27 June 2013

Homemade Bread - A Roundup of 10 Favorite Yeast Breads and Quick Breads


Going gluten-free for the month of July is not going to be easy, breadaholic that I am! So I thought I'd do a roundup of some of my favorite wheat bread recipes I won't be making for at least a month.

If you are on a gluten-free diet, check my Recipes index page (only under Desserts for now) for gluten-free recipes I've developed and look for new ones here in July. If not, then do make one of the wheat breads listed below and let me know how you like it.

I want to hear from you about your favorite breads (gluten-free or wheat), so please leave a comment below.

My super simple 72-Hour Sourdough Bread



Quick and easy Irish Brown Soda Bread



My version of the famous No-Knead Bread



Chelsea Buns (English) and Cinnamon Rolls (American)



Slider Buns (Cute, huh?!)



Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls



Cinnamon Babka



My famous (well, it should be!) Pizza Dough



Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns -- Once you try homemade, you'll never go back!



Buttermilk Biscuits


Whew! This Gluten-Free-July thing is going to be tough if I don't hurry into the Delightful Repast Test Kitchen and come up with some gluten-free alternatives to my favorite wheat breads. Off I go!  

20 June 2013

Gluten-Free Muesli Cookies


Gluten-free baking is something I love experimenting with. I've developed a lot of recipes for gluten-free friends, and I've enjoyed eating what I made! But for about three years now I've been "going to" try a month of gluten-free just to see what it would do for me. "Going to" just as soon as I can pick a month to do it, a month with few or no events that would make it difficult to stick to it one hundred percent. 

With that in mind, I've been taking an inventory of all the gluten-free products in my pantry and doing a little more experimenting. The day I came up with this cookie recipe, friends stopped by and I gave them tea and cookies. I don't think I even mentioned the cookies were gluten-free. Everyone loved them, and the cookies seemed in no way different from, or in any way inferior to, wheat cookies.

Of course, there are options with this cookie. if you aren't concerned about gluten, just replace the sorghum, brown rice and tapioca flours and the xanthan gum with 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour. If you don't have a bag of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free muesli, use 3 cups rolled oats, 1 cup raisins or other dried fruit and 1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice. 

How about you? Are you now, or have you ever been, on a gluten-free diet? How has it benefited you? Tell me about it; I need all the encouragement I can get! Look for more gluten-free recipes on my Recipes index page.

Gluten-Free Muesli Cookies

(Makes 3 1/2 dozen)

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 16-ounce bag Bob's Red Mill gluten-free muesli

1 In small bowl, whisk together sorghum flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. If you are not making gluten-free cookies, whisk together 1 1/2 packed cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

2 In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, vanilla and water. By hand, stir in flour mixture and muesli (or oats, fruit and nuts). Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.


3 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop #40 scoops (0.8 ounces or approximately 1.5 tablespoons) of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased parchment-lined cookie sheets. (The slightly domed cookies on the right were just scooped and baked; the flatter ones on the left were flattened slightly before baking.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. For crisp cookies, bake a bit longer, watching carefully so that they don't burn. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

13 June 2013

Afternoon Tea - The Langham Anniversary Tea


A posh afternoon tea for 15 cents?! It happens every year when Langham hotels worldwide celebrate the anniversary of the first Langham hotel, Langham London, by rolling back the price to what it was originally: 1 shilling and sixpence ("one and six"). 

June 10 (or 10 June, as they say in the UK) was the 148th anniversary of the opening of the Langham London, London's first grand hotel. Opened on June 10 in 1865*, it was the first luxury hotel in Europe to serve afternoon tea (still served daily in The Palm Court). So what better way to celebrate the occasion than afternoon tea!

*For history and/or genealogy buffs: On that date in 1865, my great great grandmothers in England could have been there, but it would have been a 175-mile journey for Sarah and Ann and a 240-mile journey for Ann and Mary Ann. My great great grandmothers in the United States (Cynthia, Hannah, Mary and Martha) had other things on their minds, the Civil War having ended just days before.

One day I hope to attend the anniversary tea at Langham London. In the meantime, I'll have to celebrate stateside: Langham Boston, Langham Chicago, Langham Place New York. This year I was going to be in the Los Angeles area on that date, so I applied for a reservation at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena. As you can imagine, more people than can be accommodated want to attend, so they've come up with an application process.

The discreet signage is the first indication of the hotel's distinctly residential feel.

The Langham Huntington, a grand hotel at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, has been a southern California landmark for more than a hundred years. Once on property, it's hard to believe you're so close to the city and just 26 miles from LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). 

The serenity of the views as well as the coziness of the Lobby Lounge and a delectable tea menu make afternoon tea at the Langham all that it should be.

The atmosphere of the Lobby Lounge, with panoramic garden views through floor-to-ceiling windows, is ideal for a traditional British-style afternoon tea. For this occasion, the servers were dressed in period costume and guests were asked to wear a touch of pink, the Langham's signature color.

Sandwiches delicious as well as beautiful! Missing from photo is the gorgeous smoked salmon profiterole.

Assorted warm scones served with house-made clotted cream and lemon curd.

Jewel-box pastries as delicious as they are exquisite (especially the cone!).

Happy 148th anniversary, Langham!

For reservations, call 626-585-6218 (1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena).

For tea at home, see: How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea and Tea and Scones. Look under Teatime on my Recipes index page for other teatime recipes.

06 June 2013

Tamale Pie - Tamales the Lazy Way


Like last week's Taco Salad, this Tamale Pie* recipe was at the request of my friend Jo. I guess as long as she stays hungry, I won't have to figure out what to write about! If you know when tamale pie was "invented," I'd like to know. I hadn't made it in years, but whenever I do, it takes me right back to my childhood.

*Note to British readers: You might say it is a Mexican-influenced American shepherd's pie!

My mother never made tamale pie because my father was not a casserole man. Hey, maybe I should capitalize that - Casserole Man - because it seems like there are two kinds of men ... Now that I think about it, I don't think my dad liked anything made with ground meat. So we always had roasts, steaks, chops, braises and stews. (I know, I know ... cry me a river.)

My first elementary school had pretty decent food, and one of their best dishes was tamale pie. I didn't fully appreciate the quality of that school's food until I transferred to another elementary school that had horrible food. Then my junior high food was even worse because the food wasn't even made on site; it was made at the elementary school (the one with the horrible food that only got worse when it was transported across town).

Of course, I use nearly all organic ingredients for my tamale pie; so it's not quite the "economy" dish my school put out. But it's so easy, and the kids as well as the adults will like it. When serving it to adults, get ready for a trip down memory lane! Another thing I like about my version is that it's baked right in the skillet. Of course, if you don't have an oven-safe skillet, you can put it in a baking dish. 

What was the best dish in your elementary school cafeteria? And the worst? 

One-Skillet Tamale Pie

(Makes 6 to 8 servings)

The Filling

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, minced
1.25 pounds very lean ground beef

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives 
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese

The Topping

2 cups masa harina
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, avocado, cilantro, lime slices

1 In oven-safe 12-inch slope-sided skillet (I use the All-Clad 5112 Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan--that pan is a real workhorse, the most frequently used pan in my kitchen) or a cast-iron skillet, heat oil and cook the onion and bell pepper. I get the onion going first while I'm chopping the bell pepper. Depending on your taste and on how hot the jalapeño or serrano is, add all or part of it to the pan; you can always add more later.

2 Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up, until very well browned. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook for a minute or so to toast the spices. Stir in the tomatoes (I use Muir Glen) and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until much of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in beans, olives and cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning. Smooth the top and set aside.

3 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl, whisk together the masa harina (I use Bob's Red Mill), baking powder and salt. In small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and oil or butter (I use Organic Valley). Add the milk mixture to the masa harina and beat until well mixed. It will be quite thick but should be spreadable. You might need to add 1 to 4 tablespoons more milk. Spread evenly over the meat.

4 Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. The masa harina topping will not rise high like a cornbread topping does, so don't be alarmed. I think the masa harina topping tastes more "authentic," more like a tamal (The singular of tamales is tamal, even though spell-check doesn't know that!) If you're not used to baking in a skillet, remind yourself to not touch the handle with your bare hand as you remove it from the oven and as you're serving from the pan. It's a good idea to wrap a towel around the handle and leave it there. 

Note: If you let it rest for a few minutes before serving, it actually can be cut into tidy wedges! And it's a simple matter to cut leftover tamale pie into wedges and reheat in microwave.
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