Braided Bread

Late yesterday afternoon I was looking at Facebook and a post came up for making a braided bread.  It sounded so easy that I decided to try it.  All the ingredients are placed in a zip lock bag and kneaded through the bag, leaving your hands and counter clean. This was the recipe for me!  After you had the ingredients all mixed together you placed the bag in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes you add 1/4 cup more flour and knead that into the mixture, place that on the counter for 1 more hour of rise time, still inside the zip lock bag.  Then cut the dough into three same sized pieces and with your hands on a flour covered counter, roll them out into long ropes, braid, coat with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds – bake for 40 minutes and it was done.  Easiest recipe I have ever used and no clean up…right up my alley.  And it looked very pretty when it was ready. I am attempting to bake with other flours besides wheat, so 1/3 of the flour in this recipe was sorghum called sorgo in Uruguay. It added a nutty flavor and both Joe and I enjoyed it. I made french toast from it this morning with cinnamon and honey. Would I make it again? Yes.  Next time I would use a different non-wheat flour just to see how it worked out.

Edited after the original post: Several folks asked for the recipe and so I am attaching the YouTube video with the recipe and instructions.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjmILw86U34  

enjoy!  nl

Plum and Fig Tart or is that Fig and Plum Tart?

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I found beautiful fresh figs and large purple Italian plums this past week. Figs are a favorite since living in Playas, Ecuador.  Our guardian would pick figs and bring a bag to our home when they were perfectly ripe, soft and sweet. I would cut them in half, wrap half a slice of bacon around it and bake it in the oven just until the bacon was crispy.  That was a real treat. I can tolerate a Fig Newton, if there is nothing else in the house but unless you have had fresh ripe figs you have not lived.

I loved them so much and our friend Yusuf said I needed to plant a tree in the yard in San Clemente, Ecuador. Where was I going to fit another tree in the San Clemente yard?  Well I found a tree and found a place for it and enjoyed a small harvest a few times from that tree.  That is only one of the things I miss about San Clemente, but don’t get me started on that.

I made a shortbread crust, with flour, butter, sugar, dash of salt and vanilla and an egg.  No rolling necessary as it was going to be a tart, free form and rustic.  I cut up 6-7 figs and plums and arranged them on the pastry which I had placed on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking liner, this will stick as the sweet juices ooze from the tart. Turned the edges up and baked it for about 15 minutes.  The crust was wonderful and the fruit just so sweet and soft.

We will do that again…

Cranberry Walnut Scones: What a Wonderful Breakfast Treat

Last night before bed I was thinking what wonderfulness can I make tomorrow morning.

I have decided that we can eat “good for you” food every weekday but the weekends are special and we should have something even better.  So Sundays I make something wonderful like Lobster Rolls or a Pork Tenderloin Roast with Homemade Sauerkraut and Root Veggies or a Moroccan Roast Chicken with Guava Paste.  But Saturday morning should be special also.  So I remembered making scones once before.  The recipe was from a Rachael Ray cookbook and honestly it did not do it for me.  So I got on the computer and found a recipe from All Recipes.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/79470/simple-scones/

img_3434I of course made some changes and this is what I came up with:

Cranberry Walnut Scones

Heat the oven to 400 F.  In a medium-sized bowl mix the top 5 ingredients.  Grate the butter into the flour mixture and with a pastry blender or two knives cut the butter into the flour mixture. Do not use your hands as it will melt the butter. Add the walnuts and mix well, place in the fridge until ready to add the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl add the sour cream or the cream and vinegar mixture and set aside.  Add egg to cream and mix well.

Add your egg/cream mixture to your dry ingredients. With just a few strokes incorporate it – it will have dry ingredients that have not mixed well.  No problem just turn out onto a work area (I use a large plastic place mat).  With your hands knead gently until you have a soft dough.  Do not overwork, you do not want to melt the butter pieces. Just a few strokes with your hands should incorporate it into a nice dough.  Shape into a disk about 1/2 inch thick and approximately 7 inch diameter. Sprinkle top evenly with cranberries and pat into the dough. Sprinkle with the white sugar. Cut like a pie into 8 pieces.

Place on a baking sheet with parchment or another non-stick mat. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.  Watch that the bottom does not burn.

Serve hot with honey butter mixture or my favorite cream and honey.

Cream or Butter Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon butter or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light honey

Mix together and serve on the side with the hot scones.

Great with a good cup of coffee sitting on your porch watching the street come to life.

Orange Sweet Potatoes or Yams

img_3249One day last week Gonzalo came by with a few orange sweet potatoes. I went pretty crazy as we seldom see orange sweets here. So I begged for him to find me more and yesterday he gave me a bag full of these orange beauties.  I love the purple ones, don’t get me wrong, they are delicious and super sweet.  But when making a sweet potato souffle where I add eggs and brown sugar the resulting color is really off-putting. The combination of the yellow egg yolks, brown sugar and purple potatoes turns almost black.  Again not very appetizing.

I can remember our first Thanksgiving here, we were living in Salinas and were invited to Will’s Coco Bar for a traditional US style Thanksgiving.  I decided to make my sweet potato souffle which is usually well received and finished off. It did not go over well.  Honestly it tasted very similar to the ones I had made in the states but the color, it was scary. I ended up bringing home half a dish full and chucking it in the trash.

Today I have enough to make sweet potato fries. We will see how Joe likes them.

img_3251 Joe loved them and they vanished.

I guess making friends with your vegetable vendor, the meat guy and the rest of the folks who come by on the street does make a big difference. Thanks Gonzalo, you are the best for finding these for me.

 

12″ Banana Bread for $2

On our way home from Manta earlier this week, Leigh stopped to buy a banana bread from a man on the side of the road. Of course, I had to try one myself, how could I resist.  It was still warm from the oven and at $2. it was a bargain to me.

img_3195 img_3202 As soon as I got home I cut a few pieces added a nice pat of butter and we went to town.  I really think I need to cut it in half and put that in the freezer for another day.

Vendor Part 10: Jimmy – Pan Man in the Morning, Sweet Treats Man in the Afternoons

IMG_3016Almost every morning early around 6:30 am Jimmy comes by on his bike carrying this mornings fresh-from-the-oven rolls. 10 cents apiece for a great start to your morning.

Then some afternoons he comes by, today it was around 3:30 pm, with that same basket filled this time with sweet treats.  These are 15 cents.

IMG_3015Some of today’s choices were chocolate sweet rolls, a lovely sandwich cookie with a dulce de leche filling, a corn type muffin, a filled sweet roll with what I think is guayaba (guava) filling.  We have our favorites but honestly any one of them will pacify the sweet tooth in all of us.

 

Clabber Milk

We love buttermilk but unfortunately I have never seen it on the dairy shelves here on the coast of Ecuador.  So again like Little House on The Prairie, Pequena Casa en la Costa has decided to make it from scratch.  I know all about using lemon juice or vinegar but Joe does not have a tolerance for either so I needed to find another solution. And there are cultures if you lived someplace where you could buy them. But again that is not available here.  This is actually clabber milk which is very similar to buttermilk.

According to all that I have read it is a good substitute for buttermilk in most recipes.  First you must start with raw milk.  We have a good supply of raw milk here so I was ready. I took one cup of “still warm from the cow” raw milk (older milk will work faster)  and put it in a clean glass jar. Place the lid on top but loose and cover with a coffee filter or paper towel held around the jar with an elastic band. This keeps out any critters. Place on the kitchen counter and walk away as it does its thing!

Allow it sit for a day and check it, it should start to separate and look like pudding or yogurt. It took mine two days to get this look because I used fresh milk.  My goal was to make one quart of buttermilk.  Now add another two cups of milk, stir and allow it to sit until it starts to separate like the first cup. This could happen in a matter of hours so keep and eye on your jar.  I added one more cup of store milk.  The original must be raw milk but the next three cups can be regular store-bought milk.

If it has an off smell or discolors you should not use it. Something went wrong in your process.

It was not as tart as normal buttermilk but it worked well in my recipe. Yum!

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