Recipes


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5/2015:  Ignore pretty much everything here (except the waffle recipe) and just go buy Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish. Worth more than pretty much anything I have to say here!

Well, Spiros, my sourdough experiments continue. After failing miserably on my last batch, producing a loaf that would knock out a football player, I consulted the internet and learned some key pieces of infos. Here’s a link to the page on allrecipes.com that helped me.

The first thing was that on the first batch I did everything right — by mistake!  My roommate accidentally froze the sourdough starter, so I thawed it at room temperature and then fed it to get it going again.  (I found out that this is called “proofing” the starter.)  Once it was bubbling and happy again, I added some fresh yeast  and did a poolish. (That’s when you mix half the flour with the sourdough and let it sit for a day or so to rev up the yeast before you mix in the rest of the flour and knead it.)

The second thing was that you have to feed a sourdough starter regularly — every day or two if you keep it at room temperature, once a week if you keep it in the fridge. No wonder the second batch bombed — the yeast had probably all starved to death.

I learned that you can make a sourdough starter using water or milk, or even make a wild yeast starter using the yeast that collects on the skins of grapes.

I learned that you should not use chlorinated water — use bottled or distilled because chlorine kills yeast — and you should not use metal containers or spoons — because metal kills yeast too.

So, I started 3 new sourdough starters: one using aerated water for liquid (let it sit uncovered for a day to let the chlorine evaporate), one using milk for liquid, and one – out of curiosity – using white wine for liquid.

Although most of the recipes I read added some fresh yeast to the mix in addition to the sourdough starter, I want to see if I can make a really good loaf of sourdough using only the starter. So, I sort of combined techniques from the recipe I have and another recipe I found on food.com.

I started them, then proofed them for 12 hours, then did a poolish for 18 hours. At this point, the water-based starter bombed. So, I kneaded the other two batches into loaves.

This is when I ran into trouble.  I had to go out for the evening, and since the bread had already been sitting for 30 hours, I didn’t want to leave it out rising for another 6 or so. So, I put the dough in the refrigerator to keep it from rising until I got home.  But I didn’t get home until midnight, and then I couldn’t warm up the dough enough to get it rising again.  Finally, I warmed the oven a bit and left it sitting in there overnight in hopes that it would slowly rise and be ready to cook in the morning.

But then I had to leave at 9:00 in the morning and didn’t get home until 2:00.  At this point it had been over two days since I started.  The bread had barely risen enough to bake, but I couldn’t let it go any longer. I was pretty sure it was going to be unpalatably sour at this point, and it certainly wasn’t going to rise any more.  As I turned on the oven I thought what the heck, they couldn’t be as bad as the last batch — at least they had risen some.

So I cooked them.  They turned out extra sour and a bit heavy, but not unpleasant. I thought I would like the milk-based bread best, as I expected that the milk, in souring, would add to the tartness of the bread.  In fact, in a blind taste test, both my roommate and I like the wine-based bread better.  The milk one was flavorful, but had a bit of a “kick” at the end, while the wine one had a nice tang and a bit of sweetness to enhance it.

(Oh, and by the way, using bread flour makes a huge difference in the consistency. It has a higher gluten content than regular flour.)

Tomorrow I’m starting another batch.  I’ve begun proofing the starter, and I’m going to skip the poolish and go straight to rising in the loaf, exactly the way it says in the recipe. This time, the whole process should take about 15 hours, rather than 50(!).  It will be interesting to see how these loaves compare in flavor with today’s loaves.

In the meantime, here is a haiku I composed in honor of the valiant yeast that have died in the cause of my culinary science:  😉

scent of fresh bread –
the dying breath
of a billion yeast

Oh, and by the way, here are the hot pads I quilted on my new HandiQuilter using my Autumn Song fabric line that Blank Quilting re-released last year. Hot pads (and quilt-as-you-go blocks) are a great way to practice machine quilting. Just keep a stack of “sandwiches” by the sewing machine for whenever you have 15 or 20 minutes.  Later you can bind them and give them away as gifts — everybody needs new hot pads now and then! Here are my instructions for making hot pads: http://spiromandalas.wordpress.com/hot-pad-pattern/  Enjoy!

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2/21/13: My friend Marguerita sent me this link to sourdough-making info: http://www.innerlodge.com/Recipes/Breads/Sourdough/index.htm which also contains her favorite recipe for sourdough pancakes: http://www.innerlodge.com/Recipes/Breads/Sourdough/PanCakes/pancakes.htm. Among other really important things I learned was this key piece of the puzzle: don’t over-knead the dough.  Having tried the flip-and-fold method a couple of times now, I can vouch for it.  Now I just have to learn to make a dough that is stiff enough to stand up into a nice, round loaf, yet still soft enough so that the yeast doesn’t have to fight too hard to rise it.

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3/21/13: Another key piece of info from my friend Pat Surra in Bloomington, IN, who shared her dad’s sourdough potato bread recipe with me.  In the background to the recipe she mentions that her father made a “proofing oven” by putting a lightbulb inside a Styrofoam cooler.  This kept the dough at an optimum temperature for rising.  I discovered that if I turn on the light in my oven and set the bowl of starter or dough near it, the temperature is just right to keep the yeast happy and multiplying.

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4/23/13: Making sourdough bread again for the first time in several weeks.  The last attempt rose too long and the dough flattened out because the yeast went inactive.  I’ve learned from watching the starter proof that the yeast is most active about 4-6 hours after feeding it. After about 10-12 hours, the yeast has used up all the fresh food (in my case, flour and milk) and starts to go dormant again.  You can tell because the foaminess of the starter starts to collapse and the layer of alcohol starts to form on the surface of the starter.  So, there is definitely a question of timing with sourdough bread.  For today’s loaf, here’s what I’m doing, and so far (5:55 p.m) the dough looks GREAT!

1. The day before: I proofed the starter for 24 hours because I hadn’t fed it for a couple of weeks (I was traveling and it was in the fridge).  Proofing: I warm 1 cup milk in the microwave for 1 minute then mix in 1 cup all-purpose flour.  I add this mixture to 1 cup sourdough starter in a glass bowl and whisk it to aerate. Cover the bowl lightly, turn on the light in the oven and leave the bowl in the oven with the light on for warmth.  (I put a note on the switch that turns on the oven to remind me that the sourdough starter is in there, so I don’t accidentally turn on the oven with the sourdough starter in the oven — which would kill the starter, not mention melt the plastic lid to the bowl and possibly starting a fire.)

2. Bread-making day, 8:00 a.m.: I put half of the proofed starter back in the fridge and started my loaf with the remaining 1 cup of starter.  I added 1 cup warm milk mixed with 1 cup all-purpose flour — this was my poolish.  (Keep in mind that this means I’m beginning my bread with a starter that is already warm and active — not taking it out of the fridge and trying to use it cold.)

3. 2:30 p.m. (6 hours after starting the poolish):  The poolish looks really bubbly and active.  Yay!  I mixed 1-1/2 cups bread flour into the poolish [NEXT TIME REMEMBER TO ADD THE SALT NOW!!!!], then poured the dough onto the kitchen counter and kneaded it just enough to mix in another 1/2 cup bread flour. That makes 2 cups of flour, which, in addition to the 1 cup I put in this morning, makes a total of 3 cups of flour for 1 loaf of bread).  I put it back into the bowl with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in the bottom: tuck the edges of the dough under, hold the tucked side and touch the top of the dough to the bottom of the bowl to oil it, then turn the dough over and put the tucked side in the bottom of the bowl – this oils the top of the dough so it doesn’t dry out while rising and keeps the dough from sticking to the bowl. This oil will work itself into the dough as I continue to develop it.   At 3:00 I put  the bread back into the oven with the light on (set the lid on the top of the bowl, but don’t seal it).

4. 4:00: The dough looks great — it doubled in volume in the last hour.  Right on schedule!  I kneaded the bread for exactly 12 folds, working in about 1/4 cup bread flour. I added another teaspoon of oil to the bowl and returned it to the oven with the light on.

5. 5:00: Ditto. (SHOOT!  I just remembered that I forgot to add salt to the dough when adding the first flour!  Will have to try to add it in during the final couple of rounds of kneading, I guess.  Next time REMEMBER THE FREAKIN’ SALT!!!!!)

6. 6:00: Ditto, plus I added about 1 teaspoon of salt during the kneading by sprinkling the dough with the salt shaker between each fold.  I hope this doesn’t slow down the yeast (salt kills yeast if it comes into direct contact with it).  This dough is has been doing everything right up till now and I’m really looking forward eating to what could possibly be my first really beautiful loaf of sourdough bread!

7. 7:00: Last kneading – kneaded like the previous 3 times, adding salt like the last time. Formed a loaf and put it on the sheet with corn meal to keep the dough from sticking.  A couple of cuts in the top of the dough and a spritz of water with a spray bottle.  Put it in the oven with the light on and let rise until 8:00.

8. 8:00: Brushed the top with beaten egg, sprinkled with sesame seeds, put a baking pan in the bottom of the oven and filled it with boiling water.  Turned the oven on to 400F, baked for 50 minutes.

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5/5: After that last flat attempt at sourdough, I tried sourdough waffles, using the yeast-raised waffles recipe I got from London Bed & Breakfast in October 2012.  Instead of the beginning yeast mixture I used 1/4 cup of sourdough starter.  They didn’t cook up all that well until the third one — between #2 and #3 I realized I left out the baking soda and mixed it in.  #3 was gorgeous – puffy, crispy, etc.  So that got me thinking about sourdough bread and baking soda.

How does baking soda work?  I know it’s a leavener, and my theory was that, unlike baking powder which works as soon as it gets wet, baking soda stays basically inert until enough heat is present to activate the chemical reaction that releases the CO2 gas.  This explanation http://foodreference.about.com/od/Ingredients_Basics/a/What-Is-Baking-Soda.htm bore that out.

I have seen baking soda as an ingredient in some sourdough bread recipes, but I thought that its purpose was to neutralize some of the sourness of the flavor.  But after the waffle experience, I’m beginning to think that adding some baking soda to the sourdough bread mixture might give it some extra lift when it finally hits the oven.  Something to try the next time.

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Sourdough usually has a slower rise time than commercial yeast, so you’ll have to “learn” your sourdough.  Once you have a healthy colony, time its growth cycle — learn when it is at its most active, when it starts to fall back and when it goes dormant again.  Once you know this, time the rising of your bread to coincide with the most active part of the yeast’s growth cycle.

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Summer 2013

Lately I’ve been making sourdough waffles to use up the overage from feeding my two sourdough starters.  I got the original recipe from London House B&B, Guelph, Ontario, Canada in October 2012, and the owner, in turn, got it from “The Breakfast Book” by Marion Cunningham.  My adaptation is here:

The night before, feed your sourdough starter:

A spoonful of sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1 cup flour

The next morning, pour off and save 1 cup of sourdough starter, then to the remaining batter add:

1/2 stick of butter, melted (1/4 cup)
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt

Next stir in:

1/8 tsp baking soda mixed into
1 T of water

As you gently stir in the soda you will feel the batter rise.  Cook in a waffle iron – should make about 3-4 regular (not Belgian) waffles.

To double this, start by feeding the sourdough starter with 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water, then double all the rest of the ingredients.

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Original recipe:

The night before, set the yeast:

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
2-1/4 tsp. dry yeast (1 envelope)

Stir the sugar into the warm (bath temperature) water, sprinkle the yeast over the water and let rise for about 10 minutes.  Stir to dissolve.

In the meantime, mix together the following in a large bowl (large enough to let the batter swell to triple its size):

2 cups of milk, warmed
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 tsp. salt

Combine and stir into the yeast mixture.  Stir in:

2 cups all-purpose flour

Cover and let rise at room temperature overnight.

In the morning when you are ready to start, add:

2 eggs
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Beat the batter together well with a whisk.

Preheat the waffle maker.  (Don’t grease the iron unless needed as the batter has plenty of butter.)  Also preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into the waffle iron and bake as directed.  Remove the waffle and serve immediately or, if you wish to serve several at once, keep them hot and crisp by placing them directly on the oven racks (not on a baking sheet) at 200 degrees F.

Serve with butter (flavoured or plain) and maple syrup or toppings (fresh fruit, creme fraiche, cinnamon sugar, etc.) of your choice.

Makes about 8 waffles.  This recipe doubles and triples well when serving a crowd.  Leftover batter keeps well in the fridge for several days.

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Summer 2013:

While I was in Uruguay this summer, I learned from Doris Teixeira, a quilter from Brazil, who learned it from a German baker, that if you twist the dough with your hands when you set it up for the final rise, it stands up better while baking.  I’ll update this when I’ve tried it.

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11/15/13:  I want to use sourdough starter as a yeast source for other yeast-based recipes, so I need to know the correct volume of starter to start with.  So, tonight I mixed 2/3 cup warm water with 2/3 cup flour and measured the volume they produced when combined.  I suspected it would be less than 1-1/3 cups, and I was right.  The combined volume was exactly 1 cup.  In other words, the combined volume of the flour and water is 3/4 — or 75% — of their separate volumes.

So now that I know that 1 cup of sourdough starter contains 2/3 cup liquid and 2/3 cup flour (or 1/2 cup of sourdough starter contains 1/3 cup liquid and 1/3 cup flour), in order to use the sourdough starter as my yeast source, I simply subtract the amounts of liquid and flour derived from the sourdough starter from the amounts of liquid and flour in the original  recipe.

This assumes, of course, that whenever you feed your sourdough you always add equal parts water and flour so that the proportion of liquid to flour always remains constant.  And it assumes that you measure the volume of sourdough starter when the starter is in its lowest, least aerated condition.  This would suggest that in order to use the sourdough starter at the beginning of a recipe, it would be a good idea to measure it out while it is dormant or at the beginning of a feeding cycle before it rises, so you can know the liquid/flour volume more precisely.  Set it aside to rise separately from the main culture, then add the rest of the ingredients for the recipe when this portion of starter is becoming active.

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12/1/13: Some really good info from the King Arthur Flour website.  They have a whole section of their website dedicated to sourdough:  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/sourdough/

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Spiros, for years I’ve been searching for an explanation for red velvet cake – and I’ve finally found it!  Read the full article — with a fabulous recipe — here:

Red Velvet Cake

Spiros, summer is here, and my blender is whirring!  Here are a few of my favorite combinations lately:

Bananas, blueberries and yoghurt
Bananas, watermelon and yoghurt
Bananas, yoghurt, strawberries and pineapple
Bananas, yoghurt, mango and pineapple

Come up with your own favorite combination and enjoy!

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When I was a kid, we were broke and my Mom was a super bargain-shopper. One day she discovered bananas on sale at the grocery store for a nickel a pound. She asked the produce man how many pounds he had. He said “80.” She replied “Fine, I’ll take them all.” And soon there was a mountain of very ripe bananas on our kitchen table. “What are you going to do with them all?” we asked Mom, but she hadn’t figured that out yet. So she just told us to peel them and put them in the deep freeze.

Then we began to experiment. (You can only tolerate so much banana bread…) We loved banana milk shakes made with milk and ice cream, and so one day Mom popped a frozen banana in the blender with the milk (no ice cream) to see what would happen. It turned into a super-thick, creamy milkshake with no need for ice cream — the frozen banana did the thickening.

Well, it was summer, and those cool, frosty banana milk shakes poured out of the blender for breakfast, lunch, snacks, midnight snacks…. Those 80 pounds of bananas only lasted a few weeks. So maybe they weren’t that great a bargain after all — who knows how many extra gallons of milk we went through!

Anyway, I still adore frozen banans milkshakes, especially in summer. I make them with skim milk, so there’s no fat and no sugar. You can even add a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder to make a decadent chocolate guilt-free shake. Or splurge and put a glob of peanut or almond butter in with the chocolate for a “Peanut Butter Cup” milk shake. You can add other kinds of fresh or frozen fruit, like peaches or blackberries.  Yoghurt is a nice addition too.  You get the idea. Enjoy!

Frozen Banana Milkshakes

1 ripe 6″ banana peeled, cut into 1/4″ sliced and frozen (The skin should have freckles so it’s sweet enough)
1/2 – 1 cup skim milk (I’m never sure how much milk it is, but it’s not enough to cover the banana.  And it varies with how much of other ingredients you add.  After a couple of tries you’ll get the feel for how much milk to use to get a thick, creamy shake.)

Optional (choose from the list, not all at once!):

Other kinds of fruit (if frozen, reduce banana or increase milk; if fresh, reduce milk, since the fresh fruit provides additional liquid)
Yoghurt
A heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
A Tablespoon of creamy peanut butter or almond butter
A dash of nutmeg or cinnamon

Put into the blender the banana (plus yoghurt, if you’re using it and any other frozen fruit, but not fresh fruit) and a small amount of milk.  Pulse to start (the ice crush setting works well for this), then increase speed.  Gradually add milk until the mixture is just liquid enough to spin in the blender.  If using fresh fruit, alternate milk and fruit until the mixture is just liquid enough to spin in the blender.  If using chocolate and/or nut butter add them now.  Hold the onto the lid and the bottle while blending until the lumps are gone.   Serve immediately.  (Don’t get addicted (yeah, right!)).

For a healthy “ice cream” you can pour it into a shallow dish and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and stir until smooth, then freeze for 15 minutes longer before serving.

Making english toffee is (like my spiral quilts) an endeavor with results that seem really extravagant, though the actual process is quite simple.  (There, I knew I could find a way to relate this to quilting!)  So here, for your holiday pleasure is my family recipe for english toffee.  It’s a wonderful treat for yourself, and an impressive gift for family, friends, colleagues and clients.

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1 pound salted butter (if you use unsalted, add 1 tsp. salt)
3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup water
1 6-oz. bar chocolate — milk or dark as you prefer
12 oz. nuts — whatever you like.  Use walnuts raw, but I prefer other nuts roasted.  (Roasted and salted is even better if you like the combination of salty and sweet.)
2 tsp coarse sea salt (fleur de sel), optional

Pay close attention to the cooking technique — it’s not difficult, but there are reasons for doing what you do.

Choose a clear day when the humidity is low.  Do not try to make candy on a rainy day.  If there is too much humidity in the atmosphere the toffee will not harden, and instead will turn to sugar crystals.

Prepare the pan and the nuts in advance.  Use a metal cookie sheet (it must have 4 sides, not a pan with one edge flat) or 3 foil mini-broiler pans.  (These 6″ x 9″ pans are the most practical if you are making gifts, because you can gift the english toffee right in the pan.)  Spread 8 oz. of the nuts over the bottom of the cookie sheet or foil pans.

Before starting to cook the toffee, fill a small bowl with ice water and set it next to the stove where you are going to cook.  Use a heavy 4 to 6 quart pan — I use my grandmother’s old pressure cooker without the lid.  Use a wooden spoon – preferably with a fairly long handle.  The candy and the stove are hot — you will soon find out why I recommend a long-handled wooden spoon.  You might want to hold it with your hand in an oven mitt too.  Don’t use a metal spoon — it conducts heat.  And don’t use a plastic spoon — it will melt.

The simple explanation of how to cook the toffee is this: Put the sugar (and salt), water and butter in the pan.  Using medium-to-high heat, melt and stir the ingredients until the sugar carmelizes.  This is what is going to happen and what to watch for: 

The butter will melt and the sugar will dissolve.  As soon as the butter has completely melted, the mixture will bubble up to about double the size it began.  It will stay at this height throughout the entire cooking process.

You must stir constantly, and stirring technique is actually important to the outcome of the toffee, so pay attention:  When you stir, scrape the bottom of the pan.  Make small circles from the edge of the pan through the center, like drawing petals on a flower.  This mixes the hotter liquid from the outside into the cooler liquid in the center and keeps the liquid an even temperature so the toffee cooks evenly.  Stir steadily at a medium speed, keeping the surface of the candy at the same level — don’t make “waves” of liquid against the side of the pan, and don’t scrape the sides of the pan.  Why?  Because the thin layer of sugar that will get left on the side of the pan is where sugar crystals can form, and if they do, they will make the entire batch of toffee turn into sugar crystals, rather than hard candy.  If this thin film of sugar does happen to form, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash the film off the side of the pan, dissolving any sugar crystals that may have formed. 

After 8-10 minutes, you will start to notice that the candy pulls away from the side of the pan as you stir.  It will also begin to turn golden.  Keep stirring.  As it starts to darken, drop a bit of candy off the spoon into the ice water in the small bowl.  The first test will probably be partly soft, with a hard shell.  That’s called “soft crack” stage, and the toffee isn’t ready yet.  Keep stirring and cooking until the liquid is the color of, well, toffee (a rich golden brown).  When that happens, the drop of candy that you drop in the water will immediately become hard.  This is called “hard crack” stage and this means the toffee is done.*

Remove the pan of toffee from the stove and immediately pour it over the nuts in the prepared pans.  Do not scrape the cooking pan into the cooking sheets.  Why? For the same reason you did not scrape the sides of the pan while cooking.  You can, however, scrape the pan into a separate dish (use a flexible metal one, like another cookie sheet or foil pan so the toffee is easy to remove).  This “tail end” of the batch may or may not crystallize, but you don’t want to run the risk that if it does it will crystallize the whole batch.  I like to save this leftover to break up and put in my gourmet chocolate chip cookies.

Let the toffee cool until a film forms over the top but the toffee is still wam to the touch.  Break up the chocolate and lay pieces on top of the toffee.  Wait a few minutes to allow it to melt, then use the back of a spoon to spread it around.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.  If you wish, sprinkle a small amount of sea salt over the surface of the chocolate as well.  (Don’t do this if you used salted nuts – they have enough salt already.)

Cool the toffee completely and break into chunks. 

Just a note of caution about candy making: Sugar syrup is extremely hot and does not cool quickly.  If you spill on flesh it will burn long and deep.  Do not make candy with young children around, and take care not to spill on yourself when handling hot sugar syrup.  If you do, immediately plunge the syrup-covered area into ice water to cool the syrup and stop the burning.

* Funny story: In my apartment the smoke detectors are extremely sensitive.  As it turns out, every time I make toffee, they start wailing right at the moment when the toffee is ready to remove from the stove.  I don’t even have to drop-test the syrup any more!

Spiros, it’s the week before Christmas and if you’re like me, you’re rushing around trying to finish gifts (quilted and otherwise) and attending parties (I have four just this week!).

So here’s one of my favorite fix-it-in-five-minutes meal recipes that you can also use as a last-minute party dish.  You can throw together with stuff that’s probably already on your pantry shelf.  AND it’s low fat, low-cal, healthy and delish to boot!

Hummus

1 15-ounce can chickpeas* (garbanzo beans) drained – save liquid
1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
6-8 sundried tomates, cut into ¼” pieces (use scissors)
Salt to taste

Into a food processor, put everything except olive oil and reserved liquid from the chickpeas.  Turn on, and gradually add 2 Tablespoons of reserved liquid from the chickpeas, just enough so that the mixture blends smoothly in the bowl.  Add olive oil – less or more, depending on how low-fat you want this to be.  Process until smooth.  Serve with pita bread, crackers (I like RyeKrisp Light) or dipping veggies.  Makes about 1 cup.  (Hint: it’s more flavorful the second day.)

*If you don’t have chickpeas, you can use any canned beans.  For a Mexican twist, add some hot sauce or chipotle peppers.

I’m visiting a friend over the weekend, and she has asked me to come prepared to make (and teach her how to make) french crepes.  Since I was going to have to write out the recipe anyway, I’ll share it here, where you all can enjoy it!

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When I was growing up, we always had crepes for Sunday breakfast (brunch, really) after church.  Being a large family (6 kids in total), we tossed an entire dozen eggs and a quart of milk into the Kitchenaid.  We all knew the recipe by heart, and learned to cook them at a really young age — that will tell you how easy they are to make.  Usually we just rolled them up with butter and maple syrup or jam, but over time we developed more fillings and toppings.  Whatever you serve in them, they are a delicious, fun and sophisticated way to make a meal or dessert or both.  (And, they freeze well.)  Enjoy!

French Crepes

These measurements will make about 2-3 dozen 10″- 12″ crepes. 
Use the measurements in [brackets] for a smaller batch.

1 quart milk [2 cups]
12 eggs [6]
3 cups flour [1-1/2 cups]
1/3 cup oil [2-1/2 Tablespoons]
1 teaspoon salt [1/2 teaspoon]

Fillings (choose any of these or make up your own)

Sweet: Nutella, Bananas, Yoghurt, Fruit, Jam, Maple Syrup

Savory: Chicken or Turkey & Broccoli with bechamel sauce & parmesan cheese, Ham & cheese, any leftovers

In a large bowl, beat the eggs just until evenly blended.  Gradually mix milk into the flour (this prevents lumps from forming), then gradually blend the flour/milk mixture into the eggs.  Stir in the oil and salt.

Heat a frying pan of whatever size you want the crepes to be.  Brush with oil and heat until a drop of water dances across the surface of the pan.   Reduce heat to medium.  Pour about 1/3 cup (for a large frying pan) batter into the pan and roll the pan around to spread it thinly across the bottom of the pan.  (The layer of batter should be less than 1/8″ thick; adjust the quantity of batter accordingly.)  Cook until the top of the batter is no longer shiny, then carefully flip the crepe over and cook it for about another minute on the other side.  (Usually the first crepe you make will get shredded when you try to do this — Morgan, my dog, always waited for it!  The first crepe “seasons” the pan.  After this you will not need to oil the pan again, and you’ll have the right heat.)

Serve rolled or folded with your choice of fillings and/or toppings, or build a “layer cake” by stacking them with layers of filling in between.

To freeze:
If you’re freezing them flat, put a layer of plastic wrap between each crepe.  Or, roll individual crepes and separate them with plastic wrap.  Depending on what you fill them with, you might be able to freeze them filled — convenient if you want a quick, no-prep meal or dessert.

Yes, Spiros, I know I’m supposed to be quilting, and writing about quilting, but this morning I woke up with a breakfast idea I just had to try out.  I’m eating it now and it is delicious!  More importantly, it’s healthy (but you would never know it).  This is a hybrid between bread pudding, pineapple upside-down cake and a banana smoothie.  Enjoy!

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Banana Upside-Down Bread Pudding

1-1/4 cups milk
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt

1/2 loaf white bread, crusts removed, and cut or torn into 1-1/2″ chunks
3 ripe bananas
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter
1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a 9″ x 9″ baking dish.  Slice 1-1/2 bananas in circles 1/4″ thick and lay over the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the bananas.  Lay the bread over the bananas.

In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, 1-1/2 bananas, salt and vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  Pour over bread in baking dish and with a fork press the bread down so it soaks up the milk mixture.  If you used fresh bread, bake immediately.  If you used stale bread, let it sits for 10-15 minutes so the milk can soak into the bread before baking.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  When serving, turn upside down in bowls, so brown sugar and bananas are on top.  Serves 4

More ideas: You could add walnuts, pecans, swirls of peanut butter or chocolate chips, depending on how decadent you want to go.  And if it’s for breakfast or dessert.  (Personally, I find there’s a fine line between the two — just ask Bill Cosby about chocolate cake for breakfast!)

9/27/11: I made this last night with pineapple on the bottom and coconut milk instead of milk mixed with the eggs.  It was okay, but next time I would make the milk mixture a bit sweeter by replacing some of the coconut milk with juice drained from the pineapple.

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