Cornbread Strata and Meet Bindi!

My apologies again for disappearing. I know I said I was back after my last hiatus, but then something very exciting happened….we got a puppy! Meet Bindi our lab mix little cutie.

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I absolutely love this little pup, so much so that I find it difficult to spend time cooking or writing instead of playing with her! I think we’ve now gotten into a more routine schedule and I hope to posting much more often. If any of you have suggestions for how you balance blogging with family, work, pets and other priorities I’d love to hear them!!

And now for the food. The mornings have started to get a bit cooler, which makes me want to just curl up with something warm and cozy for breakfast. I had 3/4 of a loaf of cornbread and some sauteed onions left over from earlier in the week and decided to try a strata to use it up. You can really make this with any type of bread, but cornbread gives it a nice fall feel. I like to add a little
King Arthur Vermont Cheese Powder to my cornbread. I know, I know cheese powder? But this is a great ingredient that can add extra flavor to mannny dishes. Bread that is a day or two old generally works best for this as well.

Cornbread Strata
Cornbread (note: this is half the amount that I make if I’m making the bread to eat, the strata doesn’t require as much unless you’re feeding a crowd)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon King Arthur Vermont Cheese Powder (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Sauteed Onion:
1 large onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper

Strata:
1 pan cornbread (see above)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Make the cornbread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, cheese powder, thyme and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until the edges start to brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Saute the onions: Add the olive oil to a pan on medium-low heat. Slice the onion thinly and add to the pan. Cook the onions slowly for about 10 minutes until they’re soft and start to brown just a little. Salt and pepper to taste. Let the onions cool.

Make the strata: Cut the cornbread into small chunks and place about 1/2 in the bottom of a baking dish. Combine the rest of the strata ingredients and the cooled onions in a bowl and whisk lightly. Pour half of the mixture over the bread. Place the rest of the bread in the dish and pour the remaining mixture evenly over the bread the cover it. Add some more grated cheese on top if you like. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes until the eggs are cooked. Enjoy!

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Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

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Hey all! I’m happy to say that after a move and a couple of trips I’m finally back, set up in my new kitchen and ready to begin sharing recipes and stories with you all once again!

There are a few foods that always draw me in. Whether it’s their taste, their delicacy or their appearance, I definitely have a list of foods I can’t pass up. Zucchini flowers are a great example of this. They are so delicate and beautiful, yet somehow manage to be crispy on the outside, soft inside and all around delicious.

When I saw zucchini flowers at the farmer’s market last week, I just couldn’t leave without them. I’ve never made them myself before, but I figured with some cheese and breadcrumb I couldn’t go wrong.

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Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
6-8 zucchini flowers
3 slices of bread or 1 cup breadcrumbs
4 oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 jalapeno (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully open the flower and remove the stamen (long stem) from the inside.

2. Cut your slices of bread into small chunks and place it in a food processor, pulse until you have breadcrumb sized chunks (if you are using breadcrumb just skip this step).

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3. Separate the breadcrumb into two bowls, one will be for the stuffing and one will be for the breading.

4. Place the onion, garlic,jalapeno and cheese in the food processor and pulse until it becomes a mixture. Stir the mixture into the bowl with the bread crumb. Carefully spoon the mixture into each flower.

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5. Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Dip each flower into the bowl so the entire thing is covered. Then dip it into the other bowl of just breadcrumb. Place the breaded flowers on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until the breading starts to brown. Enjoy!

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Fontina Focaccia with Garlic Herb Oil

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When I heard that the first Fiesta Friday challenge would involve yeast and herbs I was excited. In my mind, there are few things better than fresh warm bread and I love having a reason to experiment and try something new. I immediately knew I wanted to make a focaccia. I love the crunch bottom and sides and the fluffy soft inside.

I also really like baking cheeses into my breads and fontina seemed like a great choice for this Italian classic. The fontina adds a little saltiness and flavor without being overwhelming. However, I think the real star of this focaccia is the garlic and herb oil. The fresh herbs really bring this to life and well, I love garlic so a garlic infused oil is right up my alley. If you’re not such a garlic fan you can either use less or omit it.

I can’t wait to see what everyone else enters in the challenge. Click the badge below to see what’s been entered so far!
”Fiesta

Fontina Focaccia with Garlic Herb Oil

Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese, grated or shredded

Garlic Herb Oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Begin by adding the water and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit for about ten minutes, until it starts to get frothy. Add the flour and salt to the yeast and water and begin to combine on the lowest speed. Slowly drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into the dough while it combines. Once the dough starts to form a ball, add 1 cup of the fontina and let it continue to combine until you have a sticky dough ball. Remove the dough and place it in a bowl. Cover the bowel with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.

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2. While the dough is rising, make the garlic herb oil. Peel and smash the two cloves of garlic and place them in a microwave safe bowl with the olive oil. Place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Put the oil, garlic, basil and parsley in a food processor and pulse until the herbs and garlic are in small pieces.

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3. Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large baking dish. Place the dough in the dish and spread it out as best you can. Then turn the dough over so both sides get oiled and spread it out a little more. It’s fine if it doesn’t reach the edges of the bowl. Use your fingers to dimple the surface of the dough and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top.

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4. Bake the bread at 400 for about 30 minutes. Then place the rest of the fontina cheese on top of the bread. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the top just starts to brown. Remove from the oven and brush the garlic herb oil on top. Enjoy!

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Simit (Turkish Bagel)

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In the past week I’ve made kabobs twice, humus and now simit. Something tells me I’m really missing this time last year when I was enjoying these foods with tea by the sea in Turkey. Simit was basically everywhere in Turkey, we’d buy a bunch in the morning and snack on it all day long while we walked around.

I wasn’t totally sure how to go about making this myself. Traditional Turkish simit has grape molasses in it, something I didn’t have. I used a light maple syrup instead for the syrupy component. It wasn’t quite what I remembered but still a great snack that I’m sure will be all gone in the next 24 hours. These are best served with a glass of Turkish tea, but personally, I like to dip them in Nutella!

Simit
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 cup water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons grape molasses (I used maple syrup)
1 cup toasted sesame seeds

1. Combine the yeast and 1 cup of water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit for about ten minutes. Then, add the flour and salt and combine. Let it mix for about 5 minutes, until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a bowl and let it rise for about an hour, until it doubles in size.

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2. When the dough has risen, divide into 12-14 even pieces. Roll each piece out into a thin log. Combine two of the logs and twist them around each other. Combine the ends together so it forms a circular shape.

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3. Combine the water and molasses in a shallow plate, and the sesame seeds on another.

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4. Dip the simit in the water and molasses mixture, let the excess liquid drip off, then dip them in the sesame seeds.

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5. Continue with each simit and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let the formed simit rise again for about 30 minutes. Finally, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, until they’re slightly browned. Enjoy!

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Panzanella with Bacon and Sweet Balsamic Dressing

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As much as I’ve been trying to be very healthy lately, I have been and always will be a carb-aholic. I love bread of every shape and size and simply can never get enough. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that I would he a huge fan of a bread salad. And if you’re already making the salad out of bread, why not add bacon? Now that’s a salad!

I received some great little yellow tomatoes in this week’s farm basket and their color just goes so great with the bacon and toasted bread. However, you can use any kind of tomatoes you like. I also added some spinach to this so I could feel slightly less guilty while eating it. I topped this salad with a sweet balsamic dressing which was just perfect. I’ve already eaten two helpings of this salad today – and it’s not even noon, oops! Oh well, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I am!

And to make things even better, it’s Fiesta Friday! Check it out and join the party!

Panzanella with Bacon and Sweet Balsamic Dressing
For the salad:
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 slices day old bread, cubed
3 pieces of crunchy bacon
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped in half
1 cup spinach chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2 ball of mozzarella cheese, cubed

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Add the salted butter to a pan on low heat. When the butter melts, add the bread cubes to the pan and cook until lightly toasted, about 8-10 minutes.

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2. In a bowl combine the bacon, tomatoes, spinach, green onions, parsley and mozzarella. Add the bread when it’s toasted and toss to combine all of the ingredients.

3. To make the dressing whisk all the ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the salad, enjoy!

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Feta and Olive Stuffed Dough Balls

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So I wasn’t really sure what to call these.  They’re inspired by a Turkish dish called pogaca, which are basically delicious little dough balls stuffed with feta and parsley.  I happen to have a lot of olives around and wanted to incorporate those so I added them to the filling.  Then, I decided I wanted a touch of spice so I added Turkish pepper paste.  The pepper paste is difficult to find in American grocery stores but you could mix some cayenne or red pepper into tomato paste and get a similar product.

I just love the dough that these call for, it’s absolutely beautiful and always comes out great.  If you have a phobia of making dough (like I did for a long time) this is a great one to try to boost your dough making confidence.  These can make a great appetizer, but they’re hard to stop eating so for me they usually end up being a meal on their own!

Feta and Olive Stuffed Dough Balls
Dough:
photo (49)4 cups of flour
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Filling:
3/4 cup pepper paste (see above for substitute)
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 Tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Egg Wash:
1 large egg, whisked

1. Combine the yeast and 1/2 cup of the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand for about 10 minutes.

2. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients for the dough and add them to your mixer. Combine using the dough hook. Next add the melted butter. Then, add the rest of the milk slowly.

3. Continue to mix using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, you should have a slightly sticky dough at this point.

4. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise for at least an hour.

5. While your dough is rising, make your filling. The easiest way is to combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they become a spread like mixture. If you don’t have a food processor you can also chop the olives and onion and just stir everything else in.

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6. Once the dough has risen, roll it out in small batches using a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8 inch thin. Use a circular cookie cutter (or the top of a glass) to cut out circles that are about 2 inches in diameter. Place the circles on a baking sheet.

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7. Fill the middle of each circle with a small amount of the filling. Then bunch up the ends together to hold the filling. Place the “bunched” side down on the baking sheet. Brush each dough ball with the egg wash and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until they start to brown. Enjoy!

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No-Knead Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia

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Let me start this off by saying I LOVE bread.  I’m pretty sure I could live off of nothing but good bread and be a happy girl (ok maybe some tomatoes and cheese wouldn’t hurt either).  As a kid, I remember going to the local bakery with my grandpa and sneakily breaking off bits of the crunchy crust and shoving them in my mouth on the way home.  In college, I would make the inconvenient drive out to the Italian bakery on the other side of town just to get my fix.  To this day, if I find a really good loaf it’s definitely not making it all the way back to my kitchen without me ripping off a piece and enjoying it on the way home.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I moved to D.C. and couldn’t find a decent bakery.  Sure,  there are tons of bakeries offering cupcakes (not that those aren’t great) but I couldn’t find a place that sold that a loaf of bread that was perfectly crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Not to say such a place doesn’t exist, but I’ve been here over two years and still haven’t found it, so if you know of a place, let me know!  I decided to take matters into my own hands and began to try baking my own bread.  I’ll admit, at first I had my fair share of disappointing failures but then my mom suggested I look at King Arthur Flour’s website.  She mentioned my Uncle Dave always liked them because they had tons of recipes and included comments from other people who have tried them.  I checked out their site and the first one that caught my eye was a no-knead crusty bread – had they read my mind!?  I tried it and it came out great.  So I started trying more and more of their recipes and the results have been fanatastic.  Today I’m sharing my version of their simple focaccia bread.  I added some cheese, spices and sun dried tomatoes to mine.  This bread is actually really simple to make, if you’ve ever though about trying to make your own bread but have been scared to try it, try this one!

No-Knead Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia adapted from King Arthur’s Blitz Bread: No-Fuss Focaccia
Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 teaspoons King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor, optional
1/2 cup cheddar cheese cut into small chunks or shredded, optional

Topping:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sun dried tomatoes (however many you like)

1. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom

2. Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and let sit for about ten minutes

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients for the dough except the cheese, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds dough

4. Add the cheese to the dough mixture and mix very slightly, until it’s just incorporated

5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, cover with a clean cloth and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes
**I’ve found that letting my covered dough rise in the microwave helps a great deal, it keeps out the draft from the air conditioning – just remember not to turn the microwave on while it’s in there!

dough26. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F and mix all of the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl

7. After rising, gently poke the dough all over with your index finger

8. Brush the topping onto the dough

9. Bake for about 35- 40 minutes, until it’s golden brownfoc

Baked Apple Crisp French Toast

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Yes, I know it’s supposed to be 90+ degrees in DC this week but I’m still blissfully pretending it’s almost Fall and I’ll soon feel a cool breeze.  I was very excited last Friday when I made three very successful loaves of homemade bread – not an easy feat. I’ve had my share of attempts at bread making that turn out to be brick-like loaves of a waste of good flour. But this week’s batch actually came out really well so I’ve been thinking up ways to eat it all up. Then, Saturday my husband and I went apple picking and now I have waaay more apples than I know what to do with. So, Sunday morning breakfast was an apple crisp french toast to use up both the bread and some of the apples!

Baked Apple Crisp French Toast
(This recipe is only enough for two people, so you’ll want to double or triple it if you have a large crowd).
4 medium sized apples peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
4 thickly cut slices of bread
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of cold butter cut into small chunks
3-4 tablespoons flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow bowl and whisk.

aple crisp43. Dunk the bread slices in the egg mixture until completely covered on both sides.

4. Place the bread in a baking pan.

5. Place the butter, 2 tablespoons of flour and both sugars in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add more flour as needed until you get small chunks.

6. Arrange the cut up apples on top of your bread and and pour the butter/flour/sugar mixture on top of the apples.

7. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until brown and bubbly! Enjoy!

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