Monday, July 7, 2014

San Francisco Half & Half Loaves

2 1/2 cups white flour
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 
(we use fresh ground red hard wheat)
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1  package active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
In a small sauce pan combine milk and butter, warm to 105 to 110 degrees and set aside. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup white flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast. Add milk mixture and sour dough starter. Gradually mix in the rest of the flours, you may need more depending on your climate.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to oil surface, and cover. Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. Punch down, and let rest 15 minutes. Shape into loaves. Place on a greased baking pan. Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
Brush egg wash (1 large egg & 1 tablespoon warm water, mixed together) over tops of loaves. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or till done.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Infused oils & Vinegars

        Every Summer when we start getting ready to for grilling and BBQs, we like to make our own Infused Oils and flavored vinegars to use in our recipes as marinades, sauces and dressings. They are really easy to make and only require a little time in the pantry. There are a few do's and don'ts that you want to remember when putting these yummy tasting items together. Infused oils are so easy to make. You can either use extra virgin olive oil for a stronger oil flavor or you can use canola oil if you only want to taste the herbs and not the oil. This is a personal preference.  We prefer using olive oils.

  • use only clean and sterilized bottles
  • use only clean and fresh herbs, spices and fruits
  • remember most only have abut a week shelf life 
  • they do make great summer and holiday house warming gift 
  • You may want to check with your local Extension Service Representative and ask what the current recommendations are for safely making and storing flavored oils in your areas. 
  • Do label and date all bottles and rotate often
  •  Leave any water in the bottles because this could allow bacterial growth.  
  • being careful to avoid over-packing the bottles
 Infused oils are so easy to make. You can either use extra virgin olive oil for a stronger oil flavor or you can use canola oil if you only want to taste the herbs and not the oil. This is a personal preference.  We prefer using olive oils.
  • Wash and air dry your choice of herbs. Place them in a clean decorative glass container, cover with warmed oil, and seal tightly. Leave in a cool, dark place to infuse about a week, depending on if you use fresh or dried herbs and spices they will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Remember the more water in your herbs and spices, the lower the shelf life and the higher your risk is for bacterial growth.
  • Taste. If not strong enough, add more fresh herbs and let stand another week. You can either strain the oil or leave the herbs in. If you do not strain the herbs out, the flavor will become stronger as it stands, so keep that in mind.  
  • Herb Suggestions: rosemary, thyme, basil, tarragon, summer savory, oregano, cilantro, marjoram, chervil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, bay leaf.
  • Spice Suggestions: cardamom, star anise, juniper, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, cloves. 
  • Our Favorite: 2 cups olive oil, 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper,1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil,1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, 1 pinch crushed red pepper. In a medium bowl or decorative bottle, mix together olive oil, whole black pepper, basil, coarse sea salt and red pepper. Cover and Allow it to sit approximately 1 hour before serving. We use this one as a dipping sauce for Italian breads.
Flavored vinegars add an extra kick to marinades, sauces, and dressings. If you grow your own herbs, this is a great way to use up any excess before the growing season is over. Most flavored Vinegars only have a shelve life up up to four months.
  •  Use clean sanitized jars. Immerse jars/bottles in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the vinegar to just below boiling.
  • Place desired herb(s) in the sanitized bottles or jars and add hot vinegar. Tightly cap and store in a cool clean place for three to four weeks.
  •  Once the flavor is developed, strain the vinegar one or more times using damp cheesecloth or coffee filters until the vinegar is no longer cloudy. 
  • Pour the strained vinegar into a clean sterilized jar/bottle adding a sprig or two of fresh herbs (or berries) that have been sanitized as above. 
  • Seal and store in the refrigerator. For best flavor, use within three or four months.
  • OUR FAVORITE: Citrus Vinegar
    Makes 4 cups
    2 cups mixed citrus fruits (we use thin sliced oranges, lemons and limes)
    4 cups white vinegar
    Add the sliced frriut to vinegar. Heat gently for 15 minutes to infuse the flavor and color, but be very careful not to boil the mixture. pour into pretty bottles. Use a sliver of bamboo or a long toothpick and thread some slices into a decorative position. Cork and seal bottle. Label.. We use this vinegar for to make a refreshing salad dressing or is some fish dishes. Other fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries etc can be substituted for a different flavour using this same method.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Celebrating 4th of July...

The 4th of July has always been a big holiday for my family, It usually started off with a BANG! Literally... there is a tradition in my home town that at five o'clock in the morning the guys would drive around town setting off small sticks of dynamite in remembrance of the "bombs bursting in air" and my family was always lucky enough to get one right in the field beside our house. Everybody wanted to make sure my dad was up to cook the biscuits for breakfast. He was consisdered the best Sour Dough scone and biscuit maker next to Lloyd Stoker, who was the old cowboy who taught my dad all his tricks. In turn, I grew up learning the trade from my dad and I have tried to pass on all the tricks to a couple of my boys. The 4th of July has just never been the same since my dad passed away... This year my Home Town of Circleville, Utah is Celebrating 150 in the making and I wish I could be there to make everyone some biscuits! My heart is with you all today... Hat's of to all the good ole' cowboys!


  • 4 cups Sourdough Starter, recipe below (start 2-4 days before actual baking day)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
  • Special Equipment: 1 (16-inch) Dutch oven


Prepare the Sourdough Starter the night before. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Sprinkle yeast in the starter and stir. Add sugar and stir. Add salt and stir. Add baking powder and baking soda and stir. Add oil and then gradually add flour, stirring well after each addition. Place dough on a floured board and sprinkle more flour on top of dough. Flatten dough by hand to about 1/2-inch thickness and then cut with a biscuit cutter. Spray a 16-inch Dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray and then add a little oil to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Place biscuits in Dutch oven, being careful not to overcrowd them. Top with melted butter and set aside to let rise until wrinkles are gone, about 1 hour. Bake, with coals on the lid, for 25 or 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Sourdough Starter:
2 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
8 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2/3 cup sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 raw potato

Dissolve yeast in warm water and whisk to combine. Add sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves. Add sifted flour, 2 cups at a time, whisking after each addition to combine. Peel, wash, and cut the raw potato into quarters; add potato to the flour mixture. Place starter in a large, deep bowl, cover it with a towel, and let rest in a warm place overnight. The starter should be made ahead of time, even 3 to 4 days ahead.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Green Goddess Goodness

Several years ago, the Restaurant "Ruby Tuesday's" served an "Avocado Ranch" salad dressing on their salad bar. It was so yummmmmy! Anyway, I have been craving it and after describing it to my mom, she said it sounded very similar to the old salad dressing known as "Green Goddess". So after searching and sampling several very tasty, but not quit right dressing recipes, we have finally came up with our own that we love...

1 avocado (peeled and pitted)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon minced dried garlic
1 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovies
(we don't care for anchovies flavor in this recipe)
salt & pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until totally liquified. Chill for a least two hours before serving. Also this recipe works for our "Thrifty Thursday" because all the items should be in your pantry... :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Tuesday's with Dorie" - Leaf Shaped Fougasse

Our "Tuesday's with Dorie" challenge today fit right in with our bread making plans.  We love this recipe and it makes a pretty looking basket full to be served with your favorite pasta dish. If you are interested in the recipe, check out the cookbook "Baking with Julia" by Dorie Greenspan, pages 146/147 and bake your own Fougasse. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Pain de Pecan" - June Artisan BOM

Over at our Artisan Bread group, The bread of the month (BOM) challenge for June was "Pain de Pecan" and after looking at several recipes and some photos, I decided to make mine into cinnamon roll style and add some wet walnuts along with my pecans. They Actually turned out very delicious and easy to make. They would be great for a  Sunday brunch.


  • 1 cup sour dough start
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon                       
  • ** Filling**
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, mixed with 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, wet walnuts and/or raisins, optional
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 2 tablespoons soft cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preparation: In small bowl or cup, mix together sugar, yeast and water and let bubble. In  a large bowl add sour dough, vanilla, softened butter and stir. Pour yeast water into sour dough and mix. added the rest of the ingredients and stir until dough starts to form into a ball. Turn out onto lightly floured counter, knead until smooth. Cover with warm damp towel and allow to raise until double in size. Roll out to a rectangle about 10 X 18 inches. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. then if you choose add walnuts, pecans and raisins. Starting at long end, carefully roll up; pinch seams together. Measure and cut 1-inch slices. I used pastry floss or string. Place cut side up on a buttered baking sheet. Cover with a slightly dampened towel and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or until browned. Drizzle with the icing, or your own favorite glaze or icing. As you can tell from the photo above I like my topped with wet walnuts.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sour Dough Saturday

For our Super Saturday Cooking School Challenge today, we thought we would make our sour dough round loaves. This slightly crunch bread, with its rich brown crust, is very typical of a San Francisco sourdough loaf, know where I grew up as sheep herders bread. We love this bread for its chewiness and golden crust.


  •  1 1/2 cup  sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups Flour

1) In a large bowl add warm water, sprinkle yeast and sugar on top of and let set 2 minutes. 


2) Mix in Sour dough Start and let set another 3 minutes.

 3) Add Flour and salt 

 4) then mix until dough form a ball and pulls away from the the side of the bowl, kneading to form a smooth dough.

5) Allow the dough to rise, in a covered bowl, until it's doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

 6) Gently divide the dough in half; it'll deflate somewhat.


7) Gently shape the dough into two  oval loaves; or, for longer loaves, two 10" to 11" logs. (we divided ours into 4small round loaves ). Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water. Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here.

8) Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.