The Bun In The Oven Is Done!

Good Morning!

I just wanted to share with you a special treat that I have baked up:

Her name is Ainsley, and she was born a week ago today, coming in at 6 pounds 11 ounces and 19 inches long. My little sweetie is perfect, easy going, and oh-so-adorable!

Because of all the coo-ing and oo-ing I am doing over her, I probably won't be posting as much in the next few weeks. Don't worry, you haven't lost me forever, just for a little while! I haven't cooked anything in 2 weeks and am already itching to get back into the kitchen. I just have something a little more important to spend my time on right now.

If anyone would like to do a guest post or two in the meantime, just let me know!! :)

The Daring Cooks Make Pate' and Bread!

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of The Chocolate Bunny chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I really enjoyed this month's challenge, even though I was a total slacker and waited until the last possible second to make this! At first I wasn't too sure about making pate'. I have never really had an inkling for even wanting to eat it much less grind up livers and mold one myself. We had the option of making several different kinds of pate's - A Three Spice Liver Pate', Chicken Liver Terrine, Tricolor Vegetable Pate, or a Trout and Shrimp Pate. (All of those recipes can be found here). After much deliberation I decided to go with the Tricolor Vegetable Pate. Ok, there really wasn't that much deliberation involved. We're not big seafood people, so that was out. The thought of liver doesn't sound appetizing normally, and in my pregnancy induced state it sounded downright dreadful. So veggies it was! 

This turned out to be a fantastic recipe. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you:
1. It's so easy! I used a bread pan, a food processor, and a spatula. That's it!!! In fact, it was so easy, I completely forgot to take pictures of me preparing it until it was in the fridge! Opps! 
2. It was fast to prepare, which was awesome since I waited until the last possible minute.
3. It tasted AMAZING! It is light and refreshing and each layer gives it character.
4. It makes a perfect appetizer!

The second half of our challenge was to make bread - either baguette, a sandwich loaf, or something else of our choice. I really really really really really really really wanted to make baguette, but didn't have the time available to me so I settled for a sandwich loaf instead. To kick things up a notch, I tossed in some Italian Herb seasoning and made more breadstick like shapes than a loaf or rolls. They turned out really well, and I think complimented the pate perfectly!

Tricolor Vegetable Pâté - 
Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
Line your pan with plastic wrap, overlapping sides.

White Bean Layer
  • 2 x 15-ounce / 900 ml cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained thoroughly

  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml olive oil

  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
Mash beans in large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread bean mixture evenly on bottom of prepared pan.
Red Pepper Layer
  • 7-ounce / 210 ml jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, chopped

  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
Combine peppers and feta in processor and blend until smooth. Spread pepper mixture evenly over bean layer in prepared dish.
Pesto Layer
  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 cup / 240 ml fresh basil leaves

  • 1 cup / 240 ml fresh Italian parsley leaves

  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml toasted pine nuts

  • 3 tbsp / 45 ml olive oil

  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml low-fat ricotta cheese
Mince garlic in processor. Add basil, parsley and pine nuts and mince. With machine running, gradually add oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in ricotta. Spread pesto evenly over red pepper layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To unmold, invert pâté onto serving platter. Peel off plastic wrap from pâté. Garnish with herb sprigs and serve with sourdough bread slices.

Sandwich Loaf
Yields two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch (21 x 12 x 6 cm) loaves, or 18 individual rolls
For the white version
3 tsp (15 ml) active dry yeast
2 2/3 cups (600 ml) whole milk (3.25 per cent fat), warmed to a temperature of 97ºF (36ºF)
2 1/2 tsp (12.5 ml) salt
2 tsp (10 ml) butter, melted
5 1/3 cups (750g) unbleached white bread flour, + 1/2 cup (75g), for working the dough
2 tbsp (30 ml) butter, for the loaf pan
For the whole wheat version
Use the same amount of whole wheat flour, and add 1/3 cup (80 ml) of milk
To make loaves
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and warm milk, and whisk to dissolve. Whisk in the salt and the melted butter.
Gradually sprinkle in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the dough becomes too thick to stir, knead it with your hands, for about 5 minutes, until you obtain a smooth, homogenous dough that is soft and a little sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
Knead the dough 20 strokes (still in the bowl), cover again, and let rest for 1.5 hour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide in two. Form each half into a slightly oval ball. Butter your two loaf pans and transfer the dough to the pans. Cover lightly and let rise in a draft-free area for 60 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
Fill a large baking pan with hot water (simmering is fine) and place in the oven. Preheat oven to 450ºF (240ºC).
Put the loaves in then oven and bake for 10 minutes. Do not open the oven door during this time. After 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 400ºF (200ºC) and continue baking for about 25 minutes, or until the loaves are nicely golden. Unmold and let cool on a rack.
To make individual rolls
Go through the same process as for making the loaves, up until it is time to shape the loaves. Divide the dough into 18 sections, shape each section into a ball, and dust with flour. Butter part of two muffin tins (only butter 18 cavities), and transfer the balls of dough into the cavities.
Cover loosely and let rise in a draft-free area for 45 minutes.
Fill a large baking pan with hot water (simmering is fine) and place in the oven. Preheat oven to 425ºF (225ºC).
Put the loaves in then oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the rolls are nicely golden. Let cool on a rack.

(By the way, Amazing Photography Skills were brought to you by Adena Skinner Photography!)

Grilled Potatoes

I found something awesome! Grilled Potatoes!!

These are so easy, and are a great side dish for the hot summer months when you don't want to cook anything indoors. Also, you can prepare these many different ways, so it can always be something a little different!

Parboiling these before you stick them on the grill helps to make the inside of the wedges super soft like french fries, while the grilling helps to make the outside nice and crispy. I will definitely be doing these a lot this summer!

Grilled Potatoes

Herbs ( I used garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and onion powder, but you could really use whatever you want)
Olive Oil

Wash potatoes and cut into wedges.
Parboil the potatoes for 5-6 minutes.
Remove from water and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Coat in olive oil and herbs (I found it easiest to do this in a plastic bag).
Grill until there are nice grill marks on each side of the potato.

Zucchini Bread

I have several different recipes for zucchini bread, and each is as different from each other as the next in everything from color, taste, and the ingredients. But my favorite of them would have to be the recipe that came from my grandmother’s wooden recipe box. A fantastically easy preparation (and I’m all about one bowl and a wooden spoon!), this bread is the perfect accompaniment for any tea party, brunch, or middle of the day snack. The bread is super moist, has a rich deep color, and tastes like perfection. There is a ton of cinnamon and vanilla in this recipe, which makes this bread taste more like a dessert than an actual bread.  

My grandmother typically made this around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, stored it in the fridge, and we would slather each thin cold slice with real rich creamy butter in between our glutinous dinner plates being cleared from the table but before the pie came out of its hiding place. For many years this is one of the only things my brother would eat at holiday meals – this and a giant helping of mashed potatoes. Both with butter. Luckily his palate has expanded some now, but you still need to make sure you hide this bread from his sight, or at least make sure you get your portion out before he lays his eyes on it.

This bread also freezes really well, so feel free to use up all those extra zucchini’s that are about to burst forth from your gardens and stock-pile this until the middle of winter, or when unexpected guests drop by, or you have no energy to bake something but desperately want something homemade and delicious. Or whenever you feel like! (Note: make sure to wrap in plenty of waxed paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil so it won’t get freezer burned!)

Zucchini Bread

3 whole eggs
2 cups sugar
½ cup veggie oil
½ cup applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat the eggs until frothy.
Add in the sugar, veggie oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix until thick and lemony colored.
Stir in the zucchini, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
Fold in the chopped nuts
Pour into two well greased and floured loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then cool completely out of pans.

Now if you will excuse me, I see there is only one slice left on my table, and I need to go grab it before someone else does!  
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