two skinny jenkins

090916 – Pain A L’Ancienne | BBA #21
090917, 9:48 am
Filed under: BBA Challenge | Tags:

Pain A L'Ancienne

BBA #21

my biggest bread baking blunder yet…

thankfully, this is a resilient recipe and it came out pretty darn good anyway.  I will start by saying that i was having people over to our apartment for the first time last night and so i had been multitasking at the time (at least in my head).  I was reading along the recipe for the first time while baking.  The oven was preheated and I was just about to slide the bread onto the baking stone when i realized i needed a steam pan.  The broiler pan i was used to using for this application had to be left behind in DC, and i just grabbed the closest pan i could find.  It was glass.  Multi-tasking.  I was probably only thinking about all of the flour i was going to have to clean up in the kitchen, the food i still needed to buy…


I have been through this before with the Italian bread when my parent’s oven light bulb got a sprinkle of water on it and shattered all over the bread.  At least this time, our oven is so narrow that the baking stone had completely protected the baking bread from the glass below.  As a testament to the resiliency of the recipe, after i had let the oven cool down and cleaned out all the glass, I reheated the oven and continued baking those three loaves.  They came out fine, and were met with many complements!

The last three loaves came out even better (so i recommend following the recipe the first time).  WHEN i make this bread again, I will try leaving it out on the counter for an hour or so, to mimic the Ciabatta recipe.  I noticed that my oven probably did not make it to the 500°F that it claims on it’s plastic knob.  In order to get a good golden brown color, the loaves baked for a rough total of 40 minutes, not the 18-23 that the recipe called for.

  • I observed that the recipe called for quite a bit less flour than i found necessary.  I found myself repeating this phrase in my head, ‘the dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl  but it should release from the sides’  as i kept adding flour and watching the dough hook glop around in the mixing bowl.
  • While shaping the baguettes, take extra care to only minimally manipulate the dough and only stretch them.  I made a few yo-yo moves with my baguettes, pulling them out too far then pushing back together.  While the dough is sitting on a heavily floured counter, this creates some funky, dense areas on the bottom of the loaf.


Click for FLICKR!

090915 – Quinoa + Swiss Chard
090916, 2:48 pm
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: , , , , ,

quinoa + chard

Cherry tomatoes were 2lbs/ $1 last week at Haymarket!   I have been using them in practically everything lately. Normally we can’t afford them, and they are one of my all time favorite foods, so it has been a big treat!  The other night i was loooking to make some comfort food for dinner, and this recipe really hit the spot.  We had leftover tofu from out sandwiches the other night, broccoli rabe pesto frozen from a couple weeks ago, and PLENTY of tomatoes.

Here is a link to the recipe.  The only difference is that tonight i roasted the tomatoes (tossed in olive oil, salt, and brown sugar) for 45 minutes at 425°F.  I will definitely use this roasting technique again!

090912 – Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire | BBA #20
090912, 10:30 pm
Filed under: BBA Challenge, DINNER | Tags:

Multigrain Bread

I can’t believe I’m on challenge #20!  I feel like celebrating.

Yet, I could kick myself.  Whenever i don’t read a recipe ahead of time (which admittedly happens often) I miss out on some long preparation that i should have started at the beginning.  Par example: 3 T cooked brown rice.  Ugh.  I had little flashbacks to the other night when joe and i cooked brown rice in the rice cooker and it took 45 minutes.  I have things to do today!  I cannot cook rice right now!  Well, luckily i remembered the microwave.  With a little improvising, i cooked precisely 3 T of short grain brown rice pretty well in our microwave.  Here’s how:

  • 2 T brown rice
  • 6 T water
  • 1/2 t safflower oil
  1. combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 5 minutes.
  2. Add a bit more water (2T or so) if necessary then continue cooking on medium power for 4 minutes.  DONE!

I made a few small alterations to the original recipe.  For the soaker, i did not have any wheat bran on hand, so i just used 3 T millet, 3 T rolled oats, and 2 T cornmeal.  I have had a large flour container with 3/4 C of white wheat flour in it for some time now, so i replaced some of the bread flour with my remaining white wheat.  While working, i decided to bake two little loaves.  One loaf I topped with sesame seeds and flax seeds (most of which fell off while slicing), and the other with sunflower seeds.

Tonight i toasted the bread and used it for triple-decker tofu, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. It is really wonderful toasted

tofu sandwiches

Click for more photos: FLICKR.

090911 – pizza friday – better and better
090912, 12:03 pm
Filed under: DINNER | Tags:

My slice

I personally thought that this was the best pizza in the past 3 weeks.  I have been using the same dough each time, and realizing how much technique influences the results.  This week’s crust was crunchy on the bottom, soft on top, and FULL of bubbles.  Toppings were roasted garlic, sauteed portabello mushrooms, sauteed onions, cherry tomatoes, and sprinkled sea salt.  Perfecto! Here are my steps to a perfect pizza:

  1. I start by transferring the dough (click for recipe) from the freezer to the fridge the day before baking.  The day of baking, i remove the dough from the fridge around 5:30 (or at least an hour before shaping).
  2. To shape the dough, i coat a sheet pan with semolina flour (coarse grain cornmeal would probably also work) and press the dough into a disc using oiled hands.  I have stopped using parchment paper to transfer pizza to the stone, so the semolina helps to slide the crust onto the pizza stone.
  3. After shaping, i like to lightly coat the dough with oil, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  i think this helps develop better bubbles.
  4. Now top the pizza with a little sauce (slow cooked from fresh tomatoes is best, but we often use canned crushed tomatoes).  Add your choice of toppings (2-4 max) and then top with cheese (we use sargento’s Italian blend).  Maybe a little sea salt or basil.
  5. The temperature dial on our oven here does not go over 500° F and i doubt that the oven even reaches that.  The dough is so sticky to start with that i have to bake it on the sheet pan for 5 minutes then use a spatula to slide it off, then continue baking for another 7 minutes to crisp the crust. If you can, bake it at 550° F for a total of 7 minutes.
  6. Finally, do NOT rinse your pizza stone.  Simply wipe it off and let the hot oven do the ‘cleaning’.

090910 – butternut squash bake
090911, 1:41 pm
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: , ,

butternut bake

At the beginning of this week, i set out on a mission to cook only recipes from our home ‘library’ and only things that i have not made before.  Well, now that we’ve prettymuch reached the end of the week,  and i know i am making pizza tonight, we have only made three new recipes.  it was the first week of school for joe, and some last minute outings thwarted my plans.  Still, a gallant effort and i am glad we made each of the recipes we completed.  Especially the butternut squash…

I am semi-obsessed with butternut squash and was happy to find another recipe for it that both of us liked.  This dish will definitely be making an appearance in our kitchen again this winter.

  • 1-1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1-inch cubes (3 C)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 8 oz. dried no-yolks wide noodles (i have been waiting to use up my bag of these!)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 small onions, chopped (i threw in a little finely chopped celery as well – it was nice)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 8-oz. carton mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, snipped
  • 1 C bread crumbs (i used some homemade Italian seasoned crumbs)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In bowl toss squash in oil; place in oiled 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Roast, uncovered, 30 minutes, until lightly browned and tender, stirring twice.
  2. Meanwhile, in Dutch oven cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; set aside. In same Dutch oven melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add shallots; cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until onions are tender and butter just begins to brown. Stir in lemon juice.
  3. Add noodles and squash to onion mixture. Stir in mascarpone, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Transfer to greased 2-quart oval gratin dish or baking dish.
  4. In the same large saucepan, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter; stir in bread crumbs, remaining Parmesan, and parsley. Sprinkle on noodle mixture. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes, until crumbs are golden.

This recipe is supposed to serve 8, but it made about 5 servings as a main course for Joe and I.  What can i say- it was tasty!

090709 – Mediterranean Barley Salad
090909, 10:49 am
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Barley Salad

Thank you SK!  This was delicious!  I rarely buy fresh herbs, but since i am making another parsley-heavy dish tonight, i went ahead and got some. I had been looking for a NEW eggplant recipe for some time when i finally went to Smitten Kitchen and found her recipe.  It was a little involved – one of those dishes where you can spend the SOLID 50-60 minutes washing, chopping, baking, and working the stove top.  But it was worth it.

I will definitely make this one again someday.  It was filling and tasty, with enough depth of flavor so that I didn’t feel bad not serving it with anything.  A wonderful midweek recipe that you can actually look forward to eating chilled for lunch the next day.

  • 1 1/2 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used 4 baby eggplants)
  • 1/2-3/4 lb zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 10 T evoo
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 C chopped scallion (or yellow onion)
  • 1 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 t red pepper
  • 1 1/4 C pearl barley (8 oz)
  • 2 C chicken or veggie broth
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
  • 1 C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cook barley: Heat 2 T oil in a large pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and red pepper, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  3. While the barley is cooking, toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.
  4. Make dressing and assemble salad: Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Serve with slices of feta cheese.

090905 – Rye Bread | BBA #19
090909, 10:26 am
Filed under: BBA Challenge | Tags:

Rye Roll

BBA #19

Woo Hoo!  I love our new camera!  Joe (only half joking) observed that it is going to start taking an extra half hour before meals so that i can take all the pictures i want. We had been looking for a while at getting the Cannon sx1, but Joe found a great deal for our T1i on Slickdeals.

The rye bread did not come out quite like i expected, but it is still good.  I ended up using ‘regular’ rye flour and i think this had a big impact on the final product. Being new to Boston/ Cambridge, i have not quite.  Still, I was glad to make two loaves this week.  I froze the pretty, spiral loaf (wrapped in aluminum foil and bundled in two plastic grocery bags) after letting it cool completely. It had been baked an a loaf pan and was perfectly peaked over the rim.

Roll sans Egg

The second loaf I made marbled, freestanding on a baking sheet with two little rolls (photo above).  I was worried that the rolls (2 of the 12 pieces for the marbled loaf) would be overdone when i cooked them the same time as the loaf, but as you can see they came out great!  For fun, i did one with and one without egg wash.  The wash made a big difference.  Though they both taste good, the one without just looks really dry and stale.  Neither one lasted long.  They were both eaten before they got a chance to cool.

BTW: this bread made some delicious grilled (Vermont cheddar) cheese with onion…

Rye Grilled Cheese

Check our more fab shots taken with our new toy on FLICKR!

090902 – Washington Post Published!
090902, 10:16 am
Filed under: BBA Challenge, FUN

The Washington Post published an article today about the BBA Challenge! (link to article)

Unfortunately the link to my blog was not included, but I am still very excited to have my picture in the Post!

090901 – Leek and Swiss Chart Tart
090901, 10:31 pm
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: , , ,

Leek tart


I adore tart pans. It seems like just about anything you put in them looks dainty and cute and tasty.  Like pie, but more refined.   Unfortunately, I do not yet posess a tart pan.  Now, with each tart i attempt to bake in our pie plate, i am building a reason to buy a tart pan.

I have always wanted to make a savory tart, but Joe has a slight aversion toward (especially baked) eggs.   I, on the other hand, believe that an occasional egg is healthy.   I was attracted to the recipe initially because it sounded really healthy.  Full of leeks and Swiss chard – the latter known to be nutrient-packed.  However, this recipe also started out with a lot of unnecessary fat – much more than what you see below.

The Crust:

  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t rosemary + thyme
  • 1 t fine grained sea salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C cold water
  1. mix together flours, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
  2. add olive oil and mix thouroughly with a fork.  Add water and mix just until combined.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead just until it comes together.
  4. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a disc slightly larger than your pan.  mold carefully to the pan, trim the edges and reserve the trimmings to make shapes (like J’s)


    • 1 1/2 T butter
    • 2 large leeks, coarsely chopped
    • 1 t dried thyme
    • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 2 1/2 C)
    • 1 1/4 C skim milk
    • 3 large eggs
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1 t salt
    • 1/4 t ground black pepper
    • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
    1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook leeks until they are very tender but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
    2. Add chard; saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
    3. Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Whisk milk and next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in leek mixture. Pour filling into crust.
    4. Bake tart 15 minutes (if you are using a pie plate – bake for 20 min here). Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until filling is puffed and just set in center, about 15 minutes longer (25 minutes with a pie plate). Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes.

    *I served it with green onions and parmesan cheese on top (always eggs with cheese).  And a side salad.  And some vino verde…


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