Sunday, February 28, 2010

Italian Rosemary Bread

Well, I am a dough baby. Ask anyone in my family. Ever since I was little my fav thing in the world was bread and dough. My cousins and I used to sit around the table at our grandma and grandpas eating nothing but white pasta and bread.

Whats that you say? If I want to lose weight I need to stop eating carbs? Rubbish! What I did need to do is switch over to all whole wheats. This less processed flour is easier and healthier for your body to break down. So I switched to whole wheat. The problem is that I still love bread and getting healthier never seems to be an easy transition on my grocery bill. So I am now going to start making breads too. Alyssa's mum gave us her bread machine...but no matter how simple it is I just don't get it. So until she comes over I am going to hand make bread, starting with this one.


1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup warm water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (feels like the weight of a quarter in your hand)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons rosemary
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

1Dissolve the sugar in warm water in a medium bowl, and mix in the yeast. When yeast is bubbly, mix in salt, butter, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and Italian seasoning. Mix in 2 cups flour. Gradually add remaining flour to form a workable dough, and knead 10 to 12 minutes.

Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Place dough in bowl, cover, and allow to rise 1 hour in a warm location.

Punch down dough, and divide in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease paper. Shape dough into 2 round loaves, and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Cover, and allow to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), with a broiler pan on the bottom shelf. Brush the tops of the bread with a light layer of olive oil or water. Once the oven is ready and hot place your dough on the top shelf. Take a cup of water and pour it into the broiler pan. It should sizzle. This will give you bread a nice crunchy crust.

Friday, February 26, 2010

10 Things I Have Learned in the Kitchen

So there are a few things that I have learned in a short life time of cooking. Some of them are common knowledge, others warning, and still more are notes. Of coarse these are all my opinions, and while I hope that they are helpful, I'm not going to say that they are essential.

1. "Yes, it's meant to make that noise." Some people get freaked out when oils, vinegars and sauces begin to "scream" as I like to call it. It happens and please don't get scared. Getting nervous is only a hindrance in the kitchen and could lead to unfortunate panicking...ultimately leading to idiotic mistakes. Leading us to number two-

2. "Getting burnt is not a mistake, but an inevitable event." My boy friend works full time in a restaurant kitchen. He comes home daily with burns, cuts and missing chunks of flesh (I tease him that its karma for working in a place that serves unhealthy portions of animal flesh). The truth is most of the time (though not all) it has nothing to do with carelessness. Its just what happens when you work around gas stoves, grills and boiling oils. Resolve yourself to the fact that you might get a scratch here and there. You are not made out of glass. Heck, today I had a bit of sesame oil pop up at me but I'm alive and dinner was great. My mother had to go and have physical therapy because she severed part of her finger separating apart frozen hamburger patties. It can hurt but you will not die. (FYI if you do die it probably is from a stupid mistake.)

3. "There is a reason Mom let me lick the cake batter." Always, Always, ALWAYS taste your food as you go. Does it need more salt? Should you water it down? Tasting is the only way to tell. It is the Golden Rule of cooking. Gosh I wish I could make this longer because it is such a big's just so simple!

4. "Spices of life." Spices are the most important part of any dish. They are the thing that could make or break it. Many people are scared of using spices but dont be! They are the best part of cooking. Use ones besides salt and pepper. Try mint, thyme, basil, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, lemon grass and anything else you can get your greedy little hands on!

5. "Hippy Foods rock!" There are so many different ways to eat these days. In any city you go to you will find so many different nationalities that it can be hard to choose. Even staying with regional foods, there is nothing wrong with raw food or vegetarian food. Its not "new age" or "dirty hippy" stuff anymore. Its positive and healthy nutrition!

6. "Experimenting isn't just for science class." There is nothing more fun than making something for yourself. Even if you're working off of a recipe feel the freedom to add some of your favorite ingredients to it or some that you have no idea how to use. Even if you don't have a recipe and just want to toss together something that is in your pantry you do have that right! Afraid? Try google,, or any of millions of cooking blogs.

7. "Children are starving in Africa." We've all heard this before but what does it mean? It means that millions of people all over the world don't have food. I know, I know. I am getting dangerously close to revoking my statement that this is not an activist cooking blog. But really? If these people don't have food, why should you toss yours out? If you don't want your left overs I guaranty you some of your friends or neighbors will take it. Don't throw that meat in your fridge away if your going veg or vegan. Give it away. Just remember: food has real measurable value.

8. "Quality means you do have to make a little investment." Good reading takes an investment in books. To be good at cycling you need a good bike. To make good and tasty food you need the proper tools. Here are some basics that I think people should have. A citrus nester, pans (Obviously but you should have two of each in a large and small size in case you are making sauces), a good SHARP set of knives, mixing bowls, food processor (best investment ever for mincing...will save you a ton of time),a nice big cutting board, and a steamer for your grains and veggies. I think that these are the best most basic things to have around. Oh, and don't forget tupperware! A lot of it will make storing and labeling dead dates.

9. "If you can't Stand the heat...check you oven." I have learned this the hard way. In the last point I outlined some of the basic items that are used in the kitchen. But we are not all rich and some of us live in crappy apartments that will not allow us to change the most important part of our kitchen: the stove (Can you tell I'm bitter?) I do not have a gas stove but I want one. Until that happens I am stuck with an uneven electric stove. I learned the hard way to check your food every seven to ten minutes. Do this and you have a better chance of not over or under cooking.

10. "Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food."- Hippocrates (father of western medicine) I know its hard to think this way when so much of our illness comes from food. E-coli, salminila not to mention diabetes are constantly looming over us. But why do we shove a pill down our throats instead of taking in some healthy, healing food? I believe that food is the best medicine (Even as I sit here with a sinus infection I eat oranges, melons, steamed Kale leaves and drink herbal tea. Food, including herbs, has the power to heal us in a safe and natural way. I am not saying to forgo western medicine but just to look at it as the way that Hippocrates did. If you are feeling under the weather or just are in a glummy mood try picking up The Kitchen Shrink by Natalia Savona. It helps.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"I Feel Sick Today" Soup

End of the month and we are not in the food buying place in our budget. But I wasn't feeling so great today so I tossed together this soup. This is again one of those recipies where you can toss in just about anything...chunks of tofu would be a great addition.

Pasta (Any kind will do)
2 cups of Veggie broth
3 garlic cloves (Chopped)
1 Onion (Chopped)
Soy sauce (Optional)

Start by cooking you pasta as the package directs. Leave it a bit al dante if you can. This means to not cook totally but leave the noddles a bit stiff. Drain and put to the side.

Next heat up your broth. When it is boiling toss in the garlic, onions and pasta. Cook these well so that the veggie broth is soaked into them. If you f ind that your broth is a little bland a teaspoon of soy sauce will salt it up and add a darker colour.

The Onions and garlic will improve your immune systems well being along with the veggie broth. The better and more organic you by the better the chance your body will fight off infection.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cuban Sweet Potato "Steaks"

One of the hardest parts of me of being vegan is that I sometimes feel guilty that I don't cook my boyfriend/roommate meat. He doesn't seem to mind but he being a red blooded Texan makes me feel like I should cook something for him. This is something that I made the other day that he really liked!


1 sweet potato (Cut into fourths)
4-6 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic (minced)
tablespoon of fresh cut parsley
1 lime (juice)

Preheat your oven at 400 degrees.

In a large bowl toss the potato pieces in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Line them up on a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray. Cook these in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The pieces should be soft but still resistant when up stick a knife into them.

Take them out of the oven and let cool for about ten minutes or until you can touch them. Take the rest of the olive oil, the juice of the lime, parsley and minced garlic and toss them in it again. You can add more pepper to this as well.

Serve like this or at room temp. Yummy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tofu scramble

Okay so this is possibly my new favorite. Will and Alyssa love it too. It is so savory that it can be used for every meal and relatively easy and quick to make.

Ingredients: (2-4 servings)
2 table spoons of sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 table spoon of mirin
14 oz of meduim tofu
2 cups of sliced veggies
Bread (optional)
Parsley (optional for garnish)

Dice up your veggies first. I like making it almost like an omelet (something that I actually do miss but this easily replaces) so I use red and green peppers, onions, jalapeno (seeds removed) and garlic. Heat up the sesame oil in a large pan. Toss in your veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes. You should hear sizzling.

Mix in the Mirin and the soy sauce. Next take your tofu and crumble it into the pan. Cook this now until the tofu is more solid and the veggies are tender, about 5-7 minutes. During this time if you like salt and pepper, cook it into the dish.

Chop up a little bit of the parsley and sprinkle it on top as garnish. Serve with a slice of bread and enjoy!