No-Knead Harvest Bread

No-knead bread is so easy, and comes out so good, I rarely make any other kind. The technique uses a wet dough and ultra-long rise to generate flavor and gluten without the physical work of kneading. There’s really no other bread recipe that gives you a better ratio of low effort to incredible result.

The main thing to remember is that you need about 22 hours total from the time you start to when the bread is ready to eat. Very little of that time is active prep time, but you do need to plan your bread-making schedule in advance. The dough is very forgiving, though, so there’s a lot of wiggle room in the timing.

Here I used pumpkin to give the bread a nice fall color and tender texture. But you can omit the pumpkin and still end up with an excellent loaf — just increase the water to 1 1/3 cup (300 grams). You can also swap out the rye flour for whole wheat or just bread flour.

Adapted from the Basic No-Knead Bread Recipe in Jim Lahey’s My Bread (I highly recommend this cookbook — it is full of terrific breads, some unique, top-notch pizzas and a bunch of sandwich and other bread-related recipes).

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups bread flour (367 grams)
1/4 cup rye flour (33 grams)
1 1/4 tsp salt (8 grams)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
yellow cornmeal

In a large bowl, stir together the two flours, salt and yeast.

Combine 1 cup of water with the pumpkin puree in a separate bowl and stir until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, then stir until completely incorporated. The result should be a wet, sticky dough that forms a shaggy ball. If the dough feels dry, add the remaining 2 tbsp of water a little at a time as needed.

Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap, then let rise at room temperature for about 18 hours. When the dough is ready, it will have more than doubled in size and spread out from edge to edge of the bowl. The surface should be dimpled all over with bubbles.

Using a floured spatula, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, keeping it in one piece. It will be sticky and stringy. Fold the dough in half on itself a few times and shape into a ball. Make sure the top and bottom of the ball are well floured, then cover loosely with a smooth (not terry-cloth) towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 1-2 hours. (I like to use a floured proofing basket for this step because it makes a pretty loaf, but it’s not essential.)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees and place a heavy pot (about 5-quart size, preferably cast iron), covered, on a rack in the lower third position. When the oven and pot are up to temperature and the dough is ready, take the pot out of the oven and remove the lid.

Dust the bottom of the dough lightly with cornmeal and gently drop it into the hot pot.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect — it will even out on its own. You can score the top of the dough if you wish, but it will typically open up natural cracks as it bakes.

Cover the pot (remember it’s hot!), return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes. When the bread is done, the crust should be dark golden brown and the internal temperature of the loaf should be roughly 190 degrees.

Remove the loaf from the pot (a heat-proof spatula, spoon, tongs and/or pot holders help) and set it on a rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Cutting into it too early will result in a gummy texture. If desired, reheat the bread for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Town and Country 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Measuring Cup

7 Steps to Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

For years, I was a devotee of the Julia Child method for cooking hard-boiled eggs. Essentially, it’s a cold-start process: Begin with eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 17 minutes. But recently I switched to a hot-start process, and I’ve become convinced that the outcome is superior. The main difference: Plunging the eggs into boiling water makes them easier to peel. While I’m hardly the first person to discover this, it’s a method that bears repeating. Here are my seven steps to hard-boiled success:

  1. Plan ahead: The fresher the eggs, the harder they are to peel, so if you are planning to make something with a lot of hard-boiled eggs (deviled eggs, potato salad, egg salad, etc.), try to buy your eggs a few weeks in advance.
  2. Let the eggs warm up a bit: Set them out on the counter for about half an hour to lose their refrigerator chill. This helps prevent them from cracking when you first drop them into boiling water.
  3. Fill a pot with a few inches of water (enough to cover the eggs) and bring to a boil. The pot should be large enough to hold the eggs in a single layer.
  4. Turn the heat down to low, then use a slotted spoon to gently lower the eggs into the pot.
  5. Adjust the heat to a very low simmer (barely bubbling) and cook the eggs for 10-11 minutes. The yolks should end up cooked through but still moist, not chalky. Timing depends on the intensity of the simmer, so it takes a little practice to get a precise result.
  6. Plunge the eggs into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
  7. Peel and enjoy! Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper. I also like to add paprika (sweet or smoked), cayenne, chipotle powder, chili powder or creole seasoning for a little extra flavor and spice.

Pictured: Corning Ware White B-2 1/2 Buffet Server, Corning Ware French White F-15-B Oval Casserole

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Red lentils are one of my favorite soup ingredients because their mild flavor and fall-apart texture provide the perfect backdrop for vegetables and warming spices. If you live near an Indian grocery, it’s a great place to get the whole-seed spices for this recipe — as well as the fresh curry leaves, which I’ve never seen in a regular supermarket. But you can also purchase curry leaves through Amazon or other online purveyors. It’s worth the effort to find them, because there really isn’t a good substitute for their flavor.

Adapted from Food Network’s Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

4 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
1 small cauliflower (about 1 pound), chopped into small florets
2 cups split red lentils, rinsed
24 fresh curry leaves
8 cups vegetable broth, plus 2 cups extra for thinning out the soup if needed
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tsp salt
fresh cilantro, chopped fine (for garnish)

In a heavy skillet, combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds. Roast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the coriander darkens slightly and the spices smell toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool and set aside.

In a large pot (5-6 quarts) over medium-high heat, saute the onions in oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Turn off the heat and stir in the turmeric and cayenne.

Grind the cooled spices into a semi-fine powder (we have a spices-only coffee grinder for this purpose). Using a fine sieve, sift the spices into the pot. Discard any larger spice pieces that remain.

Add the carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, red lentils, curry leaves and 8 cups broth. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and salt. (At this point you can puree the soup with an immersion blender if you want a smoother texture, but I prefer to keep the chunks. You can also thin out the soup with additional broth if desired.) Simmer a few minutes more, then serve topped with chopped cilantro.

Pictured: Le Creuset Flame #23 Skillet  

Roasted Chicken and Leeks

I’m the type of person who sometimes finds herself with too many leeks. Or kumquats. Or avocados. Or eggs. Mostly it’s because I have no concept of quantity when I’m ordering my Imperfect Produce delivery online. So a good portion of my cooking starts with “What am I going to do with all this x?” And when it’s a vegetable, roasting is usually involved.

Roasting leeks and chicken together makes for an especially easy dish because there’s minimal prep and minimal clean-up required. Pair it with some rice and a salad, and dinner is served!

Serves 6-8

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Ingredients

2 large leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs), sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
4 lbs chicken drumsticks (bone-in, skin-on)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
olive oil
salt
pepper
paprika (sweet)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large roasting pan or sheet pan, combine leeks, onion and bay leaves. Sprinkle with 1 tsp thyme plus salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and toss until everything is coated.

Arrange the chicken on top of the leek mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp thyme plus salt, pepper and paprika. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the chicken.

Bake until chicken is golden and internal temperature is at least 165 degrees (for this recipe I prefer it closer to 180 degrees), about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Spread the leek mixture around evenly, then turn on the broiler and move a rack up about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil the leeks a few minutes until slightly browned (even charred in spots).

Serve chicken topped with the leek mixture. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired.

Pictured: Corning Ware White A-21-B-N Open Roaster

Apple and Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Cider Vinaigrette

Thanks to a recent apple picking excursion we have about 8 pounds of fuji apples on hand, and I’ve been thinking about ways to use them. Sure, I could make apple cake or apple pie, but for those times when I’m not in the mood to bake, what then? I settled on an apple slaw — crisp, sweet, savory and tart all in one.

I like my coleslaw tangy, so I chose apple cider vinegar for the dressing. My six-year-old, however, proclaimed it “too sour” — so feel free to substitute a milder variety like white wine vinegar or rice vinegar.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp coarse ground mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp honey
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and shredded
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
2-3 fuji apples, cored and julienned

For the vinaigrette: Whisk together the cider vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, honey and olive oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, green onions and parsley. Add the apples (I like to save chopping the apples for last so that they have less time to go brown). Add the vinaigrette and toss until mixed well. Refrigerate for about a hour before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Federal Batter Bowl

 

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

There’s nothing like fresh homemade salsa — especially if you grow your own tomatoes. But if you’re like me and pretty lacking in the green thumb department, supermarket tomatoes can still make a tasty salsa, with a little help from the broiler.

I typically opt for cherry tomatoes, because they seem to have the most flavor of all the grocery store tomato options. Roasting them helps concentrate that flavor even more and gives them a mild smokiness — creating a great salsa base. Roasting the jalapeños mellows them out a bit so that they add just the right amount of spice. Corn brings a little sweetness, and black beans practically turn the salsa into a meal in itself!

This recipe makes about 4 cups of salsa — enough to bring to a party and save some for yourself.

Ingredients

2 lbs cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
6 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, sliced in half and mostly seeded
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 red onion, chopped fine
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, rinsed to defrost
1-2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped fine

Preheat oven on the broiler setting and set a rack about four inches from the heat source. Arrange tomatoes cut side up on a lightly oiled sheet pan, then broil until they start to char in spots, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

On another lightly oiled sheet pan, arrange garlic and jalapeños (also cut side up). Broil 4-5 minutes, then flip everything and broil until jalapeño skins are well charred. Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn (you’ll probably need to take it out a few minutes early). When the jalapeños are done, transfer to a Ziploc bag, seal and let sit for about 10 minutes (this helps separate the skins from the flesh of the peppers).

Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and mince. Place in large bowl and add onion, black beans and corn. Peel the jalapeños, chop fine and add to the bowl. Mix well.

Squeeze the tomatoes out of their skins and into a small bowl. Puree with an immersion blender (or regular blender), then stir into the black bean mixture.

Add salt to taste, then stir in lime juice and cilantro. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Clear 323 Mixing Bowl, Glasbake French Casserole

Slow Cooker Pork Stew with Hominy

I’ve been in a cooking rut lately, but now that it’s fall it’s finally the season for my favorite type of meal: stew. I love throwing everything into a pot (or slow cooker), doing next-to-nothing else and ending up with a delicious, homey dish.

Pozole, a Mexican stew typically made with pork, hominy and chiles, has been on my to-cook list for a while. I finally got around to making a simplified version of the real thing. I think this may actually have been the first time I’ve bought hominy at the grocery store — but I’ll definitely be doing it again!

Adapted from “Mexican-Style Pork and Hominy Stew” from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions, chopped
2 Hatch green chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine (or substitute 3-4 jalapeños)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 14 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 15-oz cans hominy (white or yellow), drained and rinsed
1 4- to 5-pound boneless pork butt
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the onions and chiles in oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more, then transfer to the slow cooker. Stir in the tomato paste, diced tomatoes (with juice), chili powder, oregano and bay leaves.

In a blender (or using an immersion blender), puree 1 can hominy with 2 cups chicken broth, then add to the slow cooker along with the other 2 cans of hominy and remaining 2 cups of chicken broth.

Cut the pork into 1 1/2-inch chunks, trimming as much fat as you can, then add to the slow cooker and stir to coat. Cover and cook 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high. Pork should be fall-apart tender.

Let the stew sit for about 5 minutes, then skim excess fat from the surface with a spoon. Season with salt to taste, then stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Serve over white or brown rice.

Pictured: Pyr-O-Rey Brown Daisy Casserole, Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl