2009-04-03sliced

A couple of weeks ago I made a bread for our Friday-Night-Soup-and-Bread Tradition (cold months only) called “Onion Lover’s Twist.”

Since mid-March our church has been having a Revelation Seminar which meets on Friday nights (among other times). Since we always have extra bread, we have been taking the extra loaf or extra whatever to church and giving it away. That week we gave half of the giant loaf (as big as a regular loaf) to the organist and music director (who are married).

They were elated.  My cooking is somewhat famous in circles I frequent, so they could not have been happier; what had made them worthy of such a blessing? (This is honestly how people treat me about my food.)

The next morning they both sought out me as well as Prince  Charming and anyone else they could find to tell their story…

They were driving home, and the smell of the bread was making them hungry. They got home and heated up a couple of slices (the slices are huge), and ate. They were in heaven it was so good. (I am learning that a lot of the population does not have homemade bread often… more than I realized.) Now let it be understood that I am not saying I did anything to make this bread so wonderful. I followed a recipe.  When people compliment my cooking, I always tell them my talent is to pick good recipes and follow them well. I am a cook, not a chef. (More on that in some other post.)

Anyway, they went to bed soon after that, and apparently all. night. long. they woke up time after time after having “the strangest dreams.” They could not emphasize enough how “strange” these dreams were. They did not seem to be nightmares, but dreams. I have no idea the content. Maybe they did not share because dreams always seem strange and unimportant when we wake up and think about them, or maybe they were just too exciting to repeat to others. I do not know, but it made me smile.

This bread has never given me extra dreams, strange or otherwise. It was more likely that they are in their 60’s and are not used to eating so late.  But whether or not it affects you with the dreams, it is great bread. Here is the recipe which I got from a cookbook called Colorado Cache. It was put together by the Junior League of Denver in 1978. We got our copy as a wedding gift 20 years later, so it must have been updated/reprinted. It is an excellent cookbook.  I think it must be a trend for this type of cookbook because the one from my hometown is  also excellent. So without further ado, here is the recipe and maybe a comment or two (or too many) of my own.

Onion Lover’s Twist

1 pkg dry yeast

1/4 c warm water (I always use 115 degrees F because it works better at my altitude which is 5000 feet AND my cold house.)

4 c  flour

1/4 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c hot water (120-130 degrees F)

1/2 c milk

1/4 c softened butter

1 egg

Filling:

1/4 c butter

1 c finely chopped onion

1 T grated Parmesan cheese (I always use fresh)

1 T sesame or poppy seeds (I use sesame seeds. I can only imagine what their dreams might have been had I used poppy!)

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

Grease cookie sheet (I always use a baking stone that is well seasoned and does not need to be greased). In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water. Add 2 c. flour, sugar, salt, hot water, milk, butter and egg. With electric mixer, blend at low speed until moistened. (If using a heavy duty mixer, do whatever you usually do for bread. I would not even bother with bread if I did not have a heavy duty mixer.) Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough. (Again, I leave it in the mixer and let it do the work.) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size–45-60 minutes.

2009-04-03fillingonstripsTo prepare filling, melt butter in saucepan and add remaining ingredients. (I think this is important to do right away so the ingredients can have a little time to saute, and then it can cool and solidify a little. If you do this at the last minute and the butter is liquid, it is much harder to fill the bread.)

2009-04-03rollingstrips

When dough has doubled in size, punch down and place on floured surface. Knead until no longer sticky. Roll into and 18″ x 12″ rectangle. Cut three strips lengthwise (18″ x 4″ –I sometimes forget and do it the wrong way–like this time–and it turns out fine.) Place 1/3 of the filling in the middle of each strip. Roll up each strip and seal the edges and ends. On the prepared cookie sheet (or stone which is always so much better in my opinion), braid the three rolls together. Cover and allow to rise until doubled–45-60 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm (best) or cool.

2009-04-03sealedrolls

If you would prefer two smaller loafs, just cut the filled rolls in half and braid separately. (I personally find it easier just to make one big one and give half of the loaf away.

2009-04-03braided

This bread is great for a couple of days when heated in the microwave.

Enjoy, and let me know if it gives you interesting dreams!

2009-04-03baked

Potato-Leek Soup in Bread Bowls

Potato-Leek Soup in Bread Bowls

During the winter months, we always have soup and bread on Friday night.  This tradition began when we moved to New Mexico, I became a stay-at-home mom and actually began regular cooking again. (In Missouri Prince Charming was in graduate school while I worked full-time. He did a lot of the “cooking” then.)

Friday nights are quiet at our house. Sabbath begins at sundown, and the pace changes. It is my favorite time of the week. Probably the entire 24 hours until sundown on Saturday night is my favorite period of the week, but Friday night is especially slow and quiet–a true blessing. (And it is host to the bath.)

Because Friday nights are special, I like to make something special for dinner. It cannot be complicated, however, because I also do the cooking for the next day on Friday as well. There just is not enough time to prepare two elaborate meals.  So Friday night dinners are simple, but special. That is how the soup and bread tradition came about.  All of us love both. If there is not the scent of bread baking in our house on Friday, something is wrong. (Or it is summer, but I usually bake some type of bread then anyway).

Last Friday night I made one of Prince Charming’s favorite soups. I tell you this because it was sort of for his birthday, which was at the beginning of January. Poor guy! If there is anything worse than having a birthday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is having one just after Christmas. He always gets the shaft. At the end of November and beginning of December, I had a whole slough of birthdays which got their own blog posts. Did Prince Charming? No! And it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with when it was.  He did not even get his favorite meal until three weeks after his birthday. So I threw in the soup as a bonus later the same week.

So, without further rambling, here are the recipes:

Potato Leek Soup in Bread Bowls

4 lg potatoes, peeled and diced

4 large leeks, sliced

8 c chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1/2 c cream

pepper (optional–I never opt for pepper, but I know a lot of people use it in everything, and it was part of the original recipe)

Bread Bowls: Bowl-size round loaves, unsliced (4-6, depending on how many people you are serving), 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, 4-6 tsp olive oil, 4-6 T graded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, combine potatoes, leeks, broth, salt and pepper if desired. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile make bread bowls (recipe below for Italian bread which we love, but you can purchase them ready-made, or you can just serve it with bread on the side): Cut top off of loaves. Hollow out bowls leaving 3/4″. (Reserve leftover bread for croutons or bread crumbs). Rub inside of bread with garlic, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese. Place hollowed out loaves and “lids” on baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit over for 10 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in a blender or use a hand-blender. (If you don’t have a hand blender and make soup, get one!) Stir in cream. Heat through.

Spoon hot soup into bread bowls and top with parsley as a garnish if desired. Makes 6 servings (with some leftovers for lunch next week!)

Italian Bread

(This is our favorite non-flavored bread. I do not make it all the time because it takes a long time, but I have figured out when to start it so that the first rising is while I pick up Chic from school since she gets out at 12:30 on Fridays.)

2-1/2 c warm water (115 degrees F)

2 T active dry yeast (or 2 packets is OK)

8 c all-purpose flour

1 T salt

1 egg white

1 T water

Optional: Butter and cornmeal to put on baking sheet before baking bread

Note: I do this in a Kitchen Aid mixer on Speed 2 with a dough hook. The original directions were not for that; if you do not use a mixer for bread, I am sure you will know how to convert this. And if you use a bread machine, I am sure you can figure that out, too.

Pour warm water into warm mixing bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Add salt and gradually beat in all but 2 cups of the flour. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Continue mixing gradually adding as much flour as needed. (In my dry, high altitude setting, I can usually add another 1-1/4 – 1-1/2 cups.) Continue kneading for 3-5 minutes after last flour is added. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with wax paper, then a damp dish cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and let rise to double again, about an hour.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and form small, round loaves (for bowls) or longer loaves (10-12″ long). (Since there are 4 of us, when I make this soup, I make 4 bowls with half of the dough and a long loaf with the other half of the dough. Otherwise I make two long loaves.)  Place loaves on baking sheets that have been buttered and sprinkled with corn meal (if desired, I never do this anymore). Add 1 Tbls water to egg white and brush top and sides of loaves. To cover, prop up dish towel around and over loaves using glasses OR make a reusable cover by lining the inside of an appropriately-sized box with aluminum foil and storing in a plastic bag to keep clean. (I have to let my bread rise in the oven with a dish of water because of the lack of humidty in this region. Propping up a dish towel with glasses is not feasible for me, so I made the box as described. It works fine. I use it for some of my other bread recipes as well.) Let rise until doubled. I check it after 45-50 minutes which is usually enough, but sometimes it takes longer, depending on how warm the oven has remained.

Place a shallow pan on the bottom rack of the oven; fill with boiling water. Bake loaves in center of oven preheated to 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and brush with egg white mixture again. Continue baking for 20 mintues longer, or until well-browned and done.

The bread can seem a bit intimidating because of all the steps, but it is really no worse than any other yeast bread if you plan the rising times when you can be doing other things. However, it is not something you can decide late in the day to have for dinner. If you do not eat the extra loave(s), your neighbors will LOVE you if you give a loaf to them, and it freezes splendidly.

Recipe  Credits:  Soup–Glamour Magazine, about 25 years ago. Bread–not sure.