Friday, April 25, 2008

Artisan Bread, the easy way!

I just had to share with you my latest bread making experience. The recipe for this delicious, wonderful, hard, crispy, crunchy, crusted artisan bread is from the book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.
This book contains the basics for making the bread plus a large quantity of additional recipes.

This is an incredibly easy method of baking bread with four basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. You do need a large mixing/storage container, a pizza peel and a baking stone. Although all of these things are not 100% necessary it does ensure a hard artisan crust. This bread is much better than the other No-Knead method I had tried and liked before I knew about this method. Much better...hands down! My first loaf was going well until I heard a big bang from the oven. My approximately 20 year old baking stone cracked into 4 pieces! Have no idea why that happened except for the fact the stone was so old. We ate the bread even though I had to finish baking it on the broken stone. Did this discourage me from wanting to try again?...NO....the bread was incredible!! The loaf was a little small for us, but I knew I would be baking more of this bread so I went right out and bought a replacement stone from our Williams and Sonoma outlet store for eight dollars and some change. Baking on the new stone yielded a wonderful loaf and no breakage this time. I did make a larger loaf though (hard to tell from the picture). If you want to see a video of the book's authors demonstrating the technique click here. Here's the link to their website. Here's a link for you to try the basic recipe before buying the book. I think if you try it you will be impressed. I can't wait to try more of the recipes. Yesterday I baked a loaf in a bread pan for sandwiches. Sorry no photos. My only problem now is slicing the bread. I sure wish I could afford a bakery type bread slicer like this one or even this one. I am terrible at slicing even slices. Does anyone know the secret for slicing perfect slices of homemade bread? Do you think this Rival Folding Food Slicer would do the trick? I would be so happy if I could find something that would make slicing bread easy and affordable :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

This is not really a "recipe"...but it is the way my mother always made her scalloped potatoes with or without ham. The picture is what's left after we enjoyed was delicious!

  • Preheat oven 350 degrees
  • About 4 large potatoes peeled and sliced very thin
  • 1 large onion peeled and sliced very thin in rings
  • sliced ham (optional)
  • flour
  • butter or margarine
  • salt (I leave this out when I use ham)
  • pepper
  • 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • lowfat milk
First butter or spray with PAM a casserole dish. Layer first some sliced potatoes, then onions, sprinkle with flour, add salt and pepper, and dab with small pieces of butter. Add a layer of ham.
Repeat until all the potatoes, onions and ham are gone. End with onions, flour and butter. Pour on top the whole can of evaporated milk and add more low fat milk until it just about reaches the level of the potatoes. Put into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 2 hours. Check after about the first 30 minutes and make sure all the potatoes, flour and onions are submerged with the milk. You know it's done when a fork is inserted easily and the potatoes are done. Yes, it takes a long time to bake!
Enjoy! Now this is what I call comfort food :)