Saturday, November 29, 2008

French Bread

I never thought I could make homemade French bread. It just seemed too difficult. Until I actually looked at a recipe, and decided that I could conquer this breadmaking task.

I used the recipe over at My Kitchen Cafe (lots of other great stuff there as well) for Grandma's French Bread. I couldn't get over how easy this was. Using the stand mixer made things simple, and then all I had to do by hand was roll it out. I even did this in between putting up Christmas decorations, so even though the total time it took before baking was an hour and a half, very little of that time was spent in the kitchen with it.
Two things I will change next time - I got a little flour-happy and a little cornmeal-happy in the last couple of steps. I will use less of each for the rolling out and baking steps. The bread still tastes fantastic, though. This is fabulous recipe!

Weekly Menu

The CSA ended last week, so it's back to whatever veggies look good at the grocery store, as well as the frozen ones. Also, Kroger had their 15 lb bags of potatoes on sale this week, so it's going to be a potato kind of week at our house.

Saturday: braised beef with mushroom and cabernet, mashed potatoes, asparagus
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Twice-baked potatoes, lima beans, corn
Tuesday: Leftover potatoes, peas, broccoli
Wednesday: Leftover potatoes, peas, corn
Thursday: Penne with 5-minute tomato sauce, focaccia, green beans with lemon and garlic
Friday: Leftovers

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Attention, Please

OK, now that I have your attention, I must direct you to Bakerella's blog. I stumbled upon her blog from Pioneer Woman's (another you must check out).

She makes the cutest stinking things I have ever seen. AND, she makes it look easy. I'm guessing from the cuteness and tasty quotient that these things are not easy, but she gives me hope. I'm going to try some cake pops at some point during the holiday season.

So, if you need good baking ideas, go check this site out. And if you're not a baker, her stuff just might convince you to become one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Onion Soufflé

All of my Memphis friends are familiar with this dish, but it's so easy, so fail-proof, and so well-loved that I have to share it. This makes a fantastic appetizer for any event. You can also easily remember it off the top of your head: 3, 2, 1, 1/2.

Next time I make this, I'll be sure to take a picture. It's absolutely delicious!

Onion Souffle

3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
1 onion, diced (I usually use a medium-large white onion)
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a pie plate, or similarly sized dish.

Mix all ingredients together (this works best in a stand mixer). Transfer to pie plate and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. I like for the top of mine to get brown, but most everyone else I know takes it out of the oven a little before then.

Serve hot with corn chips or melba toast.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Apple Pecan Bread

I had a bag of apples I needed to use today, and Good Things Catered just happened to have a recipe posted for apple pecan bread. Since I really didn't want a pie, I figured this would be a great recipe to try out.

I didn't have any pecans on hand, so I made the bread without them. It tastes great with just the apples, but I'll add in the pecans next time I make it. I loved it, and it also made the house smell fantastic!

I took a picture, but it didn't do it justice, so just check out the pics over at the original post.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Popovers

I've made popovers several times in the past, and I've never had any issues. It wasn't until I was looking for a recipe tonight that I realized how many things can go wrong. Since I had no idea what I was doing before, we'll just chalk my previous popover experiences up to good luck.

I wanted an easy bread for dinner tonight. Popovers require no proofing, no kneading, and you can even mix them by hand. I used this recipe.


Everything out and ready to go.

Ready to head into the oven

Out of the oven. Not as "poppy" as I'd like, but they were still quite tasty. Yum.

Mise En Place

I had the opportunity to take a Viking cooking class a few years ago, and it was fantastic. I learned all kinds of tips and tricks that I continue to use daily.

Probably the biggest lesson I took away was the concept of mise en place, which means "everything in place." This means that before you begin to cook or assemble a recipe, you've checked to make sure you have all the ingredients and necessary tools, and you've also cut, peeled, diced, and measured all the ingredients. Think: lots of little bowls. I used to (and still sometimes do) cook via the "find it as you need it" method. Needless to say, this wastes time and resources - especially if you get all the way through a recipe before you realize you're missing a key ingredient.

As I've begun to experiment with baking, I'm learning how important this is. It makes things go so much more smoothly to have everything out and ready to go.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Focaccia

I decided to start this baking thing with chocolate chip cookies (forgot to take a picture, but they're good) and focaccia. I LOVE focaccia.

When I found this recipe over at King Arthur Flour, I thought it was just too good to be true. It's so easy. Really - you just throw it all in the mixer, then in the pan, let it rise for an hour or so, then into the oven. No kneading. No rolling. No any of that other stuff I associate with the pain of breadmaking.

And, it was great. I added in some rosemary, oregano, parmesan, and black pepper. I did feel it was somewhat bland, so I will add more herbs and some coarse salt on top next time. Maybe even some asiago. This will be a go-to for me from now on, especially if we're having pasta.


Before going in the oven (I couldn't find my 9x13 pan, so I cut the recipe in half and baked it this way)

Yum!