Bourbon and Spice Cannelés

Well, I kind of can’t believe I am even making these. You may ask, what on earth are those??? A couple of months ago, a friend of mine dropped some of these little gems off for me as a gift. They are called Cannelés de Bordeaux. I had never had them before, or even seen them. They are little vanilla rum custards with a crispy caramelized exterior.

I was unsure, but I kept trying them, and they grew on me. I had to make them. I even bought a special pan for them. Here is a link for the pan, in case you get tempted to make these yourself.

This pan works so nicely!

I played around with a couple of recipes. The recipe I found that I liked the best was this one, from Entertaining with Beth. I thought they were good, but I was curious, because after doing a lot of research, I discovered that most cannelés recipes had twice the amount of sugar, so I decided to up the sugar, and the result was much better, in my opinion. More sugar = better caramelization. I also wanted a more traditional exterior, so instead of using baking spray, I used unsalted butter with a small amount of beeswax from a local beekeeper… yep, that’s right. This gives the exterior a certain je ne sais quoi.

But I have to say, I am not a huge fan of the flavor of rum, and neither are my kids. I was also talking to my friend Stephanie (my daughters refer to her and her family as the Californians), and she agreed that rum was not her favorite. So I decided to play around with some ideas. My kids and I love pumpkin pie spices, and since my secret ingredient for pumpkin pie is bourbon, I decided to try to make these cannelés with bourbon and pumpkin pie spices: success!!! I know it’s not traditional at all, but we really like them this way, and they still have the delicious crispy caramelized exterior, and a yummy custard center. And in case you were wondering, the alcohol cooks out completely, so these are not boozy at all. Just yummy. And so very pretty.

Warning: this batter needs to rest in the fridge for a couple of days before using, so plan ahead!

Bourbon and Spice Cannelés

(Adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp (45 grams) salted butter
  • 1 scant cup (~190 grams) sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp good quality bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla or vanilla paste
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur flour)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter for the pan
  • 1 scant tsp food-grade beeswax for the pan (optional)
  1. In medium saucepan, combine the milk, salted butter, and sugar. Heat until butter has melted, stirring all the while. Remove from heat.
  2. In large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, bourbon and vanilla. Slowly temper the eggs by ladling a small amount of the warm milk into them, whisking continuously. Continue to add the milk little by little until all has been incorporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and spices. Sprinkle the flour mixture little by little into the wet ingredients, whisking vigorously. Continue until all the flour has been incorporated.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a 4-cup mason jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day, but two days is better, and if you forget and let it sit for four days, it’s still good! Ask me how I know…
  5. When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 450°. Make sure your oven preheats for a solid 15 to 20 minutes. While it is preheating, melt the unsalted butter and smidge of beeswax (if using) in a small skillet. Brush the inside of twelve cannelé tins with the butter/beeswax mixture using a pastry brush.
  6. Stir batter gently, as it will have settled and separated in the fridge. Don’t panic! Use a whisk if you need to, to break up the top layer. Mix gently so you don’t add too much air to the batter, but you don’t want any lumps either.
  7. I weighed my batter, and I ended up having about 70 grams of batter per cannelé. I like to weigh the batter so that the cannelés bake evenly. If you don’t feel like doing that, just make sure that you leave about a half inch of space at the top of each tin. The cannelés rise as they bake and they need room, otherwise they will mushroom out of the tins and be misshapen.
  8. Bake at 450° for ten minutes, then reduce the heat to 375° and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes more. The cannelés should be a dark golden brown color.
  9. Place a cooling rack on top of the cannelé pan and flip over to get the cannelés out of the pan. If the rounded little tops look pale, place the pan back on top of the cannelés and flip the entire thing back over to get the cannelés back into the pan. Put back in the oven and bake for another ten minutes and check again. They are done when they have nice even color. Let cool for several hours before enjoying. They can be stored at room temperature for two to three days, if they last that long.

Add the warm milk slowly to the egg mixture.

Add the flour mixture little by little.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Pour into a mason jar, cover, and store in fridge.

Batter has separated; no big deal.

Mix with whisk.

For the pan, just a little of each.

Coat the tins.

Weigh out the batter. About 70 grams is good.

Make sure to leave half an inch space at the top. Don’t overfill!

The are rising in the oven.

But they sink back down.

Not ready!!! These need to go back into the oven.

Let cool for at least a couple of hours.

So cute!

 

 

Posted in Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 7 Comments

Almost Straub’s Chicken Salad

Today is my niece Olivia’s birthday. I got this recipe from her last week. For those of you that don’t know, Straub’s is an upscale grocery store in St. Louis. This recipe was posted here in St. Louis Today; it’s a copycat recipe of the much beloved chicken salad you can get at Straub’s. For the record, I’ve never had the real deal, but I was intrigued, and I sure did have fun talking to Olivia about it. And I have to admit that sometimes, I feel a bit of shock when I imagine that I’m chatting with my niece over text messages about a chicken salad, when it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that she was just little.

Me and Olivia; I think we were looking at a teeny flower.

I asked Olivia about some of the ingredients, like, did I really have to put celery seed in it? She answered that she thought that particular ingredient was key. Okay.

Me and Olivia, during one of my visits to St. Louis.

So I did make a special trip to Ballard Market, as they have spices in bulk, even during the pandemic. Thank you Ballard Market!

Olivia (right), playing with my daughter Mara (left)…. maybe 14 years ago???

I enjoyed making this chicken salad, especially because my niece Olivia loves it. I’m getting melancholy just writing this post, and don’t even talk to me about how my heart was aching (in a good way) while going through old photographs.

And now Olivia is a mom herself. Here she is with her son Henry.

I know, I know, is this post about chicken salad? Well, yes, yes it is. Kind of. Olivia and I agree that the chicken salad is much better if you let it rest in the fridge for a day to let the flavors mingle. We also both agree that the recipe needs to be doubled, so that is what I did.

Straub’s Chicken Salad

(Serves 4 to 6, original recipe here)

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 carrot, cut into chunks
  • 1 rib celery, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 to 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp finely diced celery
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock, water, carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns to a boil.
  2. Add the chicken breasts, making sure there is enough liquid to cover them completely, by an inch or so. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until chicken is done.
  3. Remove chicken breasts and set aside to cool. Save broth for other uses (or, you can save it and use it to make chicken salad again!)
  4. When cool, shred the chicken into 1 inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups worth, more or less) and mix with the mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery seed, salt, diced celery, and white pepper.
  5. Place in airtight container in fridge for 24 hours.
  6. When ready to serve, give the salad a good stir, taste and adjust for seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Enjoy!

Henry and his mama, Olivia

And just for fun…

My sister Linda (Olivia’s mom), me, my sister Jane, and Olivia, front and center.

 

Posted in Comfort Food, Fun in the kitchen! | 4 Comments

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Lately I have been making my sourdough bread in a loaf pan, and we are all loving it! So many reasons why. It makes great uniform slices for sandwiches, toast, french toast… and the crust, while crispy, is a little softer on the sides and bottom, making it easier to get thin, even slices. All the while having that fantastic sourdough flavor. I’m sold. Now don’t get me wrong. I still feel all dreamy when I make a free form loaf, and it looks like something that just came from a French bakery.

The recipe is the same. The baking vessel is different. That’s it! So I’m going to share with you my latest favorite recipe. I use three different kinds of flour, but it works just fine using only unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur Flour please!!!!) or mix of all-purpose and bread flour. I tend to experiment all the time, but I like this one so much that I actually wrote it down.

All of the flours that I use are King Arthur flours. The results are consistently wonderful (which is shocking!). I highly recommend using King Arthur flour if it is available where you are. A secret ingredient when using whole grain flours in your breads is diastatic malt powder. I only use a small amount (1 teaspoon), but I believe it helps with the rise, and adds to the flavor of the bread. It’s optional, so if you don’t have it, no big deal. No need to replace it with something else, but if you feel so inclined, you can use a teaspoon of honey or molasses during the water/starter mix. Or nothing at all. The magic of sourdough bread is that all of that deliciousness is just flour, water, and salt… and starter, of course.

Okay, get ready, because here is how to make this bread. Don’t panic that it has two overnight rests in the fridge. I designed it that way to suit my schedule. In fact, the first time I did it, the first overnight in the fridge was a mistake, but it worked so well for my schedule that now I do it almost every time. And those two overnight rests will improve the flavor of your bread! I will include a picture tutorial at the bottom of the post.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

(Can take up to 36 hours or longer, but with very little hands-on time)

  • 375 grams (filtered if possible) room temperature water
  • 50 grams ripe (fed) starter
  • 170 grams King Arthur Bread Flour
  • 130 grams King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 200 grams King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 12 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)*
  • Unsalted butter for buttering the pan

Day #1:

  1. In the morning, feed your sourdough starter. If you keep your starter in your refrigerator, you may want to start feeding it a day or two before to get it nice and active, and leave it on your counter between feedings.
  2. Once your starter has just about tripled in size (this can take a while… 6 to 8 hours, and it’s okay if you wait a little longer to use it), in a medium bowl, whisk 375 grams water and 50 grams starter together until well combined and milky in color. You can use a fork or a dough whisk for this.
  3. Add flours**, salt, and malt powder, if using.
  4. Mix (I like to use a dough whisk) until all the flour is incorporated and you cannot see any dry bits. Dough will look shaggy and messy.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or something similar) and let sit for an hour. This resting period is called the autolyse. (a true autolyse would not include salt or malt powder, but after forgetting to add those later a couple of times, I decided that it works just fine to combine everything together in the beginning.)
  6. After an hour, mix the dough until it is smooth and cohesive. Using a wet hand (I keep a bowl of water handy), grab the dough from the side of the bowl and press it into the center. Rotate the bowl and continue to grab and press until you’ve gone around a couple of times. This should take maybe 30 seconds. Flip the dough over in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge to rest overnight. You are just putting things on hold until the next day, while developing flavor in the dough.

Day #2:

  1. The next day, in the morning, pull the dough out of the fridge. It will look pretty much the same way it looked when you put it in the fridge. Give the dough one set of stretch and folds, then cover and repeat 30 minutes or so later, always covering the dough between sets. Repeat again two more times, so that you will have done 4 sets total of stretch and folds over the course of two to three hours. Normally it’s within the first two hours, but since the dough is so cold, I find I have more wiggle room. To do a set of stretch and folds, wet both hands with water and grab the dough from the side of the bowl that is farthest away from you. Stretch it straight up, and then fold it all the way to the other side of the bowl. Turn the bowl half way around and repeat. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Then turn the bowl half way around and repeat. This is one set of stretch and folds. Warning: since the dough is very cold, it will feel more like pulling taffy than working with a slack dough, which is fine. It’s actually easier. When you have completed your sets of stretch and folds, leave the dough in the covered bowl on your kitchen counter for about ten hours, or until it has doubled in size, is jiggly, billowy, and has a bubble or two on the top. (Note: if you only have time or patience to do one or two sets of stretch and folds, that’s fine as well. But if you can, do all four.)
  2. About ten hours later, once the dough has doubled in size and is jiggly, gently scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface using a spatula or bowl scraper. It is time to preshape your dough. Take your fingers and slide them under the sides of the dough and gently stretch the dough out a little bit to make a large circle. Fold the sides of the dough into the center, starting at one side and continuing until you have gone all the way around. Flip the whole thing over with the assistance of a bench scraper or bowl scraper. The dough will be “smooth side up”. Let rest for 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, butter a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Mine is non-stick. If yours is not non-stick, butter the pan, then place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and butter it as well.
  3. After the ten minutes is up and you have prepared your pan, it’s time for the final shaping of your dough. Flour the top of the dough and flip the dough over. Gently pull the sides of the dough to shape it into a rectangle with the short side facing you. Fold the right side into the middle, then the left side, overlapping just a bit. Take the short side that is farthest from you and start to roll the dough toward yourself, tucking it under itself as you go. Roll it all the way so that it looks like a cinnamon roll. With cupped, floured hands, draw the dough towards you so that the seam come together underneath the roll, and you create tension on the outside of the dough. Do this a couple of times until you feel the dough has adequate tension. Don’t go overboard. If you like, gently pull each side of the dough down and tuck underneath to cover the spiral.
  4. Using your floured hand and a bench scraper or bowl scraper, pick up the dough lengthwise and plop it into your prepared loaf pan seam side down, pulling the scraper away quickly so you don’t get tangled up in there. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on your kitchen counter for 45 minutes to an hour. Place in fridge and let rise overnight.

Day #3

  1. It is Day #3 and you are ready to bake! You can start anytime you like, but I prefer to bake in the morning. Preheat your oven to 500°. Take your loaf out of the fridge (it should have risen significantly) and leave on the counter, covered, for one hour while the oven preheats. Yes, one hour. A few minutes before the hour is up, uncover your dough, sprinkle it lightly with flour and, using a sharp knife or razor blade, make a cut lengthwise across the dough, about 1/4 inch deep (this is called scoring). If you like, you can cut some designs into the dough with very shallow cuts, but don’t let those interfere with the larger cut.
  2. Pull out a turkey roaster – the one I use is 14 1/4″ in length and 6 inches tall – and pour a tablespoon or two of water into the bottom divots of the roaster. Place your loaf into the roaster, put the lid on the roaster, and put the whole thing in the oven. IMMEDIATELY turn your oven temperature down to 450°. Bake the loaf covered for 20 minutes. Take the cover off, turn the temperature down to 435° and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven (it should register around 205° on an instant read thermometer) and take it out of the pan. If you turn the loaf upside down and tap on the bottom, the loaf should sound hollow. Let the bread cool on a cooling rack for at least two hours before cutting into it.
  3. To store bread, once it has completely cooled, keep in a plastic bread bag. Bread will stay fresh for two to three days this way.

Notes:

*If you choose to replace the diastatic malt powder with either honey or molasses, add it in with the water/starter mix. This is optional, and I only recommend it when using whole grain flours.

**If you don’t have all three types of flours, you can make this bread with just all-purpose flour, or a combination of bread flour and all-purpose flour. Or all bread flour! Just make sure the total weight of flour is 500 grams, and if you are using a whole grain flour, only have it be up to 1/3 of the total weight. Up to one half is fine, but your bread will start to be a little dense. And stick with King Arthur flours if at all possible for best results.

Picture Tutorial!

50 grams of ripe starter floating in 375 grams of water. Yes, the starter looks like that.

Mix until milky.

Add flours – 170 grams bread flour, 130 grams white whole wheat, 200 grams all-purpose.

Then add 12 grams salt and 1 tsp diastatic malt powder (optional).

Mix until flour is incorporated. This is good enough.

Cover with plastic wrap (or other) and let sit for one hour (the autolyse).

After 1 hour rest, mix dough until smooth, using wet hand – video here: https://youtu.be/lV7eorybckc

Should look something like this. Cover and put in fridge overnight.

Take dough out of fridge the next morning. Dough has relaxed a bit.

Do a set of stretch and folds every 30 minutes or so. This is the stretch.

This is the fold, bringing the dough all the way across. One set = four of these.

Looks like this after four sets of stretch and folds. Cover and let rise on your counter.

About ten hours later this dough is jiggly and ready to be shaped.

Scrape onto floured work surface.

Using fingers, gently stretch the sides of the dough to make a large circle.

Fold edges of dough into the center.

Work your way all the way around.

Here is a video of the preshape I made for my friend Sandy: https://youtu.be/Jkn54efAqD4

Flip the dough over. Editing courtesy of my photographer. She is ten.

Tuck the edges of the dough under just a bit so it is kind of a rectangle.

Let dough rest for ten minutes.

Butter your 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with unsalted butter.

After ten minute rest, lightly flour the top of your dough.

Flip the dough over so smooth side is down. Stretch out to a rectangle.

Fold right side over.

Now fold left side over.

Starting at the top, start to roll the dough toward yourself.

Keep rolling, tucking dough gently into itself.

Looks like a cinnamon roll.

Pull top of dough over to cover the spiral.

Using cupped hands, draw dough toward yourself to bring seam together at the bottom and create tension in dough.

You can also do this with a bowl scraper or bench scraper.

Here’s a video I made for my friend Sandy for the final shaping: https://youtu.be/-eHX08X6VGI

Plop the loaf into the pan *smooth side up*.

Cover and let sit on your counter for 45 minutes or so, then put in the fridge for an overnight rise.

The next morning the dough has risen! Preheat oven to 500° and let dough sit on counter for one hour.

Lightly flour top of dough. This makes the scoring (cutting) easier.

Using a sharp knife or razor blade, make a 1/4″ deep cut all the way across.

Looks like this.

You can add designs with shallow cuts if you wish.

Pour a tablespoon or two of water into the divots on bottom of turkey roaster.

Place loaf in roaster.

Really.

Put the lid on! Then the whole thing goes into the oven covered. TURN OVEN DOWN TO 450°!!!!!!

After 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn oven down to 435°. Bake for another 25 minutes uncovered.

Take loaf out of oven and check temperature. Should be between 205 and 210….

Let bread cool on rack for at least two hours. Enjoy!

Beautiful blistered crust.

Perfect for sandwiches!

And toast!

Enjoy!

 

Posted in Fun in the kitchen!, Sourdough, Yeasty Things | 3 Comments

Sourdough Crackers

Since I’ve been keeping my sourdough starter on my counter lately, I’ve had more discard to use, and I must say that one of my favorite recipes is King Arthur’s Sourdough cracker recipe. We love these crackers, and I daresay that my dear husband is addicted to them. I make these crackers exactly as the recipe describes, but I have a few tips that will perhaps make your sourdough cracker adventure more successful.

For one, I would recommend dividing the dough into three pieces, as opposed to two pieces.

Why? Because then it’s easier to roll the dough out very thin, which makes for a better cracker experience… thinner, crispier…

Roll it out nice and thin… thinner than you think is necessary.

It’s also nice to have three pieces of dough so you can make a variety of crackers with just one batch. Some with just salt sprinkled on top, and then maybe some with sesame seeds, and my latest favorite, sesame seeds and fennel.

Sesame fennel crackers.

As long as we’re talking about making different kinds of crackers, there’s an easy way to do that as well. You have your basic dough recipe (I always put Italian herbs in the dough), and then when you are about half way through rolling the dough out, add seeds and other other herbs, and then continue to roll out the dough. If you wait until the dough is completely rolled out, the add-ins won’t stick as well, and will pop off the crackers after they are baked.

It’s about at this stage that you sprinkle with add-ins.

Now, here’s a nit-picky detail, but for me it’s important. The crackers are great with salt sprinkled on top, but sometimes when I sprinkle the salt, I don’t do the greatest job of sprinkling evenly, so some crackers are too salty, while others are not salty enough. So here’s my solution. After you have done all of your rolling out, including add-ins, and have brushed the top of the cracker dough with olive oil, the next thing you will do is cut the cracker dough into squares using a pastry cutter or a pizza cutter. Then sprinkle the salt, putting a little bit in each square. This may sound too fussy, but I like each cracker to be as good as the last.

Sprinkle the salt now. A little bit in each square.

I would also recommend pulling the tray out of the oven and removing any crackers along the edges that have browned and are done.

Remove those outer ones!

Put those ones on a cooling rack, then separate the ones that are remaining and put the tray back into the oven to bake. As with most things in the oven, the outer edge bakes quicker, so if you want to have more evenly baked crackers, you need to do a little bit of cracker social distancing management.

These need to go back into the oven.

Here are some nicely baked crackers!

Rustic and delicious.

Another tip? When you make the dough and wrap the pieces and place in the fridge, you can leave the dough in the fridge for a lot longer than two hours (recipe says for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours). I have left the dough in the fridge for as long as two days, and the crackers come out wonderfully. This, to me, is very helpful, because sometimes I like to make the dough when my jar of discard is overflowing, but I don’t really have time to make and bake the crackers that same day. And I suspect that the longer the dough rests in the fridge, the better the sourdough flavor.

Sourdough Crackers

(from the King Arthur recipe)

  • 227 grams sourdough discard
  • 113 grams King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons dried herbs of your choice (optional – we love using Italian herbs)
  • Olive Oil (for brushing)
  • Kosher salt (for sprinkling)
  1. Mix the discard, flour, salt, butter and herbs until you have a smooth, cohesive dough with all ingredients well distributed. Use your hand and knead the dough in the bowl to be sure everything is well combined.
  2. Divide dough into three equal portions. Make each one into a flat rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and as long as 2 days.
  3. When ready to make the crackers, preheat the oven to 350° and take one dough packet out of the fridge. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper, the dough, and your rolling pin.
  4. Roll out the dough on the floured parchment as evenly thin as you possibly can – to about 1/16 of an inch. If you are using add-ins, stop when you are about halfway done with the rolling out. Sprinkle on any seeds or herbs or anything else you’d like to add. Continue to roll until dough is nice and thin.
  5. Brush with olive oil. Cut crackers into squares any size you like, using a pastry cutter or a pizza cutter. Poke a few holes in each cracker with a fork. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on each square.
  6. Slide the parchment with the cracker dough onto a cookie sheet (a rimless cookie sheet makes this easy, but a regular cookie sheet will work as well. Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Keep and eye on the crackers, and when it looks like the edge crackers are browned (about halfway through the bake time), pull the cookie sheet out of the oven. Remove the browned edge crackers to a cooling rack, then separate the remaining crackers and spread them out on the cookie sheet. Put back in the oven and continue to bake until the rest of the crackers are browned to your liking. While the crackers are baking, you can be working on the next portion of dough.
  7. When crackers are browned, let them cool on the cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Sourdough discard, flour, herbs, salt, and butter.

Nice smooth dough.

Three little packets.

Getting ready to roll.

This is the halfway mark, which is a good time for add-ins.

Nice and thin!

Brush with olive oil.

Cut squares and sprinkle with salt.

Dock with fork.

Partway through the bake, remove the outer crackers to cool.

Separate the crackers and put back in to bake.

Nice even bake!

And my favorite, sesame fennel crackers.

 

Posted in Fun in the kitchen!, Sourdough | 5 Comments

Breakfast Strata (Easter Quiche)

Millie recently requested that I make strata. I got this recipe from Carol many years ago. Yes, the same Carol that taught me how to make her wonderful Rustic White Bread and Swedish Rye. If you don’t remember, Carol is magic in the kitchen. And really, I just love her so much. We visited her not too long ago, socially distanced in her back yard. She was standing at her back door on her porch, and she looked so beautiful that I had to take a picture of her.

Lovely in every way.

Every year we spend Easter with Carol and her husband Mick (Mick is the pastor of our church), and lots of other friends. There is a big Easter egg hunt in the back yard, and all the kids go nuts.

Mara, Easter 2010

Millie, Easter 2012

One year Carol made something delicious in a large casserole dish. Kind of like a cheesy savory bread pudding with a crispy exterior. I asked if I could get the recipe. She called it an “Easter Quiche”. It’s also called a strata – layered bread, cheese, sausage, veggies… whatever ingredients you want, in an egg custard. You assemble it, and then it rests in the fridge overnight*, and then you can bake it in the morning with no fuss. It’s great for holidays, or if you have overnight guests, and you don’t want to get up and have to cook right away. Just grab a cup of coffee and preheat your oven. We have it every year on Christmas morning, which is perfect. And sometimes, because we have leftover bread (surprised?), or because I get a special request, we have strata on an ordinary day. And we might just have it for dinner. It’s delicious no matter what the occasion.

Breakfast Strata

(Serves 6)

  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 6 slices day old bread, cubed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the sausage in a skillet, breaking it up so that it is crumbled. Drain if necessary, and sprinkle the dry mustard over top and stir in. Set aside.
  2. Butter an 8″ x 8″ casserole dish or brownie pan. Layer the bottom with bread cubes, then half the sausage, then half the cheese. Repeat with another layer of bread cubes, sausage and cheese.
  3. Whisk the eggs and milk together and add in the Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. I only use 1/4 teaspoon of salt because the sourdough is so flavorful already. Pour the egg mixture over the layers of bread/sausage/cheese, and then moosh it all down with your hands to that all the bread cubes become saturated. The word “moosh” is written in Carol’s original recipe.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge overnight.
  5. The next morning, remove strata from refrigerator and let sit on your kitchen counter one hour before baking.
  6. About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350° and place rack in center of oven. Remove plastic wrap from strata, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake for another 40 minutes uncovered, or until golden, puffy, and set in the center. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with fresh fruit or green salad. Enjoy!

*I have left the strata to rest in the fridge for 24 hours and it has been fine, if not even better, and I have heard that it’s okay to leave it to rest in the fridge for up to two nights, although I haven’t tried it.

Easter 2015

 

 

Posted in Comfort Food, Fun in the kitchen! | 4 Comments

Sourdough Starter Maintenance

I have now been making sourdough bread on a regular basis for about 8 months?? How did that happen? I wasn’t initially excited about sourdough, because I associated it with the super sour loaves you get at chowder houses and such. I couldn’t imagine having that on a regular basis. But as it turns out, the sour flavor can actually be quite subtle and lovely. We have become accustomed to it, and enjoy it very much.

Having fun with different shaped loaves. Why not?

I experiment with sourdough recipes all the time. And not just recipes. Shapes, scoring, you name it. It’s just fun. Soooooo, back in August I posted about how to use the “scrapings” method for starter maintenance. This method is perfect for you if you aren’t going to bake very often, and you don’t want to have discard leftover. As for me, I have started baking with my starter often enough that I want it at the ready whenever the fancy strikes. And I am happy to use my discard to make other things, like these yummy whole wheat sourdough crackers.

So yes, I have become one of those people that keeps their sourdough starter in a jar on their counter and feeds it once a day. How did that happen again? It’s not a big deal though. I feed it only a small amount, and the whole routine only takes about ten minutes. A small price to pay for my own personal unlimited wild yeast supply. So here’s how I do it.

I have two 16 ounce jars with straight sides (for easy access and cleanup) and lids that can sit loosely atop the jars or be screwed on tightly. The jars weigh the same, which can be helpful. In the picture below, you see on the left a jar with starter in it. This starter has not been fed, so it is “hungry”.

I place the clean jar on my kitchen scale and pour 40 grams of the unfed starter into the clean jar.

I then zero out the scale and pour in 40 grams of room temperature water. I prefer using water from our Britta Filter water pitcher, but tap water is fine.

Next I zero out the scale and add the flour. 40 grams. I like a combination of rye flour (6 grams) and King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour (34 grams)  in my starter for liveliness and flavor, but really, 40 grams of any decent unbleached all-purpose flour will do.

Then mix. I have a long narrow one-piece silicone spatula that makes mixing easy, and the spatula is easy to clean also, so I highly recommend getting one. Scrape down the sides of the jar so you can see what’s going on in there.

I like to place a rubber band at the level of the starter so I can see how much it grows. Usually a starter will triple in size when it is at its peak, and will stay at that level for an hour or two before it starts to collapse. My starter is a 100% hydration starter, which means that it has the same amount of water as flour. It usually takes my starter about six hours to reach its peak. It is when it is at its peak that the starter will be the most effective in your sourdough bread recipes. (I know, I know, TL;DR). Anyway, I place the lid very loosely on the jar and keep it in an out-of-the-way spot in my kitchen. If I want to bake, I know that my starter will be ready in about six hours. If I don’t want to bake, I can just feed the beast again the next day when I feel like it. Here’s what it looks like after a couple of hours.

It’s always exciting to see the starter begin to grow.

Here is what it looks like when it’s ready to go.

Tripled in size, bubbly and ready to go!

And now you may ask, what do I do with the leftover starter, otherwise known as the discard? Well, you may want to have a third jar. Whenever you have leftover starter, just pour into your “discard” jar. So now it’s starting (starting, hehe… no pun intended) to get confusing. Here’s how I keep it straight. The rubber band only goes on the jar of the starter that I am feeding or I am going to feed. There is a jar that I keep in the fridge that is just for discard… my leftover starter. In the photo below, the middle jar that is full has discard in it from a week or two of sourdough feedings. The jar on the left has the leftover starter, which I am about to pour into the discard jar. The jar in the background on the far right is the starter that I just fed. Whew.

Background jar = just fed starter. Jar on left = leftover starter. Jar in the middle = discard.

When I accumulate enough discard, I usually make sourdough crackers, because they are SO so good.

Whole wheat flour, herbs, butter, and a whole lot of discard!

But I’ve gotten completely off track. I just want you to envision a positive outcome for all of that discard. And there really isn’t that much discard. Sometimes I decide to just do a 30/30/30 starter, which makes 90 grams of starter (obvi). My regular sourdough loaf recipe only calls for 50 grams of starter, and so I would have 40 grams of starter leftover. But you see, I would be cutting things very close, because there is a tiny bit of evaporation that happens during the process, and some of the starter sticks to the spatula or the jar, etc., etc., so I prefer to do my regular 40/40/40 starter, to be on the safe side.

For inspiration.

In a nutshell, mix 40 grams unfed starter with 40 grams water and 40 grams unbleached all-purpose flour. Let it sit loosely covered on your kitchen counter. Once the starter has tripled it is ready to use. This should take maybe 6 to 8 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen, how active your starter is, etc. If you do not want to bake with the starter, you can leave it until the next day. Pour 40 grams of it into a new jar, along with 40 grams of water and 40 grams flour and mix. Either throw away the discard, or save it in your fridge for another use. This is if you want to feed it every day so that you have active bubbly starter available on a daily basis. If this seems excessive, you can always feed your starter, let it sit on your counter for an hour or two, then pop it in the fridge. It will stay dormant in there for quite a while. Put it on the lowest shelf in the very back, which is usually the coldest spot in your fridge. When you are planning on baking, pull the starter out and feed it for a day or two to bring it back up to speed. And that’s it! Time to get started!

 

Posted in Fun in the kitchen!, Sourdough | 5 Comments

Favorite Challah

     I have been meaning to write about this challah recipe for a very long time! I wrote about another challah a while back, and it was the first one that I really loved, but this one is my very favorite, and since trying it, I have never looked for another. This recipe comes from Jeffrey Hamelman, master baker, and just all around really great guy. During the quarantine, he and Gesine Bullock-Prado did an amazing live-stream show through King Arthur Baking Company called the Isolation Baking Show. I learned so much from watching that show, and it was so comforting during those early days of lock-down. The challah episode I must have watched a million times, just to absorb as much of Jeffrey’s magic as possible.

     So of course I had to try Jeffrey’s challah. His recipe makes two large loaves, or three medium sized loaves, which seemed overwhelming to me, so I cut down the recipe to make two medium loaves, which works nicely. This challah is moist, fluffy, lightly sweet, feathery, and just melts in your mouth. I hope you give it a try. Since I reduced the recipe, I only mostly have weights for the ingredients, as opposed to volume, so you’ll have to break out your kitchen scale. It’s better and more precise that way anyway. Trust me. And another thing: if you want good results, please use King Arthur all-purpose flour. It is perfect for this recipe. And just for the fun of it, I tried using olive oil for this bread… not extra virgin olive oil, but just plain old olive oil, nice and mild, and I was very happy with how the bread turned out. I will include a picture tutorial at the bottom of the post with lots of details.

Favorite Challah

(from Jeffrey Hamelman’s recipe)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 44 grams vegetable oil
  • 200 grams cold water
  • 622 grams King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 66 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt (12 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

(You will need another egg for the egg wash)

  1. Put all ingredients in a large bowl in order listed above.
  2. Mix with a large wooden spoon or dough whisk until the dough starts to come together. It will seem stiff and dry at first.
  3. Once you’ve done all you can with the spoon or dough whisk, knead the dough in the bowl using one hand, rotating the bowl as you go, until the dough becomes more cohesive and starts to clean the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead until the dough is nice and firm, and becomes difficult to knead with one hand.
  4. Turn dough out onto a clean, dry work surface – NO FLOUR!!!! And continue to knead with two hands. The dough should be very firm. Knead until the dough becomes smooth and silky. The entire mixing and kneading process takes me maybe 15 minutes. Near the end of the kneading, grab the dough and slap it down on the work surface with some force, then fold it over onto itself. Repeat a couple of times, rotating the dough a quarter turn each time. This should tighten up the dough and really get it to that nice smooth texture. If this sounds confusing, just grab the dough and slap the work surface several times with it, and don’t be timid. Shape into a ball.
  5. Place dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or other bowl cover. Leave on counter for an hour, then place the dough in the refrigerator for another hour to hour and a half.
  6. Lightly oil your work surface. I just add about a half teaspoon of oil and spread it onto my work surface very thinly with a paper towel. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (it will perhaps have doubled in size) and divide the dough in half for two medium loaves. Starting with one half, divide into three or four pieces (depending on what kind of braid you will make) and shape the pieces into little logs. Cover with plastic wrap and do the same with the other half of the dough. Cover and let the dough rest for twenty minutes.
  7. Roll out the first set of logs into long strands (around 14″ to 16″). Move strands to an adjacent work area and lightly sprinkle with flour (so the strands don’t stick to each other) and braid. The light coating of flour will ensure that the strands maintain their definition while the loaves are rising. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with greased plastic wrap. Repeat with the second set of logs. Place a tea towel over the loaves and let rise on the counter for 60 minutes.
  8. After the 60 minutes, preheat your oven to 375° and put an oven rack in the lower third of your oven. Let the loaves continue to rise on the counter for another 30 minutes while your oven is preheating. Loaves should look puffy and almost jiggly.
  9. When loaves are ready (when they are quite puffy), mix one egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush the loaves with the egg wash, covering every nook and cranny. You can start with one loaf, then to the other, then go back to the first and egg wash again, and back to the second and egg wash again. If you wish to add sesame or poppy seeds, sprinkle them on now.
  10. Place the baking sheet with the loaves on it on an upside down baking sheet (I actually do this part much sooner so I don’t forget), which will ensure that the bottoms of the loaves don’t burn. Place the whole thing in your preheated oven on the lower rack. Bake for twenty minutes. At the twenty minute mark, if the loaves look like they are already dark enough, tent with aluminum foil and bake for 5 minutes longer. The loaves are ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, and an instant-read thermometer registers 190°. Let loaves cool on wire cooling rack. Let cool completely before storing at room temperature in a bread bag. Stored properly, the bread will stay fresh for a couple of days, if it lasts that long…

Okay, so here is the picture tutorial. I hope you find it helpful.

Add ingredients to large bowl, zeroing out your scale after each addition.

Mix with a wooden spoon or dough whisk. Dough will seem dry.

Keep going until just about all the flour has been absorbed. Dough will still seem stiff and dry.

Now get your hand in the bowl and start kneading.

Keep rotating the bowl as you go, grabbing the dough and folding it over onto itself.

Dough will start to feel moist as you continue to work with it.

At this point, the dough still needs a lot more kneading.

When the dough becomes too difficult to knead in the bowl, transfer to clean, dry work surface and knead with two hands. Do NOT add flour.

Knead until dough is smooth and silky. Be patient! Shape into a ball by smooshing sides under with cupped hands.

Place dough back in the bowl.

Cover and leave on counter for an hour.

Okay, so the dough got a little bigger. Cover and put it in the refrigerator for an hour to an hour and a half.

After the rest in the fridge, the dough is even bigger.

Lightly oil your work surface. Cut dough in half for two loaves. Each loaf is around 543 grams.

I like to weigh the dough so I know the loaves will be the same size. I add little chunks of dough until I get to the right weight.

Divide the first chunk of dough into 3 or 4 pieces. I’m doing a four strand braid, but you can do a three strand braid if you like. Flatten each piece lightly into a rectangle and roll into a tight log.

Cover first set of logs and do the same with the second half of the dough. I measure the smaller pieces as well – inconsistencies get rolled up and hidden.

Cover both sets of logs and let rest for twenty minutes.

Starting with the first set, roll the log with one hand at first to get it started.

Next use two hands, and stretch the strand outward as you roll.

Try to get the strands as even (same length) as possible, rolling them a bit more as needed.

Transfer strands to a different or adjacent work space, and sprinkle lightly with flour. Roll the strands so they are lightly coated in flour.

Rotate a quarter turn and pinch the ends together at the top. Now you are ready to braid.

If you would like to see a video of me making this four strand braid, you can see it here. My videographer (she is ten) kept zooming in and out, so if you get motion sickness from watching the video, take a break and have a cup of tea.

Step one. I know, this means nothing, so watch the video.

And so on….

I know it looks confusing, so watch the video.

The nice thing is, this is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

And the four strand braid stands nice and tall. Super pretty.

The braid is nice and loose. The strands have to have room to expand.

Pinch and tuck the ends under. This braid makes me feel all dreamy. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet, cover with greased wrap, and repeat with second set of logs.

Make sure there is plenty of space between the loaves.

Cover with tea towel and let rise for 90 minutes (at the 60 minute mark preheat your oven to 375° and put an oven rack in the lower third of oven.

After 90 minutes they are good and puffy!

Prepare egg wash.

Brush loaves with egg wash… you can do this twice if you like.

Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

In the oven they go! Notice the baking sheet is set on top of an upside down baking sheet to protect bottom from burning.

These are looking dark at the twenty minute mark…

So I tent with foil and bake for 5 more minutes.

You can check the temp to see if the loaves are done. They should reach 190° in the center of the loaf.

You can also tap the bottoms of the loaves and if they sound hollow, they are done!

Enjoy!

Posted in Comfort Food, Fun in the kitchen!, Yeasty Things | 5 Comments

Homemade Pizza, Take Two!

I have been dragging my heels on blog posts lately, mostly because I have been making so many different things that I am overwhelmed at the idea of writing about all of them. But this one is easy. If you want to take your pizza to the next level, use pizza flour! Seriously, this “00” flour is amazing. I have started making pasta from scratch with it (that’s for another post), and decided to try using it for pizza crust. Wow. Just wow.

This dough is so very easy to work with. My other favorite pizza dough recipe is yummy, but not so easy to stretch.  I was recently having a discussion with another baking friend about how it is difficult to get the pizza dough thin enough by hand, so we have to resort to using a rolling pin. Now, I don’t mind using a rolling pin, but this new recipe is like satin draping over your hands, silky smooth and pliable, just begging to be hand-stretched and shaped.

And the end result? A light, tender, crispy bubbly crust that you would only expect to find at an upscale pizzeria. This recipe came to me from my friend Joe, who loves biscotti. He emailed the recipe to me a while ago, but since I already had a recipe I loved, I didn’t pay too much attention. Until I had extra “00” flour sitting around. This is based on Roberta’s Pizza Dough Recipe from NYT cooking. I only changed it a little bit. And it is so very good. It is worth your time and effort to make this… to go to the store and get the special flour… just do it. Also, take a look at the original recipe (link included above). I found it super helpful to watch the video of the guy shaping the pizza dough. He makes it look so easy. I remember thinking to myself that it wouldn’t work that way for me. But it does.

Oh, here’s the rub. You have to plan ahead for this. You can either make the dough and let it rest for three to four hours, which is about all I can stand to do, since I’m not the plan ahead type. Or, you can make the dough and let it rest in the fridge overnight for enhanced flavor. I will do this someday. I know I will. But for now, I’m enjoying the three to four hour dough.

Pizza Dough

(Adapted ever so slightly from Roberta’s Pizza Dough Recipe)

This recipe will make two larger pizzas, or four individual sized pizzas.

  • 230 grams “00” flour
  • 230 grams all purpose flour
  • 12 grams fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried herbs of choice (optional)
  • 300 grams warm water (90°)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl (I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer)
  2. Add warm water and olive oil.
  3. With dough hook, mix for about 3 minutes. Dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl, but will stick to the bottom. If doing by hand, mix until well combined (for about 3 minutes).
  4. Cover the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Don’t even think about skipping this.
  5. Turn rested dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, until smooth and springy.
  6. Cut into two pieces for two larger pizzas, or four pieces for individual pizzas. Shape into balls. Place balls on floured surface and cover with slightly damp towel and let dough rest for three to four hours. Honestly, three hours is about all I can stand. One hour before you plan to shape and bake your pizzas, place one rack in the bottom third of your oven and put your pizza stone on it. Place another rack on the top third of the oven. Preheat your oven to 550°. Yes, that’s right. You want to preheat your oven for an entire hour. I got lazy last time and only preheated for half an hour, and I could tell the difference.
  7. While your oven is preheating, get all of your sauces and toppings ready.
  8. After oven has been preheated for about an hour, shape and stretch the pizza dough by hand, placing it on parchment paper for easy transferring to the oven. Top with favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings. Don’t overdo it with the toppings, or it will weigh down your crust.
  9. Using a rimless baking sheet, slide the pizza and parchment paper onto preheated baking stone, and let pizza bake for two to three minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper (it should slide right out) and bake for perhaps three more minutes. Check to see if the bottom crust is as browned as you like it, then remove the pizza from the pizza stone (just slide the pizza onto the rimless cookie sheet) and slide the pizza directly onto the top rack and switch your heat to the “broil” setting. Let pizza bake for two to three more minutes, watching like a hawk so as not to burn it, but you can let it get a bit of char for that ultimate pizza experience. Remove from oven and let rest on cooling rack for about five minutes before slicing.
  10. Switch the heat back to “bake”, and wait a minute or two before placing your next pizza into the oven. Repeat the bake/broil process for each pizza.
  11. Marvel at what you have just accomplished, and enjoy!

Posted in Fun in the kitchen!, Yeasty Things | 4 Comments

Extra Flaky Pie Crust (rough puff pastry)

I know I keep talking about pie crust. The thing is, once you can make a flaky tender pie crust (if you are like me), then you become rather obsessed over it. So yeah, I’m a little obsessed. As my daughters would say, I really am a nerd for baking, and it seems that has always been the case.

That’s me in the middle, with my sisters Jane (left) and Linda (right) making “crunchies”.

I examine every detail of every pie crust I make, and then try to retrace my steps to figure out cause and effect.

So many layers of flakiness!

So here is something I have noticed for years. When I roll out pie dough, I always save the scraps. I usually stack or roll them and wrap them in plastic wrap, then shape into a mini disc. That mini disc goes into the fridge, and often times one of my kids gets to roll it out and make a mini pie. I am always surprised when their crusts come out flaky and tender, and often flakier than the mother dough! I usually chalk it up to some sort of weird kid magic: because they are not worried about flakiness, their crusts come out perfectly!

Does she look worried to you? (Millie, Thanksgiving 2015)

Just last week, there was a disc of dough scraps sitting in the fridge starting to look ancient, so I figured I better do something with it. I wasn’t hopeful, just didn’t want to waste it. So I threw together an apple galette, and it was SO GOOD!! The crust was extra flaky and tender. How could that be? What with all the rolling out and cutting and smooshing and rolling out again?

This dough rolls out like a dream!!!

So now I’m on a mission. My goal? I would like to achieve that level of flakiness the first time around. Don’t get me wrong; I really really really do love my current favorite pie dough recipe. But if I want to add some more layers of flakiness, I can just take that dough, and add one more step to the process. So here is what I am doing. I make the dough as usual, and then, before shaping it into a disc and wrapping it, I place it on a large piece of parchment paper. I shape the dough into a rectangle, using the parchment paper so that I am not touching it with my warm hands. (I actually use my knuckles to press the dough down… knuckles aren’t as warm as the palms of your hands.) I then cut the rectangle in half with my bench scraper, stack the two pieces of dough, and then once again flatten and shape into a rectangle using the parchment paper. I repeat that as many times as I want, maybe three or four times. All of this happens quickly, so the butter doesn’t melt.

You can already see several layers in each half.

When I’m ready, I divide the dough in two, cut and stack each half one last time, and place the dough onto plastic wrap. (I usually make a full recipe, so I will be making two discs.)

Then moosh it down using the sides of the plastic wrap folded over the top so as to not touch the dough with my hands.

Then wrap and shape!

Marbled butter for thin layers.

I can still see the butter swirls throughout the dough, so I am not worried about having over-worked the dough. If you think this is a whole lotta fuss, don’t worry. This extra step only takes an additional minute or five, and your returns will be tenfold. Speaking of folds, you could also roll out and fold your dough a couple of times to the same effect. This cutting and stacking technique is just a different way. You are basically making a puff pastry. I say it’s worth it. Now you try and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Comfort Food, Desserts, Fun in the kitchen! | 2 Comments

Vegetable Cannellini Bean Soup

Last month, my dear friend Lisa came to visit. Lisa and I grew up together in St. Louis. We have been friends for a very long time.

At Kubota Garden with Lisa

Lisa and gluten don’t get along very well, so one night I was going to make minestrone, and I told her I would make it with rice noodles, or even rice. She suggested I just leave out the starch altogether. What an idea! I had been looking around the internet for an easy recipe for minestrone, and found this one. I was going for something quick and easy that I could make with what I had on hand. And this fit the bill.

Basic ingredients.

Why am I writing about a soup that is so simple? I mean, everyone knows how to make soup, right? Well, I was so happy that the soup came out nicely without the noodles. In fact, I discovered that I like the soup better without the noodles. The soup is rich and delicious as is, and no worries about gluten, if that is an issue for you. And I just really like this soup. There are a few things that I did that made it extra yummy. Like using San Marzano tomatoes. The flavor is so very good. I was out of regular cans of diced tomatoes, and I had some leftover San Marzano tomatoes that I just crushed up a bit with my hands and put into the soup. And another addition is the crust from parmigiano cheese. We keep the cheese on hand for grating on pasta, and always end up with the edges. Save those! Throw them into your soups as they simmer! I leave the cheese edge in the soup pot when serving so that nobody ends up with a chewy piece of cheese in their bowl… I save that for me… shhhhhhh… it’s so good ;-).

This soup is even better the next day.

Also, the original recipe calls for simmering for about a half hour once all the ingredients have been added. I like simmering my soups for longer so the flavors intensify and the broth thickens. This soup is comforting on a chilly day, and it is so easy to whip up. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Vegetable Cannelini Bean Soup

(adapted from Maria Lichty’s recipe)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • crust (or small piece) of parmigiano cheese*
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a heavy bottomed soup pot or dutch oven.
  2. Saute onion, carrots, and celery until softened – about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in all the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for half an hour or longer. Longer = better flavor and thicker soup. (If simmering for longer, make sure it is a very slow simmer.)
  4. Serve with crusty bread and salad for an easy and delicious meal!

*Note – For a vegan soup, leave out the parmigiano cheese and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

 

Posted in Busy-day meals, Comfort Food, Soups | 3 Comments