Martha Mondays: No Knead Bread

April 5, 2010

This week’s Martha Mondays was chosen by yours truly. I picked Pane Integrale, the no knead bread in April Living. I’ve never made no knead bread, but I’ve read a lot about it. My mom got the Jim Lahey cookbook that is about this for Christmas and I’ve looked through it. I’ve always been deterred by a few things. First of all, the bread always looks so dark, almost burnt, that it never appealed to me. Secondly, the timing is hard to manage. The bread has to rise about 14-20 hours total which means you can’t quite start it at dinner time one day, you’ve got to start it late at night if you want it to be ready for dinner the next day.

The recipe in April Living was pretty simple. You mix the ingredients together (nothing unusual here) and you put it in a bowl and let it sit out for 12-18 hours. It’s supposed to double. Mine did not double but it got bigger. Then you knead it once, let it sit in a towel for a couple more hours, then dump it in a preheated Dutch oven and put it in your preheated oven.

I admit I fudged the timing a bit and mine sat for longer than it was supposed to at the different stages, but that was the only way I could get it done (I had a hellacious week last week – a kidney stone AND a burst ovarian cyst in one week – more than anyone can handle really, so it is simply a miracle I made this at all).

I admit it was pretty easy to make. I took it out of the oven before it got as brown as the photos in the magazine.

It was hard to slice because the crust was really hard. I thought it looked nice, but honestly I wasn’t wowed by this. It tasted like bread. That’s it. Nothing exciting. Now maybe if I borrowed my mom’s cookbook and explored some of the interesting variations there I would be more excited, but this was not worth the effort as far as I was concerned. I’m glad I got to try it because I’ve always wanted to make this, so Martha gets points for including it.

If you made it, how did it turn out for you?

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Mahi-Mahi with Mango Relish

April 1, 2010

I’ve got a thing for mango. Firstly, it reminds me of Hawaii, so that’s an automatic point. Secondly, it is sweet and smooth and citrusy but not tart, so I love it. Obviously, I had to try the Mahi-Mahi with mango relish from April Living. Cut up one mango and one small peeled cucumber. Mix with the juice of one lime and some chopped basil and salt and pepper. Let that sit awhile and grill your fish. Serve with the relish on top and ENJOY. Usually I end up adding lemon juice to any fish, but this did not need it at all. And Mr. MarthaAndMe, who generally is not a cucumber fan, didn’t even notice the cukes. The mango takes center stage and it is just divine with the fish. I’m definitely going to be making this one again and again. I could almost hear the waves on the Hawaiian beach….

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Crisp Baked Lemon Cod

March 23, 2010

I’m checking out the April issue of Martha Stewart Living at last. I’m so glad to be done with that stupid March gardening issue since I am just not a gardener! This issue at least has some things in it I want to cook! One recipe that caught my eye was Crisp Baked Lemon Cod. It is very simple. You crush some Rice Chex (about 2 c) and add 1/4 c olive oil, 2 tsp lemon zest, and 1/4 chopped parsley and some salt. Martha says to press the fish into the cereal mixture (no egg wash first), then bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. As you can see, the cereal mix did not stick to my fish very well. I would definitely use an egg wash next time. That being said, this was crispy and good. We did squeeze lemon juice over it before eating since the zest was not quite enough lemon flavor. I would use the Rice Chex again as breading – very crunchy.

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Edible Roasting Rack

March 16, 2010

On page 50 of March Martha Stewart Living, there are instructions for creating an edible roasting rack for chicken. Basically you rip up a baguette and put it on the bottom of your roasting pan with some garlic and thyme. Brush the chicken with some butter and put some thyme under the skin, and place the chicken on the bread and roast it. I have to say I sort of scoffed at this initially, but it wasn’t bad. The biggest problem was that any bread that was not directly beneath the chicken burned to a crisp and was inedible. The bread that stayed under the chicken was delicious, and probably really bad for you! It was crunchy and greasy and really, really, really tasty. That being said, I don’t see myself doing this again. I felt WAY too guilty eating bread soaked in chicken grease and there wasn’t anything convenient or easier about this compared to a regular roasting rack.

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Broccoli and Pasta Casserole

February 19, 2010

I was in the mood for a casserole. February is just too dark and cold sometimes, and you want to curl up with something warm and comforting. Martha has a recipe in Feb Living for Broccoli and Pasta Casseroles. Just the thing, I thought.

You cook your broc and your pasta (I used penne). Then you make a bechamel sauce with onion, milk, flour and ground mustard. Once the sauce thickens, you add ricotta and parmesan cheese to it.

Snore. Yes, it looked good and smelled good, but it was bland. Very bland. As in, when I heat up the leftovers I’m going to have to do something to it to jazz it up. Very disappointing.

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Shrimp Fried Rice

February 18, 2010

Martha has a recipe for shrimp fried rice in Feb Living. I love fried rice, and I like to make it myself so that I know exactly what’s in it! I was excited to try this recipe, but had to make some substitutions. I couldn’t find any lemongrass, which was crushing to me. I also didn’t have any shitakes. So I used baby bella mushrooms and added some baby bok choy. This, in addition to the shrimp, scrambled eggs, garlic, ginger, snow peas, soy sauce (I used tamari) and scallions was a wonderful one dish meal.

This was delicious. Martha says to use only day old rice, but I made my rice fresh, then cooked it in the pan for about 10 minutes to dry it and get it a little crunchy. It worked quite well.

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Croque Monsieur

February 12, 2010

Bonjour. I was dying to try the Croque Monsieur from Feb Living (Martha doesn’t have a link to this particular recipe on her site, but here is one is that very similar) since I’ve never had one. I remember learning about the Croque Monsieur in my college French class. I took it pass/fail so I didn’t retain a lot of what I learned there, but I didn’t forget about the food!

Martha’s C.M. is basically a ham and cheese sandwich with a cream sauce poured over it and then baked until the sauce browns. I wasn’t wild about this. You had to eat it with a knife and fork which seems to defeat the purpose of making a sandwich. It tasted fine, but as Mr. MarthaAndMe said, it was a lot of fuss for a ham and cheese sandwich! I’m glad I got to finally taste one though, so I’ll thank Martha for getting me to make it.

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Martha Mondays: Crayon Hearts

February 8, 2010

Today’s Martha Monday’s project was chosen by Lyndsey at Tiny Skillet. The project is crayon hearts and it’s perfect for a Valentine’s Day craft to do with your kids.

You take a piece of waxed paper and fold it in half lengthwise, then open it up and place crayon shavings on half of it. Making all those crayon shavings took forever! They kept jamming up the pencil sharpener I was using. I tried using a vegetable peeler but that didn’t make the nice curly shavings.

Once you have enough, you fold the paper back up, and fold the edges to hold it in. Iron it between sheets of craft paper (I used parchment). Let it cool, then cut out heart shapes from it. Martha says to hang them using thread, but we just used tiny dabs of museum gel to stick them to the kitchen windows. They really are pretty and look like suncatchers. The key is to use lots of different shades of pink and red crayons. Spread the shavings out in a very thin layer. In places where mine were thick, the hearts did not cut out well, and the waxed paper peeled off a little.

This is easy and very family-friendly and is a cute project to make for Valentine’s Day.

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Raspberry Cupcakes

January 27, 2010

When I was ready to pop with baby #2, my Dr took me off work and put me on disability because I had contractions every time I stood up. This meant I had several weeks at home with nothing to do. At an earlier point in my pregnancy I made a raspberry cake mix upon my daughter’s request. She was 5 and everything had to be pink or purple. For some strange reason, at that late date in my pregnancy I desperately craved that raspberry cake mix. I think I made it several times. Christmas  hit and I wanted to send something in to the people I worked with at the courthouse. I made raspberry cake mix in the shape of stars (I guess I had little star shaped pans I used)  and wrapped them in colored cellophane (no frosting) and Mr. MarthaAndMe delivered them. Looking back now I’m pretty appalled that a) I thought store bought raspberry cake mix was good, b) I thought it was good all by itself with no frosting and c) I actually sent it in to people I worked with. I plead pregnancy insanity.

All of that came rushing back to me when I saw the raspberry cupcakes in February Living. These are REAL raspberry cupcakes though- made with real raspberries. Teen Martha is a raspberry fan, so I knew she would enjoy these. I am not such a big raspberry fan. I find the berries too tart and can’t stand all the little seeds, but I do like raspberry flavor.

To make these cupcakes, you puree one carton of raspberries and coarsely chop another. The recipe does call for red food coloring. I debated about this. I really hate food dyes since I don’t want those chemicals going into my body.  However, since I planned to give most of these away, I did go ahead and add a little of it.

Martha said these cupcakes would make 2 dozen. I had tons of batter left over. I ended up using some of it in a mini loaf pan and the rest I just dumped. I think you could get almost 3 dozen from this.

The cupcakes did turn out sort of pink. The batter tasted fantastic, but as with many of Martha’s cupcakes, I found the baked cupcake didn’t taste as amazing, although it was still very good. And definitely much better than raspberry cake mix!

Then there was the frosting. I am just about ready to skip all of Martha’s frostings from now on. I don’t know if I just am incapable of making them or what. If you read my recent debacle with the coconut cupcakes, you know I’m already at the breaking point. This one just about put me over the top. The recipe is for a pink buttercream frosting. First you cook egg whites and sugar and salt in a double boiler. You’re supposed to get it to 160 degrees. Mine got to 158 degrees and then immediately fell to 150. I had the heat on high, the water was boiling and I was whisking, but I could not get that temp back up no matter what I did. I gave up on that and went to the mixer stage. You’re supposed to beat this for about 11 minutes to get stiff peaks. I cut this recipe in half and so had a hard time with the mixer since all the egg white stuff just flew to the sides of the bowl and I had to constantly scrape. I let this go for about 14 minutes and then I threw in the towel. No stiff peaks to be seen. I added the butter and some food coloring and it turned out ok.

I frosted the cupcakes and sprinkled with pink sugar. I think they looked pretty. They were pretty good, but I’m not wild with love for them.  This is definitely a cute thing to make for Valentine’s Day, so I recommend it for that. And you can feel somewhat righteous since there is actual fruit in the cupcakes!

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Shepherd’s Pie

January 26, 2010

I usually prefer pot pie to shepherd’s pie, but I decided to try out Martha’s Shepherd’s Pie from Feb Living.

This is made with ground turkey and lots of veggies. I had to doctor this one a bit. You cook the turkey and veggies (celery, onion, carrots and peas – I also added green beans)  and add some water and cornstarch to make the gravy, but there wasn’t nearly enough of it and it wasn’t thick enough for my taste. So I added chicken broth and flour to thicken and increase volume. The top of the pie is potatoes mashed with parsnips and yogurt. I was surprised that I really liked the mash. The yogurt really worked for a creamy texture and the parsnips gave it some added flavor. This was a fun dish to make and it came together very quickly.

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