in the kitchen
I'm spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen this weekend. I am trying, after a long hiatus, to conquer my fear of yeast breads. I've noticed this book mentioned here and there, and what could be better, really, than good bread in five minutes? I had a 33% off coupon for Borders burning a hole in my pocket, so I picked up a copy on my way home from work last Friday. I had planned to attempt a brioche, but found myself without enough butter or honey, so I went with the challah for my first loaves. I loved the idea of the turban shaped loaf, studded with raisins, but put my own twist on it and used dried cherries and apricots instead, and sprinkled almonds on top instead of sesame seeds.
I snipped the fruit into small bits. I love dried cherries. Then I rolled it all up and let it rest:
I completely forgot the egg wash, so it didn't come out as shiny as it probably would have, and the continued rising while it baked caused most of the almonds to fall off. Still, it's a pretty little loaf:
I've got to figure some stuff out, however. According to the book, their dough recipes are very, very wet, and mine wasn't at all. I also don't think it rose nearly enough; the finished bread is really delicious, but denser than it should be. I think our altitude may have contributed to that. There's a whole lot of science to this bread baking thing, but the artisan bread website is full of information, and the authors seem to be incredibly helpful. I'm going to try a little less yeast in the next batch, which is one of the suggestions for baking at higher altitudes. The challah was just half a recipe, which is just two small loaves, and they are perfectly edible, just a little disappointing. I'm going to try a plain old basic boule for the next batch.
I've been trying to be more organized about the food in our house. Because of our different work schedules, I often am on my own for dinner. I also know myself, and if there isn't something fast and easy, I will eat all sorts of weird things. I can eat the same thing several times in a week, so I'm trying to plan ahead and make it easy to fix myself a quick, light dinner for the next few days. One of my favorite breakfasts is huevos rancheros, so I made my own version of ranchero sauce. It came out quite delicious, if I do say so myself. I have a whole jar full, so all I have to do is heat up a corn tortilla and some sauce, and cook a couple eggs. I'm pretty sure my version is healthier than the taco shop version, and it wasn't hard at all. My secret ingredient is chipotles in adobo sauce. Yum! They are so delicious and spicy.
I'm adding the recipe for my own reference, but if you try it, let me know what you think!
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
a large clove of garlic, minced
1 large can whole plum tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes and chiles (I used Trader Joe's fire roasted, they're delicious!)
a couple finely chopped chipotles, and a spoonful of the adobo sauce from the can
Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions, bell pepper, and garlic until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft. Add both cans of tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with your fingers. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat a little, and let cook for a few minutes. Add the chipotles and adobo sauce to taste. I find that there are sometimes variations in the hotness levels, so add a little at a time and taste before adding more. I think it gets a little hotter as it cooks, so add them accordingly! Let it simmer for a good 10-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
To serve: heat a corn tortilla (or two) in a skillet (I use my cast iron skillet, and spray a little cooking spray in it; I then use the same pan to cook my eggs). Remove tortillas to your plate. Top with a little of your ranchero sauce. You can add a little grated cheese at this point, if you'd like. Cheese isn't authentic, but I felt a little cheese-y myself today, so I added it. I like this just as well without, too.
Cook two eggs over-easy. Place them on top of the tortillas, and spoon more sauce over the top. Add more cheese, if you'd like, and garnish with fresh cilantro. If you want a more hearty meal, you can serve this with rice and/or beans, as well.