Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cold Weather Lunch

Amy’s Creamy Tomato Soup...
1 small/medium onion
3 tbsp butter
1 large can Tomato Juice
1 8 oz. Neufchatel Cheese or Cream Cheese
1 1/2 c. Milk
1/2 tsp -1 tsp of basil
3 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes or 2 medium diced tomatoes

Cook chopped onion & garlic in butter in frying pan until onions are clear and soft (but not too long). Add tomato juice and cream cheese. As soon as cream cheese is melted and blended with soup, add spices, milk and tomatoes, heat through. I like to blend it in the blender or food processor in batches to make it a smoother consistency.

Kid-friendly Wheat Bread:
2 3/4 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp rapid rise yeast
3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups warm water (130 F)
3 tbsp. butter
cooking spray
plastic wrap
1 gallon-size zip-lock bag
2 loaf pans

(I'd like to say I took this picture... but I didn't. The recipe the picture comes from sounds delicious too.)

In the zip-lock bag, combine the 2 cups bread flour, yeast, sugar and water and seal the bag. Let the kids squish it for a minute or so. Add salt and butter. Squish squish squish. They're forming the gluten at this point, as well as letting the yeast proof so let them go nuts for a few more minutes.

Add the 2 cups of whole wheat flour and work until well-blended. Turn out onto a clean, floured countertop and work the remaining 3/4 cup bread flour into the dough.
You might not use it all. Things like humidity affect your flour - you'll almost never use the same amount from time to time. When the dough is just barely not-sticky enough that you can knead it without picking it off your hands each time, there is enough flour in it. It should still feel slightly tacky and might even stick to the counter a bit. Too much flour and your bread won't be all fluffy and delicious. Use a spatula or bench scrape to get the sticky bits of flour off the counter and mixed back in with the dough.

Break off a small amount of dough for each child. Together, knead the dough for about 6-8 minutes. It's very relaxing. It should start to feel smooth and elastic in your hands, with a uniform texture and no lumps of flour. Don't tear the dough because it will release all the tiny air bubbles you've trapped inside the dough. Tuck the loose ends under the dough ball so the top stretches out like a skin, and place it on the counter. Spray with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 10 minutes. You can tell the dough is done if you can poke your finger about 1/2 inch into the dough ball and the impression will stay there.

Cut your rested dough into 2 halves. Press out the air bubbles (you can just roll a rolling pin down the dough one time), roll up the dough into a loaf, pinch the seam and place the dough, seam-side-down, in to a greased loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes or until double in size. (For the perfect 'warm place' - let the oven preheat for 1-2 minutes, turn the heat off and put the bread in the warm oven with the door closed. It will be protected from drafts (and kids hands!)

Once the dough has risen, remove plastic wrap. Place in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

When you tap the top of the loaf, it should sound hollow. Then you know your bread is done in the middle. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and turn out onto racks to cool the rest of the way. If you want, brush the top of the loaf with a bit of butter.

No comments: