The Pursuit of Bread Making(aka Happiness)

I’ve lately been intrigued by both my co-workers’ and training buddies’ talk of bread making and have decided to give it a shot. I love bread, its even above Cheese, Beer, Coffee, and Balsamic Vinegar on my list of foodly obsessions. I normally burn through about 2-3 loaves a week of French bread alone with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil and figure that I could probably redirect the weekly cost into a steady stream of baking ingredients and great general satisfaction.

I was first intrigued with bread making over a year ago when I been making my own pizza doughs as they are much cheaper and tastier than pre bought crusts, and provide the satisfaction of making them from scratch. While this is fine, I can only handle making pizzas every so often. I have been using Peter Reinhart’s Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough recipe which  has served me really well so far although I am sure that there are many things I am doing incorrectly. I realized today that the version I had been using all this time was not the authentic version and called for no sugar, which I am assuming would have a large impact on how the dough turns out. Once I make it through these last 4 crusts I’ve made I’ll have to give it another shot with  the added sugar. Anyways, if you are interested in making dough from scratch pizza doughs have been fairly easy to make and quite rewarding. My only suggestions would be to invest in a pizza stone for the oven, and also corn meal to help make sliding your pizzas on and off the stone easier. On the topic of Peter Reinhart, I just finished watching his TED talk on bread making which I really enjoyed. It examined both a bit of the food chemistry behind the baking process and also the importance of bread from a philosophical/cultural point of view. I’ve linked the video below.

Anyways, to support my recipe book collecting/Amazon purchasing addictions I’ve ordered Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking and a dough scraper to make life easier. The book was highly recommended and has an introduction that speaks about the basic techniques you’ll need to get started with bread making as well as featuring great recipes, or at least that’s what the internet is telling me. Once my gear arrives and as I learn more tips and tricks and begin cranking out loaves and I’ll probably throw pictures/what I’ve learned up on here.

As a side note I was also really intrigued by the end of the TED which taught me that you can add Spent Grains to your baking which is a by-product from home brewed beer, UH-OH! Maybe once I’ve graduated and have some more money to throw around I’ll consider it, but in the mean time, I’ll have to stick to breads.

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Gluten Free Rolled Oat & Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

So last night I was feeling a bit crazy and decided to completely scrap the banana bread recipe I had been previously been using and try something new. I don’t know why I like oats so much, but lately I’ve been adding it to all of my baking. It’s a great source of protein, dietary fibre, and iron which is really helpful as I am limited in how often I eat meat. Oats are also gluten free with some minor exceptions. Here is the exact breakdown of the Rolled Oats I use from the Bulk Barn website:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 100 g
Amount % Daily Value
Calories 380
Total Fat 7g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans fat 0g
Total Fat Percentage 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Carbohydrates 68g 23%
Dietary Fibre 10g 40%
Sugars 1g
Proteins 13g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 6%
Iron 45%
Sugar Alcohol 0%

The other substitution I made was adding Buckwheat Flour which I use in some other recipes as well. The batch I made turned out really well however I’ve yet to figure out how cafe’s and grandparents get that great moist non-crumbly bread, but when I do I’ll be sure to write about it. UPDATE: So it turns out that by placing a casserole dish of hot water on the rack below the bread pan in the oven largely solves this problem!

One word of warning, combining the Oats and Buckwheat flour is potentially disastrous if you plan on consuming large portions of a loaf at one time. Both ingredients contain huge amounts of fibre and have the potential to make you quite regular if consumed in large quantities.

Recipe
Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the following dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

1 cup Rolled Oats

1.5 cups of Dark Buckwheat Flour

1 tsp of Baking Soda

1/4 tsp of Salt

1/2 cup (at least!) of chocolate chips

In another bowl:

Mix 1/2 cup of melted butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar

Then mix in 3 beaten eggs, and 3 mushed bananas

Pour wet ingredients into large mixing bowl containing dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Finally

Grease your bread pan, pour in the mixture and bake for 45-50 minutes. As well, place a casserole dish full of hot water on the rack below the bread pan for more moist banana bread.

Home Made Chicken/Pork/Turkey Burgers

Alright so I thought I’d post this great recipe I have for burgers while I have a moment. This recipe makes about 6 large chicken burgers and contains a bunch of vegetables.

Ingredients:

500g package of either Ground Chicken, Pork, or Turkey

1 Large Yellow Onion

1 Red Pepper

1 Large Carrot

1 Cup of Mushrooms

1 Tomato

3 cloves of garlic

2 eggs

1 cup of bread crumbs

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise

Optional

Spinach or Lettuce

Red Onion

Instructions

1. Dice the onion, pepper, mushrooms, grate the carrot and crush the garlic into a large mixing bowl. The finer you chop these things, the easier it will be to make the burgers and the better they will survive on the barbecue.

2. Scramble two eggs in a bowl and add them along with the ground meat of your choice and the olive oil to the vegetables. I recently started adding the olive oil to the burgers and it seems to make big difference in the tops/bottoms not sticking to the barbecue and also helps stop the burgers from drying out and crumbling.  Now mix thoroughly until everything appears to be evenly distributed.

3. Add the bread crumbs and mix again. From here you might need to add more bread crumbs if it appears that your mix is kind of runny.

4. Make patties out of the mixture. I normally just kind of wing it and make them like you would a small packed snowball, but here is an interesting link I just found that I need to try next time I make burgers.

5. Put patties in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This helps your patties to stick together I find.

6. You can pan-fry them if you don’t have a barbecue but you need to do it on really low heat so that the centre of your patties get cooked. If you are using the barbecue, I generally try and get it as hot as possible before putting the burgers on then, cranking the heat all the way back. This is so that the burgers don’t burn to the grill which has happened to me a couple of times. I generally flip at about 7-8 minutes or once the burgers seemed decently brown on one side and won’t crumble apart. Then I let them sit for about 10-12 minutes on the other side until the other side is browned or crisped as well.

7. Serve how ever you like. I normally serve them on a bun with spinach, sliced red onions, and Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise on the bottom, then Teriyaki poured over the burger, topped with tomatoes.

If all goes well, they should look something like this!

Another cool looking recipe I found while searching for pictures, were chicken rissoles. The idea of brown rice and sweet potatoes in a burger sounds very appetizing and healthy definitely might have to try it out! I also think I’m going to try and make super chicken burgers by combining rice, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and quinoa with my normal mix. Not sure if it will work yet!

Easy Dressings and Sauces

The best thing about cooking is that once you start accumulating ingredients, you can make next to anything. One of the most expensive things you can do is to buy salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. Granted, I still do buy some of the speciality ones for stir-fries and as ingredients in other dressings, but I have not bought salad dressing for a long time. Here are three really quick ones I make on quite a regular basis:

Sweet Chili Mayonaise Sauce/Spread

This one is dead simple and tastes delicious. You often see it served with yam fries, chicken burgers, or wraps.

For every 1/4 cup of mayonaise,

add 1 tbsp of chili garlic sauce

optional: add 1 tsp of sriracha hot sauce(careful, has some kick)

Then stir with a spoon.

Simple Balsamic Vinagrette

For a medium size salad, combine in a sealable container:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

Close container, shake, pour over salad once mixed.

Goes good on Greek style salads(tomatoes, spinach, red onions, cucumbers, broccoli, green peppers, feta), or basically things that absorb a runnier dressing.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

For a medium sized salad:

In a bowl, mix:

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp honey mustard

Goes good on garden salads (lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, marble/cheddar cheese cubes), or anything where the dressing doesn’t get absorbed, but rather coats the ingredient(carrots).

Buckwheat Pancakes

To my great surprise and enjoyment last night, my professor cancel my 9:30am lecture. After a glorious sleep, craving pancakes I set out to make my favourite recipe. If you haven’t heard of the The Joy of Cooking, it is one monster of a cookbook(1200 pages) that has recipes and techniques for almost anything under the sun including skinning a rabbit and then making a tasty stew out of the little critter.  The only downside of this cookbook is that the recipes often call for multiple pounds of meat, cheeses, and other non-practical and expensive ingredients which is true of most non-vegetarian recipe books.

Sundays during the university school year are great. Being a huge Dallas Cowboys and NFL fan in general, there is nothing better than waking up bright and early, making a big breakfast, drinking coffee and watching my favourite team play. Naturally when I flipped to the pancake section in the Joy of Cooking I was pleased to find 10 different pancake recipes alone. The one I seemed to have settled on however is the Buckwheat pancake recipe.

Side note: I just realized on the Bulk Barn website you can look up nutritional value for all of their products!

Despite it’s misleading name and much to my surprise, Buckwheat is a relative to Rhubarb and is not actually in the grain family. This is great news as it is a great substitute for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens. Even more good news, Buckwheat contains all 8 essential amino acids making it a “high quality” protein and is also high in dietary fibre as well.

Quick Overview of Amino Acids and Complete Proteins

I do not claim to be an expert in food science or even in Biochemistry, but here are the basics about Amino Acids from what I’ve researched. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein which are used in various biological processes in the body. Although there are 22 in total, there are 8 which are considered “essential”. An essential amino acid is one that cannot be synthesised from other available resources, and therefore must be supplied as part of the diet. The other 14 can therefore be created from these 8.

The next term that is important to understand are foods that are considered “complete proteins”. As you may have guessed these foods are considered to have the eight essential amino acids necessary to the body.  Foods such as cheese, Quinoa, eggs, fish, lean meat, and milk are all examples of these. Finally we have foods such as Buckwheat which have all 8 amino acids but are considered “high-quality” proteins. Naturally I was confused how something could contain the essential amino acids and not be considered a complete source of protein. It turns out that in order to qualify as complete, a source of food also needs to have what is considered an adequate proportion of each amino acids for supporting biological functions in the body which makes sense.

Back To Buckwheat

Any ways, I buy most of my bulk items at Bulk Barn. There I found both light and dark buckwheat flour, although no distinction was made for which one to use in my pancake recipe. I decided to go with the Dark Buckwheat flour as it was much higher in fibre than it’g light counter part. Here are the nutritional values of the Dark Buckwheat flour as found on the containers at Bulk Barn:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 100 g
Amount % Daily Value
Calories 340
Total Fat 3.5g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans fat 0g
Total Fat Percentage 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Carbohydrates 72g 24%
Dietary Fibre 10g 40%
Sugars 0g
Proteins 13g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2%
Iron 22%
Sugar Alcohol 0%

Buckwheat Pancake Recipe

Ingredients:

(Dry)

1 cup Buckwheat Flour

1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour(you could probably just do 2 cups of Buckwheat for gluten free(I need to read up on that though!))

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

(Wet)

2 cups of buttermilk

1/4 cup melted butter(I use margarine, cheaper)

2 eggs

Instructions

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, mix wet in another, combine and stir well.

Tip: I always used to mess up the first batch of pancakes I put in the pan. The secret I have found is to first, buy a good frying pan. Next you want to preheat the frying pan with about 1.5 Tbsp of Canola Oil in it to about 6 out of 10 using your burner’s knob setting. Once your frying pan is nice and consistently hot, use the tip of a piece of paper towel to spread the Canola oil evenly over the frying pan similar to greasing a muffin pan or banana bread pan. I like to do this after the pan is hot so you don’t have excess Canola Oil in the pan. Once you have done this then add your pancakes.

How To Make Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a type of milk that is thick and acidic. This acidic property, when mixed with flour causes a reaction(that I don’t have the knowledge to explain) which basically enhances the texture of your baking. The good news is you can make buttermilk at home using lemon juice and milk from the fridge. Normally I use a measuring cup capable of holding at least 500ml of liquid to accomplish this. To make buttermilk, simply pour 1 Tbsp of lemon juice into the liquid measurer for every cup of buttermilk you need to make. Next fill to whatever cup line you need with milk. Do this before you start mixing any other ingredients as the acidic lemon juice takes time to curdle the milk and give it that thick consistency.

Other Ideas

Some other things I like to do to make my pancakes to make them more interesting is to either add chopped banana and/or melted peanut butter.

Hopefully yours turn out something like this!

Also, I hope to find a usb to micro cord for my camera so I can actually take pictures of what mine turn out looking like.

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11

http://www.bulkbarn.ca/en-ca/products.html?product=532&search=buckwheat

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=81

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid

http://www.glisonline.com/essential-amino-acids.html

Basa, a cheap alternative to white fish

One thing I’ve never really known how to cook well is fish.  When ever I walk into large grocery stores and head to the seafood section, I’m always intrigued by the wide variety of different fish I know nothing about. So as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve challenged myself to cook two new types of fish per month. Although I can do Salmon up fairly well and really love the taste of it, I think it’d be a shame not to try other types of fish especially considering how expensive Salmon is here. One great thing about seafood is that it is a high source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, fish is high in protein and low in saturated fat even if it’s Omega 3 levels aren’t that high.  These acids have been linked to many health benefits such as decrease in the Cardiovascular disease, increased immune system performance, and for athletes, decrease in inflammation.

I found this great table below from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84, which is a great source of nutrition information.

World’s Healthiest Foods rich in
omega 3 fatty acids
FoodCals%Daily Value
Flax seeds112199.5%
Walnuts16494.5%
Sardines19786.6%
Salmon15852.5%
Soybeans29842.9%
Halibut15925.8%
Scallops12717%
Shrimp11215.4%
Tofu8615%
Tuna15813.7%

The nutritional data base NUTTAB 2006 developed by FSANZ provides the following analysis for Omega 3 fatty acids of various types of fish;

  • Smoked cod steamed 302mg per 100grams.
  • fish finger 161mg,
  • Australian tinned salmon in brine then drained 2456mg,
  • sardines in oil drained 2511,
  • Basa fillet steamed just 69mg.
Anyways, enough about Omega-3’s. To make my cooking challenge easier, and to fuel my cookbook purchasing addiction I’ve grabbed this great book:
My awesome new cookbook!

It’s a massive hard cover book that references many different types of seafood and goes through everything from cleaning them to cooking them. I am quite impressed with it although it arrived after my first seafood purchases and I have yet to try it out.

On my latest trip to Superstore, I found an interesting looking fish fillet known as “Basa Fish”. Basa is it’s North American and Australian name, but it also goes by Vietnamese Catfish, Mekong Catfish, Pacific Dory, Bocourti, and River Cobbler (UK). This fish is imported from the US and is also farmed off the Mekong River in Vietnam. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this fish. Because it is a fairly cheap fish to produce, many restaurants around the world have taken to using this as a substitute for Cod and other more expensive white fish in breaded meals such as fish and chips. While this isn’t a huge deal, fish and chip shops are often doing this while advertising a higher quality fish is still being used. There has also been great concern over the quality of the Vietnamese imported Basa. This appears to be a product of the US fish farmers who are having difficulty competing with the lower prices the Vietnamese exporters are offering.

Basa Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving

* Calories/Calories from fat 154
* Protein grams 22
* Fat grams 6.9
* Saturated fat grams 2.6
* Sodium milligrams 86
* Cholesterol milligrams 77
* Omega-3 grams na

Anyway, I’ve found a super simple recipe online for Breaded Basa Fillets which is shown below. Two fillets cost under $4 and were fairly large. Bread crumbs can be found in the bakery section of your local supermarket and cost about $3 for 500g and keep in the pantry for about a year. The fish has a pretty mild taste and is reliant on its breading and sauces for taste. I adapted the sauce from the recipe I linked at the bottom and thought that it tasted good although I think I’m biased towards my own cooking. Any sauce for white style fish will work. This recipe can be prepared in about 5 minutes and cooked in about 10.

Super Easy Basa Breaded Fillets

Ingredients:

2 Basa Fillets

1 Egg

~1 Cup of Breadcrumbs

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sauce:

1 tsp honey mustard

1 tbsp hot sauce

1 tbsp ketchup

2 tsp paprika

1/4 cup mayonaise

1. Crack and whisk egg in bowl. Put bread crumbs in  another bowl. Place each fillet in bowl, coating in egg, then pat each side in breadcrumbs, creating a breaded layer. Repeat twice for each side of the fillet.

2. Preheat a frying pan with Olive oil. I found medium heat worked best(~5 or 6  out of 10). Place fillets in pan, cooking each side for ~5 minutes.

3. Mix sauce ingredients and serve as a ketchup style side to the fish.

Because this is a fish and chips style meal, I also cooked up some hash browns to substitute as my “chips”. The end result of the fish should look something like this:

Another interesting recipe I found after I had already cooked my fillets and was doing some research on the fish is this guy, which would be interesting to try if I ever come back to Basa which I probably will: http://www.healthy-quick-meals.com/basa-fish-recipes.html

Mmm Quinoa!

If you haven’t heard of Quinoa before, you need to check it out. This grain is commonly found in the bulk or health food section of your local supermarket. Additionally, you can find Quinoa at a better price in stores such as Bulk Barn or at Costco.

Originally native to South America, quinoa was once called “the gold of the Incas,” who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. This is not surprising as it is considered a complete source of protein as it contains all eight of the essential amino acids we need for tissue development. Having as much as 22g of protein/cup makes this grain a great option for those in need of alternative sources of protein other than meat.

Quinoa is also quite simple to cook. You follow the same steps as rice, adding 1 cup of grain/2 cups of water. A good rice cooker can be used to cook the grain, however I find the best way to do it is to bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a setting of 1 or 2 out of 10 on your burner with a slight crack between the lid and pot allowing some moisture to be released. Generally this will take about 25-30 min however your quinoa will be extremely fluffy and will reach full volume.

If you are really interested in alternative ways to use quinoa besides salads, Quinoa 365 is a great cookbook for incorporating this super-food into baking soups, salads and practically anything else you can imagine. I highly recommend this book.

I am a huge fan of modified Greek salads. I make the recipe below weekly. It can probably feed 3-4 people as a side course, but I generally eat the whole thing by myself after a big workout. Here it is:

Ingredients

2 cups water

1 cup Quinoa

1/2 Cucumber

1 Green Pepper

2 Tomatoes

3 cups of spinach

1/4 red onion

1/2 head of broccoli

1/4 cup Feta Cheese

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Preparation

1. In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat adding Quinoa bringing the water back to a low simmer. Simmer for 20-30mins or until the Quinoa is fluffy and no water is visible at the bottom of the pot. Take off burner, fluff with fork and allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, chop all ingredients with method of choosing and place in a large salad bowl, crumbling feta over top with hands. (Note: Mix feta into salad, before adding Quinoa if still warm or hot. Otherwise the feta will melt and loose its crunchy texture.

3. In a sealable container, mix olive oil and balsamic Vinegar, seal and shake. Pour mixture over salad. Mix dressing in and serve.

Hope you found this useful!

References:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice#nutritionalprofile