OMG! Cheese. Oh, and some quinoa and mushrooms too.

I love cheese. All kinds. I love cheese with bread and wine. I love cheese with fruit. I love cheese-smothered anything.

I have a new favorite cheese: La Tur.

imgp3427It’s an Italian triple-cream cheese made from cow, sheep, and goat milk. It’s heaven. Pure heaven. I bought it because I was looking for Crescenza and couldn’t find it. A Whole Foods employee recommended La Tur. I’m so glad WF did not have Crescenza.

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I was looking for Crescenza for Quinoa and Crescenza with Sauteed Mushrooms {<—recipe here}, the next recipe out of Super Natural Foods on my list. Definitely try this recipe. The quinoa is cooked with wine, garlic, and onions. I used extra-virgin olive oil  instead of clarified butter. And of  course I used La Tur instead of Crescenza, which takes it to a whole other level. The mushrooms are quick and easy to make, sauteed in olive oil with a bit of red pepper flakes and salt.

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I paired the quinoa with a green salad and Old-Fashioned Dinner Rolls {<—recipe here} from a The Art & Soul of Baking recipe.  I made the cloverleaf variation, which is just one roll divided into 3 and stuffed and baked  in a muffin tin. The roll was absolutely delicious, but when La Tur is in the picture it takes a back seat. 😛

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Raisin, Rosemary, & Cinnamon Focaccia

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I made another winning recipe from the Art & Soul Baking–really, you need to get this book–this weekend: Raisin, Rosemary, & Cinnamon Focaccia. I also saw Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven’t seen it yet, Go! It’s a story about destiny, about love, about friendship.

Focaccia is typically made from pizza dough and instead of rolling it out into discs, it is pressed into a jelly roll pan. Dimpled and brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and maybe some fresh herbs plain homemade focaccia is amazing.

The flavor combination of this focaccia at first may seem a bit odd to you, but give it a chance. It works, it really does. It reminds me a of a cinnamon-raisin bagel, but revved up with the kick of rosemary. The flavor first hit me as I mixed the dough and then again has I pressed it into a pan. However, when it was baking in the oven and the scent wafted through my house I knew I was making something great.

This is a breakfast focaccia. It uses milk instead of the typical water to make the dough. This gives the bread a more tender crumb and also makes it a bit sweeter. Instead of sprinkling the focaccia with salt prior to baking, it is sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

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Raisin, Rosemary, & Cinnamon Focaccia

Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking.
  • 2 1/4 cups (18 ounces) warm whole milk (110 F to 115 F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 5 cups (25 ounces) bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) plump, sweet raisins ( I used a combo of golden and regular)
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine warmed milk, sugar, and yeast. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the flour and let sit for 10 minutes or so until yeast is activated and foamy. Whisk in another 2 cups of flour and use paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 4 minutes.
  2. Add raisins, olive oil, rosemary, cinnamon, and salt, switch to dough hook and knead until well blended. Add remaining flour and knead for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and turn dough over in bowl to make sure everything  is well mixed. Knead for another 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a tub or bowl and place dough, lightly coating it in oil, into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in size.
  4. Prepare a 12″ by 17″ jelly roll pan by lightly brushing it with olive oil. Scrape risen dough onto prepared pan and lightly punch down to release some of the air. Gently begin stretching and pressing dough to fit the length and width of the pan. If at anytime it seems like the dough is resisting, brush it with olive oil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Brush the dough with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise  until it is almost double in size approximately 45 to 60 minutes.  Meanwhile place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 375 F.
  6. Remove plastic wrap and dimple dough by gently pressing your finger tips into the dough.
  7. Sprinkle dough with turbinado sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until bread is a deep golden brown and registers 200 F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a cooling rack and immediately brush with olive oil. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 20 3″ by 3″ squares.

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This focaccia is great plain, but even better smeared with mascarpone. YUM! This recipe as also inpired me to try new flavor combinations. I’m thinking dried cranberries and thyme. I’ll let you know how it turns out…

It’s a whole grain-palooza!

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This weekend I made Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread the next recipe in the Art and Soul of Baking. The recipe calls for 9-grain hot cereal mix. When I went to the local health food store it buy it, I had a choice of 6, 7, 8,  or 10-grain cereal mix in addition to the 9-grain. I didn’t even know all these varieties existed. I used the 9-grain which includes: rice, corn, oats, cracked rye, barley, millet, flax, soy and triticale.

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The bread came together easily. Not bad! The bread is hearty, but light and mighty tasty. It’s great for sandwiches, toast, or just eating plain.

Almond Butter and Apple Sandwich

Almond Butter and Apple Sandwich

I also made a Wheat Berry Salad with citrus, toasted pine nuts, feta, and spinach using a recipe from Super Natural Cooking. This was my first time cooking/using wheat berries. The wheat berry is the whole wheat kernel–the bran, germ, and endosperm. Because it has all those parts, it takes about an hour to cook–but it is so worth it!

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The salad itself comes together quickly once the wheat berries are cooked. It’s nice eating it when it is still warm, but it is even better waiting for it to cool completely so all the flavors meld together.  YUM! I’m definitely going to make this again. I think it would be great for a potluck. Or making my own wheat berry salad using different flavorings like pears, blue cheese, and walnuts or tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella (no surprise there!).

Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread

From the Art and Soul o f Baking
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) 9-grain hot cereal mix (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110 to 115F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
    1. Make The Cereal Mix: Pour the cereal into the medium bowl. Add the boiling water and stir to blend. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight (bring the mixture to room temperature before continuing).
    2. Mix, Rest, And Knead The Dough: Pour the warm water into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the sugar and yeast and whisk by hand to blend. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. Add the cooled cereal, honey, bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt. Knead the dough on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Turn the mixer to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is firm and elastic, 4 to 7 minutes.
    3. Rise The Dough (First Rise): Lightly oil the tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and lightly coat the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 35 to 45 minutes (longer if the room is cold). If you are using a tub, be sure to make the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of table so it’s easy to tell when the dough has doubled.
    4. Punch Down And Shape The Dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don’t knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape (if this happens, simply cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towl and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes to give the gulten some time to relax.) Shape into a round, taut loaf. If you are using a baking or pizza stone, transfer the loaf to the semolina-dusted pizza peel, or form a makeshift peel by lining the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you are not using a baking stone, transfer the loaf to the cetner of a parchment-lined baking pan.
    5. Proof The Dough (Second Rise): Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and allow to rise until it is almost doubled and looks like it has taken a deep breath, 20 to 30 minutes.
    6. Prepare The Oven: Place the baking or pizza stone in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. Be sure to allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for the stone to fully heat.
    7. Bake The Loaf: Dust the top lightly with flour – don’t got crazy here or you’ll have a mouthful of flour. Slash a pattern in the top of the dough with a lame, razor blade, or chef’s knife. If the dough is on a pizza peel, transfer to the baking stone; if on a baking sheet, simply set the baking sheet on the baking stone or oven rack. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and the internal temperature registers 190F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Slice with a serrated knife.

    Makes 1 Round Loaf

    Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus, Toasted Pine Nuts, Feta, and Spinach

    Adapted from Super Natural Cooking.
    • 2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed
    • 6 cups of water
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • Grated zest and juice of one orange
    • 1 tablespoon of  freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon or more sugar (optional)
    • 1 bag of baby spinach
    • 1 cup of toasted pine nuts
    • 1 /2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
    1. Combine wheat berries, water, and salt in sauce pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately an hour. The wheat berries will be plump and chewy. Drain and season with salt to taste.
    2. Meanwhile, combine orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and shallot. Whisk in olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add sugar if using.
    3. Toss the hot wheat berries with spinach, citrus dressing, and pine nuts. Top with feta cheese.

    Serves 4 to 6.

    Herbed Fougasse and Winter Caprese Salad

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    Fougasse is the French version of the Italian foccacia. It’s dimpled and full of olive oil goodness. It also was the next recipe for me to bake in The Art & Soul of Baking. I flavored my fougasse with fresh rosemary and thyme, but like it’s cousin, you can flavor or load with other herbs or treats–cheese, olives, basil. The sky’s the limit. It was very easy to make.

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    In this month’s Gourmet, there is a recipe for Winter Caprese Salad (the very last page if you have the magazine). As you all know, I love Caprese Salad. The minute I saw it in the magazine I knew I had to make it. What makes it “winter”? Instead of using raw tomatoes, you roast plum tomatoes. It was very delicious, but nothing compares to a summer Caprese Salad using tomatoes at their peak. I can’t wait….7 months and counting!

    Winter Caprese Salad

    Adapted from the January 2009 issue of Gourmet
    • 1 pound plum tomatoes, quarted lengthwise.
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella log, sliced  in rounds1/4 inch thick.
    • a handful of fresh basil
    • Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and freshly ground pepper.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with a rack in the middle. Toss tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes in baking dish cut side up and roast in oven for 45 minutes or so. When the tomatoes are ready, the skins should be wrinkely and the bottoms should begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.

    Slice basil thinly. Assemeble cheese and roasted tomatoes by alternating them on a plate and sprinkling with basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

    Makes 4 servings.

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    Pesto Rolls

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    Oh my, I love basil. I love pesto. I love summer.

    It’s only January and I’m already dreaming of summer. Caprese salad is my one of my favorite things to eat in the summer. Tomatoes are at their peak and fresh mozarella is always good. I love making caprese sandwich on good French bread or ciabatta. Love it, love it, love it.

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    This week, I made Pesto Rolls from the Art & Soul of Baking. These rolls scream summer. They scream summer so loud that I actually went to the grocery store to look for a good tomato.

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    As you know, January isn’t the best time to buy tomatoes–I was desperate! I ended up buying a yellow tomato, because the red ones did not look like they had any flavor.

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    In addition to the tomato and fresh mozarella, I added organic micro greens, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh ground pepper. Heaven!

    PESTO ROLLS

    From the Art & Soul of Baking

    Makes 8 (4-ounce) rolls

    • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup freshly grated
    • Parmesan cheese
    • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • ½ teaspoon plus 1½ teaspoons salt
    • 1 cup (8 ounces) warm water (110° to 115°F)
    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or
    • 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
    • 3¼ cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
    1. Make the pesto: Combine the basil, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of the food processor and process until very finely chopped and paste-like.
    2. Mix, rest, and knead the dough: Place the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. By hand, whisk in ¼ cup of the flour. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and looks foamy. Add the pesto and whisk by hand until well blended. Add the remaining 3 cups flour and the 1½ teaspoons salt. Attach the dough hook and blend on low until the dough begins to come together and form a cohesive mass, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the dough over so everything gets mixed evenly. Knead on low speed until the dough is firm, elastic, and smooth, 3 to 6 minutes.
    3. Rise the dough (first rise) : Lightly oil the tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and brush the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour (longer if the room is cold). If you are using a tub, be sure to mark the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of tape so it’s easy to tell when the dough has doubled.
    4. Punch down, divide, and shape the rolls: Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don’t knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape (if this happens, simply cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes to give the gluten some time to relax). Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (about 3¾ ounces each) and shape each one into a taut, round ball according to the directions on page 69. Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
    5. Proof the dough (second rise) : Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, 35 to 45 minutes. They should look like they took a deep breath and should pass the thumb test (page 70).
    6. Prepare the oven: Place a baking or pizza stone in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Be sure to allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for the stone to fully heat.
    7. Bake the rolls: Remove the plastic wrap or towel and dust the top of the rolls lightly with a sprinkling of flour—don’t go crazy here or you’ll have a mouthful of flour. Use the lame, razor, or the tip of a pair of kitchen scissors to make a decorative slash or two in the top of each roll. Immediately place the pan in the oven on the baking stone or baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until cooked through and the internal temperature registers 200°F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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