Non-Bread Weekend Baking

Greetings. It’s Kelley. I feel as though I had some ample time in front of recipes this weekend, and wanted to share some of my non-bread baking with you (I’ll leave the yeasty stuff up to Paul). First, I will say that I’m becoming smitten with America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Great recipes that are tested and tested and tested! Makes me feel like they are fail-proof. These next two recipes are taken from there.

Bake-Sale [German Chocolate] Brownies, p. 518-519

Saturday’s baking was for a simple brownie recipe to bring along to a dinner party at some friends house that night (tasty fajitas were the main course). We though of getting them delivered from cream chargers delivery Melbourne, but, amazingly, we had all the ingredients for the brownies in our cupboard, which meant no special trips to the grocery store were necessary. To add to the amazement, we also had butterscotch chips and coconut flakes on hand, so those plain brownies quickly turned into German chocolate brownies (melted the butterscotch on top of the baked brownies and added toasted coconut flakes). With 24/7 nangs delivery in Melbourne, making whipped cream is not a hard task. The bars were a hit, and only two came home with me. Don’t they look pretty in my Polish pottery dish? Yes, they do!

Almond Biscotti, p. 516-517
As you can see, the biscotti recipe was just the flip of a page away from the brownie recipe – coincidence?

On Sunday after a hearty breakfast of turkey bacon, eggs and homemade bread with Keweenaw Kitchen thimbleberry jam, I flipped open the biscotti recipe. Again, all ingredients were readily available in the cupboard. My cupboard’s stock boy is amazing!

The first step was to toast the almonds. I had a mixture of sliced and whole, so I put them in a small skillet together and they toasted nicely in about 8 minutes. The recipe called for finely chopped almonds, and I found that our herb bowl and mezzaluna worked nicely in keeping the nuts contained without getting all over the counter or floor. Once the dough was mixed, the directions said to split the it in half and form two 13″x2″ logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment. The dough was sticky, and regardless of how floured my hands were it was important to act quickly while forming said logs. (By the way, as a beliver in the Silpat, our parchment paper once again stayed in the drawer for this project.  If we end up getting a dog this Spring, the name Mr. Silpat has a nice ring to it.) The first round in the oven was about 35 minutes, which then came out to rest for 10. The logs were then cut into 1/2″ slices and put back in for another 15 minutes. The outcome was just what was expected – a little crunch to enjoy with tea or coffee. I forgot to mention that I added some orange peel to the dough, which gave it a very subtle flavor. I did indulge in some this morning with my coffee. Isn’t that a Polish pottery mug? Why, yes, it is!

I’m off to find a recipe for dinner. Pork chops are thawing, so probably will hunt down a sauce or marinade idea. Broccoli is in the crisper. Now, if I could just find a way to use that Silpat one more time…

Sourdough Seed Culture

This is my second attempt at trying to get a sourdough starter going. This time, I’m using the method in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day.

The ingredients: unbleached bread flour and pineapple juice The initial stir

I mixed up the seed culture on Friday night. The first feeding will be Sunday evening, then it’ll be time to wait and see how long it takes to get some quality fermentation going. (I’ve seen some notes that talk about this process taking longer in the cooler, drier winter months)

Monday Night Lasagna Party

Catching up a little bit here as we time travel back to Monday night’s dinner.

Our friends Ed & Carolyn were in town with their son Patrick, so we had them over for a little dinner party. Dinner was delicious if I may say so myself, but I think the highlight of the night for both Kelley and I was getting to meet little Patrick for the first time. He’s a pretty darn cute kid!

Our Dinner Menu

Mike and Jackie also brought over a tasty polenta dish with a ranch/bacon sauce. Ed & Carolyn added a bottle of wine and we all had a great time.

We couldn’t have pulled off the dinner on time if we didn’t make the bread and assemble the lasagna on Sunday night. That left us with the perfect amount of prep and oven time for the two of us to make the croutons, salad and dessert on Monday and bake everything, including the lasagna.

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Chipotle Bean Burritos – from Cooking Light magazine

On Tuesday night, we dined at Chipotle. It was ok, but it doesn’t match the flavors of a homemade dinner. Wednesday was bowling night, so I ate a big lunch and Kelley made a grilled cheese dinner that she hasn’t blogged about yet for some reason.

That takes us to Thursday, where we went vegetarian with homemade bean burritos.

The Menu: Chipotle Bean Burritos served with Guacamole and Chips, from Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2010 – also available at

The Pictures:

The Verdict:

  • Overall, a really simple, relatively inexpensive meal that only took about a half hour to prepare
  • It’s the easiest part of this meal, and not exactly a ground-breaking recipe, but the guacamole was really good
  • The recipe called for 10-inch tortillas, which I’m pretty sure I bought, but I don’t think I really over-stuffed these, so if you want to match the pictures at myRecipes/Cooking Light, I’d suggest getting a bigger tortilla.

Packer Playoff Loss Dinner: from Cooking Light magazine

Quick weekend-closing post.

During halftime of a fairly exciting, but ultimately somewhat heartbreaking, Packer playoff loss, we whipped together a recipe from this month’s Cooking Light magazine.

The Menu (as suggested in the magazine – follow that link for a great picture)

Seared Lamb with Balsamic Sauce

Cracked Wheat–Currant Pilaf: Sauté 1½ cups quick-cooking bulgur in 2 teaspoons butter over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 1½ cups water and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in 3 tablespoons dried currants and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Spicy Chard: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds. Add 8 cups chopped Swiss chard and ¼ cup chicken broth; cover and cook 8 minutes.

The Verdict

This is probably only the third or fourth time that I’ve even cooked lamb chops, but given their ease of cooking and their great flavor (even without the sauce), I won’t hesitate to make them again. I will, however, wait until they’re on sale since this is not a cheap meat.

As for the side dishes, the cracked wheat-currant pilaf had a nice flavor, but it was definitely the base in this meal. The spicy chard, on the other hand, had a really nice kick to it.