Monday, June 18, 2012

The Daring Cook's June 2012: Cannelloni

Manu from Manu’s Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family’s treasured recipes! What a great challenge this was. I made a meat filled cannelloni and it was DELICIOUS! If you haven't tried making homemade pasta, oh, how I encourage you to do it. It was fun! I do own a pasta machine, and so it did make it a tad easier. Following are the recipes I used to make my Cannelloni di Carne. HOW TO MAKE EGG PASTA Making egg pasta is very easy. You only require eggs and flour (Italian 00 or all-purpose flour) in a proportion of (1 egg per 100 grams of flour). Ingredients (to make enough cannelloni for 4 persons): 100 grams (2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons) (170 ml) (3½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour 1 large egg Directions: 1. Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and mix. When the dough looks like crumbs, pour it onto the bench top sprinkled with a little flour. Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough. Make it into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. 2. Now you are ready to make your egg pasta. Cut out a piece of egg pasta dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands. Put a little flour on it and begin passing it though the pasta machine. Turn the dial to the widest setting (#1) and, starting with one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, feed it through the rollers. Now fold one side of the piece of dough into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form 3 layers. Starting with one of the narrower sides of the folded dough, feed the pasta through the machine, again at the widest setting. Repeat the folding and rolling technique on the widest setting for at least a couple of times. 3. Now you can start rolling it thinner, by turning the dial to the next narrowest setting (# 2). Roll the pasta through the machine without folding the dough between settings. Keep reducing the settings until #7 (it is the second last on my machine – about 1 mm thick). If the sheet of pasta gets too long, you can cut it in half with a knife. To make cannelloni, cut out rectangular pasta sheets (10x15 cm) (4”x6”). NOTE: you can do this even without the pasta machine… just use a rolling pin to get a very thin sheet of dough and then cut it into rectangles. BÉCHAMEL SAUCE Ingredients (enough to make cannelloni for 4 people): 2 cups (500 ml) milk, hot 3½ tablespoons (52½ ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) butter 1/3 cup (80 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour 1 pinch salt 1 pinch nutmeg Directions: 1. Put the butter in a non-stick pot and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk constantly until well incorporated: this is the “roux”. Let it cook for a minute or two. 2. Now start adding hot milk little by little, while mixing continuously until the milk is well incorporated. Do not add more milk unless it is well incorporated. Keep doing so until all the milk is incorporated. 3. Add salt and nutmeg and cook it on a low flame for 10 minutes or until it thickens. 4. When ready, cover it to prevent a film to appear on the surface. Note: If you still get a lumpy sauce, do not throw it out. You can still save it and make it smooth by using a hand stick blender. CANNELLONI DI CARNE This is another classic recipe for cannelloni. It is a meat filled version of the dish and it is my husband’s favourite. It is a pretty straightforward recipe but it requires a couple of extra steps if compared to the Cannelloni di magro recipe, as the filling has to be cooked before being used in the pasta, but I can guarantee that you will not mind the extra work when you eat it! Ingredients (serves 4) Cannelloni sheets per recipe above (you should have about 8 sheets) For the filling 1 lb (400 gm) beef mince 1 lb (400 gm) pork mince (or another 1 lb – 400 gm of beef mince if you do not eat pork) 1 onion, chopped 3 tablespoon (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil 1 bay leaf 5 tablespoons (75 ml) white wine (optional – you can skip this if you do not drink alcohol) 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated ¾ cups (200 ml) of the béchamel sauce as per above recipe Salt and pepper to taste For the tomato sauce 1 small onion, chopped 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil 2¾ cups (680 ml/1½ pint bottle) of tomato purée A few basil leaves Salt and pepper to taste To assemble The remaining (about 1¼ cup/300 ml) béchamel sauce as per above recipe ½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated Directions: 1. Start by cooking the meat for the filling. Put the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the mince and bay leaf and stir well with a wooden spoon making sure you remove all the lumps. Brown the meat well. Add the white wine (if you are using it – otherwise add some water, just enough to cook the meat) and raise the fire to burn off the alcohol. Cook for 10 minutes on medium fire and then keep it aside to cool down. 2. Now prepare the tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pot with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the tomato purée, salt, pepper and basil leaves. Cover it and cook it on a low flame for 20 minutes. Then keep it aside to cool down. 3. To make the filling, mix the cooked mince with the ¾ cup (200 ml) of béchamel sauce and 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. 4. Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute. Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together). Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down. 5. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta. 6. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some tomato sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer. 7. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining tomato sauce and 1¼ cup/300 ml béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano. 8. Bake them in a pre-heated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes, then broil (grill) them at 400°F/200°C for another 5 minutes. 9. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Daring Baker's May Challenge: Challah

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads. I've made Challah before, but had fun making it again. It was a huge hit with the family, and I practised different braiding techniques. There was so much creativity this round, and I'm looking forward to trying a few different recipes. Following are the pictures of my Challah, and the recipe I used.
3 strand braid:
6 strand braid
3D 6 strand braid My Adaptation of Peter Reinhart's Challah recipe from the book, The Bread Bakers Apprentice 18 oz unbleached bread flour 2 Tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1 1/3 Tsp instant yeast 2 Tbsp canola oil 3 large eggs, slightly beaten 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten 3/4 C + 2 Tbsp room temperature water 1 egg white with a tsp or so of water, whisked until frothy for egg wash Stir toether the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl of electric mixer. Add liquid ingredients. Mix with paddle attachment until dough forms a ball. Switch to dough hook and mix at medium speed for 6 minutes. I added flour a Tbsp at a time, until the dough barely clung to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, roll dough in oil and cover bowl wth plastic wrap. I left the dough rise until it was almost doubled in size. Truthfully, the last two times I made the Challah, I forgot about my dough and when I got to it, it had nearly doubled. Degas and knead dough for a couple of minutes. Divide into equal pieces. The recipe calls for three, but you can always divide into six as I did, in order to form. I rolled out my pieces into strands, and then braided.Brush with egg wash, spritz with cooking spray and then cover with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature until almost doubled again, 60-75 minutes. I preheat the oven at the beginning of the second proofing period. When bread has sufficiently proofed, brush with egg wash again and bake for 20 minutes, rotate the loaf 180 degrees and bake for another 20-45 minutes. The bread should be a golden brown and the temperature in the center shold be 190 degrees farenheight. When done, transfer dough to a rack and cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Daring Bakers March Challenge: Dutch Crunch Bread

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Thank you Sara and Erica for the challenge this month.

Below are the pictures of my creations:

I used a white bun recipe which was quite delicious on its own. The topping was interesting. I found it a little yeasty on the first day, but then did not indulge on a sandwich. The sandwich the next day was good, though the topping became crumbly. All in all, we all enjoyed the recipe, but I don't think it would be something I would make again, though I'm now considering trying the topping again, but made with sesame oil rather than vegetable oil. We'll see.

The sandwich was made with peppered ham, romaine, tomatoe and pepper jack cheese. I'm thinking it would have been even better on the fresh rolls, rather than waiting a day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' February Challenge- Quick Breads

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Quick breads and muffins are something I make regularly and so I decided to experiment a little bit. Following are the pics of my creations.

Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins, are a whole wheat and oat muffin as found in the Dietitians of Canada's Simply Great Food Cookbook. They are a favorite around here and both kids and hubbie alike enjoy these, and I like them because they are healthy.

This a Joy of Baking.Com Chocolate Banana bread.
I omitted the walnuts and used 1/3 cup of milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate chunks instead, for a whole cup of chocolate rather than the 1/2 they called for. The first day, I thought this was an okay bread, I would have liked a stronger chocolate flavour, but the longer the bread sat, the more the chocolate flavor developed. 2 days after being made I thought this bread was at its best. It didn't last longer than two days with my crew.

Finally, I made a quick bread of my own creation. I tend to be a rule follower, but figured that since I make quick breads frequently, I would experiment a little. This is my third attempt at a pineapple quickbread. It uses brown sugar, maraschino cherries, fresh pineapple puree and is topped with a broiled coconut frosting. I was attempting to evoke in a quick bread the flavors I love in a pineapple upside down cake. While this is the best of the three attempts, I still have some playing around to do with this recipe. I still think it needs a stronger pineapple flavor.

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Daring Baker's forum and look forward to many more challenges!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg and Pretzel Rolls

Simeon and I took off for a few days and visited some friends in Va. While we were there, we took advantage of Colonial Williamsburg's homeschool days. We had a blast, learned tons and I definitely want to go back. One of the highlights for Simeon was the bakery. What's not to love about fresh baked goods. His favorite treat was the pretzel rolls. I came home determined to figure out how to make my own. The result was delicious. Once cooled they tasted just like the ones we bought at the bakery. The only change I would make is to make the rolls smaller. The recipe recommended 4 oz rolls. I made 3 ounce rolls, and I would make them even smaller, possibly as small as 1.5 oz each.

Pretzel Rolls
The Dough
2 and 3/8 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

The "Bath"
7 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda

Mix all dough ingredients together in a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment until it forms a ball and then mix with dough hook. I found that I had to add flour until my dough came together, was no longer sticky and quite stiff. I added maybe another 3/8 of a cup, but I can't be sure. I did it gradually until the dough looked right. Let dough rise in mixer bowl, covered with plastic wrap for an hour in a warm place.

After the first rising, punch down dough and shape into balls. Place rolls onto well greased cookie sheet and let rise 15 minutes.Preheat oven to 400*F.

While rolls are rising, mix the "bath" ingredients together and bring to a rolling boil. Once the 15 minute rise is over, poach 3 rolls at a time for 1 minute. I flipped my rolls over after the initial 3o seconds. Place on greased cookie sheet.

Once all rolls were poacheed, I used a serrated knife to make two slashes in each roll and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in the oven until a deep dark brown. It took my rolls 20 minutes. It may be a little more or less time. Keep an eye on the rolls, burnt pretzels would be so sad.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Croissant and Pain au Chocolat

A few weeks ago a friend mentionned that she really enjoyed some pain au chocolat that I had made a couple of years ago. I started thinking about croissants, and so bit the bullet yesterday and decided to make some. This particular friend was coming over for tea this morning, and so I decided to indulge both of us with a little sweet and flaky goodness.

When I had made croissants before, it took them forever to rise, and I had some pooling of the butter both during the proofing and the baking process. After a little research online I discovered that my layers of dough and butter were probably not even enough AND that I was proofing in too warm an environment. Keeping those two things in mind, I worked on my dough and today, my pastry was perfect, with no pooling of butter whatsoever.

My croissants were a little on the small side, and probably could have been shaped better, as they ended up a little mis-shapen to say the least. As for my pain au chocolat, the chocolate was at the bottom of my pastry and melted out in the baking. I think that came from having too much chocolate for the size of the pain. I think I could get the chocolate in the middle of the pastry next time by starting to roll my rectangle and then placing the chocolate midway before finishing the roll.

Regardless, I think it was a wonderfully sweet way to start our day and plan which seeds we are going to buy for our gardens this summer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Menu Challenge

I'm entering a contest on my friend Julie's blog, and I have to put my menu for the week. Eh...

Not feeling too inspired.

Monday: ( yesterday) Cold Cut subs with chips - Rich brought them home
Tuesday: Cobb salad with Buffalo chicken breasts and blue cheese dressing
Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner- Pancakes, sausage and Fresh Fruit
Thursday: Italian Sausage with onions and peppers+ Cheesy polenta
Friday:spaghetti and meat sauce
Saturday: Homemade Pizza Not sure what kind yet but at least one cheese
Sunday:Classic Chicken Stew

Now to see what I need to get at the grocery store. I have most of what I need, which is good, trying to use up what I have first.