Friday, November 19, 2010

Just in time for Thanksgiving

 Stuffing bread


3/12 to 4 cups all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons active dried yeast

1 Tablespoon rubbed sage

2 Tablespoons poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg.


Using a stand mixer,combine 2 cups of flour, yeast,sugar and seasonings. Add the water and oil, egg and mix until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour a little at a time until a soft dough forms. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Punch down and shape into a large round loaf. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 25 to 35 minutes until golder brown. Cool on a wire rack then cut into cubes and bake in a low oven until the cubes are dry. These freeze well.

To make stuffing


3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup melted butter plus more to saute the onions and celery

1 large onion, diced

3 large celery stalks, sliced

4 cups chicken broth, turkey broth or water.


Saute the onions and celery in oil or butter until the onions are just translucent. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, onions, celery, butter, eggs and broth. Stir to moisten the cubes, adding more broth if the stuffing seems dry.  Pour into a greased baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The great pizza divide - William loved them, I wasn't thrilled.

I experimented with my personal favorite food last night, which, if you've looked through the blog at all you have to have guessed, is pizza.

I've never made a really slow rise dough but came across a recipe for one that sounded too good to ignore. Slow rise dough uses less yeast but rises long and slow in the refrigerator. The slow rise adds a depth of flavor to the dough. If you try this, heed the instructions and make sure that your refrigerator is no cooler than 40 degrees or you will kill the yeast and end up with hardtack.

I found the dough recipe here:

I made three variations - once plain cheese, once cheese and pepperoni and two "supremes" with black olives, onion, Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms.

William liked these more than I did. If I made these pizzas with this dough again I would increase the oven temperature or increase the cooking time to 10 minutes. The last pizza I made I left in for 10 minutes and that's the one I think turned out the best.

I like my own sauce so that is what I used:

Pizza sauce


1 28 ounce can of peeled Italian plum tomatoes

1 4 ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 large onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 links Italian sausage with fennel (optional)

Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands.

Heat the oil in a sauce pan and add the minced onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and sausage links, if using.

Simmer until the onions are very soft and the sausage is cooked through. Remove the sausage links from the sauce and set aside to slice as a topping for one or two of your pizzas.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you Lesley Blackner for helping me to decide what to fix for dinner last night

I was talking to my friend Lesley yesterday and she asked me if I had any good vegetarian recipes.

I have a pretty good collection of them since Emily and I used to have vegetarian summers when Emily, Ryan and I spent their school vacations in North Florida without William around to complain about the lack of meat.

Looking though my recipes gave me the inspiration for last night's peanut noodles. I decided to try Soy Sauce Chicken to go with them to keep my husband happy.

It's the first time I've made this chicken and it was excellent.

Peanut Sesame Noodles

For peanut dressing:

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup hot pasta water

2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

For noodle salad:

1 lb dried linguine or spaghetti

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips

1 small head of broccoli cut into florets and steamed


for dressing:

Purée dressing ingredients (except the pasta water ) in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add the scallions, bell peppers, and broccoli to dressing.

for salad:

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Reserve a cup of  the pasta water for the 1/2 cup water to add to the sauce plus a little extra to thin the sauce if necessary. Add the hot pasta water to the sauce. Drain pasta in a colander and add to the bowl with the sauce. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

Soy Sauce Chicken


1 small chicken  -  3 to 4 pounds

1 cup soy sauce

3 cups water

3 tbsp sherry

1 tbsp sugar

1  bunch chopped scallions

8 slices of ginger

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed


Put all of the ingredients except the chicken in a small heavy pot. You want the pot to be small enough so that the chicken fits in the pot with the liquid reaching at least halfway up the chicken.
Bring the sauce to a boil.
Place chicken in liquid and continue to boil over high heat, covered, for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat and let chicken sit in liquid, covered, 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and place in  a roasting pan and roast 15 to 20 minutes at 500 degrees.

To reuse the poaching liquid, strain the sauce and keep in the freezer until the next time. Just add fresh ginger, garlic and scallions the next time you use it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homemade pita bread - one of life's little pleasures

 I love pita, it's soft, chewy and versatile.
When I was in Egypt, a typical breakfast was pita with olives and feta cheese or sweetened condensed milk and jam -  manna when paired with little cups of strong, sweet Turkish coffee brewed in an ibrik or the hot mint tea that for some reason was always served in small glasses instead of cups.

When we lived in Tarpon Springs, we would have lunch at the Sponge Docks and my favorite part of the meal was the side order of pita and tzatziki.
Pita they sell at the grocery store is OK in a pinch, but if you really want to treat yourself, making your own is quick, easy and very satisfying.

I've been on a cooking jag since the election a week ago trying to blot out the anger and sadness I feel over the defeat of Florida's Amendment 4. I made a huge batch of chicken broth last week and it's been calling me from the freezer. Temperatures were in the high 30's here yesterday morning so I decided to make a big pot of avgolemono for dinner. While I was digging the broth out of the freezer I unearthed a two-pound package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts perfect for souvlaki.
Somebody, quick, offer me a job or we are going to get fat.

On a happy note, I finally mastered the art of using my baker's peel to slide the little loaves of pita onto my baking stone without screwing them up.

I've tried several different recipes but this one from the Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli is practically foolproof and has great texture and flavor.


1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

11/2 cups warm water

1 teaspoon salt

31/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon olive oil


In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir to blend. Let the yeast stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the salt. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough gathers into a ball; this should take about 4 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it's smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Place a large pizza stone on the lower oven rack, preheat the oven (and stone) to 500 degrees F.

Punch the dough down, divide it into 8 pieces, and gather each piece into a ball; keeping all of them lightly floured and covered while you work. Allow the balls of dough to rest, covered, for 15 minutes so they will be easier to roll out.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a circle that is about 8-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Make sure the circle is totally smooth, with no creases or seams in the dough, which can prevent the pitas from puffing up properly. Cover the disks as you roll them out, but do not stack them up. Slide one pita round at a time on the hot pizza stone and bake for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread puffs up like a balloon and is pale golden. Watch closely; they bake fast. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes; they will naturally deflate, leaving a pocket in the center. Wrap the pitas in a large kitchen towel to keep them soft.

Avgolemono is the ultimate chicken soup with rice...
When my children were little, one of their favorite books was Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice:


10 cups  Chicken broth; strained

3/4 cup Raw long grain white rice

4 Whole eggs, whites and yolks separated

3  Lemons; (juice only)


Bring the broth to a full boil in a soup kettle. Gradually add the rice, stirring constantly until the broth boils again. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is just tender, not mushy, 12 to 14 minutes.
 Remove from the heat and keep warm while preparing avgolemono.
Beat the yolks for 2 minutes or until they become thick and frothy. Continue to beat, gradually adding the lemon juice.
In a mixing bowl with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, as if you were making meringue. Gently fold the lemon/egg yolk mixture into the egg whites then slowly add some of the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, beating steadily. Stir the mixture into the soup and cook over minimum heat, without boiling, until the soup thickens to coat a spoon. Taste for salt, and keep warm over hot water until ready to serve.
Chicken Souvlaki
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 large sweet onion
3 lemons, juiced
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano and minced garlic and pour over the chicken breasts. Let marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
Cut the peppers and onion into strips and set aside.
Shake the marinade off the chicken and broil or grill the breasts until they are cooked through - the amount of time this takes will depend on the thickness of the meat.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. Add the peppers and onions and broil for about 10 minutes or until they are softened and slightly charred.
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and put the chicken and onion and peppers together in a big bowl.

This can be served over Greek rice pilaf  (especially good with a little tomato sauce and parmesan cheese) or, the way we had it last night, stuffed in a pita with a dollop or tzatziki on top. Diced tomatoes are optional but good too.
1 small cucumber
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp salt
Peel the cucumber and use a spoon to remove the seeds and discard the seeds. Shred the cucumber into a bowl and add the salt, mint, garlic and stir in the yogurt or sour cream.
This is great as a dip with the pita bread or served on top of the souvlakis.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fresh tagliatelli and Ragu Bolognese

Making pasta from scratch is the adult version of playing with Play Doh. You can roll it, cut it, extrude it. But unlike Play Doh, the best thing is,

you get to eat it.

Fresh Semolina Pasta


5 extra large eggs

3 1/2 cups semolina flour

2 ounces, more or less white wine


Put the flour in the bowl of  a food processor and pulse until the dough starts to come together - it will probably be very stiff and dry. Drizzle in the wine a little at a time, pulsing between additions until the dough forms a ball. You want eh dough to be pliable and elastic, not dry and crumbling or too sticky.

Wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 1/2 hour before rolling and cutting.

I use a pasta machine to roll and cut the dough but you can use a rolling pin and sharp knife to roll the dough into sheets and cut into strips. After the noodles are cut, let them dry on an old sheet for about 20 minutes to an hour to prevent them from clumping. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them.

Bolognese sauce is rich and tomato is not the primary flavor, but a compliment to the meat and cream. I experimented with various recipes before coming up with this one. I use evaporated milk because it has the richness of heavy cream with less fat.

Ragu Bolognese


10 -14 oz salt pork (streak o lean)

1 1/4 pounds course ground chuck

1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 cup of minced carrot

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 cups evaporated milk

plenty of fresh ground black pepper


Bring one quart of water to a boil and blanch the saltt pork for about 10 minutes.
Let cool and cut off the outer layer of skin. Cut into cubes and mince in the food processor.

Saute over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan until most of the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes.

Add the minced vegetables and saute until the onions are translucent.

Turn up the heat and add the ground beef and saute until the beef is browned but not crispy.

Add the tomatoes, wine and 1/2 tsp pepper and reduce the heat to a slow simmer.

Simmer for two hours, periodically adding two or three tables spoons of the evaporated milk and stirring until the milk is incorporated into the sauce. When all the milk has been added, simmer for an additional 10 minutes before serving tossed with fresh pasta. Don't over sauce the pasta. You just want the pasta to be coated in the sauce, not swimming in it.