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Italian Bread Bowls

I have made these bread bowls so many times and they have come out great every single time. They are so simple even an amateur baker could pull them off without difficulty. The recipe I used originally lacked flavor so I added some herbs to give it a more “Italian” taste. Honestly, how can you call them Italian if they don’t at least have oregano.

These bread bowls rise up golden and crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside; they are perfect in the winter filled with a hot chowder or hearty stew.  If you don’t use them all, make sure you wrap them up tightly because fresh baked bread doesn’t have the same shelf life as store bought bread. For an even longer lasting freshness you can freeze them for up to a month.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 7 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 teaspoon of desired herbs to add flavor

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Here is where I added about a teaspoon each of garlic, basil, and oregano. I also dumped in a couple tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. If you are using any kind of mixer (preferably a standing mixer because they are designed to take on tough tasks such as bread dough.) Make sure to use the dough hooks or the dough will creep up the beaters and into the head of the mixer and burn it out. Believe me when I tell you this because I have done it.

Dough coming together, but needs more flour

Dough coming together, but needs more flour

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Don’t forget to take any rings off; I forget to all the time and end up with dough encrusted diamonds.

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Ready to be kneaded

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. I know the recipe says 40 minutes, but if you let it rise longer you will have more aerated and fluffy bread. So, yesterday I inadvertently let the dough rise for a couple of hours, and in the end it was well worth it because the bread bowls were the best I had ever made.

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Risen dough. Should have used a bigger bowl.

Punch dough down, and divide into 8 equal portions. My favorite part is punching the dough. It makes me giggle every time.

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Literally punch the dough

Shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf. My secret to nice round loaves is using placing a chunk of dough in both hands and pulling over my fingers with both thumbs. This side will be the top of the loaf and will bake nice and smooth. To close the bottom pinch it closed and then roll it into a little peak to ensure it stays completely closed.

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View from the top

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View from the side

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Pinching the open bottom

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Finished loaf

Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes. Some rule applies here. If you let them rise a little bit longer your bowls will be that much better.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

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Fresh from the oven

To make bowls: Cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch-thick shells.

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Use a very sharp knife so you don’t end up ripping the bread

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Remove the top

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Scoop out the center

Fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately.

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Completed bread bowl filled with loaded baked potato chowder

If you make them leave a comment or send a picture.
Happy baking!

Almost Animal-Style Burgers

Raise your hand if you’ve been to In-N-Out Burger. Okay, for those of you who have not: the first In-N-Out Burger was opened in 1948 by Harry Snyder. It was California’s first drive through burger stand and was barely 10 square feet. All the ingredients were bought fresh and all the meals were hand prepared. In 1961 Animal-Style was added to the menu. Customers can request Animal-Style for any burger and they get lettuce, tomato, a mustard-cooked beef patty, plus pickle, extra spread and caramelized onions. In 1963 the Double-Double is introduced, two patties with cheese in between one set of buns. Now, in 2013 there are over 200 hundred drive-throughs and sit down restaurants still run by a family member of the original owner.

Today I am going to share with you a Double-Double Animal-Style Burger. This isn’t the official recipe since that’s a secret, but this will be sure to wow your taste buds just the same. Make sure you bring along plenty of napkins because it can get messy. We had it last night and while everyone else decided to be prissy and use a knife and fork to eat their burgers I used just my hands. In retrospect, I probably should have followed suit and used utensils, but after the first bite it was too late.

Recipe:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for brushing
2 large onions finely chopped
Kosher Salt
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
2 pounds ground beef (don’t go too lean)
4 hamburger buns split
1/4 cup sliced dill pickles
3/4 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
4-8 thin slices of tomato (Depends on how large your tomato is. I found a monster one and only needed four slices.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup yellow mustard
8 slices american cheese

Directions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and 3/4 teaspoon of salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft. This should take about 30 minutes.

IMG_20130303_193157onions becoming soft and golden

(Oh here’s my secret for eliminating the tears when cutting onions: put the onion in the freezer for about 20 minutes before cutting it, or if you don’t have time for that light a candle and keep it close by when cutting the onion.) If the onions brown too quickly in the pan turn the flame down to low. Once the onions are golden, uncover and increase the heat to medium high. Continue to cook, stirring often, until they are caramelized. This should take about 8 more minutes. Add 1/2 a cup of water to the skillet, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer and stir occasionally until all the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes. The onions can be pre-made up to three days ahead of time as long as they are covered well and kept refrigerated. Just reheat them before using.

IMG_20130303_195659almost completely caramelized onions.

In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, and vinegar then set aside. It should be a pinky orange colored sauce similar to Thousand Island Dressing. My pictures are a little off in color because I use my cell phone as a camera just because its convenient.

IMG_20130303_194353“secret” sauce

Shape the beef into 8 patties about four inches across and 1/2 inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

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Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Toast the buns on the griddle split side down.

IMG_20130303_193153IMG_20130303_193916toasted buns

Once the buns are toasted spread about a tablespoon of the sauce on the bottom bun then top with a few pickles, some lettuce, 1 or 2 slices of tomato and another dollop of the mayonnaise mixture. Keep the griddle hot while you prepare this step.
Working in batches if necessary, which I did (four at a time), put the patties on the griddle and cook for 3 minutes. While they are cooking spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard on the uncooked side of each patty. Flip the patties and top with one slice of American cheese each; continue cooking for about 2 more minutes for medium doneness.

IMG_20130303_200302mustard cooked patties

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Cover 4 of the patties with the caramelized onions

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Cover with the remaining patties, cheese side up, and sandwich the double patties between the toasted buns.

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Happy cooking!

Louisiana Jambalaya

Hello and welcome to my brand spankin’ new blog. I can’t promise that I will stick to just food, however, I will try to make it my main focus. The first recipe I am going to share with you is an adaptation of Emeril Legasse’s Cajun Jambalaya. I attempted it for the first time a few days ago, and surprised myself when it came out fantabulous. Though I did use a recipe, I more used it as a guideline. Feel free to follow exactly or do your own thing.

I used half a bag of frozen shelled deveined, uncooked shrimp thawed. For the chicken, I used four pieces of boneless skinless thighs. I chopped about three quarters of a medium onion and did the same for a large bell pepper. I didn’t measure the celery either, but I would say I used about 1/4 cup. (Not a huge fan of the celery flavor in my food. I almost never use celery salt even in small amounts. Its such a strong flavor I feel like it overpowers the other flavors.) I used an entire 8 ounce package of Andouille sausage. Andouille sausage, for those who are wondering, is a Cajun smoked pork sausage. At Stop & Shop you can find it in the section with the hot dogs and other fully cooked flavored sausages.

Recipe (This is the exact recipe)
Serves 4

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 ounces chicken, diced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper

Creole Seasoning

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

Cubed Chicken and Chopped Shrimp

Cubed Chicken and Chopped Shrimp

Directions:
In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well.

Shrimp, Chicken, Cajun Spice Mix

Shrimp, Chicken, Cajun Spice Mix

Shrimp/Chicken tossed in Cajun spice

Shrimp/Chicken tossed in Cajun spice

I added more seasoning afterwards I didn’t feel like the chicken and shrimp were coated well enough at this point.

Chopped green bell pepper,  onion, and garlic all sauteing in oil

Chopped green bell pepper, celery, and onion sauteing in oil

In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, for about 3 minutes or until tender. Make sure you stir it often. You don’t want anything to burn to the bottom of the pot.

Chopped tomatoes and bay leaves added to pot

Chopped tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves added to pot

Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. The recipe calls for a teaspoon of both the Worcestershire and hot sauce. I probably used closer to a tablespoon. I am a big fan of both of those ingredients and neither one is going to change the integrity of the dish. They’re really just flavor enhancers. Also, the finer you chop your garlic the more flavor you’ll get out of it. Again, make sure you keep stirring.

Chicken stock and rice added to pot

Chicken stock and rice added to pot

Stir in the uncooked rice and slowly add the broth. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the rice absorbs almost all the liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally. Do this for about fifteen minutes. I have a gas stove and it seems to me that it cooks a lot faster than when using an electric stove. If you also have a gas stove I recommend turning the flame down a tad bit so that nothing burns to the bottom of your pot.

Andouille Sausage

Andouille Sausage

Meats Added to pot

Meats Added to pot

When the rice is just tender add the shrimp/chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until the meat is done which will be approximately 10 minutes. Keep stirring! Making sure you get all the way to the bottom!

Completed Louisiana Jamabalaya

Completed Louisiana Jamabalaya

Here is the completed dish. If you want to, add salt, pepper or more creole seasoning. Sorry, I don’t have any pictures of a beautifully plated dish. Next time!

Thank you for reading. If you try the recipe let me know, send a picture, whatever. Happy cooking!