Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Legumes for Breakfast?

Lentils are so delicious and considered one of the healthiest foods in the world (along with olive oil, yogurt, soy and kimchi)! We grew up on Past'e Lenticchie (especially Fridays in Lent), which is a soup of lentils, parsley, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil--Heavenly! After I got my grain mill I started grinding everything I could think of, and lentils eventually topped the list of favorites. We cook this up mostly for breakfast, but it could be done for dinner, too. It's great for babies, expectant (and pre-expectant) mothers, due to its high iron and folate content, and is perhaps the most economical source of protein on the market. If you don't have a grain mill, it grinds up very nicely in the blender on "grate."

For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Lentils:

2 cups ground lentils
8 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and cook on low until thick and creamy. Serve into bowls and top with another drizzle of olive oil, diced tomatoes, fresh parsley, minced onion or anything that strikes your fancy! The whole meal can feed a family of 8 for about $1! My oldest daughter likes to add ground split peas and cracked buckwheat to this recipe, which is always very nice.

Buon Apetito!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Twelve Hour Sausage Souffle

Not everyone loves a sweet breakfast. As for me, I prefer meat, eggs and cheese. This one can be really simplified when I buy enough sausage for the month and cook it all up at once on a Saturday morning and divide it into freezer bags.

(4 servings)

1/2 pound mild or spicy bulk pork sausage
4 eggs
3 slices wheat or white bread -- crumbed
1 and 1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown sausage in skillet, stirring to crumble. Drain off fat and set sausage aside. Beat eggs until lightly colored. Add bread crumbs, milk, salt, dry mustard and sausage. Stir in cheese. Spoon into ungreased 1-quart souffle dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, bake at 325 F for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Creme Brulee French Toast

For the french toast:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
an 8- to 9-inch round loaf country-style bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the french toast:

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish. Cut six 1-inch thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 350° F. and bring bread to room temperature.

Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve hot French toast immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Of course you can leave out the Grand Marnier on weekdays--I just included it in the recipe because it adds such an elegant touch to Sunday Brunch!

Creamy, Fruity Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Oatmeal, or any slow cooker breakfast, for that matter, has to be one of the homeschooling mother's greatest treasures! We use oats we get from the healthfood store or co-op and which we roll at home (with the great grain mill I got from Tuesday Morning for $35--check Ebay.)

4 servings

2 cups old fashioned oats
5 cups water, or 2 cups milk and 3 cups water, or 5 cups fruit juice, or any combination you prefer
cinnamon (optional)
dried fruits, dates, raisins, cranberries, nuts coconut, etc. (optional)
1/2 cup bran or wheat germ (optional)

Put the oats and the water, along with anything else you want to add to the mix in the crock pot, turn on to low, and go to bed.

In the morning serve it with milk, cream, syrup, more butter, brown sugar, or whatever your family likes.

You can add the fruit in the morning if you like them a little chewier. You can also use canned crushed pineapple and the juice when you mix all the ingredients in the evening. Just dump the can of pineapple into a large measuring bowl (like the glass measuring bowl from Pampered Chef) and add enough water to make 6 cups.

Pane Rustica, or Summorum Pontificum Bread

We baked 40 loaves of this bread between July 7 and September 14 to celebrate the liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass after nearly 40 years in captivity! This is the most amazing bread you'll ever bake! You don't have to knead it--in fact, you don't even have to touch it (just like the Traditional Latin Mass!). What you get is a crusty, chewy bread with big beautiful pores that can stand up to even the hottest French Onion Soup. Slice it nice and thin with an electric knife and you can make paninis like nobody's business! In the summertime cover thick slices with drizzled olive oil, fresh chopped tomatoes, oregano, s&p for a fresh pizzina to die for! Perfect for Panzanella, French Dipped Sandwiches--perfect for just about anything. Simply perfect, just like the Traditional Latin Mass!
Basically, you let it rise for 20 hours, one hour for each century since Christ instituted the Mass, and then you bake it for 40 minutes, one minute for each year it was eclipsed by a fabricated liturgy.

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 40 minutes plus 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 20 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
HT: My Dad, for tracking this gem down!
Buon Apetito!

Fruit Batter Cobbler

Peach Batter Cobbler

1/2 stick salted butter
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Melt the butter in a baking dish while pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients and stir in the milk, whisking just until incorporated.

Dump into the pan with melted butter and scatter 2 cups of fresh (or frozen) peach slices over the top of the batter, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake 30-40 minutes or until the batter is golden brown.

Let cool slightly before serving with vanilla ice cream.

A combination of peach slices and blackberries or black raspberries is yummy, too!

Pan Fried Onion Dip

Barefoot Contessa's Pan-fried Onion Dip (with Old-fashioned Potato Chips)

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Pplace the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Nonna's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

When I was a little girl my nonna used to make these gigantic oatmeal cookies loaded with chocolate chips, raisins, and walnuts. This recipe is sturdy enough to support all those morsels, and still soft enough to make them heavenly!

Nonna's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

If you prefer a less sweet cookie, you can reduce the white sugar by one-quarter cup, but you will lose some crispness. Do not overbake these cookies. The edges should be brown but the rest of the cookie should still be very light in color. Parchment makes for easy cookie removal and cleanup, but it’s not a necessity. If you don’t use parchment, let the cookies cool directly on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened but still firm
1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt, omit if using salted butter
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg or cinnamon, or 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins or craisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut

1. Adjust oven racks to low and middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
2. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together, then stir them into butter-sugar mixture with wooden spoon or large rubber spatula. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, raisins and nuts.
3. Form dough into sixteen to twenty 2-inch balls, placing each dough round onto one of two parchment paper–covered, large cookie sheets. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. (Halfway during baking, turn cookie sheets from front to back and also switch them from top to bottom.) Slide cookies on parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Buon apetito!

Liquid and Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe

My friend, Mindy M., told me about this recipe for powdered and liquid laundry detergent from the "Everyday Cheapskate." It's hypoallergenic, environmentally safe, and works as well in the old top loading washers as in the new front loaders. It calls for Fels Naptha soap, but I made mine with Ivory and it seems to work just as well. Best part is, it costs less than a dollar to make 2 gallons of liquid detergent. I haven't calculated the cost for the dry, but I'm sure it's not much different.

For Liquid Laundry Detergent:
3 pints water
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Bar Soap, grated
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 quart hot water
2-gallon bucket

Mix grated soap in a large saucepan with 3 pints hot water, and heat on the stove over low heat until dissolved. Do not allow to boil. Stir in Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax. Stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with more hot water, leaving a few inches at the top, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

For Powdered Laundry Detergent:

1 cup grated Fels Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

Mix and store in airtight container or bag. FOr light loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

If you use Fels Naptha Soap you may notice that you need to reduce the amount of fabric softener you use, or eliminate it altogether--an extra savings!!

If you have trouble finding any of these ingredients you can order them from Soaps Gone Buy, or call 1-800-SOAP.

Happy Washing!

Baked Oatmeal

I can't understand why I forget about this recipe, because it's so good! But when I'm on the ball, the kids are happy kids (at least in the morning!).

Baked Oatmeal

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

This morning we left out the cranberries and added a cup of shredded coconut and a cup of white chocolate chips (what the heck--it's still summer time!). Delicious!

Buon Apetito!

Mary Jane Eggs (Not like the Mary Jane Brownies of the sixties!)

While I'm on the subject of good, inexpensive, breakfasts that will feed all the knights of the long table, I thought I should include one of our favorites:

Mary Jane Eggs

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 pound butter
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, washed and drained, or canned peach slices, or canned pineapple rings
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in 13x9-inch dish.

In a blender pour milk, eggs, flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon melted butter. Blend.

Pour batter into butter and arrange fruit on top.

Bake 35 minutes.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

This recipe doubles (and quadruples!) very well.

Buon Apetito!

Pasta Caprese

Seems I'm just full of recipe ideas this week! Today my Mom reminded me of a recipe she used to make once in a while when we were kids and it's such the perfect summer, exploding garden recipe that I just had to share it. This isn't exactly Mom's recipe and she'll be mad at me if I don't mention that. I added a few optional ingredients that sounded good to me, but of which Mom may not approve.

Pasta Caprese

For 1 lb. of pasta like ziti, pene or rigatoni, start with:

Insalata Caprese

7 or so ripe but firm tomatoes
1 lb. mozzarella cut into about 20 cubes
12 or so basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Optionally add:

1-2 cloves minced or chopped garlic
1/2 large vidalia onion, finely sliced in slivers
3-4 oz. black or calamata olives, pitted
2-4 tablespoons capers
3-4 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, halved or quartered
3 anchovy filets, chopped
1 cup red-leaf lettuce, finely shredded

Mix the tomato ingredients with any of the optional ingredients and allow to marinate for an hour or so. (If you're including the lettuce don't add it until just before tossing the pasta in with the tomatoes.) Boil the pasta just until al dente. Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, and toss with the Insalata Caprese. Serve in deep plates and sprinkle with grated parmigiano cheese. A glass of wine, a slice of bread and you're in Heaven!

Buon apetito!