December 9th, 2019
First, some very good news. I have moved to a new blog hosting company — which means, happily for me, that I will never have to deal with the old (awful) blog hosting company ever again. Happily for you, this should mean that you don’t see any more terrible error messages about CPU quotas, server unavailability, or my blog being disabled (no, I was not expecting that, and yes, I screamed and cried).
So, with that taken care of, I give you this awesome braided bread recipe. I’m excited to post this because it seems that nearly every time I post a bread recipe, it’s extremely popular. And I know exactly why that is — it’s because freshly baked, homemade bread is quite possibly the most wonderful creation on earth. I can resist most of the things I create in my kitchen — I managed to go several days before polishing off the flourless chocolate cake I just posted, and I’ve navigated countless batches of cookies and cakes without completely gorging myself.
But fresh baked bread? Somehow it never even lasts even overnight.
So after a rough week, this was my ultimate comfort food. Soft and slightly dense, it’s a serious breakfasty bread that could use a smear of jam and not much else.
2 tbsp sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (approx 2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm milk (microwaved for 20-30 seconds)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes until milky. Add flour, butter and salt to yeast mixture; mix until evenly incorporated.
Knead the dough until smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Punch the dough down and divide it into four equal portions. Roll each quarter of the dough into a long rope, approximately 12″ long. Place all four ropes on top of a greased baking sheet. Take the top end of each rope and press together to join them. Braid the dough by taking each outside rope and moving it to the center (I don’t know how to better describe braiding, but if you don’t know how, google it!). Tuck the ends below the braided strands if any are uneven.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the dough for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Brush the beaten egg onto the dough to create an even, glossy layer. Put the dough back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm, if possible.
December 6th, 2019
I’m very excited that this week, this site hit its millionth page view!
When I think about that, it sort of makes my head explode — the internet is really so amazing, and I constantly appreciate the fact that I get to reach so many people just by putting up my own photos and recipes. Â When I get emails that people have actually tried and served my recipes, all across the country and throughout the world, it’s pretty much the quickest and easiest way to make my day.
One of the really exciting things about having a website is that it’s a slow process of regular growth. Â Last year around this time, I was thrilled to get a hundred visitors a day — now it’s several thousand. Â I’m thrilled to revisit this next year, and see how far I’ve come,
So, to celebrate, I’m posting a recipe that’s simple, fresh and perfect for the early days of summer. Â I bought freshly made ricotta from the italian market near my apartment, but if you wanted to go all out, you could make your own with these instructions. Â This is an easy, healthy weeknight dinner, and an excellent addition to your go-to recipe list. Â And I’m excited for zucchinis and summer squash to come into season, but you could also make this with spinach or broccoli, if you want to convert it to a more wintery recipe. Â Enjoy!
Last, but not least, the winners of the Singing Dog vanilla beans are comments #13 (AJ) and #50 (Katie) — I’ll be emailing later today for your addresses!
Pasta with Riccota and Zucchini
1 box (1 lb) gemelli pasta, or similar
1 fresh zucchini, jullienned into 2″ slices
1 fresh yellow squash, julienned into 2″ slices
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. drain it and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water for sauce. In a separate saucepan, saute zucchini and squash in olive oil, then add the ricotta, white wine and tarragon and heat through. Add enough pasta water to thin out the sauce, then add salt and pepper to taste, and toss with the pasta. Serve.
December 4th, 2019
Remember last month when I complained about my lace cookie disaster? And remember when I vowed to tackle them again, because I knew they had potential for greatness?
Well, my opportunity came only a week later, when I was invited to a friend’s dinner party, and happily volunteered to bring a dessert. And because I really, really, wanted to get this recipe right (and because another guest was safely bringing an additional dessert, so it would be ok if mine crashed and burned), I decided to give lace cookies another try.
But crash and burn they did not. Rather, my friends found them so addictive that everyone ate two or three (not a problem — this recipe makes a lot of cookies!). Not to mention that they provided us with some serious energy, because somehow the entire party would up at a Karaoke bar at 3:30 in the morning. I blame the cookies. (What’s that you say? The wine? Oh, yeah, maybe that too).
Either way, these cookies are great. They’re totally unique — they don’t have a taste or a texture like standard cookies, which makes them a little bit more elegant, I think. They would also be GREAT for layering in pastries, because they’re extremely crisp and have a really interesting texture. That being said, they definitely snap when you bite into them, so don’t expect to bake a large sheet and cut it into squares after it’s dry!
Chocolate-Drizzled Oatmeal Lace Cookies
For the cookies:
1/2 cup oats, chopped in food processor
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 tbsp melted butter (until the foam subsides)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of salt
For the ganache:
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp heavy cream
In a food processor, pulse the raw oats several times until they become small pieces. While that is going, melt the butter in a small saucepan.
Combine all ingredients for the cookies in a large bowl and stir to combine. Spoon onto baking sheets by the teaspoon, placing each cookie at least 3″ apart from others (they spread a lot!). Bake at 425 for 6-8 minutes, or until cookies have spread and are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let them cool completely on the baking sheets before sliding them off with a spatula.
For the chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate chips and 2 tbsp heavy cream for 15 seconds in the microwave on high heat. Stir to combine — if there are lumps, heat for an additional 5 seconds at a time. Spoon the ganache into a squeeze bottle and use it to drizzle chocolate onto the cookies, either on the cooled baking sheets or on a wire rack. Serve!
Makes about 24-30 cookies.