Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

We usually make this with only whole wheat flour, but since Sneaky Mouse ate some of our whole wheat flour, I used a 50/50 mixture of regular whole wheat flour and white bread flour for the last batch, which resulted in a lighter, higher loaf. Our usual practice of using all whole wheat in this recipe makes a dense, flavorful loaf, which is excellent toasted and slathered with butter. Do as you desire with the flour; if you're finicky about 100% whole wheat taste or dense texture, then use a proportion of white flour to suit.

The molasses isn't too pronounced, but it adds a nice, deep flavor.

3 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses (I usually add a tad more; we use unsulphered, dark, blackstrap, but other types can be substituted)
2 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
about 8 cups flour; either all whole wheat or a mixture of wheat and white (all-purpose flour or bread flour; if using all-purpose, you can also add a tablespoon of wheat gluten per loaf, if desired)

In a small saucepan, combine milk, butter, salt, honey, and molasses. Heat and stir until warm and blended. Remove from heat and cool until warm but not hot. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Pour liquids from saucepan into large bowl and add yeast. Let proof until foamy on top. Stir in some of the flour and beat well. Dough will be quite soft and very sticky. Stir in remaining flour and knead until smooth and elastic, adding a bit of extra flour as needed to knead (but only just enough). Let rise in covered, greased bowl until doubled. Punch down and shape into two loaves. Place in two well-greased pans, cover, and let rise until almost doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Greek Chicken Souvlaki Salad

I intended to try ecookbook's recipe first, but our computer was broken, so I tweaked and combined several recipes instead. It was yummy, and with even further tweaking, I think it'll be sublime. This is a Greek salad topped with marinated chicken strips and served with warm pita bread.

Marinated Chicken

2 tsp. dried oregano (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Marinate overnight or for up to three days. (The longer you marinate it, the more flavorful and moist the chicken will be, but if time constrains, marinate it for a couple of hours before cooking.)

After marinating, grill the chicken until it's slightly charred (our preference) or broil in your oven in a lightly oiled broiler pan until done. Cut chicken into strips and use to top the salad.

Mixed salad greens (We toss mesculin mix with dark romaine)
Cucumbers, peeled and sliced, as many as desired
Tomatoes, chopped, as many as desired
Feta cheese, crumbled (a must!!!!!)
Red Onion, sliced into rings or chopped
Hot pepperoncinis (John loves these, but I skip them)
Kalamata olives, if desired (we both skip these)

Mix salad greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Top individual plates with lots of crumbled feta, red onion, and a few pepperoncinis and olives, if desired. Top salad with chicken strips, drizzle with Greek dressing, and serve with warm pita bread. (One can eat the pita separately, though it's not recommended, or break it into pieces and eat it with the salad, or stuff the salad inside the pita, or....you decide.) If desired, serve tzaziki on the side.

Greek Salad Dressing
recipe below

Warm Pita Bread

Confession: The only time I made pita bread, though good (what bread isn't?), my results were less than stellar, so I just made naan instead this time. If anyone has a good pita bread recipe, let me know!

Greek Salad Dressing

This is a fairly standard Greek dressing; as with all dressings, tweak and add ingredients to taste.

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced, then crushed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard (I just used a pinch of dry mustard)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar (I used a bit more, to taste)
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. basil, or to taste
1/4 tsp. oregano, or to taste
If desired, a dash of thyme and a bit of grated parmesan cheese.
(I added about a tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese.)

Mix together and shake well.


I tried this one, too, and it's good.
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used a mixture of vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, and a bit more of it)
2 tablespoons water
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. sugar, or to taste
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 and 1/2 to 3 teaspoons crumbled feta cheese

Shake well and drizzle over.

Tzaziki (Garlic Cucumber Sauce)

This is a classic Greek accompaniment, usually served with pita wedges or on the side with Greek dishes. We have our souvlaki without it, but just in case you prefer souvlaki with tzaziki (too fun to say), here's a recipe.

1 large cucumber, peeled and cut lengthwise, with seeds removed
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup sour cream (OR use plain yogurt)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons fresh dill, minced (or a few shakes of dried dillweed)
4 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
*This can be made without the dill entirely, or with mint substituted for the dill, to taste.

Grate the cucumber into a small bowl and squeeze between paper towels several times to remove excess moisture. Stir in remaining ingredients and blend well; if desired, blend in food processor. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour and serve with pita wedges, etc.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Spicy Popcorn Chicken OR Spicy Chicken Breasts

We use these in salad-filled bread bowls, or, in the case of Phil and Heidi's visit, overbaked cracker bowls. (Oops, sez I.) It's a meal that's out of this world.

Mix the following in a small bowl:
1/3 cup hot sauce
2/3 cup water

Sift the following ingredients in a large plate or large, shallow bowl:
1 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2-4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coarse-ground black pepper (or regular)
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
a few healthy, generous dashes of garlic powder

Cut two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into chunks (or the equivalent of self-boned chicken). Coat each chicken piece in the flour mixture, dredge it in the hot pepper sauce, and then coat again in the flour mixture.

Fry in a heavy-bottomed pan or fryer in a few inches of oil until golden brown, light, and crispy and drain on paper towels.

Toss these with your favorite salad greens (we recommend the greenest possible), chopped veggies, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and drizzle with your choice of dressing.

The oil is hot enough for frying when you drop in a pinch of flour, and it immediately sizzles.

The chicken only takes a few short minutes to cook, so fry it in a few small batches to avoid overfilling the pot/fryer.

Be careful not to overheat the oil, or it will begin to scorch and smoke and fill your home with the same.

IF DESIRED, DON'T CUT UP THE CHICKEN BREASTS. This recipe makes excellent spicy chicken sandwiches with chewy, soft rolls, onion, lettuce, tomato, and mayo as accompaniment.