Flourless Chocolate Cake

One of the young women I work with has a birthday today.  Since she likes to eat gluten-free. I decided to make a Flourless Chocolate Cake.  My “go to” for recipes is America’s Test Kitchen, so I pulled a couple of recipes from online and made one.  I don’t know if I did not follow the directions perfectly or what, but it looked awful and all the butter in it melted to the bottom of the pan in a big goo.  That baby hit the trash.

Luckily I bought extra chocolate and made King Arthur’s version as it had received five starts.  It looks pretty darn good.  Flourless

This flourless cake, featuring both chocolate and cocoa is RICH! A chocolate ganache glaze takes it over the top. Since it contains neither flour nor leavening, it’s perfect for Passover and those following a gluten-free diet.

Cake

  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa preferred

Glaze

  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan. See “tips,” below.
  2. To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can do this over a burner set at a very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
  4. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
  7. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
  8. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
  9. To make the glaze: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.
  10. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.
  11. Yield: 8″ cake, 8 to 12 servings.

Tips from our bakers

  • You line your pan with wax paper instead of parchment. While wax paper shouldn’t be exposed to direct oven heat, it’s fine when used between cake batter and pan.
  • If desired, garnish cake with 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a 350°F oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. I used Chocolate Curls described below. 
  • For cleanest slicing, use a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry. Repeat dipping knife in hot water and wiping dry for each slice.

I added chocolate curls and yellow M & M’s since the Birthday Girl hates yellow.  Thought it might be funny.

How to Make Chocolate Curls

 Ingredients
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons butter (or shortening)

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate & butter in the microwave on 30% power until smooth.
  2. Pour onto the underside of a baking pan using an offset spatula to spread the chocolate thin as possible.
  3. Place in the freezer for 3-4 minutes or until firm. Using a spatula or scraper, scrape the chocolate off the pan and make curls. If the chocolate begins to soften too much, pop it back into the freezer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Once curled, place the pan back in the fridge until ready to use. Transfer the curls to your dessert using a spatula.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Home-made Flour Tortillas

I watched this and thought, finally a way to make tortillas that might actually work.  With the steak from my left over Beef Wellington (not letting that go to waste) I will be making Steak Tacos for dinner tonight!  Tomorrow recipe for tacos and photos.

8-inch Flour Tortillas

Homemade tortillas are not as difficult as you think.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

While testing recipes for our Easy Flour Tortillas, we learned that too little fat produced brittle tortillas, too little salt yielded tasteless ones, and baking powder made them doughy and thick. Adding hot water to the dough melted the shortening, which then coated the flour and prevented it from absorbing excess moisture. This resulted in less gluten development and yielded more tender tortillas. A brief rest in the refrigerator firmed up the shortening again so that the dough wasn’t too sticky to roll.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 12 tortillas
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

I plan to use low-gluten flour from Sheppards Farm that I can buy locally.  It is not gluten free, but if you are only intolerant, this may work for you.  

1 ½ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 6 pieces
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, heated to 110 degrees
½ teaspoon vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS

1. MAKE DOUGH Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Rub shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until combined.

2. FORM BALLS Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Roll 2½ tablespoons dough into 1½-inch balls. Transfer balls to plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

3. COOK TORTILLAS Working on lightly floured surface, roll balls to 8-inch rounds. Heat oil in large -nonstick -skillet over medium-low heat until just smoking. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Lay 1 round in skillet and cook until -surface begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate and cover with kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining rounds. Serve.

MAKE AHEAD Tortillas can be cooled, layered between parchment paper, covered in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for 3 days. To serve, microwave on 50 percent power until heated through, 10 to 20 seconds.

TECHNIQUE

ROLL YOUR OWN

After the dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes, roll out each ball to an 8-inch round.

Home-made Flour Tortillas

The Key to Making Perfect Risotto

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Risotto is one of my favorite dishes.  I learned to make it several years ago and have made it many times.  There is so much you can add into it and make it interesting.  I received this article in an online newsletter and thought I might share it!  Rocco DiSpirito from Food & Wine wrote the following article.

Risotto might seem like a simple dish—it’s basically just rice, white wine and butter—that you probably rely on for a quick weeknight meal for your family, but there are several ways you can upgrade your technique to make this meal even better.

To start off, you’ll need a pan with straight, not curved sides. Add shallots and garlic to the pan (along with butter and olive oil—the proper amount depends on the recipe that you use) but some people prefer onions instead of shallots. Here is where the chef says things get tricky: You’ll want to cook your shallots until they are translucent, not browned. You don’t want to your risotto to have a caramelized flavor.

“Risotto should have a delicate, perfumey flavor,” he explains. “It should feel like 12-ply cashmere in your mouth when you’re done.”

Once the shallots are cooked, you can add the rice. DiSpirito says your rice should be “toasted,” but makes an important addendum: The rice shouldn’t be browned, just hardened on the outside. Once the outside of the rice (which cooks faster than the inside of the grain) gets hardened, you can start adding liquids to give the rice flavor and its signature creamy texture. DiSpirito used white wine and chicken stock in his version. If you use white wine at home, you’ll want to add it to the pan first, a little at a time, stirring constantly.

“The rice should be dry,” he advises. “There shouldn’t be any liquid in the pan because the rice should have absorbed [the white wine].”

Once the wine has been absorbed, you can start adding the chicken stock, a little at a time. Always remember to stir the rice as it’s cooking.

“Risotto is like a new born baby,” says DiSpirito. “You cannot leave it alone in it’s crib.”

As you probably know, there’s no cream in risotto, but it should have a smooth texture. It can only achieve that texture from continual stirring, according to DiSpirito.

“You beat the starch out of the rice into the liquid,” he says. “So you have this thickened liquid that is enveloping the rice that is perfectly soft.”

You know that you have the texture right when it feels like a “gummy bear.” If the dish is still crunchy, you can add more liquid to the pan and stir, to keep the rice cooking.

By the end of the process, you may have poured what feels like a ton of liquid into your pan. Don’t worry, you didn’t overdo it.

“If you’re cooking risotto properly, you’re adding two to three times the volume of liquid to rice,” says DiSpirito.

During the demonstration, the chef’s assistant hardly ever moved away the stove or put down the spatula. That’s how important it is to keep the rice moving in the pan—remember, if you want to get that creamy texture, you have to “beat the starch” out of the rice. If you’re doing this at home and don’t have the luxury of a sous chef, be sure to keep your ingredients close by so that you don’t have to stop stirring to reach into a cabinet or open a drawer. Looking for a healthier version? Try using cauliflower rice.

Here is a nice recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To avoid a bland, gummy risotto with watery, flavorless mushrooms, our mushroom risotto recipe calls for a combination of dried porcinis and fresh mushrooms, cooked separately and added to the finished risotto. To give our mushroom risotto recipe a complex flavor, we cooked the risotto in a broth enriched with the reconstituted porcini liquid and soy sauce and flavored with fresh thyme, parsley, and Parmesan.

TRY THIS RECOMMENDED COOKING COURSE
Perfect Sautéed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

2 bay leaves

6 sprigs fresh thyme
4sprigs fresh parsley leaves
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed in mesh strainer under running water.  ( You can get these fresh at some local markets and they are a lot better)
3 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp soy sauce
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with a paper towel, stems discarded and caps             cut into fourths if small or sixths if medium
2 medium onions, chopped fine (2 cups)
Salt to taste
3 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced (about 1 tbl)
1 pound Arborio Rice (2 1/8 cups)
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about a cup) Parmesano Reggiano is a better           parmesan and your risotto will taste much better with a better parmesan
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 6 AS MAIN COURSE, 8 AS FIRST COURSE

Cremini mushrooms are sometimes sold as baby bella mushrooms. If they’re not available, button mushrooms make a fine, though somewhat less flavorful, substitute. Toward the end of cooking, judge the doneness of the rice by tasting it.

 

1. Tie together bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and parsley sprigs with kitchen twine. ( I like to put in what looks like a large tea ball) 

2. Bring bundled herbs, porcini mushrooms, chicken broth, soy sauce, and 3 1/2 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce to medium-low and simmer until dried mushrooms are softened and fully hydrated, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove and discard herb bundle and strain broth through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl (you should have about 6 1/2 cups strained liquid); return liquid to saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Finely mince porcini and set aside.

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add Cremini mushrooms, 1 cup onions, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms are well browned, about 7 minutes.

5. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute, then transfer mushrooms to oven-safe bowl and keep warm in oven. Off heat, add 1/4 cup water to now-empty skillet and scrape with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits; pour liquid from skillet into saucepan with broth.

6. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add remaining 1 cup onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and translucent, about 9 minutes.

7. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains’ edges are transparent, about 4 minutes.

8. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until rice absorbs wine. Add minced porcini and 3 1/2 cups broth and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid is absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes.

9. Stir in additional 1/2 cup broth every 2 to 3 minutes until rice is cooked through but grains are still somewhat firm at center, 10 to 12 minutes (rice may not require all of broth).

10. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in mushrooms (and any accumulated juices), Parmesan, and chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; serve immediately in warmed bowls.

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The Key to Making Perfect Risotto

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad

salad

I found this recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Mediterranean Cookbook and since I had all the ingredients, decided to give it a try.  I added a little and left out a little.  I made notes below the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound cremini or white button mushrooms, very thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, from the heart of the celery, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or tarragon
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces shaved Parmesan

Toss together the mushrooms, celery, parsley, and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice (or lemon juice and vinegar) and olive oil, and toss with the vegetables. Just before serving, toss again with the Parmesan.

Notes:

I used a little dried tarragon, as my chives are way out in the garden and probably frozen.  I did not use any vinegar as the recipe from the book did not call for any, but I did use EVOO (1/4 cup) and mixed it with the lemon juice, then added the very thinly (1/8 inch or less) mushrooms and thinly sliced celery to the mix and let it set for 10 minutes.

Since I had 2 ounces of grated regiano parmesano in the refrigerator I add that, then shaved the same for the top of the salad.  My garden is a little short of parsley this time of year, so I added baby arugula.

This would be a lovely salad to serve for dinner with friends, as it is a bit different, but delicious.  Hope you enjoy making it.

 

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad

Easy as Pie

Earlier this week I took a pie baking class that was offered for free via our local library at the Village Green in Kingston, Washington.  A local baker taught the class and it was quite entertaining and I did learn a couple new tricks.  I don’t make many pies, but do enjoy the process.  I personally use the basic pie dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, but do it all by hand rather than using a food processor.  Here is their recipe that I use:

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 Cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

12 Tbs cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut into 1/4″ slices

1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces (Crisco or lard)

1/4 cup Vodka – cold
1/4 cup cold water
INSTRUCTIONS
FOR ONE 9-INCH DOUBLE-CRUST PIE

Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor—do not substitute extra water. The alcohol is key to our recipe; if you don’t have vodka on hand, you can use another 80 proof liquor. This dough will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (1/4 cup must be used to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter).

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

STEP-BY-STEP

Key Steps to Foolproof Pie Dough

1. MAKE A FAT AND FLOUR PASTE:Completely blending part of the flour with all of the butter ensures a consistent amount of fat-coated flour in the final dough.

2. ADD MORE FLOUR: Pulsing in the final cup of flour ensures a consistent amount of uncoated flour in the final dough.

3. ADD WATER AND VODKA: Sprinkling with water and vodka ensures even distribution. No need to skimp—unlike water, vodka won’t make the dough tough.

Making Foolproof Pie Dough Without a Food Processor

If you don’t have a food processor, you can also prepare this recipe in a stand mixer: Start by bringing your butter and shortening to room temperature. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on medium-low speed until just combined, 4 to 5 seconds. Add butter and shortening to mixer and mix on medium-low speed for another 15 seconds, until dough starts to form around paddle. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle with spatula. Add remaining cup flour and mix on medium-high speed until dough has broken into smaller pieces, 2 to 3 seconds. Empty contents into medium bowl and continue recipe from step 2.

***Here are the notes from the class I took.  I enjoyed the class, but was not successful with her dough recipe. I don’t like egg in my dough and could never get it to come together.  Maybe my hands are not warm enough?

~It’s as easy as Pie~

Per the paper handed out in class (My notes in italics)

There are simple steps to creating a beautiful handcrafted flaky crusted pie, which do not require you to be a professional baker.  At the bakery we are often asked about how we make such beautiful pies. The answer is of course, practice. (smile) When you follow these simple steps you will get not only a pretty looking pie, but one that tastes delicious as well. I will have to say it looked great and tasted good.

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Notes to start:

  1. The filling

Fruits: Simple always tastes better.  When we bake or cook we are often under the pretense that the more spices the better it will taste.  With pies it is the opposite.  The more you let the fruit speak for itself, the better. Everyone wants their peach pie to taste like fresh picked juicy peaches.  So use simple ingredients and you will achieve that taster perfection.

Sugar: Sugar is good, don’t ever let anyone tell you different.

Cream: If you can make you own pudding it will always taste better. The trick is constant stirring and whole milk! You can add whatever flavor you like to a plain vanilla pudding recipe.

Savory: Once again, simplicity is better.  A classic bacon and cheese combination for the carnivore or a simple spinach, tomato and feta for the vegetarians will always satisfy the savory taste buds.

  1. The “elusive” flaky crust (cook with clarified butter)

Flakiness is achieved through several steps

  1. Low gluten – choose an all-purpose flour instead of a bread flour (They use Sheppard’s Grain bread, which is available in bulk at Central Market)
  2. Use butter
  3. Butter. Flakes of butter will melt away leaving little tiny pockets that turn into the flakes you love in pie crust.
  4. Little contact – When you add moisture to flour it almost immediately reacts. The proteins in the flour start to form gluten strands and the dough starts to have a spring to it. This great when working with bread, as you want it to rise. But with pie crust, you don’t want that.  The more you work the dough the tougher the crust becomes and that is when you start having shrinking dough or dough that won’t roll out. (I used to do mine in the food processor, as I learned to do in the 80’s, but it was always a little too tough)       
  5. The Temperature – This is the key part to baking your pie. You want the pie to set.  This means you want to bake it on a high heat for 15 minutes. 425 for the first 15, then drop it to 350 for the last hours.  (In class she said to heat the oven the 425, then turn down to 350 when you placed the pie in the oven)

Bakers Tips

  • Partially frozen fruit will bake better and won’t leave you with a soggy crust
  • Flour and sugar on the bottom of the crust will soak up liquid (This is one of the main things I learned from the class.)
  • Dough is better if it’s a little floury, a warm hand will melt the butter and make an easy roll out
  • If making apple pie, precook the apples stovetop to remove the liquid or as The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose L. Bernbaum. Mix your sliced apples, sugar, and spices together. Let sit for 30-40 minutes. Then drain off liquid and boil in a small pan until reduced by half. Mix this “syrup” back into your apples–add a little flour, then pile apples in crust and bake

Lacey’s Pie Crust Recipe

One crust                                            Double crust

1.5 cups flour                                      4 cups flour

1 tsp sugar                                          1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt                                             1 Tbs salt

1 egg                                                   1 egg

½ cup butter (cold)                             ¾ cup butter (cold)

½ cup Crisco                                        ¾ cup Crisco

3 Tbs cool water                                 Never really wrote or said how much,  6 Tbl ??

  1. Grab a bowl large enough that you will be able to move flour around without getting too messy. Measure out four, sugar & slat into the bowl and stir briefly.
  2. Add your eggs (she said to only use one) to the flour mixture. Break the yolks with your fingers and stir gently until the eggs are mixed into the four – about 15 seconds.
  3. Cube your butter into ½” squares. Add it to your flour mixture. Squeeze the butter between your fingers with the flour till your mixture looks like bread crumbs – about 2 minutes
  4. Slowly add in your water, folding the mixture onto itself, until it is a cohesive dough. This part is important.  You may not need all of the water, so go slowly.  If you add too much water the dough will become too soft and will tear during rolling.  Do not over knead the dough or it will become tough. When you squeeze the dough in your fist and it hold together in a ball it is done!
  5. Cut the dough in half. Fatten each half in to a disk. At this point you can roll the dough, refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days, or freeze the dough for up to two months.
  6. T roll the dough, sprinkle flour on the surface, not so much that you will have mounds of flour, but not so little that your pie dough will stick to the counter.
  7. Sprinkle a little flour n top of the dough and begin the rolling process. Start in the middle of the dough and roll out.  I like to pretend the round dough is a clock.  I roll to 12, then to 3, then to 6, then to 9 and then I flip the dough over.  Sprinkle with a little more flour and repeat the “clock” process.
  8. Roll the dough until it is the size you need based on your pie plate. If you have a 9” pie plate, you will need to roll the dough an extra three inches to account for the deepness of the plate and the edges of the pie.
  9. Fold your dough in half and transfer to the pie plate centering it. (I learned to roll the dough around my rolling pin and then unroll atop the pie plate centering it.)

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If you are making a cream pie, crimp your edges, poke holes in the bottom of the crust and place your pie crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.  When the 10 minutes is up, place pie weights in the bottom of your crust and place in a preheated over ~350 degrees for 10 minutes or until brown. (I always put the pie weights atop parchment, so they are easy to get off when done and easy to put back into a container.) Let the crust cool before adding your cream mixture.  Refrigerate an hour before serving.

If you are making a fruit pie, decide if you want a top crust or if you want a crumble topping.  If you want a top crust, follow steps 6 – 8 and fold dough in half.  You will need to prep your bottom crust for the fruit, as fruit has a lot of moisture in it and will make the bottom crust soggy.  If you sprinkle a layer of flour and sugar mixed together with your fingers on the bottom before the fruit, the problem should be eliminated.

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Next add your fruit, and either sprinkle with the crumble or lay your top crust over the fruit.  The excess dough should the touch the counter as it hangs over the edge of your pie plate.

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Gently fold the top crust up and around the edge of the pie plate collecting the edge of the bottom crust as you do.  Crimp the crust using your thumb and pointer fingers.  Poke holes in the top for steam to escape. Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon, making sure to get sugar in the crimped edges.  Bake at 425 for 10 min, then turn the oven down to 350 for 45 minutes or until the pie is done.

Your pie is done when it does not jiggle, and fruit has a slow bubble to it.

If you are doing a savory pie, do not add sugar atop the crust or on the bottom before adding your savory, but do add the flour.

Apple Filling

8 medium/large golden delicious apples.  Goldens are juicier and have a higher water content. Hard apples like Granny Smith will hold the apple shape better and will be crisper to the bite.

¼ cup flour

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon

I learned to put flour and sugar in your crust before you add your fruit and if it is savory just add the flour.  Simple tip that really works.  I realized I liked the recipe that I use from America’s Test Kitchen more than the one we made.  Now I need to make more pie!  

 

 

Easy as Pie

SWEET POTATO SOUP (Served with bacon crumbles and chives)

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This is a very simple, but luscious soup for cold fall evening, maybe after working in the garden in the day.  Serve it with a crusty Italian bread that you can dip in the soup and it is just perfection.  The recipe is from Cook’s Country and is undeniable good.

Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Chives

Slicing the sweet potatoes very thin allows them to cook very quickly. Add a salad and good bread to make a fast, easy supper.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

Slicing the sweet potatoes very thin allows them to cook very quickly. Add a salad and good bread to make a fast, easy supper.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

Serves 4
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced thin
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

If after cooking the bacon you don’t have quite 2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the pot, add olive oil to make up the difference. For a slightly spicy version of this soup, add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

 

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from now-empty pot. Add onion, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add potatoes, broth, and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Working in batches, process soup in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup, sprinkled with bacon and chives.

SWEET POTATO SOUP (Served with bacon crumbles and chives)

Recipe Failure

So the other day I tried a recipe that sounded wonderful.  I had a pork loin thawed out and looked for a recipe in my favorite America’s Test Kitchen online site.  The recipe sounded totally yummy and I had almost all the ingredients.  As always I followed the directions to the tee.  I had enough filling for at least three good sized pork loins, so froze the two left over rolls.  But I would cut everything in the stuffing by fourths, as there was way too much.  I would also experiment with temperature and cooking times.  My pork loin was so overdone, it tasted like it had been smoked.  So here is a photo of my sad looking pork loin and below is what it should have looked like.

The glaze from the Apricot Preserved puddled on the foil (luckily I wrapped the pan with a double layer of tin foil) and filled the house with the lovely smell of burnt apricots.  My husband was working upstairs in the house and the smell drifted upstairs and he was afraid I caught the house on fire.

The pork was totally dry and very overcooked.  The stuffing was dry and overcooked.

This is the first recipe I have tried from America’s Test Kitchen that was a total failure. Usually I love their recipes.  It seemed when I originally read the recipe that it was way too long and way too hot to cook pork loin.  Hum, seems to be the right reaction. I will try it again, but at a lower temperature to cook it and a lot less of the Apricot Preserves, so no major burning.  I guess we do learn from our mistakes.

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Roast Pork Loin with Apricot, Fig, and Pistachio Stuffing

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To ensure that our stuffed pork loin recipe would give us moist meat and a flavorful stuffing in one cohesive package, we first brined our boneless pork roast for flavor and texture and then butterflied and pounded it to an even thickness, increasing the meat’s surface area to maximize the amount of stuffing we could use. For the stuffing in our pork loin recipe, we used fresh bread as a base and flavored it with dried fruit, nuts, and herbs, adding eggs as a binder. Prebaking the stuffing before stuffing the roast got it to a temperature high enough that we didn’t have to roast the stuffed pork until it was dry and overcooked.

INGREDIENTS

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Roast

1 boneless pork loin roast (4 1/2 pounds), from the blade end

Brine

¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup kosher salt (or 6 tablespoons table salt)
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon allspice berries, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
10 medium cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled

Stuffing

5 cups roughly torn 1-inch pieces baguette (not sourdough) (7 to 8 ounces),from 1 baguette
½ cup dried apricots (about 4 ounces)
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons grated onion from 1 small onion
½ cup dried figs, halved lengthwise (about 3 ounces)
½ cup shelled pistachios (about 3 ounces), toasted in medium skillet over medium heat until color deepens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes, then cooled and chopped coarse
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
Ground black pepper
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream

Glaze

½ cup apricot preserves

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 8 TO 10

Timing is important. The goal is to coordinate brining and stuffing so that the pork is out of the brine and ready to be stuffed when the pre-cooked stuffing comes out of the oven. To achieve this, begin preparing the stuffing ingredients immediately after setting the pork in the brine. Bamboo skewers, available in supermarkets (or see below), are our favorite way to fasten the roast around the stuffing. Alternatively, use poultry lacers (though they are generally sold only six to a package). The apricot preserves for the glaze can be melted in the microwave instead of on the stovetop. To do so, heat the preserves in a small, microwave-safe bowl, covered loosely with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, about 40 seconds.

1. Following illustrations 1 through 4, (see “Step by Step: Ready The Roast,” below) trim, butterfly, and pound pork loin to even 1-inch thickness with mallet or bottom of heavy skillet.

2. For the Brine: In a large, wide bowl, dissolve sugar and salt in 3 cups hot water. Add bay, allspice, peppercorns, garlic, and 5 cups cold water; stir to combine. Add butterflied and pounded pork; cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove pork from brine, pick spices off meat, and dry pork thoroughly with paper towels.

3. For the Stuffing and Glaze: Once the pork is in the brine, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process half the bread pieces in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until broken into crumbs with few pieces no larger than about 1/4 inch, about 45 seconds; transfer to large mixing bowl and set aside. Repeat process with remaining bread pieces (you should have about 4 cups crumbs total).

4. In now-empty workbowl, process apricots, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne until finely ground, about 30 seconds; add mixture to reserved bread crumbs. Add onion, figs, pistachios, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste to bread crumb and apricot mixture; toss until well distributed, breaking up any apricot clumps as necessary. Beat eggs and cream in small bowl; pour over bread and apricot mixture and toss with hands until evenly moistened and a portion of mixture holds together when pressed.

5. On parchment paper–lined cookie sheet or inverted rimmed baking sheet, form stuffing into log shape equal in length to butterflied pork. Cover stuffing with foil and bake until firm and cooked through and butterflied pork has been removed from brine and prepared for stuffing, about 45 minutes. Remove stuffing from oven; increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

6. While stuffing bakes, heat apricot preserves in small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted but not liquefied, 5 to 7 minutes. Strain through small strainer into small bowl (you should have about 1/3 cup) and set aside; discard solids in strainer.

7. To Stuff, Roast, and Glaze the Roast: Line shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil, position flat wire roasting rack over foil, and set aside. Following illustrations 5 through 8 (see “Step by Step: Ready The Roast,” below), stuff, roll, fasten, and tie pork loin. Place stuffed roast on rack, brush one-half apricot glaze evenly over exposed surface of meat and roast 20 minutes. Remove roast from oven and, with tongs, rotate roast so that bottom side faces up. Brush exposed surface with remaining apricot glaze; return roast to oven and roast 25 minutes longer (glaze should be medium golden brown and internal temperature of both meat and stuffing should register 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Transfer roast to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Cut off twine, slice, and serve.

STEP-BY-STEP

Ready the Roast

1. Using a boning knife, trim the tough silver skin from the pork loin.

2. Lay the loin on the cutting board and begin to slice laterally through the center, starting at the thinner edge.

3. As you slice, open the meat as you would a book. Stop slicing 1 inch shy of the edge to create a hinge.

4. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and pound the meat to a 1-inch thickness.

5. Cut eight 24-inch pieces of kitchen twine. Break nine 10- or 12-inch bamboo skewers in half.

6. Roll the hot stuffing onto the center of the butterflied pork, over the hinge.

7. Bring both sides of the meat together over the stuffing and fasten at the center with one skewer. Fasten the roast with the remaining skewers placed at regular intervals.

8. Shimmy lengths of twine one by one down the roast and tie them between the skewers, as shown. Trim the twine and remove the skewers before roasting.

Recipe Failure

Chicken Tacos sound better as: “Tinga de Pollo”

Tinga de Pollo

This is simmering and smelling wonderful.  I am surprised my neighbors are not knocking at my door.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

Tinga de pollo is typically made by poaching breast meat separately from the tomato-and-chipotle-based sauce and combining the two only briefly at the end. For deeper flavor, we chose boneless thighs and cooked them directly in the sauce. Fire-roasted tomatoes increased smokiness, and a little brown sugar and lime juice and zest further boosted the complexity. Simmering the cooked shredded chicken in the sauce for a full 10 minutes before serving gave the sauce a chance to thicken and loosened the chicken’s muscle fibers so the sauce could really work its way into every crevice in the shredded meat’s abundant surface area.

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice

TACOS

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
6 scallions, minced
minced fresh cilantro
Lime wedges

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 6

In addition to the Mexican-Style Pickled Vegetables (Escabèche) and the toppings included here, Mexican crema (or sour cream) and minced onion are also good choices. If you can’t find Cotija cheese, you can substitute crumbled feta. The shredded chicken mixture also makes a good topping for tostadas.

 

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of chicken and brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to large plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

2. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty pot, and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, chipotle and adobo sauce, and sugar and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.

3. Return chicken to pot, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meat registers 195 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping chicken after 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board.

4. Transfer cooking liquid to blender and process until smooth, 15 to 30 seconds. Return sauce to pot. When cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to pot with sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and clings to chicken, about 10 minutes. Stir in lime zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. FOR THE TACOS: Spoon chicken into center of each warm tortilla and serve, passing avocado, Cotija, scallions, cilantro, and lime wedges separately.

Condiments

Added a little Mexican Crema too!

Chicken Tacos sound better as: “Tinga de Pollo”

Pizza Pizza Pizza

Everyone loves pizza, but what is interesting to me is that everyone seems to like it a bit different.  My husband and I loved the pizza we ate in Florence, Italy.  It was simple, with not a lot of ingredients, thin crust and totally delicious.

italian-pizza-margherita-fresh-tomatoes-mozzarella-basil-marjoram-43460353

I found this photo online and it is an example of that perfect pizza we found in Italy. I eat gluten free 99% of the time, but that one night in Italy I ate three pieces of my husband’s pizza.  I had ordered a salad, but I guarantee his pizza looked a lot better than my salad.  I savored every bite and unsavored it about three in the morning when I woke up quite ill.  But I still loved that pizza and going forward eat in a lot more moderation.

I have been trying to made a good pizza crust for a while.  I have used Paul Hollywood’s recipe and America’s Test Kitchen.  I sort of combined the two to some success.  I am realizing there is a real art to making great pizza.

IMG_6418

With this pizza I used a pizza stone with a pizza dish on top.  I heated the oven to 550 degrees (blew out the fan) and added the pizza.

Lesson here:  Maybe a little lower temperature is okay, roll out the dough thinner and add the basil after the pizza is done.  I used a fresh mozzarella, but not the best I could find, so next time I will find a buratta  mozzarella, as it is softer and much more flavorful.  I always make my own sauce, but find it is better if I use fresh tomatoes rather than low sodium canned.  I have a wonderful herb garden on my back porch, so always use a variety of fresh herbs.

IMG_6429 (1)

The next pizza next pizza I attempted I used my new cast iron pizza pan described by America’s Test Kitchen as being the best.  For this I decided to use up the rest of some sausage from the night before.  I had to wait for a turn in the oven, and the pizza dough kept rising.

After the fact I watched a video on how to use this new cast iron pan.  I did not want to take it out of the oven, so attempted to put the toppings on while it was still in the oven. This is where I say: “failure”.  The crust was messy, too think and had a rather odd shape.  Next time, take the pan out of the oven and add toppings.

IMG_6414

The bottom of the crust on this pizza was perfectly cooked, but it sat out a little too long, so it grew in the heat of the kitchen.  I also discovered that I really don’t like sausage on my pizza, or mushrooms.  Lesson learned: Get it together faster, keep it simpler and take the dang pan out of the oven to add toppings. BTW we threw this one out.  One taste was enough to know neither of us liked it much. Crust was great, but toppings were too much. Great way to ruin a yummy crust.

IMG_6417

This one was our favorite, even though cooked on just the pizza stone and not the cast iron.  I do admit, I kind of messed the only one cooked on the pizza cast iron.

Conclusion of this experiment: Make the dough as it tells you in either recipe, divide it in thirds like it tells you and unless you are cooking for several, freeze two of the pizza dough balls for later.  Every recipe I have tried makes way too much pizza dough for two people.

My recipe for the red sauce is as follows:

  1.  Chop a bunch of tomatoes and I leave the skins on
  2. Chop up some very fresh garlic
  3. Add a little good quality EVOO
  4. Grab herbs or buy them and add them to the pot
    1. I like oregano, thyme & rosemary
  5. Cook for a while
  6. Add a teaspoon of sugar
  7. Puree till finely blended and add however much salt & pepper you like

Paul Hollywood’s Pizza Dough recipe:

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for flouring (in the US use bread flour)
  • 5g/¼oz salt
  • 30ml/1fl oz olive oil
  • 5g/¼oz fast-action yeast
  • 180ml/6fl oz water
  • semolina, for dusting (optional)

    Ingredients

    For the pizza dough

    Method

    1. For the pizza dough, mix the flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and water together in a bowl.

    2. Turn the dough out onto an oiled work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cut off a small piece of the dough and stretch part of it as thinly as you can. If you can see the shadow of your fingers through the dough – the light should shine through the dough like a window pane – without the dough tearing, it is ready to prove.

    3. Shape the dough into a ball and tip into a bowl.

    4. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for an hour.

    5. Divide the mix into three balls. Roll out on a floured surface into circles. Place each circle on a flat baking tray or a plastic chopping board dusted with semolina (so the pizza can be easily transferred to the oven later).

    6. Place a pizza stone or an upturned baking tray into the oven and heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (in a non-fan oven).

     

    America’s Test Kitchen Recipe

    1 ¾ cups water divided, 1/2 cup warm, remaining at tap temperature
    2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast (1 envelope)
    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing dough
    4 cups bread flour
    1 ½ teaspoons table salt
    vegetable oil (or cooking spray) for oiling bowl
    semolina for dusting peel
    2 LARGE, 4 MEDIUM OR 8 INDIVIDUAL PIZZAS

    This dough can be used for any size pizza with thick or thin crust; simply adjust the cooking time to fit the pizza. Make sure you heat the oven to 500 degrees for thirty minutes before you start cooking. Your tiles or stone need at least that long to heat up; if they’re not properly heated, your pizza crust will be thin, blond, and limp. Once the dough for the crust has been topped, use a quick jerking action to slide it off the peel and onto the hot tiles or stone; make sure that the pizza lands far enough back so that its front edge does not hang off. For a cornmeal-flavored dough, substitute three-quarters cup of cornmeal for three-quarters cup of the bread flour. Editor’s Note: This recipe was updated in 1997, when we found that adding more water resulted in a tastier pizza. This recipe contains a total of 1 3/4 cups water, while the original that appeared in the magazine in 1995 contains 1 1/2 cups.

    1. Measure 1/4 cup of warm water into 2-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup warm water plus remaining 1 1/4 cups tap water and olive oil. Meanwhile, pulse flour and salt in workbowl of large food processor fitted with steel blade to combine. Add liquid ingredients (holding back a tablespoon or so) to flour and pulse together. If dough does not readily form into ball, stop machine, add remaining liquid, and continue to pulse until ball forms. Process until dough is smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds longer.

    2. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand with a few strokes to form smooth, round ball. Put dough into medium-large, oiled bowl, and cover with damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

    3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and use chef’s knife or dough scraper to halve, quarter, or cut dough into eighths, depending on number and size of pizzas desired. Form each piece into ball and cover with damp cloth. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape as shown in illustrations below. Transfer to pizza peel that has been lightly coated with semolina, brush dough very lightly with olive oil before topping and cooking.

    4. Use the following guide to determine cooking time for pizza crust with topping but without cheese. All pizzas need to be cooked an additional two or three minutes after adding cheese, or until cheese is completely melted.

    THIN CRUST

    14-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 2) – 7 to 8 minutes

    12-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 4) – 5 minutes

    8-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 8)- 3 minutes.

    MEDIUM-THICK CRUST

    12-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 2) – 9 to 10 minutes

    8-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 4) – 5 minutes

    6-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 8) – 4 minutes.

    So there you have it, probably too much information about making a simple pizza.  I find using the best ingredients and doing lots of practice runs (and I am definitely still working on mine) will give you the best results.

    I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book telling you it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything and am hoping that does not apply to making the perfect pizza.

    Happy eating.

Pizza Pizza Pizza

Another day of cooking

Fun and very easy dinner shared here.  It is interesting having my six year old granddaughter for the summer, as she has very specific likes and VERY specific dislikes.  No tomatoes, but loves tomato sauces.  So the other night I bought some Lamb Loin Chops and rubbed them with lots of herbs from my garden and olive oil.  We grilled them quickly on barbecue and that was a huge hit, just simple and delicious. Carrots are high on her lists of favorite veggies, so sautéed with butter and fresh dill from the garden and they were devoured.  Funny, but that is the one cooked vegetable I do NOT love.  She kept asking me why I didn’t eat the carrots.  America’s Test Kitchen bread, with very little kneading was totally tasty and another big hit with Claire and my husband.  But risotto with Reggiano Parmesano was not in her palate, so she would not even try it, even though she loves cheese and loves rice.  So you never know what will make it and what will not.  The salad with greens from my garden, tomatoes and avocados, was a “don’t bother to put on her plate”.  I don’t think I liked lettuce or tomatoes at that age either.

Since the most of the dinner was simple and as easy as described I will just post the recipe for the bread.

Almost No-Knead Bread

A no-fuss recipe that is revolutionizing home baking trades flavor and reliability for ease. Could we improve the bread’s bland taste and make it rise high every time?

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To avoid lengthy and tiresome kneading, we let our bread dough sit for 8 to 18 hours, during which a process called autolysis develops gluten—the protein that gives baked breads their bubbly, chewy crumb structure. After that, just 15 seconds of kneading does the trick. To give our bread more flavor than standard no-knead recipes, we add vinegar for acidic tang and lager beer for extra yeastiness. We bake the bread in a preheated covered pot to create steam, producing a springy interior, and then finish baking it uncovered for a beautifully browned crust.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

Makes 1 large round loaf

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
6 tablespoons mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Vegetable oil spray

Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild nonalcoholic lager also works). In step 3, start the 30-minute timer as soon as you put the bread in the cold oven. Do not wait until the oven has preheated to start your timer or the bread will burn. The bread is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to two days.

1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in large bowl. Add water, lager, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

2. Lay 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and spray with oil spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam side down, to center of parchment and spray surface of dough with oil spray. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Remove plastic from pot. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Cover pot and place in oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake bread for 30 minutes.

4. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

TEN STEPS TO EASY RUSTIC BREAD

1. HAND-MIX INGREDIENTS: Combine flour, yeast, and salt; then stir in water, beer, and vinegar and fold it all together. No mixer required.

WHY? This bread will form gluten as it sits, so there’s no need for a lot of mixing at the start.

2. LET REST: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

WHY? Much like kneading, letting the dough sit develops gluten through a process called autolysis.

3. PREPARE PARCHMENT: Spray an 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper lightly with vegetable oil spray.

WHY? You’ll use the parchment to move the dough from the counter to the Dutch oven for its second rise, and to remove the bread from the pot after baking.

4. KNEAD DOUGH: Transfer the dough to a floured counter and knead it just 10 to 15 times.

WHY? During the long rest, the proteins in the dough break down, making it easier to manipulate, and with less than a minute of kneading, the gluten has been sufficiently developed.

5. SHAPE AND LET RISE: Form the dough into a ball, place it on the parchment, and transfer it to a Dutch oven. Then cover it and let it rise for 2 hours.

WHY? Once shaped, the dough undergoes its final rise, during which the yeast produces carbon dioxide to make the dough puff.

6. SLASH DOUGH: Use a sharp knife or razor to cut one 6-inch- long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along the top of the dough.

WHY? Slashing the dough allows steam to escape so the loaf bakes evenly, preventing splits and cracks.

7. COVER UP: Place the cover on the pot.

WHY? The covered pot produces a steamy environment that gives the loaf an open crumb structure.

8. START IT COLD: Place the covered pot in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and bake the bread for 30 minutes.

WHY? Starting the bread in a cold oven ensures against burning the bottom, and the bread rises just as much as in a preheated oven.

9. REMOVE COVER: Uncover the pot and continue to bake the bread until it is deep brown and its center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes more.

WHY? After the steamy environment has created the ideal interior texture, uncovering the pot allows the crust to brown and crisp.

10. LET COOL AND SERVE: Remove the bread from the pot and place it on a rack to cool for about 2 hours before slicing.

WHY? There’s still a lot of moisture trapped inside the hot bread. As the bread sits, the steam escapes giving the cooled loaf just the right texture.

Another day of cooking