November 12th, 2008

deli-style rye bread

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all i’m going to say about this recipe is that after making it, i decided that i am never going to the grocery store for bread ever again. let’s not ruin this with any more words – just enjoy.

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November 7th, 2008

classic oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

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there are just some recipes that will never get old. the tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe is a great example. another is the quaker oats “vanishing oatmeal raisin cookie recipe.” you don’t have to look far for a good oatmeal cookie recipe; just flip over the lid to a can of quaker oats. it’s been there, unchanged for as long an anyone can remember. i tried doing a little research on the history of the recipe, but i couldn’t nail anything down. anyone out there know anything?

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the only change i make with the quaker oats recipe is to completely melt the butter instead of just softening it and slightly underbake the cookies so they are simultaneously chewier and crispier. raisins are great and all, but i love using chocolate chips in these cookies. the best part is that since they have oats in them, you feel like you’re eating something healthy.

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there’s good reason to call these “vanishing” cookies. i brought a batch to an election results watching party and they disappeared long before obama was officially declared the 44th US president. you might want to make more than one batch. just throwing that out there.

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November 3rd, 2008

european peasant bread

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the girl recently surprised me with a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a book that aims to simplify the process of making fancy high-quality bread. i definitely recommend it, even if i had trouble believing that the authors could pull off the concept before tasting it myself. the basic idea is that you can make bake great bread that tastes like you spent much more time on it than you really did – no starters or kneading necessary. that’s right, no kneading.

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with most of the recipes in the book, an overly wet dough is quickly mixed together and allowed to rise in the bowl straight away. it is then quickly shaped into loaves after a few hours of rising. for those few seconds that the dough was actually in my hands for shaping, i was tempted to start working it on the counter to get a consistency i was more comfortable with, but the whole point is to let the ingredients do their job.

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restraint definitely pays off with these recipes. i know mark bittman’s no-knead bread was all the rage, but the rising time for the original recipe is 12-18 hours. this peasant bread rose for 2 hours, and then another 40 minutes after it was shaped and as the oven warmed up. the crust and crumb were delicious, and as the smell of this bread filled the apartment, it made me want to grab a loaf and have a picnic in the park with a block of cheese and a cheap bottle of wine.

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since my kitchen is about 40 degrees most mornings, there’s only more incentive this season to fire up the oven and bake a fresh loaf of bread every day or two. join me, won’t you?

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