Whole Wheat Zucchini Twists and Drunken Tomato Jam

It’s been another one of my experimenting days.  I’ve been into that a lot lately.  I must be going through a phase in my life…everything I do lately in the kitchen is about experimenting!  I never used to be this way.  It’s been fun though, and keeps things fresh and interesting.

Though, honestly this invention isn’t that unique or interesting.  It is however, delicious, hearty, versatile – both the jam and and the mini loaves can be paired in a number of different ways…not just together as I have them posted.

I was inspired by a recipe for tomato jam I saw recently, and so with the plethora of cherry tomatoes from my garden I had to put them to good use!   I added my own little touch of red wine when I opened the fridge to grab something and old bottle of red wine I had stashed in the fridge for cooking was staring right back at me screaming, “USE ME UP!”  So, I did.  I think it turned out quite delicious!  And baking fresh yeast bread is one of the easiest things – if you can read, you can do it.  So read on.  And furthermore, kneading fresh dough is quite a meditative process!  So meditate on!

First, the tomato jam recipe:

Drunken Tomato Jam

2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 large sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tsp salt

Place everything in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer until thick about 30-40 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Now for the bread recipe:

Whole Wheat Zucchini Twists

1 medium zucchini, grated
2 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

Shred the zucchini and place in a colander with the salt to drain excess water.

In a large bowl mix yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup water, stir to dissolve.  Set aside 5-10 minutes until quite bubbly.

Add flour, zucchini and remaining 1/4 cup warm water to yeast mixture.  Mix well.  Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes until elastic, adding flour as necessary.  Place in a greased bowl, turn to coat all sides.  Cover with a towel and set aside 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

When doubled in size, punch dough down with one fist and turn onto floured surface again.  Divide dough into 4-inch long (or larger if you want larger loaves….these ones are small, like mini, personal loaves), skinny logs.  Then take two logs and pinch to top together.  Twist together (one log over the other) creating a twisted loaf.  Pinch the other end together.  Repeat with the remaining logs until all used up.  Set loaves on a baking pan, covered, in a warm place to rise another 45 minutes.

Whisk egg white well in a small bowl.  With a pastry brush, gently brush egg on the risen loaves, being very careful not to flatten them.  They will be fragile so don’t brush too hard!  The egg white will allow the loaves to have a nice golden, glossy finish.

Place in preheated oven at 325.  Bake about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Watch these carefully because the time may vary…(my oven does clearly register temperature, so I kind of have to guesstimate this one).

When finished serve warm with the slightly cooled  tomato jam.  Bon Appetit!

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A New Love Named Buck…

……wheat, that is.  Buckwheat.

Buckwheat and I are very much in love.

It’s a new grain for me.  I have my usual favorites…couscous, bulgur, barley, quinoa.  And because breakfast is my most favorite meal in the whole wide world, I love to explore different ways of creating deliciousness to wake up to in the morning.  I’ve done the oatmeal, the smoothies, the scones, the pancakes, the quinoa hot cereal and so on.  But I recently discovered this grain – called Kasha for hot cereal – that makes for a verrrry delicious bowl of hot cereal!  Mixed with mashed banana, warm milk, cinnamon, almonds, raisins, a drizzle of honey, marmalade, and banana slices on top, it is a breakfast lover’s dream.

After doing a little investigating, I learned that buckwheat, or kasha, is a traditional Eastern European meal.  Furthermore, it is high in fiber, is wheat and gluten-free,  contains eight essential amino acids, and a large number of important minerals.

As with any grain, it’s extremely versatile!  A few weeks ago I cooked up a nice buckwheat pilaf with fresh herbs, peppers, leeks, lemon juice and white wine.  Savory or sweet, it’s my new fave!   Any other ways/recommendations for using buckwheat/kasha!?

This is what I used:


A Sunday Morning Scene

Sometimes I just randomly create things.  And they often turn out quite great taste good.  But most times they are never to be repeated again or for that matter, even documented.

Sunday morning I woke up late, and with the short bit of sun we had in the morning, I went out and gave some love to my garden.  It’s coming along slowly…but with less sun these days, it’s not as happy as it is the other six months during the dry season.  Though, I still do have some carrots, onions, lettuce, broccoli, and beets slowly but surely coming up.  After a bit of gardening, I was hungry for something healthy and sweet.  I made this.  What is it, you may ask?

Well, the day before I threw some ingredients into a bowl (mainly mashed banana, oats, spices, flour, honey, etc.) and baked it up.  The bars/muffins/bread as they turned out to be were quite delicious and not too sweet.  So, Sunday morning rolled around and I enjoyed them for breakfast.  Then I made a smoothie with frozen banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, ground flaxseed, fresh ginger root, and milk.  Midway through enjoying the muffin bars, I went a little crazy and poured some of the smoothie on top.  I do these things.  These weird little things that most people never know about.  But now you do.  It was delicious I must say.  Happy Sunday (and now happy Monday, and happy Tuesday, and happy Wednesday)!


Pure Wholesome Goodness Scones

I didn´t quite know what to call these scones.  They are chock-full of all kinds of pure wholesome goodness…so I just went with that.  It´s a bit uncreative, but it honest, straightforward, and transparent.  I like that in a person, so why not in a scone?

Scones are pure comfort food for me, topped with some marmalade and paired with tea.  It´s a breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea´s lover.  Truly.  And scones, though they sound fancy and British, can be whipped up in no time, in and out of the oven, and in your mouth in 40 or so minutes.  Every scone recipe goes the same way – you mix the dry ingredients, cut in the fat, and then add the liquid.  It´s the same for biscuits.  Scones are a lot like biscuits in the chemistry side of things.  But we´re not talking biscuits, we´re talking scones.  So let´s talk.

I´m gonna go out on a limb and say these scones are quite healthy.  Many scones are not, often carrying ingredients such as heavy cream and lots of butter….though in moderation, there´s nothing wrong with those kind.  But these kind, are not those kind.  These scones are dense, flaky, rich, spicy, and not too sweet.  Perfect with chai tea and milk and honey.  I hate to admit, I ate three of them the day I made them, and they are disappearing quickly with house visitors….!

Pure Wholesome Goodness Scones

Makes about 15, depending on the size you cut them

1 cup buckwheat flour (or rice flour or any other kind of flour)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup oats, quick-cooking or regular
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 stick butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup any dried fruit mixture (raisins, apricots, cherries, figs, prunes, etc), cut into small pieces
3/4 cup+2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp raw turbinado sugar
1tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (first 11 ingredients).  Slice in the butter.  Using your hands or a pastry blender, work it into the flour, until it creates a roughly crumbly mixture, leaving small pieces of butter present.  Add the dried fruit mixture, mix.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Mix well to combine all dry ingredients with wet.  Dough should be sticky.  If it´s too sticky add a tiny bit more flour.  Transfer the dough to a very generously floured surface.  Fold over 4-5 times, and flatten into a roughly round disc about 1-1 1/2-inch thick.  Cut into triangles of your desired size.  Brush each scone with milk, and top with raw sugar.  Place on prepared baking sheet and bake in oven 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool on rack, and enjoy warm with tea!!