Naan Bread (or How To Make Your Dog Hate You)

Let me begin this post with a disclaimer: I know nothing about real naan bread.  I’m pretty sure I’ve only had real Indian food once.  That was at a restaurant in London, with a friend standing next to me saying, “Try that, not that” as he steered me away from the really spicy foods (I couldn’t handle those at the time).  I really can’t recall if there was anything there that resembled a bread product.  So, why am I making naan?  My husband.  He bought some at Costco (La Brea Brand) and really loved them.  So, I thought, how hard could they be to make?

Well, they aren’t very difficult to make.  It’s really the cooking that is tricky.  I will explain that in a bit.  First, I tried two different recipes.

The first was this one: How to make the perfect naan bread. She basically took a few recipes apart and put a new one together, with hers calling for water as the liquid and yogurt. She said it’s the perfect one, right? Well, maybe it was the cooking method I used (which I read about on another web page) but I doubt it. I placed two rimmed baking sheets in the oven and turned on the broiler. Once the sheets were hot, I placed the naan on the baking sheets and watched them carefully as they cooked. These had a fantastic flavor but didn’t have … not sure how to describe it, but they weren’t as elastic as they should have been.

These were still warm.

These were still warm.

The second recipe I just finished is this one: How to Make Naan Bread {Step by Step Instructions and Pictures}. She used milk as the liquid with no yogurt. The texture was fantastic! They were elastic and the dough behaved wonderfully BUT there’s little flavor. So, this is where I thought I saw my dog pack a bag to leave me: I cooked these as described in the recipe. I placed those same rimmed baking sheets in the oven and set the temperature to 500 degrees F. Well, when I opened up the oven door, a lovely cloud of smoke engulfed me and spread like a lethal fog throughout the house. My dog, who hates being outside alone, actually went to the back door and would not leave it until I let him outside. Take a look at how these turned out compared to the first batch:

These were still warm also but look at the difference in texture/density.

These were still warm also but look at the difference in texture/density.

So, what is my conclusion? I think the next batch, I will just add 5 Tablespoons of plain yogurt (have a little bit left so I will be making some more) to the second recipe After really looking at both recipes, that won’t work.  So, after looking long and hard, this recipe has everything: milk, yogurt AND butter, so this is the recipe I’ll use: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/onion-naan AND possibly buy a couple of baking stones (or brand new baking sheets). I’m not sure my dog can handle another day like today. 🙂

I just did this recipe (February 27, 2015) and cooked the bread on the charcoal grill. FANTASTIC! The flavor was perfect and the texture was fantastic! We learned the hard way NOT to roll them too thin or immediately put them over the coals (we ended up with a giant burned cracker). Here’s a picture of how we cooked them, followed by the recipe.

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http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/onion-naan

Onion Naan

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface and hands
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
2 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil plus more

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Challah

The first loaf of bread I ever made was challah.  I had to be … maybe 12 years old?  I don’t remember the exact age but do remember where we were living (so that narrows down the time frame a bit).  I also remember that beautiful loaf of bread.  It was gorgeous and HUGE!  I was so proud!  Well, until I cut into that dark golden crust to find raw dough (just about an inch of the dough had cooked … the rest was raw as can be).  That was also the last time I made bread until I was an adult.  I’ve made bread that resembled a chunk of concrete to bread that resembled a dried glob of glue but I was determined.  It’s taken me many years of trial and error to figure out exactly how long to knead and  how much flour/liquid to add to obtain the right consistency.   I’m very happy with my bread making skills (I’ve worked hard for them 🙂 ).

So, while trying to figure out a way to pay back my neighbor for finishing off the front yard that we started whacking on Valentine’s Day, I decided on challah.  I have been wanting to make it so long and this time (yes, this was the first time I had made it since that day too many years ago) it was beautiful (and edible)! I used a recipe I had written down and stuffed in my binder of recipes.  I have no idea when I wrote this down or who it was who originally shared it (may have been a friend who lives in Israel) BUT I discovered (while doing my favorite activity … searching the internet) a woman who pretty much uses the same recipe on You Tube!  The recipe she uses makes 4 huge loaves.  The recipe I have makes 6 standard loaves (so, just cut the dough into 6 pieces instead of 4 and you are good, unless you have a large family or are making this to take somewhere).

So, here is the playlist of her videos, plus a couple more.  The first video is an amazing demonstration of various ways to form/braid rolls and loaves.  I just sat there with my jaw open, in shock that there are so many different ways to manipulate the dough!  The second is a woman demonstrating the various braiding methods for loaves: from 3 strands up to 9 strands.

AND here’s my bread:

I cut the dough into 6 sections and made 4 loaves.

I cut the dough into 6 sections and made 4 loaves.

See that ugly loaf?  That’s what happens when you forget to grease your loaf pans!  Here’s a close-up:

The bottom of the loaf stuck like crazy to the pan.

The bottom of the loaf stuck like crazy to the pan.

So, those took care of four of the dough chunks and this is what I did with the other two.  I cut each of them into 6 sections and made sandwich rolls out of them.  Now, these look beautiful but I cooked them way too long.  That’s what happens when you turn the timer off (because they weren’t quite brown enough) and then proceed to talk to the neighbor about how her grandson is doing.

3 of these large rolls is the equivalent to one loaf.

3 of these large rolls is the equivalent to one loaf.

And here’s the recipe I used:

Challah

  • 3 Tablespoons Yeast
  • 4 cups warm Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt (reduce if you use salted butter instead of oil, like I did)
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil (I don’t use vegetable oil nor canola oil.  I used melted butter because my olive oil supply is currently limited and I forgot I had peanut oil)
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 12 cups Flour (approximate)

For Egg Wash:

  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Seeds (optional)

In a large bowl (remember, enough dough for 6 loaves of bread), pour in the warm water (How warm?  I test on my wrist: if it doesn’t make me flinch, it’s good.  For more specifics, check out this web page: Yeast Is Fussy About Temperature) and whisk in the yeast and sugar (I use Saf-Instant.  I don’t bake a lot  so once opened, I store it in the freezer.  I have had the most consistent results from this yeast even when it has expired).  Let sit in a warm spot until it looks like a layer of foam is across the top of the liquid.

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In a smaller bowl, break the eggs into it and whisk in the salt and oil.  Once the yeast is ready (proofed), whisk the egg mixture into the yeast until everything is well incorporated and you can’t see chunk of egg.  Now, for the fun part: adding the flour.

Using a large spoon, stir the flour (1 to 2 cups at a time) into the liquid.  Keep doing this until it feels like your arm is going to fall off (I tried making large batches of dough like this when I had a working Kitchen Aid mixer … it wasn’t pretty and is probably what lead to it dying).  Then, on a large surface (counter top, kitchen table, whatever will work as long as it is sturdy) sprinkle about 1/4 cup or so of flour and turn your dough out onto the floured surface.  Time to knead in more flour.

This is where I used to mess up.  When a recipe called for X-amount of flour, I used it all.  The amount of flour you use depends on so many factors from the humidity in your house to the size of the eggs you use to what kind of flour you are using that you need to pay attention to how the dough is behaving to determine how much flour you really use for a certain recipe.  I typically add (to the bowl) all but the last two or so cups, then add more flour while I knead.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

When the dough is ready place in an oiled bowl (I don’t have one large enough so I used my stock pot), cover with plastic wrap or a towel (I usually wet a towel with hot water, wring it out, and cover the bowl with it if I’m using a container that doesn’t like plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your house is).  Once it is risen, punch the dough down and place it onto a very lightly floured surface.  Knead just a bit so you can form a nice ball, then separate into sections to make loaves or rolls.

Now, get the egg wash ready.  In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and vanilla (if you are using it).

Each one of the loaves I did a 6-strand braid and the rolls were two strands each.  You can shape the dough however you want. Once shaped, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using).  Let the loaves rise until nearly doubled (1 or 2 hours).  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the loaves are a deep golden brown.  Each one of my loaves were baked for 25 to 30 minutes and, because I got distracted, the rolls probably went for about 40 minutes.

 

Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Nut Loaf Bread

I know this is a bit late (should have posted this around Thanksgiving when all the canned pumpkin was on sale) but this looks like the best Pumpkin Bread recipe out there (like on my mom’s friend used to make).

http://www.food.com/recipe/old-fashioned-pumpkin-nut-loaf-bread-184460

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Now, if you don’t have evaporated milk, here’s a substitute:

To produce 1 cup of evaporated milk, simmer 2 1/4 cups of regular milk down until it becomes 1 cup.

In many recipes, evaporated milk may also be replaced with a combination of whole milk and half-and-half. For 1 cup of evaporated milk, use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup half-and-half.

And:

Mix 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk with 3/4 cup water.

Homemade Corned Beef

I can’t believe I didn’t post about this!  I made homemade corned beef last year, leaving out the sugar and the pink salt, and it was fantastic!  I thought, well, I could make this, then can it so I know exactly where it came from and what was in it.  I haven’t gotten around to canning this because it usually doesn’t last that long!

Anyway, if you are interested (I wanted to see if I could and I did), here is how I did it:

http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/beef/home_made_corned_beef.html

And here is how to can it (ever since I canned that chicken, I prefer raw canning meats):

http://canninggranny.blogspot.com/2011/05/canning-corned-beef-brisket.html

There you go!  Give it a shot (even if you only do one).  It really wasn’t as difficult as my brain said it would be!

Carnitas

I can’t believe I had not posted my Carnitas recipe before. You have to try it!

My Atkins Keto Journey

Is it my imagination or am I wrong? I could have sworn I posted how I make carnitas! I searched and searched both blogs (and Lord knows it is like pulling teeth to find anything on Facebook if you posted something more than a week ago) and I can’t find it. I’m shocked! Well, here it is. I originally was making it closer to original (frying the meat in lard first) but one of hubby’s co-workers said we were working too hard. So, now this is how I make carnitas. I make up a whole bunch and, if we don’t eat it all within a couple of meals, I throw the excess in the freezer (if it’s a lot, I portion them out in sandwich bags then store those in a freezer bag).

  • Pork Butt roast
  • Chicken broth
  • Maybe salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Remove…

View original post 230 more words

Plain-Old White Bread (with variations)

I adapted this recipe from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated American Cookbook but you can basically take any recipe for white bread and substitute water for the milk.  You end up with something closer to white bread from the store (without all the extra garbage).  This recipe makes 2 loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (any sugar will do as long as it IS sugar and not a sugar substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package dry active yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute up to half the flour with any other kind of flour and still end up with a good tasting bread)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons butter

Put the yeast into a bowl and mix in about 1/2 cup of the warm water (for specifics on temperature, go here http://www.cookistry.com/2011/01/technique-water-temperature-for-yeast.html. I turn on my hot water, which gets very hot, then turn it down just until I can stand it.).  I then place this on top (above the vent) of my still on drip coffee maker.  No matter what I’ve tried, this seems to get the yeast going faster than anything else I’ve tried.  If you don’t have a warm place like this, it just takes a little longer (maybe placing a towel over it to hold in the warmth will help it move along faster).  Leave it there until it is bubbling.  Now, before it actually ever really did anything I had no idea what people were talking about when they said to proof the yeast.

This is what I thought it was supposed to look like:

yeast

But this is what is is supposed to look like:

yeast2

This was my first breakthrough.  The second was the warm required for all processes of rising.

While the yeast is proofing, heat the rest of the water with the butter, just until the butter is melted (can be done in the microwave or on the stove top).

Mix 2 cups of flour with the salt, sugar, water/butter and yeast mixture.  Mix until there is no sign of flour or lumps (this was my second breakthrough and helps IMMENSELY when NOT using a Kitchen Aide mixer, since mine died about a year ago).  It’s almost like this gives you a head start on kneading the dough (which helps your hands, later on).  Continue mixing, adding one cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to your finger when you touch it (if using a Kitchen Aide) or if mixing by hand, it’s much easier to incorporate the rest of the flour while kneading on a table or counter top.  If you haven’t done so already, generously flour your table or counter top with flour and turn out your dough.  I have always found it helpful to have a flat scraper (like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BenchScraper.JPG) to scrape up any dough that sticks to your work surface so you don’t waste anything.

Now, about kneading your dough.  If you use a Kitchen Aide (or even a bread machine), you REALLY don’t have to worry about this.  The machine does it all for you.  All you need to do is just make sure there are no overly wet spots left.

If you are hand kneading (which I struggled with for years), there’s a bit of a technique to it so you don’t end up with a rock for a loaf of bread.  I used to manhandle it, squishing the hell out of it until there was pretty much no life left to it (it would be ugly and look torn by the time I was done).  I now only knead with one hand.  You place the dough on the table, sprinkle it with flour, then fold it in half toward me, then push down with the heel of my hand.  I then turn the dough counter clockwise (doesn’t matter which way but it’s just a quarter turn) and repeat until I’m done and the dough no longer sticks to my hands.  The only way I can describe how it feels when it done is to ask a question: When you were a kid, did you play with Play-Doh?  Remember how it felt when it was warm (just without the slightly greasy feeling)?  That’s how the dough should feel when you are done.  The closest video I could find it this one (wish I had a video camera) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmGawHsRAAk.  It IS more difficult to knead if you add other flours (whole wheat, spelt, etc.) so you will have to use a little more muscle.  Place in a large bowl that has been oiled (I put some oil on a paper towel and rub all but the upper edge of the bowl).  Cover with plastic wrap that has also been rubbed with oil (if the dough rises that high, it WILL stick to plastic wrap, which is quite annoying).  If you don’t have/use plastic wrap, you could cover with a damp towel.  The only problem I have with that is the towel gets cold, which makes the dough take longer to rise.

Now, find the warmest spot in your house to let the dough rise.  This has to be figured out ahead of time so you can prepare the area.  If it’s the dead of winter, who wants to spend all that money cranking up the heat in your house so you can “save money” by making your own bread?  What kind of a heater do you have?  Is there a spot where it enters your house that is warmer than others?  What about where your hot water heater is?  Is it in an enclosed closet?  If you use a wood stove, figure out how close you can get the dough without actually cooking it (it may take some trial and error but it will be well worth it).  If none of those work, how about where you have your electronics?  Behind your refrigerator?  Cover with a whole bunch of blankets just to keep the dough’s warmth in?  OH!  A sub-zero sleeping bag would work!  You just need to keep your dough draft and dust free.

Once it it doubled in size (if you don’t remember, make some indentations in the dough with your fingers.  If they do not spring back, your dough is ready), turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead it just a few times.  Form it into a ball and cut it into two equal pieces.  Set one aside and roll one piece into a rectangle about 12″ by 8″ (or as wide as your dough pan).  If you want to play with your bread, now is the time to do it and it’s all by your tastes and what you prefer:

  • For cinnamon bread, sprinkle (leaving about 1/2″ of the edges free) with brown sugar and cinnamon (for us, I use so much of these two ingredients I can’t see any dough but the edges).  If you want nuts and/or raisins, sprinkle those on.
  • For jalapeno cheese bread, sprinkle grated sharp cheddar and jalapenos on the dough (not too much cheese, though.  This is one of the few times when too much cheese makes something taste nasty).
  • For garlic bread, sprinkle with some minced garlic and grated Parmesan cheese … I think butter would keep the loaf in separate layers, so save that for the top of the loaf when it’s done baking.

Anyway, you get the picture.  You can pretty much do whatever you want so you don’t end up with plain white bread for the rest of your life.  🙂  Now, starting with the short side, roll the dough up (imagine making cinnamon rolls) tight.  Pinch the seam together along the bottom of the roll.  Pinch the ends of the roll together and tuck them under (toward the seam) then place this into the loaf pan.  Repeat for the other half of the dough.  Cover your dough with oiled plastic wrap (treat it the same as the dough in the bowl) and let rise until doubled (about an hour).

When your dough is almost done rising, heat your oven to 400 degrees F.  If you want, brush your risen dough with butter (I usually do this just after pulling the bread out of the oven).  Bake 25 to 30 minutes (the bread will be golden brown and sound hollow when you lightly tap it with something hard, like your knuckle or a spoon).  Let cool just a bit on a raised surface (cooling rack or trivet) then turn the bread out onto a rack and let it cool completely (hard to do the first few times but it’s well worth the wait).

If any of this is unclear, let me know.  I’m typing this as I remember doing it (it’s been a couple of months since I’ve made bread).

Blueberry Muffins

O.k.  I was on a mission to find the closest replacement for Costco’s Blueberry Muffins.  I tried 4 or 5 different recipes, with only one being a true bust (I messed with the recipe so much that I threw the whole batch out … the muffins were gummy and I had to scrape them off the muffin liners).  This, right here, is the closest I will ever get because I’m not taking the chance of wasting any more of these delicious blueberries!  This recipe was adapted from here.  Take a look at the picture of the muffins on that page … that’s what these looked like!  Yum!  This recipe would be wonderful baked in loaf pans (maybe to standard-sized) … for about an hour or so.  The texture would be firm enough to slice and make french toast with it (if you are that kind of a person *grin*).

Blueberry Muffins

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 sticks),  softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cups blueberries (I used still frozen berries)

Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in middle of the oven.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients—the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, until fluffy (easiest and best consistency if using an electric hand mixer or Kitchenaid).  Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, beating well after each one (at this point, it should look like fluffy frosting).  Now, add the vanilla and mix in well.

Add one third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and beat until just incorporated.  Mix in one third of the yogurt.  Repeat until all the flour and yogurt are mixed in.  Do not over mix (though, for this entire process I used my electric hand mixer and the batter remained light and fluffy, unlike the rocks I ended up with the first time, where I gently mixed in all the ingredients by hand)!

Gently fold the blueberries into the mixture (I found it easiest to sprinkle the frozen berries over the entire surface of the batter, instead of in a giant pile in the center).

Place a muffin liner in each well of the muffin tin, or if you don’t have muffin liners, coat the inside of the muffin tin wells with vegetable oil or butter with a pastry brush or with cooking spray.  Distribute the dough equally among the cups (I use a standard ice cream scoop).  Don’t be afraid to fill them high.

Place in the oven and bake until the muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a tooth pick to make sure the centers of the muffins are done.  Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove them from the tin and let sit on a wire rack for 10 more minutes.  Serve slightly warm.  If you have any left once they are cool, store in a sealed container so they don’t dry out.

Yield: Makes 12-16 standard muffins.

Tortillas

Well, I saw a web page with instructions on how to make “30 second bread”.  I read it several times because it was being touted as the perfect ‘survival’ bread … it was tortillas (but that’s not what they called it … anywhere).  I thought, well, I have the directions for tortillas on my blog!  They could have just looked there … but I don’t (I will now)!

Tortillas … I’ll be completely honest.  I have the directions to make corn tortillas.  I made them once, and they tasted like mashed cornmeal mush, fried.  Nothing like the tortillas in the store.  I think I was using the wrong kind of masa.  I was thinking today (I know, shocker) that the method for making corn tortillas can be used for any grain flour.  You don’t rely on gluten in any way.  Anyway, here are the recipes for both flour and corn tortillas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These are adapted from The Border Cookbook:

Sonoran Flour Tortillas

Makes ten 8-inch, eight 10-inch, or six 12-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups high-gluten bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (NO!  Use lard … they aren’t the same without animal fat)
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Stir together the flour and salt in a large bowl.  With your fingertips, mix in the shortening (LARD *grin*).  Add the water, working the liquid into the dough until a sticky ball forms (Kitchenaid with a dough hook works wonders).

Dust a counter or pastry board with flour and knead the dough vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.  The mixture should be soft but no longer sticky.  Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth, for about 15 minutes.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls, cover them again with the damp cloth, and let them rest for at least 45 minutes longer (this is to allow the gluten to form … if you don’t have the time, it won’t hurt them too much).  If not for use immediately, the dough can be greased lightly and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.  Bring the dough back to room temperature before proceeding.

Lightly flour your counter or pastry board.  Flatten a ball with your hand, then roll the dough from the center outward, turn the tortilla a few inches and roll again, attempting to keep the growing circle even.  Roll out the dough into a circle as thin as possible, preferably 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick.  They don’t have to be perfectly round … just make sure you do not have any folds.

Heat a dry griddle or large, heavy skillet over high heat.  Cook each tortilla 10 seconds on each side, then continue flipping (about 10 seconds on each side) until the dough looks slightly dry and wrinkled with a few brown speckles on the surface.  It helps to use a cloth or paper towel to pop any air bubbles that form but be careful … that steam is HOT!

Place cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until you are finished cooking.  Once cool, you can put them into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and place in the fridge (if you do this while they are still warm, the steam will cause them to become mushy, and nothing’s worse than a mushy tortilla).  I don’t know how long these will last … they are so good, they are gone in no time!

To see how it’s done (none of the videos I found are the same recipe), here’s a great video:
How To Make Tortillas de Harina (flour tortillas)
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Corn Tortillas

Makes twelve 5-inch or 6-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, or more as needed

There are two types available in the stores.  One is for tamales, the other is for tortillas.  The difference is the grind.  The masa harina for tortillas is a fine flour, the tamale one is courser but not as course as corn meal.  For authentic tortillas, you cannot use corn flour.  Masa harina is made by taking the dried corn and soaking it in a water/lime solution (to read more about this, go here: What is Masa Harina?).  For any other grain, just grind to a fine flour.

Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients with a sturdy spoon or your hands until the dough is smooth and forms a ball.  The dough should be quite moist but hold its shape.  Add a little more water or masa harina, if needed, to achieve the proper consistency.

Form the dough into 12 balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Cover the balls with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  If any of the balls do dry out before cooking, knead more water into them.  Unlike the dough for flour tortillas, this dough can be reworked.

Place one ball of dough in a tortilla press between the two sheets of plastic that are sometimes sold with the tortillas press or two a 1 gallon freezer bag, cut into two sections.  If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can either roll each ball between two sheets of waxed paper or press between two sheets of waxed paper with a heavy, flat bottomed pot (my pressure canner worked great for this). Flatten to about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully pull the plastic from the tortilla and lay on the hot griddle or skillet.

Cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook about another minute, flip and cook the first side an additional 30 seconds.  Place the cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until all tortillas are cooked.  Store as above (once cooled, place in a gallon Ziploc bag and store in fridge).

Here’s a video for making corn tortillas (these videos are to show the techniques):
Making Tortillas in Puebla, Mexico

Sweet Dough

Baked Goods

Baked Goods

I’ve been using this recipe for about 6 months now and it hasn’t failed me yet.  I got it from my mom’s friend Bernice (who got it from a neighbor when her kids were little … and they are about my age).  I love it!  One note I would like to make:  I have tried substituting Splenda for all (and then part) of the sugar.  They just weren’t the same.  Splenda doesn’t have the same “bite” as sugar.  So, if you can’t have any sugar, just don’t make these.  I haven’t used whole grains yet.  Now that I’m more comfortable with the recipe, I’ll start branching out and maybe substitute some for the all-purpose flour but today I’m making these for other people (a memorial for my dear friend’s mother).

Sweet Dough

  • 1 package yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup scalded milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

In a small bowl, mix yeast and water.  Let sit while preparing the milk mixture.

In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, butter, salt and milk.  Heat just until the butter and sugar melt (stirring continually to prevent scorching).  Pour into a large bowl.  Once lukewarm, beat in the egg and the yeast mixture.  Now, mix in the flour, a cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.  Pour out onto a floured surface and knead until it’s fairly smooth (I don’t knead this as much as bread dough).

Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).  Now, form into whatever you decide to make, let rise another hour, then bake at 350 degrees F until slightly brown (about 15 to 20 minutes).

A friend of mine just suggested this dough could be used to make kolaches.  I had never heard of them, so I looked them up.  Here’s a link, with recipes for different fillings http://www.texasmonthly.com/1998-11-01/webextra.php, like prune, apricot, cottage cheese, cinnamon, poppy seed, and cabbage (not sure about this one but it’s worth a try).

For Cinnamon Rolls:

You need

  • room temperature butter
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon

Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick (the thinner it is, the more sugary-cinnamony goodness your rolls will have).  Spread with butter (I use a rubber spatula so I don’t stick the dough).  Do not spread the butter all the way to the edge (leave about 1/4 inch gap).  Now, sprinkle with brown sugar.  I think the first time I did this I used about 1/2 cup packed brown sugar.  Now, I just go by look (I want it everywhere).  Then, sprinkle with cinnamon.  I use a lot.  I make sure all the sugar/butter has a dusting of cinnamon.

Starting at a long side, slowly start rolling the dough tightly (I can’t emphasize this more … the first time I made these I didn’t roll tight enough and they unrolled while baking … tasted great, looked awful).  Once you get the the end, pinch the ends of the dough together (or, they will unroll).  Slice across the dough, making your rolls about and inch or more thick.  Place in a well greased 13X9 pan, cover, and let stand until doubled (about an hour).  Bake as directed above.   When cool, drizzle with icing (see below)

For Fruit Danishes:

You need

  • room temperature butter
  • sugar
  • jam (I’ve used blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, grape, apricot-pineapple)

Now, this one’s trickier.  Roll out the dough just like you are making the cinnamon rolls above.  I got the technique from Joe Pastry (http://www.joepastry.com/category/pastry/danish-pastry/).  He describes it much better than I do (and he has great pictures) so go there and read how he does it.  He also has other pastry ideas that this dough would be perfect for.  I originally made it like he does, with pastry cream.  Well, I don’t have any today so I’m just going to spread the dough with butter and sprinkle sugar on it (I’m wondering if brown sugar would be too strong … I’ll try that next time).  Everything else is the same.

For Icing:

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Milk

For a double recipe of sweet goodness, I use about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, then slowly add the milk until it’s the consistency I like.  If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.  See in the picture on Joe Pastry’s web page of the icing?  That’s how it should look after you mix it.  Still white (can’t see through it) but liquid enough so it will stream a bit off a fork (I tried using a spoon and a tiny whisk but ended up with giant blobs of icing).

Ma’s Tortilla Soup

Last (but not least) for today: My mom’s tortilla soup.  This is so easy, inexpensive, and could be healthy (but wouldn’t be the same *grin*).  I have tried using store bought tortilla chips (both regular and baked) but they turn to mush too quickly.

Ma’s Tortilla Soup

  • 6 (or more) Corn Tortillas, cut into 8 triangles each
  • Oil
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed Vegetable Beef soup (or your favorite vegetable beef soup … especially good with homemade vegetable beef or chicken soup)
  • 2 cans water
  • 1 cube chicken or beef bouillion (or 1 teaspoon soup base)
  • Grated cheese (we use a mix of Cheddar and Monterey Jack)
  • Flour tortillas (enough for 2 per person)

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In a sauce pan or pot, pour the soup and water.  Heat on medium.  Mix in bouillon (or soup base).  Continue to heat while you make the tortilla chips.

Heat about 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium.  When the oil is hot enough (it looks like it’s swirling and when you put a piece of tortilla into the oil, it immediately begins to cook), fry the tortilla triangles.  Do not over crowd the pan or the chips will not cook evenly (easier way?  Use a deep fat fryer).  Place 2 or 3 paper towels in a deep bowl, and place your cooked chips in the bowl to drain (salt now, if you wish, before they get cold).  Heat the flour tortillas.

Place the desired amount of tortilla chips in each bowl.  Pour soup over chips.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Serve flour tortillas on the side (for dipping).

That’s it!  This recipe is so adaptable for any palette.  Vegans can use just vegetable soup and vegan cheese.  You can put salsa and sour cream on top of the cheese.  You can pour less broth into each bowl so it’s more like nachos.  This is especially good with chopped green onions sprinkled on top, also!