Archives for posts with tag: homemade

Bread

I love it when I find a recipe that’s so simple that it almost makes itself. Soda bread is amazingly easy to make, before you know it…BAM!!  You have fresh bread! I baked a loaf of soda bread one evening while Andrew and I were making soup, and I had the dough made and in the oven before he could finish chopping the onions.

This recipe for soda bread come from Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen’s book The Urban Homestead. It’s an overall enjoyable read; the writers have a quirky sense of humor and keep you entertained while gettin’ ya some learnin’ about being self-reliant in the city.

soda bread ingredients, flour, baking soda, buttermilk, salt

Soda Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plain yogurt, or other sour milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in the buttermilk a little at the time, when large clumps begin to form, use your hands to gather the clumps into a large ball.
  4. If needed, add a little more buttermilk to get the dry clumps to come together. Try to get the clumps together as quickly as possible, the more you knead the dough the tougher and less fluffy it will be.
  5. Drop the dough ball onto a cookie sheet and flatten out to about 3 inches thick.
  6. Cut a deep X through the middle
  7. Bake it until it browns, about 35-40 minutes.

Easy peasy! I used yogurt instead of buttermilk and really enjoyed the slight tang it gave the bread. Soda bread is reminiscent of a big biscuit and was delicious with a little butter. It went perfectly with soup and the next morning I made french toast out of the leftovers. It was pretty darn tasty like that, too.  I usually find the prospect of baking bread pretty intimidating but this recipe is no nonsense and a perfect beginner’s bread.

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ricotta ingredients

Last night, I made cheese. Whole milk ricotta cheese… and damned if it wasn’t easy! I had a half gallon of whole milk that wasn’t going to last much longer and I wanted to make use of it. Homemade ricotta is a quick way to utilize milk that would otherwise go bad.

Cheese seems like such a complicated food that I never thought it would be something I could just whip up in my kitchen. I thought the same thing about yogurt before I started making my own. The more I learn about cooking from scratch, the more empowered I feel. So much food we buy is processed, packaged, and labeled that it is easy to get disconnected from its humble origins. It nice to get back to basics, cut out the middle man, and just do it yourself.

Okay, I’m off my D.I.Y soapbox. Really, I’m just learning all this myself and I’m an overly enthusiastic student. Back to cheese making, here is what you need:

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized. This milk is dead, you can’t make cheese or yogurt out of it. Its dead… dead I tell you!)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (one large lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • square of muslin or other mesh cloth
  • thermometer
  1. Mix together the milk, lemon juice, and salt.
  2. Heat to 185 degrees on medium low. As it heats, the curd will separate from the whey.
  3. Remove from heat and let it set for ten minutes.
  4. Line a colander with the muslin and spoon the curds into the muslin.
  5. Tie up the corners and hang from a spoon over a bowl for 30 minutes.

ricotta cheese

TUH-DUH! Ricotta cheese! The volume of cheese you’re left with is a lot less than the milk you started with so I wouldn’t recommend going out to buy fresh milk to do this. But this is an awesome way to use up milk thats about to expire. Making this cheese also leaves you with a lot of whey. You can drink it or use it to boil grains, make oatmeal, or use it anywhere which you would normally use water. Its high protein and pretty darn good for you.

Happy cheese making!

pretzels

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! This weekend I made homemade pretzels as a Valentine’s Day treat for my sweetie, Andrew. He doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth but the man loves salty snacks. I thought these delightfully salty, vaguely heart shaped goodies would be a perfect Valentine’s Day indulgence. But really, homemade pretzels are a great treat no matter what the occasion.

I found an awesome recipe for soft pretzels by Alton Brown of the Food Network. The recipe wasn’t very difficult and the pretzels came out great. The worst part about the whole thing was waiting for the dough to rise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse Sea Salt (for the top of the pretzels)

To make the dough, combine the warm water, kosher salt, and sugar in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. When the yeast begins to foam (about five minutes) add the melted butter and flour and combine.

Alton Brown suggests using a mixer with a bread hook but I just kneaded the dough by hand. I put the bowl in the sink, to cut down on the mess, and used a wooden spoon to mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Once it is well combined, I began kneading the dough by hand. The dough starts out rather sticky but become airy and much less sticky after 4-5 minutes. When the dough reaches this point, set it aside. Clean the bowl, then oil it and return the dough. Cover with plastic and put it in a warm spot to rise. Let it sit for one hour.

pretzel dough

After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl onto a slightly oiled surface. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F and oil a baking sheet. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil.

Divide the dough into eight equal chunks. Roll each chunk of dough into 24 inch “snakes.”

rolling out the dough

To fold the dough into a pretzel shape, hold each end of the dough snake and let it hang like a U. Then cross the ends over each other down to the middle of the U.

folding pretzel dough

One at a time, place each pretzel into the boiling water. Let it boil for 30 seconds, then remove from the water using a large spatula. Place it on the oiled sheet pan.

boil the pretzel

Brush the top of the pretzel with the egg yoke/water mixture and sprinkle with coarse salt. If you like a sweeter snack you could sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. You could really top it with anything you like, chopped garlic and rosemary might be a delicious alternative to salt. When adding salt, be careful not to add too much. Some of the salt dissolves into the yoke/water mixture. If you’re trying to have a visible layer of salt, you’ll probably add too much and end up having to scrape most of it off in the end. (I did this. Oops!) Bake for 12-14 minutes until a dark golden brown.

Mmmmmm salty carbs, so good!

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