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Skillet Focaccia

Done

I have a go to bread recipe. It’s easy and versatile. I can make loaves or pizza or focaccia from the dough and they’re all equally good.

But every once in a while I want to change things up. Something with a different flavor. Something with a different cooking method.

When I came across this recipe I knew this was something I needed to have in my arsenal.

It’s faster to put together than my dough, has a nice crumb, and bakes in a cast iron skillet. I’ve played with the topping … different herbs, grapes, olives. The shy’s the limit. Which is cool. Oven to table.

Baked

 

for the dough:

  • 3/4 C warm water
  • 1/2 t granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 t yeast
  • 2 T olive or canola oil
  • 2 C all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1/2 t salt

 

for the topping:

  • 3 T Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 T parmigiano
  • 1 T chopped fresh rosemary

Place water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle yeast over the water and stir few times. Let sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).

With mixer on low speed, add 1 cup of flour and salt. Mix until combined. Add oil and mix well.

Gradually add as much of the remaining cup of flour as you can (it may only be 3/4 of it) and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 220 F. When it’s at 220 turn it off and keep door closed.

Grease the skillet.

Place dough onto a floured surface (use the remaining flour from the second cup) and fold the dough few times until you feel it’s smooth and not sticky anymore. Shape into a ball.

Roll the dough out to the size of your skillet.

Ready to Rise

Place in skillet. Stretch up the sides. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the skillet out of the oven and increase oven heat to 400 degrees F. Make indentations in the dough with your fingers.

Risen

Mix melted butter, parmesan and rosemary in a small bowl. Brush the dough with half the butter.

Brushing

Place skillet with dough in the preheated oven and bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with remaining butter. Let cool until safe to the touch and slice. Serve.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Sliced

I had the honor … well, no, privilege of starting and maintaining a fabulous cooking forum. I met fabulous women. I even met some of my very best friends through this forum, all of whom I cherish and miss as I sit here in the frozen springtime beauty of Maine.

We traded our cherished recipes, helped each other with ingredients, shared our family trials, tribulations and successes. Sadly, we mourned together at the passing of some of our members.

We decided that our wonderful recipes needed to be in written in book form and we set out to self-publish our own cookbook. What a joy it was to put together! So many fabulous recipes, everyone jumping in to help test recipes and type. 290 pages of food and friendship!

One of my absolute favorite recipes from the book is Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, shared by jerseygirl. It is my go to banana bread recipe and where all of the bananas we don’t get to fast enough end up.

Continued thanks to all of you for sharing your recipes and time. Becky, I still miss you each and every day.

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 C butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan

Combine all ingredients except chips and nuts in a large bowl. Blend well on medium speed of an electric mixer. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick interested in center comes out clean.

Ready to slice

Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Pita Chips

This was written over the summer and then my computer went KA-BLEWY! There will be a few of these, so please be patient!

Ready to eat

I made hummus. Really simple process, and so much better than store bought. But what would homemade hummus be without homemade pita chips? A tragedy I tell you!

So much better tasting and better for you than what you get in a bag in the supermarket. In the time it takes you to open the bag (almost), you can have fresh, crispy pita chips!

I should note, I come from a long line of women who can NEVER put bread of any kind in the oven to crisp or toast without burning it at least twice, so I watched this very carefully, and managed to only have to do it once … even in an electric stove.

  • 3 pita rounds
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 t za’atar
  • 2 t sea salt (I used kosher)
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: If you can’t find za’atar at your local grocer, you can buy it on Amazon. You can also leave it out and use garlic powder, or any other herb or seasoning, if you prefer.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

Panorama

Separate the top of each pita from the bottom, so that each is divided into 2 halves. Cut each half into six triangles. First cut in half, then each half into thirds.

Transfer the triangles into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the olive oil, za’atar, salt and pepper. Toss well, but gently, so that each pita triangle is well coated.

Lay the pita triangles on the baking sheets in single layers. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Toasted

NOTE: WATCH! Check after 8 minutes. You don’t want to become a member of the I-burned-the-darn-bread club, do you?

Let the pita chips cool on the baking sheets to room temperature. Use immediately or store in a sealed plastic bag or large lidded container for up to one week.

Moomie’s Buns

Moomie's Buns

What is it about being stuck inside on cold, snowy days that makes you want to bake, and knead, and hibernate, and FEED people? The harder the snow comes down, the more you want to be in the kitchen creating delicious smelling things to fill the home. And nothing fills a home with comforting aromas more than bread.

These are super easy. Next snow storm heads your way, try these!

  • 1 C water
  • 2 T butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/4 C all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T instant yeast

Preheat oven to 375

Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to 1/4 cup lukewarm water (100-105 degrees). Let this sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and bubbling.

While you are waiting, melt the butter.

Panorama

In separate bowl, whisk egg lightly, add remaining 3/4 cup water and the melted butter. When yeast mixture has bloomed add to water mixture and stir. Pour mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a dough hook.

Adding flour

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. With the stand mixer on the lowest setting, start adding flour/sugar mix slowly until it is all  incorporated. Turn mixer up to setting 2 and let it knead for 4-5 minutes. Do this long enough so the dough looks smooth and is clinging to the dough hook. Add 1 tsp of salt during the last minute of kneading.

Kneading

Lightly flour a flat surface, remove dough from mixer and lightly knead by hand for a minute of two.

Rise 1

Shape dough into a ball and place in greased bowl in a warm spot, covered for 1 hour.

Rise 2

Shape into 8 buns and place on cookie sheets, cover and let rise again for 30-40 minutes.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool on wire racks.

NOTE: Letting them cool is SERIOUSLY the hardest part!

Done 2

Cloverleaf Rolls

Done

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

Ever wake up in the morning and just NEED to bake something? Just.must.have.hands.in.dough. This was me … May have been being home alone on New Year’s Ever, or those I love being so far away, or wanting to take my angst out by beating oops, kneading dough a bit. Whatever it was, these Cloverleaf Rolls from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book did just the trick. Careful not to overwork the dough or they will be a bit tough.

  • 1 C milk
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 t instant yeast
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2 3/4 C (14 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, well beaten (for egg wash)

Melt butter

Combine the milk, butter and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low just until the butter melts. Set aside and cool to 105-115 F.

Yeast Salt

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, salt and flour. Mix briefly to combine. Once the milk mixture cools sufficiently, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the liquid down the side of the mixing bowl and beat until a rough dough forms. Continue to knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky you can add a little bit of flour, and if it seems dry (like mine did) add a bit more milk.

Ready to Rise

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the dough, turning to coat, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Ready to roll

Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal portions. Divide each of those portions into thirds. Roll each of the 3 pieces into small balls (they don’t have to be perfect) and place them in one of the wells of the muffin pan in a triangle shape. Repeat with the other portions of dough. Cover the muffin pan with a kitchen towel and let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Ready to Bake

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F. Brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the rolls are puffed and golden and the sides are crisp. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and remove the rolls from the pan immediately. The rolls are best when served warm, but if you make them ahead of time you can re-warm them before you serve – wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and pop in a 350 F oven for about 15 minutes.

NOTE: I sprinkled the tops with caraway seeds and sea salt before baking.

Bagels

 

Some of you may remember that last summer my friend Lizzy from that Skinny Chick Can Bake and I did a joint baked beans cook along – different recipes, same dish. We had so much fun doing this together we decided to try it again. The baked beans were my idea, so it was Lizzy’s turn to pick. Much to my chagrin, she chose bagels!

I have been dying to try my hand at bagels. Long story – when I was a kid (not just a kid at heart), and we had our house in Westport, the one annoying thing about the town was that every single solitary store (except perhaps Mr. Grubb’s – another story) closed at 6:00. One night my mom had a yen for bagels and none to be found. She pulled out her Joy of Coooking and got going. She didn’t finish until late, children falling asleep with tongues hanging out waiting for bagels, but they were great! Needless to say, gone in minutes!

When Lizzy said bagels, I figured I would follow in Mom’s footsteps – whoa, tooooo many steps! Off I went in search of a simple bagel recipe! As I stood gaping at my ever growing collection of cookbooks, I saw The Brooklyn Cookbook. What could be more Brooklyn than bagels? There must be a recipe for bagels there!

Gloomy, miserable rainy. Can’t go out. After the car fiasco on the Verrazano Bridge, I wasn’t driving ANYWHERE in the rain! (yet another story!) May as well make bagels. I can already hear Ernie sighing and saying “Walk to the corner. Buy them!”

 This bagel recipe was simple and fool (ME being the fool!) proof.

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 C warm water
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 C all purpose flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little water, for glaze
  • coarse salt, or poppy seeds, or sesame seeds

Sprinkle yeast over the warm water, stir, and let dissolve.

Put the salt, flour, and 4 teaspoons of the sugar into the bowl of a food processor equipped with the dough blade. Pulse the mixture several times to mix it well. This aerates the ingredients.

Combine the yeast mixture and milk in a measuring cup. WIth the motor running, pour the mixture through the feed tube. Knead until the mixture balls together and is no longer sticky, about 60 seconds.

Lightly flour a large plastic bag, place the dough inside, squeeze out the air, and close the end of the bag. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Punch it down.

NOTE: At this point the dough can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Pull off pieces of dough to form 12 2 inch balls. Poke a finger through the ball, making a hole the size of a golf ball. With your fingers, shape the bagel evenly.

Put the bagels on a cookie sheet, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let them rise until puffy, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring 4 quarts of water to the boil in a wide pot. Ad the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar. Poach the bagels, 3 or 4 at a time, for 30 seconds. Turn them over and poach for 30 seconds more.

Remove with a slotted spoon, let them drip briefly on a towel held under the spoon and place them 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.

Brush each with a little of the egg glaze.

Leave them plain or sprinkle with coarse salt, poppy seeds or sesame seeds, or a combo of all three.

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Let cool on racks – if you can bear to wait!

THINGS TO REMEMBER FOR NEXT TIME!:

  1. Use whole milk. I only had skim and the dough didn’t come together well. I added a bit more, but from the processor running for far more than 60 seconds, the dough was a little tough.
  2. Bake on parchment paper. When you egg wash them, if the egg wash trickles down onto the baking sheet, the bagels stick and that’s no bueno.

This was simple to pull together and the end result was fabulous, even given the over worked dough. This method is not an overly long process. These are not really big bagels, but not as small as mini-bagels.

And my favorite breakfast on a delicious bagel I MADE MYSELF!

Italian Bread

 

For as long as I can remember, my mother made this bread. She used it for long loaves, foccacia and pizza. I remember coming home from school on Fridays and there was a bowl on the counter with the squishy dough – pizza for dinner!

During the summer, when we were in Westport, there would be a line of kids outside our back door on Saturday morning, waiting for a piece of my mom’s wonderful bread and butter. My mother made foccacia way before foccacia became fashionable.

This is a very versatile dough. As a bread it has a crisp crust and a tender interior, not too airy, sturdy enough to toast or for bruschetta or garlic bread. For pizza, it makes a great thick-ish crust pizza, bold enough in flavor to still be present under sauce and cheese. And for foccacia, it’s an absolute dream, holds the dents, olive oil floats in them, salt and rosemary a perfect addition. Foccacia is supposed to be a very simple thing, olive oil, salt, perhaps rosemary, everything else is just tooooooo much.

This is a really simple recipe. No fuss, no muss. Bloom, soak, add flour, rise, rise, bake! It will make more sense as we go along.

  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/4 C warm water
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 2 C warm water
  • 3 heaping t salt
  • 5 C flour
Preheat oven to 425.

Dissolve one package of yeast to 1/4 C of warm water. Add 3/4 C of flour and knead to form a ball.

Cut a cross in the ball (not too deep or it will fall apart). Pour 2 C of warm water in a deep narrow bowl, add the ball of dough. Once the ball of dough rises to the top , transfer it to a large bowl. Add 3 heaping teaspoons and 5 cups of flour, one at a time, kneading after each addition. You can use a wooden spoon for the first 3, perhaps 4, the fifth you will need to knead by hand.

Once all the flour is added, knead the dough for a couple of minutes.

Butter a bowl, add the dough, cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot to rise.

You want it to double in size.

Once it has doubled, shape into 2 loaves, place on baking sheet, cover and let rise again. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 30 minutes. I lightly spray the baking sheet first, just in case.

Remove loaves from oven and  let cool completely before you cut into it. I know, not easy! I NEVER make it to completely, usually to warm.

 

Once cooled, slice and enjoy!

Even better with the butter I made!

For foccacia, after the dough has doubled in the bowl, oil a baking sheet, spread the dough out in the baking sheet. Cover and let rise again. After it has risen, press your fingers into the dough to make divots. Sprinkle the top with olive oil and salt. I like to add rosemary, perhaps a little garlic. Bake until golden brown.

For pizza, after the dough has doubled in the bowl, lightly oil a baking sheet, spread the dough out on the baking sheet. Cover and let rise again. After it has risen, add sauce and cheese, and whatever toppings you want. Bake until bottom is browned and cheese has melted.