Monday, February 22, 2010

Home Baked Challah

This last Friday I decided to tackle Challah. I like to bake bread in general and I thought it would be nice to have a fresh loaf for dinner. I cruised the internet looking for a recipe with good reviews and finally settled on a mix of two different ones with a few tweaks of my own.

4 cups flour (2cups AP, 2 cups bread flour)
1 tblsp yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey, or 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup veg oil

Turn oven on at 170 (or whatever is the lowest setting on your oven), let it get warm for a few minutes and then switch off. Mix salt into flour.

Mix together 3/4 cup warmish water, sugar or honey, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer. Let stand for a few minutes until slightly foamy. Lightly beat in eggs and oil. Using paddle attachment or wooden spoon, gradually add flour until shaggy dough forms. Switch to dough hook and knead (adding water or flour as needed to arrive at correct consistency ) until dough is smooth and elastic (it is okay if it is a bit sticky). Coat large bowl (I use a big wide salad bowl) with some vegetable oil and place dough ball (rolling to coat) in bowl loosely covered with plastic wrap into turned off (but still warm oven), let rise for a couple of hours. Punch down dough and return to oven or warm spot for a couple more hours. When dough has re-risen, gather together and cut into three equal pieces. Form into small balls and let these rest for ten minutes or so before shaping. Roll each piece into a long snake shape, slightly larger in the center than at the ends. Starting with two lengths of dough in a loose X shape on your baking sheet (I oiled mine but you could use parchment), place the third length down the center. This will start your braid in the center. Braid down each end, just as if you are braiding hair. Tuck ends neatly. (I made a mistake of making my braid too short and fat. When the bread rose during baking it sort of spread and tore and my braid lost most of its pretty shape. Make your snakes longer and thinner to avoid this, but allow the middle of the snake to be slightly thicker than the ends. Cover with a wash of beaten egg. If you don't have a brush you can use a paper towel dipped in the wash, which is what I did. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for a while. 30 minutes should do it. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat loaf in egg wash again bake for 40-45 minutes. This makes one LARGE loaf. Lately I've been dividing the dough into two parts and making two smaller loaves.

If you want to make kosher Challah (besides cooking in a kosher kitchen with kosher ingredients!) you also have to set aside a small piece of the unbaked dough to be burned in the oven after the bread has been baked. :-)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pug D-day

Last weekend, J and I took the pugs to the Oregon coast. One of my favorite places ever. Apparently it was Dieter's favorite place as well.

Pug action shots are my favorite! I really recommend clicking on this photo so you can see the look on his face. His two back feet are both off the ground as well.

And after the cold and windy beach:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The dangers of not having someone else make the coffee

In this dramatic reenactment, you, readers, will experience first hand the horror and dismay that comes with spilling half a pound of expensive Stumptown coffee all over your kitchen floor. Beware, this post is not for the weak at heart.

(I thought about sweeping it up and putting it back in the floor is clean after all, right? A little bit of pug fur never hurt anyone, right?)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Return of the Demonpug

This morning I summoned all of my willpower and crawled out of bed and snuck off to the gym early, leaving the pugs nestled in their beds, sound asleep. (I normally would never go to the gym early in the morning, but I have a trip to Hawaii coming up and I have purchased a new bikini. The kind that the sales description states has "minimal coverage" for your tush. Yes, I just turned 30 and I am now attempting to wear the sort of swimsuit I would never have tried to sport in my early (and super fit) 20's. Ah, youth. It really is wasted on the young.) And so, I'm desperately trying to rid myself of any outward signs of my devotion to cake. But this post isn't about a futile attempt to reclaim my 23 year old self. No, this post is again about the Demonpug.

I was gone about an hour. It wasn't even late in the morning when I returned to find the sleeping crate (where I put the Demonpug away for the night) empty, the door of the crate swinging on its hinges. The house was ominously silent.

Gunter, awakened upon my arrival looked at me with a face that said "I had nothing to do with this, I am the Angelpug. Please do not punish me with the Demonpug."

The Demonpug was nowhere to be seen. The house quiet and peaceful. I approached the back part of the apartment with dread, remembering that when I left I had failed to secure the bedroom door, knowing that the Angelpug would never intrude on that holy ground.

And that was indeed where the Demonpug had repaired to after his cunning escape from the crate. And inside this hallowed sanctuary was to be found another, even more sacred space. The shoe closet. As readers will remember from previous posts, the Demonpug
has a particular fondness for shoes. And he did not disappoint! A big pile of warm Demonpug poo was found to be reclining upon my chaco sandals.....which are, luckily enough, totally washable. It could have been worse. There was a pair of purple snakeskin Via Spiga 4 inch heels perilously close (another remnant of my early 20's)!

Readers, do you perhaps know of a farm that is looking for a pug? A Demonpug perhaps?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

All that's left

of the delicious gingerbread cake I made the other night for Jonathan (and when I say Jonathan, I mean me). Fantastic cake, with a little bit of whipped cream on it. I have plans to bake 3 in my spring form and make a layer cake, with some lemon curd spread between the layers and a cream cheese frosting. Maybe for Valentine's Day. The recipe is from
here. I would use a little bit less salt though, next time, and maybe brown sugar instead of white and slightly less molasses.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dieter (aka Demon Pug)

Oh, Dieter! If you were not so cute I would post an ad on craigslist that went like this:

I am a 9 month old brindle pug. I am looking for a good home. I am looking for a place where I can poop inside without being yelled at. A place where I can take 1 hour outside to find the perfect place to pee, even when it is pouring down rain, without being cursed at. I like to eat nasty stuff out of the bathroom garbage, so an open trash can in the john is a must. I sleep most of the day, when I am not sleeping I need someone (a small child, or maybe a patient older dog) to harass. Name change is negotiable. I think I am more of a Matt or a Tim than a Dieter. Thanks for your consideration. (Please note: I will only go to an Angel-Pug free home.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ooooh. Peanut Butter!

You must make these cookies.

The Goods:

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tbsp flour

The Deal:

Heat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients together. Roll dough into small balls (about the size of a cherry) and place on cookie sheet. Add traditional crosshatching to top with fork. Bake for 11 minutes. So delicious! Especially good with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce (i.e. chocolate chips melted with water).