Category Archives: cooking

No Knead Bread

No Knead Bread

This has to be the most forgiving and easy recipe for bread making. It is so simple and forgiving that I often don’t want to tell people how to make it. That way I get to maintain the authority of a “baker”. But, the recipe is too good not to share.

History

The recipe was first introduced Jim Layhey and popularized by Mark Bitman. The goal of the recipe was to produce crusty bread that was porous inside without having to use a steam injection oven. It succeeded.

There have been many variations since. But, the best description of the recipe is here from Simply so Good. This is a easy recipe to follow- and the pictures are useful, but I have made a few modifications to make things easier.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of water (or more if needed, usually slightly warm)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of quick rising yeast (if you want it to rise faster, use more yeast.)

Mix the dry ingredients in a wide mouthed bowl. Add the water gradually, to ensure good mixing. This will form a sticky dough. If the water is insufficient, I will slowly add more water till I have incorporated all of the dry ingredients. Once formed the sticky dough slowly slides in the bowl like slime. If you have made bread before – do not be discouraged by the lack of stiffness and the wetness of the dough.

I put the uncovered bowl in the oven and let it sit for 12 hours or more. In a pinch you can use 1 Tablespoon of yeast and let it sit for 2 hours, but I think the flavour is less complex when the dough rises too quickly. When the dough is ready, it will be very bubbly and jiggle like Jello. I used to place the dough on a wax paper and coat the surfaces with flour or corn meal, then fold the dough and let it sit for 1-2 hours. Now, I simply form a ball (be gentle as you don’t want to break down the bubbles) with the dough still in the mixing bowl. I then coat the sticky surfaces with corn meal.

I coat a small amount of oil on the bottom and sides of a steel pot. Place the dough in the steel pot. Many recipes will call for preheating the pot in the oven before adding the dough – I find this unnecessary and just complicates the workflow. Preheat the oven to 450 Celsius. Bake the steel pot with the lid on for 30 to 40 minutes. Take the top off and bake for another 15 minutes to create the thick crust.

Search for the Perfect (Homemade) Pizza

The quest for the perfect homemade pizza has taken
a few years. The home made crust that I had been making were sadly
too hard. For a few years we made do with pre-made crusts from
Superstore. This was okay and better than any frozen pizzas, but
still not satisfactory. Then I found this
recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1
    Tablespoon olive oil or melted butter
  • 2
    Tablespoon Sucanat (or granulated sweetener of your choice)-I use
    sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 1/2
    teaspoon each of basil, oregano, and garlic powder (optional, but
    make for an even more flavorful crust)
  • 2 3/4
    cups flour (see note above. If using 100% whole wheat, try adding a
    pinch of citric acid and/or ginger to help soften the

Flour

This was a great
start but my first attempt was less than spectacular. I had mixed
all the ingredients in the bread machine. Once I began hand mixing,
I realized that the amount of flour that was called for was too
much. For whatever reason if I followed the recommended amounts of
flour for any baking recipe , I would get a hard unyielding dough.
By putting in 25 % less flour I would get a softer more pliable
dough. I suspect this has something do do with the hard water or
our altitude.(In Edmonton ).

Mix the the
yeast,sugar and warm water in a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.
I consider the water to be warm if it is slightly uncomfortable to
my finger but I am able to tolerate it. Mix one cup of flour at a
time. After 2 cups, I then add flour slowly(a sprinkle at a time)
to achieve a soft, pliable , but not sticky dough. Knead the dough for 8 minutes. I let the dough
sit for 1–2 hours before rolling.

Toppings and Pizza Sauce

I find that
cooking the red bell pepers and mushrooms before they are baked
prevents the pizza from getting soggy.

<

p>The pizza
sauce is the most versatile component of the whole recipe. I use
tomato paste as a base. A small can is usually sufficient for one
pizza. I add a teaspoon of vidaloo
paste
, some pepper and mix well. I used to like adding a
small amount of jerk
seasoning to the mix, but it makes for a spicy pizza. l will add
this again once our son is older.

Baking

Oil both sides of the pizza
with olive oil(unless you are using a pizza stone), then bake at
400 for 10 minutes. Put, tomato paste mix, with precooked toppings
, raw onions, and garlic, and grated cheese on the partially baked
pizza . Then bake at 375 for 10–12 minutes.

How to make Mayonnaise without needing any skill

I’ve been trying to make mayonnaise off and on for a few years. I’ve only been successful once with the Bamix hand mixer. I tried a few months ago with the Vita mix and was sadly disappointed. There’s some strange alchemy with mixing eggs and oil but I am unable to comprehend or achieve consistently.

The problem I had with continuing my mayonnaise creation experiments, was having to throw out the resulting concoctions. I like to use free range eggs, but they are at least double the cost of regular eggs if not more. I was always heartbroken to throw out all the olive oil and eggs.

But finally, I ran into a couple recipes seem to help. I gave up entirely on attempting to achieve the right mixture of oil and egg. Instead, I used almonds for a vegan mayonnaise.

The first recipe I tried:

Marcona Almond Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2–4 tablespoons marcona almonds

Directions:

  1. Pour vinegar and agave into Vitamix and puree on high speed for 20 seconds until combined
  2. With motor running on medium or high, drizzle in olive oil to create an emulsion
  3. Don’t worry, if you don’t get the emulsification, the almonds will thicken up your mixture
  4. Blend in 2 tablespoons of almonds, then check for thickness and texture
  5. If necessary, blend in another tablespoon of almonds, until thick and creamy
  6. Serve with sandwiches, burgers and salads

I did not have any apple cider vinegar, so used regular vinegar instead and substituted honey for agave nectar. The mixture was too vinegary for assistant tasters. My son wrinkled his face at the taste of it and then told me he did not like it with all the innocent honesty a three is capable of. I think the apple cider vinegar would not have been so strong.

The second recipe used lemon instead of vinegar.

Almond Mayonnaise

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 3 1/2 ounces oil (1/3 cup is too little, 1/2 too much)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 5 ounces water, divided
  • 1/8–1/4 cup lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Place almonds, oil, salt and about 1/2 the water in blender. Process on high until smooth, 3–4 minutes.
  2. Add remaining water and continue blending until extremely smooth. Add lemon juice while blender is operating.
  3. Pour into 2 cup container and chill. This will set up as it chills.

If this doesn’t set up right, try adding a little of the runny stuff to 1/4 cup more slivered blanched almonds, process until smooth, then add the remaining runny stuff, process until well combined. Chill. If this doesn’t work, add a little more lemon juice. It is never ruined, because you can always add more of the nuts or lemon juice and it works out ok.

If it is too thick, put the lump in the blender and add 1/4 cup water, process until smooth and pour back into the container and chill. When you get the right proportions for your blender and taste, write them down. This is wonderful stuff.

I used whole almonds, soaked in warm water instead of silvered almonds. But, I slowly added the almonds to the Vita mix after the other ingredients. I also added a dash of mustard (did not have any mustard powder) and added 1 tsp of honey. The second recipe was a success. I suppose this is not really mayonnaise as I never really did achieve the correct emulsification, but the addition of almonds after mixing the oil and lemon juice meant that I could control the texture and solidity.

Finally I had egg free (and any worries about salmonella) vegan mayonnaise without a huge learning curve.