Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easy Homemade Bread

Leslie Mcilroy, a fabulous colleague of mine, is a copywriter and poet extraordinaire!  Check her out at
She was kind enough to share her fabulous recipe with me and of course, I had to try it out as soon as possible. Yum!
For those of you who are intimated by making fresh bread from scratch, give this a try; you won't be disappointed.
Of course I added some Dietitian fiber boosting options, for those of you who crave nutrient density in everything you eat:). (I know, it's a curse, but just embrace it!)

Leslie’s Easy Homemade Bread

Makes 2-3 loaves, depending on size
3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ Tbsp. yeast (2 pkgs.)
1 Tbsp. salt
6 ½ cups bread flour such as King Arthur

Dietitian Fiber boost add-ins*:
1/3 cup millet
1/3 cup cornmeal
½ cup oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
½ cup additional water, as needed

*I added in all of these, but you can mix and match what you have and want, up to a total about  2 cups. I also used ½ bread flour and ½ white whole wheat flour.

Place water, yeast and salt in a large bowl; stir or whisk to dissolve yeast.
Add flour (plus any extra fiber boosters).I love millet! It adds a yummy crunch.  Mix until well combined (adding the additional water depending on how much extras you added).
The mixing may take a little arm strength to get the dough well combined.Feel free to use a stand mixer, but the point of this recipe is to make it easy, or why not just go old school and work a little. If you are a fan of "kneading", then please do so! Kneading the dough for about 5-10 minutes increases gluten, which adds elasticity to the bread. This will result is a puffier, chewier bread.
Cover with a plastic bag (or plastic wrap coated with cooking spray) and place in a warm area such as on top of the warm oven. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to two weeks (it gets more like sourdough the longer it is in the fridge).
I was not able to wait 2 entire at 1 hour of rising, I shaped the entire batch into 3 loaves!
Preheat oven to 425 F. Take 1/3 or ½ dough( or make several loaves like I did) , using a little flour as needed, and form loosely into a loaf ; place on a greased pan . Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes at room temperature.
Because I love it when my food looks pretty, I brushed the tops lightly with egg wash (beaten egg with a splash of water) and then sprinkled on some chopped chives, chia seeds and oat bran! I also scored the tops with a small paring knife for that artisan bread look.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden browned and bottoms feel hollow when tapped. I baked the loaf about 10 minutes longer since it is deeper and turned to oven to 350F. The smaller loaf was done at 25 minutes, so keep an eye out if you are making multiple sizes. The bread recipe came at a perfect time for me; I gave one away at a dinner party that evening, the other is for a little get together tomorrow night (with Greek yogurt spinach dip), and the last loaf is for my week's lunches!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tuscan Kale Salad with Cherries, Feta and Pine Nuts

Last week my colleague and I visited the Market District central kitchen in the South Hills to have a better understanding of their processes. We had the chance to sample some tasty foods, including a delicious kale salad with ricotta salata cheese.  I have thinking about this salad since then, craving the crisp and delicate kale combined with the salty briny cheese and sweet fruit…yum!!
Here is my version; I added a little red onion, used feta cheese and whipped up vinaigrette with honey that I think matches the one used at the stores pretty nicely. To note, I do have the recipe stashed away at my desk at work, since I am running nutrition facts on it. I thought it would be way more fun to create my own version!
What’s so special about Tuscan Kale you ask? Tuscan kale is also known as dinosaur kale or palm tree kale, and it tastes better and is more resilient than its regular counterpart. It is amazingly nutritious, as it is packed with vitamin C and K. Since it is part of the cabbage family, some studies have linked its sulfur compounds to a decreased risk of cancer.
 Tuscan Kale Salad with Cherries, Feta and Pine Nuts
1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 12 cups chopped)
1 cup tart dried cherries
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup finely diced red onion, optional

For the dressing
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Clean kale by submerging in a large bowl of cool water; lift up and out of water, leaving behind any dirt. Place in colander and pat dry with a clean towel.

Gently bend each kale leaf in half and remove center rib with fingers; tear off gently.
Soak cherries, if desired, in 2 cups of hot water for about 10 minutes to soften.
Combine together ingredients for dressing in medium bowl, whisking in oil as the last step.
Toss ingredients together in a large bowl and chill until ready to serve.
Chris and I shared this for a nice light dinner! And you know what, he loved it!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gluten Free Dairy Free Fresh Fruit Tart

I made some pretty awesome tarts (I must say) for a dear friend and co worker. She was recently transferred to a different department after 13 years of great work in the sensory lab; we miss her so much but she is right down the hall and we still get to see her. Of course, as a dietitian and chef, I love to accommodate dietary restrictions and food intolerances!

Here is the recipe, a combination of many ideas I saw online. I actually made two tarts in order to share with both her new department (our great friends in the cafe!) and ours. This recipe doubles easily, making once batch of dough at a time though (due to space in the food processor).

Fresh Fruit Tart with Almond Crust and Tofu Filling 

For the Crust:1 cup gluten free all purpose baking flour
1 cup almond flour
 ½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. coconut oil
¼ cup agave nectar

For the Filling:8 oz. container Tofutti® plain Better Than Cream Cheese
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
5-6 large strawberries, sliced
1-2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 cup black berries or blueberries
½ cup mandarin oranges, packed in juice, drained and patted dry
For the Glaze:¼ cup apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

Combine both the all purpose flour and the almond flour in a food processor. Add salt, cinnamon and  coconut oil (or half butter).

Pulse until crumbly; add in agave and pulse until dough  forms. Wrap tighly in plactic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Once chilled, roll out dough using 2 pieces of plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Roll a little larger than 9-10 inch crust, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
Carefully peel off top piece of plastic and use other piece of plastic to help transfer dough onto tart pan, inverting dough so that the plastic faces up. carefully press into pan and peel off plastic. Any torn pieces can just be pressed into crust (it will all just bake up together).
Coat crust with cooking spray and top with a piece of foil. Use pie weight or dry beans to help hold crust in shape. Pour over foil covered crust. I used a mixed bean soup that was in my pantry for way too long. Rice works too. You can save the rice or beans in a container once cool and make them your dedicated "pie weights":). Bake for 15-18 mintues until crust crisps like a cookie. Crust will harden a bit more as it cools. Crusts can be made a day ahead of time. This is what I did.
Tofutti Brand Plain Better Than Cheese Cream 8 Ounce
Here is the stuff I used for the filling. There are other brands out there, but this one tastes the best. Find it in the organic/specialty dairy section. Or try making your using silken tofu. Combine ingredients for filling a medium bowl and mix well until smooth. Add any additional flavoring you wish...just as a tablesppon of rum.

Spread mixture over crust. I prepared my tarts on the day they were going to be eaten. The crust will get soggy if they are made too far in advance.

I used star fruit as my first layer, but you can use kiwi if you would like.
Decorate tart as desired, using any combination of fruits you would like.
Here is how my first tart turned out. Once built. Place ingredients for glaze in  microwave safe bowl and heat until melted. Puree mixture if needed to smooth out. Use a pastry brush to gently brush mixture over fruit.
Voila! Here they are right before surprising Carina!!! Even the non gluten free non dairy free peeps enjoyed this! As for Nutrition facts...well...sorrry folks...ran out of's comin!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blueberry Lime Chia Jam

Chia seeds, a super trendy functional food, are not only amazing but also easy to use. They highly nutritious, and also have awesome gelling and water absorbing capabilites due to their soluble and insoluble fiber content. They are wonderful for making puddings and even can serve as a substitute for eggs in some recipes. Try them sprinkled on salads, in smoothies, on cereal, yogurt, or as a garnish on baked fish or chicken.

1 tablespoon contains about 70 calories, 6 grams fiber, 3 grams protein and 2.9 grams omega-3 fatty acids. It is often considered the richest plant based source of fiber, protein and essetial fatty acids.

Go ahead, try them in this quick and easy jam!

Blueberry Lime Chia Jam
2 cups fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey
Zest and Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp. chia seeds

Bring blueberries, agave, lime zest and juice to a boil. Simmer for about 5-8 minutes until tender and syrupy.
Use a potato masher to smash berries to desired consistensy (do this part while mixture is simmering).
Stir in chia seeds and remove from heat. Let sit for about 30 minutes to cool.
Mixture will thicken as it cools. Tranfer to a container and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Serve as desired-it is wonderful on pretty much everything!!