Monday, February 8, 2016

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

Yum

I love a good rustic crusty white bread. There's just something earthy about it that makes you want to bake a loaf or 2 or 3 and then slather a slice with some fresh creamed butter.

It is great served with soup, awesome used for hearty sandwiches, sliced and served as bruschetta, or simply dipped in some yummy olive oil, it's all good to me.

This bread has a very nice crispy crust, and a delicious, soft dough interior ... it performed exactly as the original recipe said it would. It is delicious and a new family favorite. (Original recipe from King Arthur Flour)












Recipe

Ingredients
3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbls. salt
1 1/2 tbls. instant or active dry yeast
* See "tips" below

Method
*The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 1/2 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure flour by weight, use 32 ounces.

*Bread rising tip - turn oven on to 400 degrees for one minute. Turn oven off and put dough inside oven to rise.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, "lukewarm" means about 105°F, but don't stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine.

Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk until everything is combined.

Next, you're going to let the dough rise. If you've made the dough in a plastic bucket, you're all set - just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap. If you've made the dough in a bowl that's not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.

Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.

When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.

Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.

Place the loaf on a piece of parchment (if you're going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the bread moist as it rests before baking.

Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. (see bread rising tip above).

Preheat your oven to 450°F while the loaf rests. If you're using a baking stone, position it on a middle rack while the oven preheats. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.

Place the bread in the oven - onto the baking stone, if you're using one, or simply onto a middle rack, if it's on a pan - and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.


















Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blueberry Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

Yum

Seriously! Blueberry Balsamic Barbecue Sauce is the bomb diggity! It's sweet, tart, tangy, tingly, and oh so good. The sweet blueberries blend so well with the tart balsamic vinegar, then the bite of the red pepper flakes mellows out some to the smooth taste of the honey ... in a word ... amazing!






















This the the perfect grilling sauce for pork or chicken. Baste it on liberally toward the end of the grilling time for a simply delicious result.











Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups blueberries (I used fresh I had previously frozen)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup raw local honey
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tsp. dried minced onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbls. molasses
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. course-ground black pepper

Method
Place all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer at least one hour, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Sauce will thicken and reduce some while simmering.

Remove from heat and process sauce in a blender until smooth. Pour contents into two - 8 oz. jelly jars, cover with lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and let sit on top of a kitchen towel on your counter top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button in middle of top is fully depressed. Store up to one year in your pantry; refrigerate after opening.

When ready to use, baste sauce several times on grilled pork or chicken toward the end of the grilling process, or until meat is lightly caramelized with barbecue sauce. Serve additional sauce on the side if desired.

Cooks note - no need to can it if you don't want to. Store jars in your refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 2 - 8 oz. jelly jars



















Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Asian Beef and Rice

Yum

I love most all Asian influenced foods ... they are typically loaded with veggies and are quick and easy to put together. They make an awesome weeknight supper, ready in just about no time at all. This one "spices things up" a bit using red pepper flakes, which you can omit if you want to, no biggie, or add more to your taste. It's totally up to you ... I just like it hot and spicy!

Recipe

Ingredients
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef (pork, chicken/turkey, or lamb)
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 tbls. butter
2 cups cooked rice

Method
Brown ground beef; drain and set aside. In the same skillet stir fry garlic, onion, celery, carrots and cabbage with brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes until veggies are al dente, about 5 minutes. Toss in frozen peas, cover and cook about 3 minutes. Stir in cooked ground beef and serve immediately over hot, cooked rice.

Yield:  4 servings



















Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Grilled Lamb Shanks

Yum


Who knew Lamb Shanks are so darn good! Don't get me wrong, I grew up eating lamb, but that was Leg of Lamb, or Lamb Chops, not Lamb Shanks.



















Since discovering Lamb Shanks at a couple of our local, small family farms, we have been trying them different ways.

Not too long ago we tried Slow Cooked Braised Lamb Shanks, but then my husband really wanted to try grilling them and this is the delicious result.






































Recipe

Ingredients
2 large lamb shanks
4 small garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbls course ground black pepper
1 - 6" stalk fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp tarragon
1-2 tsp. raw local honey

Method
In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except the lamb shanks and honey. Turn grill burners on the direct high and sear lamb shanks 5 minutes per side. Remove shanks and turn burners down to low-off-low.

Rub lamb shanks all over with spice rub. Spray a large piece of aluminum foil liberally with cooking spray and wrap shanks tightly in foil. Wrap another piece of foil around lamb shank package and place on the grill. Grill 2 hours over low heat, turning lamb shank package several times during the cooking time.

Remove lamb shanks from grill, remove foil wrapper and drizzle each lamb shank with honey. Serve immediately with your choice of side dishes. We served ours with sliced grilled potatoes topped with bleu cheese, onions and carrots.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spicy Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Yum

I love enchiladas, and I really love chicken enchiladas. Of course I have always made them individually rolled up in homemade flour tortillas with enchilada sauce and shredded cheese put over top, but then I thought, why not layer it and make it a casserole?

Homemade flour tortillas


Traditional enchiladas


































Well I did that and this is the result. You actually get more pieces using less chicken this way, or so that was my result. 













Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups chicken broth
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
A few pickled jalapeno peppers (more or less to taste)
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup milk
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup  Enchilada sauce
4 - 9" homemade flour tortillas
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put chicken broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from cooking liquid and set 1 cup of cooking liquid aside for later use. Let chicken cool. Once cooled, shred chicken with two forks and set aside.

In the same skillet used to cook the chicken (with the 1 cup leftover cooking liquid), heat the pickled jalapenos and onion over medium-high heat. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onion is getting soft.

Add milk and cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese is melted. Add shredded Mexican cheese blend and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in enchilada sauce and shredded chicken and mix well.

In 9 x 13-inch baking dish, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spay, place 2 tortillas, side by side (slightly overlapping). Top with half of your chicken mixture. Repeat with two more tortillas and the other half of your chicken mixture. Top the last layer with sharp cheddar cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with sliced black olives, sliced pickled jalapenos, diced tomatoes and sour cream if desired.

Enjoy,
Mary


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nikki's Lentil Soup

Yum

My friend, Nikki, has always made the BEST Lentil Soup. When we first met 40+ years ago, I was a brand-new, very young wife, married to an Air Force man and Nikki and I hit it off immediately. She too was married to an Air Force man, and was just a few years older than me, therefore wiser, right? She also had the benefit of growing up as the daughter of an Air Force officer. This was immensely beneficial over time as we both learned how to be Air Force wives.

Anyway, wayyyyyy back then she made this Lentil Soup. I had never heard of it, and to be quite truthful, the first time I saw it, it did not look that appealing ... I mean it's brown with small bits of ham and carrot in it. Seriously, her own two sons have always called it "mud soup," but they meant that in a good way, hahaha. And it isn't a pretty brown, it's kind of a nasty green/brown ... very hard to get past that color, but once you do ... oh my goodness, amazing flavor and taste. Of course I had no idea then how frugal it was to make since lentils were fairly cheap and you used leftover ham pieces and a ham bone to create the soup. It was cheap to make, it fed a lot, was full of fiber and good for you, and also froze well. It fit the "then very tight budget" quite well.

























I've tried honestly to make Nikki's Lentil Soup several times, but I have never been successful in making it taste like her's does ... ever. It might come close, but it's never quite the same. I can satisfy myself once in awhile with what I make, but mostly I look forward to getting some when Nikki makes it (at least once a year after the Christmas holiday). Yep, I sure do look forward to the day a few frozen packs of that delicious soup make their way into my freezer, which is pretty easy since we've followed each other all over the world with military assignments, and she and her husband just live about 30-40 minutes away now. It's awesome to have best friends you've known your whole adult life.












Recipe

Ingredients
1 bag lentils, rinsed
1 carrot (or more) chopped into small pieces
1 large celery stalk (or more) chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
ham fat, and/or ham pieces, and ham juices (the more ham stuff the better)
1 tbls. minced garlic
salt to taste (more or less depending on saltiness of ham)
2 quarts ham stock or water (for the ham stock, leave out the chili powder and red pepper flakes)

Method
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. As it thickens, reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. If you want the soup thicker, mash some of then lentils with a potato masher prior to serving.

Enjoy,
Mary


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The BEST Chocolate (Texas) Sheet Cake

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Whoever first made this cake is pure genius! Rich, chocolate, gooey, delicious CAKE! The BEST, most moist cake I've ever eaten. It will have anyone you serve it to asking for more, and is one of those cakes you'll make time and time again ... it's that good.













Recipe

Ingredients

For the cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbls (heaping) cocoa
2 sticks butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 whole beaten eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

For the frosting:
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1-3/4 stick butter
4 tbls (heaping) cocoa
6 tbls milk
1 tsp vnilla
2 cups (scant) powdered sugar

Method
Note: the recipe makes a 18 x 13-inch sheet cake pan, but you can use a 9 x 13-inch pan and  increase baking time  to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake for 20 minutes (or 30 minutes for 9 x 13-inch pan).

While cake is baking, make the frosting. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Cut into squares, eat, and enjoy this delicious chocolate decadence you just baked.


















Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Slow Cooked Braised Lamb Shanks

Yum

I grew up eating Leg of Lamb and have enjoyed preparing it myself many, many times. I have also enjoyed grilled Loin Lamb Chops and Rack of Lamb but until recent years, I'd never had Lamb Shanks. I'm not sure if that's because they simply weren't available as a choice back when I was a girl, or what, but I don't ever remember anyone even talking about shanks ... I mean what is a shank?

According to Wikipedia,  a meat shank or shin is the portion of meat around the tibia of the animal, the leg bone beneath the knee. Lamb shanks are often braised whole; veal and beef shanks are typically cross-cut.




















Some dishes made using shank include:

  1. Bulalo, a Filipino beef shank stew
  2. Ossobuco alla milanese, an Italian veal shank dish
  3. Persian Biryani, with different shanks
  4. Nihari a spicy national dish of Pakistan
  5. Cazuela with shank meat, popular in 19th century Chile during the nitrate boom

Of course after I found out what a lamb shank was, I realized it was the long narrow portion  on the leg of lamb. Ahhh haaaaa! Now I knew what it was and realized I had tasted it before, just never as a separate piece from the leg.

Like most less tender cuts of meat, a lamb shank is meant to be braised and slow cooked. Doing so creates the most flavorful dish I've ever had and the meat is falling off the bone tender. These lamb shanks came from my friends at Old McCaskills Farm and are so good.















Recipe

Ingredients
2 lamb shanks
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced

Method
Spray a large slow cooker with cooking spray. Place diced celery, onion and carrots on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the tomato paste, minced garlic, oregano, thyme leaves, salt, pepper, red wine, red wine vinegar and chicken stock, stirring well to combine. Place lamb shanks on top and ladle some of the sauce over top.

Cover and cook on low 6 - 8  hours, or until the meat on the shanks is pulling away from the bone.

Serve shanks with some sauce over rice or couscous.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.