Month: August 2015

Bread Zen

Earlier this week I was feeling some stress. My most favorite stress-reliever is baking bread. Something about working with my hands, dough stuck to all of my fingers, will always bring me to my happy place. Plus, when it’s over: FRESH BREAD! IMG_0153

My go-to is this recipe, and as I am apt to do I made the loaves according to recipe the first time, and played a little the second go-around.

Julia’s White Bread

adapted from a recipe from Baking with Julia

makes 2 loaves


  • 2 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 7 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, at room temp
  • EVOO to grease rising bowl


  1. Pour 1/2 C of the water into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast & sugar, whisk to blend. Let the mixture rest for about 5 mins, until it’s nice & frothy.

    This is actually the froth with the molasses (darker color).

  2. Using a dough hook, add the remaining 2C of water, & about 3 1/2 C flour to the yeast mixture. Mix on lower speed until combined, then add 3 1/2 C more flour.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and scrape down bowl & hook as needed until the dough begins to come together.
  4. Add the salt, and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. When the dough is mixed, add the butter, gradually, until incorporated. If the dough, begins to come apart here, don’t fret, keep kneading the dough & it will come back together.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball & place it in an oiled bowl. Make sure it is a large enough bowl, since the dough will double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Grease 2 standard-sized loaf pans, and set aside.
  8. When the dough has risen you will want to punch it down to release the air, shape it into another ball, and split that in half, shaping each into a round shape with the edges tucked underneath.
  9. Place each loaf in a pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hour a second time. While the loaves rise, preheat the oven to 375F.  IMG_0956
  10. When the loaves have risen, bake for about 40 minutes until they are honey-brown and make a hollow sound when tapped.

Changing it up:

When I made my second round of bread, I used 1 tbsp of molasses in lieu of the sugar. It got frothy when mixed with the yeast, so I knew it was good-to-go for the bread rising. I did not find that this addition effected the flavor or color of the bread in any way. Other options to try include honey and agave nectar.

All hail fish in a can!

I love fish in a can. Not just tuna, but also salmon, octopus, kippers, anchovies, and yes, sardines. Fish in a can are a delicious, easy, cheap source of protein. Often, I will eat kippers or sardines straight out of the can. But every now-and-again I want to COOK with them: with pasta, in an omelette, the possibilities are practically endless.

Here's a photo from a recent Facebook post of the ingredients of an easy weeknight supper. For the record, I will not buy the squid again (too much ink, not enough squid).

Here’s a photo from a recent Facebook post of the ingredients of an easy weeknight supper. For the record, I will not buy the squid again (too much ink, not enough squid).

Then, every once in awhile I come up with a completely brilliant idea like this one…

Sardine BLT with Black Garlic Mayonnaise

makes 2 sandwiches


  • 4 slices seeded rye bread
  • 1 can of sardines
  • 6 slices of cooked bacon (still warm)
  • 3-4 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce, rinsed and dried
  • 1 plum tomato, sliced thin (about 3 slices for each sandwich)
  • 1 tsp black garlic paste
  • 1/4 C prepared mayonnaise


  1. In a small bowl, combine garlic paste and mayonnaise until blended and smooth. Spread mayonnaise on one side of all 4 slices of bread, as thickly as desired.  IMG_0915
  2. Open the sardines and drain off any oil. Using half of the sardines for each sandwich, arrange sardines on 2 slices of the bread.  IMG_0916
  3. Top sardines with bacon, lettuce, and tomato slices.  IMG_0917IMG_0919IMG_0918
  4. Place second slice of bread atop each sandwich.
  5. Serve sandwich sliced in half, if desired.  IMG_0921

A Dark, Mysterious Dish…

My Black Garlic is finally finished with 40 days of fermenting this weekend! When it was starting to get close I started to brainstorm dishes I could make with these precious, dark, earthy bundles of deliciousness.

Black Garlic butter, Black Garlic infused sea salt, Black Garlic mayo…

You get the idea…

Black Garlic Chicken with Black Rice & Black Beans

Even though Black Garlic & Black Rice are technically Asian in origin, this recipe is actually Latin in inspiration, specifically Cuban. Call it my own weird fusion cuisine.

For the chicken:


  • 8-10 pieces of chicken (I used legs & thighs)
  • 1 head of black garlic, peeled and pureed to a paste
  • 1 C orange juice
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin


  1. Combine garlic, OJ, salt, pepper, & spices. Whisk together to make a marinade.
  2. Spread chicken pieces in a single layer in a 13″X9″ baking dish. Pour marinade over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap & let marinate overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 450F.
  4. Roast the chicken in the lower part of the oven 45 mins-1 hr, spooning the sauce over the chicken during the last 10 mins of cook-time.

Fun Facts about Black Rice:

  • Black rice is black because of the outer coating of black bran on the grain.
  • Black rice is a “superfood” & has more antioxidants than blueberries.
  • Black Rice looks purple when it’s cooked.
  • Black Rice is also known as “tribute rice”, “longevity rice”, and my personal favorite, “forbidden rice” (Remember Lambada, the forbidden dance?) because it was reserved for the Emperors of ancient China.

I’m cooking my inaugural pot of Black Rice according to the package instructions:

  1. Place 1 C of rice in a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 3/4 C water, bring to a boil & stir.
  3. Reduce heat (to low) and simmer 35-45 mins.
  4. Remove from heat & allow to stand covered for 5 mins.
  5. Fluff with a fork & serve.

Slow-Cooked Black Beans Cuban-Style:

Dried beans take a little more prep than canned ones, but they are always much cheaper. Like double the amount for the same price. The soaking & rinsing are instructions you can use any time you are cooking dried beans. There is a quick method with boiling, but I have never had good results with it…


  • 1 pound bag dried black beans
  • 1/4 C sofrito
  • 1 hamhock
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 packets Sazon Goya seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 C chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Pour the dried beans into a large bowl and cover with water. Put the bowl in the fridge 8 hours or overnight to soak.
  2. Before using your soaked beans, rinse them thoroughly, and pick out anything that looks funky (pebbles etc).
  3. Put your soaked beans into a large pot and add sofrito, hammock, spices,and bay leaves. Pour the chicken stock over the beans.
  4. Bring the beans to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer the beans 2 hours, or until tender.
  5. When the beans are cooked, season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Serve this dark, delicious dish with some freshly-sliced avocado (for a pop of color).

Black Garlic Bonanza! #itsalive

My journey making Black Garlic is complete! It took 39 days to get to earthy, fermenty perfection.

Here’s a recap in case you forgot…

Black Garlic: To Boldly Go… (NERD ALERT)

Black Garlic Update!

Black Garlic: Week One

Here is a photo of my babies at the 20 day mark...

Here is a photo of my babies at the 20 day mark…

The good news, is the garlic odor did not take over my house as I predicted it would… It would get stinky for a few minutes when I opened the crockpot & unwrapped it. My hands would definitely get pretty stinky when I rotated the cloves so the bottom ones would be on top & vice versa.

Here are the cloves in the mini crockpot on Day 39.

Here are the cloves in the mini crockpot on Day 39…

At this point I started to peel the cloves.

Here's a pile of the little wrinkly babies... Aren't they CUTE?

Here’s a pile of the little wrinkly babies… Aren’t they CUTE?

Now, you can keep the cloves intact, throw them in a container in your fridge and use them in the place of regular garlic. I decided to make a Black Garlic paste for various future applications…

Black Garlic Paste

This Black Garlic paste has a salty pungent taste, not unlike fish sauce. Seasoning with salt whenever you cook with garlic is a good idea. I find that the salt “sets off” the flavors in the garlic. That is especially true here.


  • 2 heads of Black Garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp warm water


  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender.
  2. Process or blend until smooth.
  3. Use sparingly. A little bit goes a long way.

This Black Garlic dip was a big hit at a recent shindig I attended…

Addictive Black Garlic Dip


  • 8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp finely minced chives
  • 2 cloves Black Garlic, minced or 2 teaspoons (not a tsp, the kind of teaspoon you eat with) Black Garlic Paste (see above)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all ingredients.
  2. Mix using the paddle attachment until combined.
  3. Serve chilled with crackers or chips.

For more fermenty food ideas, check out my Pinterest board, “IT’S ALIVE!!!”