Category Archives: Breads

Kneading bread, Secrets from Nonna Maria’s basement cucina

 

Garlic Breadsticks

Garlic Breadsticks

 

Well it’s obvious to say i am not the most dedicated blogger out in cyber space.  The fact that I’ve reached this far is a shock in itself. Have to admit, I blog in my head and through my lens every time I’m in the kitchen. Gathering my thoughts and photos into a post seems is the major issue.  Any amateur blogger out there will understand that. 😉

It’s been raining on the island for just over a week. Excuse my random babblings that may occur through this post. Eventually we will get to a recipe. I promise you that.

My Nonna Maria recently passed away; She is my city Nonna, my namesake and apparently per my Daddio I have truly become her. I definitely see some truth to that. If you’ve followed me you know about my foodie family 😉

Bon Appetitio from the basemento cucina

Polizia Cucina 😉

 

This post is heading towards either a journey on grief/loss or making the best of ones life. I’ll make the grief part quick… My Nonna Maria was the best cook, baker, sergeant I’ve ever known. Yes sergeant. Standing under 5 feet she had the ability to make a 6 foot man cry.. Trust me, i saw it happen. 🙂 Sadly, I don’t think I learnt enough from her. I still can’t make a man cry! LMAO

I picked up the traditional Italian basics from our town in Campobasso. Breads, fresh pasta, fresh sausage, prosciutto, jarring anything and everything from tomatoes to any vegetable..My goodness i almost forgot wine! Every year wine from luscious fresh grapes was produced!  I could go on forever with what I learned in the famous “basement kitchens”. Theres actually so many more great kitchen secrets that i’d rather not share with anyone. One thing i will share that has stuck with me…She always taught me to make sure i had food ready for everyone else at all hours. She taught me to always eat before anyone else arrived. I do that..It’s one thing that’s become a habit. Even if it’s just bread, I can say “I already ate”.  Here’s where the babbling kicks in…so i recieved the phone call from my Daddio to say Nonna Maria passed away. I was fine..because i am always fine. By the weekend i was baking bread, cooking salmon 2 different ways, Lasagne, chicken, creole stuffed New Zealand Mussels, Dark chocolate Brownies, Thai inspired eggplant and anything i could get my hands on. (Those recipes to follow)

nmBP

 

Still I didn’t realize what just happend. A week later and I realized my Nonna Maria had left us and joined my Nonno and my brother in heaven.

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Really, it took 1 week to realize this? I wonder at times if I should have remained a blonde! Sharp as a tool come business yet in the clouds at times! ahhh ha ha

So, excuse all the above babbling. Ahhh, off my little chest 😉 However, was a must share.

Below is an amazing bread recipe i found online during my recent stress attacks in the kitchen. Actually circulating online as a “copycat” Olive Garden bread recipe. I hardly read those but this one caught my eye. If you’re experienced in homemade breads you can pick out a nice recipe on 1st glance.

This recipe doesn’t have any history to it, however i’ve made it into my own little thing wrapped around my own little life. My goodness they were fabulous. I frooze 1/2 of the baked batch. Re warmed them in the oven and wouldn’t change a thing. Soft pillows as if they were just baked.

 

 

Garlic Breadsticks 

 

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water 115 F
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
450 grams (16 ounces) (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups) Flour – I used AP and worked out nice

For the topping:
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
salt
garlic powder
In the bowl of a stand mixer or I make by hand, dissolve the sugar in the water, sugar, then add yeast. Allow to sit to work it’s magic.

Add the flour 1 cup at a time, the melted butter and salt if using unsalted butter.  Continue in adding flour until you achieve a soft plyable dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. I’ll be honest, I have become accustome to kneading by hand here , i probably end up kneading for longer as i find it extremely therapeutic and so much more love goes into it. 🙂

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with a towel. Let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

dough1dough2

Divide the dough into 10 portions. Roll each piece of dough into aprx 8-inch log. Place the dough logs on a nonstick baking mat or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2  hours.

dough 3

 

 

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with the melted butter, sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Really you could jazz these up with any seasonings your heart desires.

dough5

 

Buon Appetito 😉

 

ok, now i will hit spell check and revise this whole post! lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am Canadian..Hockey & Bagels?

Tuna & Avocado on a frozen bagel ;(

Tuna & Avocado on a frozen bagel ;(

 

I’ve had this post written up since Sunday February 23, 2014 and held off from posting until I baked up these bagels to photograph. I’ll be honest, i havent had time and well i keep forgetting to buy rye flour so it’s turned into a “maybe this weekend” I will finish.  This is the 1st bagel recipe i have ever baked & has always worked well in the past when playing with different flours.

Stay tuned as i will edit the post with pictures & ingredients measured by weight as so much more accurate.

Bagels and Hockey, what do they have in common? Some bagels make for great pucks!

This is simple, i’m a hockey girl at heart. I AM Canadian and come from a hockey family, so of course the sound of skates gliding on the ice, the scent of an indoor ice rink, the screaming of profanity heard from man woman or child coming from the stands and the sound of the players being slammed into the boards really brings back some wonderful memories from my childhood. One must have spent many weekends as a child in ice rinks to grasp how any of the above could be a fond memory. With my daddio coaching and my brother playing, you could understand I am no stranger to a stinky stenchy ice rink/locker room or a famous hockey brawl between players and or parents!! ohh, i do miss those days.

I didn’t play ice hockey as a child, actually none of us girls on the block did. We just skated around in our  fancy girlie skates. Most of the times, we, the girls in the neighbourhood were included in the street ball hockey games with the boys and well as you could imagine it always led to arguments. One in particular I will never forget, when myself and my best friend (at the time) ended up hitting each other with our hockey sticks. Now, from what I recall, the fight was over Cabbage Patch Dolls while we played hockey! Ahh where went the days when you could beat on eachother with a hockey stick and all is good the next day? Must give this a try again, only challenge will be finding a hockey stick in the Caribbean.

February 23, 2014 and the Sochi Winter Olympics come to an end. Proudly i’d like to announce it ending with Canadian Mens Hockey defeating Sweden for the Gold Medal.

Humour related to the Mens Hockey game Canada vs/ Sweden refernce to Ikea! lol

Humour related to the Mens Hockey game Canada vs/ Sweden reference to Ikea! lol

Lets not forget, the Canadian Womens Hockey team claiming the Gold medal defeating USA just a few days earlier.

Bit of Humour between Canada & USA

Bit of Humour between Canada & USA for the Womens Hockey team.. Our Mascot the Beaver and the American Bald Headed Eagle at war!

Hockey, well it’s our sport so it only seems natural for us to hold onto those golds 😉

So, I was up with the chickens to watch the Canada vs/Sweden game with my espresso of course. By the 2nd period I realized I hadn’t eaten..no surprise, this is MY normal 😉   hmm, fresh avocado w/ tuna would hit the spot and hold me over till next feeding. Had no bread except for frozen bagels. Yes, i know, you must be wondering, why is this girl buying frozen bread when she’s surrounded by scumptious French & Dutch bakeries.  Well here’s why: The French nor the Dutch can bake bagels and well i’d rather they not try. Hence why I ocassionally fill my craving with the frozen ones. In fairness, I will not mention the brand. I’m quite sure if they were fresh and hadn’t sat in a container floating on the ocean for a few weeks to arrive here all squished with freezer burn then they’d probably be palitable. So there I was, watching a hockey game, eating my bagel sandwich,watching the puck slide across the ice I said out loud  “Hey”, these bagels would make great pucks!

Ahhh, reminising on the many bagel shops I would frequent on a regular basis back home in Toronto.

Here’s the thing, If i could click my magical heels (truth be known that I have a few of them) i’d be somewhere on Bathurst st in the Jewish neighbourhoods, at one of my favourite bagel spots, watching the fresh hot bagels fall off the belt, all eager to jump into my huge paper bag. Then i’d head over to the ACC centre with my bag of bagels, (I’d take the subway in the snow) catch a Maple Leaf game, take in the sweaty scent of an ice rink, enjoying my hot bagels with a cold Molson Canadian! Ohh wow, lets not even get into the real cream cheese or I may just melt right now!  Really now, this is what watching the Olympics has made me think of EH?!? 🙂  Ooops, almost forgot, then i’d click those magical heels to get me back to my island heat.

The title of this entry really wasn’t much work..however finding my bagel recipe was a little harder. Daddio sent me a load of my recipes from back home so I was confident in finding it. Only made them a couple of times in the past and well I think it’s about that time.

It’s funny, normally a post can take a full day between the photos, editing, writing and well the descipline to sit behind the computer long enough to finish it. Somehow I had this done in less than an hour however no bagels were baked on the same day. LOL 🙂  To be continued once recipe located and whole wheat flour purchased!

Bagels

4 Cups Bread Flour

2 Cups Rye Flour or/ Whole Wheat Flour

500 ml water (105-115 F)

3 tblsp honey

2 tblsp yeast

2 Eggs

2 tblsp olive oil

1 tblsp salt

 

In a large bowl combine both the flours & salt.  Set aside

In a small bowl combine & dissolve the Water, 1 tblsp honey & yeast. Cover with a tea towel & allow the yeast to activate.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, 2 tblsp honey & olive oil

Once the yeast is active add it to the Flour bowl. Then add the beaten egg mixture to the flour bowl.

Get your hands in there and begin to knead. If your using your stand mixer well bless your heart!  I really do miss mine at times. Let it knead for at least 10 minutes until you reach a smooth dough.

Cover the bowl and allow dough to rest for an hour.

Time to form your bagels. Seperate dough into aprx 30 balls. Roll into a & form…place on parchment lined pan Press the tips together. Cover & allow to rise for an additional 60 minutes.

Set a large pot of water with 2 tblsp of honey to boil.  Preheat oven to 375 F

Once the water has come to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.  Poach the bagels, turning to poach each side apex 2 minutes. Using tongs remove from the hot water. Place on parchment lined baking pans & bake for aprx 15 – 20 min.  Prior to baking is the time to top them with poppy seeds etc..

Buon Appetito 😉

Now I can’t help reading over this post and wonder if hockey was the contributing factory for my love to turn everything into a compettion and need to win? My opinion, every little girl should be brought up around hockey cause sure makes for someone who will never give up without a dang good fight!

BTW, for all the parents out there shaking their heads at me, please note I am not promoting violence..just a bit of healthy compettion to prepare for this big bad world! 😉

Crazy Corn Bread..Gone Mad! Thanks to the internet I found you my Love! Past to Present..

more then just a corn bread

more then just a corn bread

Naming this was real simple. The past few weeks I’ve craved cornbread. Not just a cornbread with cornmeal, I needed actual corn in it. Who am I kidding, I needed cheese and a part of the pig. I didn’t care if it was lardons, bacon or pancetta. I just needed a taste of my old-time cornbread. Problem, I couldn’t find the base of my recipe. So on the phone to my Daddio, begging him to find my recipe. It was from one of my favorite books, Robin Hood “Baking Festival” .

Robin Hood Baking Festival

Robin Hood Baking Festival

“Everythings packed in bins” he said. Ahh yes, my life over there has turned to Rubbermaid. So off to the internet I went in search of my cornbread past to bring it present.

A moist cornbread is always an issue. I didn’t grow up in the South USA but for some reason many kitchens back I took to a good corn bread. A bread with cornmeal could at times end up very dry. A funny married time in my life I had ran across this recipe in that said book & it was always the base for my corn creations. It was a hit, no matter how many times I changed it up. Well, a bunch of Italians experimenting with cornbread for the first time could have gone terribly bad.  😉  Looking back I realize I spent a heck of alot of time in the kitchen during those short years. Obviously I found much-needed refuge. Ahhh a blessing in disguise. Maybe this recipe brings me a sort of comfort, back to all that nutty kitchen time.

Back to Robin Hood, what can I say, grew up with the flour. Canadian grown wheat. It’s the only flour we know. Even the French here on the island swear by the flour. D’best they tell me. 😉  The price here has doubled over the years. I remember buying a 10 Kg bag for $10.99 Canadian at No Frills. Now I spend the same price here for 1/2 the flour..Is someone eating our wheat fields over there?

price is way up

price is way up 17.99 Naf Guilder

Fantastic baking book, wish I had it here with me. Note to self, ask Daddio to send it to me 😉

End note, Corn bread is not a West Indie food. Caribbean yes, certain islands, Jamaica yes, but not the West Indies.. It just doesn’t fly here like on other islands or back in North America. I had some strange reactions to what was a love of mine..not a love of here.. Time to tweek and keep baking this bread and show them how good a Corn bread really is! 😉

The original base recipe can be found here :

http://www.robinhood.ca/Recipes/Savoury/Appetizers-Sides/Bacon-Corn-Muffins

Crazy Corn Bread 

1/2 cup lardons, bacon or pancetta – a part of the pig! – sautéed

1 Cup (250ml) AP Flour

1 Cup (250ml) Cornmeal

1 Tblsp baking powder

1 Tsp paprika

1 Egg

2 Tblsp Honey

10oz / 284ml creamed style corn

1/2 cup (125ml) milk

1/4 cup butter – melted & cooled

2/3 cup grated Emmental cheese

1/3 cup canned or fresh corn kernels

Fresh parsley, chopped finely

Saute the lardon, bacon or which ever part of the pig you choose 😉 set aside

In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, salt, paprika and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk Egg, honey, creamed corn, milk and cooled melted butter.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the grated cheese, corn kernels, cooled fried lardon/bacon and chopped parsley.

Pour into buttered/floured pans. I also topped the unbaked batter w/ extra corn kernels & grated cheese.

corn bread in pans

Presently I used an 8 inch loaf pan & 2 fun minis..

Bake loaf for 30 – 35 min…please check it along the way. Insert a toothpick always works.

If making muffins & minis less time is required.

corn bread

corn bread

So my crazy search for my original cornbread recipe has been put to rest.  Grazie to the internet and for my daddio being patient as I searched and of course my Caribbean buddy for reminding me that he is not North American! Corn Bread is not his deal! lol lol 😉

Buon Appetito  😉

End, End note…this is what I do w/ the rest of canned corn..I know it may sound gross but I enjoy it cold. Everyone has a few strange eating secrets!

Corn from the can, staright to the spoon, to the mouth!

straight to my mouth!

I go Bananas for Bananas!

Banana Figs from the market

Banana Figs from the local market

Doesnt everyone? Love Bananas that is. A fruit that is available all year round no matter where you are from. Buy them green and let them ripen, buy them ripe and use in your favorite recipe. I tend to always have bananas in the house. Stir them into pancake batter, banana bread, smoothies, fry in butter or my personal favorite a peanut butter, honey & banana sandwich drizzled with Nutella..oh yum! picture to follow..

ready for baking!

ready for baking!

A few years back I discovered Saba. I floated over on a boat to the island of Saba and hiked through the rain forest up 1064 steps of Mt Scenery

Hiking up the rain forest on Saba

Hiking up the rain forest on Saba

Along the way with my camera on hand, I encountered my 1st real banana tree. Understand growing up in Canada that buying bananas from a grocery store is nothing compared to this. Wow, i was in awwww & I still am.

the bundle i found hiking up Mt Scenery on Saba

the bundle i found hiking up Mt Scenery on Saba

Back to my kitchen…As i was visiting a friend this past weekend who needed cheering up i figured what a perfect snack to bring but a Banana Chocolate Chip loaf. On my comfort food list.

DSC_0937

So I was on my way heading out with my loaf in hand to my parking lot, walked down a different path and found this beauty. uggggg, no camera of course!

Judging by the fruit size, I believe this is actually a Plantain tree

Beautiful

So this morning I was out with my camera snapping pictures. I’ll be keeping my eyes on them as they ripen.  Judging by the size, they may actually be plantains. Regardless I will eat. A step stool will be required for capture! 🙂

The recipe I’m finally sharing was given to me by a cousin when I was younger just starting up in my parents kitchen. Back when my mom would remind me over and over that it was HER kitchen..ok women! lol lol

This was the first banana loaf I had made. I have never needed to venture off to try a different recipe.  Moist, packed with flavour with basic ingredients that are always on hand. Why fix whats not broken?

Banana Bread

275 gram (1 ½ cup) Brown Sugar

125 gram (1/2 cup) softened Butter

2 Eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 Ripe Bananas

235 gram (1 ½ cup) AP Flour

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

hand full of chocolate chips

Combine all dry ingredients except chocolate chips in a small bowl & set aside.

In a large bowl or stand mixer beat brown sugar & butter until fluffy. About 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Continue beating for a minute or until all is combined.  Finally add the bananas, i add them whole and then beat slightly. Makes for chunkier pieces.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Do not beat.

Finally Stir in the chocolate chips.

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Divide into prepared greased loaf tin or muffin tin.

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bake at 180 C until golden or inserted toothpick comes out clean

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Variations:

Zest…lemon or orange zest go so well if you have citrus kicking around

Nuts..enough said!

Pineapple, stir in pineapple but scale back on the bananas

Coconut, but of course..no need to scale back on anything..just stir it in.

I promise you that another Banana bread recipe is not required!

Buon Appetito! 😉

My “Go to” Egg Bread

DSC_0336

Well, here I am posting my very 1st recipe and I must admit am very nervous and excited. Confused to say the least with all these tabs & stuff on my screen.

Over the past few months I have been receiving requests from many of my fabulous Twitter followers for recipes of some of my creations per my picture posts. E-mailing the recipes has become a huge task..yes, imagine an e-mail being a HUGE task. So last night I decided to get this blog thing up & running.

Bread was done, I had eaten 1/2 of it and I was ready to tackle the initial start up! 2am & I was still at it. I decided to leave the writing for today.

This 1st recipe is my favourite no fail Egg Bread that a chef in Toronto had shared with me about 7 years ago. WOW, that seems like a long time ago..Anyways, I have baked this bread numerous times and in different countries. I have found the water measurement to be the only ingredient that required altering while in the Caribbean compared to North America. Could also be the difference in the flour brands as well.  The recipe calls for sugar and at times I use honey. Also asks for butter and shortening. Yesterday I substituted the shortening with more butter and enjoyed a little more. I will post the true recipe given to me and I leave it to you all to experiment. Ok so do I save this now and add a separate entry with the recipe and pics?  Please help this new blogger!! 😉  Here I go……

Recipe:

Egg Bread

350 ml warm Water (100F)

2 Tblsp granulated Sugar

2 Tblsp Yeast

6 cups All purpose Flour

1 tsp Salt

3 whole Eggs

3 Egg Yolks

2 Tblsp melted Butter (cooled)

2 Tblsp melted Shortening (cooled)

2 Tblsp granulated Sugar

In a small bowl combine warm water and 2 Tblsp granulated sugar, stir to dissolve.  Add the 2 Tblsp of yeast and let sit to activate. I like to cover mine with a paper towel to prevent any breeze and allow it to work its magic.

Yeast activating

Yeast activating

While the yeast is doing it’s thing:

In a large bowl combine the 6 cups of Flour and the Salt. Set a side.

In a medium bowl combine the 3 Eggs, 3 Egg yolks and Sugar. I simply whisk by hand. Add the cooled butter, shortening and whisk till fully combined.

This is what you should have

This is what you should have

Next add all wet ingredients to the Flour. This is where you get your hands sticky and have a little fun. If you choose to use a stand mixer with a dough hook it’s the cleaner way.  I personally enjoy kneading dough so I always use my hands. Combine all till it comes together into a smooth dough. If you feel it is dry and not all the flour is coming together, slowly add some water a little at a time. Continue to knead until a smooth ball is formed.

the dough once all ingredients are combined

the dough once all ingredients are combined

Butter a large bowl and dust it with flour. Place your Dough into the bowl and cover nicely with a large cloth kitchen towel.

Allow the dough to rest for 45min — 1hour. Depends on the temperature of where it is resting. The dough will double, plus, in size.

After dough has risen

After dough has risen

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flour dusted surface. Divide the dough in 3 equal portions. I like to weigh my dough for proper size.

Roll each of the 3 pieces separately into long ropes aprx  1 1/2 inch – 2 inch in width. Continue now to braid the 3 pieces as would any braid. Pinch the 2 ends & gently tuck under to prevent the braid from  opening up on either side while baking.  Leave the braid on the flour dusted surface and again gently cover. Allow to rise for an additional 30 – 40 minutes.  10 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F/180C

Braid after 2nd  rise

Braid after 2nd rise

Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter and dust with flour. Gently place the braided dough on the baking sheet.  Lightly brush the top of the dough with the unused Egg white. Do not use to much as it will cause the bread to become overly dark while baking. If you prefer an extra crunchy crust, use more..

Bake for aprx 30 – 35 minutes.   I tend to check on it often as at times I find it bakes quicker!?!? Really depends on the oven. Tap the bottom of the bread and it should have a hollow feel and sound.

Final Bake!

Final baked bread

I have at times made buns as well with this recipe. It is very versatile and could be used as a base in many different ways. Yesterday I stuffed 8 buns with a filling. I will post filling ideas at a later date. This has taken me 3 hours! 🙂

I hope this Egg Bread recipe brings you many years of success as well!

Buon Appetito

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