Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Work Bread Recipe

Last Christmas, my husband and I bought our son, twelve at the time, a cookbook. We did this because he is not only an enthusiastic eater, but he also likes to experiment in the kitchen and try whipping something up - especially if he wants something and I don't really want to make it! For instance, he recently made a delicious cherry pie because I resist making pies and we had a lush crop of delicious Evans cherries in our backyard.

Today, I'd like to share a recipe that some people have asked me for. It's from the cookbook we bought for our son - yes, I've almost monopolized the book! The book is called How to Cook Everything : 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food (
http://www.amazon.com/Cook-Everything-Completely-Revised-Anniversary/dp/0764578650/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_c and http://www.howtocookeverything.tv/) You can also find the book on Amazon.ca
Well, here's the recipe! I hope you enjoy it!

Jim Lahey’s No-Work Bread

4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus flour for dusting (up to half whole wheat)
Scant ½ teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water at about 70˚F
Cornmeal, semolina or wheat bran as needed

1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and stir until blended; you’ll have a shaggy, sticky dough (add a little more water if it seems dry). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let the dough rest for about 18 hours at about 70˚F. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Rising time will be shorter at warmer temperatures, a bit longer if your kitchen is cooler.
2. Lightly flour a work surface, remove the dough, and fold once or twice; it will be soft but, once sprinkled with flour, not terribly sticky. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or the bowl and let rest for about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton (not terry cloth) towel with cornmeal or wheat bran; put the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When its ready, the dough will be more than doubled in size and won’t spring back readily when poked with your finger.

4. At least a half hour before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450’F. Put a 3- to 4-quart covered pot (with the cover) – it may be cast-iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic – in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. (Slide your hand under the towel and just turn the dough over into the pot; it’s messy, and it probably won’t fall in artfully, but it will straighten out as it bakes.) Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. (If at any point the dough starts to smell scorched, lower the heat a bit.) Remove the bread with a spatula or tongs and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

The Science behind No-Work Bread

This bread puts time and moisture to work so you don’t have to. The dough uses very little yeast and compensates for this by fermenting very slowly, giving the yeast time to multiply on its own schedule, and this delivers a more complex flavour than simply yeasted homemade bread. The dough is extremely wet, more than 40 percent water, which produces crisp crust and a large well-structured crumb.

You couldn’t knead this dough if you wanted to. And there is truly no need. The moisture in the dough – combined with the long fermentation time – gives the protein in the flour (gluten) an environment that lets it move around and develop a distinctive elastic, weblike structure, which is necessary to trap CO2 generated by the yeast as it feeds.

By starting this very wet dough in a hot, covered pot, you develop a crunchy, chewy, bakery-style crust, since the moist enclosed environment of the pot is, in effect, the oven, and that oven has plenty of steam in it, which is necessary to create that kind of surface.
Here's a video of Jim Lahey himself demonstating the ease of making this bread. I did notice that the recipe is a little bit different in quantities, but it gives you the idea.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Flicking Flicker!

Here's a video I took last week in our backyard. The scene starts with a juvenile robin, trying to eat our Evan's cherries. Then I captured some fun behaviour of a Northern Flicker, picking and flicking debris out of an old stump. The video is taken from inside the house, so the bird sounds are not robin or flicker, but our noisy and boisterous parakeet, Kiki. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Favouite carrot recipe

Moroccan Carrot Salad

8 carrots
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 crushed garlic cloves
4 Tbsp chopped parsley
½ tsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp pepper
*3 Tbsp water from cooked carrots

Slice carrots. Cook for 10 minutes, until crisp-tender. Mix remaining ingredients with carrot water. Pour over carrots while hot. Serve hot or cold.

This is the only way I can get my son to eat cooked carrots! I got it from my mother-in-law's cookbook about 9 years ago, but she seems to have lost it and I have no idea what the title is. It was a variety of Israeli recipes, though. If anyone knows about this recipe's source, I'd be very glad to post it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our New Dog

Our daughter, Esther, has been working on us for a while, trying to convince us to get a dog. Her efforts paid off this last weekend when we saw a community ad about a 4 year old dog who needed a new home. This dog's plight along with our persuasive daughter, convinced us that we were the home for Katy! She's gentle and sweet. She hasn't uttered more than a gentle sound of complaint when we were washing her face - awkwardly, I'm sure! We love her already and hope she gets used to her new family.

Here's a short video. Enjoy


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hello Blog World

Let's see how this goes! I've enjoyed reading a few blogs and have seen that it can be quite an enjoyable way to share things of interest and so I've become inspired!

I call the blog "Food and Feathers" because two of my interests are cooking and bird watching. I'll post recipe gems and comment on what kinds of birds I find in the yard. Also, I'll include some interesting happenings in our family that might be of interest to family and friends.

So, enjoy and feel free to give me some feedback!