Monday, October 16, 2017


Bobotie is a South African dish with roots in ancient Rome, according to Wikipedia.  The dish Patinam ex lacte consisted of a mixture of cooked meat and pine nuts seasoned with pepper, celery seeds and asafoetida cooked until the flavors were blended, then covered with a top layer of eggs and milk and cooked until the top layer had set.

Over the centuries it has evolved into what can be considered one of the national dishes of South Africa.  It was the first South African dish that ran across my sphere of being.  And I will be eternally grateful that it did, because I loved this dish.

I made it for one of my spice group potluck dinners.  The featured spice was fenugreek, which is a particularly pungent spice and found mostly in Indian cuisine.  I was familiar with the dried leaves, or kasuri/kasoori methi used in Indian cooking but I wanted to find something different.  When I found that there are ground fenugreek seeds in Bobotie I decided to try it.

It was a big hit; big enough that I have made it a few times since then.  While many of the spices are the same as those I use for a more traditional Indian curried dish, the fenugreek and fennel add a unique dimension to the flavor that makes for a nice change.

There are several steps to this dish, but they are easy to do and the end result is worth it.  If you don't have the individual spices you could use curry powder, but I would recommend that you add the fennel and fenugreek, or at least the fenugreek, to achieve the distinctive flavor that makes this dish so special.
Home Cookin v9.70 Chapter: Meat Fish and Eggs
Servings: 8

2 oz tamarind paste
2 slices square white sandwich bread
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 lbs ground lamb shoulder
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground fennel
kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 Tbsp golden raisins
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Break the tamarind paste into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Cover with half a cup of boiling water and let sit until soft, about 30 minutes. Mash the paste and water together with your fingers until the mixture is smooth. Push the pulp through a fine strainer into a bowl and set aside.

Tear the bread into small pieces and place in another small bowl, cover with a fourh of a cup of milk and let sit until the bread soaks up milk.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is well browned and any moisture has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Place it in the bowl with the lamb mixture, then add the tamarind pulp, the soaked bread, 3 tablespoons os the almonds, the raisins, lemon juice and zest and 1 egg. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and mix well.

Place the mixture in a 9" deep-dish pie plate or a 9" x 12" baking dish. Spread the mixture evenly across the bottom.

Whisk together the remaining milk and egg and season with salt and pepper. Pour it over the lamb mixture.

Place the dish on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake until the custard is set on top and the lamb mixture is heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining almonds. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

adapted from recipes found in Saveur #144 ( and Saveur #150 (

exported from Home Cookin v9.70 (

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Baking Class: Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah

I ran across this recipe for Sephardic Challah when I was looking for challah recipes.  I grew up with the sweetish, eggy Ashkenazi version and did not even know there was any other kind.  So when I saw it I knew I had to make it.

While I like a well-made Challah as much as the next person does, I must admit I was blown away with how good this version is.  The spices complement each other perfectly and each bite is loaded with flavor, but it is not so much that it overpowers anything you spread onto it.  While I am pretty good these days at rationing myself to one serving of bread a day (it's the only way I can justify making so much of it!), I must confess that I scarfed up several days' worth of servings the first time I made it.

It is easy to make and comes together quickly but the end result belies that simplicity.  This bread is delicious and sure to impress.  It makes fantastic toast and sandwiches for everyday use and will brighten up any occasion.

I adapted the recipe to my usual sourdough.  The original volume measurements are at the end of the ingredient list.

(As I was typing out the recipe I realized that I have not been shaping the bread according to the instructions.  I have been rolling the coil from one end to the other rather than starting in the middle.  It has had no affect on the taste but I am sure my loaves will look much better in the future.)
Home Cookin v9.70 Chapter: Breads and Muffins

Makes 2 small loaves
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1-1/2 tablespoons anise seeds
177 g starter
371 g water
519 g bread flour
2-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Cornmeal for dusting
2 large egg yolks

Volume amounts:
1 envelope(s) active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
5 cups bread flour

Toast the sesame, caraway and anise seeds in a small skillet over moderate heat until fragrant, about two minutes. Transfer the seeds to a plate and let cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture for topping the bread.

In a large mixing bowl combine the starter with the water and mix well. Add the olive oil, the honey, all but the reserved tablespoon of the seed mixture and the salt and stir everything together. Add the flour, a cup at a time, until the dough has formed into a soft ball and remove it from the bowl onto a floured sourface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is supple and smooth, adding additional flour as needed.

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise until the dough has doubled, about one hour.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surfce and deflate it. Cut it in half and let it rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each one into 32-inch ropes. Starting from the center, form each rope into a coil. Tuck the ends under the coils.

Transfer each coil to a baking sheet and cover each loaf with a large, inverted bowl. Let stand for 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of seeds.

Bake the loaves on the same shelf in the center of the oven for 30 about minutes, until they're golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before slicing.

adapted from

exported from Home Cookin v9.70 (

Monday, October 09, 2017

Orange Sunflower Slaw

I love my new Coleslaw with Cashew Spread recipe and make it often, but every once in a while I want to switch it up a little.  So I decided to give the Orange Sunflower Slaw recipe I found in the June 2015 issue of Vegetarian Times.

As I have written a few times before, I find the recipes in Vegetarian Times to be iffy for me.  I believe the main reason is because the spice levels never seem high enough for me.  But I use a lot of spices in my cooking and it has occurred to me that many Americans do not and perhaps the recipes are tested to reach the broadest range of cooks.  To test that theory I have increased the amounts of spices in Vegetarian Times recipes I have tried lately and that seems to make a difference.  There are still recipes that I have made and not liked, but overall I have seen an improvement in getting the dishes to taste the way I believe they should taste based on the ingredients.

In the case of this recipe I saw no need to alter the amounts and I was not disappointed.  The dressing is light and fresh and makes for a refreshing change from the usual slaw.  And it traveled especially well for work lunches.

My only regret was according to the recipe directions you add the sunflower seeds to the salad and mix them in just before serving.  That is fine if the salad gets eaten up right then and there, but that never happens.  By the next day, the seeds were swollen and soggy and had lost their raw crunchy goodness.  I would suggest that you hold them out of the salad and add them to each dish just before serving.
Home Cookin v9.70 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
Makes 8 Servings

1/2 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp coconut nectar or sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
3/4 tsp salt

3 cups shredded napa or green cabbage (1/2 head)
2 cups shredded red cabbage (1/8 head)
1 large carrot, julienned (-3/4 cup)
1 English cucumber, peeled, flesh scooped out, and julienned (1 cup)
1 green pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise (1 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 cup raw sunflower seeds

To make dressing:
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.

To make Salad:  
Toss all of the ingredients except for the sunflower seeds together in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and mix well. Serve topped with the sunflower seeds.


Exported from Home Cookin v9.70 (

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Baking Class: Pan de Muertos

Pan de Muertos is the perfect way to celebrate Halloween.  It is traditionally made in the weeks leading up to the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, which coincides with our All Saints Day and All Souls Day on November 1 and November 2.  Orange juice, anise and sugar combine to give the bread just the right amount of sweetness so that it can be eaten alone or slathered with butter or cream cheese.

I have been meaning to post this since I first started making it a few years ago but I keep forgetting to do it close enough to Halloween. I made it for a friend's Halloween Party and it was a big hit.  If you are looking for something different to help celebrate your Halloween, you can't go wrong with this.

I used this recipe from  It was easy to follow and easy to make.  You will not be disappointed if you give it a try!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Beet Salad with Mustard Seed Vinaigrette

Beets are one of those vegetables that people seem to either love or hate, with little middle ground.  I must confess that when I was young I hated them.  In my defense, I now believe that is because the only beets we had at the time came out of a can.  They were mealy, bland, and what little flavor they had tasted of dirt.  I can't imagine why I did not care for them.

At some point when I was a little older my mother started pickling the canned beets with onions in a brine of vinegar and sugar.  That brightened up the flavor and seemed firm them up a bit as well and I liked them enough to eat them without complaining.

Occasionally, as an adult, I would order salads at restaurants that contained beets and discovered that I loved the way they complemented the greens and other vegetables. When I started shopping the Green City Market I could not resist the appeal of the fresh beets with the beautiful greens attached so I bought a bunch.  I boiled them, peeled them, cut them up and put them in a salad.  I had washed and chopped the greens and added them to the salad as well and it was quite delicious.

Now I can't imagine life without beets.  I love them in salads, soups, and by themselves.  When possible I will use the greens with them, as I did in this Beet Salad with Mustard Seed Vinaigrette.  I was as pleased with the mustard seed vinaigrette as I was with the salad.  Beets and mustard actually go very well together.  Mustard seeds add an extra crunch with the flavor.  I bought a jar of Maille's Classic Old Style Mustard on sale a few years back and liked it so much I have replaced it a few times since then.  It is a little pricey but goes a long way and is well worth the price, in my opinion.  I also prefer their regular Dijon mustard and always have that on hand as well.

The beauty of this salad, as with so many of my dishes these days, is that you can easily improvise.  If you don't have shallots you can use any kind of onion.  I often use fennel instead of or in addition to celery.  If I have neither fennel nor celery, I make it without them.  Your beets did not come with the greens attached?  Use any kind of green - lettuce, baby kale, or spinach.  And as long as you use any kind of mustard, vinegar and oil you have your vinaigrette.
Home Cookin v9.70 Chapter: My Recipes


1 bunch (3 large or 4 medium) beets, with greens
3 stalks celery
1 large shallot
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Mustard Seed Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 Tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette:
Combine the mustards and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk until they are well incorporated. Add the olive oil gradually, whisking continuously, until you have an emulsion. Add the crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. If using right away, set aside. Can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

For the Salad:
Remove the greens from the beets. Remove the leaves from the stems and rinse well (save the stems and saute them with other aromatics for frittatas, soups, or stews)l. Drain and roughly chop the leaves and set aside.

Fill a saucepan large enough to hold the beets with cold water. Trim the stems on the beets down to an inch and leave on the roots. Place them in the saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the beets are just tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem and root ends and peel them. The peel should come off easily in your hands. Chop then into bite-size pieces and put them into a large bowl. Thinly slice the scallions and add them to the beets. Trim the celery and thinly slice on the diagonal and add them to the bowl with the beets and shallots. Add the dill and the dressing in small increments until the salad is well covered, but not too wet. Mix well.

Let sit for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend before serving. If refrigerated, take out an hour before serving.

Garnish with dill and the toasted walnuts.

Created January 31, 2015

exported from Home Cookingh v.9.70 (

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Quick Side Dish: Roasted Vegetables

Now that Fall is coming I want to share one of my favorite kitchen hacks.  I am always looking for ways to eat more vegetables but often, especially on week nights, I do not feel like taking the required time to prep and cook them.  I want something simple and tasty.

The solution?  Cut them up and throw them onto a baking dish then season them with salt, pepper, and any other herb or spice your heart desires.  Sprinkle olive oil over the whole thing, shake the pan to evenly distribute it so they are as close to one layer as you can easily get, and throw it into a 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, taking them out to stir and redistribute on the pan halfway through.

It is the perfect side dish to just about any meal.  And often I will take a serving, cover it with cheese, melt it under the broiler and call it dinner.

It never fails.  My favorite combination these days is red onion, broccoli and mushroom.  When I want to change it around some I will add red peppers, use cauliflower instead of broccoli, or add a few cloves of garlic.  It is good with a little balsamic vinegar splashed on just before serving and sometimes I will even dress it in vinaigrette if I have any leftover from salads.

The only thing I keep in mind is to cut the vegetables as close to the same size as possible so they will cook evenly and to use vegetables that take about the same amount of time to cook to the desired consistency.  The broccoli takes a little longer to cook than the onion and mushrooms but I like it a little on the crunchy side and I like the onions and mushrooms to be a little more done so it works out perfectly.

No recipe here, just a tried and true technique.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare and chop desired amounts of broccoli, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, red peppers, and fennel. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and desired dried herbs and spices such as thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander, dried chilies, or paprika. A favorite curry blend is also nice.

Pour just enough olive oil over the vegetables and spices to coat them and stir them around on the baking dish so they are all coated and in as even a layer as you can get them.

Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently stir them around to redistribute the layer. Return to the oven and cook another 10 minutes or so, until they have reached the desired consistency.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pico de Gallo

I love my homemade salsa recipe but sometimes it feels like it can be a production to make so I do not make it as often as I would like.  Most of the time it is an afterthought to a dish I have made and it is only when I am ready to dig in that I realize how much better it would be with salsa.

This happened the other day, when I made corn casserole, another favorite dish.  It is delicious all by itself but it is so much better with a little salsa on top and I rarely think to make the salsa ahead of time.

In this case I had all of the ingredients on hand so I decided rather than get out the processor and dirty up my kitchen again I would just chop up the fresh ingredients and make pico de gallo instead.

What is the difference between pico de gallo and salsa, you ask?  It's quite simple, really.  Salsa is sauce that is sometimes, but not always, cooked, that was originally used as a dip, although it is often also used as a topping for casseroles, tacos, enchiladas, etc.  Pico de gallo (which translates as "bite of the rooster") uses fresh chopped raw ingredients, including tomatoes, but with no additional tomato liquid added as is usually the case with salsa. 

In all honesty the lines have been blurred between the two for a while now and one person's salsa might be another person's pico.  For me, the main difference is that I use canned stewed tomatoes and the food processor for salsa, and I just cut up all of the raw fresh vegetables for pico.  Is it authentic?  I do not know.  But they work for me for different uses.

What I love about pico de gallo other than its incredible flavor is that it is easily adaptable.  With some versions you do not even need tomatoes and can use mango, pineapple or corn (or some combination of any of those) instead.

This is the basic recipe.  If you don't have all of the ingredients available don't let that stop you.  No serrano peppers?  Use jalapnos.  No fresh chilies?  Use pickled, or even dried.  No cilantro?  Use oregano.  No green onion?  Use yellow, or red if you have them.  No limes or lemons?  Use vinegar.  No fresh tomatoes?  Use canned.

No olive oil?  Shame on you.
Home Cookin Chapter: Appetizers Spreads Dips Sauces

All amounts to taste

1 to 3 serrano chilies
3 large cloves garlic
4 to 6 fresh tomatoes
4 to 6 green onions, tops and whites
juice of 1 lime
2 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mince the chilies and garlic. Finely chop the tomatoes and thinly slice the green onions. Combine in a mixing bowl and add the lime juce, olive oil and salt.

Add the cilantro and mix well. Taste and adjust salt, lime juice and olive oil as desired.

Exported from Home Cookin' v.9.70 (

Monday, September 18, 2017

Baking Class: Skillet Cornbread

There are two main kinds of cornbread - sweet with flour added (Yankee) and non-sweet non-flour added (southern), and folks are passionate about which one embodies the true essence of the dish.  Having grown up in Texas, I skew toward the non-sweet non-flour version.  It should be coarse and full of corn flavor.

But not dry.  For the longest time my cornbread came out dry.  I guess that might be why those Yankees started adding sugar and flour to it.  But I wanted to see if I could find a recipe that would match the great savory flavorful cornbread one finds in diners all across the south.

I found this recipe in a cooking newsgroup that has been around since the early days of the worldwide web and it is a keeper.  You put whatever fat you are using into a cast iron skillet and let it heat up in the pre-heating oven.  When it is smoking hot you add the batter.  That is the secret to getting a nice, crispy crust.  And the lack of sugar gives it a more intense corn flavor that is delicious all on its own or as an accompaniment to a big old pot of beans.

I use coarse cornmeal for this recipe.  I am sure it would be quite lovely with the finer grind as well. 
Home Cookin version 9.69 Chapter: Breads and Muffins

Servings: 8

1 Tbsp lard, bacon grease or grapeseed oil
2 cups coarse cornmeal (preferably yellow)
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Put the fat in the skillet and place the skillet in the middle rack of the cool oven. Turn the oven on to 450° F and let the pan heat up while you mix the rest of the ingredients.

Combine the cornmeal, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and mix well. Beat the egg and add it to the buttermilk.

When the oven is up to temperature add the buttermilk and egg to the cornmeal, salt and baking soda and mix together quickly. Pull the skillet out of the oven just long enough to quickly pour the batter into it and return it to the middle shelf.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

recipe from usenet newsgroup

Imported from Home Cookin (

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Slow-Simmered Pinto Beans

There is nothing more satisfying in the chill autumn months than a heaping serving of slow-simmered beans.  This recipe is about as easy as they come.  You basically just throw everything into a pot, bring it to a boil, then simmer for a few hours until the beans are nice and tender.  It pairs really well with oven-baked polenta but would also be good with rice or even all by itself.

This is another example that proves my theory that you do not need to pre-soak beans before cooking them.  Even chickpeas can become tender and delicious in a couple of hours without soaking.  The oven-cooking method I wrote about here also works on the stove top.

Yes, I said a couple of hours.  This method does not necessarily save time.  If I decide on a Monday that I want beans that night then I cook up some lentils, which take about 30 minutes to cook.  If I decide that I want any larger beans on Monday then I cook them that night for use on Tuesday.  So I still need to plan ahead but that is fine with me because I much prefer the texture of beans that are cooked without pre-soaking.  Pre-soaking can cause the skins to come off during cooking, and the beans come out more mushy than I like.

This is a perfect weekend dish.  You can throw everything together in the morning, put it on the stove, and then go about your day.  You just have to make sure to check on it every half hour or so.

There is nothing like the aroma of beans simmering on the stove in the cooler autumn months.

The leftovers work well for weekday lunches as well, so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Home Cookin v.9.70 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
Slow Simmered Pinto Beans
Servings: 8 to 10

1 pound dried pinto beans
1/4 pound bacon, roughly chopped
10 sprigs cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 serrano chilies
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

Combine all the ingredients with about 7 cups of water in a 6-quart dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 3 hours. Stir occasionally.

Season with salt to taste and sprinkle with additional cilantro if desired.

adapted from Saveur Number 121

Exported from Home Cooking v.9.70

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Apricot Chutney

I had rye bread in the freezer and wanted to take it to our Fourth of July cookout as I did not have time to bake anything new for the occasion.  But what to serve with it?

photo from
I had recently discovered this lovely MontChevre lemon goat cheese at Treasure Island when I was looking for something to go with a loaf of rye I had made earlier.  Goat cheese and lemon make for a heavenly combination.  I planned to take that but I wanted something extra to make it a more substantial dish.  So I thought about what might go well with rye bread and cheese and decided that some form of fruit would work well.

Having recently discovered the most delicious Turkish dried apricots at, my go-to place for that kind of thing, I went looking for recipes that included them and found a recipe for Apricot Chutney that I had marked years ago as something that had potential.  I had all of the ingredients on hand and it looked quick and easy so I gave it a try.

It was delicious and the perfect complement to the lemony goat cheese and was a huge success.  It works well as an accompaniment to dals and curries and pairs well with chicken and lamb as well.

This is one of those big reward for little effort kinds of things.  You can't go wrong with it.

I did not add the sugar.  It was sweet enough without it.
Home Cookin Version 9.70 Chapter: Appetizers Spreads Dips Sauces
Apricot Chutney

Makes 2 cups

3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 small onion, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece peeled ginger, minced
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup water
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp sugar (optional)

Heat oil and curry powder in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until curry powder is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add apricots and raisins along with 1 cup water, lime juice, and sugar (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

from Saveur Number 123

Exported from Home Cooking v.9.70

Monday, January 23, 2017

Shallot Vinaigrette

For the past ten years or so I have used my trusty "Vinaigrette for the Week" recipe as my go-to salad dressing.  And for good reason, as it is versatile and delicious.  I have used different vinegars, added various herbs and spices, and changed up the combinations of oil and every single one of them has made for a tasty salad.

During that period I have also earmarked several new vinaigrette recipes that I have stumbled across that have variations I have not tried but seem interesting, but it has been such a habit and by now no-brainer to just keep making my usual dressing whenever I make a salad that I never think to try any of the new ones.

So I am especially happy that my New Recipe Project has caused me to go back and look over all of those recipes that I have been collecting over the years with the specific intention of putting more of them to use.

Add to that the lack of attentiveness at the grocery store that led me to pick up the container of baby spinach and greens instead of just the baby spinach I was intending to buy and throw that in my cart.  I was not really planning for salad but I did not particularly care to saute the spring greens mix (although the thought did occur to me), so salad it was and I picked up some radishes, and tomatoes the next time I was at the store.

Which meant I needed to make a dressing.  Eager to make as many new recipes as possible for my project I went through my new recipes and found this Shallot Vinaigrette recipe I found in Bake from Scratch magazine.  I always have shallots on hand for various uses and sherry vinegar for my favorite gazpacho so I decided to give this a try.

And I think I may have found a new go-to dressing.  The sherry vinegar has a more mellow profile than other vinegars to which the shallots provide a refreshing bite.  And thyme enhances just about everything.  A good fruity olive oil rounds out the flavor, and the ratio of oil to vinegar is than the vinaigrette for the week and that is an added bonus, as it is not lacking one bit in flavor.

And this is one of the reasons I have been so eager to start using some of those hundreds of recipes I have been collecting over the years.  Meet my new go-to salad dressing.
Home Cookin v.9.69 Chapter: Spices Spreads Dips Sauces
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3 Tbsp minced shallot
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the vinegar and shallot in a small bowl and let sit for at least 20 minutes. Add the mustard and honey and whisk to combine.

Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil, making sure it is well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

adapted from Bake from Scratch, Spring 2016

imported from Home Cookin v.9.69 (

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Apple and Ginger Lentil Salad

This lentil dish was a pleasant surprise.  When you have been cooking legumes for as long as I have now been cooking them it is easy to get into the habit of combining them with the same flavor profiles until you are basically always making variations on the same dish.  If it is a dish that you like there is nothing wrong with that, but every once in a while it is nice to pair things up in a new way so that your taste buds are surprised.  The ginger and apple provided a sweet and pungent kick that jump-started my taste buds and gave me a new appreciation for lentils.  Which is a good thing, because they are a powerhouse of nutrition and I try to eat them often.

Toasted sunflower seeds add a nice crunch and some body, but I made the mistake of mixing them all into the salad rather than keeping them on the side.  As a result, they soaked up the dressing and lost their lovely toasty texture in the refrigerator and the leftover servinsgs were not quite as tasty as that first serving.  So in the future (and as I have indicated in the recipe) I will keep them separate and add them as a garnish just before serving.

If you are looking for a new way to prepare lentils that will wake up your taste buds, then this Apple and Ginger Lentil Salad is definitely for you.

This was a new recipe, but I made it before I started my New Recipe project so I am not counting it as such.  (Just in case that matters to anyone but me.)
Home Cookin v.9.69 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables

Serves 10

2 cups French green lentils
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 apple, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds

Cover the lentils with about 2 inches of cold water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer the lentils until they are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain.

Whisk together the oil, lime juice, ginger, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the hot lentils and stir to coat well. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Add the apple and cilantro just before serving. Garnish each serving with about one-and-a-half tablespoons of the sunflower seeds.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Source: Eating Well

Exported from Home Cooking v.9.69

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Baking Class: Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I have been making bread with sourdough, or natural, starter for a few years now but since things have been so crazy the past year or so I have not posted much about it.  There are several recipes that I make frequently and it is past time that I shared them with you.

I will start with one of the first recipes I tried.  I wanted to find something to replace this whole wheat sandwich bread that was my standby bread, and I was looking for something that looked straightforward and not too threatening for my first attempt.

I found this article on sourdough written by an Austin (now Denver, apparently) gamer.  It has really good information (and the FAQ page, while closed, is super helpful as well).  The recipe seemed straightforward enough and similar to my whole wheat bread recipe so I did not feel quite as intimidated as I might have felt had I decided to tackle San Francisco sourdough or some other more artisanal-style loaf.

The result was quite tasty, and this became my weekly bread for a while, until I got comfortable enough with the sourdough to start to branch out and try other recipes.  Although I now make many different sourdough breads I will still make this one when I am in the mood for peanut butter sandwiches for lunches and toast for breakfast.  The crumb is soft but holds up to spreads and toasting.  It is an all-around versatile thing of beauty and will get you lots of compliments.

A few notes:
  • In the original recipe he does not preheat the oven; instead he turns the oven on and then puts in the bread and cooks it 15 minutes to half an hour longer.  He makes a good case for why it should be done that way and I did do it that way a couple of times but old habits die hard and I found myself preheating the oven about half an hour before baking time without even thinking about it.  Either way will work just fine.
  • The only problem I currently have with my sourdough is that I do not care for the way it interacts with whole wheat flour.  I can't even pinpoint exactly what the issue is for me but I find myself using regular bread flour much more often with my sourdough breads although I would much prefer to work with whole wheat.  Through experimentation I found that adding 1 cup of whole wheat flour to the recipe was the perfect combination for both flavor and texture (texture being my main issue with sourdough and whole wheat) for me.  You may not have the same issues with it as I do, so feel free to substitute as much or as little whole wheat flour for the bread flour as you would like.
  • The ratio of starter to dough is pretty high in this recipe.  That means that it will rise pretty quickly; much closer to the rising time for commercially yeasted bread.  For this recipe I was looking more for a natural leavening agent than for sourness.  If you are looking for a true sourdough loaf, this is not the one you want to make.  This recipe is for a plain old-fashioned loaf of sandwich bread.
You can find information on how to build your own sourdough starter here.
Home Cookin Chapter:  My Recipes

Makes 1 loaf

160 g starter
210 g water
120 g unbleached bread flour
Total:  490 g

490 g sponge
2 Tbsp olive oil
16 g sugar
8 g salt
120g whole wheat flour
240 g unbleached bread flour (depending on how much is needed)

1 egg
2 Tbsp milk or water
sesame or poppy seeds (opt)

Combine the starter, water and flour to make the sponge and let proof from one hour to overnight.

When ready to make the bread add the oil, sugar and salt to the sponge and mix well.  Add the flour a half cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until you have a shaggy dough.  You may not need all of the flour.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and start kneading it, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.

Knead for 10 to 20 minutes to develop the sourdough flavor and the gluten.  When it is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test* it is done.

Form the dough into a ball and place it top side down in a lightly oiled bowl, then turn it over to make sure it is completely covered with the oil.  At this point you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight to further develop the sourdough flavor, or you can cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise until doubled in size, anywhere from one hour to overnight depending on the strength of your starter.   If you put the dough in the refrigerator, let it sit out for half an hour to an hour to come to room temperature before the following step.

Punch down the dough and knead it about 6 times.  Form it into the desired loaf shape and place it either on parchment paper on a baking sheet (for a free-form loaf) or in a greased bread pan. Cover and let it proof until it has at least doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.  About half an hour in, turn on the oven to 350° F.  Combine the egg with the water and beat well.

When the dough is ready, score it if necessary (depending on the shape of your loaf).  Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.  Lightly sprinkle with the sesame or poppy seeds if you are using them.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap on it.  Remove from the oven and take the bread out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.

*Take some of the dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin enough that you can see through it.  If it tears, it is not ready.

adapted from recipe found at
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