Friday, October 16, 2009
Oh, my. How I love baklava. I had never tasted it until we moved here to Price. How I went for over 30 years without experiencing this delectable treat is beyond my comprehension. One of Dustin's Greek patients sent him home with a load of food one day when we were in the hotel, including a plate of baklava. Oh, yummy! Since then, I've had it a few more times, including at the Greek festival here (there are a lot of Greeks in Price, believe it or not), where it cost me around $3 for a tiny piece. Crazy, I know, but I couldn't resist. Anyway, I got the craving lately, and decided it was time to have my first experience working with Phyllo dough. The results are fabulous! The recipe's a little long, so instead of posting it here, I'll just include the link to the recipe I found. It also has lots of great tips. It was time consuming, but not difficult, so if you are up for it, give it a try! Go here for the recipe. Meanwhile, enjoy drooling over the pictures! PS, I am not a fan of walnuts, so I used almonds instead and it turned out great.
OK, seriously, why has no one ever told me how easy this is before? I saw this recipe on my friend Natalie Pope's blog, and I knew I'd eventually have to try it. We've been eating a lot of yogurt lately (Dustin for late-night snacks when I have ice cream, and the kids and I for afternoon snacks). It costs a fortune! If I buy a pack of Go-gurts for the kids, a few Yoplaits for me, and a quart of Dustin's favorite yogurt, that would cost me about $7.50 a week (assuming they are all on sale). It cost me about $1.25 to make a HALF GALLON of this delicious, creamy yogurt. Next time it'll be less than a dollar since I can use my own yogurt for the culture. And it has only 3 ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup. I can live with that! Thanks, Natalie!
Easy Homemade Yogurt
Half gallon (8 cups) milk (I used skim)
1/2 c. yogurt (plain or vanilla is best)
In a crock-pot, pour 8 cups milk. Cover and turn on crock-pot to low, cook for 2 1/2 hours. Uncover and turn off heat, let sit for 1 1/2 to 3 hours, or until milk cools to 120- 135 degrees (you don't want to kill the yogurt cultures when you add them). Once cooled, stir in the yogurt (next time you can use your own yogurt to do this). Cover with lid and lay one or two heavy towels on top of crock-pot. Leave on counter at least 8 hours or overnight. In the morning it will have turned into creamy, delicious yogurt! If you want it thicker (Greek-style), Place several layers of cheesecloth in large strainer and pour in yogurt. Place over a bowl and let sit in fridge for several hours. It is unsweetened, so you can add a little sugar, honey or other sweetener and vanilla, or a tablespoon of jam to your bowl of yogurt. Or use instead of sour cream. YUM!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I have always been intimidated by baking bread. It's one of those things, like pie crust, that people think is hard to do right. But we are eating so much bread lately (about 4 loaves/week) that I figured I better learn. I will only feed my family whole-grain bread, and that gets expensive! It is a little tricky, but now that I've done it and had it turn out great, I have an opinion on why it's known for it's difficulty: the wrong ingredients. Seriously, I really think it's that simple. This bread is 100% whole wheat, and unlike most homemade whole-grain breads, it is NOT a brick! On the contrary, it is fabulous- light, soft, fluffy, and delicious. It slices easily, so it's perfect for sandwiches. If you have any left. We devour it warm by itself or with butter and jam, and hope there's some left for sandwiches. The secrets I've learned: vital wheat gluten, new instant (or rapid-rise or bread-machine) yeast, and the right whole-wheat flour are essential. The flour I've always gotten is too coarse and weighs the bread down. You've gotta find a really fine flour, and I especially like soft white spring wheat flour (as opposed to hard red winter wheat, which if it doesn't specify, it probably is). The kind I found I like is Wheat Montana Prairie Gold Whole-Wheat Flour ). I got it at Wal-mart. A 5 lb. bag will make about 6 loaves of bread. You can usually find the gluten by the yeast. Enjoy!
100% Whole Wheat Fluffy Homemade Bread
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. vital wheat gluten
1 heaping tb. instant yeast
2 1/2 c. hot tap water
Mix for one minute, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes (this is called sponging).
Now mix in:
1/3 c. oil (I use canola)
1/2 c. honey or sugar
1 tb. lemon juice
1 tb. salt
1 tb. flax seed, optional
Lastly, add in:
2 to 2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, a little at a time.
Dump dough onto your counter. Only add enough flour that your dough is barely not sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand, or until the dough feels nice and elastic (you could also use a mixer for all this if you want- I use my Bosch and only knead for about 5 minutes). Heat your oven for 1 minute to warm it for rising, then turn it off. Divide dough in half, roll into 2 logs. Place dough in large greased loaf pans, then flip and kind of flatten the dough and squish it into the corners of the pan. Place in warm oven to rise about 30-45 minutes, or until it rises just about an inch over the top of the pans. If you let it rise too much, it may cave in when you bake it. When risen, turn on oven to 350 degrees, set timer to bake for 30 minutes. When finished, remove from pans, brush top with butter for a soft crust, and let cool for 1-2 hours before slicing (if you can stand it!). Freezes well, but slice it first and wrap it well.
Makes 2 loaves.
*You can also use this recipe for rolls, cinnamon rolls, or cinnamon raisin bread. YUM! If you want to use the dough for pizza, this amount makes enough for 3- 15" crusts.