Category Archives: Breads

Challah

Bread!  I love to bake it almost as much as I love to eat it.

This month, Saveur took me to Eastern Europe to reveal the origins of beloved staples of Jewish delicatessens around the world.  Challah, a Jewish braided egg bread, was one of the featured items.  I have eaten Challah on numerous occasions but had never attempted to make it myself.

I then made a quick trip over to Wikipedia and discovered entirely too much information about this tasty treat.  The bread is rich in custom, history and symbolism.  But to me, it is just delicious egg bread enjoyed in sandwiches, with soup, as French toast, or just by itself.

All in all, it was a relatively easy task, with minor difficulty points for the braiding.

Challah.  Holla! Here is the recipe

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Chunky Banana Bran Raisin Walnut Muffins

M’s (and now my) good friend Karyn came to town and I decided to start off the visit with some Chunky Banana Bran Raisin Walnut Muffins.  And where else to turn for such a decadent recipe than Ina Garten?

A few years ago, I was given the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook by a very special friend and I have turned to it many times, and especially when company is coming.  Ina is not known for her restraint in the kitchen and this is what makes most of her recipes great for special occasions.

These muffins contain bran, walnuts, bananas and raisins and all that healthiness definitely outweighs the other not-so-healthy ingredients.  But the best part about these healthy sounding muffins is that they actually taste good too. Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Breads, Sweet

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake

I found this recipe in the letters section of the May 2010 issue of Bon Appétit.  Someone had written in to ask how to make one of the creations they had at the Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica, CA.  I held on to it until the local organic blueberries were available and finally made it a few weeks ago.

As I have taken to doing recently, I substituted my 5″ silicone pans for the 10″ springform that the recipe calls for.  We ended up with two small cakes, the first of which M and I quickly devoured.  The second one was frozen and recently served with coffee as breakfast  to a houseguest.

There are so many great things about this cake but the overall texture is what really sets it apart.  It is crusty on the outside and, because of the amount of blueberries involved, super moist on the inside.  The addition of cornmeal to the batter gives the cake a grainy (but in a good way) texture.  It defies classification and is equally at home being served as a breakfast treat, on its own with tea or as a dessert.

Hurry up and try this before all the blueberries are gone!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Breads, Cakes, Desserts, Sweet

Le Cake Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon

One day, when M and I ride off into the sunset, we would like to try our hand at running a country inn somewhere. We have our minds set on upstate New York or Maine but have not ruled out other much more glamorous locations.  Like France, for example.

Which is why we were both so excited when A Table in the Tarn was published last year.  The book chronicles the story of Orlando Murrin, an English food writer and journalist who up and left his life in London to open a guest house with his partner in a remote part of rural France.

The book contains stories about finding and renovating Le Manoir de Raynaudes, an 1860s farmhouse an hour outside of Toulouse.  The bonus is that it also contains 80 recipes for the dishes served at Le Manoir.

This particular recipe is for Le Cake Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon, a savory treat that Murrin served his guests with an aperitif.  Olives, pancetta, Reblochon, herbs and oh yes, please.

Le Cake Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon

This thing is crazy good.  The recipe makes one full size loaf or three mini loaves.  I made the mini loaves and the best thing about that decision is that there are now two loaves in the freezer for a date in the not too distant future. This “cake” is good with just about any cocktail but especially so with a glass of champagne or prosecco.

Update:  I just did a search for Le Manoir de Raynaudes and it seems that it is for sale.  And now I need to go.  I have some bags to pack.

Here is the recipe….

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Filed under Appetizers, Breads, Savory

Cheese Biscuits

Clementine Paddleford

Last summer, during the height of Julia mania, I was reminded that, even with a cookbook collection of nearly 200, we do not own Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I went to eBay to find it and was quickly discouraged by the inflated prices and decided to wait to obtain our copy.  M suggested that we get Clementine Paddleford instead.  Clementine who?

Clementine Paddleford was the first American journalist to take food seriously, with a writing career that spanned from the 1920s to the sixties.  She was the food editor of the New York Herald Tribune and This Week magazine and travelled across America gathering the best recipes from the best cooks she met along the way.  Her out of print, hard to find book that we are now proud owners of, thanks to eBay and last summer’s Julia distraction, is titled How America Eats.  It is a compendium of 800 recipes that were popular in her columns and is also representative of her travels throughout the US.

What makes the book unique is the stories she tells of the colorful characters she met along the way.  I would like to share one of my favorites courtesy of Mrs. Robert Conover of Manhattan, Kansas.  

Darlene Conover was a professor’s wife and often had to entertain on a modest budget.  To simplify, she used ten basic recipes, one of which is for biscuits.  Her basic biscuit recipe can be turned into cheese biscuits, a cinnamon crumb coffee cake, or even niff-niff (celery seed and parsley dumplings!).

Clementine’s description of her is perfect.  “She was neither young nor beautiful, except for her eyes.  They were straight-at-you eyes, gray-blue, which held a joy-in-living look.”

 I tried the cheese version and have attached the recipe.  Thank you, Clementine.

Click here for Mrs. Conover’s recipe…

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Turkish Coffee and Zaatar

Our dear friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Gail, sent us the most lovely gift from the Middle East – ground Turkish coffee, an ibrik (special Turkish coffee pot) and a baggie full of a spice combination called zaatar.

I have only had real Turkish coffee once, at a restaurant in New York.  My not-so-funny dining companion (you know who you are)  instructed me to give it a good stir before I drank it.  Luckily, he called off the prank because that is not how you drink Turkish coffee.  More on this later.

Turkish coffee is derived from the Arabica bean and is ground to a very fine powder.  Cardamom pods are sometimes added to the beans as they are being ground (ours was of this variety and …delicious).  Gail suggested that we visit YouTube and check out a video by Mustafa Arat on how to make this tasty concoction before we went any further.

I watched this a couple of times and made my first, and definitely not last, pot of Turkish coffee.  Important note!  There will be a lot of undissolved, leftover sludgy stuff in the bottom of your cup.  Do not drink it!

Now, what about this zataar?

Gail let us know that zaatar contains oregano, basil, thyme, savory and sesame seeds and is used on everything – from Greek yogurt with olive oil to bread to meats.  I thought we should try it on bread first and used it on the remaining flatbread dough from when I made the coca mentioned in an earlier post.

The ibrik, coffee, and zaatar (also spelled zaa’tar) can all be found in New York at Kalustyan’s, a gold mine for hard-to-find ingredients and an amazing place to kill a couple of hours.  Luckily, they also have a website with online ordering.

The Turks have a saying that “one cup of coffee is worth forty years of friendship.”  Thanks, Gail.  We look forward to it.

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Filed under Beverages, Breads, Non-alcoholic, Savory

Cuckoo for Coca

Onion, red pepper, and eggplant coca

I mentioned that we had a Meditteranean coca with our controversial tuna and cinnamon meatballs.  It turned out so wonderfully and was such a pleasant surprise that I have decided to share the recipe here.

The recipe is from another of our many (and favorite) cookbooks, Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark, the husband and wife team behind the acclaimed Moro Restaurant in London, known for its award-winning Moorish cuisine.  Traveling and books play a vital role in their menus and I love that they often read about a dish in a book, and then travel to that particular country to find someone to show them how to make it.  I want to do that.

Moro East follows a year that the couple spent on their first allotment at Manor Garden.  I wasn’t exactly sure what an allotment was so I did a little research and here’s what I found out about the Manor Garden Allotments.

They were established in 1900 by philanthropist Arthur Villiers to provide small parcels of land for deprived locals to grow vegetables and occupied 4.5 acres between the River Lea and the Channelsea River in Hackney Wick, East London.  In keeping with conditions of Villiers’ bequeath that the allotments be maintained in perpetuity, the 80 individual plots have been tended for over a century by a tight-knit and diverse multicultural community of Londoners.

Here is a video I found on youtube in which the Clarks talk about their allotment experience.

The saddest part?  The Manor Garden Allotments were demolished in October 2007 to make way for landscaping for the 2012 London Olympics Park.  The good news?  The allotments will be reinstated on the original site once the Olympics are over.

Now, on to the coca.

Coca is pizza from the Catalonia region of Spain.  It is thin, crisp, chewy and amazing.  There are many variations of coca – I made the onion, red pepper and eggplant version.  Flatbread dough is used as the base.  Although I have included the Clarks’ recipe, I made a few small changes.

1) I substituted all-purpose flour for bread flour.  This seemed to work just fine.

2) I did not knead the flatbread dough by hand.  I used the dough hook and our awesome Kitchen-Aid stand mixer.

3) I changed the word aubergine to eggplant.  OK, not such a big change.  I just brought that aubergine across the pond.

4) I used less olive oil than what the recipe calls for.

Here are the recipes…

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