Sunday, July 29, 2012

BBB - Easy Little Oatmeal Bread

It's buddy time again.  I do love oatmeal bread, really I do.  I just seem to have mixed results when I attempt it.  Oatmeal bread recipes are one of the few that have bombed for me.  This one was a toss up.  I added a bit too much liquid and then found out I under baked it, so the results were not optimal.  My fault.  However, when it is toasted up, it is like eating toast crossed with a bowl of oatmeal.  Creamy in the middle and quite tasty.  And it made a delicious grilled cheese as well.  Bonus, it's quick.  I might try it again and adhere more closely to the original recipe.  Check out the cute little loaf on the original post.  What follows is the recipe as it appears on that blog.  I loved the flavor enough to try it again.  (Makes a 9x5 inch loaf.)

Easy Little Bread
from 101 Cookbooks

 1 ¼ cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet) (I used Instant Yeast and added it to the flour)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour (I used whole spelt)
1 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats) (I had a mix of mostly thick oats with some barley and rye thrown in)
1½ teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing (I added half of this to the dough itself)
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit - 5 - 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.
Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat - to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn't steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.
Makes 1 loaf.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Orange Drop Cookies with Citrus Browned Butter Icing

Here is one for the cakey cookie lovers out there.  These light little mouthfuls turned out even better than I had hoped!  Light and melt in your mouth for both the cookie and frosting.  Hey, you just about can't go wrong with browned butter.  Whole spelt, being a slightly sweet and nutty flour already, is wonderfully complemented by the orange juice in the dough.  The cookie itself uses unrefined sucanat for the sugar.  There is powdered sugar in the frosting (I use an organic brand made with tapioca starch instead of corn), but I suspect you could carefully powder some rapadura and have a go at a completely unrefined sugar experience.  It would likely be just a touch gritty unless you cooked it like a penuche.  Maybe some time in the future...

Don't make the frosting until all the cookies are baked and cooled as it sets up rather quickly and you will need to work fast to get all the cookies nicely frosted.  You may need to thin the frosting with a drop or two of juice as you go to keep it spreadable.  We tried the drizzle of chocolate since it goes well with orange and it is nice, but overall we liked the cookies best with just the orange flavor.

Orange Drop Cookies with Citrus Browned Butter Icing
makes 3 dozen cookies

2/3 cup butter
¾ cup sucanat
1 egg
7 tbsp orange juice (that's ½ cup minus 1 tbsp)
zest of one lemon
2 cups whole spelt flour
½ tsp soda
Icing (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Cream butter and sugar well.  Add egg and beat for two more minutes until texture is no longer lumpy at all, about two minutes.  (The texture of the batter will change to perfectly creamy and almost gummy when the egg has done its work.)  Stir in the orange juice and lemon zest.  Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and blend into batter in about three additions.  Chill dough for 30 minutes. Drop by rounded spoonfuls of dough about 2" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (I used my #70 tablespoon cookie scoop.)  Bake for about 8 minutes or until just lightly browned on edges.  Cool.  Frost with Icing.

Citrus Browned Butter Icing
(you may want to make two batches...)
2½ tbsp butter
1½ tbsp orange juice 
1 tsp lemon zest
1½ cups sifted powdered sugar

Brown the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat until a delicate brown, a few minutes.  (It will foam up twice.)  DO NOT WALK AWAY; this small amount of butter will burn in seconds when it gets to the brown stage.  Let cool for a couple minutes, then blend in sugar, juice and zest.  Frost each cookie with about ¾ tsp of icing.  Work quickly so the icing doesn't set up in the pan.  If you are a little generous with your cookie icing (or sampling), you may want to make a double batch.  But don't worry, I won't tell if you don't.  ☺

Store in a sealed container and they will still be soft and yummy the next day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Crispy Chicken Strips

One of R's biggest complaints is that she can't have any restaurant or store bought breaded chicken products.  I haven't found one yet that has good ingredients.  There is an awesome new restaurant nearby that caters to most food allergies - they even set up a special card for each customer.  They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free and do their level best to accommodate  many others.  It's called Graces 5 and was a wonderful lunch out when we went.  R absolutely adored the satay style chicken skewers she ordered, not only because it was chicken she could actually have but also because it was delicious.  It is definitely not an inexpensive place but our server and the food was absolutely wonderful.  Fortunately homemade is not that difficult.  I've tried Pioneer Woman's recipe and aside from having to make a homemade Lawry's blend, it was fabulous.  This time I cobbled together my own recipe and it was super crispy and the breading seemed to stick to the chicken better too.  I also found out that you can not only dip in egg but buttermilk as well.  (I ran out of egg and didn't feel like cracking another one, so I used some buttermilk instead.)  I was pleased to receive positive comparative reviews from hubby on the rest of the batch that I had frozen and cooked up the next week.  He bought a box of chicken strips from his standard fast food place and remarked that they were disappointing and mine had more flavor and better breading.  And R waxes poetic about our homemade strips, which always makes me feel good.  ☺  I think for batches that I intend to freeze, I may stick to buttermilk or mostly buttermilk for the liquid dip portion since freezing tends to make egg a wee bit rubbery when cooked.  Interestingly, the panko bread crumbs I found had dextrose (corn) in the plain crumbs but not in the italian herb and parmesan flavor.  That meant I had to use the flavored crumbs but they turned out great.  If I can find plain without the bad ingredients, I will probably come up with different seasoning options for variety.

Notes:  If you are a big fan of the crispy breading you can double bread these, which I did this time.  We found out that the panko is so nice and crispy that one layer will suffice.  You can judge how much coating you want on yours to personal preference - if you tend to "debread" commercial strips, one layer will suffice.

Crispy Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
serves 6-8

2 pounds chicken breasts (that was three breasts for us)
1 cup flour
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
3-4 large eggs or 1 cup buttermilk (if you are double breading you may need the extra egg)
2 cups panko bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
refined coconut oil (for frying - no coconut smell or flavor; gives a super crispy fry and is a healthful oil)

(If using plain panko add a tsp each of garlic powder and lemon pepper to both the flour and the panko crumbs, plus a pinch of cayenne if desired)

Honey mustard sauce:
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cut the chicken breasts into long tender sized strips.  Season well with sea salt and pepper. 

Mix onion and garlic powder into flour.  Dredge the strips in flour.  Then dip in the egg or buttermilk and finally the panko crumbs. 

That's my messy kitchen version of mise en place. 

Let the prepared strips sit on a rack or plate for 10 minutes to allow the coating to set.  (You can freeze a portion after this point, this batch made enough to feed our family of four twice.)

You can see three lighter colored strips - those are the ones
I dipped in buttermilk.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, fry the strips in batches for 3-4 minutes a side until golden brown.  You can cook from frozen but the strips will need a little more oil and slightly longer cook time as well as flipping a few times.

(I love that the coconut oil doesn't turn brown and get full
of burned bits.)

I like to turn the oven on to warm and put the finished strips on paper towels on a rack in there so we can all eat at the same time.

Serve warm with desired sauce:  honey mustard, ketchup or barbeque.  A side of baked or home fries always goes over well too!  To make the honey mustard sauce, just stir all the ingredients together in a bowl and serve along side.