Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bibbity Bobbity Boo

Guys.  All is right in the world again. It was touch and go there for awhile, what with the dishwasher being broken and the wine surplus being absolutely depleted, I found myself wondering what was left to live for in life. BUT it’s fancy flippin’ Thursday and you know what, ALLS WELL! 

The dishwasher is FIXED!  (Yes, victory for the Polish, this time our landlord got it right, folks!) 

Brian brought home a bottle of pinot, to hold me over. Bless his heart.

AND he ALSO put on a VELVET blazer today. SOME FANCY THURSDAY we got goin’ here!  It may as well be tuxedo Thursday at the rate he’s going!  

Deep, happy, content sigh.  Even though I’m wearing a bra, and clean knickers, I am still happy.  (I mean ok, I don’t want you to think that clean knickers aren’t the standard here people…)

So anyway, I was flippin’ through the old desktop picture book, looking at photos from the last 2 years of life and I came across the photos that inspired me to start the blog: Our Halloween dinner party from last year.  While we aren’t having one this year (just too much going on this weekend!)  I still wanted to ‘get in the spirit’ with dinner at least once this week.  So naturally, where do I go when I want to be inspired?  When I want to feel the creativity wash over me like a warm blanket? DUH.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really enjoy the idea of Halloween dinners that look gory. Who eats food that looks like brains and shit?  I don’t.  That is why Halloween is sort of limiting.  You know, there are a TON of ideas for making Halloween dinners out there… but the problem is, I don’t want to eat ghoul fingers, baked bats, shriveled brains or spider things.  I want to eat yummy looking food that happens to be associated with Halloween without making me want to barf.

So I stick to the ghost, pumpkin, fall harvest Halloween palate.  Bless Martha’s heart, she’s got something for all of us.  While sorting through ghoul fingers and brains I found mashed potatoes in the shape of ghosts and pumpkins. 

YEAS MARTHA!  That is a little more kindergarten, and I appreciate it. So, potatoes 2 ways!

Sweet Potato Pumpkins and Mashed Potato Ghosts

2 sweet potatoes
4 russet potatoes
½ cup milk
1 head roasted garlic
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt, pepper
1 stick butter
Peppercorns for the eyes
Mint for the stem

Peel and roughly chop both the potatoes and cover with cool water.  Generously salt and bring to a boil. (you can boil these separately, I was being lazy and boiled them in the same pot.  No harm here)
When they are easily pierced with a fork, they are done.  Remove and separate them into different bowls.  To the russet potatoes add milk, ½ stick of butter, salt, pepper, and the entire head of roasted garlic.  Mix until it’s smooth.

For the sweet potatoes, add the brown sugar, half stick of butter, a splash of milk and the nutmeg.  Blend until smooth. 

Now put the potatoes in a plastic bag or a piping bag, and snip the tip.  The piping takes a little practice but isn’t too hard.  Make a few messy ghosts first, you’ll get the hang of it!

 To garnish, use the peppercorns as the eyes of the ghost, and the mint leaf as the leaf of the pumpkin.  Halloween for grown-ups. Bibbity Bobbity Boo. Now go put on a bra, before you scare someone to death!



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holy Havarti.

Let’s talk about fall.  It’s getting pretty cool outside here in Chicago, and when that happens, I revert to what I like to call, hibernation dinner.  This basically is a dinner of mainly hot cheese and carbs.  It comes in all forms, pasta with cheese, bread with cheese, potatoes with cheese, and squash with cheese. (It takes everything I have not to call the plural of squash, squeeshes)

Since fall season has brought with it an abundance of funny looking squeeshes, I decided it was time to stuff one.  With bread and cheese.  

Do you know just how nutty winter squash is when it’s roasted for hours? So nutty.

Winter Squash, with a Havarti, Mascarpone, and Parmesan Mushroom Stuffing 

2 winter squash (squeeshes)
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 small chopped onion
3 tablespoons butter
4 slices dried bread (white, wheat, whatever)
1 cup grated Havarti
½ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup Mascarpone
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 egg

Hallow out your squash by cutting the top off of it and just a small portion of the bottom so that the squash stays stable on the cutting board.  Try not to cut a hole in the bottom.  Spoon out the seeds and membrane and discard.  

Saute the mushrooms and onion in the butter over medium heat until just barely translucent- 10 minutes.  Mix the 3 cheeses, egg, and nutmeg together.  Add the mushroom and onion mixture to the cheese mixture.  Dice the day old bread in small cubes.

Layer the cheese mixture and the bread inside of the squash alternately starting with the cheese.  

When the squash is full, place the top back on, and cook at 375 for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the squash is tender to the fork.

That nutmeg is going to change your life. Mark my words.

Happy Hibernation dinner!



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

She's got you wrapped around her finger....

Pumpkin French Toast with Cranberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream. 

Sweet Martha.

Yea. I just said that.  That happened in my kitchen.  The skies opened, the Marthas descended.  And out popped pumpkin French toast SO GOOD, you could just call it quits right there at that plate.  Just give it up, there is no way you’re going to love life more than this moment right here.

Well, that’s what I kept telling myself as I practically assaulted that plate of incredible breakfast delight.  It all started from a morning stroll at the farmers market.  (Doesn’t it always seem to start there? It does for me…)  

I am walking along, minding my own business, thinking about blood oranges and how badly I want them, and BOOM.  The cranberries are here.  No, not the band ( Trust me, I would have FLIPPED OUT with joy and started singing ‘zombie’)  The first cranberries of the season, are right here in Lincoln Park’s Farmers Market! 

I knew what it meant.  It meant a culinary marriage so beautiful you had to think twice about it.   Are you sure?  Cranberries with pumpkin French toast?  Was Martha incarcerated?!?!! YEAS I am sure!  

Put on your stretchy pants. And welcome, to fat kid heaven.  

Pumpkin French Toast with Cranberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cranberry puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup mascarpone
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 3/4 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
8 slices day old brioche, sliced 1/2-inch thick
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pint cranberries
Confectioners' sugar
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Combine sugar, 1 cup of cranberries and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, until the cranberries start to burst. Turn the heat to low and let simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy and the cranberries easily fall apart. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Let come to room temperature. 

French Toast: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put a baking sheet in the oven. 

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt in a large baking dish until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, ground spices, milk, 1/4 cup of the heavy cream, vanilla and rum and whisk until smooth. 

Put 4 slices of the bread in the custard mixture and let sit for 2 minutes. Carefully turn over the slices and let sit until the bread is completely soaked through, about 2 more minutes. 

While the bread is soaking, heat 3 tablespoons of the in a large pan over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to sizzle. Cook the 4 slices of the bread until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and continue cooking until the bottom is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Remove to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Wipe out the pan with paper towels and repeat the process with the butter and remaining 4 pieces of bread. 

Combine the mascarpone and remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a bowl and using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat until fluffy and smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and fold in the cranberry reduction. 

Remove the French toast from the oven and arrange them on a serving platter. Top 4 slices of the toast with a large spoonful of the cranberry mascarpone and some of the cranberries. 

Hold your breath.  Try to stop the tears. Running, down, your face. I know it.  Run to your nearest market and find the cranberries.  They’re heeerrrrreeeee!



Monday, October 25, 2010

Just for Funfetti.

Happy World Pasta Day!  I love a day where people just celebrate the heck out of carbs.  That, is my kind of day now people!  Speaking of celebrating, there is a lot going on around here.  There’s a lot of blog love floating around in the form of “blog chain mail” Yea, you read right.  Essentially, people all over the blogosphere have been calling out their favorite bloggers to answer questions, and while I hate chain mail, I do love to support the blogs I love and read every day!  Amuse Bouche was lucky enough to be called out by 2 blogs in this chain of blog love, The Weekend Gourmet and Baking without a Box.   
Both Wendy from WG and Amanda from BwoaB have been amazing supporters throughout the growth of Amuse Bouche and these ladies have some fine blogging skills themselves!  

Here’s how it works:  These gals post 8 questions they want their favorite 8 bloggers to answer, and then these choose another 8 questions to ask their favorite 8.  See, chain mail.  Before I answer their questions, and post a few of my own, I’d like to list the blogs that I not only read everyday, but hope to meet some of these bloggers at Foodbuzz Fest pretty soon! 
  1.  My blog crush: Hailey from Hail’s kitchen.  We have similar humor, and damn it the girl can cook!  Now if only we didn’t live so far apart!
  2. Mama Pea from Peas and Thank You.  The girl has 2 kids and once again, always makes me laugh!  I am sure that she will become part of your daily reading routine after reading just one post.
  3. Laurie from Simply Scratch.  She does just that, makes everything from scratch.  It’s a great way to live, and her recipes are spot on.
  4.  Chels and Sues from We are not Martha.  These girls are so creative and they aren’t Martha, but they will certainly go down trying.
  5. Jacob from Jacob’s Kitchen.  He makes well conceptualized meals, and his photography is gorgeous! Love him!
  6.  Mary and clan from Food o' del mundo.  Mary started a food blog with her rather large family as a way to keep everyone involved when they live so far apart.  Amazing concept, interesting food.
  7. Betsy and Joe from Project NEW-lyweds.  These guys are too cute, they made a blog to document doing something new together everyday in their first year of marriage, and it naturally evolved into mainly a cooking blog.  They do other fun things too!
  8. Lori Lynn at Taste with the Eyes.  Lori Lynn has a gorgeous blog and all of her food makes me swoon.

I hope you check each of these bloggers out, they make my reading day! 

The questions I would like for you amazing bloggers to answer are: 

  1. You are out of wine.  How many days do you allow this to go on?
  2. You are out of eggs and powdered sugar.  How do you frost your cupcakes?
  3. You have to eat 1 food group for the rest of your life. What is it? 
  4. Your children are hungry and you have more than a slight buzz from that half bottle you drank after a bad day at work.  What is for dinner, mommy/Jacob & Joe? BHAHAHA!
  5. Who’s the better cook, your mom, or mother in law? (I know, I’m an asshole)
  6. You’re having a blogger party, who are you most excited to meet?
  7. You’ve died and gone to the pearly gates of food heaven.  Which foodie greets you as "Foodie God”?
  8. True or False, Some days, you just want to have a wine dinner. Just wine.

So there you have it guys, if you are interested in playing along, please answer those questions and pick 8 more of your own to pass on.  If not, I promise my feelings won’t be hurt, I know this isn’t for everyone.  And there will be wine to console me if you ignore me.

Now to answer the questions that were asked of me!  Amanda asked:
  1. What's your all-time favorite "to die for" dessert?  It is called the ice cream sandwich. Ask my mom, I had an issue with these when I was little.  Like a, “We just bought this box yesterday, where are all the ice cream sandwiches?” kind of problem.
  2. If you could meet any celebrity chef and spend a day with them, who would you pick? DUH MARTHA  FLIPPIN STEWART!
  3. Favorite fair food?  You know you've got one. MMM. Do they sell wine at carnivals?  Ok, fine, I like corndogs, I just can’t eat them unless theyre all beef, and you and I both know the people working that carnie cart have no clue whats in there.
  4. What's your biggest kitchen blooper?  Remember that one time I lit my kitchen on fire during a dinner party? Oh yea, I did that.
  5. Is there any common food that just gives you the icks? Eggplant.
  6.  Your blog is becoming a film a la Julie & Julia, only more wonderful because it's about you.  So who do you cast to play your part?  UH DUH I am playing it!  No one tells a joke like I do, well okay maybe Chelsea Handler can do it...
  7. What's your favorite thing in your kitchen right now?  WELL ITS NOT MY DISHWASHER BECAUSE ITS BROKEN, I CAN TELL YOU THAT MUCH. It’s world pasta day, so we will go with Gonzo, my pasta attachment.
  8. What's your biggest goal coming up to tackle and conquer?  Well, I think adding a third pet to my home.  You know, Sir Reginald, the sourdough starter…
Wendy asked:
  1.  If you could invite any three people (living or not) to a dinner party at your house, who would you invite…and why?  Martha Stewart, Chelsea Handler, and my best friend Kelley. WHAT a dinner party.
  2. What would be on the dinner menu at this meal? Red Wine, hot pockets, and caviar?
  3. Do you create iTunes playlists to set the mood when you have people for dinner? If so, tell me what songs you especially like. Well duh, see my post on our most recent dinner party for a ready made playlist!
  4. What are your three “go to ingredients” that are always on hand in your kitchen? Garlic, onion, and heavy cream.
  5. What’s your funniest kitchen/cooking disaster? Ok so aside from burning my kitchen down, I’d have to say the one time I allowed Brian to cook. never again.
  6.  What’s your favorite kitchen/cooking success?  Every day is a success. I love every moment in my kitchen!
  7.  If you could be sous-chef-for-a-day for any chef, who would it be…and why? DUH MARTHA FLIPPIN STEWART.  Because she’s the bomb, and LORD knows what we would talk about.  I love that kind of on the fly “How did we end up talking about the pollination of geraniums” shit.
  8. What’s your earliest food memory?  Ice cream sandwiches. Stealing them from the box, one after the other, after the other.
You know, these things, they are all in good fun. Funfetti. BHAAHAHH. Who will give me the award for lamest transition ever?  Who cares.  Make your own damn cupcakes, and get off the box people.  Funfetti is just making cupcakes with sprinkles inside.  So get on out there, and let go of the box!
Funfetti Cupcakes, from cupcake rehab

1 ¼ cups  flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup milk
2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F and line cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.

Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating on low. Then add vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture.
Fold in rainbow sprinkles.Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full.

Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

And boom. Funfetti. Remember that one time when you were out of eggs and powdered sugar?  Just mix nutella and peanut butter.  That is a perfectly fine substitute for frosting. Now go celebrate this amazing blogosphere and show the blogs you read every day some love!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Momma raised me right!

In my house growing up we had some rules people.  They were all pretty much the same, the bottom line being, be a good human and respect your parents authority.

Cause I don't know if you've heard, but Cinbad runs the show.  Anyway, the moral of the story is that I feel the need to tell you that I am an adult now and I still follow these rules, because I was raised right!

The Rules are as follows:

The Golden Rule: Treat others like you would want to be treated. 
Do not sass your momma, FOR ANY reason
And, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all!  

Remember being a rebel of a teen, running to your room and slamming the door, then proceeding to say all the things you knew you couldn't say and ending it with a resounding "SO TAKE THAT!" I did it when I was a kid. So did you. That's part of growing up, and part of life.  

But this here, is my blog.  It's my personal blog.  I write this blog for me, and I know that my recipes or my stories may not be for everyone, but please know that if I read a recipe I didn't like on your blog, I would never comment hateful things to you about it.  So while I want this to be a learning environment, and I TRULY welcome your polite and constructive criticism, if your comments hurt my feelings, I hope you understand that I won't publish them. 

Mom, I am turning into you, and it scares me.

Moving forward with our lives, I know you saw them biscuits yesterday.  I heard you asking what in the world they were.  Well let me tell you, a southern sister does not fix her chili without biscuits.  Cheddar scallion biscuits to be exact.

Cheddar Scallion Biscuits modified from Ina Garten's Recipe in Contessa at Home


1/2 cup Chopped green onion
1 cup cheddar (shredded)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse twice to distribute the ingredients evenly. Scatter the butter over the top of the flour mixture and pulse 4 or 5 times or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and pulse until the mixture just begins to come together.  Add the cheddar and scallions and do not over mix.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Pat the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to make 8 biscuits then place them on the prepared baking sheet. Press together the scraps of dough, and repeat process. Place the biscuits on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper; brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with black pepper. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter. 

So if you'll excuse me, there is red wine waiting... I hope you join me for a friday cocktail too!



Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Can't Be Cheatin' on my Chili, now ya'll...

It is a big freakin’ day.  Martha has blessed us with a lot and its time you give thanks.  Why?

Cause A) it’s fancy Thursday, and I KNOW you got up and shaved your legs today. I know you at least brushed your teeth right?  Good Martha, tell me you have at least changed your underwear!!!

B) 24 years ago, the world graced us with the most honest, sassy, gorgeous, intellehent, talented and FILHARIOUS human in the worldths, Kelley Brooke Carpenter Edelmann. My lifetime biff and lady soulmate, the one who tells me “not to wear them jeans” and that my hair looks gorgeous.  The one who knows how big a wine glass to pour, and the one who would drive 500 miles just to be the gal outside my door. 

Congrats on joining Club 24, enjoy your stay, and for the love of Martha, Kelley, mix yourself a raspberry vodka soda right now to celebrate!

You can’t make this shit up.  That is the face of LOVE right there people.

And C) I am sharing with you a lifetime secret.  I haven’t ever shared the secret to my mother’s chili because it’s in fact pretty easy, but it doesn’t TASTE pretty easy, and I am somewhat of a recipe secret hoarder.  That’s why I started this here blog, to stop hoarding pertinent information that you NEED to move on with your life.  You need to know the secret to this chili.  It will rock your fresh Thursday socks off.

Before we get to the secrets though, I have some apologies to make.  You see, other biff Sarah asked me QUITE some time ago to make a pumpkin chili for her and post it.  I was so excited! Yeas, I will make a pumpkin chili for you sister! Of course!  Except, that every time I started to think “ok time for pumpkin chili” I got all “UGHHHH I don’t WANT pumpkin chili, I want Cinbad’s chili!”  Like a damn toddler saying “NOOO MOM, I want WENDY’S NOT MCDONALD’S!” GOSH! (you don’t give a shit what they want, it’s been 4 days since you’ve showered, you have desitin smeared on your grey sweatpants and a pink scrunchie in your hair from your daughters polly pocket set, and you are one ‘no mom’ away from jumping out of your car) side note, my sister ACTUALLY told her daughter one day that she was going to jump out of the car, the reaction, was priceless.  Let’s just say, my niece did not enjoy that idea.  

Back to the point, I felt like I was cheating on my chili.  Chili season is here.  It’s here whether you are ready for it or not, are you going to start off your chili season with some new broad? You’re seriously going to betray YOUR chili like that? I just couldn’t do it.  I felt like I was choosing someone else's cat over my own.  (and that will happen when Asia freezes over.) So Sarah, I am so sorry, but I can’t be startin’ chili season off on the wrong foot. I need to be starting out the way I know is right, loving old pals first, and makin’ new pals next.  

Cinbad’s Chili
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 cans rotel tomatoes with chilies
2 cans of chili beans
1 McCormick Spice Pack of Original Chili
1 2 Liter of V-8 vegetable juice
1 box whole wheat pasta (I use shells, you use whatever)

So I can see that you look at this recipe and you scoff.  That’s fine, scoff at this semi-homemade chili. If you took a blindfold test you would never know and the secret is THE V-8.  That stuff, is the bomb.

So dice your onion, garlic and pepper and sautee it in the pan over medium high, then add the ground turkey.  You’re using super lean turkey here, so there isn’t going to be any fat to drain off, so you may as well let those veggies get the proper sweat time in.  once your turkey is cooked through, add the spice pack and mix well.  Then add the 2 cans of rotel and the 2 cans of chili beans. (if you aren’t a chili bean person, only add 1 can) 

Give that a good stir and about 5 minutes for the flavors to get on in there and get to know each other.  Then you’re going to add the V-8.  Fill this sucker up pretty high.  You are going to be cooking your pasta in the chili directly, so you want a good amount of liquid without overflowing the pot once you add the pasta.  Turn the heat down to medium low, add the pasta, and put on the lid.  Walk away and come back 20 minutes later, you are going to have the greatest chili EVER just there waiting on you.   This chili begs for cheddar, and cheddar scallion biscuits of course!

So seriously, don’t knock it til you try it, I know it’s not a particularly foodie recipe, but it is a darn good one.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oo De Lally!

A little while back I made a purchase that changed my life.  It revolutionized my thought process, made me excited at the prospect of something more to life, and gave me a renewed belief in humanity.

Rose, well she’s a genius.  That bia knows anything and everything about yeast.  All I know about yeast is that it smells pretty wicked and makes cinnamon rolls magically jump into your mouth.  (tricky little bastards) (I am leaving the yeast jokes at that, get your head out of the gutter, GOOD MARTHA!)

I mean, the first 100 pages of this book, are about starters, technique and equipment. Not a single recipe in the first 100 pages.  Lady is SERIOUS.  So serious that she’s got me thinking starters.

How cool would it be to have my own sourdough starter that I kept alive, and fed just like a pet? Hell, I’d even name it, something regal like “Sir Reginald” or “Little John”.  I may just take the plunge of adding a third pet to our home.  A starter pet. I would whisper encouraging words to it like “Go forth and multiply!” or “Reproduce, my little munchkins!”  
When it came time for Cheesy Clintons, I really wanted a bang out, stick to the roof of your mouth homemade sandwich bread, and Rose gave it to me.  Martha Bless her.  Rose is pretty particular about bread baking, so I wasn’t even going to pretend like I effed around with her recipe.  I read it, and I followed it, and you should too.  Heaven forbid you have a flat loaf and blame Rose.  You better not!  I have this weird feeling from reading her book that she’s sassy. And I like it.

Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf
By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Dough Starter (Sponge)
  • unbleached all-purpose flour (use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury): 2 1/4 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons (12 ounces or 341 grams)
  • water, at room temperature (70° to 90°F) : scant 1 3/4 liquid cups (14.3 ounces or 405 grams)
  • honey: 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1.5 ounces or 45 grams)
  • instant yeast: 3/4 teaspoon (2.4 grams)

  • two 8 1/2-in-4 1/2-inch loaf pans, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil
  • a baking stone OR baking sheet

Flour Mixture and Dough
  • unbleached all-purpose flour (use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury): 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (about 11 ounces or 311 grams)
  • dry milk, preferably nonfat: 1/4 cup (1.5 or 40 grams)
  • instant yeast: 3/4 teaspoon (2.4 grams)
  • unsalted butter, softened: 9 tablespoons (4.5 ounces or 128 grams)
  • salt: 2 1/4 teaspoons (15 grams)
  • Optional: melted butter: 1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces or 14 grams)
1. Make the sponge. In a mixer bowl or other large bowl, combine the flour, water, honey, and instant yeast. Whisk until very smooth, to incorporate air, about 2 minutes. The sponge will be the consistency of a thick batter, Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. 

2. Make the flour mixture and add to the sponge. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour (reserve 1/4 cup if mixing by hand), dry milk, and instant yeast. Sprinkle this on top of the sponge and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (During this time, the sponge will bubble through the flour blanket in places: this is fine.) 

3. Mix the dough.
Mixer Method
Add the butter to the bowl and mix with the dough hook on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid) for 1 minute or until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. Scrape down any bits of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. 

Sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed (#4 KitchenAid) for 7 to 10 minutes. It will not come away from the bowl until the last minute or so of kneading; it will be smooth and shiny and stick to your fingers. With an oiled spatula, scrape down any dough clinging to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is not stiff, knead in a little flour. If it is not at all sticky, spray it with a little water and knead it in. (The dough will weigh about 44.25 ounces/1258 grams.) 

Hand Method
Add the salt and butter to the bowl and, with a wooden spoon or your hand, stir until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then scrape it onto a lightly floured counter. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, enough to develop the gluten structure a little, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point, it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. (This resting time will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)
Knead the dough for another 5 minutes or until it is very smooth and elastic. It should still be tacky (sticky) enough to cling slightly to your fingers a little. If the dough is still very sticky, however, add some of the remaining reserved flour, or a little extra. (The dough will weigh about 44.25 ounces/1258 grams.) 

Both Methods
4. Let the dough rise. Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 4-quart dough-rising container or bowl, lightly oiled with cooking spray or oil. Push down the dough and lightly spray or oil the surface. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Allow the dough to rise (ideally at 75°to 80°F) until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough onto a floured counter and press down on it gently to form a rectangle. It will be full of air and resilient. Try to maintain as many of the air bubbles as possible. Pull out and fold the dough over from all four sides into a tight package, or give it 2 business letter turns and set it back in the container. Again oil the surface, cover, and mark where double the height would now be. (It will fill the container fuller than before because it is puffier with air.) Allow the dough to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until it reaches the mark. 

5. Shape the dough and let it rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and cut it in half. Shape each piece into a loaf: begin by gently pressing the dough (or lightly rolling it with a rolling pin) into a wide rectangle; the exact size is not important at this point. (A long side of the dough should be facing toward you.) Dimple the dough with your fingertips to deflate any large bubbles. Fold over the right side of the dough to a little past the center. Fold over the left side of the dough to overlap it slightly. Press the center overlap section with the side of your hand to seal the dough. (If you have a lot of experience shaping, you may prefer at this point to rotate the dough 90 degrees—a quarter turn.) Starting at the top edge of the dough, roll it over three or four times, until it reaches the bottom edge of the dough: with each roll, press with your thumbs to seal it and at the same time push it away from you slightly to tighten the outer skin. As you roll and press, the dough will become wider. If it is not as long as the pan, place both hands close together on top of the dough and, rolling back and forth, gradually work your way toward the ends, gently stretching the dough. For the most even shape, it is important to keep a tight skin on the surface of the dough and not to tear it. If you want the edges of the loaf to be smooth, tuck the sides under. 

Place the loaves in the prepared loaf pans; the dough will be about 1/2 inch from the top of the pans. Cover them with a large container, or cover them loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and allow to rise until the center is about 1 inch above the sides of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When the dough is pressed with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in. 

6. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F 45 minutes before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it, and a cast-iron skillet or sheet pan on the floor of the oven, before preheating. 

7. Bake the bread. Quickly but gently set the pans on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet. Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately shut the door. Bake for 50 minutes or until medium golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 210°F). Halfway through baking, turn the pans around for even baking. 

8. Glaze and cool the bread. Remove the bread from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Brush the top of the bread with the optional melted butter. Unmold and cool top side up on a wire rack until barely warm, about 1 hour. 

For the best flavor development, in Step 2, allow the sponge to ferment for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerate it for 8 to 24 hours. If using the hand mixing method, remove it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before mixing the dough. 

• If not using the dry milk, you can replace 1 cup of the water with 1 cup milk, preferably nonfat, scalded (brought to the boiling point) and cooled to lukewarm. 

A greater amount of sponge dough starter (pre-ferment) offers a fuller flavor in this “plain” bread, so almost 50 percent of total amount of flour is used in the sponge, compared to the usual 30 percent of hearth breads.
If using liquid milk, it is scalded to deactivate the enzyme in it that could make the dough sticky. 

Baking the bread at too high a temperature, would result in too thin a crust, which would cause keyholing, or caving in at the sides of the loaf. Therefore, this bread is baked at 350°F. It is also important for the bread to be thoroughly baked so that the crust is firm enough to prevent it from compressing. The loaves should not be cut until completely cool for the same reason. 

Wow, you’re still here?  Well, I hope you’re inspired to go make your own loaf, and maybe even inspired to have a starter of your own too.  Tomorrow I have a super special surprise for you.  It is the ONLY family recipe that I have. The only one. The lonestar.  Holdin’ down the fort, all by himself.  I’ll give you a hint. 
Whats brown with beans and spicy all over?