Monday, September 6, 2010

Pain du Dansk : Kneedless bread made in a Dansk pot.

Last Labor Day I shared with you a non-laborious crockpot lentil recipe. This year, it's time for another no labor demanding recipe. I am quite slow on jumping on the No-Knead bandwagon that was instigated by Jim Lahey. I have made bread previously using the techniques developed by Peter Reinhart. Peter's book, Breadmaker's Apprentice is a great book and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in breadmaking. Both Lahey and Reinhart use a long fermentation method to let the flavors in the flour really develop. Although it requires that you let the dough sit for at least 12 hours, the time span required to make the bread is worth it. Breadmaking is for the patient chef. 

Staub Ovenware Piece / Courtesy of
Lahey's contributions to breadmaking is the abandonment of the notion that dough needs to be kneaded. He simply mixes flour, salt, yeast and water and lets chemistry do the rest. Lahey's second contribution is the use of a "fake oven" or fake hearth or really any pot that has a lid and can withstand 500 degree temperatures. Most recommended is a dutch/french oven like a Le Creuset or my favorite: Staub. But Pyrex will also work as will a ceramic type oven. The loaf I baked today was made in a vintage Dansk pot. We bought this large enameled pot because it is fairly heavy and a great deal less expensive then our smaller Le Creuset or Staub. 

Without further or do here is the much talked about Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread recipe as adapted by the NYTimes :

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Recipe above is directly quoted from the New York Times and can be found here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Southwestern Quinoa

I often find myself stuck in a rut with quinoa. Most of the dishes I have prepared with it are too similar to my standard and most simplest quinoa dish.  And while this southwestern variation still does not break out of the my typical usage of bell peppers and onions, the difference lies in the base of this dish: black beans and some spice. Lately I have been interested in trying to incorporate all food groups in one dish, and I think this one about does it.

Remember, the beans and quinoa are the base for just about anything you have lying around in your fridge and pantry. Here's my mix:


2 Cups of Vegtable Broth or Plain Water
1 Cup of Quinoa

1 large tomatoe, quartered
1 Carrot
1/2 Red Onion
1-2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers (an assortment of colors is nice)
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1/2 a lime.
1 Can of Black Beans, liquid drained
1 Cup or so of finely chopped spinach. (I used frozen chopped spinach)
Garlic (as little or as much as you would like)
1 Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Tablespoon of Cayenne Powder
1/2 cup (or so) of Olive Oil
1 Cup of Water
1 Dash of Salt

To Make Quinoa:

In a medium pot, bring broth to boil. Add quinoa, return to boil - then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed.

Meanwhile Prepare the Veggies

First get 1 cup of water heated in a medium saucepan add: Bay Leaf, Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Carrots until they are tender.

Put pan on medium to high heat.

By this time the water should be soon evaporated - remove bay leaf at this time and then add olive oil. Once olive oil heats up, add onions garlic, spinach, and salt. Sauté vegetables until onions become tender.

Stir in Black Beans. Add lime juice. Let beans heat and mingle with other flavors.

Serve vegetables upon a bed of quinoa. 

You may also consider adding cheese on top (cheddar or mozzarella) or stir in yogurt if dish is too spicy.

Also optional and recommended is a few squeezes of mustard, preferably a whole grain mustard.