Bread

Onion Garlic Parmesan Rolls

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Parmesean Rolls

A dinner is incomplete without warm fresh dinner rolls. I very seldom bake and serve dinner rolls but I was veering towards freshly baked onion garlic Parmesan rolls to go with a soup I had made. Plus I had a surplus of fresh Parmesan cheese. The inspiration behind this particular Parmesan dinner roll recipe came from a batch of buttery dinner rolls that a friend baked and served at a meal weeks ago.The rolls were incredibly soft and rich, I was yearning for some more. But rather than using an excess amount of butter, I used Parmesan cheese in these rolls flavored with a bit of onion and garlic.

As reiterated before, I don’t make bread or rolls that often primarily due to the lack of time. When I miraculously dedicate some time to make them once in a blue moon, it is a special treat and they don’t last around long enough to be immensely enjoyed to the fullest. Plus I have my waistline to  consider but I will splurge from time to time when I feel I have earned it. I absolutely love baking bread and related goods. I enjoy working with flour and yeast.  At first, I thought baking bread was tedious and too labor intensive. The longer I have been working with these ingredients, the more my attitude towards bread baking started to evolve.

I am very particular towards my homemade breads. I can’t get enough of their yeasty goodness. I find baking with flour and yeast to be very relaxing, therapeutic, and satisfying – all which are abruptly negated by the very dizzying, stressful, and tension-inducing moment when I realize the exuberant mess I created from baking rolls and all sorts of bread. Thankfully, these moments are not that frequent  as I try to keep the mess to the bare minimum. I’ve learned to be very neat and organized in my kitchen but not all mishaps are avoidable.

Every bite of these rich, delectable, flavorful onion garlic Parmesan dinner rolls were worth the aggravation and mess. And when I complained about nearly going insane from having a lot of Parmesan cheese earlier? I take that back. Now I have to run out and buy more Parmesan cheese from using all of them up on these dinner rolls. I will hold my tongue before I gripe about having too much cheese in the house (so long as they have not reached past their expiration date as spoiled cheese or anything dairy is a pet peeve of mine).

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  2. 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar divided
  3. 1/2 cup of warm water or low fat milk
  4. 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour or spelt flour
  5. 1 1/3 cup of bread flour
  6. 1/4 cup of olive oil
  7. 6 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  9. 1 head of garlic roasted and peels removed
  10. 1 onion chopped and caramelized
  11.   1/2 cup of shredded and grated Parmesan cheese (leave some aside to sprinkle on top of rolls)

Instructions

In a small mixing bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and milk/water. Give a stir and set aside for 5-10 minutes allowing the yeast to bubble. In another bowl, combine flours with salt and the remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Mix yeast mixture in the flour.  Place onions, garlic, butter, and oil in a food processor and process till smooth. Fold the onion garlic mixture into the dough. Add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix and knead the dough on low speed with a dough hook, if using a mixer, for up to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, covered. This method allows the dough to gain more strength and elasticity.  Divide the dough into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a greased muffin tin. Brush top of each roll with olive oil. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese, a bit of garlic and onion powder if you like. Place rolls in a draft-free zone and allow them to rise for 35 minutes or until doubled in size.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Yields 12 rolls

 

 

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Mediterranean Meat Pockets

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meat knishes

Hubby has had a craving for red meat. I very seldom share meat recipes because I don’t make meat dishes that often. Not because I am a vegetarian. Non-meat dishes are just more convenient for me to make but I am always willing to bend over backwards for people I love and care about. I honored Hubby’s request for a beef dish by making homemade meat pockets for him which he immensely enjoyed. Since I am about to go meatless for the next 9 days, I thought it would be appropriate to share my meat pockets pie recipe for this one last time (at least for a while).

It is a Jewish custom not to eat meat or drink wine among other things in the 9 days leading up to Tisha B’av – anniversary of the destruction of both temples as well as numerous tragedies that followed.  I may not be a vegetarian but I never complained about forgoing meat for a couple a days. In fact, I found it somewhat to be relieving. While I don’t eat meat as often as I used to, I do make special exceptions. Having overused ground beef for Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe’s, and burgers, I was in need of a different option and I settled on meat pocket pies.

Learning to cook meat pockets was not much different than making meat knishes or calzones. The concept and techniques are similar. They consist of a meat filling and a bread exterior. Only this time, I infused some  Mediterranean flavors in these homemade meat pocket pies.  As far as filling options are concerned, the sky is the limit. You can pull your own twist. I know many of you are not heavy meat eaters so a vegan option  is always available to you. Just simply swap the meat for the vegan version and you will still get a satisfying and flavorful meat pocket pie – a meatless dinner idea I would consider for the next 9 days.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Pizza dough recipe 
  2. 1 lbs of lean ground beef
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 eggplant thinly sliced and cubed
  6. 1 zucchini thinly sliced and cubed
  7. 2 bell peppers diced
  8. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  11. 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
  12. 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  13. 25 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  14. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Follow instructions for pizza dough recipe. Divide dough into 6-8 pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and saute till translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook till tender. Stir in the ground beef and cook till browned and crumbly. Drain excess fat from the pan and stir in spices, salt, pepper, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out dough pieces into discs. Fill each disc evenly with beef mixture in the center. Seal dough with opposite ends.  Arrange on baking sheets. Allow them to rise for 20 minutes or until double the size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake until golden brown and hot on the inside, about 25 minutes.

Yields 6-8 large meat pocket pies

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Bagels

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gluten-free bagels

I have been making some serious lifestyle changes; especially in my eating habits. That doesn’t mean I have voluntarily forfeited all my favorite dishes. It simply means I modified some of the ingredients. I have been reducing the amount of my consumption of gluten as part of an experiment. While I have no reason to suspect that I am developing an allergy for gluten, I have decided to omit all-purpose flour from my diet for a while to see if my body/digestive system reacts any differently. I keep my baking with all-purpose flour to the bear minimum.  I have been feeling bloated as of late and gluten may have been a contributing factor to this problem. I have been experimenting with baking gluten-free breads. Although they still need more practice, I have managed to produce something that is edible as well as tasty via online guidance, confidence, creativity, and intuition. Having little experience with gluten-free bread, I can never be too careful but I am confident enough to produce satisfactory results. Thankfully, the ingredients I need are readily available at my local health food store so there is no longer the need to order these products online or have someone ship them to me from abroad.

Going down my gluten free to-do-list, I realized I have yet to learn how to make gluten free bagels.  It was just a matter of finding a viable gluten-free bagel recipe. If I managed to quasi perfect gluten-free loaves, and loaves, why should bagels be left out of the equation? Who won’t go for a good bagel, especially a gluten-free bagel? Gluten-free or not, the beauty of making homemade bagels is that you can control the portion size. Plus, I tend to boil my bagels in water rather than in oil as most commercial bagels are.  When I presented the first batch to hubby, he gave me the green light to make another batch.  I know how to to the breaks on certain activities before they spiral out of control. There is no rational explanation for enjoying bagels in their entirety.  I don’t make them as often as one might think. When I do, however, it is a special treat.  Homemade bagels are exclusively never overrated in my home. So why should gluten-free bagels be exceptional? I have set out to create the most delicious gluten-free bagel known to mankind and I am very excited to share this recipe with you! Please let me know what  you think 🙂

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 3/4 cup of warm water or milk of your choice
  2. 1/2 tablespoon of dry yeast
  3. 1 teaspoon of granulated raw sugar or stevia
  4. 3 tablespoons of chia or flaxseeds
  5. 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  6. 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  7. 2/3 cup of gluten-free oat flour
  8. 2/3 cup of buckwheat flour or millet flour
  9. 1/3 cup of tapioca starch
  10. 1/3 cup of corn meal
  11. 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
  12. 1 teaspoon of salt

Instructions

 

Add the yeast and sugar  to the warm water and allow to foam up. Then  add the flaxseeds, oil, and vinegar and allow 5 minutes for the seeds to thicken. Whisk all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture into the flour mix and stir for 2 minutes with a wooden spoon until well-combined.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with cornmeal or potato starch.  Divide dough into 5-6 balls (or as many/little as you can). Form each ball into bagel form and creating a hole in the middle by using your thumb. Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes.  

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Fill a large pot with a quart of water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and baking soda (optional).  Gently toss each bagel into the pot of boiling water and boil for 30 seconds on each side.  Once boiled, place bagels on parchment paper and sprinkle with you favorite topping if you like. Bake for 20-25 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Yields 6 bagels

 

 

 

Classic Gluten-Free Loaves

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gluten-free loaves

In efforts to making my house Passover friendly, i.e. wheat-free, I have been replacing wheat flour with a variety of gluten-free flour substitutes such as buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, brown rice flour, and tapioca flour. Although I’ve thankfully have not been dealt with  celiac disease, I am always looking for opportunities to make detoxing more convenient for me. I have managed to sustain without gluten for 2 weeks.  Having never tasted gluten-free bread before, I had my reservations of baking a couple of loaves but I wasn’t about to go running out to buy more bread after an intensive thorough housecleaning.

I am still a bit experienced when it comes to baking with gluten-free flour but it hasn’t daunted me enough to discourage me from trying.  While baking bread is my specialty, I always welcome gluten-free alternatives. Learning how to use gluten-free flour for baking bread was educational and loads of fun.  Mastery is generally commensurate with practice fueled by relentless determination.  I suppose my perseverance has no limitation for better or for worse. Quitting  was never an option for me. Part of overcoming an unprecedented challenge is embracing it wholeheartedly.  Fortunately, my uncontrollable desire to experiment was never an issue to me and the risks were usually worth taking.  Without sounding presumptuous, the gluten-free treats and bread I have baked were overall satisfactory. Even if you don’t bake gluten-free bread that often, it’s a useful baking skill to have.

 

Wheat flour contains gluten which is a protein that binds and strengthens dough in baking. Consequently, when baking with gluten-free/wheat-free flours you may need to source alternative binding agents. Xanthan gum is often used along with gluten-free flour, especially for baking bread, rolls, etc.  Wheat free recipes using gluten-free flour substitutes usually have been carefully formulated to produce the best possible result whilst factoring the problems associated with lack of wheat gluten, therefore substitution can be a risky experiment. If you use wheat/gluten-free substitution, then be aware that the end results may be a complete fiasco. Therefore, I don’t recommend that you do it for the first time if cooking for an important occasion. Test your creation on family members, especially those suffering from celiac disease before sharing it with others. I use quinoa flour, rice flour, and buckwheat flour as opposed to a gluten-free bread mix to have control over the quality and quantity of the bread. You can use other gluten-free flour of your choice if you don’t like the ingredients I provide for you in this recipe. You can find most of these ingredients at your local healthfood store.

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 cup of quinoa flour
  2. 1 cup of brown rice flour
  3. 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  4. 1/2 cup of topacia flour
  5. 1/2 cup of corn/potato starch
  6. 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  7. 1 tablespoon of yeast
  8. 1 cup of warm water
  9. 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey + 1/3 cup
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  12. 1/4 cup of oil
  13. 1/4 milk of your choice (in lieu of eggs)

Instructions

Place yeast, sugar, and salt in warm water. Set aside till it starts to bubble and foam. In a bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients and whisk to thoroughly combine.  Blend the sugar, oil, milk and vinegar in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Then add the yeast mixture. Kneed till elastic.  Divide dough into four parts and make small loaves. Place each loaf in a small loaf pan. Allow dough to rise in an undrafted area for 45 minutes to an hour or until double in size.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Yields 4 small loaves

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Pesto Rolls

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IMG_20140225_073156

I never had much luck when it came to making gluten-free bread. I suppose it is primarily due to a lack of practice. The first time I attempted to make them was using packaged gluten-free bread flour and following the recipe imprinted on the bag. Vilely inedible doesn’t begin to describe the end results of this bread. It was even an insult to celiacs. I am an amateur but disasters like these are inexcusable. I suppose I was thankful that I didn’t have anyone over to share this disgrace for a gluten-free bread with. Otherwise, I would have never been able to have lived it down. Nature was more than grateful for covering up my mistakes. Hubby made me vow to never bake this bread using this particular brand ever again. Well, it was a mutual decision. The bread mix has proven to be a complete dud. That experience was a bit discouraging but I wanted to further hone my gluten-free baking abilities. Given my inborn stubbornly persistent nature, I couldn’t just call it  quits yet.  I do need more practice though and I have been relentlessly trying. Plus I am trying to limit my intake of gluten as part of my detox so I am been searching for viable gluten-free alternatives as well. I have several friends who suffer from celiac disease and I don’t want to be caught with my pants down and not have anything to feed them with when hosting them aside for salad and meat.

I have been on a quest to search for a gluten-free bread/rolls recipe that work best for me. I asked for suggestions and recommendations from my friends who are celiac. I had a kilo of quinoa flour, rice flour, and tapioca flour sitting in my pantry. I initially thought about making a gluten-free pizza crust but decided on rolls at the last minute. I wanted to take baby steps and make sure that my gluten-free rolls were a success before venturing  on to more challenging ideas. The most common complaint I heard from people who have eaten gluten-free bread is that its dry and lacking of flavor. I mixed in some pesto that I made on the whim. You can mix in roasted garlic, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes if you like. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst, the rolls were a successful turnout. Even hubby encouraged me to make them again. Now I know what to prepare when I next expect guests with celiac disease.  I hope you enjoy this gluten-free roll recipe as we did. I look forward to sharing more gluten-free bread recipes with you. Feel free to suggest some gluten-free ideas to me. What are some of your favorite gluten-free bread recipes?

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
  2. 2 teaspoons of sugar
  3. 2 cups of warm water or milk of your choice
  4. 1 1/2 cup of quinoa flour
  5. 1/2 cup of brown rice flour
  6. 3/4 cup of potato starch
  7. 1/2 cup of tapioca flour
  8. 3 teaspoons xanthan gum
  9. 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt
  10. 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  11. 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter melted
  12. 1/3 cup of pesto
  13. 2 eggs
  14. 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Combine the yeast, sugar and warmed milk in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Let sit for 6 – 8 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and had increased in volume. Combine the flours, starches (or all-purpose gluten free flour blend), xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix for 30 seconds on medium-low to combine and break up any lumps in the potato starch. Add the yeast mixture, 1  egg, melted butter substitute, pesto and vinegar. Mix on medium low until combined. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer on high and mix for 3 minutes. You should have a very thick, smooth batter.

Brush 2 standard muffin pans with melted butter (or butter substitute) or spray with gluten free, non-stick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling about ¾ full. Alternately you can use an ice cream scoop and place 3 scoops in each muffin tin. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free place to rise. Let rise for 35 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water very well with a fork. Gently brush the tops of each roll with the beaten egg.

Bake for 17 – 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

The rolls can be made ahead – bake them, let them cool in the pans, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Warm for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Yields 24 rolls

 

 

Whole Grain French/Italian Bread

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Whole Grain Italian-French Bread

Even though I have been irrefutably nominated the “Challah Maidel“, I am always searching for many different bread recipes to try out.  I am still a novice baker and have a lot to learn.  Having eaten and immensely enjoyed fresh French/Italian bread, I wanted to try making them myself. Since I’ve baked bagels, Naan bread, lavash bread, challah, and pizza on several occasions, I wasn’t anticipating any difficulties making Italian/French bread. But I was always curious to know the difference between French bread and Italian bread. While the flavors, ingredients, and method are similar,  their shapes set them apart. I discovered that French bread, or baguette, is long with rounded ends whereas Italian bread has a round shape. Either way, they have a rustic and crunchy exterior and a soft interior. They are delicious when freshly baked. It personally doesn’t make a difference to me as long as they are fresh. The picture above indicates a hybrid of both French and Italian bread. I did not bake this bread in a baking ban so it expanded a bit. I had the idea of using bread/pizza flour and embedding roasted garlic in this bread but I opted to the healthier version of using whole grain flour instead like I did. If you don’t have whole grain flour or multi-grain flour, you can use whole wheat flour, oat flour and spelt flour. This recipe would work with dark rye flour as well. French/Italian bread is the greatest, all-versatile bread you can make. It can be served at lunch or dinner. You can make delicious hoagies with it or turn it into pizza bread. Worried about leftovers going stale? Reserve them for making French toast, salad croutons, or bread pudding which I intend on doing if anyone will spare me any.  I can only hope………

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 tablespoon of sugar
  2. 2 teaspoons of salt
  3. 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
  4. 2 cups of warm water
  5. 1/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil
  6. 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  7. 3 cups of spelt flour
  8. 2 cups of oat flour

Instructions

In large bowl, stir together sugar, salt, yeast, and water. Stir in oil. Mix in enough flour to make a soft dough that can be kneaded by hand. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is soft and not sticky. Place dough in greased medium bowl and flip dough over so that the top is also lightly greased. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let set for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place. Grease large baking sheet. Sprinkle baking sheet with coarse cornmeal, if desired. Remove dough from bowl onto lightly floured table and divide into 2 equal parts. Roll each dough half into a 15 X 9-inch rectangle. Tightly roll dough along the 15-inch side. Pinch seams and taper the ends of each loaf. Place loaves on baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place for only 20 minutes. Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Make 3 deep diagonal slashes on each loaf. Bake bread for 20-25 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave bread in for another 5 minutes.

Yields 4 loaves

 

 

 

Oven-Baked Pita Chips

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Pita Chips

As of late, I have been yearning on something crunchy to snack on. In the realm of snacking, it’s universally known that some dips require a sturdier scooping device. I don’t have crackers or anything crunchy to snack on in sight, but I have stale pita.  I grew up on bagel chips but pita chips are my new favorite snack food. Low-fat and crunchy, these pita chips scream for geneorus amounts of hummus, guacamole, eggplant, or roasted chili pepper dip. This baked pita chip recipe is a much healthier alternative to deep-fried pita chips– they have a wonderful crispness that is often lacking in store-bought chips. And they are not nearly as salty nor greasy. They’re incredibly simple to make, and you can customize the seasonings to suit your dip. I like to use  zahatar seasoning, a Middle Eastern spice blend available at most Middle-Eastern markets. Versatile in flavors, you can use any seasoning you like. I thought about sprinkling some cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, and a bit of brown sugar for a sweeter version.The list of delicious possibilities is endless!Pair these pita chips with Classic Hummus, Classic Baba Ghanoush, your favorite spinach or cheese dip, or as a healthier alternative to fried potato chips. Make them with whole wheat pita for more fiber like I did. I only wish I made more. As yummy as they are, it may be a good thing I didn’t in hindsight because they are very addictive.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 4 whole wheat pita bread loaves
  2. Olive oil
  3. Zahatar seasoning
  4. Garlic powder
  5. Paprika
  6. Ground pepper

Instructions 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush your baking sheet with olive oil, coating the entire sheet evenly. Brush the top of a pita round evenly with olive oil. Sprinkle pita with zahatar seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, and ground pepper. Cut the pita in half, then in quarters, then in eighths to make eight equal sized triangles. Place pita triangles seasoning-side up in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet. Repeat process for remaining three pita rounds. Bbake for 8-10 minutes, turning the sheet once during baking to ensure even heat distribution. Chips are done when they’re golden brown and crisp. Towards the end of baking keep an eye on the chips, as they will brown quickly and can burn if not watched.

Yields 32 pita chips