Monday, April 27, 2009

Olive Bread

We have dabbled in bread making a little. Once, we made the NY Times "no knead bread" but it came out tasting sort of yeasty or something. A co-worker of Sarah's told her he made olive bread. We had recently purchased a delicious baguette of olive bread from the store, so we thought, sure, why not try and make our own. It seems we are up to the challenge to see what we can make for ourselves. We like to bring sandwiches to work for lunch. If we can master a good bread, that would be very helpful. We were a little nervous about making olive bread. We used all of these really delicious olives. What if it didn't turn out right? We were pleasantly surprised that it turned out great.


4 cups flour - We used Ceresota flour this time, it is very soft.
1 packet yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup olives - Measure and then chop, but you can really put in as many as you like.
1 1/4 cups luke-warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a bowl.

Now, add in the chopped olives, warm water and olive oil. We didn't use a mixer, but some recipes call for a mixer. We got down and dirty and used our hands. We mixed it up and worked it into a ball. You can knead it in the bowl, just work it around until it forms a ball. Whenever we make bread, it doesn't look perfect, so don't get nervous. Once you have it formed into a ball, pour a little olive oil into the bowl and roll the ball around in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30 minutes. It should double in size.

You can decide if you want to make baguettes or just a round loaf. We wanted to make baguettes, but they turned out a little more like small loafs, which worked out great. Once you shape it how you want. Let it sit for another 30 minutes, it will double again in size.

Here comes a little bit of the tricky part. You want to heat your oven to 400 degrees. While it is heating up, place a pan with sides on the bottom rack. Once the oven is heated you will put the bread on the middle rack and then right before you shut the oven door, you will pour 2 cups of water into the pan on the bottom rack. This creates steam for the bread to cook in.

Bake for about 30 minutes. When we took it out it seemed really hard, but it softened as it cooled.

Bread making really isn't that hard, and it makes for a great sandwich. Check out the salami, turkey, lettuce, cheese and mustard sandwich we had for lunch on Sunday. Delicious!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

We have been talking about making our own yogurt for months. We were especially intrigued by the Greek style yogurts that started popping up at all of the big grocery stores. When the Greek style was first introduced at our local store there were regular two for one sales for a time. We haven't seen a sale in while and can't get over the high prices. Just yesterday we saw a quart of yogurt for $6.99. At that point, we decided to buy a gallon of milk and see how hard it was to make ourselves. For our first batch we decided to make a plain non fat yogurt with organic milk. Fortunately, the NY Times had recently written about making yogurt. We will experiment in the future with different styles. Making yogurt is incredibly easy. So, save a little yogurt from your last store bought batch and let's get started!


1 Liter Organic No Fat Milk
2 Tablespoons yogurt with live culture


1 Large Stock Pot
1 Sauce Pan
1 1 Liter French Terrine
2 Bath Towels
1 Dial Thermometer that measures up to 200 F.
Tongs- these are a handy cooking utensil

We had the terrine in the cupboard waiting to be used for something just like this. It worked great because it is glass and it has a secure flip top lid it and could be sterilized easily.

Measure the amount of milk needed by pouring milk into the terrine and leave about ½” of space at the top. Pour the milk from the terrine into your sauce pan.

Place your terrine on its side in your stockpot and fill the stock pot with water. You can now place your stockpot on the stove and start heating over medium high heat to sterilize the terrine. Bring to a boil and cook the water for about ten minutes to sterilize.

During this time you can start warming the milk over low to medium heat. You want to keep an eye on the temperature of the milk. Place your thermometer in the milk and when the milk gets to 180 – 185 degrees take it off the heat. You could use a double boiler if you have one to keep the milk from scalding. We didn’t have one and so we kept a good eye on it.

Carefully remove the terrine from the hot water, drain, and place it right side up on your work area. You are now ready to pour the hot milk into the terrine.

Again, carefully pour the hot milk into the terrine and place your thermometer into the milk. You want to let the milk cool down to about 115 – 120 degrees.

Allowing the milk to cool takes a while – be patient. We don’t want to shock the glass with cold water which could cause it to break. Find something to do for a bit while the milk cools. You can check the temperature every ten minutes or so.

Once the milk is at the desired temperature you can add two tablespoons of starter yogurt to get your new batch going.

Close the lid on the terrine and give it a good shake to mix the starter yogurt in with the milk.

Now, get your bath towels out and swaddle that terrine up like a baby. Unlike a baby – cover it completely. This is to contain the heat. Place your baby yogurt someplace where it won’t be disturbed. Let it sit for anywhere from 4 – 18 hours or possibly longer.

The longer you let it sit the thicker and more tart it will become. We let ours sit for about twelve hours. We opened up the towels after five hours, took a peek and wrapped it back up to let it sit over night as it didn’t look quite thick enough. The quality of the live cultures in the starter probably has a lot to do with the amount of time needed to turn the milk into yogurt.

When we woke up the next morning we checked the yogurt again – it looked much thicker. It was exciting to see that the process appeared to be working. We opened up the terrine and gave a good sniff – it smelled like yogurt! We closed the terrine and put it in the refrigerator to let it cool down completely.

As we had recently made two more batches of granola after going through our first batch in less than a week - we were ready to try our fresh yogurt with our fresh granola. We put some granola in a bowl, spooned some of the fresh yogurt on top, added fresh strawberries and dug in.
The yogurt was light and slightly tart. It was a success and we know everything that is in sugars, syrups and artificial whatever.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sesame Chicken

Who doesn't love sesame chicken? The picture above doesn't have sesame seeds in it.... we forgot to take a pic. We must have been super hungry! Actually, when we made this, we forgot to start the rice maker. So, we didn't even eat it with rice. It was still so delicious. We have tried a few recipes for sesame chicken. We even tried one made with pomegranate juice. With this recipe we wanted to cut down on the sugar and changed up the batter that the chicken was marinated in.


2 lbs or 4 pcs boneless chicken thigh, or you can use breasts
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
a dash of ground pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce
3 cloves garlic- minced
1 teaspoon sugar- some recipes that call for 3 tablespoons, which is way too much
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon group ginger powder or try chopping some fresh ginger
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.

1 cup rice - cook this how you would normally cook white rice- we use a rice cooker, which makes really good fast rice.

In a small bowl beat the eggs and then add in the flour, salt, ground pepper, baking powder and olive oil. Stir and mix well. Cut the chicken into large pieces (1-2 inches long). You can now add the chicken to the marinade. Stir to coat the chicken and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

After the chicken has marinated, you will want to heat up a pan with enough oil to fry the chicken. Make sure the oil gets nice and hot (medium high heat).

Take the pieces of chicken out of the marinade and coat them in flour. Once the chicken is well coated in flour you can drop them into the hot oil. Cook for about 4 minutes. Drain them on paper towels to get rid of excess oil. You can now set the chicken aside.

In a saucepan cook up the garlic with a little oil, just until it becomes fragrant. add in the sugar, cider vinergar, ginger, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and chicken stock. Cook this for about 2-3 minutes. Now you can add in the dissolved corn starch. This will make the sauce nice and thick.

Stir well to and you can now add the chicken to the sauce. Toss the chicken until coated with sauce and lastly add in your sesame seeds! This dish was so delicious, I think Chris had about 3 no left overs:(

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli con Salsicce

Sometimes it's easy to just cook up some pasta and red sauce. This time, we wanted to try and make a different pasta dish. We had some sausage in the fridge from bari foods. Chris thought there must be a pasta with sausage and then he also thought maybe beans. Most sausage, pasta and bean dishes use white beans, but we didn't have any. So we used kidney beans and they were delicious, they added some extra flavor to the dish.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sized onion chopped
6 garlic cloves chopped - the recipe this was based on called for 10 - so don't skimp.
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 can drained red kidney beans
1 lb italian sausage
3/4 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces pasta (we used penne)
2 cups chicken stock

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil with a little salt to cook the pasta. Once the water is boiling add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente. Set aside once the pasta is done.

Remove the casings from the sausage and add to a medium sized saucepan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and the red pepper flakes. Cook until slightly browned - about 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion and continue to cook the sausage/onion mixture until the onions are translucent.

Now you can add the chicken stock, garlic, rosemary, black pepper and beans to the sausage and onions in the sauce pan. Bring the heat up to a soft boil and simmer for a few minutes to heat everything through. Now you are ready to bring the pasta and sauce together.
Stir thoroughly and serve.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Homemade Granola

One of our favorite things to have for breakfast is granola with Greek yogurt (which we want to try making next) and fruit. Every time we go to the grocery store to buy granola we are shocked at the prices. A small little bag is about 7 dollars. That is too much! We found a store brand for about 3 dollars, but it was filled with hydrogenated crap. No clue what polyglyderol esters of fatty acids is, but it sounds gross. The other day our friend, Shira, mentioned that she made her own granola. We thought "this is perfect!" We never knew how easy it could be. We looked at a bunch of different recipes and couldn't decide on one. So, we ended up taking some of the ideas from the other recipes and making up our own recipe. The apartment smelled so good when we were baking it and it was so delicious this morning. We can't wait to try out other combinations of ingredients.

S and C Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats- don't buy instant
1 cup Pecan pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

handful of raisins- don't bake these add when granola is done.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients together.

Mix the wet ingredients together.

Then mix the wet and dry together. Make sure the dry ingredients get coated well with the wet ingredients.

Place on a baking sheet, spread it out nice and even.

Bake for about 30 minutes. While baking make sure to check it, rotate, and stir every 10 minutes. It will still be a little soft, but as it cools it hardens up.

So easy and delicious!