Tasty Tuesday has been on hiatus because, to tell the truth, I’ve been too busy to post. Stressful-yet-rewarding work projects are taking top priority and with the economy tanking, I’m going to focus on keeping up cash flow at the expense of keeping up with blog posts.
While we’re being honest, I also will admit that we’ve been doing the extreme pendulum thing when it comes to meals. We’re either heating up hotdogs, or my husband is making us elaborate gourmet dinners. I know I just mentioned the economy, but cooking makes him happy and we need that in uncertain times, too. Plus, we actually have been saving money this way. He can make us a dinner on par with what we would get in a very expensive restaurant for about what it would take to feed the three of us at Applebees on a typical Friday night. Which would you rather have?
Which brings me to Cara’s latest post, about how moms (and dads) are “channeling June Cleaver,” meaning that they’re doing more from scratch around the house, particularly in the kitchen. I know the comparison with Ms. Cleaver isn’t all that great – she didn’t have a full-time job outside the home, but the gist is correct: more of us are forgoing “convenience” in order to save those ever-important pennies. In Cara’s post, she and a couple of commenters lamented their lack of baking skills, but Hubby has found a bread recipe that, I guarantee, is as good as anything you’d buy at Panera. And it’s easy to make!
He got the recipe from Cooks Illustrated – a magazine we adore! Seriously, folks, if you subscribe to one cooking magazine this year, let it be this one. They present just a few recipes in each issue, which keeps you from getting overwhelmed, yet there are always one or two that make you think, “I HAVE to try that.” The recipes are tested and re-tested, so that when you go to make them you are guaranteed success. I can honestly say that EVERY recipe we have tried has been amazing.
So there’s my plug for Cooks Illustrated. I hope they won’t mind if I now reveal their recipe for “Almost No-knead White Bread.” Every mom and dad should have this in their aresenal – you get chewy, rich artisanal bread with a to-die-for crust, and it’s so darned easy!
Almost No-Knead White Bread
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water at room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (that’s beer, folks. Bud works just fine)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
1. Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold the mixture, scraping dry flour from the bottom of the bowl, until a shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
2. Lay a 12- to 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly-floured workspace and knead 10 ti 15 times. Shape dough into a ball by pulling the edges to the middle. Transfer dough, seam side down, to the parchment-lined skillet and spray the dough with non-stick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it’s doubled in size (about 2 hours).
3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed dutch oven (with lid) on the rack and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour the top of your dough and use a sharp knife to make a 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch deep slit along the top of the dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up the dough by lifting the excess, overhanging parchment paper, and lower it into the pot (let any excess paper hang over the edge). Cover pot and place in the oven.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake about 20 to 30 minutes longer, until loaf is deep brown. Carefully remove bread from pot, transfer to wire rack, and cool at room temperature.