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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lets Bake! Sourdough English Muffins

My sister gave me some sourdough starter back on Mother's Day and I have been having so much fun baking things with it.  4th of July weekend, my family came to stay with us and I/we made Sourdough Crackers (yes, crackers!) and these Sourdough English Muffins my sister has been making.  YUM!

These muffins come together so easily and they turn out crispy on the outside,fluffy on the inside with that fabulous, tangy flavor only sourdough can deliver.  They remind me of the Australian Toaster Biscuits that were popular for awhile (and which I haven't seen in my local grocery store for at least a few years now).  One thing about working with sourdough, you need to allow more time than you would for other types of breads.  In this case, making the dough the afternoon before and finishing the muffins the following morning.  They are super easy to make though and once you've made your own, you'll never want store-bought again!

Start by placing milk and butter in a microwave safe container and microwaving it on high for just 30 seconds - you actually don't want the butter to melt, just to soften a bit.  Much as with good pie crust or puff pastry, those bits of butter are what creates the unique texture of an English Muffin.  You need all those fabulous nooks and crannies so your butter can melt into them.  You'll mix in salt, honey (or sugar), and some yeast into that until it's all incorporated and then add your flour.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter until the following morning (which is when the fun really begins).

In the morning, you'll gather the dough into a ball, cut the dough into rounds using a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter and let them sit for 30 minutes before cooking them, They'll look like this:

Believe it or not, you don't bake them, you cook them on a griddle or in a cast iron skillet.

Before you know it you have a stack of English Muffins, right off the griddle, hot and ready for butter, jam or whatever you like!

I made a video of the process too, I hope you find it helpful:

We made Egg, Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches with them - they were so good!

I hope you'll try these out and let me know how they turn out or if you put your own special twist on the recipe.  Speaking of the recipe:

Sourdough English Muffins

2/3 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Sourdough Starter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 TBLS honey (or sugar)
1 Cup flour (I used bread flour)

Measure milk and butter into a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Measure sourdough starter into a large mixing bowl and add the milk and butter, salt, yeast and honey (or sugar).  Mix well.  Add flour and mix well.  The dough may be sticky at this point, that's ok.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight (or at least until it doubles in size).

The next morning, gather the dough into a ball and knead more flour into it as needed (depending on the moisture content of your starter) until it comes together in a soft ball (think biscuit or scone texture).  Dust a cutting board or other working surface with flour or cornmeal (I used semolina flour) and turn the dough out onto the board.  Pat it into a flat disc, dust with flour or cornmeal, and using a rolling pin, gently roll it to about 1/2 inch thickness .  Cut into discs with a large, round cookie or biscuit cutter and set cut discs aside - being sure to dust them fully with cornmeal or flour. Re-form the pieces of dough into another ball and repeat until all the dough has been formed into discs, forming the final muffin by hand and flattening slightly with the rolling pin.  Let cut muffins rest uncovered for 30 minutes.

Preheat a griddle or cast iron skillet to medium-low heat.  Place muffins on preheated griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides.  Remove from heat, split with a fork and serve hot.

Until next time - Ciao!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Haul: Seafood City

This has been a great, foodie week for me.  I got to do not one, but two hauls!  Unfortunately, I've had some technical difficulties with the first haul and now it may never get posted.  Fortunately, the second haul went just fine and it's all ready to share with you!

Please let me know if there are ethnic stores you'd like me to check out.  I'd love to hear about your experiences to, so please do comment below!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Casual Enteraining: Ice Cream Sandwiches

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July holiday!  My family spent the whole weekend at our house so we had a house full and I feel like we did nothing but cook, eat, clean up and start all over again.  It's not entirely true, but not too far off the mark either.

These Ice Cream Sandwiches really hit the spot.  You can't beat ice cream for cooling you off in the summer!  They were small enough to be perfect for those who wanted a small bite of sweet after a full meal, but also small enough that you didn't feel guilty if you ate more than one (not that any of us would do such a thing!).

The key to these lovely treats is finding the perfect cookie.  One that is thin and crunchy, but not too delicate.  You can bake your own or save time, like we did, and use store-bought.  There are a couple of brands I really like for these - Marie is at the top of my list, followed closely by Nabisco Famous Wafers (which, sadly, I haven't been able to find lately), there are some other really great "biscuit" style cookies that work for these too, but I'm sorry to say the brand names aren't coming to mind right now.  For our 4th of July treats, we used Marie and Nyakers (these were Ginger Snaps) - both of which I happened to purchase at Cost Plus World Market on one of my Hauls.

This is the first time I've dressed them up around the edges with ice cream toppings.  I used salted, roasted peanuts that I chopped and miniature chocolate chips.  I especially enjoyed the addition of the nuts, they provided a nice balance with the sweet, creamy ice cream, the crunchy, slightly sweet cookies and that lovely, salty touch of nuts!

I shot some video when I made them - hope you enjoy it!

Do you have any treats you like to cool off with during the summer?  I'd love to hear about them!

Until next time - Ciao!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cost Plus Haul #2 and Tasting

I couldn't resist, I went back to Cost Plus World Market and picked up a bunch more goodies to try. This time around, I decide to combine the Haul with a Tasting video too.  I hope you enjoy it!

Please do let me know which stores you find irresistible - whether it's for new snacks and new foods to try, favorite beverages, or great stuff for your kitchen (or home), I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Quick Fix: Queso Fundido

I made this version of Queso Fundido on May 4.  Yep, I was a day early, I just couldn't seem to get my Cinco de Mayo on soon enough, so I made Tex Mex at home a couple nights in a row!

I posted pictures of the finished and garnished Queso Fundido online and received a couple of requests for a video, so here it is, request honored:

This version is a bit different than the one I posted years ago it's got a lot less ingredients and you can whip it up in a jiffy for unexpected company or a quick and easy appetizer after a long day.  The video shows a full batch, but you can easily reduce the amount of servings - just go ahead and cook up all of your Chorizo and onion, place only what you need in an oven safe dish or a small cast-iron skillet, top it with your choice of cheese and bake as directed.  You can store the extra chorizo in the fridge and make more another day or freeze it for use in casseroles, soups, etc.

Play with this recipe! If you'd like to add bell pepper or hot peppers, throw them in with the onions. You can squeeze some lime in before you add the cheese too - I really like to squeeze it on top right before I eat it.  Can't find Chorizo where you are, use your favorite Italian sausage or a spicy breakfast sausage.  Use your favorite cheeses - one that melts really well and one that is tangy or sharp is really nice.  If you like it creamier, add a little cream cheese too.  Have fun and until next time - Ciao!

Queso Fundido

16 oz Bulk Chorizo Sausage
1/2 Medium Onion, chopped
8 oz Queso Quesadilla
8 oz Pepper Jack
1 handful Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 handful Ripe Olives, chopped (optional)
Sour Cream to taste (optional)
1 Lime, cut into wedges and served on the side (optional)

This Queso Fundido is a bit different than