Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Condensed Milk Bread

Have a can of sweetened condensed milk about the house? Why not use it for something new - like two (or three) loaves of super soft whole wheat bread? I added a bit of extra flavour and protein with @nakednutrition Vanilla Naked Shake, and as you can see the resulting loaf (in admittedly a too small pan) had higher aspirations than I did in college 🤣

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I take a distinct pleasure in bread-baking day, especially since it gives me something to do between countless assignments and quizzes for school, or watching lectures. Periodically getting up to check on proofing, knock down and shape dough, or checking on it through the oven window is the perfect quick diversions of my attention that break up the monotony of the day. 

Today's loaf was surprisingly simple, yet such a performer! I had a can of condensed milk in the pantry with no plans to use it, so I searched a bit to see if I could incorporate it successfully in a loaf. RasaMalaysia gave me a great base recipe, which I tweaked a bit to double and make mostly whole wheat as well as add a hit of protein from my favourite Naked Shake. After the first rise, it shaped easily and I popped it into two loaf pans, hoping for the best since I only had one 9x5, the other one being an 8x4. Guys - spring for another 9x5, unless you're after the mushroom of a loaf I have here (or use three 8x4 pans)! That said, it may have looked a bit wonky but the crumb was velvety soft and the flavour was the perfect balance of sweet and wholesome. Toast it for a bit of heft before layering on jam or eat it straight with super soft butter - the choice is yours!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Soy Noodle Stir Fry

This spicy-sweet Soy Noodle Stir Fry is packed with protein from the noodles and tofu, fibre from a ton of veggies and flavour from a hoisin based sauce. Two types of heat (fresh chiles and @selefina.spices cayenne) will keep your tongue dancing til the last bite.

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Stir fries are my favourite way to quickly use up a ton of stuff in the fridge, and never get boring! We've been trying to keep our grocery costs down (like everybody here) and eating out of the pantry and freezer has been a luxury for us. I had a few packs of tofu in the freezer that I bought when they were on sale, along with countless bags of vegetables that demanded use before the seasonal veggies from the garden start coming in, so I used those as my jumping off point. From there, it turned into an assessment of what saucy-type things I had, as well as a base carbohydrate to soak up everything and add bulk.

What emerged at the end of this (surprisingly simple) thrown-together meal was a spicy, sweet, saucy stir fry for a crowd - which was great because my mom is always looking for quick lunches during the week when she watches the littles. Portioned into 2-3 meal blocks and frozen, all she has to do is thaw, plate and reheat for a delicious, filling and healthy meal between setting the toddler down for a nap and picking up the 4 year old from kindergarten.

A note on the sauce - this is definitely not what I'd call mild, maybe a medium level of heat. I used the cayenne from Selefina Spices in addition to fresh chiles, and even though I added a small amount it is potent. We like our fire here, so it was perfect, but your mileage may vary. Also, I used soy-based pasta because it's what I had on hand, however whatever noodle you prefer works just fine (I think using rice vermicelli would soak up this sauce beautifully as well, as would whole wheat spaghetti).

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Dried Fruit and Pecan Loaf with @selefina.spices

This sweet and spiced Dried Fruit and Pecan Loaf is packed with dried apricots, blueberries and dates, which play off the toasted pecans and oats in the dough beautifully. A generous dash of spices from @selefina.spices ties everything together - try it toasted with cream cheese for a treat!

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Even though the spring weather is starting to creep out and more and more freshness is permeating the world, I have a soft spot for the warming, hearty baked goods all year round. In particular, if I'm making a loaf for breakfast (which is what I'm usually baking for Mom), I know there are a set of unofficial criteria to follow - slightly sweet, hearty (packed with whole grains, seeds, or as my mom calls them "bits"), and good toasted with either a Toast Topper, butter or cream cheese. In essence, it gives me free reign to clean out the pantry and freezer every once in a while, and figure out a way to tie everything together. This loaf was inspired by a plethora of dried fruit I had and bolstered by the recent arrival of a set of brand new spices from Selefina - a sister company to the Adagio teas I love and have reviewed here before. With a quiet afternoon on my hands I decided to create a Dutch-oven baked boule with a bunch of whole grains and the aforementioned ingredients to see how it all worked out. 

The first thing that I realized with this loaf is that the combination of ingredients makes for some happy yeast and a great rise, yet because the loaf is so hearty the crumb remains tight. This, to me, is not a bad thing - I want a piece of bread in the morning that can stand up to toasting or topping (or both), and the flavour was well worth the lack of airiness. The Dutch oven gives this bread a glorious crust too, so even while it may not be incredibly visually appealing, it is well worth the effort!

From the Press Release: The creative team behind Adagio Teas had recently launched Selefina Spices, a new online shop for herbs and spices. Selefina will also differentiate itself from other online purveyors by making its quality products available in small amounts. The objective is to deliver herbs and spices of optimum freshness as well as encourage trial of unfamiliar products and broaden culinary exploration. 

My notes: I love the fact that these spices come in small quantities, opaque, zip-sealed bags, and that the company has such a variety of them! I was sent a very generous variety, and looking at the website I can still see some that I'd love (looking at you, butterfly pea flower, lavender and pasilla chile). The fact that these spices come from a sister company to Adagio, who arguably make some of the best teas I've ever had (I'm still enjoying the last of the advent calendar offerings and can't wait til its iced tea season again) I know I'm getting quality ingredients. These spices are super fresh and potent, so a little goes a long way!