Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes: Cracked wheat bread~

29 01 2011

It’s been foggy here throughout January.  That’s not unusual.  It happens here anytime there’s been reasonably close to “normal” rainfall and can last the entire month…I can remember 21 straight days without seeing the sun one year.  There’s something about the limited visibility, the constant damp chill, and the droplets of water that drip from the trees that makes me crave comfort foods and freshly made bread.  So…I pulled out Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes again, and thumbed through to see what would work with the ingredients I had on hand.  I had some cracked wheat, also known as Bulgar, that I’d just cooked…and plenty of flour and yeast.  And I had enough time to let the dough complete its first cycle.  Bingo!!

I love these recipes.  This is truly a way to have freshly baked bread as often as you want it.  Since I had cooked the bulgar already, I cut back some of the liquid in the recipe…say about 1/3 cup, and I added 1 Tbsp. of sugar.   Even with that, I had to add a lot of extra flour to the recipe.  I think it’s because of the more humid environment.  The flour can’t take on that much more liquid before we start.  I quit adding flour trying to make sure I didn’t get too much flour into the dough a little bit too soon.  That wasn’t totally bad though.  The bread is well structured with a dense, moist interior.  The camera really messed with me this week, or I’d have a picture.  I got 3 loaves out of the recipe and found that 1) cold dough just handles more easily, and 2) slightly wet hands make it easier to handle the dough too.  This really came out too wet to handle with floured hands.  Just remember…I put in cooked cereal, and that added a lot of moisture to the mix.

Tasting Notes~
Oh my goodness!  This is nothing but goodness!  The fact that the cereal was cooked did give us a really moist texture, but that wasn’t at all bad.  It had great flavor and marvelous crust crunch.  I used a baking stone in the oven, and let the dough rest on a polenta covered square of parchment.  The parchment slides easily onto the stone, and then out of the oven.  The parchment isn’t in the oven long enough to completely char (read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit: 451) before the bread is done.  I put a small pan of water in the oven while the bread baked to crisp up that crunchy crust.  Even though it was moist and dense, the bread cut cleanly and evenly, and went very well with almond butter and jelly, cheese, tuna salad, and hot with butter.  I felt a lot better about the bread we were eating this week.  I knew what grains were in there, and what preservatives aren’t.  I’m going to give the 1o grain bread another try…I found some of the 10 grain cereal.  The fact that a loaf bakes in about 30 minutes (at 450°F) means I can serve it fresh from the oven at supper.  If I’d used a slightly smaller amount of dough, I bet we could have had a fresh loaf every night.  What a concept!  I found the recipe to be just about right for a week’s worth of bread, eaten at lunch and supper, for 2 people.


Cooking Italy: “The Other White Meat” Marsala~

29 01 2011

I finally got a chance to finish the second of two recipes scheduled for Cooking Italy this week.  Our two recipes were Bolognese and Veal Marsala.  I made the Bolognese a couple weeks ago, but had to pick up a bottle of Marsala, so it waited.  In the meanwhile, Sue of Couscous and Consciousness mentioned in a group email that she thought this recipe would work well with pork chops.  That got me thinking… I knew I still had a couple of thick, boneless pork loin chops hiding somewhere in the freezer.  I found them!

This recipe goes together very quickly.  I cut my pork chops into two scallops using a very sharp knife and a horizontal cut.  My husband can’t watch me do that.  I understand.  It was the same for me watching him fall timber.  With a firm, but light touch, pound the chops flat.  The rest of the recipe…sorry, but you’ll need to buy the book…goes according to the book.  It cooks just as quickly as veal or chicken.  Make sure you have all the other components of your dinner finished before you start cooking this…it’s that fast.  I wanted a bit more body to my sauce, so I mounted it with a couple pats of butter in the end.

Tasting Notes~
I have to say that Sue’s instincts were spot on!  The Marsala Sauce was absolutely fabulous with the pork!  Marsala tends to be a little on the sweet side…ok, a lot along the sweet side!  Cooking it down makes those flavors intensify.  There’s no seasoning on the meat as it cooks, so it’s pure essence of whatever protein you choose and the wine.  As the Marsala condenses, it develops a richer sweetish taste with spicy notes.  Perfect with pork!  I’ve got to try this again with chicken, and should it become available, veal!

Excellent selection Angela!