Basic Bread

The simplest of ingredients, can make the most wondrous of dishes.  No where is this more true than bread.   Flour, Water, Yeast, and Salt can combine into one of the comforting of comfort foods.

Every culture, every cuisine has some form of  this most basic of foods.  In this missive I’ll tackle one of the most basic forms.

From Wikipedia:

Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water, usually by baking. Throughout recorded history it has been popular around the world and is one of the oldest artificial foods, having been of importance since the dawn of agriculture.

Proportions of types of flour and other ingredients vary widely, as do modes of preparation. As a result, types, shapes, sizes, and textures of breads differ around the world. Bread may be leavened by processes such as reliance on naturally occurring sourdough microbes, chemicals, industrially produced yeast, or high-pressure aeration. Some bread is cooked before it can leaven, including for traditional or religious reasons. Non-cereal ingredients such as fruits, nuts and fats may be included. Commercial bread commonly contains additives to improve flavor, texture, color, shelf life, nutrition, and ease of manufacturing.

Bread is served in various forms with any meal of the day. It is eaten as a snack, and used as an ingredient in other culinary preparations, such as sandwiches, and fried items coated in bread crumbs to prevent sticking. It forms the bland main component of bread pudding, as well as of stuffings designed to fill cavities or retain juices that otherwise might drip out.

Bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance as nourishment. It plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions (“He stole the bread from my mouth”), in prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and in the etymology of words, such as “companion” (from Latin com “with” + panis “bread”).

A few notes:

We will begin to utilize a more scientific approach, weighing ingredients, we will in later missives begin to deal with hydration levels, types of flours, as well as proofing, shaping, and cooking methods

I strongly suggest the acquisition of of a good digital kitchen scale.  I will also post a chart of common volumetric measures to weight based measure.

A spoken prior, a finished dish is not better than the sum of it’s parts, use quality ingredients.  Fresh when ever possible, but DO NOT go for the cheap stuff, it will have an effect.  DO NOTE:  Inexpensive is not always cheap, and cheap is not always inexpensive.

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Basic Bread
The simplest of ingredients, can make the most wondrous of dishes. No where is this more true than bread. Flour, Water, Yeast, and Salt can combine into one of the comforting of comfort foods.
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Rating: 0
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Course Main Dish, Side
Cuisine Global
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, Side
Cuisine Global
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer with dough hook attached Add flours and 300 ml of cool water. Mix until well combined Cover and rest 1 hour
  2. After one hours rest Add salt to basic dough and mix
  3. In a separate container mix 150 ml warm (NOT ABOVE 110 Degrees F / 43C ) and yeast. Cover and Rest 10 minutes
  4. Confirm that the yeast mixture has started to bubble and smells like bread or beer
  5. Add yeast mixture and olive oil to basic dough and mix on low to medium until smooth and stretchy (8-10 minutes) Cover and rest until at last doubled in size, treble if possible. (1 1/2 - 2 hours)
  6. Gently remote dough to a baking pan / dish. I use a large well seasoned cast iron skillet. Cover and let rise for an additional 45 minutes to an hour
  7. Place metal sheet pan in oven Preheat oven to 425F / 220C
  8. Uncover the dough, dust with flour / semolina Slash and place in oven Add 1 cup water to baking sheet in bottom of oven. (THIS WILL STEAM / SPLATTER. BE CAREFUL)
  9. Close oven and bake until golden brown, ~ 30-35 minutes Remove from oven, unpan and cool on a cooling rack
Recipe Notes

Note this is a very basic recipe, the variants and divergent are endless, there are more techniques than there are cooks on the planet.   This is a starter, develop your own recipe, your own technique...

In any case, enjoy ...

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Quick Red Sauce

Whilst clearing out my former pantry yesterday, I found a case of tomato sauce / puree from my last warehouse run.   As I am not about to just toss it into the dumpster, I’ll pull together a couple of posts on how to use.

From Wikipedia:

Tomato sauce (also known as Neapolitan sauce, and Salsa di pomodoro in Italian) can refer to a large number of different sauces made primarily from tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish, rather than as a condiment. Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes. Tomatoes have a rich flavor, high water content, soft flesh which breaks down easily, and the right composition to thicken into a sauce when they are cooked (without the need of thickeners such as roux). All of these qualities make them ideal for simple and appealing sauces.

The most common use of the term tomato sauce in New Zealand and South Africa is to describe a popular, commercially produced condiment, that is a type of Table Sauce, similar to American ketchup but without vinegar, typically applied to foods such as meat pies, sausages, other cooked meat, (in particular Steak) and Fish and chips. Tomato-based sauces served with pasta would commonly be referred to as “pasta sauce” or “Napoletana sauce”

Your basic tomato sauce is pretty bland stuff, we need to pump it up a bit.  I’m thinking a mirepoix, sweated until it takes on some color, perhaps some roasted garlic, maybe a touch of Cajun Trinity (a mirepoix, where the carrots are replaced with bell pepper), and of course fresh herbs.

As I also have tomato paste from the same shopping run, I’ll add some, just to deepen the tomato flavor, and boost the consistency.

Always test your basic canned sauce, open it and dip a clean finger in, taste it, does it taste good, or is it bitter?  If it is bitter, find a better brand of sauce / tomato puree, dump this can, you WILL NOT LIKE the resultant sauce.

Bitter tomato sauce usually comes from cooking tomatoes with the seeds, AKA crushed tomatoes, or diced.  As always good food starts with good ingredients.

A general comment, even in canned food, ESPECIALLY in canned food, get good quality, watch the ingredient list, and double, triple check the sodium content…  In this case my tomato sauce has nothing, but tomatoes, salt, basil, and citric acid.

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Basic Red Sauce
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Course Sauce
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Sauce
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
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Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, not a sauce pot, Over medium high heat, add oil add carrots, (if used) Saute 3 minutes, until they begin to soften
  2. Add onions, celery, Bell pepper (if used) Saute until onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes
  3. Add roasted garlic, and saute 1 minute or less, until the garlic of fragrant Add 1/2 fresh herbs / oregano
  4. Add tomatoes and bump up to high heat. Simmer at high for 5-7 minutes. Until just thickened
  5. Taste and check flavor / seasonings
  6. Remove from heat and add remaining herbs, to taste.
Recipe Notes

If the sauce gets too thick, one can add vegetable broth, or other stock.     I'll be playing with mushroom broth this evening.

As with my other basic red sauce, this can be used as part of a follow on meal.  ( A polite way of saying reuse leftovers ...

If the basic canned sauce is bitter, one MIGHT add a pinch of baking powder to try and  cut the bitterness, or add a bit of sugar.   In most cases this will not work extremely well, but it is a chance..   Most times, I will just dump the can.

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Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

As spoken prior, It is cool to cold today.  I really want Mex-Tex for dinner, so I’m cooking bean and cheese enchiladas.

From Wikipedia:

An enchilada (/ˌɛnɪˈlɑːdə/, Spanish: [entʃiˈlaða]) is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a chili pepper sauce. Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including various meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables or combinations.

The Real Academia Española defines the word enchilada, as used in Mexico, as a rolled maize tortilla stuffed with meat and covered with a tomato and chili sauce. Enchilada is the past participle of Spanish enchilar, “to add chili pepper to”, literally to “season (or decorate) with chili”.

Also as spoken prior, in deference to my roommates these shall be vegetarian.  In deference to my tastes, they shall be hearty.

 

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Bean and Cheese Enchiladas
Refried beans, salsa and cheese makes a flavorful filling for vegetarian enchiladas.
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mex-Tex
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mex-Tex
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish; set aside. Stir together 1/4 cup more sauce, beans, 1/2 cup salsa, spices, vegetables, and 1/2 cup cheese in medium bowl.
  2. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup bean mixture. ( I like hearty entree's ) Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.
  3. Cover dish Bake 30 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts. Check for 145 with instant read thermometer
Recipe Notes

Pass Guacamole, Salsa, and Sour Cream to the side.

Add Tortilla chips as a texture contrast.

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