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Day-Old (and Older) Bread

by Jane Wangersky May 16th, 2014| Cooking Basics
bread-623_640There's nothing quite like freshly baked bread, but the magic fades all too quickly. By the time the bread's a day old, the taste and texture are on a one-way downhill trip.  After several days, bread's simply too dry and flavorless to put in a sandwich -- but that doesn't mean it can't still be used in other ways. So there's no need to throw it out, unless of course it's sprouting strangely colored spots. Until that happens, the bread's still safe to eat.

When using stale bread for cooking, you can either take the dryness and run with it,
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Barbecue French Toast

by Jane Wangersky May 15th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
file561253238589French toast, despite the name, exists in some form in every country where people ever had any leftover bread that was beginning to get stale -- in other words, every country in the world. In France, it's called pain perdu or lost/wasted bread, though it's more like bread that's  been saved from being lost or wasted. It's a good dish not only for using up excess bread, but for disguising breakfast eggs for the benefit of people who don't want to look them in the face first thing in the morning.

We usually think  of French toast as sweet, to
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Quick Hot Breakfasts

by Jane Wangersky May 2nd, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
fried-eggs-74335_640Though there are plenty of reasons not to eat cereal for breakfast -- many cereals are starchy, sugary, and full of chemicals -- what probably decides most people in favor of it is the sheer convenience. Pour it in, pour in the milk, that's it.

But by taking just a few more minutes, you can make yourself a hot breakfast with a lot less sugar and more fresh ingredients. (Notice I'm not saying it's low fat or high fiber, but you can't have everything, at least not at breakfast time.) What's more, you can do it with foods you most
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Keeping Bread Fresh

by Elizabeth Skipper April 16th, 2014| Ask the Chef
bread-228939_640When I bake my own bread, it initially has a crusty exterior and chewy interior.  However, after storing it, it loses the crusty exterior. Is there a proper way to store bread to help keep the texture?

Bread is never better than when it's freshly baked. The aroma, the crackly crust, the contrasting chewy or soft interior... if only there were a way to maintain those characteristics. Alas, they are fleeting.

Is there a proper way to store bread to keep the texture? Sort of, although no method will keep it "fresh" for long. The one thing you definitely don't want
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Cracklin Corn Pone Bread

by BnB Finder April 8th, 2014| Best BnB Bites, Recipes
Crackling Corn Pone BreadAlthough our last recipe from Big Mill Bed and Breakfast featured couscous, a somewhat exotic North African ingredient, a lot of down home cooking also goes on in that place. This recipe for home baked corn pone uses cracklins -- pork rind, as they may be called where you live -- which you can either chop or grind to suit your own taste. This is one of those simple home baked dishes that are so good you could eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three! They'd make a good snack, too.  You'll find the Big
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Breadcrumbs: Easy and Handy

by Elizabeth Skipper April 2nd, 2014| Ask the Chef
breaded shrimp

I would like to make my own breadcrumbs.  Is it as simple as placing bread in a food processor? Do I need to season or toast them?  Any insight is appreciated!


Making your own breadcrumbs is easy, especially with a food processor. Older recipes call for making them with a rolling pin or a grater, and that's time-consuming; but with a food processor, it goes quickly. It can also be done in multiple smaller batches with an appliance like a coffee grinder, which is the way I usually do it for smaller amounts.

For years, I'd collect my stale bread
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Italian Cracked Wheat Bread

by BnB Finder April 1st, 2014| Best BnB Bites, Recipes
Italian Cracked Wheat BreadHere's a great old-fashioned bread recipe that's well worth the time it takes -- try this for a weekend baking project.  You can use either cracked wheat or bulgur (cracked wheat that's been parboiled). Either one will add nutrients and a slightly nutty taste. Either one will also have to be softened for cooking, so be sure not to skip the boiling water stage. The different kinds of flour in this recipe add up to a unique taste. This is from the Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and "the only one
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Mini Flatbread

by Jane Wangersky March 28th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
flatbreadThis started out as a pita recipe, but somewhere in there my old friend the muffin tin insisted on being included, so I ended up with something less pocket-like but still very good.

To backtrack a little -- when I first read a pita recipe a few years ago, I was surprised to learn I didn’t have to start by forming two layers of dough and joining them together. Each pita comes from a single circle of dough. The dough itself forms the layers by puffing up as it bakes and then collapsing back into a disc.

Before our current Bread
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Muffin Tin Biscuits

by Jane Wangersky March 21st, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
muffin panHome baked biscuits are the next best thing to home baked bread, and they're a lot quicker, because there's no yeast to wait for. Instead, they're leavened by baking powder. Apart from that, all you really need is flour, fat, and milk, plus a touch of salt -- though you can always add other ingredients, either sweet or savory, like cheese, herbs, bits of cooked meat, sugar . . . But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This recipe I've come up with is even quicker than most, because there's no rolling or cutting out the dough. Instead, the biscuits
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Yeast 101

by Jane Wangersky March 20th, 2014| Cooking Basics
yeastLast week I made a quick comment about how important it is to use quick yeast for the rapid bake cycle on your bread machine. (Also what to do if it’s too late -- and by the way, my family did eat all the fried bread shards with cinnamon sugar.) So I thought it would be good to take a closer look at yeast -- what it is, what it does, and the different types.

Yeast is a microorganism, and the kind known as baker’s yeast is used to leaven bread. Nothing is quite so good as yeast for turning
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Blueberry Brunch Loaf

by BnB Finder March 18th, 2014| Best BnB Bites, Recipes
Blueberry Brunch LoafIf you can get your hands on some blueberries, and some blueberry jam, you can make this quick, easy, sweet bread in the hour before your brunch guests arrive -- or even after work as a dessert for dinner. The rest of the ingredients you can probably find in your kitchen. A brown sugar and oatmeal topping with plenty of butter adds the final sweet touch. The Captain Schoonmaker Bed & Breakfast, at the base of Mohonk Mountain in scenic upstate New York, sends us this recipe and offers guests "a large multi-course country gourmet breakfast featuring eggs from
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Classic Homemade White Bread

by Jane Wangersky March 14th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
breadThis very basic recipe comes from a 1915 book I found on Project Gutenberg, Mary at the Farm and Book of Recipes Compiled During Her Visit Among the "Pennsylvania Germans", by Edith M. Thomas. Judging from both the title and the recipes, people had longer attention spans 99 years ago. However, some things haven't changed, and this recipe works as well and tastes as good if you make it today in a bread machine. I even used the same brand of yeast (Fleischman's) the book recommends -- I don't buy it in cakes, as people did back then, but
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