Tag Archives: cooking club

Challah {Four-Strand Braid}

29 Nov

Four Braid ChallahThanksgiving snuck up on me this year – does everyone feel that way every year? I had suggested to my parents that we embrace “Thanksgivukkah” and serve a Jewish-themed appetizer course, followed by the traditional Thanksgiving meal. They did not require much convincing. Any excuse to eat latkes, lox, and pastrami is welcomed around these parts.

I was not able to attend October’s Cooking Club (Hostess: SLSC; Theme: Thanksgiving Inspiration; Date: 10.27.13), but the menu included Pumpkin Challah expertly baked by EDL, which received rave reviews from the attendees, so I decided to include it in my family’s celebration.

However, I have a very traditional family, and as I braided the pumpkin challah, I could tell my dad would have preferred a regular old challah.  The pumpkin-flavored bread ended up being delicious and appreciated, but my dad was right. If you were expecting challah, it wasn’t “challah.”

I have made challah before, but looking through my recipe files, it may have been over 8 years ago – and I have never made a braid with more than 3 strands. The pumpkin challah turned out perfect, so I went back to the same source for her traditional challah recipe. Another winner! I particularly appreciated the tutorial on how to braid challah, and I decided on the four-strand braid. I wanted to use half the batch of dough to make dinner rolls, and didn’t think I would have enough dough to attempt anything more complex that would still have a wow-factor. I literally got “oohs” and “ahhs.” It is hard to deny that braided challah is indeed gorgeous.

– 1 packet active dry yeast
– 1/4 c water (100-110 degrees)
– 1 t sugar
– 1 egg (whole)
– 3 egg yolks {save the whites for breakfast tomorrow!}
– 1/3 cup honey
– 2 T canola oil
– 1 t salt
– 1 1/4 c water (100-110 degrees)
– 6 c flour {you probably won’t use it all, but should have it available}
– 1 egg yolk
– 2 t water

How do I make it?

  • Pour the yeast into a large mixing bowl. Add the 1/4  c water and 1 t sugar. Stir to combine and dissolve, and let it sit until it gets foamy (about 5 minutes).
  • While the yeast is doing its thing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the whole egg, 3 egg yolks, honey, canola oil and salt.
  • When the yeast in the large bowl is foamy and fragrant, add the remaining 1 1/4 c water and pour in the egg mixture you just whisked. Whisk it all together.
  • Add flour to the mixture, one half cup at a time. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead. Continue to add flour until the dough is smooth and pliable. {You can use a stand mixer with the dough hook, but it doesn’t take that long or use too much energy to do it with your hands. When you use your hands, you are very aware of whether it is too sticky. When the dough is ready, it should be slightly tacky on your fingers, but not stick in clumps.}
  • Place the kneaded dough in a large bowl that you have sprayed with cooking oil (if you want to use the same bowl, be sure to wash it out first). Spray the top of the dough with oil too.
  • Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, and place in your oven (that is OFF) to rise. In a large microwave-safe container (like a 12-cup Pyrex), microwave water until it boils, and place that into the oven with the dough.
  • Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Take the dough bowl out and punch it down to remove air bubbles. Re-microwave the water and place it back in the oven.
  • Cover the dough bowl again with the towel and place it back inside the oven and let it rise for another hour. At this point, it should have approximately doubled.
  • Take the dough out of the oven and punch it down a few times. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board (or a clean granite countertop). Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling too sticky on your fingers.
  • I used half of the recipe to make small dinner rolls*, and the other half for a braided loaf.
  • Separate the dough you will braid into 4 equal portions. I found it easiest to use a bench scraper to cut the dough into long pieces, rather than balls. You will be rolling the dough into rectangles (rather than a circle), so this served as a little shortcut for me.
  • With a floured rolling pin (or a floured wine bottle – whatever you have – but make sure it is well-floured and stays that way), roll one portion of dough into a rectangle. Now take that rectangle and, using your hands, roll it into a long strand (like a play-doh snake). Roll the strand around and try to work out the seam, and squeeze out any air bubbles. If you can, try to taper the ends a bit by squeezing them and then rolling to smooth them out.
  • Repeat this process with the other three portions.
  • Lay the strands out parallel to each other, with the tapered ends farthest from you.
  • Loosely pinch the strands together at the top. You are now ready to braid.
  • Starting all the way at the right, weave the strand OVER-UNDER-OVER. That is, OVER the first strand to the left of it, then UNDER the next strand, then OVER the final strand. Leave that strand all the way at the left, and repeat with the next strand. Continue this process until you are at the end of the strands.

Four Braid Challah

  • Pinch together and tuck under both ends.

Four Braid Challah-2

  • Step back and admire.
  • Place the braid on a rimmed baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  • Whisk the egg yolk and water together in a small bowl until smooth and uniform.
  • * To make dinner rolls, make more strands, and tie them each in a knot, pinching the ends together and placing that pinched seam down on the parchment-covered baking sheet.
  • Brush the dough (the large braid or the dinner rolls) with the egg wash.

Four Braid Challah-3

  • Let the dough rise, uncovered, for 30-45 more minutes.
  • Place a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat to 350. You will be baking for 40 minutes total, in two shifts.
    • After the first 20 minutes, pull the challah out of the oven and re-brush it with the remaining egg wash, making sure to get in the little crevasses. {One of my favorite things about challah is that little part that gets exposed during baking – but you need to take this time to brush it with egg wash!}
    • Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. If the crust is getting too brown, place a piece of tin foil over it (the dough will still bake, but the crust will not get more brown under the foil).
  • The dough is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on it (easier to hear when you tap on the bottom).
  • Serve with pretty much anything – breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Four Braid Challah-5Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Original link: http://theshiksa.com/2010/08/25/challah-bread-part-1-the-blessing-and-the-dough/comment-page-2/#comments

our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly “link up party” called Our Growing Edge, which is an online way to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. Our Growing Edge is the brain child of Genie from Bunny Eats Design, and I am the hostess this month. The posts for November’s link up can be found here. New for me with this post: A four-strand braid for challah!


Easy Raw Kale Salad with Garlicky Dressing

24 Nov

Easy Kale Salad with Lemon-Garlic Dressing

Work last week was one of those where meetings, projects, and emails were unrelenting – and then I had work-related social events after work every night, to boot. While looking back, such a week can be satisfying because of what was accomplished, what was not satisfying was the food I ate. Rushed mornings getting out the door, “working lunches,” and bar food for dinner is not my preference; but unfortunately, it is sometimes a reality.

But it is a new week! So I am starting it off with a clean slate: a simple kale salad, with an easy fresh dressing. I know some people are skeptical of eating raw kale; they think kale is so tough that it needs to be braised or sauteed to break it down. But give this salad a try. Massaging in the lemon juice and oil will wilt the kale just enough to take the edge off.

I sometimes struggle to think of toppings for salads, but this one requires no such contemplation. I first made this recipe for Cooking Club (Hostess: MD; Theme: Meatless Monday; Date: 09.30.12) and it has become one of my staples. The recipe calls for freshly-made breadcrumbs to be sprinkled for crunch – I love this concept. The crunch is evenly distributed, and the carbs are kept to a minimum. When I do not have fresh breadcrumbs, small homemade croutons from a hearty whole grain wheat loaf fit the bill. {I think that store-bought breadcrumbs would be too fine to add the crunch – if you can’t do homemade, I recommend the croutons.}

Easy Kale Salad

– 1 bunch lacinato kale, sliced into very thin strips {I can’t vouch for any other variety of kale in this recipe – but lacinato is awesome!}
– juice from 1 lemon
– 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, smashed
– hot red pepper flakes, to taste
– 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
– fresh croutons or bread crumbs

How do I make it?

  • Place the sliced kale in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Place the smashed garlic in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and pinch of red pepper flakes, and whisk. Add salt and pepper if you would like, but try it on its own first – you can always add salt and pepper later.
  • Pour the dressing over the kale and toss well. Massage the dressing into the kale – squeeze the kale and make sure the dressing is evenly distributed.
  • Add half of the cheese and toss again.
  • Let the kale sit for a few minutes. Add the bread crumbs or croutons, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

If you like this, you may also like:

Warm Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Salad  Southwest Quinoa Bowl

Serve with:

Roasted Chicken with Lemon-5Chicken Burgers 4

Pumpkin – Gruyere Focaccia {Repost – Pictures Added}

12 Oct


I am often asked, “What is your favorite thing to make?” I hem and haw and say I can’t pick just one thing … but this Pumpkin – Gruyere Focaccia recipe may be it. I originally posted the recipe, without pictures, in March, but now that we are in full-pumpkin-season-swing, I made a batch this week and wanted to post the pictures. I thought I would also repost the original entry from March here, in case you missed it then or just were not in pumpkin mode. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Gruyere Focaccia-1

This recipe is a Cooking Club Classic (Hostess: TK; Theme: Pumpkin; Date: 10.15.06). I look forward to each fall, when I buy a sugar pumpkin or two, and prepare pumpkin puree to have on hand and bake a few dishes. Although the recipe is titled “focaccia,” it is not at all like a traditional focaccia with herbs and tomatoes and fingerprint indentations. I would describe it more as a sweet bread, and the gruyère adds a savory tang. This bread gets rave reviews and friends often ask me for my secret.

It is so satisfying to make bread from scratch – give it a try!

Pumpkin Gruyere Focaccia-3


– 3/4 c warm water (100° to 110° – I measure temp with a standard meat thermometer)
– 1/3 c brown sugar (measure when packed)
– 1 package dry yeast (about 2 + 1/4 tsp)
– 3 + 1/2 c flour, divided
– 3 T butter, melted
– 1 c pumpkin puree*
– 1 t salt
– 1/4 t ground nutmeg
– 3/4 c grated gruyère cheese (or more)
– cooking spray
– 1 t cornmeal

How do I make it?

  • Combine water, brown sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and the melted butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and let rise in a warm place**, free from drafts, for 30 minutes.
  • Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2 1/4 cups flour and half of cheese; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), or mix in stand mixer with dough hook for a few minutes; add enough of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking (dough will feel just a little tacky).
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, and spray the top of the dough as well. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8-inch circle. You can also make smaller loaves, or dinner roll size portions. Place dough circles on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over dough circles and press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size). Don’t put it back in the oven for this last 20 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting, preheat oven to 400°.
  • Uncover dough; bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (loosely place foil over the loaves to prevent overbrowning, if necessary). Cool on a wire rack.

* To make my own pumpkin puree, I cut a sugar pumpkin (the small ones) into chunks. I remove the seeds, and place it flesh-side up on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 8-10 minutes. The skin will remove easily, and the flesh will puree nicely in a food processor (I add a little water while pureeing if it seems too thick). {Also see this recent post on How to Make Pumpkin Puree}

** To create this magical place to let the bread rise, I set a rack on the lowest track in the oven – which is OFF. I set a glass baking dish on the rack, and pour a kettle full of boiling water into the dish. It is pretty fool-proof: the steam helps the dough rise and I do not worry about drafts.

Original link: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/top-rated-recipes/best-pumpkin-recipes-00400000058808/page6.html

How to: Make Pumpkin Puree

29 Sep

Pumpkin Puree-8

The changing of the seasons from Summer to Fall is more than breathing the crispness in the air, pulling out sweaters and boots from the back of the closet, and paging through pictures of friends’ kids on Facebook dressed like small animals. Although I do love all of those things!

I also love the first sugar pumpkin of the season. Slicing off the top, chopping it in to pieces, roasting the seeds, and pureeing the flesh and baking away. Pumpkin recipes abound in this season, and I try to keep a bowl of pumpkin puree in the fridge so I am always ready to try something new or make a trusted favorite.

Here is how to do it in under 15 minutes! Start with a sugar pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are also called pie pumpkins, and they are much more manageable than the jack-o-lantern sized. A regular knife will make short work of a sugar pumpkin – they are about 6-9″ in diameter.

Sugar Pumpkin-1

Slice off the top of the pumpkin using a chef’s or santuko knife, and discard the stem. Chop the rest of the pumpkin in to chunks – size is not important. I find it easiest to work with the pumpkin when the pieces are not very round – it makes it easier to slice out the pulp and seeds. I use a serrated knife for that task. {You can separate the seeds from the pulp and save the seeds to roast!}

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-8

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-7

Place the chunks of pumpkin on a microwave-safe plate, skin side down and flesh side up. Cover with saran wrap and microwave for 8 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Be careful when removing the saran wrap – it will be steamy under there!

When it is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh off of the skin into a food processor using a spoon. Add a few Tablespoons of water, and process until smooth. That’s it! It should keep in the fridge for a week or two, or in the freezer for a few months. One sugar pumpkin will make approximately 1.5 c of puree.

Pumpkin Puree-1

If you like this, you may also like:

Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp-47 Cup Food ProcessorRicotta Cheese_015_

Fave: Food Processor

10 Aug

At a recent Cooking Club, AWP asked the group: “What kitchen appliance can you not live without?”

I answered first, and quickly.

“Food processor.”

Sturdy, dependable, versatile, fast. I present to you: my food processor. Available on Amazon.com for $69.99, shipping included. In my opinion, that is a great value for this product. [Note: Rats, looks like that price was temporary. Click on the next link to find out today’s price.] Click here to purchase!*

7 Cup Food ProcessorI am happy just looking at it.

Food processors are so versatile. I started using it to make home-made hummus (after a failed experiment with a potato masher) and blend soups. Once I started making green smoothies and needing a little more room in the work bowl for the leafy greens, my food processor stepped right up. Who knew that Chocolate – Hazelnut Spread would come together in the work bowl in seconds, with the very slight heat from the blade melting chocolate? Not me – you should have seen my face.

If you keep it on your counter, at the ready, you will find all sorts of uses for it. Once you are comfortable with the primary blade, try the shredding disk. Did you know that when you buy pre-packaged shredded cheese, it includes several ingredients other than “cheese”? And pre-packaged shredded cheese is generally not gluten-free. Hmmm… Even if the ingredients are natural, I always choose fewer ingredients in a product when given the choice. I opt to shred my own. You can shred an entire block of cheese in 10 seconds. Done. Carrots? Done. Broccoli stems for slaw? Done. The work bowl of my food processor is in the top rack of my dish washer nearly every time I run a cycle.

We can talk about the slicing disk, and the dough blade later – you should be convinced by now anyway! Oh, we will also talk later about processing your own chicken for chicken burgers – I know I would rather know where my ground meat comes from, if it is an option!

To answer the question I often receive of “When would you use …” – here are some recipes I have posted to date where I used my food processor:


Green Goddess Dip – Used to blend the ingredients together

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Chocolate – Hazelnut Spread – Used to blend the ingredients and melt the chocolate

Spinach Walnut Pesto

Spinach – Walnut Pesto – Used to blend the ingredients

Quinoa Casserole 1

Quinoa and Egg Breakfast Casserole– Used to shred the cheese

Cherry - Coconut Scone

Cherry – Coconut Scones – Used to combine the ingredients into a course dough

Pumpkin – Gruyere Focaccia – Used to shred cheese and puree pumpkin

Middle Eastern Bison Pita Sliders

Middle Eastern Bison Pita Sliders – Used to make the filler for the meatballs

* I have not been compensated for this post, but – if I did the links correctly – I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price of purchases made through the link to my aStore. Checkout is 100% through amazon.com and I will not see your credit card information.

Spinach – Walnut Pesto

28 Jul


Traditional pesto is made with basil, garlic, parmesan reggiano, olive oil, and pine nuts – but there is nothing that says we can’t mix that up a bit. I find that pesto made with all basil is just a bit too basil-y for me – and pine nuts are disproportionately expensive recently.

That brings us to Spinach – Walnut Pesto. Equal parts basil and baby spinach, and a handful of toasted walnuts. I am sure I will offend someone with this, but it tastes the same to me! And I like the added health benefits (no matter how small) of spinach and walnuts.

– 1/4 c walnuts, chopped, and toasted in a pan or in the oven until they smell fragrant
– 40 basil leaves (about 1 c)
– equal amount of baby spinach {just measure the piles if your baby spinach leaves are very different in size from the basil}
– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1/4 – 1/2 c parmesan or parmesan reggiano cheese, grated or shaved

How do I make it?

  • Place the toasted (cooled) walnuts, basil, baby spinach, and garlic in a food processor, and pulse until the walnuts and garlic are chopped very finely.
  • Add some olive oil, streaming it in if you can, while you pulse the food processor.
  • You can either process the cheese, or stir it in, depending on your tastes. There is not much difference, really, but it is up to you.
  • Use as much or as little oil and cheese as you would like! It can be thick or thin – there is no wrong way to make a pesto.

More info please?

Spread this pesto on any sandwich or burger; serve as a dip with crackers or veggies; or heat a pan with some oil over medium heat and add spaghetti squash, using two forks to separate the spaghetti strands and incorporate the pesto (a little pesto goes a long way on this one!). Or use as a pizza topping with some ricotta cheese and roasted vegetables!

Spaghetti Squash w Spinach Pesto

Grilled Flatbreads

7 Jul


July 4 weekend has come to a close, but grilling season is still in full swing!

You may recall from my Homemade Grilled Bread post that at a recent Cooking Club (Hostess: AWP; Theme: Grilling; Date: 06.09.13), I tried my hand at making fresh bread dough – and grilling it. The bread was delicious – my guess is it was the sour cream that made it so special. With toppings, the resulting flatbreads would make a memorable appetizer … or even main course, if you can resist not throwing a steak on the grill.

Each of the 8 portions from the Homemade Grilled Bread recipe will make a flatbread that is about 6″ in diameter, give or take. The original recipe indicates that the dough should be rolled to 1/4″ thick – mine was so elastic that I could not get mine anywhere near that thin. If you manage to, your flatbread will be much larger than 6″ round. I like my dough a little thicker though.

{I do not want to mislead you either way, but I am in a bit of a quandary here … I  realize that the thick dough may make this recipe something other than a “flat” bread. But I am a bit hesitant to call this a “grilled pizza” based on how mine turned out – it does not seem to fall in to either category, so I pick “flatbread.” I think there is just a little more leniency with that term.}

If you are hosting a gathering, having a family picnic in the backyard, or, like me, just want some variety, set out a number of prepared toppings (cooked, if necessary, like for sausage or tough vegetables), allow your guests to select which they want on their flatbread, and assemble fresh on the spot. The leftover toppings will be perfect to add to an egg scramble or egg muffin cup in the morning, or a pasta toss – so don’t skimp on the selection!

– one batch of Homemade Grilled Bread dough
– toppings! … Here are some ideas: Pictured above are pesto, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, and sweet Italian bison sausage (in the background).  Other choices: sweet onions sauteed with balsamic vinegar, sauteed sliced portabello or cremini mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and fresh mozzarella.

How do I make it?

  • Take a look at (and follow) the instructions for Homemade Grilled Bread. Once you have the gotten to the stage where you are ready to cook, start here:
    • Heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill rack with oil. Grill dough until lightly charred on one side and no longer sticking to grill, 2–3 minutes. It may help you to close the lid while you are cooking. Using a spatula, flip dough and grill until cooked through, 1–2 minutes longer.
      • Add toppings, sauce or spread first (then cheese and vegetables, depending how you like it). Cook until toppings are heated through, 2-3 minutes; place on the top rack of the grill to cook the inside with indirect heat if the dough is cooking too fast and starting to burn (in a bad way).
    • -OR- Heat your oven to 450. Place the dough on a floured heavy baking sheet, and cook until browned (about 10 minutes). Flip, and repeat (it will be less time for the second side).
      • Add toppings, sauce or spread first (then cheese and vegetables, depending how you like it). Cook until toppings are heated through, 5 minutes or less. Because the heat is indirect in the oven, you should not have to worry about the dough burning before the toppings are heated through.
  • I recommend serving in stick-shaped slices. Cut by placing the completed flatbread on a large cutting board and slicing into strips, with a chef’s knife or santuko knife, pressing down firmly in one motion rather than sawing or using a pizza cutter (and risking the toppings falling off).

Original link: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/07/grilled-flatbread

Homemade Grilled Bread

23 Jun


At this month’s Cooking Club, I acquainted myself with a propane grill at a good old-fashioned barbecue in AWP’s backyard. My apartment building has a community grill on the roof, and I had not made much use of it – until now. Yes, the success of this bread has made me want to grill.

For Cooking Club, I selected to make Grilled Flatbreads; we will talk about them later. The toppings for the Grilled Flatbread were just gilding the lily – this bread is wonderful on its own and deserves its own post. It is thick and moist and, if I may, it tastes kind of like Papa John’s breadsticks. No joke. It puffs up a satisfying amount on the grill – I started my dough at about 1″ thick and after grilling it ended up 2″ or 3″ high (and it is not just a 2″ – 3″ high bubble inside!). Serve on its own or with a garlic dipping oil, or with any dipping sauce really, and enjoy.

1 package active dry yeast
– 4 3/4 cups white flour plus more for dusting
– 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
– 1 T kosher salt
– 1/2 c low-fat sour cream
– vegetable oil (like canola, for brushing)

How do I make it?

  • Dissolve yeast in 3 c warm water (100-110 degrees) in a large bowl (I use an enormous bowl with a snap-on lid) until it gets a little bubbly and/or foamy.
  • Add the flours, and mix with your fingertips until a shaggy dough forms.
  • What is a shaggy dough? I wondered myself, until I made the recipe the first time and the dough was … well … shaggy! Kind of stringy, I guess. I will tell you what it’s not: pretty.


  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or lid) and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  • Sprinkle salt over dough, then add sour cream. Knead with your hands until well incorporated – the dough should pull away from sides of bowl and hold together in a loose, wet ball (about 5 minutes). The dough will be very soft and wet.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or lid) and let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Knead dough a few times to deflate. At this point, you can either:
    • Cover and chill for up to 2 days. The dough will develop in flavor and continue to rise slowly in refrigerator. I have been using this method; even if it is just shifting the hours to another day, it is less burdensome to think of this as a one-hour recipe (that is ready to bake the next day).
    • -OR- Let the dough stand at room temperature until doubled in volume, 3–4 hours. The warmer and more humid your kitchen is, the faster it will rise. Chill for 1 hour before grilling to make it easier to handle.
  • Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Generously flour a work surface. Working with 1 or 2 portions at a time (depending on how many flatbreads will fit on your grill), roll out dough or press with your hands. My dough was so elastic that I just used my hands and pulled it as thin as I could get it, which was a bit less than an inch. It does not have to be, and will likely not be, perfectly round.
  • To bake:
    • Heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill rack with oil. Grill dough until lightly charred on one side and no longer sticking to grill, 2–3 minutes. It may help you to close the lid while you are cooking. Using a spatula, flip dough and grill until cooked through, 1–2 minutes longer. If it seems like the outside is done and the inside is not, put it on the top rack of the grill to cook the inside with indirect heat.
    • -OR- Heat your oven to 450. Place the dough on a floured heavy baking sheet, and cook until browned (about 10 minutes). Flip, and repeat (it will be less time for the second side).
  • If you are not sure if the dough is done on the inside – and really, how would you be for your first batch? – make one of the servings the crash test dummy, and try it at various points to see how the baking is going.

Grilled Bread!

Original link: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/07/grilled-flatbread

Roasted Chicken with Cider Glaze

23 May


I was so intimidated by the thought of cooking a whole chicken – until I tried. Turns out, there is very little more to it than putting a chicken in the oven. It is something I do with regularity now – they are so versatile.

This recipe is a Cooking Club Instant Classic (Hostess: me; Theme: Back to Basics – Cooking Techniques; Date: 05.19.13) and is going in my rotation. The chicken was flavorful and moist, and the cider glaze makes a sauce that is sweet and rich. It was served with zucchini and garlic toast, but would be great on a salad, or perhaps with Spinach Parmesan Cakes!

This recipe brines the chicken, which is different from a marinade. Brines permeate meat (using the chemical properties of salt) to add moisture and flavor, while marinades add flavor the outer layer of meat. It is my experience that people try brining and then say it was not really worth the hassle. I guess it is hard to say, unless you make two roasted chickens at once and do a taste test. I will put it on my list of things to try, and let you know how it goes! For now, I assure you, this was delicious, and worth the added step.

Note! The photograph here pictures the meat from TWO 4-lb chickens – one chicken probably serves two people, or one person with some leftovers for the next day.


– 4 c apple cider, divided
– 6 c water
– 2 T kosher salt
– 1 t whole peppercorns
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 organic roasting chicken, 4 lbs
– 1 sweet onion, peeled and cut in half
– 4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

How do I make it?

  • Combine 2 c apple cider and the next four ingredients in a large pot on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook and stir until the salt dissolves – this will only take a minute once it is boiling.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool completely. Sorry, this takes a little while, but it is important in the next step.
  • Take the chicken and rinse it in the sink. Discard anything they put inside the chicken (we do not have to talk about the stuff inside the chicken – just throw it away). Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
  • Take a gallon-sized freezer bag and place it over a medium-sized pot or bowl. Place the chicken in the bag, and ladle in the cider mixture on top. Ladle in as much as you can fit into the bag, and seal the bag. This is when it is important that the liquid is cool – if it is warm, the bag will continue to expand even when sealed. Mess.
  • Place the pot and the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and up to a day. Know what? I ended up only having 6 hours for this step, and it turned out just fine.
  • When you are ready to roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 400.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place the onion halves, parsley, and garlic into cavity.
  • Here is the only part that may be a little tricky. Lift the wing tips up and over the back of the chicken and tuck them under. The best way to describe this is to make it look like the chicken is putting its hands behind its head. Then tie the legs together. I have never used twine so have no tips for you on that, but for this chicken I used these silicone bands and just wrapped one band around the legs a few times like a ponytail holder. Perfect. The bands are sold at many cooking stores, but I would call first to make sure they sell them.
  • Place chicken on a broiler pan, or on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake at 400° for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 175. I was nervous that it was just a chicken on a rack and would burn or get dried out. My fears were unsubstantiated – do not worry!
  • While the chicken is roasting, heat the remaining 2 c apple cider in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until it reduces by about half (so you have one cup of concentrated cider glaze). Set this aside until the chicken is done.
  • Remove from oven (do not turn oven off). Using tongs, carefully remove and discard the skin that has crisped up. Using a pastry brush (I prefer silicone), baste the chicken with half of the reduced cider and return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and baste with remaining cider reduction.
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes.
  • Pour the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan into a container – a small pitcher if you have one, but any container is fine. Put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes until the fat solidifies at the top. Spoon that off and toss it. What you have left is awesome cider sauce.
  • Slice the chicken and serve with the cider sauce. Delicious.

Original link: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cider-roasted-chicken-10000000701063/

Red Pepper – Eggplant Dip

9 Mar


Is there any better appetizer than a dish that is both healthy and full of flavor? This recipe is another Cooking Club Classic (Hostess: TK; Theme: Mediterranean Tapas; Date: 03.04.12).  I make it all the time – when I see red peppers next to eggplants in the produce section, I cannot help myself!  This is a great dish to make for a party or bring to a potluck, and can be made a day or two in advance.  It is just as good warm as it is cold, and can be served with anything crunchy, like tortilla chips or crackers.  As the title of the recipe in the original link implies (it is called a “salad”), you could also just eat it with a fork!



For the eggplant:
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1 eggplant, at least 1 lb

For the red peppers:
– 2 red bell peppers (just one is ok, too)

For the tomato mixture:
– 1 tomato, peeled and seeded (or 1/2 c diced canned tomatoes)
– 3 T tomato paste
– 2 T water
– dash of crushed red pepper (depending on your heat tastes)
– 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
– S + P

How do I make it?

  • There are three components that I prepare separately and then combine: eggplant, red pepper, and tomato mixture.
  • Get the eggplant started first. Leave the skin on and slice the eggplant into 1/2″ disks and then dice. You will be adding the other ingredients to the pan in which you cook the eggplant, so keep that in mind when selecting a pan. Saute the eggplant in a few Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until tender, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of oil if it cooks away. You cannot over-cook the eggplant for this dip, but about 15 – 20 minutes should do it.
  • While the eggplant is cooking, preheat the broiler for the red peppers. Roast the peppers, peel the skin, and chop the peppers.
  • Finally, the tomato mixture. While the eggplant is cooking, place the tomato (either peeled and seeded, or canned) in a small blender with the garlic, tomato paste, water, salt (if using) and crushed red pepper. Puree the mixture.
  • Add the tomato mixture and red peppers to the eggplant pan. Let it cook for a few minutes to heat through and thicken a bit, and add salt and pepper if you would like.

Original link: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/middle-eastern-eggplant-salad-10000001906386/ (Note: This is an example of why it is important to read a recipe the whole way through first. When I first made this recipe, I gathered all of the ingredients and just followed along while I was cooking … but as you can see in the linked recipe, the last thing it has you do is cook the eggplant – for 30 minutes! I find it is much more efficient to get the eggplant started while you are working on the other components).