Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Yesterday, in order to kill time before this baby arrives, I waddled over to my local library and spent some quality time perusing the cookbook aisle. There's nothing that gets me inspired to cook and bake like pouring through beautiful cookbooks. I admit that I own an embarrassing amount of cookbooks but for some reason its just never enough. So after about 30 minutes where I actually ended up sitting on the floor of the library aisle, I mean who is really going to tell the big pregnant lady to get up after all? I was lucky enough to stumble upon Jim Lahey's book entitled My Bread - The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I've read some buzz about this book before online and so I knew as soon as I saw the book that I had to try it. The promise of No-Knead and No-Work  appealed to me right away. How can baking bread possibly be no work? I was intrigued.

The key to Lahey's method is to use very little yeast and a very long rise time...18 hours in fact. So you really need to plan ahead if you want to make this bread. Lahey claims the long fermentation period is what gives his bread the flavour and structure of artisanal quality bread. The other twist is that he bakes his bread in a covered cast-iron or ceramic pot which accomplishes what a brick oven does by creating steam in the pot to result in a fantastic crust and a moist bread crumb.

All in all I was blown away by the results! I would never have guessed that I myself could bake such a loaf that tastes just like I picked it up from some sort of artisanal bakery. I will definitely be giving a few more of Lahey's recipes a try, probably pizza dough or focaccia will be next on my list.

Unfortunately I do not actually own a covered cast-iron or ceramic pan and so I ended up using a glass pyrex casserole dish with a glass lid which seemed to work well. Although perhaps this is a good excuse for me to go buy one?

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
from My Bread

21/2 cups bread flour (I just used regular white flour here)
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
11/4 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoons yeast
11/3 cups cool water
wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting (I used a handful of ground flax seed)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Yesterday marked my first official day of maternity leave! Wow, feels like just yesterday I was on maternity leave with my first baby and well, it probably feels like that because it practically was! 8 months ago that is. What bliss it was to sleep in past 5:30am and actually get to sit down for breakfast with my family and not rush out the door with my toast wrapped in a napkin. 

So now begins the waiting game for baby number 2. The official due date isn't for another 2 weeks but I really REALLY hope this baby will be a few days early at least. I feel like I deserve a break after being 14 long days overdue with my first baby. The longest 2 weeks of my life that was! 

So I spent yesterday doing some lazy cleaning and organizing, some might call it "nesting" but I don't feel like I'm really doing much other than throwing out mouldy food from the fridge and putting things aways that I should have put away weeks ago. I also laid out in the sun and started reading the much hyped about "Fifty Shades of Grey". I'm only on page 80 so I haven't formed a real opinion yet but I agree with my friend Ashley Faris that it's a "bit repetitive and tiresome at times".  But then so was the Twilight series in my opinion and apparently Fifty Shades started loosely based on that, so go figure. Have any of you read it? Thoughts?

Anyway, I also whipped up this little salad that I stumbled upon while checking out a fantastic blog called Skinnytaste which my friend Meghan mention on her cool blog here. So I guess it goes without saying that I also spent a good chunk of yesterday aimlessly blog surfing as well. Which isn't a terrible thing.

I was really happy with the results of this salad although I think next time I could beef it up even more with a chopped red pepper. I also added crumbled feta cheese as a garnish which really worked well as well as some cucumber and jalapeño which I had on hand. We served ours on the side with a grilled steak.

Southwestern Black Bean Salad
adapted from Skinnytaste

1 15.5 oz can of black bean salad, rinsed and drained
9 oz frozen corn, thawed
half a small container of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 shallot, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
half a cucumber (peeled and chopped in quarters)
half a minced and deseeded jalapeño
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or more to taste)

Garnish with
feta cheese
chopped avocado

Mix all ingredients together and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes and then top with feta and avocado.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Hello! I don't usually make posts involving meat since I don't usually like to cook or eat a lot of meat, however this fantastic recipe has been sneaking its way into our regular rotation lately so I thought I'd better share it.

Throughout this pregnancy (and my last pregnancy) I've had to make a concentrated effort to up my red meat consumption in addition to choking back extra iron supplements and stuffing my face full of as many leafy greens to rival popeye since I find myself once again battling the exhausting effects that Thalassemia Minor anemia can have on pregnancy. Most people have never heard of this and so very briefly, it's a genetic autosomal recessive blood disorder originating from the Mediterranean, which is funny since I couldn't look farther from Mediterranean with my pasty white skin and light blond hair. But alas, I guess some genes must have slipped in at some point perhaps centuries ago.

So since it's been proven that I have mediterranean blood it makes perfect sense to me that I LOVE italian and greek food. This greek recipe comes from a beautiful cookbook named Three Sisters Around The Greek Table which I received a few weeks ago as a birthday gift from my lovely husband. I myself am a middle sister out of three sisters and so the title appealed to me right off the bat. Beyond the catchy title this cookbook is filled with beautiful photography and tasty recipes that I cannot wait to try.

Parsley and Mint Meatballs (Keftedes)
from Three Sisters Around The Greek Table

prep time 10 min
cooking time 20 min

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1/2 cup each fresh parsley and mint, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp yellow onion
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper as desired

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Let sit for at least 1 hour.
Shape into bite-sized balls and place on a lightly greased or parchment paper lined pan.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 15-20 min or until cooked all the way through. Serve with tzatziki or just on their own.

                                          The results of someone getting into a bag of flax, probably not the best thing for the dog.