Whole Wheat and Roasted Oat Bread

I love the ritual of baking bread: the blooming of the yeast, the kneading, the rise, the punching down, the second rise, the baking, and finally, the eating. I also love the warm, sweet scents that accompany this ritual. Baking bread can be challenging, and many view it as a chore, but instead, let yourself get lost in the ritual. Be patient. 

This hearty bread has a beautiful crust and soft crumb. The roasted oats give this bread a nutty caramel flavor. Try adding fresh herbs, such as sage or tarragon, when kneading for a more complex flavor.

What You'll Need:
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast*
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup walnut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup white, all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup quick rolled oats
*A word about yeast. When I first began baking bread, I always bought yeast in packages. I often found that my yeast often did not bloom correctly, resulting in flat, stiff bread. I recommend using Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast from the bottle. It's a little more of an investment to buy it in bottle form, but it's actually a better deal and seems to work much better than the packages. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the oats on a cookie sheet and spread evenly. Toast the oats in the oven for 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. This allows the yeast to bloom - it should look foamy, if not, throw it away and start again.
  3. Once the yeast has bloomed, add the walnut oil, flours and salt and gently stir with a fork to combine. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Knead for an additional 2 minutes, working in the oats as you knead. 
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm, draft free spot until the dough doubles in bulk, about 90 minutes.
  5. When the dough has doubled, gently punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead gently for 30 more seconds and form into a loaf. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. While the dough is resting, place a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. After the dough has rested, place the loaf on the prepared cookie sheet and cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm, draft free spot until it doubles again, about 40-60 minutes (I find the best spot is on top of my preheating oven).
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Once the dough has rested, remove the towel and dust the loaf with flour. Using a serrated knife, slash a long line from tip to tip about 1 inch deep. 
  8. Place the loaf in the oven and reduce the heat down to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and enjoy while still warm with freshly churned butter. 

Yield: 1 loaf

Almond Butterscotch Drop Cookies

Firstly, let me apologize for taking a bit of a break from the posting - getting a masters degree really gobbles up your time!

On with the cookies...

For me, drop cookies evoke so many memories. I remember sitting on the bright red countertop, watching my mother make her famous chocolate-chip cookies, eagerly waiting for her to turn around so I could snatch a secret "taste-test". Despite my attempt to stealthily run my finger along the edge of the bowl and quickly pop the dough into my mouth, she always knew what I was up to. And yet she would always pretend to take a little extra time gathering her ingredients or getting the spatula so I could try to sneak one more delicious dollop. 

Drop cookies are homey and rustic, and they also make a wonderful holiday treat. These cookies are extremely easy to make and don't require a lot of time or effort - perfect for holiday parties, a tasty little treat with hot cocoa, or a secret midnight snack. 

What You'll Need:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butterscotch sauce*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

*Click the link for a delicious bourbon butterscotch recipe. If you're pressed for time, you can use store-bought butterscotch. 

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and butterscotch together in a large bowl until fluffy. 
  3. Add the salt, vanilla, and egg and continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the flour and beat until just incorporated, do not over-mix.
  5. Add the almonds and with a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until the almonds are evenly incorporated. 
  6. Using two spoons (one to scoop the dough and the other to easy it off the spoon onto the sheet), drop about a tablespoon of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving about 2" of space between each cookie. 
  7. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and enjoy while still warm!

Yield: about 20 cookies

Grilled Peach, Prosciutto, and Rosemary Flatbread with Bleu Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

Peach season is right around the corner and this flatbread is a delicious appetizer for any evening dinner party in the dog days of summer. The sweetness of the peaches with the earthiness of the spinach and rosemary pair beautifully with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the tang of the balsamic reduction. Serve with a bottle of homemade white peach wine.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 12 oz. prosciutto
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • Olive oil for brushing the dough

  1. To prepare the crust, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Let the yeast bloom for 5 minutes. Next, add the olive oil, flour, and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir with a fork until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently kneed until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place the bowl over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes. 
  2. While the dough is resting, prepare the peaches and balsamic reduction. Peel and pit the peaches. Cut the peaches into rounds about 1/4" thick. Grill over medium-heat grill on both sides for 2 minutes each or until grill marks appear. Remove from grill and set aside. For the reduction, pour the balsamic into a small sauce pot and simmer over medium-high heat until it has reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Once the dough has rested, it is time to make the flatbread. The flatbread itself is grilled and the process needs to go fairly quickly to avoid burning. I have found it is best to use a grill set to low heat, or if using charcoal (like me), let the coals cool a bit before attempting to grill the pizza. Fresh coals burn too hot and will burn your pizza in a matter of seconds.
  4. Cut the dough in half (since this recipe is for 2 eight-inch pizzas) and leave the other half under the bowl. Roll out the dough into an 8" round. Using a pastry brush, brush olive oil on one side of the dough. Place the dough on the grill, oil side down and cover with grill lid. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes until grill makes appear on the bottom of the dough. Brush oil on the top of the dough and flip. Next, quickly add the toppings in the following order: peaches, prosciutto, spinach, rosemary, bleu cheese. Cover the pizza and cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  5. Remove the pizza from the grill and repeat the process to make the second pizza. 
  6. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and enjoy!

Yield: 2 eight-inch pizzas

Spiced Challah French Toast Stuffed with Wild Huckleberries and Cream

Believe it or not, this recipe is actually perfect for a morning campfire breakfast (assuming you have a cooler while camping). Whodathunk you could make such a decadent breakfast while camping? You can mix the eggs ahead of time and cook the toast on a skillet right over an open flame. On your morning trek, pick a few wild huckleberries, bring them back to the campsite and prepare this delicious breakfast.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 4 slices of day-old challah bread, 1” thick
  • ½ cup fresh huckleberries
  • ¼ cup cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 pomegranate pluots, plums, or plumcots for garnish, cut into wedges
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting
  • Maple syrup (optional, but highly recommended)

  1. Combine the eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk until the egg yolks and whites are thoroughly combined.
  2. Next, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, gently coat the challah slices in the egg mixture and lay flat on the skillet. You should hear a slight fizz when the challah touches the hot skillet. If you don’t, your skillet is not hot enough. Cook the toast until golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes each side.
  3. Remove the toast from the skillet and gently spread the cream cheese on 1 side of 2 of the toasts. It is VERY important that the cheese is at room temperature - if it isn’t it will be too hard to spread and it will glob. Next, spread the huckleberries on top of the cream cheese. Place the undressed toasts on top of the cream cheese and huckleberries (you’re essentially making a sandwich).
  4. Finally, garnish with pomegranate pluots (my personal favorite), plums, or plumcots. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over top and drizzle with maple syrup.

Serves: 2

Homemade Garden Herb Pasta with Linguica, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Brocolini

This past weekend, there was a break in the weather - I mean a significant break. The heavy-handed 95-degree heat gave way to a crisp rain and dense fog that slowly rolled through the pioneer valley. This recipe is perfect for those rare, and often appreciated, chilly summer nights when your appetite comes roaring back from the deep slumber of summer heat.

What You’ll Need:

For the Pasta:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

For the Sauce and Vegetables:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. smoked Linguica sausage, cut on the bias in ½” rings
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh broccolini, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. To make the pasta, place the flour, basil, thyme, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine with a fork until the herbs are evenly incorporated. Make a small well in the center of the flour. Crack the egg and yolk in the center of the well. Using a fork, whip the egg and yolk together, then slowly begin to incorporate the flour. Continue to mix until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a rough ball and knead on a floured work surface until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a plastic bag or covered bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. When the dough has rested, cut it into 8 equal pieces. On a floured work surface, roll each piece out as thin as possible, like a sheet of paper. You should be able to see your hand through it. If you have a pasta machine, you can use that as well. Once your pasta is at the desired thinness, cut it into 1½” by 3½” rectangles. Lightly wet the end of one rectangle and stick the two ends together to form a tube (You can make a different shape if you prefer, this is just the shape I chose).
  3. Set the formed pasta aside on a baking sheet. If you do not want to use the pasta right away, you can dry it and store it for later use. Dry it on a baking sheet for 24 hours then store in an airtight container.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  5. While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sausage and veggies. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until just translucent and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the Linguica and garlic. Cover and cook until the oil from the Linguica is released and colors the onions to an orangish tinge. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and broccolini. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. At this point, the water for the pasta should be boiling. Place your homemade pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes until done to your liking.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce - bring the heat back up to medium high, add the white wine and herbs. Cook, uncovered, until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 2 or 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Strain the pasta and serve immediately with the Linguica and vegetables. Top with shaved Asiago and Parmesan.

Serves 2-4

Avocado Potato Salad

Nothing says summertime quite like potato salad. My husband and I had just had a busy day in the garden: pulling weeds, watering, training our stubborn snow peas to climb, and setting up our calendula flowers for drying. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we started to think about dinner. As we sat back with a glass of wine, looking out over our garden and looking at the work we had just done, the only words I could utter were, “potato salad”. We went inside and quickly realized we had no mayonnaise… but we did have an avocado. This recipe was born. Enjoy this delicious twist on a classic with grilled chicken on top of a bed of fresh greens from the garden.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
  • 2 large red potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the potatoes in the oiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the avocado. Peel the avocados and remove the seed. Place the pulp in a medium bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork until combined.
  3. When the potatoes are tender, strain them through a colander or sieve. Add the strained potatoes to the avocado mixture and mix to coat the potatoes and chill until ready to serve.

Yield: about 3 to 4 pounds

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