Posts from the ‘food and baking’ Category

Real-time food: Making bread easy

This is me making bread.

If you thought making bread was difficult, challenging, or just takes too long, in this series of videos I take you through the process step by step.

Expect to spend 4 hours total with only about 20 minutes of actual activity.

The video below is eleven and a half minutes of delicious awkwardness.

After the first proof, we need to punch or round the dough and let it proof again.

For an idea about what this is like, see this next video, where I do very little, and my dough arrives at it’s final destination…the oven.

Finally, we taste the bread! Watch me chew in your face, and be so grateful that I’m the one eating and not the one watching.

Here is the recipe:

Whole Wheat Bread

8 oz water

2½ tsp yeast

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp molasses

1½ cups bread flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour

1½ tsp salt

*This is a base recipe. Have fun with it! You could add approximately ½ cup of oats, seeds, raisins, craisins or other dried fruit, olives, roasted garlic, cheese…don’t be afraid to experiment.

Happy baking!


Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding – 39 years in the making


So this must be how my mother feels when she makes something on the fly and people ask her for the recipe.

It took me 39 years to make this one dish. I kid you not. I was not born with the ability to throw stuff together and have it taste good. I always marveled at my mother when she would open the refrigerator doors and within moments (it seemed) she would announce that she knew what we’d be having for dinner. Or more accurately, what she’d be making.  I always wanted to have that ability, and whether through osmosis, or from watching years of that magic happen before my eyes, I seem to have aquired it.

So you may have figured out, there is no recipe, but here is what I did…more or less.

15 – 3″×3″ vol au vent puff pastry squares that my work was going to throw away (roughly equivalent to a little less than 4 – 11″×15″ sheets) these were baked and frozen for a good many weeks, although that is obviously not a necessary step. Use any old bread, croissant, doughnut…get creative! You won’t know if it sucks til you try it. 

9 eggs
4 cups milk (give or take)
1 and 3/4 sticks butter, melted
12 sliced sauteed mushroom
1 sliced sauteed vidalia onion
1 bag baby spinach sauteed with 4 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 raw red pepper 
2 – 3 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Salt to taste (yes you have to taste it!)

I whisked the eggs together to break the yolks then added the milk. I did not actually measure the milk. I just added some and thought it looked alright.  You could reduce the eggs if you want it less eggy, but I liked walking the line between quiche and bread pudding. Then I melted the butter and added some of the milk/egg mixture to it to temper it. If you add hot melted butter to cold milk, it will still bake up fine, but it looks all lumpy and the butter forms little globules that don’t seem to get as well distributed. But in the end it will still taste good. Just those things are a basic bread pudding; old bread, eggs, milk, and butter. From there you could literally go in a million directions as far as flavor. Go crazy! See what happens!

I didn’t use a spoon or a whisk or a spatula. I smushed the bread, which I had been allowing to soak in the egg/milk/butter mixture, with my hands until it was all incorporated. At this time I added the veggies above. The mushrooms and onions I had sauteed the day before…in bacon fat. The spinach I did just before I started making the milk mixture. I mixed most of the cheese into it, but I saved some for the top. Sprinkled on before I baked it. I did taste the bread (and raw egg and yes I’m still alive apparently) for salt, and added some until I thought it was enough. Then I tasted again, and continued to add more in this way until it was actually enough.

This recipe (if you want to call it that) yielded 3 – 8″×4″ loaf molds.

I baked them at 350º for 30 min and then checked them every 10 minutes thereafter until the top was just turning golden brown colors. You should also be able to touch the center and have it feel a little springy.

If you want to cut some cholesterol (and deliciousness!) reduce the eggs and butter by half and you should still have a nice bread pudding just nowhere near as excellent as mine. In this case, spray the mold with Pam to prevent sticking.  The added butter in the recipe acts as a natural releasing agent.

Obviously, this base mixture could be made sweet as well. Stay tuned for my vague outline on how to make a guava and cream cheese bread pudding. It will be a first!

Those were not beignets!

I wish I had taken a picture! Oh, wait, Disney took one for me!

Inside, the beignets are hollow

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one says it all.

My first bite into this so called beignet, and I immediately said, “this is not a beignet!” Liz had already eaten one, and considering our love of food, I thought she would have said something if it wasn’t up to par. Apparently, she isn’t very familiar with beignets.

The “beignet” in question was at at a Disney Resort. It wasn’t at just any Disney Resort, it was at the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort. I would have thought…well, anyway. The thing (not really a beignet) was HOLLOW! A proper beignet is NOT hollow. It is a soft pillow of fried dough, bathed in powdered sugar. It needs nothing else. This was like an empty pillow case. It was SO disappointing, and it wasn’t even tasty. It was tough and chewy, and I could not finish it. Anyone who knows will tell you I finish most everything even when I don’t care for it. If it is edible, I eat it, because I hate to waste food (or alcohol).  So when I don’t finish, it must be really unpalatable for me.

I don’t know what was going on that day, but whoever made those, or supervised, was not from New Orleans and knew nothing about beignets. Honestly, it was as if they ran out of beignet dough and used the cinnamon roll dough instead. It also had cinnamon in the dough, which on its own would not be a bad thing if it had been executed well, even though a traditional beignet does not have cinnamon.

Now that I think about it, while I was there I did see a woman smashing two pieces of dough together behind the counter and I thought, ” I wonder what she’s making?” Since you don’t make beignets or cinnamon rolls by smashing bits of dough together, I assume she was making my faux beignets. What a let down!

I’m feeling the need to make a real beignet now. Until next time…

My first Tarte Tatin, or How I learned to never question Jacques Pepin

This is the only picture I could take as it did not turn out of the pan.

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off, I made my first Tarte Tatin today. My first caramel did not spread so easily, and Mary Berry is right, you can’t make a proper caramel in a nonstick pan. So in my infinite wisdom, I made another batch of caramel right there in the same pan with practically no regard for the potential recrystallization of the sugar. What I didn’t take into account was that even though it didn’t seem like a lot, I effectively doubled the amount of sugar and water to the recipe, thereby cooking the apples practically into stew. It is, without a doubt, absolutely delicious, but it’s not quite the Tarte Tatin I was hoping for. Don’t tell my mother, but the recipe I butchered was Jacques Pepin‘s. My mom loves Jacques Pepin. She used to take cooking lessons from him every year or so when I was much younger. I think she loved bugging us by always ogling him and hearing us say, “oh Mom, gross. He’s like a hairy gorilla with gorilla arms”, because have you seen his arms? Seriously though, mad respect for Jacques Pepin, and I will never question you again. I thought the crust wasn’t going to be thick enough, because I had in mind an American style Tatin that might have a thick biscuity bread, and what you have here is no doubt the real thing. A little simpler than we imagine, the French are famous for making food simple, and extraordinary, and simply extraordinary.