Ciabatta Bread

I have debated sharing this or not.

I should preface this by saying I am NOT a bread baker. That has strictly been Nathan’s realm. I tackled and love the easy artisan bread that requires no kneeding or really any skill. And some hamburger buns. But that’s IT.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Somehow last weekend I got a wild hair and decided that making ciabatta sounded like fun. Well, it was fun but it was ALOT of work. I didn’t notice that much because it was lots of little short steps sprinkled throughout the day but by the time it was done I felt like I had been working on it for four years.

It was incredibly delicious. I found some short cuts, made a couple of “no way am I going through all that” modifications, and they still turned out lovely. Not the big huge holes in the dough I was hoping for but they were tender, a bit chewy, and certainly nice and crispy.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Instead of making loaves I made mine in to little buns which we used for hamburgers that night. My brother-in-law didn’t realize I had made the bread and, when I informed him that I had in fact slaved away all day, he said he has just assumed it came from the store.

Win. Honestly.

So here you go. Tread with caution as this is a monster. Leave me comments if it is completely screwy should you attempt it.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Ciabatta Bread (makes 12 rolls or 2 large loaves)
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Day 1- Make poolish

2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (11.25 oz)
1 1/2 cups room temp water
1/4 tsp instant yeast

Stir together all the ingredients in a bowl till well mixed. The dough should be soft and sticky like thick pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 3-4 hours till bubbly and foamy. Refrigerate up to three days.

Day 2- Make the bread

1 poolish (see above)
3 cups unbleached bread flour (13.5 oz)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
6 tablespoons to 3/4 cup water

Remove the poolish from the fridge 1 hour before making the bread.

Stir together the flour salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the poolish and 6 tablespoons of water. Mix on low speed till the ingredients make a sticky ball. Add water as necessary. You want the dough to clear the sides of the bowl but not necessarily the bottom. Mix with the paddle attachment till well mixed then switch to the dough hook for 5-7 minutes of kneading. The dough should still be soft and sticky.

Sprinkle the counter generously with flour and scrape out the sticky dough onto it. Pat the dough into a rectangle. Let it rest for two minutes. Gently stretch both sides of the rectangle out till the dough is double the size. Fold the dough over itself in thirds, like a letter, returning it to the original rectangular shape. Mist with spray oil, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the counter for 30 minutes. Repeat stretch and fold, re mist, sprinkle, and cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It will swell but not necessarily double in size.

Find a tea towel and mist with oil then sprinkle liberally with flour and rub it in (this is called setting up a couche). Gently remove the plastic wrap and cup the dough with a pastry cutter into either two loaves or smaller rolls. Be careful to not degass it by handling it too much. Gently lift each piece, lay on the floured cloth, then bunch the cloth between the rolls to create little walls. Cover with a towel. Proof for 45-60 minutes.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Meanwhile place your pizza stone in the oven on the bottom rack and a heavy duty baking pan on the top rack. Preheat oven to 500 F or as hot as your oven will go. Gently transfer the dough to the pizza stone (I did this by hand but you can use a well floured pizza peel) either six rolls at a time or one loaf at a time. Before shutting the oven door carefully (don’t get water on your oven door or stone as they might crack) pour 2-3 cups of water in the baking pan. Shut the door quickly. Bake for 10-15 minutes or to an internal temp of 205 F. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 45 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy. Cause that was a ton of work.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Guacamole

Little loves avocados. He eats easily three or four a week. For snack yesterday I just sliced one up, put it in a bowl, handed him a spoon and called it good. He devoured it. I love that he loves eating them because they are chocked full of good brain building fats. This child wont stop moving so any extra calories I can get in him, especially healthy fatty ones, makes me a happy mama.

However, I am incompetent when it comes to buying avocados. I always have to ask Nathan if they are ripe enough or overripe. Also I tend to buy too many which, at the pace Little eats them, is actually an impressive feat.

The perfect homemade guacamole

My two favorite things to make when I have too many avocados is avocado chickpea salad and guacamole. Not both at the same time.

Guacamole can get a bit of a bad rap because it is a bit fatty and calorie laden but I don’t care. I actually believe it isn’t that bad for you. We need the healthy monosaturated fats to help our brains work. This mama to a toddler needs all the help she can get.

I have perfected this recipe over many a “too many ripe avocados in the houses” crises. I like my guacamole a bit spicy and chunky. I hope you do too.

If not, oh well. More for me.

The perfect homemade guacamole

Guacamole (makes 1 medium bowl full)
Adapted from Alton Brown

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon + cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, cayenne, and garlic and mash. Then, fold in the onions, , tomatoes, and cilantro. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Alright. Whatever. I clearly have an issue with food obsessions. Lately it has been Mexican food (refried beans, tortillas, enchiladas) and now biscotti.

First there was the plain hazelnut biscotti last week. It was perfect. But the only reason I made that recipe was because I didn’t have the chocolate chips to make this recipe. Oh my word chocolate hazelnut biscotti where have you been all my life?

 Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

The downside? I ate too many of these. The plain ones paired perfectly with a latte and were not as appealing to eat solo. These delicious nutty chocolate monsters however just seemed to find their way in to my hands and subsequently my face.

I just wish I had more hazelnuts lying around. Perhaps it is a good thing I am out and too cheap to pay out of season prices for more (yes I LOVE living in Oregon where we can just go gather hazelnuts out of our friends’ yards).

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Make them at your own risk. You have been warned.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti (makes 2 dozen + cookies)
from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, 1 cup chocolate chunks and hazelnuts until nuts and chocolate are pea sized. Using whisk attachment, beat eggs and granulated sugar at medium speed until light and foamy  and leaves a ribbon when drizzled back into the bowl (about 4 minutes). Replace whisk with paddle attachment, switch to low speed, and add the flour/cocoa mixture and mix till just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir in gently.

Flour your work surface and turn the dough onto it. It will be pretty sticky at this point. Separate dough into three equal pieces. On parchment paper pat the dough into logs roughly 2 in x 18 in. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake 22-24 minutes, until firm to the touch. Transfer logs to wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Once cool transfer logs to cutting board. With a sharp serrated knife, cut each log into 3/4-inch diagonal slices.

Place a wire rack on your baking sheet and arrange slices (cut side down) on the rack. Bake until biscotti are firm and dry, 15-20 minutes. Let biscotti cool completely (if you can). Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Gift it. Lest you eat it all yourself.

 

Refried Beans

I am on a Mexican food kick lately. For some reason it is a bit of comfort food for me.

Also, I am not really clear if you are even interested in this recipe or not. However, my favorite part of this little blog is the fact that I can go back and find recipes I have made and love without scrolling through pages and pages of Google results. So here you go.

 Easy homemade refried beans in the crockpot!

These aren’t REALLY refried beans because there is no frying going on. They are so flavorful just the way they are but you could throw some lard in a pan and sautee the beans up a bit. I don’t think it is necessary.

I am not a crockpot type of cook. In fact I rarely use my crockpot at all. But somehow the idea of dumping everything in the pot, walking away, then coming back to find ready to mush beans was appealing. The long cook time gives it tremendous flavor too.

Easy homemade refried beans in the crockpot!

This recipe makes a big bunch of beans. More than our family, even with company, could consume in one meal. I have happily discovered refried beans freeze beautifully! I divvy up the leftover beans into 2-3 servings, pop it in ziplock bags, and then toss them in the freezer. Super frugal to boot.

Now if only I could convince Little that they truly are tasty…

Easy homemade refried beans in the crockpot!

Refried Beans (makes about 12-15 servings)
from All Recipes

1 onion, peeled and halved
3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
9 cups water
Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high. Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency. Nom.

Easy homemade refried beans in the crockpot!

Hazelnut Biscotti

Last fall a sweet friend invited Little and I over to gather nuts. She had a yard full of hazelnuts and walnuts and I was not above a bit of work for free food. Little was pretty tiny still and spent most of his time falling in the mud or trying to eat the nuts on that very very cold fall afternoon.

I brought home two half full Trader Joe’s bag (one of each). And then I forgot all about them.

  Hazelnut biscotti

Seriously. They have sat in my laundry room all winter.

Just recently I went to make these amazing lemon bars and needed walnuts. We were fresh out when I remembered we had the ones in the laundry room!  Nathan cracked AND chopped them for me. How can a girl be so lucky?

Hazelnut biscotti

And then I got a craving for biscotti. These not too sweet twice baked Italian cookies are traditional made with almonds but as I was perusing recipes I found this tasty looking one that called for hazelnuts instead. Well I found a plain hazelnut one and then a chocolate hazelnut one but since I was short the chocolate chips (how I don’t know) I opted to make the plain one. Stay tuned. I see chocolate hazelnut biscotti in my future.

These were delicious. Even better when paired with a delicious latte. Yes, I have an espresso machine at home. Yes, I have a latte nearly ever morning. What can I say? We take our coffee very seriously around here.

How seriously? We have three french presses, one stove top espresso maker, a drip coffee pot with a burr grinder, and then my beloved, sweet, gorgeous espresso machine. Best mother’s day present ever.

Hazelnut biscotti

And you know what makes great coffee even better? Biscotti. I promise.

So I’m curious- Do you take coffee seriously?

How many and what kind of coffee makers do you have?

What’s your favorite coffee? (I have many but the current faves are Casi Cielo from Starbucks for the drip coffee and Five Region Espresso Blend from Trader Joes for the espresso machine)

Hazelnut biscotti

Hazelnut Biscotti (makes about 2 dozen cookies)
Adapted from Gourmet Today

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (7 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs (maybe 3)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until lightly colored and skins are blistered, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute, then rub off any loose skins in towel while nuts are still warm (don’t worry about skins that don’t come off). Cool nuts completely, then very coarsely chop.

Pulse together sugar and 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to bowl of mixer along with flour and beat at medium speed until combined well. Add 2 eggs and vanilla and beat just until a dough forms (if dough doesn’t form add one more egg). Reduce speed to low, then add remaining chopped hazelnuts and mix until incorporated. Turn off mixer and knead in any loose hazelnuts with your hands.

Halve dough and, with dampened hands, form each half into a roughly 10- by 2- by 1-inch log on lined baking sheet, arranging logs 3 inches apart.

Bake until golden and set but still soft to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. (Leave oven on.) Cool logs on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes.

Transfer logs to a cutting board, discarding parchment, and cut logs with a serrated knife on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Bake slices until golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes more. Cool biscotti completely on sheet on rack, about 30 minutes. Dip in a latte.

Hazelnut biscotti

Homemade flour tortillas

I grew up with homemade tortillas. Flour tortillas are hard to come by in Spain so my mom always made them for us. Having been raised on such tasty and fresh tortillas I have always been sorrily disappointed in the store bought ones.

However we have been rather unsuccessful in replicating them. I say we because Nathan has been working on these with me. Actually to be fair he tried three or four recipes, none of which came out quite right, and then I took a stab at a recipe, applied all the things we learned NOT to do, and had them come out perfect on the first try.

Homemade flour tortillas- finally a list of what to do to make them turn out right!

I tease him about it every time we make them. “How is it that you tried so many times and failed and I try once and they are perfect?” I say as I duck and run for cover.

So I won’t bore you with what not to do but here are the things I think you MUST do for them to come out right:

Kneed, kneed, kneed. I throw everything in my stand mixer and kneed it for a 6-8 minutes. You have to give the gluten time to form.

Let them rest. This recipe says to let them rest for 20 minutes. They must rest for at least the full 20 minutes. If you can give them more time awesome.

Roll them out as thin as you can get them. It takes time yes but you want almost paper thin tortillas.

Use a hot hot hot cooking surface. I have used both the pizza stone in a 450 degree oven and a rip roaring hot DRY griddle. Both work beautifully but they key here it HOT. You want to cook these babies in about a minute.

Under cook ever so slightly. Crispy charred tortillas are tasty but the ones that seem a tad underdone at first will finish cooking as they cook and be perfectly soft and chewy.

Homemade flour tortillas- finally a list of what to do to make them turn out right!

This recipe makes 8-12 tortillas depending on how big you want them. One happy thing I learned is that you can simply pop any unrolled dough balls into a ziplock and store in the fridge. I have kept them in the fridge for up to 5 days. No mixing, kneeding and resting required! Just pull out of the fridge, roll, cook, and devour.

Yum.

(Wednesday I will be sharing with you the delicious enchiladas I made with this batch of tortillas)

Homemade flour tortillas- finally a list of what to do to make them turn out right!

Homemade Flour Tortillas (makes 8-12)
From the Joy of Cooking

2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lard
3/4 cup warm water

Combine all ingredients in a the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and kneed for 6-8 minutes. Divide the dough equally into 8-12 pieces and roll them into balls (a scale is very handy here). Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Roll our each ball of dough into a 6- to 8-inch round about 1/8 inch thick.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Slide the tortillas into the skillet one by one, cooking until brown spots appear, about 30 seconds on the first side, 15 seconds once flipped. Alternatively place a pizza/bread stone in your oven and preheat to 450 F. Place a tortilla on the stone and cook on just one side for aprox 45 sec-1 min. Cover the cooked tortillas to keep warm while you cook the rest. Serve warm.

Homemade flour tortillas- finally a list of what to do to make them turn out right!

Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

As promised here are the ice cream sandwich cookies.

Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

These were for a belated birthday desert. We are getting a bit more sleep around here these days (thanks Little!) so I honestly had no excuse for not making a cake. Although in my defense these were made amongst the madness that was making the tiramisu cake. We churned so much ice cream last week!

Trying to make ice cream sandwiches can be a bit of a messy business. I tried making them when the ice cream was still fairly soft and they didn’t hold together. I finally set a cookie in a custard cup, topped with ice cream, then added the last cookie on top. The cup helped hold the cookie upright so the ice cream could harden properly. Otherwise the top cookie just slid right off. What a stressful little mess it was.

Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Second piece of advice I have to offer about these is to pull the sandwiches out of the freezer fifteen minutes before you intend on eating them. Letting them warm up ever so slightly will make eating them so much easier. The ice cream is soft enough straight out of the freezer but the cookie gets a bit hard.

I’m totally making more ice cream cookie come summer. These were awesome.

Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches (makes about 18 sandwiches)
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School

1 vanilla bean
6 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups very cold heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup high quality strawberry jam (preferably homemade)1 recipe chocolate brownie cookies

Split vanilla beans lengthwise with a sharp paring knife. Gently scrape out all the seeds. Place vanilla-bean scrapings and pods in a medium saucepan with milk, cream, salt and half the sugar. Scald the mixture, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes.

Combine egg yolks and the rest of the sugar and whisk together in a medium bowl. Return milk to stove, and bring just to a simmer. Using a measuring cup or ladle, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly until blended. Keep adding milk mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it has all been added. Whisk until combined.

Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes and 170F. The custard should retain a line drawn across the back of the spoon with your finger.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Remove pan from heat and pour through a mesh sieve into a medium bowl set in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until cooled. (Discard vanilla-bean pod and strained seeds.) Cover bowl, and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, at least 30 minutes but overnight is best.

Pour custard into an ice-cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Churn until the ice cream is almost set. Add 1/2 cup of the jam and churn for a minute or two more. Transfer soft ice cream to an airtight plastic container and fold in the last 1/2 cup of jam. Freeze at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Granola Clusters

Since becoming a stay at home mama I have slowly been making many of our family’s every day items. Bread is the most recent adventure. I also make my own ricotta, cheeze-its, tamales, ice cream, graham crackers, and granola. I have tackled and perfected homemade tortillas this past week and will be sharing that with you soon.

Granola clusters

I used to think homemade meant cheap and not as good as store bought. Over the past few months I have discovered this is most certainly not the case. I can control what is in my food (meaning no artificial crap) and it is always so much better than anything I can get in the store. This was true for the granola I made but I wanted more. Finally I stumbled on a wonderful granola CLUSTER recipe. The same control over whats in my granola but now with the delicious clusters like the granola from the store.

Granola clusters

We made this for the first time weeks ago and were unimpressed. I don’t throw out food so it went in to a tupperware and in to the pantry. Something magical happened- it got so much better after a couple of days. And when sprinkled over yogurt and peaches I had to pace myself before I inhaled the whole bowl.

This is now my official go to granola recipe. Little loves it too. We go through a batch once every two weeks. Absurd pace I know but it is such a great “I need a quick sweets fix.” A handful of granola is infinitely better for you than a handful of chocolate chips I am sure.

Granola clusters

Granola Clusters (makes about 7 cups)
Adapted from An Oregon Cottage (yes I get alot of my recipes from her lately. What can I say? She’s good.)

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil
5 c. rolled oats (not quick)
1 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. flax meal
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees and line a large rimmed baking sheet with silicone or parchment. Place the first four ingredients in a glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute- just long enough to melt the coconut oil. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl, pour the oil/honey/syrup mixture over it and mix everything really well. Press the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, using the back of the spoon, or a spatula. The harder you press the tighter your finished clusters will be.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for about 35 minutes and do not stir.  Remove to a cooling rack for 1 hour before breaking the granola into chunks.

Granola clusters

Artisan Bread

Helloooooo weekend!

This has been the longest week ever. You see on Sunday my dear sweet light of my life husband took a short trip and returned with a puppy.

We knew this was coming. He put a deposit down on her when she was only four weeks old. However, I had no idea what life with a puppy would be like. Let me tell you what life with a puppy is like- hell. Life with a puppy and a toddler is the WORST idea ever. Seeing as the toddler is here to stay, by Wednesday we were ready to send the little fluff ball back. We finally settled on keeping her till Sunday (give the monster a week) before we make any decisions.

Litte and Addi

She is here to stay. Little loves her. I’m confident they will be best buds and, in reality, we got the puppy for him. He misses our old man cat so much. We are just in for a really rough few months of puppy hood. Let me reiterate- I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS.

What does all of this have to do with bread? Absolutely nothing. I just thought you wanted to know how my week went and why I am so grateful it is the weekend.

So here is this bread. It is awesome. It is easy. It is delicious. Nothing like the terror of a puppy living in my house.

Easy artisan bread

I would encourage you to embark on this bread making adventure this weekend. You will find it is incredibly simple and something you can incorporate into your weekly life. I know I will. Even if you work full time and think you don’t have time for bread you do. At least for this bread.

Listen carefully. All you do is mix then let rise. Throw in the fridge wand wait till you want to make bread. When you want to bake bread you have 30 min of preheating the oven/letting the bread rest, 30 min of baking, 30 minutes of cooling. Fresh baked bread on your table in an hour and half flat. Brilliant.

Easy artisan bread

I have made this recipe twice now and both times it has been spectacular. I plan on experimenting with add ins (what is this? Cold stone?) such as cheeses, garlic, olives, or cinnamon and sugar. I’ll keep you updated I promise.

Go. Make bread. Do not get a puppy. Ever.

Easy artisan bread

Artisan Bread (makes 2-4 loaves)
adapted from An Oregon Cottage

I want to start by saying An Oregon Cottage has a spectacular photo by photo tutorial. I highly recommend you jet over there and take a good look through her steps. I referenced them many times while making the first batch. Also get a dutch oven. It is the only way to make this.

3 cups warm water
1 Tbs instant yeast
1 Tbs salt
6 1/2 cups flour (any combination of unbleached and whole wheat you see fit. 3 whole wheat to 3 1/2 unbleached worked well for me)

Put the yeast and salt in a bowl and add the water. Add all the flour and mix well. You aren’t looking to kneed the dough but I found it is best if it at least cleans the sides of the bowl. It will be very tacky. Add a bit more flour if necessary.  Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (not airtight). Let set at room temperature for about 1-1/2 hours. Put in the refrigerator for up to a week.

When ready to bake, place an enameled dutch oven, with lid, in a 450 degree oven. Dust the dough with flour, grab a quarter, third, or half (depending on the size loaf you want) and cut off piece with a serrated knife. Using well-floured hands, shape gently into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper. Dust the top with more flour. Let sit on the counter 30 minutes. Then slash the top of the loaf in thirds at least 1/2 inch thick with a serrated knife. Transfer the loaf to the hot dutch oven using the edges of the parchment, replace the lid, and cook for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook for another 15 to 17 minutes, or until loaf is a golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped. Remove to a cooling rack for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.

Easy artisan bread

Vanilla ice cream

So many things about this are ridiculous.

My little town has been socked in with fog for the past 6 months. Ok probably only two weeks but it FEELS like six months. The temperature gets up 30 F which is ridiculously low for the Willamette Valley. And yet I felt the need to make ice cream. What?

Homemade vanilla ice cream- rich and creamy.

I’m on a tight budget these days. Really tight. It is good really. I am learning how to cook frugally and I am hardly ever throwing away food anymore. It is quite satisfying. However, while shopping for the ingredients for ice cream, I found myself having to make the choice between a quart of heavy cream or a really tasty looking 22 oz bottle of beer. I really wanted beer. I really wanted to make ice cream. So no beer for me that day. Who have I become?

I had a healthy breakfast, chickpea and avocado salad for lunch, went to yoga, went on a run (in 28F), then stuffed my face with full fat ice cream. Seriously? Who does that? I had such a sugar crash not long after. That did not feel good at all.

Homemade vanilla ice cream- rich and creamy.

But you know what does sound good? This ice cream with a shot of espresso dumped over it. I’m fairly confident that is what I will be doing later this afternoon.

So yes, it is cold outside. We need to be eating healthy food to make up for the holidays. I don’t care. I got my ice cream maker for Christmas and by golly I’m going to use it. That way when peaches are in season and it is sweltering outside I will be an ice cream master and can whip it the most amazing ice cream in nothing flat. You will want to move in with me. I promise.

Even if we don’t have AC.

Homemade vanilla ice cream- rich and creamy.

Vanilla Ice Cream (makes about 1 quart)
from David Lebovitz

Over the course of the coming months I will be making many batches of ice cream. I decided to start with a basic vanilla to figure out what I do and don’t like.

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula (175-180 F). Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Homemade vanilla ice cream- rich and creamy.

Amazingly simple. Delicious topped with a bit of homemade strawberry jam.