one-rise pizza dough

I have a friend who swears by her homemade pizza dough recipe…all three rises of it.  It’s practically an all day affair to make it, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.  While I might spend all day making pizza dough once in a while, the vast majority of the time I just want to get it done.  Apparently, so did my mom.

This recipe came out of her archives and, in fact, was labelled “Mom’s Famous Pizza Crust.”  It’s fast, easy, and just an all-around good crust.  The recipe says it makes two, 12″ round pies but I found that resulted in the crust being too thin.  I made one thicker pie, which was plenty for the three of us with a side salad.  If you’re feeding more than that, double the recipe.  Then, top with your choice of goodies (it’s a hearty crust, so it withstands toppings well), and enjoy!

 

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One-Rise Pizza Dough (courtesy my mom’s recipe collection)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 c unsifted flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1 c tap water, very hot
  • 2 Tbps vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

  1. In large bowl mix one cup of flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast, gradually adding hot water and oil.
  2. Mix or stir balance of flour and knead until smooth (about 10 min).
  3. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until dough is double in size (about 45 min).
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  5. After dough has risen, stretch over a 12″ x 18″ greased pan or cookie sheet.
  6. Cover with toppings of your choice and bake 30 – 40 min.

 

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baked©zouptonuts

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blueberry buckle

I didn’t take any pictures while we baked because a certain someone was eager to lick the bowl.  Also, we’re barely unpacked from a 2,100 mile cross-country trip and it was a small miracle just to find the camera.  This is just another classic summer fruit recipe.  Take advantage of fresh, local produce and do something good with it.  Personally, my favorite way to eat berries is right off the bush, but layered in cake batter and smothered in a crumbly topping isn’t bad, either.

There are a ga-zillion versions of blueberry buckle awaiting you on the internet.  I’m not sure this one is much different, at all.  It’s done in a spring form pan versus a cake pan, but that’s about it.  It would also be easy to adapt for baking in individual ramekins.  Eat it in the morning with coffee, or add freshly whipped cream or a little dollop of vanilla ice cream and call it dessert.  Versatile, but classically summer!  Enjoy!

Blueberry Buckle

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 c blueberries, washed and de-stemmed

Topping:

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, cut in to mixture cold

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg to mixture.  Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add to butter/sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with milk.
  5. Add blueberries.  Fold to combine.
  6. Place in prepared 9″  spring form pan, add topping, and bake for 35 minutes.

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***Baker’s Notes:  If you only have an 8 1/2″ pan, bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes longer.

java spice bread

So….clearly I’m in the throes of some sort of fall spice preoccupation.  But it’s fall.  Fall doesn’t last that long around these parts, and neither does winter.  And that means I have to strike while the iron is hot, or, in this case, cool and overcast.  Which it had been for the last couple of days.  Rain.  Low clouds.  More rain.  Flooded washes.  Fall’s full weight.  And I’m loving every minute of it; the inspiration to bake on a cool, gray Friday afternoon.

This recipe is delicious.  I opted to eliminate the pecans simply because I didn’t have any in my pantry and didn’t feel like going out for one item.  The bread is warm and spicy and aromatic.  It would make a wonderful addition to a breakfast or brunch buffet on Christmas morning.  I know I didn’t care for the raisins in my previous recipe, but they worked beautifully in this one, giving an added burst of sweetness.  This one comes highly recommended.  Seethe Baker’s Notes, below, for further suggestions in prepping this lovely bread.  Enjoy!

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Java Spice Bread (recipe courtesy Grand Temptations:  Recipes from the Junior League of Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1 3/4 c + 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1/8 c (= 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c strong black coffee, cold
  • 1/2 c pecans, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine the raisins with water to cover in a small microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on High for 3 minutes; drain.  Remove the raisins to a paper towel and let stand until cool.  Place the raisins in a small bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp flour and toss to coat.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Combine eggs, honey, butter, and coffee in a bowl and mix well.  Fold in to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Stir in raisins and pecans (optional).
  4. Pour batter into greased and floured 9-inch loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Store, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 1 week.  The loaves also freeze well.

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***Baker’s Notes:  Use really strong coffee.  If your average daily brew tends to be on the mild side, brew an extra strong cup for this recipe to give your bread a nice coffee undertone.  Also, the original recipe instructed to bake for 1 hour, cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  That was way too long.  I adapted to 55 minutes in the oven, but I think you might even want to check it at 50 minutes to ensure maximum moistness.  This bread would make excellent hostess or teacher gifts.  Bake in mini loaf pans and wrap in pretty Christmas cellophane bags.  Re-calculate baking time for the mini loaves.

grilled vegetable sandwiches

Summer is ending.  Fall is arriving…slowly, but arriving.  We had a couple of evenings recently where we sat on the patio and enjoyed what had the makings of a cool breeze.  I think we’ve survived another desert summer!  Which is good and bad, because that means summer veggies are going by the wayside.  But it also means fall root veggies, key to many comfort foods and soups, will be in abundant supply.

While flipping through a cookbook looking for something entirely different, I came across these grilled veggie sandwiches which sounded (and looked) delicious.  My usual cooking routine includes incorporating a meatless meal or two each week.  And, since no one has put up too much of a fight, I’m not rocking that boat.  These veggie sandwiches were the perfect meatless meal, and made for a tiny celebration of the end of the season by using the last of the summer veggies.  For those of you in colder climates, the benefits will be two-fold: enjoying the last of summer vegetables and lighting up the grill one more time – before the lid is frozen shut!  Enjoy!!

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Superfast Suppers, Oxmoor House Publishing)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into eighths
  • 1 (1 lb) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions:

  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine mayo and minced basil; cover and chill.
  • Combine oil and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add bell pepper, eggplant, onion, and zucchini to dressing mixture;; toss vegetables to coat.
  • Place bell pepper and eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill about 6 minutes.  Add onion and zucchini; grill 5 minutes.  Turn vegetables often, baste with dressing, and cook just until tender.  Remove from grill and keep warm.
  • Place bread on grill, cut side down, and grill 2 minutes.  Turn bread, cut side up, and place half of cheese slices on bottom half of bread.  Grill 1 minute or until cheese begins to melt.
  • Spread mayo mixture over top half of bread.  Top bottom half with vegetables, remaining cheese slices, and top half of bread.
  • Serve immediately.

sandwich©zouptonuts***Cook’s Notes:  I used a grill basket for the veggies, which made worries about losing vegetables through the grill grates a non-issue.  Choose a nice, hearty roll.  The ciabattas are great because they hold up well to the moisture from the dressing, grilled veggies, and melted cheese.  Also, I came across this little gem while working on the post; the website for the book Simply in Season, which offers a fruit and vegetable guide for tips on how to choose, store, prepare, and use selected fruits and vegetables.  Good stuff!

chocolate chip buttermilk banana bread

There isn’t a shopping trip to my local grocer that doesn’t involve bananas since we’re big banana lovers in this house.  As the weather heats up, my stock of frozen, over-ripe bananas increases dramatically because their shelf life seems to decrease dramatically.  You’re never supposed to put bananas in the refrigerator, but I guess you’re not supposed to keep them in a desert, either.  Point being, I always have some banana-bread-ready specimens in the freezer.

This recipe came to the top of my in-box recently via Anne at Uni Homemaker, a blogger I follow and whose recipes always look simple and delicious.  She had adapted her recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod who had, in turn, adapted it from somewhere else.  Along the way, the adaptations included less and less granulated sugar – a change I’m always happy to see, and more vanilla (also never a bad thing).  I was also intrigued by the buttermilk, and I just so happened to have a bottle in my fridge perilously close to its expiration date.

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I was feeling better about the reduced sugar when reality set in:  how good is any banana bread without chocolate chips??  Honestly, without them, I’m not sure anyone in this house would give banana bread a second glance.  So, for fun we threw in a few of those, too.  Who needs reduced sugar, anyway?  I’ll justify it by continuing to tell myself buttermilk has fewer calories and less fat than regular milk.  So, what’s a few chocolate chips, right?

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While the recipe originally said to cool completely before serving, there was no way that was happening.  Personally, I like mine a little warm so the chocolate has that decadent, gooey consistency.  To cool, or not to cool…that’s your dilemma.  Either way, it’s tempting, moist, and delicious.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c mashed banana (about 3 medium)
  • 4 tbsp low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla until well mixed.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir in thoroughly.  Slowly fold dry ingredients into banana mixture being careful not to over mix.  Gently stir in chocolate morsels.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the bread in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack until completely cooled.  Slice and serve.

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Baker’s Notes:   Since buttermilk is more acidic and quite a bit tangier than regular milk, I thought there would be a noticeable flavor difference between this recipe and my standard recipes.  I can honestly say, though, I detected no difference at all.  After our taste test, I perused the internet for other buttermilk banana bread recipes and found quite a few, most of which called for a lot more buttermilk – anywhere in the range of 1/3 to one full cup.  I also discovered that the tanginess in buttermilk is mellowed during baking, so I think 4 tablespoons isn’t enough to  make a perceptible difference in taste.  The final product was no less delicious, but I think I might make it again using more buttermilk to see if I can’t bring out more of the buttermilk flavor.

traditional irish soda bread

When I went in search of a traditional Irish Soda Bread, I discovered a couple of things.  First, “traditional” soda bread recipes come in all sorts of varieties: with butter, eggs, caraway seeds or raisins.  Second, traditionalists say there is nothing “traditional” about soda bread with butter, eggs, caraway seeds or raisins.  Who am I to argue?  I’m Scottish and the Scots put things like sugar and cream of tartar in theirs.  Horror of horrors!!

The oldest soda bread recipe I came across was quoted in a site known as The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, and dated back to 1836.  It said, “…put a pound and a half of good wheaten meal into a large bowl, mix with it two teaspoonfuls of finely-powdered salt, then take a large teaspoonful of super-carbonate of soda,% dissolve it in half a teacupful of cold water, and add it to the meal; rub up all intimately together, then pour into the bowl as much very sour buttermilk as will make the whole into soft dough (it should be as soft as could possibly be handled, and the softer the better,) form it into a cake of about an inch thickness, and put it into a flat Dutch oven or frying-pan, with some metallic cover, such as an oven-lid or griddle, apply a moderate heat underneath for twenty minutes, then lay some clear live coals upon the lid, and keep it so for half an hour longer (the under heat being allowed to fall off gradually for the last fifteen minutes,) taking off the cover occasionally to see that it does not burn.”

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone navigated recipes like this.  I need a little more instruction.  For instance, baking time and temperature would be helpful.  However, when you’re cooking with hot coals, I guess eyeballing it is the way to go.

Anyway, for our traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal, I followed the recipe below (adhering strictly to tradition, of course).  The bread was wonderful; dense and comforting, still slightly warm from the oven.  But eat it within a day or two because it doesn’t keep well much longer than that.  Enjoy!

Traditional Irish Soda Bread (Courtesy Pennies on a Platter)

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 ounces buttermilk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450˚F.  Sprinkle flour onto the center of a baking sheet or stone. (I used my grandmother’s cast iron skillet)

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and pour in all of the buttermilk at once. Starting in the center and working towards the outside of the bowl, use your hand to mix, stirring until fully incorporated (takes only seconds). Turn out onto a well-floured surface.  Wash and dry your hands before continuing.

Flour your hands and gently roll out dough just enough to tidy it up. Flip the dough over and pat into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep. Place the loaf on top of the floured baking sheet/stone.

Using a sharp knife, cut a deep cross in the round loaf, making sure to let the cuts go over the sides of the bread.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400˚F and let bake for another 20 minutes, or until just cooked. The bread is cooked with it lets a hollow sound while tapping the bottom. Cool on wire rack.

Kitchen Notes:  Don’t cool entirely.  This bread is best served a little warm…and it’s particularly good drizzled with honey or a little jam!