Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Do we need to buy anything before the hurricane? With a bread machine in the house? No.

Hurricane Sandy closed down the Federal Government on Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., as well as the bus and subway service.  Dear Husband and I stayed home those two days also.  DH asked me over the weekend if we should join the stampede to the grocery store but we decided not to--we had water, eggs, milk, toilet paper, and enough food to last a couple of days except bread.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I love my bread machine and with one in the house, as long as you have electricity you can have bread. Sunday I made half-whole wheat bread, which more than lasted us through yesterday, when we finally did lose power for 3 hours.  Today the power is back, and Sweet Potato Half-Whole Wheat Bread is kneading in the machine. BTW, we almost never bake the loaf in the machine because it's a funny shape and the crust is too hard.  We shape the dough, put it in a regular bread pan, then bake it in the oven.  You only need a basic model bread machine if you use it like this--essentially as a kneading machine.  (You can get one at WalMart for about $40.)

The whole wheat bread recipe is mine, from trial and error over many years.  The sweet potato bread is a recipe adapted from the Irish Potato Bread recipe in Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg & Lois Conway.  I use (much) less salt, sometimes cut the water by 1/4 cup and put in an egg, substitute mashed sweet potato for the potato, and brown sugar for the white sugar.

The recipes for both breads follow:

Half-Whole Wheat Bread from the bread machine

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (may need more later; see *note)
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (we like King Arthur brand)
1/4 cup dry milk powder
2 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter (see second **note)
2 tablespoons honey or molasses (can use more honey but decrease water by an equal amount)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (depends on your taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the bread machine in the order specified in your manual.  Process on dough mode.  Grease (or spray with oil from a Misto sprayer) a 9" x 5" bread pan.  Flatten the dough to approximately 9" x 12" with your hands or a rolling pin, then roll it up like a jelly roll.  Place in pan and allow to rise until doubled (1/2 hour to 1 hour, depending on the weather and how warm your kitchen is).  Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake the bread 35 minutes.  Cool slightly (10 minutes?) then tip the loaf out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.  Try not to cut the loaf until it is cool, because it tears.

*note: You have to get used to looking at your dough in the machine to see if it needs more water or more flour.  Once the kneading really gets going, the dough should make a smooth ball.  If it is a rough ball (or won't cohere into a ball at all), you need more water.  Add it a tablespoon at a time until you get the ball shape.  You can also tell if there is not enough water if the bread machine sounds like it's working too hard.  If the dough is gooey and won't shape into more than a flattened ball, you need more flour.  Add it a tablespoon at a time until the dough looks right.

**note: It's very convenient to measure the oil first (a coffee measure is 2 tablespoons, or eyeball half a quarter-cup measure); then the honey slides right out.  If you want to use butter, and your butter is even a little soft, you can put it directly in the machine without melting it.  Just measure the 2 tablespoons then cut in smaller pieces before you add them. 

Sweet Potato Half-Whole Wheat Bread
(photo will be added when the bread is done)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water OR
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water and one egg
1/3 cup mashed sweet potato
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (we like King Arthur brand)
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Follow the same instructions as above.

***note: if you want white bread from either of these recipes, you can just use all bread flour.  You will probably need to cut the water back by 2 tablespoons.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seared Scallops and Spinach with Shallots and Bacon

A Soy-free Kitchen Original
(This cooks up very quickly in one pan.)

1 lb sea scallops
1 bag  (6-9 oz) baby spinach
2 slices bacon
2 medium shallots
1/2 cup hard cider

1. Cut bacon crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Using a 12" skillet, fry until just crisp; remove to a paper towel.  Remove bacon grease from pan, reserving for later.

2. Meanwhile, cut scallops in half crosswise and mince shallots.

3.  Put a teaspoon or so of the reserved bacon grease (maybe a little more if the skillet is not non-stick)back in the skillet.  Sear scallops over high heat, approximately 2 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate and tent with foil.

4. Put another teaspoon or so bacon grease back in the skillet and saute minced shallots briefly.  When they are just starting to turn a little brown around the edges, add the cider and deglaze the pan.  Add spinach, cover the pan, and cook until the spinach is wilted but not mushy.  Add the bacon pieces and toss.

5. Serve the scallops over the spinach. 

Serves 2-3.  Possible accompaniments: Orzo or rice pilaf.


(c) 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vaguely Mexican Fish Cakes

As I have said before, I am originally from New England.  We ate fish sticks, fish cakes, fish patties, fried fish, etc, etc.  Usually cod.  And always with tartar sauce. 

Today I went to use some cod my husband had bought and found myself without white bread to use as filler.  (I know, I know, traditional cod cakes use potato as filler, but traditional cod cakes are made with salt cod, too.)  I did, however have some leftover corn tortillas.  My original recipe used thyme, but we had cilantro, and cilantro goes with tortillas, so.  . . .

[Update:  the original recipe had 4slices homestyle white bread (no milk) instead of the tortillas, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried instead of the cilantro, and 1/4 cup minced celery.  You could put some fresh parsley, too.]

Vaguely Mexian Fish Cakes

4 corn tortillas, ripped up
1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup green onions, cut in 1/2" pieces, white and some green
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed
1 egg
1 - 1 1/2 lbs cod or other white fish, cut into about 8 pieces
1 tsp ground cumin

1. Put the torn tortillas in the bowl of a food processor and let sit a few minutes. 

2. Add the green onion pieces and cilantro and pulse until the tortillas are in crumbs. 

3. Add the egg, fish, cumin, about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and pulse until egg is combined with fish, but not until the fish is pureed. 

4. Divide the fish mixture into 8 portions and roughly shape into balls.

5.  Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a 12-inch skillet on medium high until it just begins to shimmer.  One by one, place the cod mixture in the skillet and press flat with the bottom of a pancake turner. 

6.  Cook until brown on one side, flip, and brown again.

7.  Serve with some kind of salad, and of course tartar sauce.  You might put some chopped cilantro in the tartar sauce and a couple of shots of lime juice.

8.  Serves 4, two cakes apiece.

Check the tortilla ingredients for soy, but this is generally not a problem with corn tortillas.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Say Hello to GirlEat

A great post from GirlEat, a relatively new blog from someone with a relatively new soy allergy:


Monday, January 2, 2012

Vanilla Chai Spice Cupcakes

One of my colleagues' birthday is tomorrow, so I am making cupcakes.  If I don't make them, I don't get any because if you don't know all the ingredients, you can't eat it if you have food allergies. 
It's a new job (since August), and the cupcakes have made me somewhat popular because we generally have 1-2 birthdays a month.  So far we have had Banana Nut with Vanilla Frosting (recipes from Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook), Orange with Chocolate Frosting (a request, also from Betty Crocker) Pumpkin with Sour Cream Frosting (same recipe as Banana, with canned pumpkin substituted for the mashed banana), Individual Cheesecakes, Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting (also a request, from Betty Crocker), and some Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls (original--coming soon). 

The Vanilla Chai Spice Cupcake recipe comes from the website The Novice Chef, whose food choices are rather sophisticated and don't seem "novice" at all.  I substituted Stoneyfield vanilla yogurt for the buttermilk because we never have buttermilk around.  I did make a little goof--I made 18 cupcakes instead of 12 and sort of forgot to increase the amounts of spices. They still taste wonderful.

Note about the cake recipes in Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook:  It was originally published in 1950.  My mom got one as a wedding present and I grew up on those cake recipes.  But I find they work just as well or better if I cut the amount of salt in half.

Note 2 about the cake recipes in Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook:  If the recipe calls for shortening, sometimes I use Spectrum brand palm-oil shortening and sometimes I use butter.  No rhyme or reason as to the choice.