Monday, March 29, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

The best way to survive at the Bivouac is through bribery.  My birthday was last friday (the big 22!) and I wanted my shift covered so I could spend my birthday how I wanted.  I wanted spend time gathering up free things (mainly food) all around Ann Arbor with my little sister; we were successful!  I wanted to go out to Dominick's for dinner with my family; we ate outside and sipped on sangria.  Most importantly, I wanted to hangout with friends that night!  But I was scheduled to work!  Have no fear - bribing with baking is here!

After sending out an email with a link to my blog promising I can (try) to cook almost anything they could dream of - Andrew took the bait.  He signed a sub-slip agreeing to cover my shift with one stipulation - I would make him whole grain bread (sans any rye).  I brought this in for him the day before my birthday and I believe he had it less than 5 minutes before digging in.  It suffices to say that he's this breads biggest fan.  It wasn't too hard to make, so I think I'll make this again for my use!

PS - the loaf of bread is a little oddly shaped because I rolled the dough up so it was too long... and had to forcibly shape it into the bread pan.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Photo Blog

  • 1 cup water (plus 4 tbsp if you're at high altitude like me)
  • 1 cup milk (plus 4 tbsp for high altitude)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp (or packets) yeast
  • 2 tsp salt

  1. Heat the water, milk, butter and honey on the stove using a candy thermometer. Stir occasionally. When the mixture reaches 125-130 degrees F, remove from heat. (If it's any hotter, there is a good chance the yeast could deactivate)
  2. In a large bowl, mix the all purpose flour, salt and yeast. 
  3. Add the heated liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix for a few minutes until evenly blended. 
  4. Begin adding the whole wheat flour, add two of the cups of flour one cup at a time and gradually add the third cup during kneading. Depending on humidity, you may need more or less flour.
  5. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and slightly sticky.
  6. Separate the dough in half and place in two lightly greased bowls. Cover, then let rise for 45 minutes or so, until the dough looks about double in bulk.
  7. Once the dough has risen, punch down and knead briefly, until pliable. 
  8. Roll each section of dough with a rolling pin until it forms a flat square or rectangle, then roll the flattened dough into a snug jelly roll. Seal the seam by firmly pinching and patting the dough together. 
  9. Grease your baking pan(s). Place the rolled dough into the pan, seam side down. Let rise for about 30 minutes, or until the pan is pretty well filled.
  10. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-30 minutes, depending on how dark you want the crust to be. 
  11. Let the bread cool COMPLETELY after removing from the oven - don't you dare slice into it until you can't feel any warmth coming off of it - even then I'd still wait 5 minutes more!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lavender Honey Biscotti with a Lemon Glaze

I think next time I have tea with the queen, I'll make these.  They taste so elegant with a hint of the promise of sunny spring weather.  The main reason I made these is because I happened upon some culinary lavender and I really wanted to use it.  Most recipes out on the Internet with lavender are for shortbread cookies or syrups.  I get frustrated most times I make shortbread and I have no use for a syrup.  Then I saw this - wonderful!  I think this may be my favorite biscotti recipe now - it's still so crisp but it's not as sweet as most biscotti's.  And the lemon glaze I decided to top it off with?  Mmmm, I love the tang of lemon.  I brought this into The Environment Report this morning and they all loved it!  If you can recall, Lester challenged me to a "biscotti off" when I first started working there last August.  I wonder how these would fare in a biscotti off, part two...

Lavender Honey Biscotti with a Lemon Glaze
Adapted from bake.mix.stir
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons honey (I used a raspberry infused honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • Approx. ¾ cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk sugar and eggs until it achieves a light lemon color. Mix in honey, vanilla, zest and lavender. Sift dry ingredients over the wet mixture and mix just until dough is combined.
  4. The dough will probably be a little sticky. Cut the dough in half and move one piece of dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Using lightly floured or wet hands, stretch dough into a rough 13×2″ log. Repeat with remaining dough (you want them to be about 3″ apart on the baking sheet.) Pat down each dough a bit to flatten and to smooth the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until firm and golden brown – turning pan once halfway through.
  5. Cool the loaves for 5-10 minutes – until you can handle them. Lower the oven temperature to 325.
  6. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into 1/4 to 1/2″ slices. Lay slices back on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake 15 minutes, until dry, turning over after 7 minutes. Transfer biscotti to wire rack and cool completely.
  7. In a bowl with lemon juice, add in powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time until glaze at at the consistency you want.  Drizzle on cooled biscotti and sit until dry to the touch.

Hummus with Olive Oil Chips

Every Tuesday night some of my neighbors come over (mainly Jake and Sarah), Cory, my housemates, and I all crowd around the television and watch LOST.  Now, I don't watch LOST.  I never have, but now I probably will.  Due to the fact that is it on every Tuesday night, and I always home, I began watching it (in its final season).  And it's in my basic instinct whenever there is a large gathering of people, I feel like I must feed them.  Now every Tuesday night - I feed them.

Two weeks ago I made the dinner "Middle Eastern/Greek" themed.  I made my tried and true Spanakopita recipe, but I thought they might want something else - Hummus and chips.  I'm always so shocked when people try homemade hummus for the first time (it's always so much better) and then when I told them how easy it is, they are even more shocked.  I also felt that it would be appropriate to dip homemade chips in my homemade hummus.  The chips were so easy to make and it made a pretty large batch - enough to feed my friends and co-workers when I brought them into The Environment Report the next day.


  • 22 oz chickpeas, canned
  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning, to serve (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, add the tahini paste, water and lemon juice and mix well until it forms a uniform paste. Add the minced garlic to it and mix it well.
  2. Now add the chickpea paste to the tahini sauce a little at a time, making sure everything gets incorporated evenly.
  3. In a plate, spoon the hummus and create a canal with the back of the spoon to hold the olive oil, as seen in the photograph.
  4. Sprinkle with sumac and serve with crackers.

Olive Oil Crackers
Adapted from: The Purple Foodie

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper (I used a mix of black, white and pink!)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Coarse sea salt for garnish (I used pink Himalayan salt)
  • More olive oil for brushing

  1. Preheat oven to 220C.
  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a Kitchen Aid add the flour baking powder, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes until it all comes together.
  3. Make walnut sized balls and roll them out as thinly as you can into long, oval shapes.
  4. Place the rolled out crackers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until the crackers are golden brown in color (I had to bake mine for about 10 minutes - but that's because my oven is kinda finicky)
  6. Serve with the hummus!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shamrock Sugar Cookies

I am posting another recipe so soon after my last post, could it be?  Yes, yes, it's true.  I fell really far behind on posting (I still have three more recipes to post!) so I might as well do a few at a time.

I made these cookies for St. Patrick's Day for a variety of reasons.  One, St. Patrick's Day has to be one of my favorite holidays.  Two, who doesn't like holiday themed cookies?  And three, I wanted to give these out to everyone I knew to make their day a little brighter!

I must say, this is one of the best sugar cookie recipes I have ever used.  The almond extract and lemon zest made this so much more than your typical sugar cookie.  Then on top of these, these cookies actually held their shape when you cooked them!  The only downside is that these aren't as easy as your roll-out, cut, and bake variety.  After forming the dough, I had to chill it it in fridge for about 30 minutes.  After it was chilled, I divided the dough into two balls and rolled out each one between two pieces of parchment paper.  Once I got the dough to about a ⅓ of an inch thickness, I froze the sheets of dough for about 20 minutes.  After cutting out the shapes and putting them onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, I re-rolled the dough, froze, and repeated cutting out the shapes.  Sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, it's worth it!

Sugar Cookies
Adapted from the Beantown Baker

  • 1 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 5 c. flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Parchment Paper, for rolling

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly. Add vanilla, almond, and lemon zest.
  3. Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt a little at a time. Do not over mix, this process should take about one minute.
  4. Chill dough for 30 minutes in fridge. After chilled, divide the dough into two balls and roll out each one between two pieces of parchment paper.  Once dough is at about a ⅓ of an inch thickness, freeze the sheets of dough for about 20 minutes. Remove from freezer and cut out shapes.  Re-roll dough and re-freeze.  Repeat.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake cookies for 7-8 minutes. Wait until cookies are cooled before icing.

Irish Soda Bread

I have been a horrible, horrible food blogger.  It is encroaching upon a month since the last time a wrote anything!  I know you don't want to hear my excuses, but I swear I have some!  First, I was on a cruise for the first week of March.  Here is some photographic evidence:

Aren't my housemates BEAUTIFUL with their new hairstyles? 

I know, woe is me.  But when you're cursing in the Bahamas, there isn't any access to a computer, let alone internet.  But when I came back to Ann Arbor, I decided to download a trial version of Aperture 3.  As amazing as it is, I knew it would be a little longer until I was able to by the program.  I mainly wanted to use the trail version to play around with and try editing some photos.  The problem was that I couldn't access my Aperture 2 photo library and I was too afraid to upload anything new into Aperture 3!  After going home and having my dad work his magic on my dear mac, I was able to get into Aperture 2.  Sad thing is that I fell in love with Aperture and I finally bought it this week!  Now I can upload, organize, and play around with photos like never before!

Now back to the food: I love Irish soda bread.  Scratch that, I love traditional Irish soda bread.  Most of the recipes floating around on the Internet call for ingredients like butter, raisins and eggs… my dear non-Gaelic friends, that is not traditional.  The fewer ingredients, the better.  I adapted this recipe from the Merlin Menu and just now realized that I didn't follow the directions.  This is a good thing, though!  The bread turned out perfectly.  My housemate, Kate, was even bragging to people at the bar that I was the first person to make Irish soda bread she liked.  And everyone at The Environment Report gobbled it up!  It's so easy to make and is such a crowd pleaser - go make some as soon as you can!

Side Note:  I didn't have any buttermilk, so I mixed two and a half cups of milk with 2 (and a little bit more) tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice that I let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups buttermilk. 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Whisk both flours, sugar, and baking soda in bowl to blend.  Add buttermilk; stir until a sticky balls forms.
  3. Divide into two loves.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead briefly until dough comes together, about 5 to 10 turns. Shape into a round ball and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle flour onto of the Cut a large X, 1/2 inch deep across the top of the dough.
  4. Bake until the bread is deeply browned (30 to 45 minutes) and sounds hollow when tapped on the top. This bread will "look" done well before it is, so prepare to generally bake for the full time shown.


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