Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Asiago Herb Ciabatta

 This is not an authentic Italian ciabatta recipe full of steps.  I've been wanting to make ciabatta for quite a while, but all the steps were a little intimidating.  I don't do well with breads that call for starters or sponges, because something usually happens to distract me.  This is the method from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day, with a few modifications on my part.  I've come to realize that since I am not a chef, I don't have to follow all the "rules" about food, so I did a shortcut ciabatta.  I'm also pretty sure that no one in my family cared that this wasn't an authentic ciabatta loaf.   They just knew it was yummy bread! It had a nice sourdough taste because I left the dough in the fridge for a week.  I want to try it without the asiago and herbs sometime and make a brie, turkey and apple panini with it.  I think my days of spending $4 on a loaf of ciabatta are behind me!
 The dough for this is pretty sticky and wet.  I was afraid that if I shaped it and put it on a baking sheet, it would turn into one large blob of dough.  I have a 10-inch bread pan that I never get to use, so I decided to use it in this recipe.  It worked great and I will use it again.  My 9-inch pan would have been fine, it just would have given me a taller loaf.  This recipe makes enough for 2 loaves.  I made ciabatta with half of the dough and 6 rolls with the other half.

Asiago Herb Ciabatta
Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
makes 2 10-inch loaves

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/4 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup diced asiago cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or dough bucket.  Mix until well-blended. Allow to rise covered for 2 hours.
2) Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 weeks.
3) Cut off one pound of the dough.  With wet hands, shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides.  Flatten into an elongated oval, no thinner than 3/4 inches.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or baking mat. Optional: Place in a well-greased 9 or 10 inch loaf pan.
4) Let it rise, uncovered for 20 minutes.
4) Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, or until deeply browned.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

My 5-year old recently turned into a huge meat-eater after almost 4 years of eating very little meat. One of his favorite things is spaghetti and meatballs.  If it is on the menu at a restaurant, he usually orders it...and eats a ton of it. We have quite a bit of beef in our freezer right now, since we ordered a 1/4 share of a cow and split it with friends.  I decided to use some of the ground beef to make meatballs for my family.  I made enough meatballs to freeze some.  Since the beef was frozen, I had to go ahead and fully cook all of the meatballs before I froze them.  My preference would be to use fresh ground beef and freeze the meatballs before I cooked them.  I was watching the Food Network one day and saw a commercial that offered a cooking "shortcut" for meatballs that I tried here.  Instead of using ground pork and a bunch of different seasonings, just use Italian sausage.   I tried it and it worked out great.  I did add some Italian seasoning to the  mixture because I only used 1/2 pound sausage and 1 pound of ground beef.  I wanted the extra flavor.  I also made and baked the meatballs during naptime...that way the majority of the mess was cleaned up before dinner!

My son ate 7 meatballs when I made this.

makes 36 - 40 meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese (parmesan  or romano can also be used)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1) Mix all ingredients listed above.
2) Shape into 1-inch balls (I used a cookie scoop) and place on a baking sheet.
3) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are done in the center.
4) Drain on paper towels.

To make spaghetti and meatballs, heat up your favorite spaghetti sauce on the stove and add the meatballs. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add to spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions. Top with parmesan cheese.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Black Bean Tostada Pizza

This is a restaurant copycat recipe for my sister!  Whenever we go out to CPK, this is what she orders.  I decided to try and make one for Meatless Monday last week.  It was pretty easy and tasted wonderful.  My husband and I ate the entire thing by ourselves! If you like black beans and are looking for something different to do, I recommend this recipe. I meant to add black olives to the pizza, but forgot to do it.  They would have been great with this pizza.

Black Bean Tostada Pizza

1 ball pizza dough (1 pound)
1 can black beans (do not drain)
2 cups shredded colby jack cheese

Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes or salsa
Sour cream
Crushed tortilla chips

1) Preheat oven to 375.  Roll dough into a 10 or 12 inch circle and place in pizza pan.  Bake dough for 10 minutes.
2) Top the pizza dough with black beans, making sure to add some of the liquid as "sauce." Top with cheese.
3) Bake for 10 more minutes.
4) Top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and chips before serving.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Best. Sandwich. Ever.

This is my favorite sandwich in the world.  It is called a muffaletta.  I honestly don't remember the first time I tried one, but I know I've liked them for years.  Shortly after my husband and I got married, his mom made one for us when we were visiting and I realized that they were pretty easy to make.  I made this one for a party a few weeks ago and it was a hit!  The recipe came from Chef Rick's Southern Cooking. I am trying not to get into the habit of just posting links to recipes, but for this one it makes sense because I follow this recipe exactly!  For the "mild cheese" I like to use muenster.  I used homemade semolina bread for this recipe.  I like get extra meat and cheese from the deli so I can make muffaletta pizza with the toppings.  I'll be sure and post that the next time I make it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cheese Pennies

After realizing how much fun it was to make my own crackers, I decided that I wanted to make more.  The only thing I didn't enjoy about the cheddar cheese crackers I made earlier was the rolling and cutting of the dough. I was searching for more cheese cracker recipes and came across a recipe for cheese pennies on the King Arthur Flour website.  I have made these three times now.  The first time, I followed the recipe exactly as it was written, and they turned out great.  The kids kept coming into the kitchen to get more crackers while they were on the cooling racks.  The second time I made them, I used a mix of all-purpose, whole wheat, and harvest grain mix. For the third recipe, I used pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar.  All three recipes are great and very easy! The pepper jack were a little spicy for the kids, but my husband and I love them.   I am posting the pepper jack and multi-grain recipes here.  The original recipe can be found on the King Arthur Flour Website.

Pepper Jack Cheese Pennies

Multi-Grain Cheese Pennies

Pepper Jack Cheese Pennies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups (8oz) grated pepper jack cheese
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1) Combine all ingredients in a large food processor.  Pulse until one large ball forms.  You may need to add a little bit of water. 
2) Transfer to a lightly-floured work surface and roll into a 16-inch log. 
3) Wrap the log in wax paper and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Move the dough to the fridge after 30 minutes if you are not cutting and baking right away.
4) Using a serrated knife, slice the log cross-wise into 1/8-inch slices.  You will end up with about 80 crackers.
4) Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 for 12 - 14 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

Multi-Grain Cheese Pennies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups (8 oz) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 stick salted butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup harvest grain blend (if you don't have this you may substitute rye, whole wheat, all-purpose, barley, or any other grain mix you would like)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

parmesan cheese
garlic powder

1) Follow directions for pepper jack cheese pennies, but do not blend the paprika, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder in the dough.
2) Before baking, sprinkle the top of each cracker with grated parmesan cheese, paprika, and garlic powder.