Monday, January 17, 2011

Bread again

                                                           I made three baguette shapes.

Okay; it seems that I talk about bread a lot.  But I have to tell you about the bread I made tonight, it was really great.  I decided to make lentils this morning, it's an easy way to have dinner ready with no fuss.  There is nothing better than fresh bread with lentils so I tried to find an oatmeal bread recipe.  Not an easy task, just about everything is loaf type bread, I wanted bread bread.  I finally found a recipe but like most it is for bread makers which I don't have.  So I altered it for my cooking needs and it was fabulous.

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup  oats
  • 3 cups  flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey (called for molasses but I used honey)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cups water

The recipe was for a bread maker so I'll just tell you what I did with the ingredients.  Put the yeast, oats, flour and salt in the mixer.  Heat the water to approx. 80 degrees and pour into flour mixture while slowly mixing.  Add oil and honey and continue mixing.  Mix well and put on the bread attachment, continue mixing for approx. 3 min.  Oil a large bowl and put dough in and roll around covering the dough with oil.  Cover with clean dish towel and place somewhere warm.  Let rise until double in size.  Punch down and let rest.  Form into whatever shape of loaf you like.  Cover with towel and place in warm area to rise double sized again.  Bake at 400 for approx. 10-15 min. until golden brown.  

This is a great recipe, the bread was so good that I ate way too much.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jeremy's on the Hill

Taken this morning as we were headed home.

First I have to say that I forgot my camera when we headed out to dinner lastnight.  Several hours of shooting wolves was my every thought, of course that is until I sat down to eat.  Jeremy's on the Hill is just minutes outside of Julian, CA.  A town with a permanent population of just 300 so I wasn't sure what to expect when my husband said he'd made reservations.  He had talked to woman at the Hotel and she said it was one of the best. 

Jeremy's on the Hill is a family owned and run business with Jeremy Manley as the head chef.  Jeremy is only in his early 20s, a graduate of Cordon Blue and been cooking since the age of 10.  There is no age limit on being a great Chef, but from speaking with the locals this is one happening restaurant with great food. 

We pulled into the parking lot, the restaurant is very understated from the outside.  We headed in to the restaurant where we were cheerfully met by the staff immediately and brought to our table.  We got a great seat right in the corner by the fireplace, very romantic.  It is a very small and cozy type restaurant.  We made our wine choice from the California wines and were not disappointed.  My wine was amazing, just like the waitress had said it was. 

Chardonnay – Jessie’s Grove Winery – 2008 – Lodi, CA

The waitress brought bread/butter to the table which was some of the best bread I've eatten.  I had to ask if it was made at the restaurant or brought in.  This amazingly delicious bread comes from the town of Julian in a little bakery called The Candied Apple.  (More on this little bakery in another blog)

My husband ordered the mushroom soup for an appetizer which was very good.  Warm and earthy, served in a small cup, a great beginning to dinner.  We both order the Chicken Cordon Bleu as our main was amazing.  I haven't had a good Cordon Bleu in quite a while, it is something that I've eaten a lot of in my life and that I make myself.  This was a great one.  The plates were nice and hot and the food presently nicely.  It was lightly breaded on the outside and rich and moist on the inside.  The smokey flavor of the ham and cheese really gave the dish flavor. 

The service was very good, our waitress was friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the menu and wines.  The evening was relaxed, there was no sense of rush at all and the atmosphere was friendly.  The tables are set nicely apart so that you don't have that feeling of others being on top of you. 

I did not order dessert but my husband order the Chocolate Mocha Pot de creme.  It was very good, my husband loved it. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Veggie Chili

I made veggie Chili last night, it was delicious and very non fattening.  Good news for the New Year eh?  The chili itself was vegan, but being a big dairy lover I added a dollop of sour cream and smoked grated cheddar at the end.  No, it wasn't as non fattening with the additions but it sure was good.  So if you are a vegan, just skip the end additions. 

I love the slow cooker, it is the greatest thing for those days you just don't feel like cooking.  I throw everything in, clamp the lid down and walk away.  About a half hour before dinner I come and check on it, give it a taste and ta da, dinner is served.   An added bonus was that it was almost completely organic.

Chili recipe

1 can pinto beans
1 can  black beans
1 can  tomato sauce
1 can  fire roasted chopped tomatoes
1/2 chopped red onion
1/2 cup frozen red, green and yellow peppers
5 slices fake bacon chopped
1/3 cup red quinoa (added at the end, should cook at least 30 min.)
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup, that's right maple syrup!!!!!
1 big tablespoon of chili powder or to taste
light sprinkle of chipotle seasoning, or more if you like it hot

Throw it all in and shut the lid.  Of course you could do this on the stove top as well on low and simmer it all day.  If you find that the quinoa soaks up too much liquid just add a bit of water or veggie broth.  Mine was just perfect consistency.   And like I said before I added sour cream and smoked grated cheese on top.  But I did just eat another bowl of it with just the cheese and it was fabulous. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bread in general

Is there anything like a great warm homemade bread and butter?  In my books?  Nope.  I love bread, I always have and I always will.  And I really enjoy making bread, I don't think anything comes close to the whole satisfying process.  From the moment you open that little package of yeast, the aroma hits you and grows with the bread.  There are so many great bread recipes, I have found this one that I make every year for Christmas morning.  It is in the Better Homes and Garden Cook book and it has never failed me.

The recipe is for sweet rolls which I have made as well many times.  But for the Christmas bread I simply prepare them differently the ingredients are all the same.

Sweet Rolls

2 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast

Heat and stir 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 tsp salt to 120-130 degrees.  Do not overheat or you will kill the yeast and you will have flatbread.  Add this liquid to the flour mixture and add two eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer or Kitchenaid 3 minutes on high.  The more you mix the better with bread.  Add another 2-2 1/3 cup flour until you have a nice soft squishy dough.

Knead with bread attachment if you have one or turn onto a floured surface and workout your arms.  Knead for at least 5 minutes or until your arms feel like they will fall off.  Shape into a ball and place into a well oil bowl, cover with clean dish towel and place somewhere warm.  I usually turn the oven on for a few minutes then turn it off and let the bread rise in the slightly warm oven. 

Once it is double in size punch it down, literally.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Then roll the dough out as flat as possible, butter it leaving about 1 1/2 on one side not buttered.  Spread a good amount of brown sugar, nuts of your preferance and cinnamon.  I braided the one above, so only put the filling in the middle.  I cut the sides to give me braidable pieces.  Or you can roll it up and make a donut shape with it.  Cut a few slots in the top to let steam out and it looks nice.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 min until golden brown.  Drizzle with powdered sugar and water and spread nuts or cherries on top.