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The Apple Cake That Thinks it’s a Pie

18 Oct Slice of marcellarousseau apple cake.pie

Sometimes even the health conscious crave a sugary treat. The recipe below is not very sugary and it has a lot of healthful ingredients in it. It’s great for breakfast or dessert with a cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of milk. I would not say it is an easy recipe for a novice baker but if you take your time and read the directions carefully, you may find yourself rewarded with a very delectable cake. Frankly, I have trouble calling this a cake because you slice it like a pie if you bake it in a pie pan. However, the crust is not really like a pie crust. It is like a cake! Whether you call it cake or pie, it’s delicious!

 

The interesting thing about this recipe is that you can put the dough in a cake pan OR a pie pan! I opted for the pie pan. The dough is a “basic” dough that you could also use to make doughnuts or crullers. I won’t be recommending those because you have to fry the dough and that would not be good for your health!

 

What IS good for your health is the milk, eggs, cinnamon, and apples that go into the cake. Butter also goes into this recipe and I’m not one to say butter is bad for your health. You need some fat in your diet! As for the amount of sugar, most cakes call for at least one cup of sugar. There is only ½ cup of sugar in this recipe. You can even feel good about serving your kids a slice.

 

I know your kids will love it but this is a cake fit for company. This is an invite your in-laws for dinner cake. It’s an invite your boss for dinner cake. It’s fancy. If you want to impress someone, this is the cake to do it. It would pass inspection by Julia Child herself. Just so you know!

 

NOTE: The recipe makes enough dough for two cakes. So, only use half of the recipe for the cake, OK?  I missed that point when I made the dough so I ended up freezing the half of the dough that I didn’t use. I’ll be making the cake again with that dough and although my recipe doesn’t say anything about freezing this dough, I think it will be all right.

 

Ingredients for Dough:

 

1/2 cup scalded milk

1/4 cup soft butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten briefly

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 package dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

 

Additional ingredients are listed in the directions below.

 

In a bowl, mix the scalded milk, butter, sugar, and salt. When dissolved, add the beaten egg and vanilla. When ingredients are lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast. Then add the flour a little at a time and form a soft dough. Turn out dough onto counter and knead for several minutes with a little extra flour until it does not stick to hands . Place in a well greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Then, turn the dough out again and knead again one minute. Again, place in a greased bowl and brush top with melted butter and allow to rise until doubled.

Dough rising in my microwave

Basic dough rising

 

Decide if you want to use a 9-inch pie pan or square cake pan and then grease it well. Divide the dough in half, take one half and stretch it to fit the pan bringing it up the sides about 1 inch. Reserve the other half for another pie or save it for another day in the freezer.

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

 

Pare and core about 3 medium-sized apples. Slice them very thin. Arrange as shown in the photo or in a circular pattern. Take special pains to do this because the better you do it, the prettier your finished cake will be. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. See photo.

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

 

Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 slightly beaten egg yolk. Make sure the melted butter is not too hot. You don’t want to scramble the egg yolk! Pour over the apple slices. Let it cake stand about 15 minutes before placing in the oven.

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

 

Bake at 350 degrees 45 – 60 minutes or until crust is brown and apples are soft.

 

You can use apples, peaches, apricots, or plums for this recipe. I think you could also use nectarines or pears. I used Jonamac apples. Jonathan or Winesap would also be good. I used Quick Rise yeast. I bake everything now in my convection toaster oven so I have to adjust the temperature and the time. My cake was browned at 40 minutes but the center was still a little loose. I turned down the oven to 325 degrees. Then at 50 minutes I turned the oven off and left the door ajar. If you know your apples are going to be very juicy, you can sprinkle 3 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs on the stretched out dough before you lay in the apple slices. I didn’t because I like a juicy pie.

My baked apple cake/pie

My baked apple cake/pie

 

This cake tastes best warm. I stored it in the refrigerator covered. When I wanted a slice, I put the slice in the microwave for 20 seconds. It was like it just came out of the oven. You could serve it with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream but I wouldn’t. It would detract from the delicate flavor of the cake.

 

The down side of making this cake is that you have to let it rise 2 times. I’ve made other apple pies that were a lot quicker to make but not as delectable as this cake and not as good for you. Good things come to those who wait!

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Quinoa Makes a Good Cookie: Biscotti – New Food Friday Flash

17 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/biscotti-garden-tomatoes-nectarines.jpg

When everyone began talking about quinoa, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour. My mistake. Everyone was talking about the grain and I bought the flour. Undaunted, I found a recipe using the flour. It was terrible. I had to throw it out.

 

Month’s later, while riffling through cookbooks at my local library, I came across a recipe using quinoa flour that sounded good. It was for quinoa biscotti. I had never made biscotti before and it was on my bucket list to do. With those thoughts in mind, quinoa is the new food for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

The original recipe came from the book, Eating in Color. The one alert for this recipe is that it called for 1 3/4 cups quinoa flour. That was not enough flour. Either the author forgot to add another flour to the ingredient list or she got the measurements wrong. I knew right away because the directions said to shape the dough into a loaf and there was no way you could shape this blob of a batter into a loaf. I added some white flour and then some whole wheat flour to the tune of approximately 3/4 – 1 cup additional flour. I had to keep adding flour until I could shape the dough into a long loaf. The whole wheat made the recipe more nutritious. I wouldn’t add more quinoa flour because it has a strong flavor and needs another flour to mellow the flavor a bit in my opinion.

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups quinoa flour

3/4 – 1 cup white and whole wheat flours combined

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil)

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raw almonds toasted, chopped

1/2 cup dried currents (I used golden raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used frozen sweet cherries and dried them myself, it’s cheaper!)

1/4 cup dried cranberries – optional (I had them in the cupboard and thought, why not?)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. (I used my convection-toaster oven.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet so the biscotti cookies don’t stick and for easier cleanup. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Stir in almonds, cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Flour your hands and separate the dough into two halves to form each into an 8″ long loaf on the baking sheet. This is a little messy. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a cutting board. Slice cookies 1/2″ wide on an angle. Using a spatula, carefully transfer biscotti back onto baking sheet, cut side down and bake again 14 minutes or until tops are dry to touch and hard nearly all the way through. They will further harden when cooling.

 

These cookies are hard and that’s the way biscotti are supposed to be. Biscotti cookies are for dunking in a beverage to soften them up. The usual dunking beverages are either coffee or wine. I tried dunking them in coffee but preferred them dunked in wine. I had a rather sweet wine that was a blend of red sweet wines by Barefoot. I like wines that are on the sweet side but this wine was even too sweet for me to drink with a meal. However, it was perfect for dunking the biscotti. So, I recommend a sweeter wine for dunking your biscotti. You could try dunking them in tea, milk, hot chocolate, etc. Experiment!

 

We’ve had a lot of rainy weather and the humidity has been high so after 2 days, my biscotti were not hard anymore and were edible without any dunking. This was when I enjoyed them even more.  I froze them after a few days and they keep well frozen. I have four left. They are a delicious cookie, nutritious and good for you! I hope you try them.

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Authentic Recipes From the Mediterranean

7 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/1382262_376997511.jpg

You’ve heard of the Mediterranean Diet but exactly what are some of the recipes enjoyed on this “diet”?

There are about 21 countries in the Mediterranean but I can only speak authentically for one: Italy. My mother’s side of the family came from Bari, Italy (southern Italy) and my father’s side of the family came from Arzignano, Italy (northern Italy).

The differences in their cuisine were as different as their dialects! The northern side of the family ate Polenta, risotto, salads of bean, asparagus, and frittatas (egg dishes with vegetables). The southern side of the family ate deep-dish pizzas (no cheese), nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds), pastas (ravioli, penne, spaghetti, stars, orecchiette), cold cuts (mortadella, prosciutto, ham, capacola – spelled many ways), and osso buco.

Of course, they ate more dishes than those, but those are the ones I remember. Add to this mix the dishes my American-born mother would prepare. I would assume that she learned many of her dishes from her mother.

Let’s talk about the unusual dishes that my family made and get that out of the way first. I won’t point fingers at who prepared/ate these dishes but if you want to guess, be my guest.

  1. Cow’s tongue. I still remember seeing a big, fat cow’s tongue sitting on a plate after it had been boiled. It looked awful. It tasted awful and I’ve never been a picky eater. Was this Italian fare? I have no idea!
  2. Chicken feet. I still remember trying these things. Legs of just skin and bones. This was the Mediterranean Diet? No wonder they were all so slim. Last, but certainly not least:
  3. Birds. Don’t argue with me, argue with them. That’s what they called them: birds. I remember going out in the backyard as a kid with my grandfather and he would kill the birds in the trees with a stone. They never knew what hit them. He was quite a shot. I don’t remember ever eating a “bird.”

And you thought it was just anchovies that were awful! OK, now for the less strange.

Asparagus and Hard Boiled Egg Salad

This salad is delicious and low calorie and chances are you’ve never heard of it. It’s also easy to prepare. Snap off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus and boil the remainders until tender. Boil two eggs until hard-boiled. Allow everything to cool completely. Mash the asparagus and the eggs together. Add a little olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Delicious!

Red Kidney Bean Salad

Drain one can of red kidney beans and pour into a bowl. Mince one clove of garlic and finely chop two tablespoons parsley and add both to the bowl. Add oil and red wine vinegar to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Easy, delicious, and good for you. I make this often in the summer.

Double-decker Thick Crust Pizza

If I had the original recipe I would share it. This was a two-layer pizza. The bottom layer was thick and the top layer was thin. In the middle were glazed onion slices, big green olive halves, and anchovies (which I used to pick out when I was a kid). The ends of this dough were very high and thick, higher and thicker than any other pizza I’ve ever seen. The crust was the oiliest I’ve ever eaten. It was the best thick crust pizza I’ve ever eaten and ever will eat, guaranteed. Your best bet is to use a recipe for a thick crust pizza dough. Add a good amount of olive oil to the pan and while it’s rising, prepare the onion, olive, and anchovy mixture. I swear, I can still smell and taste this pizza. I came close to duplicating it once.

Risotto

Nobody made risotto like my grandmother. It seemed like she cooked it for hours, occasionally adding more chicken stock and would stir and stir. She also added bits of chicken liver which I picked out when I was a kid. Something about her risotto made it stay hot so I would spread it out on my large plate to the very edges with my fork and eat around the edges which were the coolest parts. I never came close to duplicating it and I never added chicken livers.

Dandelion, Broccoli Rabe, Escarole, Broccoli, Artichokes

These green vegetables are prepared pretty much the same way with chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes to taste and some water and they’re all delicious. Wash and trim them carefully. Cut into pieces that are comfortable for you. I like to cut my dandelion (yes, the weed but you buy it in the supermarket) in half. For broccoli rabe or rapini, I like to cut the lower end into small pieces since the lower ends are tougher and take longer to cook. For the escarole I cut the leaves in half. Escarole is very versatile. I use it in place of lettuce in sandwiches and I cook it as a green vegetable for a side dish. It is delicious! I’ll give the directions for the artichokes last.

Be careful not to overcook the broccoli. Overcooked broccoli causes the same reaction as eating baked beans. Make sure you have enough water in the pan. If all the water evaporates you will burn the broccoli, the house will smell awful and you won’t want to eat it. So, add more water in the broccoli pan than you do for the other greens. The same is true for the artichokes – more water but don’t cover them with water.

My mother used to quarter the artichokes. (Remember to remove the hairy chokes in the middle and the thorns at the tips because you can’t eat those parts.) I like to stuff my artichokes with seasoned bread crumbs. They take longer to cook that way. Nowadays, every chef I see preparing artichokes on TV removes all the leaves and only prepares the heart of the artichoke. I think they’re missing out on all the fun of scraping the leaves between your teeth. Also, a good chef will know how to prepare a good dipping sauce for the leaves. If you’ve never tried an artichoke before, order one in a restaurant. It’s a delicate flavor, creamy and delicious when artichokes are at their peak of goodness.

Lentils, split-peas, chick peas (Garbanzos, or cici beans), navy beans, cannellini beans, lima beans and fava beans.

My mother made soups out of each of these except for the fava beans although she ate them too. Nothing fancy, just good!

Meats

Sausages, lamb chops, pork chops, spare ribs, steak, veal cutlets, chicken, hamburger. These were all cooked by my mother mostly broiled except for the spare ribs which she put in a tomato sauce. I only remember one dish that my grandmother made with either lamb chops or pork chops. She put the chops in a pan, sliced up about a half cup onion, sliced two potatoes, peeled; quartered a tomato, add spices (probably oregano or thyme, salt and pepper), and about a cup of water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake covered until tender. Delicious. I make this once in a while. Don’t forget to dunk crusty Italian bread in those juices!

So, if you’ve ever wondered what recipes folks from the Mediterranean enjoyed, these are some of them.

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New Food Friday Flash – Dandelion

16 May dandelion-sxc-hu-theartistg

Wait! Wait, you exclaim! dandelion is a food? You want us to try a new food called dandelion? Yes, fellow foodies. As I have been known to say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”  Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Or, “Variety is the spice of life!”

While I wouldn’t want to see you grazing on your lawn masticating the stuff, you could try the supermarket version of dandelion. It’s nutritious and delicious. Why else would I post it here if it wasn’t?

Naysayers halt your protests because this New Food Friday Flash is about the controversial weed called dandelion.

It’s controversial because we hate seeing it in our lawns but we (some of us anyway) love seeing it on our dinner plates.

Did you know that dandelion is a relative of endive? That doesn’t sound so bad does it? It’s low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. If you want to know more about the dandelion, how it got its name, who gave their child the name, and other amusing and interesting facts about dandelion, click here.

Otherwise, I’ll let the thought about eating dandelion percolate in your brain for a while and when you’re ready, you can click on the above link. Far be it from me to force you to eat something that you perceive as negative. 

More for me I always say!

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New Food Friday – Kasha, Groats, Buckwheat

18 Apr Kasha (sxc.hu - yirsh)

I had never tried Kasha until an Internet friend said that she loved it and would eat it for breakfast everyday. So, I bought a box of Wolff’s Kasha at my local Meijer.

Box of Kasha

Box of Kasha

Kasha is buckwheat and it comes in several granulations. I chose medium. This particular box had a small cellophane window so you could see the product inside (which I ignored), and put the box in my cart. When I got home, I placed the box in my pantry. When it was time for me to try the Kasha, I opened the box and began pouring the Kasha into a bowl. Out poured contents that contained Kasha, caraway seeds, and some other type of seeds. I recognized caraway seeds when I saw them and I didn’t think they were supposed to be in this box!

After doing some research, I realized that seeds were not supposed to be part of Kasha! I contacted the company and told them about it. I received a nice letter of thanks for letting them know from the vice president of Birkett Mills. He said they use the most efficient and sophisticated cleaning machinery known in the dry grain processing industry and that rarely even the most advanced technology can be fooled. (Well, we all know how I feel about technology as per my last post, now don’t we!)

In a show of their appreciation, they sent me two more boxes of Kasha (without seeds) and a whole bunch of information about Kasha. I kept one box and gave the other to my son, the other health enthusiast in the family.

Rather than let the box with the seeds go to waste, I used the caraway seeds from the “bad” box of Kasha for my Russian Rye Bread recipe! As you know, the loaves turned out great! To be honest though, I’m not crazy about Kasha for breakfast even though I know how good it is for you and how popular it is in Russia and throughout the Balkan region of Europe.

Map of Europe (sxc.hu - vygnyo)

Map of Europe (sxc.hu – vygnyo)

However, a recipe I found among all the recipes they sent, sounded good and good for your health too, so that I had to chose it for this New Food Friday.

The following information was provided to me from Birkett Mills, established in 1797. (Yes, that date is correct, 1797.) Read the eye-opening information that I have written by clicking this link.

If, after you have clicked the link and read the material you are now convinced that you need buckwheat in your diet, Birkett Mills offers a cookbook with over 50 recipes, many with full color illustrations, for $2.50. Write to: Pocono Buckwheat Cookbook, P.O. Box 440 PC, Penn Yan, NY 14527

Here is one of their recipes that caught my eye.

Grilled Portobello Caps with Kasha Pilaf
1/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Kasha
salt to taste
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
Olive oil
1 1/4 cup grated hearty cheese (such as aged Gruyere or aged Gouda)

Aged Gouda

Aged Gouda

Prepare the Kasha Mixture First
In a 2-qt saucepan on medium-high heat, combine celery, onion, water and 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Cook until liquid is very hot, but not quite boiling. (Or, you can microwave it.)

Old Bay and Kasha Granules

Old Bay and Kasha Granules

While the liquid mixture is heating, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the extra virgin olive oil add remaining 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning and the Kasha. Stir Kasha until it is hot and slightly toasted.

Browning Kasha in a Pan

Browning Kasha in a Pan

Reduce heat to low. Carefully add hot liquid mixture and cover pan tightly. Simmer about 10 minutes until kernels are tender and liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat and “fluff” with a fork. Season to taste with salt. This may be used immediately to stuff mushrooms or refrigerated for up to two days (or frozen for up to 1 month.) Makes nearly 4 cups.

Prepare medium-hot grill fire. Discard mushroom stems, clean gills with soft brush, and wipe caps with damp paper towel. Brush top of caps with olive oil.

Mushrooms (sxc.hu - mzacha)

Mushrooms (sxc.hu – mzacha)

Grill mushrooms gill-side down for a couple minutes. (I didn’t grill mine, I used my skillet.) Use tongs to flip caps top-side up and move them away from the heat while you fill the caps with the Kasha mixture.

Stuffed Portobello Muchroom Caps with Kasha Mixture

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps with Kasha Mixture

Return caps to the heat and continue grilling, with grill lid down for 3-4 minutes. Top each cap with a scant 1/4 cup grated cheese. Lower grill lid and heat until cheese melts.

My mushrooms were not very large so I had left-over Kasha. I used it in another meal and added diced chicken and peas.

This mushroom recipe is good for when you crank up the barbecue. It would go well with my recipe for hot dogs with Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. Add a salad,  corn on the cob, 

Sangria (sxc.hu - matthijs_v)

Sangria (sxc.hu – matthijs_v)

a pitcher of Sangria, and you could invite the neighbors!

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Valentine’s Day Cream Cheese Danish Heart

14 Feb Iced Cheesecake Heart

Every once in a while people who exercise and watch their weight want a little dessert. My favorite dessert is this Cream Cheese Danish Heart. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day and easy to make for your sweetheart.

 

This recipe is very delicious and versatile. If you don’t want to use cream cheese for the filling you can substitute any of the following: apple, pineapple, lemon pudding, cherry, plum, almond paste, or walnuts. I’ve never tried any of the substitutions but these substitutions are from the list of the original recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I got this recipe or I would gladly give credit for it! It is a winner in my book!

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 envelope rapid rise yeast

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup water

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup butter

1 large egg

 

Filling

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Stir all until smooth)

 

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Stir all until smooth)

 

Directions

In a large bowl combine ¾ cup of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a pan, heat the water, sour cream and butter until warm. Gradually add the warm mixture to the flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed scraping bowl occasionally. Then add the egg and 1 cup of the flour and beat 2 more minutes at high speed. Finally, stir in the remaining ¼ cup flour to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly and refrigerate 2 – 24 hours.

Cheesecake Heart that expanded too much!

Cheesecake Heart that expanded too much!

 

I’ve made this dessert many times. In the photo above, my yeast expanded too much and it lost the heart shape so try to form your heart on the thin side like this:

Unbaked Cheesecake Heart

Unbaked Cheesecake Heart

When you are ready to bake, roll out the dough to 16” x 8” and spread the filling at the long end. Roll up tightly as you would for a jelly roll. Pinch seams closed then shape with your hands into a large heart.

 

Place on a greased sheet. With a sharp knife or razor, cut 1/3 of the way through the heart at 1” intervals, alternating from side to side. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Baked Cheesecake Heart

Baked Cheesecake Heart

 

If I have them, I add slivered almonds on top of the heart before I bake it. Otherwise, you can leave them off and glaze with the Powdered Sugar Glaze Icing.

Iced Cheesecake Heart

Cheesecake Heart with Almonds and Icing

 

This dessert goes well with coffee or tea. I’m sure your loved one will appreciate it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. Make sure you exercise the day you’ve eaten a slice of this delicious dessert to work off the calories!

Cheesecake Heart Slice

Cheesecake Heart Slice

 

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New Food Friday – Russian Black Bread

17 Jan sxc.hu-uccrow Basil's Cathedral

I have a childhood friend who is originally from Estonia. A little bit of a history lesson is worth mentioning here. Estonia was part of the Russian empire until 1918 when it proclaimed its independence. 

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia (sxc.hu sx937)

It was  incorporated into the USSR in 1940 by force but regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last Russian troops left in 1994.

sxc.hu Tallinn Capital of Estonia

Tallinn, Capital of Estonia (sxc.hu  gundolf)

Today, the Estonian economy has one of the higher GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates in Europe.

So, back to my childhood friend. One day my friend gave me a loaf of black bread. I don’t remember if she said it was Estonian black bread or Russian black bread. Maybe they’re one in the same. Anyway, it was delicious! Now, many years later, I have found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for Russian Black Bread. I will share it with you for this New Food Friday.

This recipe makes two round loaves. The bread is delicious, reminiscent of the loaf my Estonian friend gave me and I will definitely make it again. It is made with chocolate, coffee, and molasses. It is a dark color (hence the name black bread) and looks chocolatey! You can almost taste the chocolate and almost taste the coffee. However, it is not a sweet bread. It has a slight sour taste similar to a sour dough bread because of the rye flour and maybe the vinegar but this taste seemed to dissipate after the first day and the chocolate flavor became more pronounced instead.

I’ve already finished off one loaf. I stored the other in the freezer and then let it defrost in the refrigerator when I wanted more. It is just as delicious as the first loaf. In fact, I believe I noticed that the bread tasted even better the day after I baked it and it kept well in the refrigerator. I usually sliced off 3 ounces for my meal, buttered it, and let it warm to room temperature.

This bread can vary somewhat in flavor depending on the type of chocolate you use or the type of coffee you use. The recipe also calls for bran cereal so depending on the type of cereal you use, that can also alter the taste. However, I doubt that the varieties you use would make that much difference. Just use the best ingredients that you can afford. There are a lot of ingredients!

4 cups unsifted rye flour

3 cups unsifted white flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups whole bran cereal

2 tablespoons caraway seed, crushed

2 teaspoons Instant Coffee

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

2 packages active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 square (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

Combine rye and white flours. Mix 2  1/3 cups of the combined flour mixture with the sugar, salt, cereal, caraway seed, coffee, onion powder, fennel seed, and undissolved yeast.

Combine 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, molasses, chocolate, and margarine or butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120 – 130 degrees). Margarine and chocolate do not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes.

Russian Black Bread Batter

Russian Black Bread Batter

Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board. Cover; let rest 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes. Dough may be sticky. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board. Divide in half. shape each half into a ball about 5 inches in diameter. Place each ball in the center of a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I like to let my bread rise in the microwave with a cup of very hot water. This is a draft-free environment and the cup of hot water makes the small area warm enough for the dough to rise. Important, don’t turn on the microwave!

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave with Hot Water

Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 50 minutes until done. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil; continue to cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. As soon as bread is baked, brush cornstarch mixture over top of loaves. Return bread to oven and bake 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until glaze is set. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Russian Black Bread Cooling

Russian Black Bread Cooling

This recipe comes from my Fleischmann’s Bake-it-easy Yeast Book. I hope you bake this. It’s very good and has a lot of nutritional value! Das vadanya!

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New Food Friday – Za’atar Focaccia Bread

18 Oct Slice of Za'atar Focaccia Bread

As much as I love physical exercise, sometimes I want an easy to make bread recipe that requires NO KNEADING! I don’t remember how I stumbled across the original recipe but if you want some background on Za’atar Focaccia Bread (it’s a different recipe but similar), click here.

I’ve made Za’atar Focaccia twice now and probably by the time you read this, three times. I absolutely love it!

Za'atar Focaccia Bread Ready to be Sliced

Za’atar Focaccia Bread

The only down side to this recipe is that you have to let the dough rise/ferment for 18 – 24 hours. This delicious, healthful bread recipe is in the spotlight for this New Food Friday.

As is typical of me, I altered the recipe. It calls for black sesame seeds. I used black poppy seeds which are more readily available in my grocery store. It also calls for Sumac and I couldn’t find that but one of my favorite chefs, Kary Osmond from the LiveWell Network, says you can use Turmeric in place of Sumac. I love Turmeric so that was no problem for me. Also, in order to make the bread more nutritious, I added 1/2 cup of White Whole Wheat flour.

Special Note: When I followed one of the recipes, the dough was way too soupy so I added an additional cup of flour.  You should be able to press your fingers into the dough after letting it rise the 18-24 hours and the imprint of your fingers should remain.  I added more flour after it had risen and the results were still excellent. So, don’t be afraid to play around with this dough as it is very forgiving.

DOUGH

1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 ounces dry yeast
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup water
Za’atar Spice Mix (see below)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast.

    Flour Mix

    Flour Mix

  2. Add the water and olive oil, and mix everything together until you have a uniform dough. 
  3. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for 18-24 hours to rise.

    Dough Mixture

    Dough Mixture Covered in Plastic Wrap

  4. Once the dough has risen, you can either make one giant focaccia with all the dough, or split it up and bake smaller focaccia.  If you keep some of the dough for later, just cover it back up and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  5. To use the dough, turn it out onto a pan and press the dough out  towards the edges with your fingers making dimples in the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in height.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 tablespoons olive oil, in a small bowl
2 teaspoons ground toasted black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Maldon (or other coarse) sea salt
The Za’atar in this focaccia bread recipe is the combination of spices that you sprinkle on top of the bread. It gives it a nice color and great flavor. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that can be sprinkled on bread, meats, fish, or vegetables as a seasoning. It can even be used as a dip. I didn’t have coarse sea salt, I only had fine sea salt on hand so I decided to use coarse kosher salt instead.
Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seeds or Use Black Sesame Seeds

Add Turmeric

Add Turmeric

Oregano

Add Oregano

Add Thyme

Add Thyme (I freeze mine from my garden)

Add Coarse Salt

Add Coarse Salt (Sea Salt if you have it)

Spread the Za’atar Spice Mix on the focaccia after it has risen. Then bake at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes. I didn’t mix the olive oil with the spice mix. I spread the olive oil on the dough first, then distributed the spice mix over all.

Za’atar focaccia bread is great as a snack, as a substitute for your usual bread that you eat with a meal, and is great for dunking in soups and stews.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Za’atar Focaccia Bread

You can reheat the focaccia the next day and it still tastes wonderful. It is also great for mopping up salad vinaigrette after you’ve eaten the salad! Let me know if you come up with other ways to use it!

If you’re not in the mood to bake bread, you can sprinkle the Za’atar Spice Mix on meats and/or vegetables. Buon appetito!

Za'atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

Za’atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

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A Gander at the Inside of My Grander/Vitamin D News

14 Aug Completed Tuna Salad Sandwich

I wanted to post this yesterday but I was too tired. I’ve been working out every day now but that’s a whole other post for when I have more time!

I’ll get right to it: the taste of my Grander (Heirloom) tomato! It was dense, it was juicy, it was mild, it had few seeds, the skin was not tough….I loved it!  I think it would make great tomato sauce and from the looks of the vine and all the tomatoes, I will be able to do just that.

I decided to make my mother’s recipe of tuna, celery, hard-boiled egg, and mayo salad sandwich to showcase my Heirloom tomato. First, chop up a stalk of celery.

Celery Chopped

Celery Chopped

Chop up a hard-boiled egg.

Hard-Boiled Egg Chopped

Egg Chopped

Chop (or mash) a can of Starkist Select Low Sodium Chunk Light in Water tuna.

Low Sodium Tuna Chopped

Low Sodium Tuna Chopped

Why this particular variety of tuna?

Starkist Selects Chunk Light Tuna in Water-Low Sodium

Starkist Selects Chunk Light Tuna in Water-Low Sodium

It contains Vitamin D – 15% of your DV per serving or two ounces. (More about this below.)

Add your favorite mayonnaise. I like Kraft with Olive Oil but I also like the low calorie mayo too. Add two tablespoons and stir well.

I don’t add anything else because the tuna is salty even though it is low sodium and the yolk of the egg contains sodium. I don’t want to push my sodium limits.

Next, get two slices of Brownberry Health Nut bread.

Brownberry Health Nut Bread

Brownberry Health Nut Bread

Why? Each slice of this bread has 10% of your DV of Vitamin D.

Health Nut Bread Nutritional Facts

Health Nut Bread Nutritional Facts

Recently I was told by my doctor that a blood test showed that I was low in Vitamin D. I showed 28 when a normal reading would be 50. My doctor wants me to be at 70! She prescribed a supplement AND a multi-vitamin. If you know anything about me, you know that I don’t like to take pills of any kind unless it’s absolutely necessary. I think what she prescribed was overkill AND I would have preferred if she tried to coach me into making changes to my diet to get the Vitamin D I needed. So, I made the changes myself and did not take the supplements or multi-vitamin pills.

I drink almond milk with Vitamin D, orange juice with Vitamin D, eat Total cereal with Vitamin D, tuna, salmon, sardines, Smart Balance Buttery Spread with Olive Oil, Eggland’s Best Eggs, Brownberry Health Nut bread, Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta, Shiitake mushrooms, Yoplait Greek 100 Fat-free Tropical Fruit yogurt, also Vanilla, Peach, and other flavors, non-fat dry milk….these all contain Vitamin D and I rotate them into my diet so that at the end of each day, I have had my daily requirement of Vitamin D.  *This list of Vitamin D foods will continuously be updated as I learn about foods that contain the vitamin.

Too much Vitamin D can be LETHAL! Not enough Vitamin D can cause rickets and soft bones. Vitamin D is needed to promote bone growth. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer and more maladies. We hear a lot about calcium, but Vitamin D is just as important.

Bread makers asked for permission to add a vitamin D yeast to their breads so that they could list Vitamin D in their ingredients. They were given the OK. I had to look through 20 loaves of bread at Meijer to find this one loaf of bread with Vitamin D! I even asked the bread deliverer and he had never heard of bread with Vitamin D and said he would ask his boss. Too late, I already found one but I’m sure there are more out there! If you find another brand of bread with Vitamin D, please let me and my readers know! Thanks!

OK, I reviewed the Heirloom tomato, it’s time to review the Brownberry Health Nut bread. It was bland. Next time I’ll toast it to see if that helps. The next day I made the same sandwich with the leftover tuna-egg salad and Heirloom tomato on Rye bread. What a world of difference! It tasted better but of course I didn’t get the Vitamin D from the Rye bread.

Here are the results of my bread, tuna-egg salad sandwich:

Heirloom Tomato Slice

Heirloom Tomato Slice

The tomato slice covers the entire slice of bread!

Tuna Salad Open-faced

Tuna Salad Open-faced

There is plenty of tuna-egg salad to pile on thickly.

Completed Tuna Salad Sandwich

Completed Tuna Salad Sandwich

In case you’re wondering what the greenery is in my sandwich, it’s escarole. As I said in another post, I love escarole and use it in sandwiches.

This is a nutritious, high protein lunch that helps you get your Vitamin D. It was good! Try it!

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New Food Friday – Blackstrap Molasses

15 Feb Windmill sxc.hu/http://www.thebend.be/dimitri_c

You don’t hear much about blackstrap molasses and that is why this post is about blackstrap molasses for this New Food Friday.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap Molasses

What is the blackstrap in blackstrap molasses? The name ‘blackstrap’ originates from the black ‘strap’ or mark that distinguished the casks of molasses from the casks of raw sugar that  shipped as part of the same cargo.

(see: http://www.processedfreeamerica.org/resources/health-news/287-the-many-benefits)

What about sulphured and unsulphured molasses?

This jar of blackstrap molasses is not sulphured.  Blackstrap molasses can be sulphured or unsulphured. Make sure you check the label when you buy it.

Sulphured molasses: Sulfur dioxide is added as a preservative to keep young, raw sugar cane fresh until it is processed and to preserve the molasses byproducts produced from it. 

Unsulphured molasses: is made from matured cane plants that have been allowed to ripen naturally in the field.

Molasses is made by boiling sugar three times. Each time it goes through a boiling process, it gets darker and the flavor becomes more intense and somewhat bitter. (Just like when you try to make caramel and burn the sugar!)

What is the Nutritional Value of Blackstrap Molasses?

Blackstrap Molasses Nutrition Facts

Blackstrap Molasses Nutrition Facts – Click to enlarge

Blackstrap molasses has a very strong taste. I’ve made the mistake of adding too much to a recipe once. I’ll never make that mistake again. It will take over the flavor of whatever you add it to so be careful not to use too much when you use it.

On the other hand, I don’t know anything that has more Iron than blackstrap molasses. One tablespoon contains 70% of your Daily Value (DV). This is beneficial to pregnant women, those who are anemic, and vegetarians who don’t eat meat.

I don’t remember what I paid for this jar of House of Herbs Blackstrap Molasses, but I do remember that it was the least expensive molasses on the shelf of my local Meijer. 

You can use blackstrap molasses to make baked beans, gingerbread, and gingersnap cookies. 

I made whole wheat bread and although my recipe didn’t call for blackstrap molasses, I have other bread recipes that do, so I added it to this recipe. I often combine recipes, sometimes due to lack of ingredients. For example, I didn’t have the oats needed for the recipe that required blackstrap molasses, so I added the molasses to a different recipe that didn’t require oats.

This is a very delicious whole wheat bread recipe. I highly recommend it for its nutritional value and nutty taste. (I ate three slices when it cooled!)

2 Loaves Whole Wheat Bread

2 Loaves Whole Wheat Bread

I ate two slices for breakfast toasted!

Whole Wheat Toast

Whole Wheat Toast

This bread would be great smeared with peanut butter and probably Nutella would work too. I tried spreading Apricot jam on it and that didn’t work for me but then I’m not that fond of Apricots.

Here is the recipe:

5 1/2 to 6 cups unsifted white flour

2 cups unsifted whole wheat flour 

3 tbsp sugar (I used brown sugar)

4 teas salt

1/4 cup molasses

2 pkgs active dry yeast

2 cups milk

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Combine flours. (I don’t combine the flours as the recipe suggests.)

Wheat sxc.hu/umayr http://www.communicate.pk

Wheat sxc.hu/umayr http://www.communicate.pk

In a large bowl thoroughly mix 2 1/2 cups flour mixture, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast.

By the way, I like to use white whole wheat flour. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.

Mill sxc.hu/linder6580/Robert Linder

                                                                             Mill                                                                                                                                                      sxc.hu/linder6580/Robert Linder

Combine milk, water, butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120F – 130F). Butter does not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, then a towel. Let rest 20 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half to a 14 x 9-inch rectangle. Shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Brush loaves with Peanut oil (I omitted this step or you could brush them with melted butter.) Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator. Uncover dough carefully. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Puncture any gas bubbles which may have formed with a greased toothpick. Bake at 400F about 40 minutes or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

You may have noticed that this recipe calls for kneading.

Kneading

Kneading on a counter  sxc.hu/arinas74 Ariel da Silva Parreira

I do all my kneading in a very large bowl with a somewhat flat bottom. This way I don’t have to flour my counter and get it all sticky with dough. I also don’t roll out my dough with a rolling pin.

Rolling Pin sxc.hu/topfer www.pixelmaster.no

Rolling Pin sxc.hu/topfer http://www.pixelmaster.no

I just stretch the dough out with my hands in the air, like a pizza dough except I make the shape rectangular. I pull it gently so as not to tear it. I even roll it up this way (like rolling up a large map or a scroll or your diploma if that helps you to visualize it.) I couldn’t photograph it because my hands were full of sticky dough. Sticky dough and cameras are not a good mix! You don’t have to do what I do but you can see from the finished results that my method doesn’t hurt the results and saves me some cleanup time.

I’ve made this recipe several times and the results were always good. Try it, or your favorite whole wheat recipe with blackstrap molasses. I think you will like it and it will be so good for you!

P.S. If you want to read an unbelievable, incredible, mind-blowing TRUE story about molasses, click here if you dare

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