Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Amish" Sourdough Bread

Ever since I got my bread machine this past Christmas, I have been buying less bread. I shouldn't have to buy it at all but some weekends I am out of town and I still need bread for the week. I have a couple recipes that I love and make frequently with my machine as my daily sandwich bread. I want to branch out though and try making bread in my baking pans instead of the machine. For some reason, I don't really like the shape that my bread machine makes (I know, I'm weird and picky) but I do like the shape that my baking pans make so I thought I'd give this recipe a try.

Amish Sourdough Bread

Amish Sourdough Bread

I'm not a huge fan of sourdough bread so why did I even bother to make this recipe? Take a wild guess... Yeah, it uses the starter but I also read in the comments that the sugar in the recipe lessens the tartness, so I thought I might actually enjoy this one and guess what, I do love this bread. I can barely taste the sourness so the sweetness does cut it out. If it's too sweet for your daily sandwich bread, then I would suggest possibly cutting it in half. But this bread is soft, sweet, and delicious. Grilled cheese with this bread smells and tastes amazing so I'd imagine that french toast with this would be just as amazing. I'll have to give that a shot this weekend! I'm so glad in many ways that this starter has come into my life.

Just as a note for this recipe, somebody mentioned that starting to make this bread the day they fed the starter did not work out too well so they waited a day so that's what I did. The day after feeding, I put all the ingredients together and kneaded it just a little bit so it would come together and let it rise for two nights. It hadn't risen at all the first night so I gave it another night. Then I split the dough into two baking pans and let that rise overnight and they were definitely ready to bake by the next morning. Once in the pans, it doesn't take as long to rise as the first time. The website also does not provide a time so I just kept an eye on it but I'm gonna say that it was in the oven for about 40 minutes, maybe a little more. Enjoy!

"Amish" Sourdough Bread
From Friendship Bread Kitchen

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
6 cups bread flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/2 cups very warm water

Put all ingredients in a very large bowl and mix until batter is stiff.

Oil hands with corn oil and knead dough into a mound. Add extra oil to the bowl, cover and let rise over night or until the dough has risen to fill up the bowl.

Remove dough from bowl and knead.

Lightly oil 2 or 3 loaf pans. Cut dough into even pieces and place in the loaf pans. Let dough rise again all day or night.

When ready to bake, preheat and bake at 325° F (165° C) until golden brown.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Split Pea Soup

Where did fall go? Winter has taken over this month in full force for us Virginians. Temperatures in the low 40s during the day and 20s during the night. Flurries here and there, even school delays and closures for some counties! It's crazy. I really should be careful what I wish for this winter... I had said I wanted lots of snow days this winter, so much so that the governor would have to excuse all schools or whatever it is he does, but I guess I forgot how such cold temperatures feel when I have to be in it. For now, I will stay in the comfort of my nice, warm home with some of this nice, warm soup. It's definitely time to pull out my Dutch oven and my slow cooker for warm soup belly.

Split Pea Soup

I love thick soups but have always found them difficult to make them just like the restaurants do. I have yet to find a good potato soup recipe or a chowder (so if you've got one, please share!). I have, however, found the perfect split pea soup recipe. Simple ingredients but still thick and chock full of flavor. I had posted a vegetarian version of this soup before but I realized that the bacon and the ham hock add so much flavor that I had to make it this way all the time. The meat pieces are great to bite into. You don't need a lot - just a handful to get a piece with every other spoonful. I unfortunately can't remember where I got this recipe from, so if this looks familiar to you, please let me know the source! I'd like to give credit where credit is due for such a wonderful soup.

Split Pea Soup

1 ham hock
1/2 cup ham chunks
1/2 lb split peas
8 cups chicken broth
2 slices bacon
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped

In a large pot, place split peas, chicken broth, bacon, and ham hock. Bring to a boil and skin off froth. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. When ready, remove the ham hock. Bring back to a boil and put in all the vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer again for 15 minutes. Add ham chunks and cook for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove the bacon and meat. Puree the soup and return the meat to reheat. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Peach Pie

I just had pie for breakfast. Don't judge me.

Peach Pie

I bought a box of peaches a couple months ago and a lot of them ripened faster than I could eat them so I sliced them up and froze them. Then when I got my ice cream maker and started making ice cream every other day, my freezer soon ran out of space and I've been working on getting rid of a lot of stuff. The peaches took up quite some space so I decided to make pie to get rid of them. It was a very good decision and it made me realize I really need to make more peach pies. It was my first time making a lattice design as well but I think it turned out pretty well.

Peach Pie

Smitten Kitchen suggests using 1/3 cup of both sugars for a sweeter pie but I think 1/4 cup was sweet enough. My peaches were ripe and super sweet to begin with so I might even lower it the next time, but not by much. I had to bake it in a casserole dish because surprisingly, I don't have a pie dish. I used to but I left it at school after a luncheon and forgot to get it back and have no idea where it could have gone now. The filling was the perfect amount though and the casserole dish worked just as well. You could probably even bake it in a square dish and it wouldn't matter! It might even be nice to change up the design once in a while. Just don't change the recipe. This is perfect the way it is. The ingredient list is simple and short and the recipe really features only the flavor of the peaches with a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve this pie at Thanksgiving dinner (or any dinner, really...) with a side of ice cream as something refreshing aside from the heavy pumpkin and sweet potato pies.

Peach Pie

Peach Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 Pillsbury's ready-made pie crusts

For the filling
About 3 1/2 pounds peaches (approximately 6 large, 7 medium or 8 small)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, from about half a regular lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar (see note up top; use 1/3 cup for a sweeter pie)
1/4 cup light brown sugar (ditto)
1/8  tsp ground cinnamon
Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 tsp table salt
3 tbsp cornstarch

For the finish
1 tbsp milk, cream or water
1 tbsp coarse or granulated sugar

The peaches need to be peeled before slicing. I used a vegetable peeler to peel them easily or you can boil the peaches also to peel the skins easily. To boil the peaches, bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath. Make a small x at the bottom of each peach. Once water is boiling, lower peaches, as many as you can fit at once, into saucepan and poach for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath for one minute to cool. Transfer peaches to cutting board and peel the skins. In most cases, the boiling-then-cold water will loosen the skins and they’ll slip right off. In the case of some stubborn peaches, they will stay intact and you can peel them with a paring knife or vegetable peeler and curse the person who made you waste your time with poaching fruit. Halve and pit the peaches, then into about 1/3-inch thick slices. You’ll want 6 cups; it’s okay if you go a little over.

Add the peaches to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, stir together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch until evenly mixed. Add to peaches and toss to evenly coat.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish by folding it gently into quarters (making no creases), arranging the folded corner into one quadrant of the bottom of your tin and gently unfolding it to fit over the base. Trim the overhang to one inch. Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any accumulated juices (they contain the thickener too, also: tastiness).

If you’d like to make a regular lidded pie, use the top pie dough as is, cutting some decorative vents in the pie lid before baking. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim (i.e. no overhang; only the bottom crust will have that and this is a case of do as I say, not as I do, because I totally forgot this detail when I was making the above pie). Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.

Once assembled, brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the pie for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the pie lid browns too quickly at any point in the baking process, you can cover it with foil for the remaining baking time to prevent further browning.

Let the pie cool for at least three hours at room temperature before serving, otherwise the filling will be runny. Pie can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge; from the fridge, it will be even thicker.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Amish" Pancakes

Every other recipe now has the Amish Friendship Bread Starter in it. I told you, I might as well be an Amish Friendship Bread Starter blog. As soon as I come up with a shorter name. Anyway, my six bags of starter are now down to just two and I have several in the freezer for future use. I'm just keeping a couple going still because I actually do enjoy it (as long as it stays just two bags). I like discovering the different ways I can use this versatile starter. I had been thinking about pancakes for breakfast recently and of course I looked for way to incorporate the starter, so here are the results.

"Amish" Pancakes

"Amish" Pancakes

I couldn't flip the pancakes very well this morning. I blame my spatula.

"Amish" Pancakes

"Amish" Pancakes

My previous go-to pancakes recipe were easy to make but didn't quite deliver in the fluffy department. These sure do. Despite no additional sugar in this recipe, these pancakes are not at all bland. The sugar from the starter adds just enough sweetness and, if you top it off with syrup, then you'll have a perfect balance of sweet. This recipe is also easy to put together and uses basic ingredients that you should definitely have on hand. Besides the starter, of course, but that has become somewhat of a staple in my kitchen now. Enjoy these on your weekend morning with your family. It makes more than enough for a family of four, especially if served with other dishes such as eggs and bacon.

"Amish" Pancakes
From Friendship Bread Kitchen

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp oil
2 cups Amish Friendship Bread Starter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine oil, Amish Friendship Bread starter, milk, and egg.

Add ingredients of smaller bowl to the ingredients of larger bowl and mix on medium speed.

Spoon batter onto skillet or a greased griddle. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, then flip and cook until browned on the other side.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ben & Jerry's Light Chocolate Ice Cream

For my birthday this year, my sister sent me the best package of my life. Ever since I got my Kitchen Aid mixer, I have wanted all sorts of attachments that fit the mixer. The pasta maker, the meat grinder, the shredder, and whatever else there is. But the one I knew I wanted the most was the ice cream maker and my sister made it happen. Now my freezer is half full of ice cream, more than I can eat by myself, but at least I'm set for a while. Ice cream is actually quite easy to make and I don't think I can ever go back to store-bought. I can put whatever I want in there with ingredients that I can pronounce. (Remember when that was Breyer's marketing idea? Not so much anymore!) I cannot wait to take it home so that I can stock my parents' freezer with homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream in the Making

The first flavor I went for was vanilla because that is my favorite flavor of all time. I like my crazy flavors now and then but the classics is the way to go. I used Ben & Jerry's recipe but I think I will try a few more recipes before I declare a favorite. For chocolate though, I think I have found *my* favorite. I'm not a fan of plain chocolate ice cream - the chocolate can get too strong for me. But Ben & Jerry's Light Chocolate Ice Cream has the right amount of chocolate flavor in it for me that it's perfect. It is smooth every time I scoop it and tastes delicious every time. I am never buying store bought again!

Light Chocolate Ice Cream

When you get an ice cream maker yourself, I would invest in a couple good books. I got myself Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. It's got basic recipes and some crazy recipes and even other dessert ideas besides ice cream. I also got myself David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop, which contains also some great basic recipes and some other fancy flavors such as salted caramel, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, which contains the craziest recipes for ice cream I have ever seen! Toasted rice with coconut? Beet? Yup. Unfortunately, I can't share today's recipe as it is a published recipe but I'll be sure to try to share more ice cream stories in the future!