Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Bread Will Change Your Life

After last weekend, in which I basically did nothing but shop for food and cook, I wanted an easy food week. Of course, I am terrible at time management, so while it was easier, I wouldn't say 4 hours in the kitchen is too easy. Why do my recipes always take longer to make than I think they will? Ah well. Husband was very understanding the last few weeks. I really wasn't in the mood for meat (Me not in the mood for meat? Imagine that!), so I went pretty meat-lite. Husband likes his meat, but he was kind of enough not to complain (of course, his mouth could have just been too full of pork bao), so this week I made a crap-ton of chicken. Here's what I made this week:
  • Nutella and roasted hazelnut challah, courtesy of Steamy Kitchen. That's right, nevermind the 5.5 lbs of chicken I made, let's start with dessert. Because really, this bread is fan-frakking-tastic! I haven't had Nutella since I was in high school, and one look at that picture had me running to the store to buy some. This recipe is in two parts: the dough recipe, and the challah recipe. The dough recipe makes a whole lotta bread, probably about 2 large loaves worth. The challah recipe tells you to tear off a piece about the size of a grapefruit, which ended up a loaf of ~8-10 small slices. I liked this idea because now I have dough sitting in my fridge ready for a mid-week treat. This recipe was very easy, though extremely messy. Flour is your friend. And remember when you're letting the final loaf rest before baking, it's best to move it onto the baking sheet first. I let it rest on my cutting board, and the Nutella tried to escape on me! I think I'll make another loaf tonight (because Husband and I polished the first one off almost immediately), though this one we'll take in to work because while it tastes like a gift from the gods, it ain't calorie free. One note on the dough: after I mixed in the 7 cups of flour, the dough was still quite sticky, too sticky to knead with, had the recipe called for it. I figured I'd have to mix in more flour after its overnight rise, but to my surprise the next day it was completely workable. Just make sure to flour your hands.
  • Chicken Mirabella, courtesy of Serious Eats. This is my one of my boss's favorite dishes. She goes on and on about the chicken mirabella she got a few times from one of those places that sells food already prepped, you just take it home and cook it. So when I found this recipe, I immediately sent it to her. She still hasn't tried it, but it was one of the first recipes that came to mind when I decided it was going to be a chicken week. I didn't use whole chickens. I ended up using 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I think I only ended up baking them for about 45 or 50 minutes, and that worked great. I also forgot to marinate them overnight, but they still got a good 8-9 hours of marinade time, so I think it was enough. Now I'm not a big fan of chicken, so you won't be hearing the words delicious or fantastic, but I'll say it turned out good. It's moist and flavorful. Should I make this again, which I think I will, I would add more olives, just because I love them. This recipe seems like it would be good for entertaining, a crowd pleaser.
  • Whole wheat pasta with roasted red pepper sauce, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. I had this on the side of the Chicken Mirabella. I'm not really satisfied with how these flavors went together, but I think the sauce still turned out good. I used half and half instead of cream and threw in some peas and asparagus for added veggies, and a ton of fresh basil because I had bought a whole big bunch at the store. Overall, I think it turned out a tad bland. It's still a good recipe, but it needs....something. Maybe some acid? I think I miss the acid that would come from a tomato sauce. Ah well, it's something to play around with.
  • Chicken Scallopine, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. If there's one way I like chicken, it's breaded and fried. Of course, I'll take covered in flour and cooked in a bit of butter if that's the best I can do. Again, I used half and half instead of cream. I think the sauce could have used the cream though. It was also a little bland. What I really should have done was let it cook off more. The recipe said to only let it cook off for a minute, but after a minute it was still very watery. I think 5-10 minutes would have yielded a nicer, more concentrated flavor. Ah well, next time. Also, I would about triple the mushrooms. I prefer a much higher mushroom to chicken ratio when I can help it. I also served this over some whole wheat pasta. Yum! Oh, also, I only used 4 chicken breasts instead of 6, but they were huge, so it probably ended up being the same amount. Hammering them out was a lot of noisy, noisy fun. My puppy did not approve.
  • I was inspired to do a light salad on the side of the chicken scallopine based on this recipe. I cut up some cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, an orange bell pepper, and a cucumber. I added some very thinly sliced red onion and a ton of chopped fresh basil. I should have left it at that, but I decided to add some olive oil and raspberry vinegar. Even though I went light on it, I didn't like how the flavor turned out. I'm really not big into salad dressing, I just didn't realize how much until now. I offset the dressing flavor by adding some goat cheese. Goat cheese really does make everything better.

My favorite part of making the challah was Husband's reaction to both the Nutella and the finished bread. When I told him about the recipe he sounded pretty indifferent. He said it sounded pretty good, but he really didn't like Nutella by itself. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. How could my chocolate and nut-loving husband not like Nutella? What's not to like!? Well after I was done smearing gobs of Nutella into the challah, I started to lick off the spoon. I love Nutella, so there may have been some moaning involved. Husband came running to my noises of pleasure and demanded to be let in on the delicious action. I reminded him that he didn't like Nutella plain, and he said he was willing to give it another try. After I was able to wrestle the jar back from him (for after one lick of my spoon, he delved it back into the jar for more), I called BS on his lie! Of course he liked the Nutella, just as I knew he should have! He claims it doesn't taste like he remembers. I think his brain must have holes in it.

Next weekend I'm having a few friends over for a 4th of July BBQ. On the menu are hamburgers, hot dogs, bbq chicken, panzanella, roasted mustard potatoes, strawberry shortcake, and apple pie. Yum! Oh, I'm also going to try my hand at making my own hamburger/hotdog buns. Don't worry, I'm going to buy some at the store for backup. I'm hoping I'll have enough food left over to pick at during the week because after all that food, I really don't think I'll want to make any more the next day. Heh.


Anonymous said...

Yipes! Thanks for the link to that bread. I think I've figured out what I'll be making this weekend! :)

JuLo said...

Let me know how you like it!

I'm desperately trying to resist trying your pepperoni bread. Man oh man that looks delicious, but terrible for my waistline. Hehe.