Monday, November 21, 2011

Easy Homemade Bread!

Lately I have been on a bread baking kick.  Any weekend I have some spare time I head straight for the kitchen to bake up a batch of bread.  This recipe looked like one of those too good to be true, but I thought I would try it anyway.  It was published in the New York Times back in 2006 and there have been plenty of reviews since then with lots of debate about what the real ratios should be.  I have made it twice now, and each time I made it a tad different and the results were very different.  The first time I made it the bread turned to a sourdough bread and was super delicious.  The second time I made it. the bread turned out with an absolutely beautiful crumb, but was more just a plain artisan bread with a great crust.  Unfortunately about the latter, I can absolutely say that I've had better.   As for me, even though the crumb on the non-sourdough was better, I definitely preferred the taste of the sourdough bread more, so I'm am sharing my recipe and process for the sourdough no kneed bread.


1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
3 cups flour
1 1/2 + 1 tbs Warm water (about 105 degrees)
1 1/4 tsp Salt


Mix together flour, salt, and yeast.  Add in the water.  The dough will be very sticky. 

Place dough into a container, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let sit for 18 to 20 hrs.  The longer it sits and ferments, the more sour it will be.

Lightly flour a counter and turn dough onto the counter.  Quickly fold the dough into thirds, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let sit for another 15 minutes.

Dust a clean kitchen towel and transfer the dough to the towel, seam side down.  Sprinkle with some more flour, cover with another clean kitchen towel and let sit for two more hours.

After an hour an a half, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees-F and place dutch oven (3.5 quart or larger) into oven.

When the dough has risen in the towels for two hours, carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven.  Flip dough into the dutch oven, quickly cover with lid, and place into the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove lid and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the crust has a nice brown shade to it.

Immediately remove bread from dutch oven and let cool completely on cooling racks.

Slice and enjoy.

Such a pretty crumb!

Take it over to a friends house for a dinner/bookclub party because that's what baking is for. :-)

I plan on making this bread again as the basis for stuffing this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sausage and Lentil Balls

I try to make a vegetarian meal probably about once a week.  Even though my husband is a good sport about it, and likes the vegetarian meals, I still get a little worried when I make them.  I started out planning on just making Lentil Balls, but then feared that he would want some more meat.  We had some leftover ground sausage in the fridge so I thought, I might as well add some to the mix as it would lend some good flavor.  When Raymond got home and asked me what was for dinner that night I panicked and just said, "uh...balls".  I don't think he was really sure what to think but his reaction was priceless.  In the end these turned out fantastic, we both really loved the flavor, and I'm pretty sure we both would have enjoyed them even without the sausage.


1 cup dried lentils (or substitute 1 can)
3/4 cup almonds
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup onion, chopped
4 oz Ground Italian Sausage
1 egg
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 jar (24-28oz) marinara sauce
Olive Oil
Parmesan cheese


Place lentils in a pot with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil for for 2 or 3 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer till done.  The length of cooking time will vary depending on how old your lentils are.  Green and brown lentils will need about 45 minutes, red lentils will take about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile grind oats and almonds into a powder.  This should make about 1 cup of oat/almond meal.  Add a bit more oats if necessary to reach 1 cup.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees-F.

Drain and roughly mash the lentils with a fork.

Combine the lentils, sausage, onions, egg, oat and almond meal mixture and mix well.

Add garlic salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Form mixture into small balls. I ended up with 17.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish with your favorite marinara sauce.

Place the lentil balls in the dish and drizzle or spritz with olive oil.  You don't need a lot, just add a bit to prevent the lentil balls from drying out.

Bake in oven for about 25 min or until the sausage and lentil balls are firm and the sauce has reduced.

While the sausage and lentil balls are cooking, cook your favorite pasta al dente.  Let the sausage and lentil balls rest for about 5 minutes after you take them out of the oven, then serve over your favorite pasta and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers make great meatball sandwiches as well!  :)

Nutritional Information:
Not including sauce or pasta, for 1 ball: Calories - 68.2, Fat - 3.3g, Sodium - 61.7 mg, Potassium - 89.4mg, Dietary Fiber - 1.6g, Sugars - 0.2g, Protein - 4.0g