Latest Recipes

Coconut Buttercream- For Smoothies, Chia Pudding, Etc.

This is a bit like a concentrated “nut milk”, made with coconut butter. I add some grass-fed butter to it too, since it’s synergistic with the cod liver oil we have every day (butter increases the absorption of the CLO’s nutrients).

Oh wait—I add the butter ‘cause it tastes so good! (OK, maybe for both reasons.)

The beauty of a concentrated mix like this is: it keeps much better than the average nut milk. I did try making my own nut milk… alas, I couldn’t make a big batch, as it would spoil before we consumed all of it. But this recipe keeps for a month or two!

Nut Milk Concentrate- Greener than Cartons!Add a couple tablespoons of to this Turmeric Golden Milk Drink. Or use for smoothies–I blend with a splash of warm water to make it creamy, then add other ingredients.

OR, make easy Chia Pudding out of it. (That recipe coming out next.)

Makes 1 1/2 qt. or so

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 jar (15 oz.) coconut manna (AKA “coconut spread”, “coconut butter”, “coconut cream concentrate”)
  • 1 c. butter
  • Scant 1 c. honey (.65 lb.)
  • 1/4 c. vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 c. macadamias or Brazil nuts (or other favorites)

Melt the coconut manna by setting the jar in a pot of simmering water (with a towel at the bottom of the pot to keep the jar from breaking). Use: > 1 jar (15 oz.) coconut manna

When the manna’s melted enough to remove from jar, add to small pot along with: > 1 c. butter > Scant 1 c. honey > 1/4 c. vanilla

Gently warm the mix until butter’s melted, then stir until blended.

Pour into glass container and store in refrigerator.

Chocolate Fountain: Easy Dip + Fixings

We had a chocolate fountain at our women’s retreat this spring. I’m thinking, if it can be pulled off there, where we had no access to a kitchen, it could be pulled off just about anywhere. Being that we were setting up in a building out in the woods, with running water being about our only kitchen convenience, I streamlined the goodies used- it was easy to rinse strawberries and set out boxes of this and that, and it worked. Minimal fussing, maximum enjoyment!

Previously, I had used another pretty easy approach, letting the oven warm some of the chocolate mix, which helped me to avoid having to babysit the stuff (stirring it regularly in a double boiler and all that). I added the remaining ingredients after 30 minutes, giving it another 30 minutes in the oven. It just took one good stir, and it was ready to pour into the machine.

This most recent time, I used a crockpot to warm the ingredients. No extra stirring really (except at the end). After an hour or so, it was ready to pour into the fountain. And get eaten up. Yum! (See bottom of page for that recipe.)

Warm ingredients in low-heat oven first, for easy chocolate fountain

Chocolate Fountain for 50

Use more or less dark chocolate, according to taste. Serves around 50.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. + 1 TBS. coconut oil
  • 3.6 lb. chocolate chips (part dark, broken into pieces, if desired)
  • Optional:.2 TBS. cocoa butter, chopped

Add coconut oil and about half of the chocolate in a big bowl and warm in a 170° oven*for 30 minutes, until melted. .Use: > 1/2 c. + 1 TBS. coconut oil > About 5 c. (1.80 lb.) chocolate chips > Optional: 2  TBS. cocoa butter, chopped

Stir well. Add the remaining chocolate chips (about 4 1/2 c.) and warm in oven again for another 30 minutes.

Pour into machine, according to directions. Make sure it’s very, very level.

Serve with pineapple, angel food cake, strawberries, pretzels, marshmallows, etc. If using bananas, add lemon juice to protect from browning.

 

Easy Chocolate Fountain for 70, Crockpot-Style

It’s suggested that 4 lb. should serve 50 or so. For our event, 5 lb. served 70 ladies.

INGREDIENTS

  • .62 coconut oil
  • 5 lb. chocolate chips (part 70% dark, broken into pieces, if desired)
  • Optional: .15 lb. cocoa butter, chopped
  • Five 2-lb. pkg. fresh strawberries
  • 1 lb. pretzel sticks
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 1-2 angel food cakes

Melt all ingredients in crockpot; on high, it may take an hour or so, with some stirring, and supervision to be sure it doesn’t get too hot. On low, it may take two hours. Use: .> .62 coconut oil > 5 lb. chocolate chips (part darker chocolate if desired) > 15 lb. cocoa butter, chopped

Pour into machine, according to directions. Make sure it’s very, very level. The machine will hold 4 lb. of chocolate (or a bit more), so leave some of the chocolate in the crockpot, to replenish later, if necessary.

Serve with favorite accompaniments.

Chicken, Shake n’ Bake Style

This has been my go-to recipe this month. We’ve had different groups over for dinner, and it’s been a hit each time. Plus, Tom and I like having the leftovers.

Also, I’ve been using the extra artisan bread I’ve had on hand, which works perfectly. (That starter’s such a slave-driver, as I have to keep making bread so my starter stays fresh and happy. Am I saying I’m a slave to this bread-making? Well… maybe a little…)

Any drippings and other goodies that are left in the pan are mixed into any veggies I’m grilling up at the time. SO yummy.

Use leftover bread for bread crumb/parmesan/herb mix on this baked chickenOf course this chicken is healthier than its cousins in the manufactured-mixes and fast-food departments. Plus, I can use free-range chickens.

And, this is baked, not fried, so no one has to mind the pan!

Serves 6-8

  • Favorite pieces from whole chicken (thighs, wings, drums, breasts) (about 4 lb. net)
  • 2/3 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2-2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBS. onion flakes
  • 1 TBS. paprika
  • 1 TBS. dry oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If using whole chicken, cut into pieces, saving the back side for chicken stock, if desired. Set chicken pieces aside; about 4 lb.

Melt butter, add Dijon. Stir vigorously until smooth. Use: > 2/3 c. butter > 1/2 c. Dijon mustard

A piece at a time, brush pieces with the Dijon/butter mix, then dip in the Parmesan/crumbs/herb mix, then set in iron skillet.

Bake 40 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees, until done. Save the drippings for flavoring grilled veggies, served on the side.

Chunky Chocolate, Healthy Style

The Chunky Song left quite an impression on my husband and me, as young kids in the sixties. Here’s a link to a clip of the old ad, complete with the “Open Wide for Chunky” song. Cracks me up.

But seriously, they were on to something with that old-fashioned confection. It used to contain chocolate, apples, grapefruit, raisins, cashews and Brazil nuts. Yum- good stuff! And Brazil nuts’ll even give you a good dose of your daily selenium!

The recipe changed when Hershey’s company bought it- they made it with peanuts, raisins, and of course chocolate. (Not to mention a few chemicals- artificial flavors, soy lecithin, TBHQ and Citric Acid). I suspect that they found this recipe to be cheaper. More profit. The American way?!

Years later, now I want a healthy version of a Chunky! Plus, I felt bad for my husband, who never wanted to imbibe in the unsweetened (and very expensive) chocolate I was getting at Trader Joe’s.

This recipe for bittersweet chocolate is a good alternative to the recipe below, since it uses cocoa powder, which is easier to deal with. I’ve also posted a Coconut Bark recipe here. And this Cocoa Nib Fudge is a previous incarnation of the recipe below. But I tweaked the recipe, and love this new version best. If you have cocoa nibs on hand, the following recipe is perfect.

OK- it’s starting to seem like I’m a little obsessed with chocolate! Well, it does make me happy :). Maybe it makes my brain better too- they say the MCTs in coconut oil are great for us!

Oh, one catch with cocoa nibs (“cacao nibs” to be exact)– something like a Champion juicer works well to grind up those nibs. I’ve used the Vitamix dry blender, but even that doesn’t puree them completely. The Champion does a decent job of it. And that thing lasts. I purchased mine back in 1982 while working at a health food store. It still comes in handy when I’m juicing loads of juice for kombucha or for an occasional cleansing fast. It is a good investment!

I mean, I just don’t have a giant milling stone like the commercial chocolate companies have, nor the time to let the stuff whir around for hours on end. So–the Champion juicer will do for me.
Healthy Chocolate- as Bittersweet as You Want!

This makes a great alternative to other chocolate options containing refined sugar. Satisfies my chocolate cravings, and is pretty nourishing too!

Makes 2 lb.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (part butter or cocoa butter if desired)
  • 1/3 c. palm sugar (or 1/4 c. honey)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. macadamias
  • 1/2 c. dates, pitted
  • 1/2 c. raisins

Toast in oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes in iron pan; stir once. Turn oven off and let finish toasting for 10-15 minutes more: > 1 1/2 c. raw cacao nibs

Process toasted cacao nibs (ideally in a Champion juicer; next best is Vitamix dry blender) until quite smooth. Add and process again (or run through Champion juicer again): > 1/2 c. melted coconut oil

In a big bowl, mix together with: > 1/4 c. palm sugar > 1/4 tsp. salt > 1 tsp. vanilla > 1 c. macadamias > 1/2 c. dates, halved > 1/2 c. raisins

Spread in loaf pan, then refrigerate overnight.

Turn the solid fudge mixture out onto cutting board (run upside-down pan under hot water if necessary). Cut into slices; will last in refrigerator for a month or two.

 

Strawberry Mousse in Chocolate Cups

I think I can talk myself into this dessert for Tom and me for Valentines’ Day. Because… strawberries are good for you! And chocolate’s good for your mood! Forget it- you don’t have to talk me into this- I’m eating it anyway 🙂

Strawberry Mousse in Homemade Chocolate CupsI’ve gotten to like frozen strawberries- I suspect the fruit is harvested closer to peak ripeness, unlike fresh strawberries, which often are quite flavorless! (Even the organic ones…)

For a faster dessert, forgo making the chocolate cups, putting the strawberry mousse in a pretty parfait glass instead. Either way, delicious!

Makes about 4 servings mousse, but the chocolate will make 8 or more chocolate cups.

INGREDIENTS

  • One 12-oz. pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 2 TBS. sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBS. water
  • 3/4 tsp. gelatin
  • 1 1/2 c. cream, whipped
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 TBS. butter
  • Foil cupcake liners

Easy Strawberry Mousse w/frozen berriesPrepare chocolate cups for this dessert, or skip this step, putting the strawberry mousse in parfait glasses instead. For the chocolate cups, gently heat in double-boiler (or microwave just over a minute): > 1/2 c. chocolate chips > 1/2 TBS. butter

Use foil from foiled cupcake liners, and spoon/spread melted chocolate inside to coat, making 8 or so cups. Refrigerate the cups until the foil can be carefully peeled away.

For the mousse, puree in blender until smooth: > 1.30 lb. frozen strawberries, thawed > 2 TBS. sugar

Soften gelatin by sprinkling it over water. Let sit 2 minutes, then heat (or microwave) until melted. Use: > 1 1/2 TBS. water > 3/4 tsp. gelatin

Mix the strawberry puree and the “melted” gelatin together. Whip cream: > 1 1/2 c. cream, whipped

Fold the whipped cream into the other ingredients.

Dollop into prepare chocolate shells, or special glasses or bowls. Refrigerate several hours, until firm.

Chocolate Mousse w/ Raspberry Bark

My friend just came off a 30-day cleansing diet. But of course- it was January, the month of resolutions! But now it’s February and she was hoping I’d make her some chocolate dessert to celebrate. So I did. Now we’re all celebrating, ’cause this stuff is good, and I had an excuse to make some.

Also, since we eat with our eyes, I needed some kind of garnish. And I only have so many groceries on hand, especially this time of year. Fruits are less flavorful… so what could I come up with?

Solution: I always have some dark chocolate and frozen raspberries around, so I melted the chocolate, reduced some of the raspberries to a paste, and ended up with a fitting garnish. Good enough to eat with your eyes! (And your mouth, of course.)

Now all you need is the recipe, right?

Chocolate Mousse- So Light, w/eggs, cream, & tad o' gelatin

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pkg. gelatin (1 1/4 tsp.)
  • 2 TBS. cold water
  • rounded 3/4 chocolate chips
  • 2 TBS. butter
  • 2 TBS. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 TBS. sugar
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1/3 c. frozen raspberries

Soften gelatin in the cold water, sprinkling the gelatin across the surface of the water in a small, shallow bowl: > 1/2 pkg. gelatin (1 1/2 tsp.) > 2 TBS. cold water

Microwave: > Softened gelatin

Also microwave: > rounded 3/4 c. chocolate chips > 2 TBS. butter

Mix together: > the microwaved gelatin > the melted chocolate/butter > 2 TBS. vanilla > 1/4 tsp. salt

Separate the egg yolks, adding the whites to a clean bowl. Add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate, stirring after adding each one. Use: > 3 egg yolks

Whip whites until frothy:  > 3 egg whites

Add to frothy whites, beating until glossy: > 1 TBS. sugar

Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped egg white mixture. It’s OK is some isn’t completely mixed in yet.

Now fold all the the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

Use pastry bag to add the mousse to containers (or dollop by the spoonful), into 8 dishes, small wine glasses, etc. Garnish with a wedge or two of the raspberry-chocolate bark.

To make the garnish, melt the dark chocolate. Spread onto parchment, in a 6” square. Use: > 3 oz. dark chocolate

Meanwhile, heat raspberries in small pan, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and it’s a paste consistency. Gently spread the raspberry onto the square of chocolate. Use: > 1/3 c. frozen raspberries

Chill the square of raspberry-chocolate bark until firm, then break into chunks to garnish mousse.

PS If you’re interested in a more “paleo” style mousse, very lightly sweetened with honey, using coconut cream instead of dairy, check out this recipe.

Green Drink for Health in 2019

I believe God gave us the tools to be healthy. I love the verse from Revelation 22:2- describing the wonderful fruit trees lining the river, and how “…the leaves of the tree will heal the nations.” I’m getting healed daily!

Mix of chlorella, ashwagandha & more, for natural thyroid healthI’m pretty sure this green drink recipe would benefit most everyone’s health- it’s alkaline and organic, with easily-assimilated nutrients. (For more specifics on hypothyroid health, check these posts- Jen’s List: 8 Diet Ideas, or my Top Ten for Healthy Thyroid.)

Below is the main “recipe” I use to keep me and my thyroid healthy. It’s not for everyone- a lot of people don’t want to gag down a superfood drink every morning. And a lot of hypothyroid folks would rather get a prescription and take a capsule. It’s great that my friend can get Armour Thyroid from Kaiser through her insurance. But, being self-employed, I have generic insurance that just covers catastrophic events; I pay for office visits and prescriptions. So, when my doctor and pharmacy visits became cost-prohibitive, I went this route instead. Five things I love about this little recipe:

  • It supports my thyroid gland with superfoods that are found to improve its function
  • It’s easy and economical to order the bulk ingredients online
  • It’s all OTC (over-the-counter). Even the “ThyroGold” (purchase here) is rated a “food” it’s dessicated thyroid gland from cows, so it doesn’t need a prescription

SUPERFOOD GREEN BREAKFAST DRINK (“THYROGREEN”)

Add 2 TBS. mix to a small jar half-full of water. Shake it up and drink!

Makes about 7 1/2 cups. Over 60 servings when using 2TBS. daily

Use a big jar with lid on for mixing, if possible. Mixing the dried ingredients together and putting into jars can be messy–I cover the counter with newspaper, and transfer the messy mix into a paper bag, which I use to fill jars with. Yes, green dust all over, but hey, it does cost way less than buying a nice product already mixed. If you don’t want the bother, try some of the quality organic green powders available on Amazon, like this one.

I originally took six capsules of Thyrogold to get the same effect that I was getting from my 97.5 mg. of prescribed thyroid. But by taking the extra herbs, roots, and other superfoods, I’m now down to two of the 300 mg. capsules.

But why do I try to avoid prescription drugs and the doctor visits it entails, you ask? Well…I’ve had a really bad history with the medical field, in the case of hypothyroid treatment anyway. Although I’m really glad I got diagnosed in 2006. I had so many horrible symptoms, and was “near death”, according to the doctor. Whew- close call.

But then the trouble began.

First, after taking what I’d thought to be Armour thyroid (a natural form of thyroid gland), for six years, I discovered my pharmacy had scammed me. They had originally promised they could get me something akin to Armour Thyroid, which was unavailable at the time. In their mind, synthetic was “akin”. Ug. The nerve. They had substituted a synthesized version of Armour that whole time!

Was that why my health and well-being had gradually declined?!

In any case, eventually I stumbled upon the “naturalthyroidsolutions” website, and started in on my new, natural approach, taking OTC thyroid. My thyroid health improved and I felt terrific. The synthetic thyroid had been better for me than nothing at all (I was starting to really fall apart), but it never seemed to improve my health as much as the natural approach has.

But there’s more. To my saga of ranting misfortune with the doctor…

Years later, I went in for some other checkup, and the doctor said I’d have to get back on prescription thyroid. Even though I’d been feeling great for the past four years on the OTC thyroid. Doc said I’d need up to three lab tests- one to make sure I was at a good level now, one when I’d been on the prescription stuff for a month, and possibly one more, if we had to adjust the levels.

Really. What happened to, if it ain’t broke…

She suggested I try submitting the $90 lab test to the insurance company, even though I’d never done that before. The insurance company denied the claim, but gave me a non-negotiable bill for $700 instead. (Such a scam? The lab charges the insurance company that much, even though I only paid $90 cash for the same test?!)

So… you might imagine why I’m kind of obsessed with this natural approach. Right?!

BTW- my blood pressure’s fine, ha. Even though the above tales could get it going LOL. But it’s all good. I’m feeling healthier than ever, and if I hadn’t had so many problems, I might not be this well off!

*Since writing another post on this subject years ago, I stopped adding the Heather’s Tummy Fiber and the Psyllium Seed Powder, since my digestion improved. I take this green mix at breakfast time, and t’s been working well.

Oatmeal Cookie Pie (AKA “Crack Pie”, “Shoefly”…)

Hard to know what to call this. It’s an adaptation of a New York baker’s recipe for “Crack Pie” (from Christina Tosi, of Momofuku Milk Bar). I decided it’d be handy to use our easy New Deli oatmeal cookie recipe for the crust (which might leave a few extra cookies on hand afterward, to eat, freeze for later, etc.)(but which is A-OK with me!).

The Women’s Christmas Dinner Committee decided we’d make thirty of these pies, for our church’s annual Christmas dinner. It took five batches of oatmeal cookie dough, and over four gallons of heavy cream, five cartons of egg yolks, lots and lots of butter and sugar… But it was a hit!

I assume most folks don’t want to make thirty pies, so I reduced the recipe below. But–if you do want the recipe for making lots of pies, just email me and I’ll get that for you 🙂

Jen Cote's "Oatmeal Cookie Pie"

Oatmeal Cookie Pie

This recipe will make 2 pie crusts (I like to save one to bake up on another occasion); it makes one pie filling, serving 6-8.

INGREDIENTS

Oat Cookie Crust for two pies

  • 1/3 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 2/3 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • Rounded 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Added to crumbs- 3 TBS. butter, melted
  • Added to crumbs- 2 TBS. sugar

Filling for one pie

  •  3/4 c.  sugar
  • 1/2 c.  brown sugar
  • 1 TBS. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 1/3 c. plus 1 TBS. heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Topping

  •  1 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional- 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • Optional- 1/2 TBS. butter

AKA Crack PieFor Oatmeal Cookie Crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix well until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes: > 1/3 c. butter > 1/3 c. brown sugar > 1 tsp. vanilla

After those ingredients have creamed, mix in baking soda. Use: > rounded 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Add remaining dry ingredients, mixing until blended (about 1 minute): > 1 2/3 c. quick-cooking oats > 2/3 c. flour

Turn oat mixture out onto parchment-lined cookie sheet; press out evenly until fairly flattened, about 1/4″ thick. Bake until golden on top, 8-12 minutes.

Remove the giant “cookie” to a rack to cool.

After cooling, crumble the “cookie” with hands (or put in plastic bag and use rolling pin). In a large bowl, add: > the oatmeal cookie crumbs > 3 TBS. butter, melted > 2 TBS. sugar

Rub the butter and sugar into the crumbs with fingertips; press into two 9-inch pie pans, pressing mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dishes.

Refrigerate one crust, and freeze other one if necessary (unless doing a double recipe of the filling, enough for two pies).

Prepare filling. For one pie filling, whisk dry ingredients together: > 3/4 c. sugar > 1/2 c. brown sugar > 1 TBS. nonfat dry milk powder > 1/4 tsp. salt

Mix in butter: > 1/2 c. butter, melted, cooled slightly

Blend in remaining wet ingredients: > 1/3 c. plus 1 TBS. heavy cream > 4 egg yolks > 1 tsp. vanilla.

Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes at 350 degrees (filling may begin to bubble).

Turn oven down to 300 degrees and bake about 20 minutes more, until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken

Cool pie two hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. This dessert can be made up to two days ahead. To store, cover and keep chilled.

The easiest way to serve is to simply sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Or, add whipped cream, to top each piece. Use: > 1 c. heavy cream (no sugar, as pie is so sweet)

If desired, garnish that with a wedge of chocolate. For an easy chocolate garnish, melt chocolate chips and butter; spread on parchment (about 1/4″ thick) and chill until firm. Break into triangular pieces; stick into whipped cream-topped pie. Use: > 1/2 c. chocolate chips > 1/2 TBS. butter

Bittersweet Chocolate with Benefits

I’ve been buying Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate bars for some time (the giant, pound-plus bar), and they do satisfy my chocolate cravings. But… I also bought a giant bag of unsweetened cocoa powder at Costco earlier this year. You know how Costco purchases go- sometimes you see something for a really great deal, and feel compelled to buy it, even if it could take two years to go through it…

So. I also had some of this Ceylon cinnamon in the freezer. (Since I’d also bought a big bag of that, because it’s just. So. Good for you!)(And economical- see Costco note…)

Now I needed a way to use up that cocoa powder, and incorporate the cinnamon as well, into a daily routine. I also thought it would be cool to include honey in the mix, since the synergistic benefits of cinnamon and honey are impressive (more info here too).

I figured it’d be pretty easy to accomplish my goals if I made something that could substitute for that TJ’s chocolate I kept buying (and eating every day). And thus the following recipe was born. I made it with just coconut oil the first time, which works fine. This time, I included some of this cocoa butter, which gave it more firmness and flavor. Whoa- I can sub this for the TJ stuff any day, and now my cocoa powder stores will begin to finally get used up. Mission accomplished!

Homemade Bittersweet, Honey-Sweetened Chocolate BarI actually like this better than brownies. And of course it’s gluten-free! Best kept in the refrigerator; makes one big pound-plus bar.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2/3 c. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. cocoa butter
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 rounded c. cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 c. raisins
  • 1/3 c. macadamias

Warm on lowest setting in pan on stove: > 2/3 c. coconut oil > 1/4 c. cocoa butter

Stir in dry ingredients in: > 4 tsp. cinnamon > 1/4 tsp. salt > 1 rounded c. cocoa powder

Then blend in the rest: > 1 tsp. vanilla > 2/3 c. raisins > 1/3 c. macadamias

Pour into lined 8×8″ square dish (use wax paper, parchment, or aluminum foil); refrigerate. Cut into pieces as needed, as keep chilled for more firmness.

 

Sourdough Bread, Artisan Style

I’d been making this sourdough whole wheat bread for some time, if only for the health benefits. The sourdough process helps reduce phytic acid (a plus), and makes for a lower-glycemic bread. Also, some of the gluten gets broken down in the long, slow fermenting process. And it has more naturally-occuring B vitamins too, thanks to the wild yeast at work. (The blog Cheeseslave goes into more detail here.)

But my bread didn’t have the greatest texture. I needed to figure out how to make artisan bread. Which wasn’t easy. I kept saying, “Artesian”, like the well… My daughter-in-law said, maybe that’s why it wasn’t turning out. I needed to clarify. Artisan, not Artesian… Ha.

I finally had success. This new bread had layers of complex flavors, with a great crust, and open crumb- almost custardy inside. Yum.

Artisan Bread Wit Ears! Open Crumb Too- YummIt starts with a lively starter (details on that starter here.). I usually feed my baby starter twice a day (removing half of it each time). The extra feedings make for a pretty rambunctious starter. It builds its character. The flavors get more complex, texture more interesting, yada yada. The way I used to do it still works, for busier times when I can’t mess with bi-daily feedings. (With that old method, I feed a refrigerated starter every 3-7 days, which is enough to keep it pretty lively.)

I didn’t like the idea of removing some of that starter, adding it to a discard pile in the fridge. But I’ve changed the name of the discard pile to “Future Cracker Dough”. I don’t feel as bad now. (Or it can become pancakes or waffles with the addition of an egg or two.) Another new discovery: I can add the starter discard to my next batch of dough, as long as it’s not too big a quantity, without affecting the flavor adversely. (Excess starter can also be frozen, for two months or so.)

In the old days, I accumulated large starter quantities, as I would feed the thing every few days, never taking any out. And I only made bread with it once a week or so. The bread turned out well enough using the large quantity of starter, but not quite as exciting as I’d hoped. With this new method, I feed a small quantity of very active starter, using part of it to begin feeding at a warmer temperature, until I’ve got the amount I want for however much bread I’m making. I refrigerate the rest of the newly-fed starter. It seems fine to let it hang out in the fridge for up to a week, at which point I bring it out again, for a fresh feeding when I begin another bread-making project.

Artisan Bread with "Ears"!Below is my latest fave bread recipe, “Sourdough Artisan Bread”.

Makes 2 loaves- about 2 1/2 lb. each

INGREDIENTS

  • About 1/4 c. stiff sourdough starter*
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 1/3 c. whole wheat/rye flour (or half malted flour)
  • Approx. 6 c. malted flour (1.67lb.)**
  • Approx. 3 1/2 c. water, divided
  • 1 TBS. salt***
  • Rice flour (or white or corn flour)

In a smaller bowl, mix together: > about 1/4 c. starter (un-refreshed) > 1/3 c. warm water > 1 1/3 c. whole grain flour (optional: use half malted or all-purpose flour)

Let this mixture rest in a warm place for 4-5 hours (an oven with the light on works for a cool kitchen).

About an hour before time’s-up for that starter, add most of the remaining water to the malted flour in a larger bowl, mixing with hands or a spatula until flour’s distributed. Adding water to flour starts an enzyme process whereby the starches begin converting to sugars, etc. This leads to more flavor! (Called an “autolyse”, in scientific terms). Use: > 6 c. malted flour (or all-purpose) > 3 1/4 c. warm water

Cover this mixture and let it rest one hour or so in that warm place (next to the bowl of starter mix).

After the big bowl of flour/water mix has rested an hour or so, and the starter (“levain”) has gone four or five hours (and has maybe caved in a bit), mix the two together, breaking up the stiff starter so it’ll mix in better.

‘”Stretch and fold” the dough, as in, pull a chunk of the dough from the edge, into the center. And repeat. Let the dough stretch as much as it will, without breaking. Fold about ten times. It will start to seem smoother and not too sticky. It won’t have to be thoroughly mixed at this point, as there’s more folding to come.

Before leaving it to rest, use fingers and poke a few holes in the dough, adding a mixture of salt and water on top. Don’t mix it in yet; just pour it over the dough. Use a mixture of: > 1/4 c. warm water > 1 TBS. salt

Let the dough rest 20 minutes or so. The main thing is to leave it be for a bit, to do its own thing. At this point, gluten molecules are aligning themselves and doing the work of kneading, all on their own. All they need is time. To themselves. We can’t rush this process by man-handling the dough!

After 20 or so minutes of resting, fold the dough again, about four times, until the dough gains “strength”. It should feel elastic and smooth. Less handling is usually better.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Every 30 minutes, for the next hour or two, stretch and fold the dough a bit. The dough should bundle up and pull easily from the sides, indicating that it’s ready to be left alone to finish fermenting.

This is now the “bulk-ferment” phase. Leave this folded dough alone now for a few more hours, then “cut” the dough in half (for forming two loaves); a hard plastic spatula works well for this. Gently form each ball into a round, pulling from the outside to the middle to shape it. I do this step on a dampened counter, as the dough doesn’t stick much this way. It also keeps me from adding more flour, which seems to be a plus flavor-wise. Let the pre-shaped loaves rest another 20 minutes, covered with bowls.

After resting a bit (again with the resting!), shape once more, into preferred shape. Set into a lightly-dusted, cloth-lined basket or bowl, with the dough bottom side up. (I like this bread-proofing basket.) Flour the loaves fairly heavily, to keep them from sticking to the basket. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or wax wrap, and let rest another hour or two.

Note: the dough is usually pretty wet. It can seem difficult to call it to attention for the final shaping. And yet, even the wettest dough can make a good loaf.

Finally (almost done), after the dough has proofed at room-temp for an hour or two, place the covered, shaped dough in the fridge overnight (or up to 24 hours, although 18 hours is probably ideal). This slows down fermentation, which insures more flavor.

Preheat oven, and a Dutch oven and/or a baking stone, to 500 degrees (this usually takes 40 minutes or so). Gently invert refrigerated dough onto parchment paper; score top. Serrated knife, box-cutter, and “bread-scoring lame” all work ( this “bread-scoring lame” is my fave). Lift the parchment and bread into a Dutch oven, covering it for the first 20 minutes. (Or make some other configuration, to create a steamy environment for baking, like a baking stone with a pot/pan on top of it.) (Or bake the bread on a baking stone with a tray filled with hot water on a shelf below it.)

Reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake the bread covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover, lower heat to 400 degrees, and bake 20 more minutes, or to desired doneness

*This stiff starter gets fed about twice daily. For each feeding, remove some old starter, leaving a tablespoon or so in jar. Add about 2 tsp. water, and 1 Tablespoon whole-grain flour. (A mix of wheat and rye flour is great)

**AKA Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Flour (malted) is primo, although all-purpose, unbleached flour can substitute. I’ve bought my craft flour here, at about $1.14/lb., including shipping. But I recently discovered some great Central Milling Co. flour at Costco, that’s perfect for bread. It might be the same product- it’s an organic, unbleached flour from hard red wheat, with some malted barley mixed in. It’s delicious!

***Use about 1 tsp. salt per pound of dough