Monday, January 31, 2011

Lots Happening in February

I shouldn't have any trouble posting in February as it's a busy month. First there's the Super Bowl. If you are planning a party or going to one, here is an appetizer, that's almost an entree and a family favorite. This recipes is from Baking Baking and Beyond (click on the link if you don't have a copy yet) and easy to do.

Refer to my previous post is you aren't used to working with yeast. By the way, I grew up in Pittsburgh and have lived in MN for 30 years, but I won't tell my pick!

I don’t put pizza sauce inside so the meat and cheese flavors will predominate. I’ve served this for dinner, but it makes a popular snack when everyone is gathered for the big game. You can use various deli meats and cheeses and add olives or hot peppers—just don’t fill the stromboli too full. Provolone, a mild Italian cheese with a smoky flavor, is perfect here.


Basic pizza crust (see below or use any pizza dough)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound sliced pepperoni
1/4 pound sliced hard salami
4 ounces Provolone cheese, sliced or shredded
1 egg, beaten
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400°F with rack in lower third. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll out to a 15 x 12-inch rectangle. If dough becomes difficult to roll, let is rest briefly.
Brush dough with olive oil. Arrange pepperoni, salami, and Provolone cheese down center of dough. Fold both sides toward the center and pinch together to seal. Brush egg over top of dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place on prepared cookie sheet. The easiest way to lift the dough is with large metal spatulas at each end. Cut several slits into dough.
Beat 30 to 35 minutes or until stromboli are well browned. Cool slightly before slicing. Serve with pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.

BAKER’S NOTE: Cover the baking sheet with a silicone baking mat for easy clean-up since leaks do occur.

basic pizza Crust
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105–115°F)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in small bowl and let stand about 5 minutes. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Stir in yeast mixture and olive oil. Continue stirring until flour is absorbed. Stir in remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. Dough will be sticky to start with, but after kneading it becomes easier to handle.
Place dough on well-floured surface and shape it into a ball. Place your fingers on top of dough ball, curled slightly, and pull dough toward you; then push it away, using palms of your hands. Turn dough 1/4 turn and repeat. Knead dough 6 to 8 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
To judge whether dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place it on work surface, pull both ends gently, and release. Dough should be elastic and spring back. Little blisters of air should be visible just under the surface.
If dough is sticky, gradually add flour while kneading. Do not use more than 3 cups flour, total. Shape dough into a ball by pulling sides underneath forming a smooth top. Cover dough and let it rest while you prepare toppings. I just invert a bowl over the dough for this short rest. The crust is ready to use for the Stromboli.

Heat oven to 450°F. For crispest crust, place rack toward bottom of oven.
Grease two 12-inch pizza pans. Leave about 1 inch around edge of each pan ungreased so dough has something to cling to as it is stretched to fill pan. Place half of dough in center of each pan, and push it out to pan edges, rotating pan as you go. Form a raised edge around the crust’s perimeter.
Bake crusts 7 to 10 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven. (The crusts can be frozen at this point. Cool to room temperature and wrap tightly before freezing.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baking with Yeast

This morning I appeared on KARE 11 Today and talked about Herb Dinner Rolls and Italian Wedding Soup. In a previous post I posted the soup recipe (see Recipes for Favorites)and will post the Herb Dinner Rolls today (from Baking Basics and Beyond.) These rolls use fast-rising yeast which is processed so that it only requires one rise. After kneading the dough let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten and then shape into rolls.

As I was leaving the studio I had a question about baking with yeast and decided to post some information here. Two of the most important steps in making bread depend on temperature. The yeast must be softened in warm water, and temperature is the best way to measure doneness in a large loaf. An instant-read thermometer accurately measures both.

Dissolving the Yeast
Yeast requires liquid, food (sugar and flour), and warmth to grow. Dissolving the yeast in warm water is called “proofing” because you are actually proving that the yeast is alive. The yeast can also be combined with the flour and the warm water added to both; using this method, the water can be warmer, and the dough will start rising a little faster. Always use yeast before the expiration date on the package.

Easy Herb Dinner Rolls

Fast-rising yeast makes these rolls easy enough to make any time. I actually purchased herbes de Provence at a market in the South of France. It usually includes basil, marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary, and lavender. You can use any combination of herbs you like. Ive also used an Italian herb blend.


1 (1/4-ounce) package fast-rising yeast
1 cup warm water (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
2 1/2–3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Sprinkle yeast into warm water in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add sugar and shortening and stir. Let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and herbes de Provence and beat until well mixed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Save at least 1/4 cup of flour to add while kneading the dough.
Place dough on well-floured surface and shape it into a ball. Place your fingers on top of dough ball, curled slightly, and pull dough toward you; then push it away, using palms of your hands. Turn dough 1/4 turn and repeat. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes.
To judge whether dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place it on work surface, pull both ends gently, and release. Dough should be elastic and spring back. Little blisters of air should be visible just under the surface.
Cover and let dough rest 10 minutes. I just invert a bowl over the dough.
Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Punch dough down and divide it into 12 pieces. Shape dough into balls by pulling the sides underneath forming a smooth top. Place in prepared pan.
Cover pan and let dough rise in a warm place about 30 minutes or until rolls have doubled in volume. Test by pressing dough lightly. If your finger leaves only a slight imprint the dough is ready.
Heat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Bake rolls 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. After rolls are removed from oven, brush them with melted butter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Add Some Healthy Spice to Your Life

Many spices and herbs add zest to foods but recently the focus has shifted to their ability to fight disease. One teaspoon cinnamon has as many antioxidants as 1/2 cup blueberries. Ginger appears to decrease inflammation and aid digestion. Oregano, rosemary and thyme also have antioxidants in significant amounts. Add these spices and herbs to foods seems to boost antioxidant power of foods.


Fragrant cinnamon scents the kitchen when these cookies are in the oven. Due to their unknown origin, possibly from the Pennsylvania Dutch or originally from New England, no one can explain their delightful name. Rolling the dough in cinnamon sugar gives the cookies a crinkly appearance and crunchy sugar coating.


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
Beat butter and sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium-High speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well.
Reduce mixer speed to Low and add the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat until dough forms.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in shallow dish. I use a custard cup but a saucer also works. Using about 1 tablespoon dough, roll into a ball and roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar. Place on cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire cooling racks.

BAKER’S NOTES: Cream of tartar and baking soda are the basic components of baking powder, and they are used here in its place. I think it makes a difference— see if you agree.
I usually place my oven racks on the second and fourth levels and bake two cookie sheets at once. If the heat in your oven is uneven, rotate the sheets halfway through baking.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Resolutions to Keep

Everyone talks about resolutions for the new year and how long good intentions last. This year I only have only one resolution and that is to eat healthfully. I've given myself a lot of flexibility and think I will actually be able to accomplish this!

Mark Bittman wrote an article for Bon Appetit (January 2011) about how he changed his eating habits for the sake of his health. He has reduced the amount of meat in his diet and often eats vegan. But the rule I like the most is "cut yourself some slack". One "bad" meal doesn't matter, or even several. Move toward fewer animal products, increase fruits and vegetable and limit processed foods. I can do this, can you?

Here's a healthy soup recipe for a cold winter night.

Italian Wedding Soup

Serves 4 to 6

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
6 cups chicken broth
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
½ cup orzo pasta
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, torn
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

10 oz. ground turkey
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. kosher salt

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add the onion and carrots and cook until softened and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, broth and water, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and orzo and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8-9 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bottom of a 15x10 inch jellyroll pan. Make the meatballs. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Shape into small meatballs, about ¾ inch across. Place on baking pan.

Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until meatballs begin to brown. Using a large spatula turn the meatballs over. Continue cooking 5 minutes until browned and no longer pink in the center. Drain on paper towels.

Add the meatballs and the spinach to the soup and simmer 5 minutes. Just before serving stir in the basil. Sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan cheese.