Pretty much every Daring Bakers Challenge I have ever done has been done frantically, a day or two before the posting date. This time was different. Almost 2 weeks ago I made my first herbed focaccia loaf. But I only took a picture of the finished product, and only with my iphone. I told myself I’d make another one and take good photos. I wound up making three more, but didn’t manage to take any good photos. Of any of them. Here is the problem, well problems really. 3 kids under 5, an inability to plan ahead, and the worst, bad light. Each time I made bread it was to serve with dinner which meant I was finishing up the bread right about the time the light in my kitchen was blue and my kids were screaming for something. Any of you who have ever been around kids between the hours of 5 and 8pm know exactly what I am talking about.
But there is a bright side! This recipe is wonderful…easy, delicious and with lots of options to make it simple or to add special toppings.
For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch.
The herbed focaccia recipe I made three times. Once sprinkled with salt, olive oil and fresh rosemary, the second time topped with sliced tomatoes, olive oil, salt and rosemary. And most recently I made individual ones with sundried tomatoes and parmesan.
My favorite was the second, the one with sliced tomatoes. The sundried tomatoes I added at the beginning of baking and so they got a little too charred. I think you could easily chop them up and add them to the dough for something really great. But the fresh tomatoes won for me. I think maybe because this was the closest one to being pizza!
I tried the Focaccia di Recco, but couldn’t find the right cheese, so it wasn’t quite right. The recipe calls for Stracchino cheese, but I used shredded mozzarella with just OK results. If I ever see it on a menu or in a bakery somewhere I am going to have to try it. It sounds incredible. Melty cheese sandwihed between thin layers of dough. Yum.
If you’ve ever thought about making focaccia but bought a loaf at the market instead because you thought it was too hard, let me encourage you to try this recipe. You may never go back to store bought!
Whisk together warm milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Let rest until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour and all the spices. Mix in the cheese, vegetable oil and yeast mixture.
Using a dough hook, mix dough on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, between 1 and 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450F. Turn dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Shape into a rectangle or circle, or divide into 4 circles for individual breads. Press all over with your finger tips, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place toppings. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Drizzle with a bit more oil, sprinkle with more salt if desired and top with some fresh grated Parmesan. Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Over Easter weekend my sister made a breakfast casserole that everyone loved, especially my husband. So when we got back home I decided to make it again as a special weekend breakfast. Instead of making a full batch I halved it and made individual casseroles. You could easily make this batch in an 11×7 or maybe even a deep 8×8. Or you can follow the original recipe and do it in a 9×13. Whichever way you choose you will have a really satisfying and hearty breakfast on your table with very little effort.
Of course you can leave out the green chiles, or use more or less than called for depending on how spicy you like things. You can also adjust the cheese and sausage to taste. I found this to be super cheesy, which I love. This combination of mozzarella and sharp cheddar is great, but use what you have or what you like. I used a turkey breakfast sausage, but again, use what you like. I love dishes like this that are very forgiving and easily adapted.
This makes 8-10 individual casseroles depending on the size of your ramekins. Be sure to bake them on a rimmed baking sheet just in case they spill. Mine did not, but better safe than sorry.
The measurements and instructions below might frustrate you if you thrive on precision in the kitchen. Since this was my first time making this and I was working from measurements for a larger dish I had to adjust as I worked. I started off with 4 eggs and 3/4 cup of sour cream and as I was filling up the dishes I realized I was not going to have enough, so I whisked in another egg and a bit more sour cream. I included that adjustment in the recipe. But since we likely do not have the same ramekins, your definition of “a sprinkle” is different than mine, and I may tend to be heavy-handed when is comes to sausage you may find that you have too much or maybe that you didn’t have quite enough of something. I wrote the ingredient list with the motto, “Better too much than not enough” but please let me know if you found any ingredient to be way off.
Cheesy Sausage and Green Chile Overnight Breakfast Casserole
Spray ramekins with cooking spray and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a dish towel (this will keep them from sliding around).
Butter the inside of each halved english muffin and then cut each half into about 12 chunks. Add enough chunks to just about cover the bottom of the ramekin, for me this was about 6. Squish them in there so they make a nice layer, but err on the side of too few since they will expand once they soak up the egg mixture. Repeat with all of the ramekins.
Whisk together the eggs, sour cream and green chiles and set aside.
Divide the sausage between the dishes, sprinkle generously with a little of both cheeses (leave a little extra), then pour some egg mixture on top. Pour just enough of the egg mixture to reach the top of the dish. Sprinkle with a little more cheese. Repeat with all the dishes. Cover the entire pan with a sheet of foil and move (carefully) to the fridge to sit for 8-12 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the dish towel from the baking sheet, line with foil and arrange ramekins back on the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cheese begins to brown and there’s just a slight jiggle to the egg. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
While I was with my family recently, one of my sisters mentioned that she was perusing the blog and came across a recipe with some horrendous photographs. There are lots of these posts. I haven’t taken them down, and I don’t plan to. Even though running across them is like finding old college pics that someone else posted on facebook from a night you kind of want to forget, I’m keeping them up. One of the main reasons is that many of them are good recipes! But we all know that the world of food blogging requires more than just a good recipe. You’d better have some pictures that make people want to make the recipe. I don’t know about you, but these pictures make me want caramel filled brownies.
I decided that I would make a little project out of going back through some of my old posts that have really great recipes and re-doing them, without taking the old ones down. It’s fun to see how far I’ve come in taking pictures of food, writing about the food, and I even think I’ve become a better baker and cook in the past 8 years or so that I’ve had this blog. Here is the old post for these brownies. It was just about 6 and a half years ago. These pictures were taken in our little apartment in China Spring while I was teaching school and Ben was in law school. Things are pretty different for us now!
This recipe is from The Pastry Queen. It’s a great cookbook. Everything is delicious. If you’ve read my blog before you’ve likely heard me (if you can “hear” something in writing) sing its praises. I only changed one thing from the original recipe, and that was to use a bag of those caramel bits instead of unwrapping a bunch of caramels. It worked out just fine.
I highly advise cutting these cold from the fridge and even eating them cold is a great idea. However, warming one briefly in the microwave and topping it with a little vanilla ice cream isn’t a bad way to enjoy these brownies.
Toast pecans for about 8 minutes, until they are fragrant but before they begin to get too dark. Break apart any large pieces and set them aside.
Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang. Grease foil generously with shortening. Set aside.
Combine butter and chocolate in a medium-sized heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Do not let it burn. Transfer chocolate to a large bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Add in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and mix (with a whisk, hand mixer or a stand mixer) until thick and glossy. (
Whisk or stir in flour and salt. Transfer half of batter (about 2 cups) to baking pan and spread evenly, sprinkle half of the pecans over the batter and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes.
Once the brownies cool, melt caramels and cream in a medium-sized heavy saucepan and stir over low heat until completely melted and smooth. Immediately spread caramel mixture over baked brownies. Pour remaining brownie batter evenly over caramel mixture and spread gently to cover, being careful not to mix up the brownie and caramel layers.
Sprinkle chocolate chips and remaining pecans on top and bake for 20 minutes. Cool, then transfer to the fridge for at least a few hours.
Lift brownies out of the pan by lifting the foil. Remove the foil carefully, bring sure to get all of it off, especially around the edges and the corners where the caramel will stick. Cut brownies into squares. Serve at room temp or cold. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Right now as I write this post I am snacking on some of this bread warm from the toaster with my afternoon coffee. It’s such a treat and I want you to experience the same pleasure. So do yourself a favor and go make this bread for the weekend!
Sometimes I hit a wall when I’m writing a blog post. I am having that experience now with this post. Big time. My mind is just a big foggy mess and when I sit down at the computer my hands freeze. For some reason I feel like I should have something to say other than, “I made this. It was delicious. Here is the recipe.” But that’s all I have!
I made this.
It was delicious.
Here is the recipe.
Hope you all have a very Happy Easter celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Cardamom Easter Bread
Makes 2 loaves, 1 loaf and 4 buns, or 8 buns
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 envelopes (4 1/2 teaspoons) dry active yeast
8-9 cups all purpose flour
eggs, one for each bun you plan to make (colored with egg coloring and RAW) and one for the egg wash
Heat milk over medium-low heat until bubbles form on the edges of the pan and the milk is steaming. Turn off the heat. Stir in melted butter, sugar, salt, ground cardamom and nutmeg. Let mixture cool until lukewarm, 100-110°F. Stir in the yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes until foamy. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add 2 cups of flour and mix on low with the dough hook until flour is mixed in. Add 2 more cups, mix, and repeat until you’ve added 8 cups total. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes. If the dough does not pull away from the sides of the bowl add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it does.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead a bit, then place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Punch dough down and place on a floured surface. Divide in half. For Bread: Divide a half into thirds and roll each third into a rope about 14 inches long. Pinch ends together and then braid the ropes together, pinch the ends together and tuck the ends under. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for an hour. For Buns: Divide the half into 4 pieces, then each piece in half. Take those pieces and roll them into ropes about 10 inches long. Pinch the ends together and twist the pieces together, then pinch the ends and connect the ends by pinching them together. Repeat with the rest and place all 4 buns on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat an egg and brush onto buns or loaves. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles if desired. Place egg in the center of each bun. Bake for 20-25 minutes for buns and 25-30 minutes for bread.