I am super particular about food (everything) when I’m sick. I want a bowl of tomato soup. I want a small stack of crackers to crush and sprinkle over top. And I want to be left alone. That last one hasn’t happened in the last 2 years and 361 days but a girl can dream. (side note: I’m 4 days away from owning a real live 3 year old!)
The soup, it must be the canned and condensed stuff. The crackers, they must be the buttery rectangles made by crafty little elves that live in a tree. And the bowl, it must be one of the souvenir bowls with a handle that we bought years ago when we took our first ski trip together.
If I’m spending my weekend on the couch with a bendy straw in a bottle of cherry NyQuil, there isn’t really anything negotiable on that list. I want to be waited on, I want to moan and groan (because what fun is misery if you can’t spread it around a little), and I want sleep the day away.
But if we’re talking about one of those precious two days a week when I have the entire house all to myself? The protocol is different. I find I have a little (a lot) more motivation those days. Enough motivation to tackle, say, a simple flatbread recipe.
Since my taste buds were still slightly numbed from the cold, I decided to top those flatbreads with an “everything” mixture for more flavor – it’s not just for bagels or burger buns! Fresh from the oven, the breads are crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.
The downside. Like a baguette, there’s nothing in the bread (oil, eggs, etc) to help it keep for more than a day. So if you’re going to make the breads, make them and then plan to eat them that day if you can (the sheer addictiveness of fresh bread from the oven will make this possible) and reheat them in the microwave for maximum enjoyability.
Crispy Persian flatbreads topped with a flavorful "everything" topping.
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast (1/2 envelope)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as necessary
1 tsp salt
Oil for greasing bowl and baking sheet
For the flour paste:
1/2 tsp olive or vegetable oil
1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
Cornmeal, for baking sheet
For the Everything topping:
2 tsp dried minced garlic
2 tsp dried minced onion
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds (I have a black & white mixture)
Add the water to the bowl of your mixer and sprinkle yeast over top, letting proof for 5-10 minutes.
Add the flour and salt, and knead for 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and only slightly sticky.
If the dough doesn't mostly form into a ball after ~2 minutes, add an extra 2-4 Tbsp of flour.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and divide the dough into 4 pieces. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 and place a baking sheet or pizza stone into the oven.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, heat the oil and whisk in the flour, sugar, and water until mostly smooth.
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, and then remove from heat to cool.
In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the everything topping.
Generously sprinkle cornmeal onto a sheet of parchment or a pizza peel (or something else to help you transfer the dough onto the heated pan in the oven).
Gently stretch a piece of dough into an oval on the peel, lifting the dough and adding additional cornmeal to prevent it from sticking (this is important).
Spread flour paste over the top of the dough and use your fingers to press lines or dimples into the dough.
Sprinkle with a generous spoonful of everything topping and transfer the dough to the oven.
Repeat for the remaining dough (I formed and baked two at a time), baking each for ~15 minutes, until golden brown.
Best enjoyed as fresh as possible.
Extra flour paste can be discarded, extra everything topping can be stored in a zip-top bag.
A few years ago, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to start making most of our own bread. With a little bit of scheduling and some room in the freezer, I could bake up sandwich bread, burger buns, english muffins, and bagels without having to buy very much.
Aside from burger buns, my favorite bread-thing to make is bagels. Partly because 1 batch will allow us to share a bagel for breakfast for nearly 2 weeks. And partly because the bagels from the nearby bakery place that we used to adore have really gone downhill over the last couple of years. Shelling out $12 for a disappointing breakfast for 2 isn’t the ideal start to a weekend.
This batch, we flavored the dough with some vanilla and added chopped semisweet chocolate. The dough isn’t overly sweet so you feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast but there is chocolate. So you’re still kinda eating dessert for breakfast.
Chocolate Chunk Bagels
An overnight rest yields chewy, flavorful bagels studded with your favorite chocolate.
For the sponge:
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water (divided)
1 tsp active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the dough
1/2 tsp dry active yeast
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
2 3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
1 Tbsp baking soda
Cornmeal for dusting pan
To make the sponge, dissolve sugar into 1/2 cup warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over top and let proof for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining water and flour and mix on low with the paddle until sponge is smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled, approximately 2 hours. (The sponge will be foamy and bubbly and will collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop).
To make the dough, fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add the additional yeast to the sponge and mix on low until combined.
Add 2 cups flour, all of the salt, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate, mixing on low until the ingredients form a ball, adding additional flour 1/4 cup at a time to stiffen the dough.
Knead the dough for 6 minutes. It will be firm but still pliable and smooth and should clean the sides of the mixer bowl. The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
Form the bagels: Divide the dough into 4 oz pieces and shape into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape the bagels by pushing a hole through the center of each roll and working the dough around your thumb, stretching out the hole to ~2.5 inches in diameter.
Place bagels 2 inches apart on the pan. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes.
Fill a small bowl with room-temp water. Drop one bagel into the water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds, remove the bagel, pat it dry, return it to the pan, and place the pans in the refrigerator overnight covered loosely with plastic wrap. If the bagel does not float, pat it dry, return it to the pan, and test again in 10-20 minutes.
Baking the bagels: Preheat the oven to 500 with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Boil the bagels in batches 1-2 minutes on each side (for chewy bagels, go 2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula.
Sprinkle the same parchment-lined baking sheets with cornmeal. Transfer the pans to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then swap the pans in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
To freeze: I slice the completely cooled bagels almost all the way through, enough that they flip open all the way but still are just barely attached so tops and bottoms stay together. A square of wax paper in the middle keeps them from freezing shut. I layer them in a gallon freezer bag and put in the freezer. To reheat, I place the frozen bagel halves in the oven when I turn on the broiler to toast. They thaw, heat, and toast perfectly
I’m ready for 2013. Like ready ready. I stepped onto the bathroom scale this morning and it said “error.” It’s such a jerk sometimes. Like when it randomly tells me I weigh 10lbs less than I did the day before… and then 6lbs more 8 seconds later. But it does have a point.
So all of those wonderful Trade Joe’s goodies that Santa left in our stocking have an “Eat before Monday or get hidden on the top shelf that you can’t reach without getting a chair from the dining room – and we both know you’re far too lazy to go get a chair from the dining room” label on them and the pages of my new Cooking Light Cookbook are littered with post it tab bookmarks.
Our post-holiday detox starts Tuesday. But until then, there’s bacon. And biscuits.
And Trader Joe’s Sweet-Salty-Nutty Trek Mix that is like crack. Certifiable crack.
On a quiet Saturday morning when the not-so-little-anymore one is at Gia & PaPaw’s house for the weekend, we sat down to a quick & simple breakfast of peppery Maple Bacon Biscuits, eggs, and some grapefruit juice.
Crumbly, airy biscuits made with bacon grease and sweetened with maple syrup. And it was the first recipe I made from my new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Flipping through it for the first time, I spotted them on page 28. And then I ran to the kitchen to make them immediately.
And then I immediately ate two straight out of the oven, mostly in celebration that the first recipe from a new cookbook turned out to be such a huge homerun. And partly because it was 4:30pm and that’s when I kick myself every single day for not having a snack an hour earlier.
I added a healthy dose of black pepper to help balance the sweet & savory just enough to almost make them a meal in itself. (“Almost,” like eating 2 biscuits wasn’t all of the calories I had left for dinner the other day.) I also made a double batch to be able to make the biscuits bigger than the 2-inch originals. And just a note – the dough was softer than expected for the double batch and I ended up kneading in a bit more flour after cutting the first few biscuits and realizing that they would spread quite a bit (and they did). The “extra flour” biscuits baked up nicely.
Maple Bacon Biscuits
Make breakfast really count with these sweet, crumbly biscuits studded with crispy bacon and black pepper.
5 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for work surface
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
~8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter (see note below)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I whisked 1/4 cup 2% milk with 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt)
You want 12 Tbsp total between the butter and the grease reserved from cooking the bacon. If you end up with more bacon grease than 4 Tbsp, you can reduce the butter accordingly. And if you end up with less bacon grease, you can use more butter. Make sense? Good. Let's get started.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Fry the bacon until crisp and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
Turn off the heat and add several generous dashes/grinds of black pepper to the pan and stir, letting the pepper cook for ~10 seconds.
Pour the rendered bacon grease and pepper (scrape the peppery bits out if necessary) into a heat-safe measuring cup and stick it in the freezer to solidify.
Chop the bacon into chunks and transfer to a small bowl, pouring the maple syrup over top.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and add the butter chunks and the bacon grease (use a spoon to scrape out the measuring cup).
Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter and bacon grease into the dry ingredients until well mixed (no large chunks) and the mixture is mealy.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and maple-bacon mixture and stir/fold until your dough forms.
Turn your dough onto a generously floured surfaced and give it a few kneads to come together and then pat it to 1-inch thick .
Using a floured round cutter, cut as many rounds as you can and then pat the dough back together and repeat until the dough is gone - I got 10 biscuits using a 2.75-inch cutter.
Place biscuits on a lined baking sheet (sides just barely touching) and bake 12-14 minutes or until the tops are golden.
Serve warm. Leftovers reheated nicely for the 2-3 days they stuck around.
Yields: 10 biscuits
Slightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Remember that pecan pumpkin butter? Today I’m going to how you to use half of it and, at the same time, take care of breakfast (or dessert) for the week.
These non-cinnamon “cinnamon” rolls use pecan pumpkin butter, brown sugar, and roasted pecans for the filling. After baking, the warm rolls are topped with a cream cheese icing spiked with bourbon, vanilla, and molasses. They’re sweet, they’re rich, and they’re intense.
Just like the Apple Cinnamon Rolls we made a couple of weeks ago, the recipe is simply our favorite “plain” cinnamon roll recipe dressed up with a different filling. And a little booze. You assemble them the evening before, let them rest in the fridge overnight, let them rise the next morning, and then bake.
If booze for breakfast isn’t your thing, replace it with milk. If you’re thinking “I’m going to have the bourbon out pouring a glass anyway…” then you and I were likely separated at birth.
Just kidding. I don’t drink bourbon. For breakfast.
Pecan Pumpkin Butter Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing
Dress up a plain cinnamon roll for fall with pecan pumpkin butter and an icing spiked with bourbon and molasses.
For the dough:
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract (or the scrapings from 1 vanilla pod)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour (20 oz), plus more for dusting surface
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, beat the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, vanilla, buttermilk and half the flour together until well combined. Add yeast, salt, and the next 1 1/4 cup flour (leaving about 3/4 cup remaining) and knead on low for 5 minutes.
Add additional flour by the spoonful if necessary - you want the dough soft and moist but not overly sticky. Knead another 5 minutes until the dough clears the sides of the bowl (but might still stick to the bottom a bit).
Transfer dough to a lightly greased, large bowl and let double, 2-2.5 hours.
Just before the dough is finished, preheat the oven to 375.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and roast 5-7 minutes, until brown and fragrant.
Set aside to cool.
Spray or butter a 9-inch pan. Turn out the dough onto your lightly floured work surface. Stretch and roll the dough into a ~12x18 rectangle with the long edge nearest to you.
Spread the pecan pumpkin butter over the dough, leaving the top 1-inch bare. Spinkle the pecans and brown sugar over top.
Starting with the edge of the dough closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch the the seam to seal. Gently press, squeeze, and stretch the roll to get an even thickness.
Cut the roll into 1 1/2-inch slices and place in the baking dish (you'll get 12 rolls). Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Place the rolls in the oven with the heat off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3 full of boiling water and place it on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven and let the rolls rise for ~30 minutes.
Remove the water pan and rolls from the oven and preheat the oven to 350.
Bake rolls on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
While the rolls are cooling, beat the cream cheese, bourbon, molasses, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until smooth. Drizzle over the rolls and serve.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, tightly covered. Rewarm in the microwave for best results.