Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Breads’ Category

Ingredients That Freeze Beautifully

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To, Indian, Main Course on June 1, 2014 at am

Whenever I cook with ingredients that I don’t use regularly, I almost always end up with extra ingredients that I can’t find the time or purpose for.  I hate to waste food.  So, very early on, I learned how to make the freezer my best friend.  Below I’ve shared a list of fresh and canned ingredients that freeze beautifully for months to a year, without a change in texture or taste.  Let me know if you can think of anything else!  I will add to this list as I discover new freezer friendly ingredients.  Also, I’ve posted many many freezer friendly recipes throughout the years.  Just look to the end of each recipe for freezing instructions, as applicable.

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Best Cornbread Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Breads, Breakfast, Sides and Sauces on October 9, 2013 at am

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When I set out to find the best cornbread recipe, I learned that there are people that prefer sweet cornbread, and there are people that prefer savoury cornbread.  Personally, I prefer cornbread that is savoury and plain.  I tried a few cornbread recipes that were, in my opinion, far from appetizing and had almost decided to give up on cornbread.  But when I saw a cornbread recipe in The Modern Baker (a cookbook that I received from an old neighbour), I thought, let’s try one more.  I am so glad that I did, because this cornbread recipe put all others to shame.  This was very flavourful, and the texture was the perfect balance of crumbly and moist.  I finally understand why so many people love this stuff.  John, who is much more familiar with southern food than I am, said it was the best cornbread he’s ever had, and my dad couldn’t get enough of it.  According to Nick Malgieri, this recipe is a Southwestern American version of cornbread.  Another great thing about this recipe is that it works well with added ingredients, such as chedder cheese and jalapenos.

More recently, I turned this recipe into finger food for John’s housewarming party, by baking it in a 9 inch x 13 inch pan and cutting it into 36 mini wedges.  I recommend freezing the cornbread first, as it was much easier to cut while it was still semi frozen.  I had a lot of cornbread leftover after the party and people were very happy to take extras home with them.

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Favourite Banana Bread Recipe

In Breads, Breakfast, Other Desserts on June 8, 2011 at am

I’ve tried numerous recipes in search of my favourite banana bread.  Recently, I found one that was exactly what I was looking for.  This is Ed’s favourite recipe too.  In the past, he has always dutifully taste-tested my banana bread with the disclaimer that he isn’t a big banana bread fan.  But when I gave him the rest of this loaf to take home to his family, he ate it all before he arrived.  😉  This banana bread is moist, soft, and it holds together without being heavy or dense.  It has great banana flavour and a handful of chocolate chips makes a wonderful variation.  My preference is to use only enough chocolate to add a subtle sweetness and depth so as not to overpower the bananas.  I know I’ve accomplished this when people have to ask if there’s chocolate in it.

If you prefer a softer, fluffier banana bread, this recipe by my little mochi is excellent too.  I use it whenever I have sour cream or yogurt that needs to get used up.

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Garlic Bread Recipe

In Breads on March 2, 2011 at am

Ed and I love garlic bread.  We ate an entire French baguette (and a stick of butter) in one afternoon the last time I made this.  The simplest (and my favourite) way to make this is to start by making homemade garlic and herb butter.  You can then bake the butter and bread or simply spread the garlic and herb butter onto warm slices of fresh bread (I got that idea from my friend Erin).  You could also make a garlic cheese bread by adding some shredded cheese prior to baking (you will need to increase the baking time by a few minutes).

You could also use this compound (flavoured) butter on grilled steak, or baked or mashed potatoes, etc.

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Asian Bread Making Technique (Soft Chinese / Japanese Bread)

In Baked Bread, Breads on February 7, 2011 at am

Japanese and Chinese breads are well known and loved because they are deliciously soft and fluffy.  When Yvonne Chen published The 65 C Bread Doctor, she made the water roux method (tang zhong) very popular.  I tried two other highly rated asian bread recipes before attempting this and the water roux method (tang zhong) was, by far, the best.  My family absolutely loved it.  This results in bread very similar to those sold in Hong Kong (Cantonese/Chinese) bakeries.  By changing the way you shape the bread and by adding various ingredients, you can use this as your base for all sorts of buns and breads.  For example, see my instructions for Chinese bakery hot dog buns here.

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Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia Recipe (from scratch)

In Breads on October 15, 2010 at am

Focaccia is an Italian bread that can be topped lightly or substantially, or used as sandwich bread.  Its popularity in North America has resulted in overly simplified recipes using prepared pizza dough.  I like Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his very well-rated book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Although it is a 1 to 2 day process (most of the time spent rising the dough), it is well worth the effort.  My family couldn’t get over how good this bread was.

I had extra sun dried tomatoes after making warm wild mushroom salad (recipe here), so I used them for focaccia.  See my herbed focaccia recipe here.

Some other suggestions:

  • olives, roasted garlic, herbs, herb oil, or garlic infused oil (dimple these in before the 2 hour proofing time)
  • hard cheeses such as parmesan, chedder, swiss, or Monterey Jack (add this 5 minutes before the finished baking time)
  • soft cheeses like mozzarella or feta (add these about 10 min before the finished baking time)
  • try topping the finished focaccia with an assortment of meat and/or vegetables (ie. carmelized onions and goats cheese)
  • try slicing the focaccia in half and using it as a sandwich bread

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Herbed Focaccia Recipe (from scratch)

In Breads on October 14, 2010 at am

Focaccia is an Italian bread that can be topped lightly or substantially, or used as sandwich bread.  Its popularity in North America has resulted in overly simplified recipes using prepared pizza dough.  I like Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his very well-rated book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Although it is a 1 to 2 day process (most of the time spent rising the dough), it is well worth the effort.  Everyone that tried this bread loved it.

I made focaccia for the first time one weekend, while studying for a designation exam.  Each step between rising became a study break.  Since I had a variety of fresh herbs on hand, I made herbed focaccia.  See my sun dried tomato focaccia recipe here.

Some other suggestions:

  • olives, roasted garlic, herbs, sundried tomatoes, or garlic infused oil (dimple these in before the 2 hour proofing time)
  • hard cheeses such as parmesan, chedder, swiss, or Monterey Jack (add this 5 minutes before the finished baking time)
  • soft cheeses like mozzarella or feta (add these about 10 min before the finished baking time)
  • try topping the finished focaccia with an assortment of meat and/or vegetables (ie. carmelized onions and goats cheese)
  • try slicing the focaccia in half and using it as a sandwich bread

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How to Steam Cook Food

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To, Main Course on February 24, 2010 at pm

I received a comment asking for pictures of my steaming equipment and technique.  So here I show you how I steam food, I discuss other methods of steaming, and I go into detail about the steaming equipment that you’ll need for each method.

Steaming food is very commonly done in Chinese cooking.  It’s a very healthy way of cooking as it maintains a lot of the nutrients in vegetables and reduces the amount of oil that you use.  It results in tender veggies and moist and juicy meats.  I steam cook vegetables, dumplings, whole chickens and fish, pork spareribs, a specific Chinese egg dish, etc.  (You can do a search for some of these recipes on my website.)

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