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Pappa al Pomodoro – Tomato and Bread Soup
Adapted from Zuppe by Mona Talbott

Committee meeting working lunch, 8/1/12

This Italian tomato and bread soup is a perfect way to use stale bread and tomatoes that are beginning to get a little soft – combined, these older ingredients turn delicious again.

1 lb bread – the staler, the better
4 lbs tomatoes – overripe is fine*
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided between cooking onions and final addition
2 onions, finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped*
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed, then roughly chopped*
salt
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water in a pinch)
grated or shredded parmesan cheese (not from a can)

Remove tough crusts from the bread and cut it into 1 inch cubes. If the bread isn’t very stale yet, leave the cubes out for up to 24 hours to get really hard.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of ice water. To peel the tomatoes, drop half of them into boiling water for 1 minute (the skin will begin to pop open), and then transfer to ice water. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then peel. Chop into 1-inch pieces.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add basil and cook for 5 minutes more, until onions are translucent but not browned.

Add tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Then add chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add bread to the soup and then turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes for the bread to absorb the liquid. Taste and add salt if needed. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and stir to mush up the bread and combine everything. Reheat if desired. Serve, sprinkling each portion with parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

*Tomatoes, basil, garlic, and onions are all things you can grow in your garden.

Note: the longer this sits, the more liquid the bread will absorb. So it may become less soupy and more stew-like, but it will be just as delicious.

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Roast Pork Sandwiches with Radishes and Yogurt Dressing

Community gardening training session dinner, 6/4/12

These sandwiches are a great way to use leftover roast pork. Or, you could use other leftover roast meat or deli meats.

  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (or you can substitute low-fat sour cream or mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or you can use red or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil (omit if using sour cream or mayonnaise)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley*
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 4 rolls or buns, or other bread to make 6 sandwiches
  • 1 pound roast pork or other leftover or deli meat
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced*
  • 8 large leaves lettuce, washed and dried

Prepare dressing: in a small bowl, mix together yogurt, lemon juice, oil, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Assemble sandwiches: Spread the dressing on the rolls, dividing it evenly between the sandwiches. The add pork, radish slices, and lettuce to each sandwich. Serve.

Yield: 4 sandwiches.

*Radishes and parsley can be grown in your own garden.

Bread Pudding with Rhubarb Sauce

Community meeting training dinner, 4/23/12

Beautiful? Not quite. Delicious? Definitely.

Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is incredibly easy to make, and the results are delicious. It’s also a great way to use up old, stale bread. You can use wheat bread here for a little extra nutrition in your dessert.

  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups bread, torn into small pieces (use any leftover stale bread you have)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1 ½ or 2 quart sized baking dish or casserole.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the bread. Place the bread in the casserole in an even layer. Pour the milk mixture over the bread. Press the bread gently to help it absorb the liquid, then allow to sit for 10-20 minutes.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until no longer liquid in the middle. Serve warm.

Rhubarb Sauce
Use this sauce with the bread pudding, or use it to top yogurt, ice cream, or anything else you’d like.

  • 4 cups rhubarb,* chopped into ½ – 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided use
  • ½ cup sugar (more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a large pot, combine rhubarb, ½ cup water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until rhubarb is completely tender and falling apart. Taste the sauce, and add more sugar if it’s too tart.

In small bowl, combine cornstarch with remaining 2 tablespoons water. Stir well, breaking up any cornstarch clumps. Add the cornstarch mixture to the rhubarb and return to a boil for 1 minute, stirring. The sauce will thicken.

Remove from heat. Allow to cool at least slightly before serving.

Note: if you want a smooth-textured sauce, you can blend the finished sauce with a blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Always be careful when blending hot liquids, since they can splash and burn you.

*Rhubarb is a perennial that will keep producing tasty stalks year after year in your garden.

English Muffin Batter Bread

This bread has the nooks and crannies of an English muffin, and it’s especially good for toasting. To make the bread, all you have to do is spend 5 minutes putting the ingredients together, walk away for 45 minutes, and then bake – you’ll have fresh, homemade bread in less than 90 minutes. Yes, that’s a lot longer than it takes to get bread from the store, but the results are tastier and healthier.                                                                                                              

  • Oil or butter and cornmeal or flour for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (1 ½ packets)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 to 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (see below for details)

Grease a loaf pan. Dust the bottom and sides with cornmeal or flour.

In a large bowl, mix wheat flour with the yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

Combine the milk and hot water. In the microwave or on the stovetop, heat the milk and water to about 110-120 degrees, very warm to the touch, but not too hot – like bath water.

Add the warm milk and water to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour and stir to combine. You are aiming for a soft dough – thick, but not so thick that, with effort, you couldn’t stir it with a spoon. To get to this consistency, continue to add flour gradually, until you can’t stir it in with a spoon anymore. You probably won’t need all of the flour.

When the dough is smooth and the flour is incorporated, pour into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour. Depending on the size of the loaf pan, it may puff slightly over the sides of the pan. While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Uncover the loaf and bake for 22-27 minutes, until golden brown.

Yield: 1 loaf

Roasted Garlic Bread

Community meeting dinner, 2/27/12 – served with lasagna
Community meeting dinner, 1/23/13 – served with baked spaghetti and meatballs
Community meeting dinner, 4/3/13 – served with sausage and sweet potato stew

Roasting the garlic gives it a mellow flavor and a creamy texture, letting you make a rich-tasting garlic bread with less fat.

  • roasted garlic bread rolls2 heads garlic*
  • 4 tablespoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil, divided between roasted garlic and bread assembly
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large loaf Italian or French bread

Roasting the garlic
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Hold the head of garlic on its side and use a large knife to slice off the very top of the head (the pointed end). This will expose all the cloves inside. Repeat with the second head.

Place both heads on a large piece of aluminum foil inside a baking pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with the salt. Bring the foil up and fold to seal in the garlic.

Bake for approximately 1 hour, until cloves of garlic are completely tender. Allow to cool enough to handle. (Note: this can be done up to 4 days in advance – refrigerate roasted garlic until ready to use.)

Assembling the bread
Using your fingers, squeeze the roasted cloves of garlic out of their papery skins and into a small bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and use a fork to mash the garlic and oil into a paste.

Using a bread knife, slice the loaf of bread into pieces, but do not go all the way through – leave the bottom crust intact. Rub the garlic paste between slices, coating each portion with some of the garlic paste.

Wrap the entire loaf in aluminum foil. Return to the oven for 10-12 minutes, until heated through. Break along the scored slices to serve.

Yield: one loaf, serves 8-10.

*Garlic grows well in Nebraska and can be stored for long periods of time.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Committee meeting working lunch, 1/26/12 – served with mushroom barley soup

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

This recipe can be customized to use the ingredients you have on hand.

  • 1 to 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water, milk, or whey (use 1 cup in a warm, humid climate; 1 ¼ cup in a cold, dry climate)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (one packet) instant or active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or melted and cooled butter
  • ¼ cup liquid sweetener – honey, molasses, sorghum syrup, maple syrup, or corn syrup
  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • if using water as liquid: ¼ cup nonfat dried milk (optional)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, combine the water, milk, or whey with the yeast, vegetable oil or butter, and liquid sweetener. Add the flour, dried milk (if using), and salt all at once and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.

Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly greased surface and knead 6-8 minutes. (You can also knead in a stand mixer with a dough hook or in a bread machine.) The kneading is done when the dough feels smooth and comes back to shape when poked. If you take a small amount and stretch it, it should make a thin “windowpane” of dough without tearing.

Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise until puffy and almost doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

On a lightly greased surface, flatten the dough out into an 8” x 8” square. Roll the dough into a log, then place in a greased 8 ½” x 4 ½” loaf pan. Cover and allow to rise another 1-2 hours. The dough should rise above the sides of the pan. When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. The loaf is finished when the inside temperature is 190 degrees. Take the loaf out of the pan and tap the bottom – the finished loaf should sound hollow. Allow to cool before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf