of flour, other additions, and forms they can take can jazz up your meal times. Not to mention, the nutritional value beats that soft airy loaf you buy at the grocery store. You know exactly what goes into your masterpiece. No chemicals or transfats. Pure, wholesome, and delicious.

The first two recipes appeared in my newspaper column. The third recipe is for a quick and easy Tabouli Bread made using frozen bread dough. Enjoy!

no-knead crusty artisan bread

“Artisan” means individually crafted, sometimes rustic. That describes this loaf, which is far from looking mass-produced. I first heard about this bread, which calls for only four ingredients and no kneading, from several sources online. My first was from Paula Fowler, a former director of the Presque Isle Chamber of Commerce. Paula lives in Kentucky now, and we stay in touch on Facebook. Paula says, “I am completely obsessed with this bread. This is insanely easy. It literally took 2 minutes to stir together. Let it sit overnight and bake in the morning.” This is a great way to get your kids introduced to bread making, and yourself if you’ve never made bread in your life!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp coarse (Kosher) salt (or 1¾ tsp table salt)
  • ½ tsp dry instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1½ cups lukewarm water

Directions

Special cookware needed: Dutch oven or any large oven-safe dish/bowl with a lid

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Don’t overwork. Cover bowl and set aside for 8-18 hours or overnight till risen and bubbly-looking on top.
  2. When dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place your Dutch oven, uncovered, into the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  3. While your Dutch oven preheats (no greasing needed), turn dough onto a well-floured surface and, with floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest.
  4. After 30 minutes, carefully remove Dutch oven to a hot pad or rack. Remove the plastic wrap from dough, and with floured hands, place the dough into the hot pan. (Place a piece of parchment under the dough if your dish isn’t enamel-coated.)
  5. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 7-15 minutes, uncovered, till golden brown and crusty.
  6. Cool about a half-hour and slice with a bread knife. Enjoy!

Skillet Cornbreadskillet cornbread

This bread uses toasted cornmeal that makes it extra good tasting, plus it is gluten-free since it contains no wheat flour. It is a soda bread that requires no kneading—just a little jockeying around of pans.

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups cornmeal (I prefer Arrow Mills as it is organic and not genetically modified)
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup lite olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Set oven racks to middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 450°. When hot, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet on the middle rack for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, spread cornmeal in a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven on the lower rack about 5 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Mix with sour cream and milk.
  3. Add oil to skillet in oven and heat another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add butter. Melt and pour it, mixed with the oil, into the batter in bowl.
  4. Whisk in remaining ingredients with eggs being last. Quickly scrape into hot skillet and smooth the top of batter.
  5. Transfer skillet to middle rack of oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating to lower rack midway through. Bread is done when edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.
  6. Cool 10 minutes. Best served immediately, but will keep a few days in the refrigerator—if it lasts that long!

tabouli bread

This is a delicious stuffed bread with a Lebanese flair. Frozen bread dough gives you a distinct head start. I defrost mine in the microwave, but you can take it out of the freezer early on the day before, and it will thaw just fine. Follow directions on the package. Bulgur is a type of cracked wheat (also called burghul) that can be found in larger grocery stores and also in Sleeper’s in Caribou.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups warm water
  • ¾ cup bulgur wheat
  • ½ cup plain tomato sauce
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • ½ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped OR 1 tsp dried, crushed mint
  • 2 Tbs pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1 16-oz loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 2 tsp butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine warm water and bulgur. Let stand 1 hour. Drain, pressing out excess water.
  2. Combine bulgur with tomato sauce, chopped tomato, parsley, lemon juice, cinnamon, and mint. Set aside.
  3. On a floured surface, roll dough out to a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. (If dough is too elastic, let it rest for 15 minutes.) Once it is rolled out, cover top of dough with the olive oil.
  4. Spread the bulgur mixture over the dough to within 1 inch from the edges. Evenly sprinkle on the pine nuts.
  5. Roll up the dough jelly-roll style from the long edge. Moisten and seal edge and ends.
  6. Starting from one end of roll, coil roll loosely in a snail fashion and place seam side down in a greased 9 x 1½-in round pan. Cover and let rise till nearly double, about 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°.
  7. When risen, bake 35-40 minutes, covering with foil the last 15 minutes if necessary to prevent overbrowning.
  8. Spread butter on top of hot loaf. Cool on a wire rack and cut into wedges to serve.

TIP:

Thaw bread dough in the refrigerator overnight if you can’t watch it all day.

 


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seafood: a refreshing change

After all the red meat and gravy on the table the past few weeks, it’s a nice change to serve seafood. When buying shrimp, choose raw, not precooked, so yours don’t end up overdone and tough. Bags of frozen large or jumbo size are economical. You can use half a bag and keep half in the freezer.

When selecting fish, be sure to choose wild-caught, which is not heavily processed, nor does it contain antibiotics or unnatural food that can taint its flavor.

salmon cakes with peach salsa  Fresh salmon is quite expensive and best prepared poached or grilled. When making my tasty salmon cakes, use inexpensive wild-caught canned salmon, which flakes easily, and the edible crushed bones provide a big burst of calcium! This makes four nice size cakes you can serve with sides or pop them on a bun with lettuce, sliced red onion, and horseradish sauce along with the peach salsa. Very flavorful. I made these the other night. Jerry ate two and I ate one, so I saved the last one for my lunch the next day. Wow, so good heated up in the toaster oven at 400° for 10 minutes.

ingredients for the salsa

  • 2 large ripe peaches (or use a 15-oz can of sliced peaches packed in juice)
  • 1 medium scallion, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbs minced pickled jalapeno peppers (or use 1 fresh if desired)
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro (optional or sub parsley)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar

ingredients for the cakes

  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 15-oz can red or pink salmon
  • 2-3 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup finely minced sweet red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup finely minced yellow onion
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup (or more) Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs olive oil

directions

  1. Prepare salsa. Drain and dice peaches. Combine in a small bowl with scallions, lemon juice, jalapenos, salt, and sugar. Stir in cilantro and set aside.
  2. Heat heavy skillet over medium high heat. Thoroughly drain salmon and remove dark skin if desired. Flake salmon and crush bones with a fork. Mix in all remaining ingredients except oil, butter and Panko.
  3. Place Panko in a flat bowl. Line a platter with wax paper. Use your hands or ½-cup measuring cup to form at least four cakes about 1-inch thick, carefully coating them with Panko and placing on the platter. Cakes will be very soft.
  4. Place olive oil and butter in pan, swirling to cover bottom. When shimmering, transfer cakes carefully to pan. Fry 3-5 minutes on each side till golden brown. Serve with peach salsa and sour cream on the side.

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TIP: Panko breadcrumbs can be found in the ethnic section of your grocery store. The brand name is Sushi Chef.

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heavenly sweet coconut crunch shrimp  This delicious shrimp is not only good, but it’s also pretty low in calories. Serve with sweet and sour or sweet chili sauce, rice, and a green veggie.

ingredients

  • ¼ cup Fiber One Bran Cereal (original)
  • 1/3 cup shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
  • 3 Tbs Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 oz (about 20) raw large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 1 small egg, beaten

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Place cereal in a sealable plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible before sealing. Using a meat cleaver or heavy can, crush cereal through the bag. Add coconut, Panko, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to bag. Seal and shake to mix. Transfer to a large plate and set aside.
  3. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  4. Pat shrimp very dry with paper towels. Beat egg and toss shrimp to coat. One at a time, shake excess egg off shrimp and place in crumb mixture, flipping and patting till well coated. Space evenly on baking sheet.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes until coating is light browned and crispy. Serve immediately.

deb’s clam casserole  My college roommate used to make this for us—a cheap but filling meal, delicious served with stewed tomatoes and toast points. This recipe makes plenty for four.

ingredients for the casserole

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 small cans minced clams (juice and all) or 2 cups freshly shucked clams
  • 30 saltine crackers, crushed
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter, cooled

ingredients for the stewed tomatoes

  • 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh, cored, skinned, and diced)
  • ½ small onion, finely minced
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

directions for the casserole

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray the inside of a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly, ending with the butter. Pour into baking dish. Bake 1 hour until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

directions for the stewed tomatoes

  1. While casserole is baking, place all ingredients except the cornstarch mixture and salt and pepper in a saucepan. Cover and bring to boil over medium high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 8-10 minutes till vegetables are soft.
  2. Stir cornstarch mixture well and add to pan, stirring constantly till sauce thickens. if too thick, add a bit more water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and simmer another two minutes till cornstarch is thoroughly cooked. Serve alongside clam casserole with English muffins or toast. Nice stick-to-your-ribs winter meal!

my baked stuffed white fish (cod, flounder, haddock, hake, pollock, sea bass, or sole) with my seafood stuffing  I buy whatever white fish is on sale or marked-down frozen as long as it is fresh-smelling and firm to the touch (never be afraid to ask the person at the fish counter to let you smell the fish before you buy it). White fish from the ocean is usually wild-caught, so you don’t have to be concerned about that. White fish can be used in chowders, breaded and fried, or baked. Avoid oily fish like mackerel, herring, salmon, or bluefish, which need to be prepared differently.

My stuffing includes “imitation” crab meat, a product made from ground fish called surimi, which is purified and flavored, so it is purely protein and one I do not object to using in some of my recipes as it is very flavorful and economical. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surimi] If you prefer, you can use real crabmeat.

ingredients for the stuffing (makes 2 cups)

  • ½ of ¾-lb. block frozen imitation crab meat (Louis Kemp is the best brand)
  • 1 cup Ritz or Townhouse crackers, crumbled
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 stick celery, finely minced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • Pepper to taste

directions for the stuffing

  1. Mix all well.
  2. Refrigerate for an hour before using.

ingredients for the baked stuffed haddock or any white fish

  • 1 lb. white fish fillets
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups my seafood stuffing

directions for the baked stuffed fish

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Prepare either a 9-inch square pan or two individual au gratin dishes with cooking spray. Drop 1 Tbs butter into individual dishes or 2 Tbs into pan. Place in oven to melt.
  3. Remove pan/dishes from oven and place half lemon juice into them.
  4. Cut the fish into pieces to fit the dishes or pan. Sprinkle remaining lemon juice on top, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  5. Divide seafood stuffing over tops of the fish, and dot with remaining butter cut into small cubes.
  6. Bake from 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serves 2.

seafood newburg  Use lobster, white fish, or crab—even imitation crab or lobster by Louis Kemp. Make this sauce and placed cooked seafood in it for a few minutes to warm through. Be careful. Do not boil! The sauce is delicate and will break easily if boiled too hard. Simmer only. Sorry for the unconventional presentation of this recipe. It is the only one I have and have followed for years.

directions

  1. Melt a half stick of butter in a skillet. Add 2 Tbs dry sherry and 1 Tbs bourbon. (If you need to cook raw haddock or shrimp, you can add it here.) Stir, cooking for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove fish, and add 1½ cups milk, cream or half-and-half, bring to a boil and reduce heat.
  3. Stir in another Tbs sherry, 1 Tbs bourbon, and ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg.
  4. Whisk in 2 egg yolks OR 1 Tbs cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs water, a dash of cayenne, and a ½ tsp paprika. Add your fish, including cooked lobster, back into pan.
  5. Cook 3 minutes or so. Keep warm. Serve over rice or toast.

seared scallops with brussels sprouts and bacon  Scallops can be very dear, but when they are on sale, 3-4 scallops to each diner should be plenty as they provide some pure protein and minerals from the sea—a winning combination. Ask for “dry” scallops if they are available. They haven’t been processed or plumped up with salt water, so they leak less liquid when you are cooking them. You also get more meat for your money. You can easily double this recipe for more diners at the table.

ingredients

  • 5-8 oz fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 slices bacon cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs water
  • ¾ Tbs butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch of pepper
  • 6 large sea scallops
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

directions

  1. Blanch sprouts in a 2-qt. saucepan of boiling salted water, uncovered for 3 minutes, then drain.
  2. Cook bacon in a microwave or a heavy skillet over medium heat till crispy; transfer to a small bowl, reserving fat.
  3. Add 2 Tbs broth and 2 Tbs water to skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping up brown bits. Add butter, salt, sugar, pepper and blanched sprouts and simmer covered for 4 minutes.
  4. Remove lid and cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally till liquid is evaporated and sprouts are tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in bacon and remove from heat.
  5. While sprouts are cooking, pat scallops VERY dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil with 1 tsp bacon fat in a 6-inch skillet over medium high heat till hot but not smoking. Place scallops to sear, turning once till golden brown and cooked through, 4-6 minutes TOTAL (that means 2-3 minutes per side). Do NOT overcook.
  6. Transfer to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
  7. Pour off and discard fat remaining in the 6-inch skillet. Add remaining chicken broth and simmer, scraping up brown bits for 1 minute. Stir cornstarch into remaining 1 sp water and stir into pan with any juices that have accumulated on the scallops plate.
  8. Simmer 1 minute, stirring, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve brussels sprouts topped with scallops and sauce.

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blog version of my column coming soon

Greetings! I hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday season. Getting together with family and friends always includes my favorite part—cooking and eating!

I see that I got quite a tidy number of views this time. I hope I can continue to draw more and more readers, and I encourage you to submit your favorite recipes to me any time. My column this week was about seafood. I’ll be adding several more seafood recipes in the blog, and a couple of them are real time savers AND money savers.

Stay tuned, and stay warm!