Friday, October 26, 2012

Oh Delicious Sandwich Bread

It was Saturday, and we were painting the kitchen. Our pint-sized new apartment had chipped and peeling cupboard doors, and so we decided to tackle the problem with a gallon of bright white paint (because that's the only colour the landlord would let us do). 

And then, S decided he was craving sandwiches. 

Not just any sandwiches, but the kind made with delicious, fluffy, fresh warm bread. Is there anything better than hot bread slathered in yummy strawberry jam?

This bread is delicious. A perfectly fine crumb, a soft chewy crust, it slices great and lasts for days. We even made unbelievably delicious sandwiches. 

Want the recipe? I know you do. It's so simple. Painfully simple. Deliciously simple. Six ingredients simple. 

You start with some some yeast. 

Sandwich Bread Recipe

Makes two loaves.

1 Tbsp Yeast
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Cups Warm Water
3 Tbsp Butter, softened
5 Cups Flour + Extra
1 Tbsp Salt

Notes on this bread: The first time making it, I left out the salt. Bad move! It really needs it to make a more flavourful loaf. 

Proof the yeast. Mix the yeast, sugar, and one cup of warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for about ten minutes until bubbly.

Add butter and some of the flour to the bowl, mix together. Slowly add second cup of water and remainder of flour, stirring well. Add extra flour if necessary to minimize stickiness.

Knead lightly with extra flour. Shape into a cute little ball of perfect dough. Lightly oil the top of the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and place in a warm area. 

Let rise for an hour or so, until dough has risen double. 

Punch down the dough. Fold dough over on itself several times.

Cut dough in half, place in loaf pans. Let dough rise for another hour. 

Preheat oven to 350F and bake for about half an hour, or until top of bread is lightly golden.

... and enjoy every delicious bite. 

edit: submitted to Yeastspotting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries - With Oregano!

At the farmer's market the other day, S and I got a boatload of vegetables. A whole bucket of peppers, a gigantic pile of parsnips, baskets of brussel sprouts, snap peas and shitaki mushrooms. Huge paper bags of crimini and portabello mushrooms, several squash (remember my salute to squash?) and multiple containers of strawberries and blackberries. And - as if I could forget - a bushel of sweet potatoes. 

So naturally, we decided to make some delightful, epic, sweet potato fries. I am a huge fan of sweet potato fries. A few years ago, I experimented with different recipes, and a lot of sweet potatoes sacrificed themselves in the pursuit of culinary greatness.

Start with a few sweet potatoes. They're pretty large, so they make a lot of fries, but the fries are really tasty so you might want to make a bunch. In a stroke of remarkable genius (considering what an idiot I am most of the time) I decided to make quite a large batch, and freeze them on cookie sheets so we can have hot and delicious sweet potato fries whenever we like.

Thoroughly scrub the sweet potatoes. We got ours at a local farmer's market, and they still had some really authentic clods of dirt that just screamed "I was recently dug out of the earth by an actual farmer!" It's amazing I got any cooking done at all, what with all the screaming. 


Like I said, you start with a sweet potato. Or two.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries Recipe


1-2 Sweet Potatoes
4-5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/3 Cup of Cornstarch (flour works well too)
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
3 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
2 Tbsp Sea Salt

1. Slice sweet potatoes into wedges that are very even in size - the size isn't very important, but when they are cooking the uneven ones tend to burn. 

2. Toss the sweet potatoes into a bowl, and add olive oil. Stir to coat. Add more olive oil if necessary for all of the wedges to be evenly coated. 

3. Add cornstarch. Flour works just fine too, but cornstarch gives you crispier results. Stir to coat evenly. Add more if necessary. 

4. Add spices, adjust amounts according to personal taste. I love adding some chili powder, or cayenne powder, just to be crazy exciting. 

5. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Lightly grease pan, and spread the sweet potato pieces out in a single layer. Try not to overlap them - they will only get mushy. However, they shrink considerably while cooking, so feel free to cozy them up close to each other. 

6. Bake for about 15 minutes, flip, and continue baking for about 5-10 minutes (or longer, if you have thicker wedges). 

7. Enjoy with some sour cream (I mixed the sour cream with a teaspoon of chili powder, just to be exciting). 

Frankly I'm shocked these lasted long enough for me to take photos. S was glaring at me the entire time. I don't think he appreciated me posing the fries. In fact, he attempted to make fun of me - until I threatened to withhold sweet potato fries. And then he stopped, because then he was gobbling sweet potato fries as I frantically tried to take photos.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Authentic Italian Pizza Crust

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to help my mom work on the family cookbook in time for a family reunion. Most of our relatives, from all over Ontario and Italy, sent us their most treasured family recipes... including my Great Aunt's coveted pizza dough recipe.

Mushroom and Chicken Pizza

Since then, I have used this recipe to make several hundred pizzas, flatbreads, bread sticks, cinnamon buns, and sticky buns. It's incredibly versatile, it freezes well, it tastes fantastic with almost any ingredients, and it's almost impossible to screw up.

On Saturday, Shane and I made thirteen small pizzas. Why so many? They make fantastic freezer food, and we had a ton of vegetables from our visit to the farmer's market. Instead of baking them straightaway, we covered the pizzas in aluminum foil and stuffed them in the freezer to enjoy at a later date - making them a fabulous, healthy, preservative-free, fast food for when we don't feel like cooking or have no time.

Authentic Italian Pizza Crust
Makes 3 large pizzas, or a dozen small pizzas. 


2 1/4 tsp Traditional Yeast
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Cups Hot Water
8 Cups All-Purpose Flour + Extra
Extra Olive Oil

For starters, grab a large mixing bowl and add the yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Slowly pour in 1 cup of hot water (water should be very warm, but not hot enough to scald your fingers - shower temperature) and mix gently. Let this mixture sit for about ten minutes until the yeast is foamy and bubbly.

Add a cup of flour to the frothy yeast mixture, and stir. Alternate between cups of flour and cups of hot water. Mixture should take three cups of water total (including the water for the yeast mixture) and as much flour as required to make a soft round dough. At some point you'll have to dig in with your hands to work in additional flour until the dough is no longer sticky. 

Pat dough into a soft round ball in the center of the bowl. coat sides of bowl with olive oil and then drizzle oil on top of dough. Spread oil into top of dough with your fingers. Cover bowl with a clean, damp towel and leave in a warm corner of the kitchen for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has risen double. 

Punch down dough, and it's ready to work with! At this point, you can either freeze it in sections or make some hot, fresh, delicious pizza. Pinch off a piece of dough and stretch it with your hands, flattening and pulling it into a perfect pizza crust shape (if you feel the need to toss the dough in the air like the stereotypical Italian pizza chef, now is the time).

Preheat oven to 425F, and either lightly grease a pan or pizza stone with some olive oil or spread with cornmeal. Flatten dough onto pan. Spread with pizza sauce and desired toppings.

The entire time between putting the dough on the pan, topping it and putting it in the oven should be at least twenty minutes to allow the dough some time to rise once more, this way it winds up being a crispy light pizza dough.

Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes, or until edges of crust begin to turn golden brown and cheese is bubbly and delicious. Enjoy with a glass of red wine!

Yummy variations: I've added many different things to this crust over the years. Half a cup of grated parmesan cheese and a quarter cup of minced garlic make a delicious savoury crust. Or sautée some spinach, pesto and garlic together to make a fun, green-flecked crust.

Hot, delicious hand made pizza.
edit: submitted to Yeastspotting