Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lemon Lavender Olive Oil Bread

Earlier this month I became the proud recipient of an Amish Friendship Bread starter.  My sourdough starter now has a sweet sibling, and I have more mouths to feed.  I won't go into the whole AFBS thing here because the Friendship Bread Kitchen has way more detailed info than I could ever offer, if you're in any way interested please check it out.

I will say that, at first, virtually every recipe I came across  for using the starter included a box of pudding mix.  If you know anything about me at all, you know I haven't been near a box of pudding since I was 10 years old and I don't intend to get any closer.  While searching for recipes without pudding I came across this hilarious post.  

At the same time I'd been having a hankering to try my hand at an olive oil cake.  Should I?  Could I?  Well, why not, it's already been done and that's the inspiration for this bread.  So actually the title of this post is Lemon Lavender Olive Oil Amish Friendship Bread, but I mean come on, really?! 

The taste is wonderful, completely out of the ordinary! With citrus and floral notes grounded by earthy olive oil, it's perky but complex, kinda like Zooey Deschanel. The texture is light and slightly spongy, a good bread for spring and summer.   If I only ever make this bread with my AFBS I'll be happy, but something tells me I have more adventures in sweet starter ahead.

lemon lavender olive oil bread (adapted from this recipe)

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon potato starch
1/2 baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, finely ground
1/2 cup Amish friendship bread starter
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
juice of 1 lemon
rind of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 4 by 9 inch bread pan, set aside.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lavender.  

In a medium bowl whisk together starter, eggs, olive oil, sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind and vanilla extract.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and beat approximately 1 minute by hand with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sourdough Honey Wheat Hamburger Buns

Apropos of the upcoming Memorial Day festivities this month's Sourdough Surprise is hamburger buns.  Brilliant!  I had intended to have some veggie burgers on hand to showcase the buns but I totally waited till the last minute for this one and lacked all the necessary ingredients to throw a batch together.  Never mind 'cause these buns were just perfect for a scrambled egg and cheese sandwich and I bet they would be just as good with anything you cared to stick in the middle of them!

I started with the tried and true KAF recipe and made a few moderations, such as adding wheat germ and honey which became the eponymous ingredients.  I also used black sesame seeds just to bring these babies into the new century, although, warning: teeth check required!  They turned out tender and delicious and I can testify that I will be making these again and I might even spring for some local organic, grass fed ground beef, now that would be some hamburger!

sourdough  honey wheat hamburger buns

1 & 1/2 to 2 cups King Arthur bread flour
2 tablespoon wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sourdough starter
1 egg (plus some for brushing)
1/2 cup warm water (or milk, I used half of each)
1 & 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon honey 
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds 

In a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, wheat germ and salt.  In a medium bowl whisk together, egg, water (or milk), butter, yeast and honey.  Add liquid to bowl and mix to combine.  Knead until smooth.

Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, cover and let rise 2 to 3 hours or until doubled in bulk.  Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a ball, place on parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten to about 3 inches.  Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 18 minutes or until buns are golden.  Cool on wire rack.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bulgur Wheat Salad

With barbeque season upon us it's a good idea to get some easy, nutritious salads in your repertoire.  Even if you're a meat eater you have to have something for you grilled beast to sit next to if only to round out the plate.  And this bulgur wheat salad will do just that and more. 

What I like about bulgur is it's quick cooking, mild enough to go with just about anything and even deserves some props in the nutrition department.  This salad could be the main dish, the bulgur and chic peas form a complete protein, but it's also a fine back drop for whatever the kids are grillin up these days.   

bulgur wheat salad

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt (for the water)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped 
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup currants
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1 14 ounce can organic chic peas, washed and drained
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted almonds

Bring water and salt to a boil and add bulgur wheat.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Cool. 

In a medium bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, lemon juice, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine cooled bulgur wheat, chic peas, carrots, kale, red onions and currants.  Add dressing and mix well.  Top with toasted almonds.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Millet Muffins

On any given day, if I find myself alone and I'm done whatever I had to do, or just threw in the towel (I'm looking at you basement), I naturally gravitate to the kitchen to bake.  At this point in my life baking is it's own reward.  The days of having to get up at five o'clock to open the bakery and face a 10 or 12 or 16 hour day, are long behind me.  

Not that I would have changed any of that for one second.  I met the best, most talented people in the biz, laughed 'till my jaws ached, gained a tremendous amount of self worth and, I like to think, made a few people happy on their birthdays. But now the pressure's off and  I can just enjoy the process, and of course the results! 

Long story short, I found myself alone in the kitchen today and finally got to fool around with a millet muffin recipe, isn't that romantic!  If you don't know millet you should, it's going to save the world as far as I'm concerned.  Please don't tell me it's bird food 'cause I'm a bird and I might get offended.  OK, I won't get offended and I'm not really a bird but, the fact is, birds have been around for longer than us so they must know something about millet, nough said.

Millet is the very definition of versatile.  Depending on how it's cooked it can come out creamy like mashed potatoes or chewy like rice.  It's great for pilafs, salads, soups, puddings, muffins and even a fermented beverage.  But today, alone in the kitchen, it's all about these muffins.  Are they good?  Hell yea!  I literally had to stop photographing and just devour one of these wholesome, sweet, earthy, tender muffins.

millet muffins

1 & 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup millet (cover with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes)
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated apple
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raw sugar (plus more for the top)
3/4 cup dried fruit (I used yellow raisins and cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake papers and set aside.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, apple, oil, almond milk and sugar.  Drain millet and toss into flour mixture.  Add wet ingredients and fruit into flour and stir just until combined.  

Scoop batter into cupcake pan, and sprinkle with a bit more cane sugar, if desired.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.