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Baking Bread: Nailed it! (Not quite)

I want to talk to you about a little lesson I learned a looonng time ago, but need to keep reminding myself of: FOLLOW THE RECIPE or at least: READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE when baking something for the first time. I am more of a cook than a baker, but I’ve suddenly developed a love affair with fresh baked bread. A friend of mine gave me ‘The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day’  for Christmas. I promptly added it to my collection of cookbooks and decided that I would look at it ‘one day’. Well that day came not too soon after when I went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread for the first time in years. My son had just turned one and we were finally really delving into solids. I wanted to make him toast, but not only were most of the breads really expensive ($4 for loaf of bread!?), they were also loaded with unpronounceable ingredients. I went down the baking isle instead, and picked up some yeast and flour. I rushed home and made my very first loaf of sandwich bread. It came out OK. My second loaf was way better, but not exactly right. So in classic Niki fashion, instead of trying to master the sandwich bread, I simply moved on to making a different kind of bread. I made pizza crust. It came out awesome. I WISH I took pictures of these Pizzas because they turned out so well. I had a little dough left over, and I decided to make olive bread.

It’s supposed to look like this:

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Copyright © 2014 BreadIn5®, LLC.

And it turned out like this:

 

 

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Nailed it!

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Totally nailed it.

What did I do wrong here?

  1. I didn’t read the recipe all the way through. So I didn’t slice the top of the dough before putting it in the oven so that those beautiful olives could show through.
  2. I didn’t roll the dough back up correctly so that the olives were evenly spaced, and not just a big clump in the middle. (Not pictured)
  3. Instead brushing the bread with a cornstarch mixture before baking, I brushed it with olive oil mixed with garlic powder. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but when the oven was over 450 degrees, so I should have known that the garlic would burn, and therefore turn bitter.

With all that being said, it actually tasted pretty good. I went out and bought some different flours and different types of yeast to play around with to finally perfect my sandwich bread. I will report back those results as soon as I have them. In addition to flours and yeasts for bread, I’m also delving into other areas if ingredient exploration: Vinegar.

For some reason (maybe some of you will agree), I feel like to be a knowledgeable home cook, you need to know your vinegar. I do not know my vinegar at all. Well, let me correct that – I know that different types of vinegar exist: Balsamic, white, red wine, rice,  apple cider etc., but I want to know more about the different applications of vinegar and I want to also know if there really is a difference between brands and types. I recently took a Thai cooking class, and to make one of the dishes I needed some kind of vinegar. I went to our local Asian supermarket, and there was an ENTIRE aisle dedicated to vinegar. In the following weeks, I plan to research and taste and create many types of vinegars and report back.

 

Enjoy your week, and Happy Eating,

-Niki

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A Freakin Frittata!

I started this blog to document my life, and how I tried to make each day more than ordinary.  I intended to post weekly. I intended to post about cooking , crafts, geekery, & being a mom. I have 9 posts… 9 in almost over an year. Pretty pathetic.

I had an epiphany today. I just finished reading the book Delancey, and I’ve never been more inspired. I’m 34 years old and for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to do something special or out of the ordinary with my life. I could never figure out what it would be. I have many interests so one by one I started pursuing things and tried to make a business out of them. Jewelry making, knitting, sewing, sculpy clay beads, handbag design, graphic design, & candle making. I’ve started many blogs, 3 novels, and one cookbook. I have never seen any of these things through. It ends today.

A few months back, I decided to take my blog in a different direction. I wanted to write about everything that I like, and I thought people would be interested. I wanted it to be more than a mommy blog, or a cooking/crafting blog. I became directionless – until today. I seriously was smacked in the face with inspiration. I am not sure what I was running from all of this time. I guess I felt like if I settled on just one thing, that I would be abandoning other parts of myself. Let’s face it though, what do I know about being a mom that others don’t? I didn’t want to paint this picture perfect portrait of my life or my child making other moms feel less than. I also didn’t want to overshare my truths and become a whiner which I have noticed is a growing trend. I like to craft, but I mainly gain inspiration from what is already out there. So then what? Become a curator of other’s ideas? There is nothing wrong with that, but it just wasn’t what I was looking to do.

I’ve struggled with this for quite some time. However, it was just so plain that I can’t believe that it didn’t hit me before. I would write exclusively about cooking. I LOVE to cook. I love to learn about cooking. I’ve always been hesitant to do so before because I am far from an expert. I am just a simple home cook who grew up alongside my grandma in the kitchen. I realize that there are a lot of cooking blogs out there. However, I am looking to take a new approach. I want to document my journey of learning all I can about cooking. You will get the good, the bad and the really really bad. I plan to immerse myself into one hobby and shed my ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ image and become a master home cook.  Who knew one book would change someone’s life so much?

Delancey, documented a couple opening a restaurant. The husband (the driving force) was a bit like me in that he tried different hobbies here and there, and his wife (the book’s author) only took him only semi seriously when he decided to open a pizzeria. She went into great detail on how immersed her husband became in making the perfect pizza. He would travel, stay up into the wee hours of the night making pie after pie, and even modified their home oven to increase the temperature. Reading this made me realize that I have NEVER been that dedicated to any of my side pursuits. It’s that kind of dedication that inspired me to focus on the one thing that I am pretty good at to become really good at. Cooking.

I once thought of an idea for a cookbook for newlyweds. I organized the chapters, I started writing recipes, I even wrote the introduction. Then I stopped. I either got lazy or I lost interest, and one day while at the mall with my husband I saw it there in the window. My cookbook. It was done better than I ever could have or would have done because up until now I would have not immersed myself fully. Well I am here to say right here and now that I am diving in head first, and hopfully the next cookbook idea that I have will be sitting in a window somewhere (or hopefully someone’s kitchen counter) with my name on it.  I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of self, and an idea for a killer frittata. The idea panned out well and I ended up sharing half with my toddler son!

1 small Zucchini cut into thin slices

½ cup cherry tomatoes

4 garlic cloves (sliced)

2 eggs

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup parmigiano reggiano ( and some for garnish)

Olive Oil

Chopped basil & Parsely for garnish

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to broil.

Coat the bottom of a heavy bottomed skillet with extra virgin olive oil, and turn the heat to medium low.

Add the sliced garlic, and cook until tender. Layer the zucchini slices on top and the sliced tomatoes on top of that. Let cook uncovered until the zucchini becomes translucent and slightly brown (carmelized).

While the zucchini is cooking whisk together the egg, Parmigiano reggiano, and heavy cream. When the zucchini are done, add the egg mixture to the top and cook on med low for 2 min. Add the pan to the broiler watching carefully. Frittata should be firm on top and not brown (about 3-5 min)

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Enjoy!