Friday, February 18, 2011

Red Beet Buns

This is a recipe using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique, and comes from the authors' second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you've never used this bread making technique, I will explain the basics to you. It is really very simple.

I altered some of the recipe based on ingredients I had on hand. I also halved it, because it was my first time and I wanted to test the recipe out. I will definitely make the whole batch next time! Check the very end of the post for notes on how I altered the recipe.
"Beets: The root's deep red color comes from beta-cyanin, but this is more than a pretty face. The pigment may help prevent cell mutations that can cause cancer. They're also a rich source of folic acid."--Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
From Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Basic Technique
The ABin5 way of making bread is nice because it basically consists of mixing everything in one container (just with a spoon, no kneading), letting it rise in the container for a couple hours, then storing in the fridge until you want to make bread. No additional kneading, easy-peasy. Each batch makes enough dough for several loaves, so you don't have to make dough every time you want bread.

You'll need a large container for the dough, at least 5 quarts. I use a round 1.4 gallon Rubbermaid container. It's wide but short enough to fit on a fridge shelf. The recipe recommends using a baking stone and a metal broiler tray for pouring water in and creating steam. Both of these are optional, but they are supposed to give the finished bread a nice, crispy crust.

Ingredients (enough dough for 5 batches of 8 buns--40 total)
2 cups white whole wheat flour (check for King Arthur or Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups spelt flour*
1 1/2 TBS granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 TBS kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 1/4 cups lukewarm water
3 cups finely shredded peeled raw beets (a food processor with grating attachment makes this much easier, faster, and cleaner!)
1/2 white onion, finely chopped

Directions (from HBin5)
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Add the water, beets, and onion and mix without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment) or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine. (I always can get the job done with just a wooden spoon, and maybe my hands at the end. Don't bother with mixers.)

3. Cover (not airtight!), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier (very!) to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container (keep it in the original mixing container) and use over the next 5 days. The flavor will be best if you wait for at least 24 hours of refrigeration.

5. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) pice. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (I found this dough to be very wet, so move your fingers quickly to avoid sticking. Be liberal with the flour-dusting.) 

6. To form the buns: Divide the ball into 8 roughly equal portions (each about the size of a golf ball). Shape each one into a smooth ball. Allow them to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 40 minutes (20 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough). Alternatively, you can rest the buns on a silicone mat-lined cookie sheet or a greased cookie sheet.

7. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty metal broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising buns.

8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crusts with water.

9. Slide the cookie sheet directly onto the hot stone. Pour 2 cups of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 20 minutes, until richly browned and firm.

10. Allow the buns to cool on a rack before eating.

Now that you have the basic recipe, you can make this cute heart-shaped variation that I made for Valentine's Day. I've heard the buns also make delicious sandwiches.
*I could not find spelt flour at either the "normal" grocery store, or at Henry's, a more natural/whole foods type of store. I did not check at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Spelt flour is lower in gluten than wheat or white, yet not gluten free. I just substituted equal parts of white whole wheat and all-purpose flour for the spelt (i.e instead of 3 cups of spelt, use 1 1/2 cups white wheat and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose). Then I had to adjust the vital wheat gluten a little because of the increased gluten that is part of the white whole wheat. I used a teaspoon of vital wheat gluten for every cup of white whole wheat flour I put into the recipe (the book suggests 1-2 tsp per cup of whole grain flour). A little guesswork there, but everything turned out great.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yam and Bean Burrito

This dish is new to us, but has quickly become one of our favorites. Yams and sweet potatoes, while not closely related, can be used interchangeably.

Yam and Bean Burrito

2010 California Dept of Public Health
2 large yams, cut into bite-sized chunks (I leave the skin on, do what you like)
Olive oil/cooking oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
Whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss yam chunks with 1 TBS oil. Spread coated yams on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes (depending on how large your chunks are) or until yams are tender. In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and saute until tender. Add beans, cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and mix in cooked yam chunks, stirring gently. Spoon mixture into the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up the tortilla and serve. (If you have any left over rice in the fridge, it also makes a great addition.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Banana Wrap + A Plug for Whole Grains

This recipe is so simple, I'm kind of amazed I never thought of it myself. The combination of flavors is classic (bananas and peanut butter!), and this is a great meal for little kids. It is just right for little hands to hold. For Kimball, I make the wrap then slice it. He loves it. Plus, you get a serving each of fruit, protein, and whole grains all in one! Be sure to use whole wheat* tortillas. The flavor is much heartier.

2010 California Dept of Public Health
Banana Wrap

1 whole wheat tortilla
1 banana, peeled
2 TBS peanut butter
2 TBS jelly/jam/preserves

Simply spread the peanut butter and jelly on the flat tortilla, lay the banana at one end, and roll it up.

It may look like kids' food, but I would eat this for lunch every day. It's so yummy!

*Here comes my rant in defense of whole grains: When grains grow in the field, they contain a fiber-rich bran, a heart healthy germ, and a starchy endosperm. Whole grains keep all three parts, while enriched/refined grains (white bread, white rice, etc.) only have the starchy endosperm. I think it's better for food to be closer to its natural state, rather than processed and refined.

Whole grains are great for heart health, digestive health, reduced risk of chronic diseases, weight management, and contain a slew of nutrients such as iron, selenium, magnesium, and several B vitamins. White bread is mostly empty carbs and sugars. Some people think white breads taste better, but I disagree. Besides, that's not a very good excuse to skip out on the irreplaceable benefits of whole grains. We love whole wheat pasta and brown and wild rice. I think the flavors are much more delicious and hearty, plus whole grains help you feel full longer. Read more about the importance of eating whole grains here.

One more thing: breads at the store that say "100% Wheat" are not whole grains, even if the bread looks brown (it has been dyed). It just means that wheat was the only grain used to make the bread. The label must say whole wheat. And multi-grain breads may or may not be whole grains; you just have to check the ingredients.

I told you I was going to rant!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hummus-Brussels Sprouts Bruschetta

I love bruschetta! Here is my original, more traditional recipe. Today, I made a different variaton based on ingredients we had on hand. The result was super yummy. I think anything can go on toasted french bread and it would be good.

I didn't measure out the ingredients, so I'm going to be vague about them. Just make it to taste.

Several slices of french bread (I did 16 from a skinny loaf...maybe 12-16 from a fatter loaf?)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
1 can of garbanzo beans/chick peas
Handful of cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 a bunch of green onions, chopped
Black pepper
5-6 brussels sprouts, cooked and chopped
Parmesan cheese

Brush each side of the french bread slices with olive oil. Broil about one minute per side, watching to make sure they do not burn.

In food processor, mix drained garbanzo beans (reserve some of the liquid from the can), garlic, cilantro, and a splash of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add enough of the can liquid to make a smooth paste. Basically, you've made hummus.

In a bowl, mix tomatoes, brussels sprouts, green onions, black pepper, and a splash each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Ideally, I think grilling the brussels sprouts would be delicious and bring out a great flavor. I just microwaved frozen sprouts. They were still good.

Spread the hummus on the bread (be generous!), followed by a heap of the tomato mixture. Grate parmesan cheese on top, and bake in a hot oven (about 425 degrees or so) for just 2 or 3 minutes, until hot.

Next up: bruschetta with some kind of incorporation of pesto! Yum!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Smoothie

This chocolate-peanut butter smoothie doesn't have to be dessert; it can be a quick and energizing breakfast as well. I made it in no time flat tonight, and it was delicious! Despite sounding rich and fattening, it is more nutritious than not, especially if you follow the directions to use unsweetened cocoa powder and low-fat or nonfat yogurt. Our peanut butter does not have any added sugars, so that is an added bonus: protein and flavor with less sugar. Yogurt has active cultures that keep the intestinal tract healthy, and the calcium can help maintain a trim waistline. Despite what our skinny culture tells us, everyone needs fats, and these ingredients provide some healthy fats.

Ripe banana, 1
Milk, 1/2 cup
Creamy peanut butter, 1 1/2 TBS
Unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1/2 TBS
Vanilla low-fat or nonfat yogurt, 1 cup

Peel and break banana into chunks.
In a blender, combine banana, milk, peanut butter, and cocoa. Process until mixture is smooth.
Add yogurt and process until mixture is thoroughly blended.
Pour smoothie into 2 tall glasses and serve at once.

Calories:260 Carbs:34 g
Protein:12 g Fat:10 g
Cholesterol:10 g Fiber:4 g
Sodium:160 g

From the book Eat Well

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Many times I make concoctions for dinner from ingredients needed to be used or to clean out the fridge. Sometimes they are a success; other times, not so much. Tonight's was definitely a success!

1 spaghetti squash
1 package of pesto mix, or about 1/3-1/2 cup homemade pesto
1/4-1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2-1 cup mushrooms, sliced
Bread crumbs
Italian seasoning

Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard. Place facedown in a baking dish, with just enough water to coat the dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until tender. Let squash cool, then take a fork and scrape the flesh out along the length of the squash. It comes out looking like "spaghetti". Put squash in a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, sautee mushrooms in olive oil. If using a mix, make the pesto. Mix bread crumbs with some olive oil, enough to bring the crumbs together, but not enough to make them soggy. Add a TBS or so of Italian seasoning, and a dash of salt and pepper. (I would have also added freshly grated parmesan cheese at this point, if I had some.)

Mix squash, pesto, ricotta cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Spread in a 9X9 baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and until bread crumbs are golden brown. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baked Nectarines with Granola

The last time I published something on this blog was on my birthday, eight months ago! Part of the reason is that Kimball keeps me busy, and I definitely try out new things much less frequently since he's been born. I think I also just didn't want to be bothered with taking and posting pictures of the food, so I won't worry about that too much anymore. Just imagine breathtakingly beautiful dishes, and that will suffice.

Last night I made only a so-so dinner (out of a box...gasp!), so to make up for it, I decided to make dessert, which I rarely do. I thought we had two peaches in the fridge, but they turned out to be nectarines. In the end, I don't think it mattered. This dessert can be made with nectarines, peaches, and probably even plums or apples. Just something that is somewhat firm to begin with. It's really fast and simple. Jordan and I loved the results!

Baked Nectarines (or whatever you've got on hand) with Granola

Fruit, cut in half and pitted (but not peeled)
Brown sugar
A sweet type of granola
Whipped cream

Half your nectarines and scoop out the pits, leaving a little basin in the middle of each half. Place the fruit halves in a baking dish, skin side down. Add a dab of butter to each little basin in the fruit, and sprinkle a little brown sugar over the fruit. Fill the bottom of the baking dish with just a few tablespoons of water.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes (I suppose time will vary depending on the fruit you use. Just make sure the fruit is cooked and tender before you take it out.) Put a small amount of butter in a pan with the granola. Heat for just a few minutes, until the butter has melted and has coated the granola.

After you take out the fruit, sprinkle the granola over it. Top the hot fruit with some whipped cream, if you desire. Enjoy!