Homemade Bread

May 26 2010

A friend asked me the other day where to find good bread. Most stores where I live sell a tasteless, textureless, substance which they want to pass on as bread. Then it gets stale and hard the following day after you buy it. This would not do, so I decided to look for a good, and simple bread recipe.

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

I had noticed something was wrong with the bread you buy in stores a few years ago. One day I needed to buy yeast to make a pizza dough recipe. Since I could not find it in the supermarket, I figured the next logical place to find yeast would be at the bakers. After visiting several stores, no one had yeast to sell me. I asked about how do they make the bread without yeast, and they told me they had ready mixes, and a special powders to rise the bread. That explained why the store bought bread had something wrong.

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread aroma filling the kitchen. Here is a simple recipe, to make good homemade bread.  It requires very little preparation time, although a long resting period. The most important tip for this recipe is to use high protein flour, or bread flour. That gives the bread a better taste, and a better crumb. The recipe will work also work with regular flour.

For two loafs of bread

2 Cups Bread Flour
1/2 TableSpoon Yeast
1/2 TableSpoon of Salt
1 Cups of Water

Heat the water until it is barely warm. Add yeast to the warm water and wait for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix the salt and the water. Add the yeast and the water to the bowl. Mix. The flour should be almost pulling off from the bowl. If the flour is too watery add a little more flour. Form the dough into a ball. Flour a large tray or your working table. Knead the dough by pushing it with hard with the palm of one hand, then folding over itself. Knead the dough about 10 times. it should be a smooth ball by now. Clean the mixing bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for two hours. After two hours the dough will have doubled in size. Flour the working area again, and knead the dough five times. Cut the dough into two pieces. Form each half into a cylindric roll. Punch down the dough and form  into a roll again. The idea is to get the roll longer each time to about 1 foot long. Add cooking oil to a baking sheet. Place the two rolls separate from one another over the baking sheet. Cut 3 o 4 diagonal slices 1/2 inch into the bread. Let the rolls rise for 3 hours. The rolls will look like baguettes at this point. Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Leave the bread a few minutes to cool down.

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Pizza Hut Quepapas

May 25 2010

Every time we order pizza from Pizza Hut, there is a side order that is preferred more than the pizza itself. They are crunchy, small and spicy. They are called Quepapas. Quepapas are basically tater tots filled with cheddar cheese and a jalapeño bite to them. They only send out twelve Quepapas per order, so there is always a fight to see who gets the last one. I decided to learn how to make them so everyone in my house can get enough.

tatter-tots

Pizza Hut Quepapas

Quepapas are very simple to make, and they are a great side order for a lot of dishes. You can vary the amount of jalapeño in the recipe to make them spicier. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

For QuePapas

1 Large Potato
2 Eggs
1 Jalapeño Pepper
6oz Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup of flour
1/2 tsp of salt
1 Cup of Breadcrumbs

Peel the Potato. Using the smaller size  in a grater (1/8 inch holes), grate the potato. You should have about 2 cups of grated potatoes if not, grate another potato. Put the grated potatoes in a towel and try to wring out as much liquid as you can. Using the same size, grate the cheddar cheese. Combine in a large bowl the grated potatoes, grated cheddar cheese, jalapeños, eggs, salt and the flour. The mixture should be thick enough to form small 1 inch balls. If it is too soft, add a little more flour. In a separate bowl put the breadcrumbs. Coat the formed potato balls with the breadcrumbs. Let the coated balls rest for 5 minutes so that the mixture sticks better. Add to a fryer at 400F and fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown. If you do not have a fryer, you can cook them in a large skillet with 1/2 and inch of cooking oil turning them over once.

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Mini Pizzas

May 24 2010

Sometimes you want a pizza fast. Sometimes you just want a single serving of pizza. Sometimes everyone wants a different flavor of pizza. My mini pizzas solve all of these problems. I have tried all types of pizzas dough, both made from scratch and store bought, and nothing tastes better than this. It is a crunchy thin crust that you can enjoy with your favorite toppings. My kid approves of his cheese only mini pizzas, and even prefers them to any delivery pizzas. The best part is that you can have a pizza in about 7 minutes.

Peperoni pizza, Cheese pizzas, Hawaiian Pizza, Pepperoni Mushroom Pizza

Mini Pizzas

When I was developing the recipe I wanted something that came out really fast. The fastest way to cook anything in your kitchen is using the microwave. The problem with using the microwave to cook pizzas is that you get a soggy result. The better way to get a crunchy pizza is to use the oven. This takes time, 15 to 20 minutes at least plus some time to preheat. After some trial and error I discovered that the best method was to combine both techniques to achieve both speed and crunch. I use thin pita bread for the pizza crust. When buying the pita bread make sure you get the thin one, and not the thicker type. You can vary the cooking times in order to get a softer or crispier pizza.

For a Mini Pizza:

1 Pita Bread
2 Tablespoons Spaghetti Sauce
1/4 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
1 Dash Herb of Provence (optional)
Toppings

Place pita bread flat on a board. Add the spaghetti sauce. Distribute sauce all over the pitta bread with a spoon, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Add the cheese over all the spaghetti sauce. Add the toppings.  Make sure you do not add a lot of toppings or they will not cook well. You should be able to see some of the cheese.Put a dash of Herbs of Provence all over the pizza to give better flavor. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt. Cook in the toaster oven on 425 F for 5 minutes, or toast on high about two or three times. When you see the pita starting to brown, your pizza is done. Slice with a pizza cutter. *** The cooking times are for my microwave, and toaster oven. You might need to experiment on yours to see what is the appropriate time on your own equipment. The microwave time also varies when making more than one at a time. Basically microwave untilthe cheese melts. Bake or toast it until the crust browns.

Topping Suggestions:
Pepperoni Cheese
Cheese Only
Pepperoni Mushroom
Pineapple Ham (Hawaiian Pizza)
Bell Pepper, Olives, Tomatoes, Onion (Veggie Pizza)
Cooked Bacon, Ham, Pepperoni (All Meat Pizza)
Cheese Basil Tomatoes (Margarita Pizza)

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Miso Shiru

May 21 2010

Miso shiru is a Japanese soup that can be served in any Sushi meal. The soup consists of a seaweed and bonito stock which is called Dashi mixed with Miso paste. Traditionally Miso soup is one of the most common breakfast dishes in Japan. When it is part of another meal, it is usually served at the end. The soup can be accompanied by other vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu. Fish can also be added. It is a very nutritious meal since it has a high protein and high fiber content combined with a lot of vitamins. It is very low in calories so it can easily be a good diet food.  The only problem that stops it from being the perfect meal is that it also contains a large amount of sodium.

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

The characteristic flavor of this soup it is something that is hard to define. The Japanese say that the flavor is called umami, which they propose is the fifth flavor type to accompany salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. Seawead is one of the food that has the highest umami content. Other food with umami are beef, lamb, and soy sauce. Umami is sometimes refereed as savoriness.  Children tend to like umami flavors because they remind themselves of mother’s milk which also has a high umami content. The ingredients will not be found in a regular supermarket but rather found in an asian market. It is Sushi Friday, so here is my recipe for another great Japanese dish.

For Miso Soup

2 Cups of Water
1/2 Teaspoon Dashinomoto
1 Tablespoon Dried Wakame
2 Oz Tofu
1 Tablespoon Miso Paste
Chives (optional)
Shichimi togarashi (optional)

Add water, wakame and dashinomoto to small sauce pan. Warm the soup but do not let it boil. Dice tofu into small cubes and add to the soup. Remove a 1/4 cup of liquid to a heat resistant cup. Mix in the miso paste with the water until the miso is dissolved. Add the dissolved miso to the soup. Mix the soup. Garnish with finely cut up chives, or Shichimi Togarashi (japanese chili powder). Optional – You can also add other vegetables, mushrooms, cooked shrimp or fish to the soup.

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Gyros

May 20 2010

Gyros are a very delicious food that has meat, onions, tomatoes all topped with Tzatziki Sauce. The meat is placed on a vertical spit and it is rotated in front of a fire rack. Where I live there are not many places were you can get a good gyro, so I had to learn how to make my own. It turns out it is not that hard to do once you know how to season the meat. You can even make it in your oven, since most of you will not have a spit or a rotisserie.

Greek Gyro

Greek Gyro

My brother ate gyros yesterday, and he asked me If I had a good recipe. “Of course!”, I said. Here you have my family approved gyros recipe.

For Greek Gyros

1Lb Lean Ground Beef, Ground Pork or Ground Lamb
1 Large Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 TableSpoon Oregano
1/2 TableSpoon Marjoram
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tomato
1 Cucumber
Pita Bread

Chop the half of the onion and the garlic in a food processor. Add the meat, oregano, marjoram, black pepper, and the salt and and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Form a square shape with the meat and place in a ovenproof glassware. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the meat in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the meat over and cook for 10 minutes more or until the meat is browned. Cut the meat into 1/4 inch thick strips. Dice the remaining half of the onion. Dice the tomato. Peel the cucumber and slice in half. Slice into thin strips one half of the cucumber. Place about 6 slices of cucumber over the pita bread. Add several strips of cooked meat. Add a several spoonful of  diced tomatoes and diced onion. Cover with two o three tablespoons of tzatziki sauce. Fold the pita bread into a roll and wrap in aluminum foil. Edit — I recently tried this recipe with ground pork, and I think it tastes better than ground beef.

For Tzatziki Sauce

1 Cup Unsweetened Plain Yougurt
1/2 Cup Dice Cucumber
2 TableSpoons Sweet Pickles Relish (optional)
1 TableSpoon Fresh Dill
1 TableSpoon Fresh Mint
1 Dash Garlic Powder

1 Dash Salt

Add the yogurt to a mixing bowl. Core the remaining half of the cucumber. Dice the cucumber and add to the bowl. Finely mince the dill and the mint. Add the relish, dill, mint, and garlic powder into the bowl. Mix all the ingredients. Salt according to taste. The sauce tastes better when you let it rest. This lets the ingredient flavors blend.

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Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

May 19 2010

Hummus is a very popular Middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas and tahini. It is used as a dip for pita bread or vegetables. It can be a side order or sauce to a main course. I personally use it as a spread my everyday sandwiches, instead of using mayonnaise. It is much healthier since hummus is a good source of Iron, Vitamin C, Folic Acid. It is also high in Fiber. Even though you can buy hummus in any store nowadays, the hummus they sell is not as nutritious. I prefer to make my own.

Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

There are two way to make hummus. You can use dried chickpeas and take about a day to make the recipe, or you can use canned chickpeas and take several minutes. The longer method takes better, but for most cooks don’t have the time. I also do a variant of hummus that includes garlic and fire roasted tomatoes. I love the smoke flavor that is achieved by the fire roasted tomatoes and the bite from the garlic.

For Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

1 Cup Dried Chickpeas or a 15 Oz Canned Chickpeas
2 Fresh Tomatoes or a 15 Oz Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes.
1 Minced Clove of Garlic
2 Tablespoons of Tahini
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1 Lime
Paprika
Salt

If you are using canned chickpeas you may skip ahead.  First you have to clean the dried chickpeas from dirt and rocks they might have. Wash the chickpeas several times until the water is clean. Let soak in water overnight. Be sure to change the water at least once. The chickpeas will be double in size the next day. Wash them again. Add them to a large boiling pot. Cover them with water and bring to a boil. Cook them for 1 and 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are really soft. Be sure not to add salt to the water or the chickpeas will turn out hard. Drain the chickpeas but reserve the cooking water. Put the prepared or canned chickpeas into a food processor, but reserve some for the garnish. Put the fresh tomatoes into a toaster oven an toast them until the skin is dark with blacken spots. You can also use ready made fire roasted canned tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes and add to the food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, lime and cumin to food processor.  Blend into a smooth paste. Add some of the reserve cooking water until you have the desired constancy. Some people prefer a thick dip and some prefer a softer one. Salt the dip according to taste. Place the hummus in a serving bowl. Add a dash of paprika. Place the reserved chickpeas as garnish. Server with vegetables, pita bread, or use as a sandwich spread. You can do a more traditional hummus omitting the tomatoes, garlic, and the cumin.

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Now Printer Friendly

May 18 2010

Since I know some of you are printing out the recipes. I included a printer friendly version link at the end of each post. Just click on “Print this Post.”

If you like the site please leave me a comment. I would be glad to know if you enjoyed the recipes. If you make them, tell me how they turned out. I really appreciate the feedback. You can write comments in either english or spanish.

Finally, if you know someone that would be interested in my blog, go ahead and pass it on. I made it really easy to share the articles with others in your social networks. All you have to do click in the logo of the social network at the end of each post, and the link will do it automatically.

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Taco Bell Tostadas

May 18 2010

If there is one restaurant you will never find in Mexico, it is Taco Bell. There have been two attempts to open franchises in Mexico, and both attempts have failed. The reason for this is that nothing in Taco Bell’s menu resembles Mexican Food. Even though you will see that a Taco Bell has menu many choices, it is usually the same prepared ground meat as the main ingredient. The difference in the menu items is the meat enclosure that can be a hard corn shell, a soft flour tortilla, or a corn basket.

Taco Bell Tostadas

Taco Bell Tostadas

The first time I took my family to Taco Bell I told them not to think about tacos, but to think about deluxe prepared nachos. With that introduction they knew what to expect and surprisingly they enjoyed the meal. I personally like the prepared ground beef that is the basis for most of Taco Bell’s menu.  Even though I know it is a badly Americanized version of a Mexican dish, the same could be said about fast-food Pizza. If you remember the old chihuahua commercials, you know that “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”  After several experiments to find a decent substitute recipe for the ground beef I came with the following. Notice that in the picture I used tostadas which are the same thing as taco shells but flat.

For the Prepared Ground Beef

1 Lb Ground Beef
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon of Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1/2 Cup of water.

Mix the ground beef, flour, chili powder, paprika, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder in a bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. In a large frying pan, add the meat and the water. Cook over medium heat until the ground beef is cooked throughly and browned.

For the Fillings and Shells

1/2 Cup Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Diced Onions
1/2 Cup Red Bell Peppers
1 Cup of Lettuce
1 Cup  Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Can of Baked Beans
Sour Cream
Salsa

12 Tostadas or Taco Shells or Soft Tortillas

Scoop the meat into the Taco Shells. Add Tomatoes, Onions, Lettuce, Red Bell Peppers, Beans and Cheddar Cheese according to personal preference. Add a dollop of cream on top. If you want to spice it up add a spoonful of Salsa. You can use tostadas, or soft flour tortillas to make different types of tacos. If you are throwing a party, you can even use nachos chips and make Deluxe Prepared Nachos with the same ingredients.

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