Rosemary Bread

Rosemary Bread

During the Thanksgiving period, I was looking for some great bread to make a panini, or simply eat. This year instead of buying a nice rustic loaf from the breadsmith, I decided to make my own. Bring on the Rosemary bread. This took a few hours, and an overnight process but well worth it. To sum things up, my wife and I ate a loaf as soon as it came out of the oven, with the simplicity of butter. This was outrageous in flavor, however the panini was triple that, especially with Gouda cheese. Let’s get started.

Rosemary BreadThis is my first time making bread, however this is definitely not the first time I have used the same ingredients; flour, yeast, and oil. The cool thing here is to make an agent prior to making the dough and going through that process. The agent is funky. The breakdown:

Ingredients – The Starter (Start the day before)

  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour

To make the starter, combine all the ingredients in your electric mixer. Beat at a medium speed until the mixture pulls from the sides. Transfer to a plastic container, cover with a towel at room temperature, and leave out overnight.

Building the dough is next.

Ingredients – The Dough

  • 2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup of the starter (above)
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour

Rosemary BreadTo make the dough, use the mixer and combine the yeast, starter, and warm water in a bowl. Beat this until it is milky white and begins to foam, roughly five minutes. Change over to a dough hook, then add the olive oil, rosemary, salt, and 3-4 cups of the flour. Continue to beat this until it pulls from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if the dough gets too soft. Continue to use the dough hook for roughly 10 minutes or so.

Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lighly oiled bowl, making sure to coat. Cover with a lighltly dampened warm towel, and let rise for a couple of hours.

Punch down the dough, divide into two pieces, and shape into loaves, placing on a baking pan. Cover again and let it rise until doubled for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 425, make a few slashes across the bread, and bake until it is golden brown, roughly 45 minutes. Take off and let cool on racks, if you have them.

Serve with pasta, salads, sandwiches, or even plain.

Homemade Sausage

SausageYou have to love the KitchenAid Mixer. As stated in previous posts, my parents bought me a mixer for my high school graduation present. Along with the mixer, came a couple of attachments. One is the grinder, and the other is the sausage stuffer. As this title of this post states, you can tell which attachment I used. Not. I actually use both when I make the sausage, as I like to grind my own pork, then marinade, then stuff. This is a process and normally takes a couple of hours to do. Let me also say that it is a bit messy, however the process is well worth the time. I say it is worth the time, because you can make your own sausage, the way you like it. You add how you like your sausage. I have been making this type of sausage for years, and typically do not steer away from it. You are probably asking why. Why? Because they are so darn good, and they can be eaten sliced, or on a bun. I especially love them with the thai dipping sauce.

SausageIngredients:

  • Pork Shoulder
  • Natural Casing (get from your butcher)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Thai Peppers, seeds removed
  • Special Rub (this batch)
  • Lime Juice

SausageCut your meat into blocks that will fit into the grinder tube, and begin your grinding process. Once all of your meat is ground, add the ingredients listed above, and make certain you coat all of your pork mixture. What I do at this time is make a small, thin patty, and cook in a fry pan. You do this to make sure that the flavors are right before you begin the stuffing process. If the flavors need adjusting, then now is the time. My batch was a bit too salty, so to balance that to this batch, I added sour, and that was lime juice. Once my flavors were perfect, I cleaned the grinder, and got the stuffer device ready.

The stuffing process is somewhat tricky doing it by yourself, so be ready. You first need to rinse and clean the casing in cold water. If you cannot stomach the casing, then go buy your sausage at the store. The casing is slimy, somewhat stinky, and just plain weird, but heck, it is what can make a sausage so darn good. Once you have the casing cleaned, place the entire casing onto the stuffer. You do this because the pork mix will begin feeding into the casing and start forming the sausage.

Here is the trick. Have three hands. 😉 Kidding. Start feeding the mixture into the top of the stuffer, setting your mixer on a medium speed, like four or five. You need to handle the casing, carefully not to over stuff, yet make it so it is like a sausage. You will need to massage the sausage a bit. I know what it sounds like, but it is true. You have to form the sausage. Continue this process until all of your mixture is done. You should have a coil of sausage. This is where you can carefully twist the sausage wherever you want the links to end. Make them as short or long as you want. Once they are all twisted, I package them as I would want to cook them, in packs of four, six, eight, or ten. Wrap them in plastic wrap, seal in tin foil, then store in a ziplock bag.

SausagePlease be mindful that you will want to save a few for quick grilling Heat up the grill, and cook as you would like a normal sausage. When ready, simply eat on a bun, or slice and serve with the thai dipping sauce.

Trust me these are sweet, and spicy and are truly delicious. Enjoy.

Three Mushroom Soup

Mushroom SoupI wanted to provide a soup and salad to my Thanksgiving meal this year, like most years. Instead of the traditional butternut squash soup with roasted pistachios, I decided to make a soup I did a few years back, the three mushroom soup. I chose this soup because it was not only delicious, but one that was also super easy to make in a short amount of time.

The ingredients could not be easier:

  • 1 lb Fresh Shitake Mushrooms
  • 1 lb Fresh Portabella Mushrooms
  • 1 lb Button Mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 cup of Half-and-Half
  • 3 TB of Olive Oil
  • 4-6 Cups of Beef Stock
  • 3 TB of Flour
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped

Mushroom SoupClean all of your mushrooms. If you have never done this before, either use a mushroom brush which you could buy in a store, or simply dampen a paper towel and lightly rub the dirt off the shrooms. I did this the night before to save time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day. If you go this route, store them in a brown paper bag. Heat the oil in a soup pan. During this time, chop the onion and sautee in the oil for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Heck, I was even thinking of taking this further and let them caramelize, as the last batch of caramelized onions were so delicious, however I decided to not got that far, this time. 🙂 Once the onions are ready, add all of the mushrooms, and toss in with the onions and oil. These will begin to cook down after 5 or 6 minutes or so. Add the stock, and reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for nearly 15-20 minutes.

Mushroom SoupThe next step is to ladle in batches the soup into a blender and puree the mixture. This will take a couple of batches. I leave a bit of the mushrooms in the pot to make it a bit more rustic. After pureeing the mix, return to mix to the soup pot, and bring the heat back up to medium. During this time, add the sherry and half-and-half. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Cook for a few minutes, then serve immediately.

I served mine with a large garlic and onion crouton I made that morning for the Caesar salad. Bon Appetite.

It’s Almost Here… Thanksgiving

After being stuck in a car much of this past week on our vacation to Toronto, Ontario, I cannot tell you how happy I am not only to be out of the car with our whining children, but also to be able to have a home cooked meal, and what a better time than Thanksgiving day. I cannot tell you how excited I am to not drive anywhere tomorrow, but also how excited I am to host for the fifth year straight. My menu differs each year, typically changing up the mashed potatoes, salads, appetizers, or soups. This year I have the menu planned out and I will be writing about them in the upcoming days and weeks. The menu tomorrow consists of the following:

Stay Tuned!