Thanksgiving No-Knead Peasant Bread (v)

Last weekend, I embarked on what seemed like a simple quest for two Thanksgiving recipes. My little list centered around finding a vegetarian dish that would freeze, travel, and reheat well, and a simple and rustic bread that could rise, bake, and be ready to hit the road within 24 hours.

With all of the options available online, my search quickly morphed into a deep, dark, butternut squash and sage-scented Thanksgiving recipe rabbit hole. As I floated down, past enough Pinterest pins and Food52 entries to make a girl want to skip the holiday entirely, I kept bumping into the same bread recipe, slightly altered each time depending on the chef.

alice 1

the black hole of uncredited bread recipes

Not kidding you, I came across the recipe in some version or another no less than ten times. Its popularity piqued my interest and after some digging, I uncovered the original source.

no knead bread

Sullivan Street Bakery’s gorgeous version

Aha!” I triumphantly thought to no one at all when I found it. The bread is the creation of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street bakery in Hell’s Kitchen. It was originally published in the NY Times in ’06…. in my beloved Mark Bittman’s column. Circle of life. Had to make it. Bread of destiny. This bread chose me.

NO-KNEAD PEASANT BREAD

Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery

Ingredients:

  • 3 c all purpose flour OR 2.5 cups all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheatbread11
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c warm water (not hot)
  • optional additions: orange or lemon zest, fresh herbs, 1/2 c shredded cheese, 1/2 c nuts, 1/2 c dried fruits or berries
  • a cast iron or ovenproof dutch oven with a lid; Lodge makes great ones at great price points

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Moment: Pretzels!

Moment: Pretzels!

You’ll be as surprised as I was to learn how easy pretzels are to make (very). Mix, rise, shape, boil, bake. EAT. How about I link to the foolproof recipe I used and let the clever and precise Alton Brown explain? Sound good? Good.

Creamy Crockpot Pinto Beans (gf, v option) and Gluten-free Cornbread (gf, veg)

The Missouri November weather was spectacular last weekend. Dave and I went on an epic, 3-hour, 10+ mile hike around the Weldon Spring area to enjoy said Missouri November weather, beginning and ending at the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell. What is the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell, you ask? Well, we wondered the same thing. It’s a 45-acre mound of rocks covering layers of nuclear waste. And you can walk to the top! How’s that for a bizarre tourist attraction?

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view from the top

The Us Army Ordinance Works purchased the site and adjacent land (17,232 acres- whoa) in 1941. The Army contracted the Atlas Powder Company to manufacture trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT) at a sprawling factory complex on the site until 1945 to support World War II efforts. After the war, the Army started selling off the land but kept about 2,000 acres to house the Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant, which was just what it sounds like- a uranium ore processing plant that operated from 1955 to 1966. Uranium ore processing plants produce well, radioactive waste, and that, kids, is what’s tucked beneath the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell.

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beans 17

I’m hesitant to believe that the waste isn’t harmful to the surrounding communities or people walking all over the cell, but so far, I feel no strange after-effects. I can see better, though. Strange…. Anyway, we were starving when we got home and had breakfast-for-lunch, with the addition of these warming, slow-cooked, creamy pinto beans and leftover cornbread to dunk in them. I’d soaked the beans overnight the night before and put them in the crockpot before we headed out, so only finishing touches were left to be made when we got back. The cornbread originally accompanied some white bean chicken chili we’d made and heated up well to go with the beans. So, without further ado, creamy crockpot pinto beans and gluten-free cornbread!

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CREAMY CROCKPOT PINTO BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 2 tbsp olive oil for vegan beans
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the dry beans after you pick them over for any rocks or clumps of dirt. Finding rocks and clumps of dirt in bags of dry beans isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, but it is every bit as gross as it sounds, so look ’em over good. Put the beans in a bowl and cover with an inch of water, soaking at least 8 hours or overnight. How retro-frugal you are, soaking beans! Good for you. The WWII-era Real Housewives of Weldon Spring would be proud.

beans 1

RHOWS

When the beans have had a good soaking, dump their soaking water, rinse them again, and put them in your crockpot. Cover with water, up to 1/2 inch above the beans. Keep in mind that when cooking in a crockpot, the water added to a recipe will stay put, so add as much as you’d like or not like. Cover and set to low for 8 hours or high for 4. Take a hike.

When you return from your hike/nap/workday/classified mission, chop the 2 pieces of bacon and cook them over medium in a small skillet until crispy. If you’re omitting bacon, heat the olive oil over medium. Remove the bacon once it’s crispy and add the onion to the bacon fat or olive oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Salt and pepper the onions, and add the onions, bacon, and 2 cups of beans to a food processor. Whir that sucker until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the mixture back into the pot of beans.

You’re all done! The beans are even better the next day. They’re rich and creamy and make a perfect partner for a few hunks of….

OLD FASHIONED GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD

Adapted from Gluten Free On a Shoestring

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cornmealbread 1
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups room-temperature plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp raw honey

Directions:

Grab two bowls and preheat your oven to 400. In the larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

bread 2

In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, butter, yogurt, and honey.

bread 3

Now make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl. See where this is going? Now you know why the dry ingredients got more bowl-love than the wet ones. Pour the wet ingredients into the center well and mix until just combined.

bread 4

Grease a cast-iron skillet or 9×13″ pan and spread the cornmeal mixture in evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.

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This celiac husband-friendly side was quite tasty. It held together well but was also crumbly, and would be great with the addition of cheddar cheese or chopped green chiles. It was great with the white chili and stood up to the beans.  What will you serve with yours?

Love, Knoxville: Rev3 Triathlon & Tupelo Honey Cafe

Last weekend was heavenly. I took a solo roadtrip (complete with eight-hour, one-woman karaoke sesh), I got to race in a beautiful part of the country, and I got to see my sisters, brothers-in-law, and magnificent niece and nephew. I did the things I love the most with many of the people I love the most. The only conceivable improvement would have been having Dave there with me, but that might have caused me to explode with happiness… I am thankful for the weekend with my family and am much more content undetonated.knox20My baby sis lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, which has become one of my favorite places to visit since she moved there in 2005. Knoxville is a charming, deliciously Southern city on the Tennessee River and its people are as lovely as its scenery (read: quite). Said lovely people are polite and gracious and their local food is fantastic (they have a biscuit festival- a biscuit festivaaaal), so even if I hadn’t had a super fun race planned, I was delighted to be spending time in tasty, sunny, welcoming Knox.

The race that brought me in, the Rev3 triathlon, is held in World’s Fair Park and was a three-pronged race this year. There was a 70.3 distance, an Olympic, and a hybrid Championship distance for athletes who qualified at various Rev3 events throughout the season. 2014 marked the last year Rev3 would host a professional race with a prize purse- controversy! They’re trying out a new age group-based model that eliminated the pro race entirely. I’ll miss the excitement of watching the pros and it’ll be interesting to see how the races change with the offer of money for age-groupers. Will lower-tier pros race as age groupers? Who’s going to come out of the woodwork now that there’s money on the table? Will participation grow or shrink? Will this raise the likelihood of doping among age-groupers? How will testing work and will it be more frequent? So many nerdy triathlon questions, aagghhhh!!

The 24 Best Sports Moments Of The Year Involving Animals

time to race, suckas

Anyway, I raced the Olympic Aquabike, a funky little combination that not a lot of people participate in- it’s just a .9 mile swim and a 24 mile bike. No run. My right knee is the devil, so swimming and cycling are much more fun for me. It was a perfect combo- I was able to compete and get a great workout without collapsing for the rest of the day. The swim was in the Tennessee River, upstream for about 1/3 of a mile from the dock at Calhoun’s, then downstream the rest of the way. Water temp was 68- a little chilly when you jumped in but not bad at all as long as you had a westuit.

The bike was super hilly- rollers and a few long climbs. Living in the Midwest, I have to seek out hills to ride. The lush, green, winding Knoxville back roads were very different from the pancake-flat Missouri and Illinois trails with ancient, time and iceberg-worn Ozark “hills” I’m used to, so the change was challenging and welcome.

Other than a girl in front of me almost getting hit by a car going uphill around a bend (yeesh) and seeing a pack of guys drafting (lame-o, blame-o), the ride was perfect. Breathtaking, well-supported, and realllly fun.

My sisters came out early in the morning to support me in my weird hobby (amazing. they’re amazing) and brought the kiddos. I even lucked out and took home some swag. And that was the race! Thanks, Rev3, for another great event and thank you, sisters, for being so very loving and wonderful and encouraging.

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love those sissies

For anyone traveling to Knoxville for the Rev3 in the future, I highly recommend Tomato Head for an awesome pre-race meal. Tomato Head serves up pizza for every taste, from vegan to chicken with pesto and walnuts to Margherita. By the slice, too, all crazy kinds. It’s incredibly family-friendly and has a top-notch local beer list, to boot.

the kiddos cracking wise at Tomato Head

the kiddos cracking wise at Tomato Head

Post-race included a trip to another Knoxville fave, Stir-Fry, for pad Thai and sushi and hot and sour soup (why else would I race?! for the food, the FOOD!!). But the kicker was breakfast the next day…. Tupelo Honey Cafe.

knox19

come on in, y’all

Tupelo Honey Cafe was my last hurrah before hitting the road back to MO. Diana and I grabbed an early breakfast there on a green, rainy morning. The restaurant has several locations, all in the South; Knoxville’s is on Market Square, the heart of downtown.The atmosphere was great- the place is basically a pinner’s dream come true- open kitchens, blue glass bottle chandelier, or hanging reclaimed window dividers, anyone?

We each ordered the quiche-like “breakfast pie,” she the vegetarian, with asparagus and herbs, and I the omnivore, with ham, red peppers, and Brie. Each pie was topped with an edible flower. Come ON with the cuteness, woudja? Geez, Tupelo Honey Cafe! It’s like you’re reading my mind!

knox17The crusts on the pies were perfectly buttery and flaky. Diana ordered sliced tomatoes on the side (the South is getting to her) and I had luscious, tart, creamy goat cheese grits. Say whaaa? Total elevation of goat cheese. And of grits. Continuing the elevated dairy trend, we also ordered whipped peach butter- butter whipped with chunks of fresh peaches (you probably guessed that, eh?). The peach butter melted over the complimentary biscuits we drizzled with house-branded honey. Basically, I was carbed and caloried-up for another race when I hit the road.

...as sweet as Tupelo honey/just like honey from the bee

…as sweet as Tupelo honey/just like honey from the bee..

If you have the chance to stop by Tupelo Honey Cafe, and you like happiness and good things, do. There’s just something about well-made Southern food that warms the spirit (even if the restaurant has more than one location). Your spirit will be warmed. Mine was- all over Knoxville, in fact. Another amazing trip for the [cook]books.

sisters

so much love/niecey is over it

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole (veg, gf) & Planting Herbs Like a Boss

So I’ve cautiously planted a few things this year… useful things. Herbs. This is my first shot at eating something I’ve grown and, as of this morning, the herbs were still alive (victoreeeeeeeyyyy!). Though the herbs aren’t dead, I’ve formed a bad habit of tending to but not using them- and what’s the point of that?! Sheesh. I decided to make this casserole to pick some thyme and let it do it’s thing. To give it its thyme to shine, if you will (yuk yuk yuk).

cass2

Here are the products of my attempt at green thumbing-it. Irises I didn’t plant, the suspiciously healthy herbs, succulents that survive in desert conditions, coreopsis and other native plants that were the lone survivors of a Washington University drought experiment (thanks, Julie!), and basil, which would probably grow in a highway ditch.

Stand back. I am a master gardener.

To use my homegrown, real-life, big girl thyme and combine my love of grains, casseroles, and veggies, I made this delicious fare last night. Largely based on Heidi Swanson’s wild rice casserole (I know, I know, I keep coming back to Heidi), I added more dairy and waaay more veggies to make this a hearty and filling vegetarian side. Served with greens, another veggie, or with salmon as Dave enjoyed it, it’s a main dish. It’s quite tasty and addictive- I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

cass veggies

get jazzy on it

BROCCOLI WILD RICE CASSEROLE

Inspired by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz cottage cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, diced
  • half a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic or 4-5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 3 leaves kale, ribbed and cut into ribbons
  • 1 small head broccoli, stems diced and florets cut into quarters

Directions:

To cook the wild rice: in a small stockpot, add the wild rice, water, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is chewy. You may need to drain this, depending on how temperamental and stubborn your rice is. Set aside!

I got some wild, wild rice

I got some wiiild, wiiild rice**

As the rice cooks, heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Add your pre-chopped veggies and sauté in this order:

  1. carrots, mushrooms, thyme, onion, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt for 3 minutes
  2. add kale and broccoli, cook another 2 minutes
  3. add celery and garlic, cook 2 minutes more
  4. your kitchen smells amazing now.

cass veggies cook

Set the veggies aside or just scoot the pan to a cold burner. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, and as much pepper as you’d like. You can whisk in the last 1/2 tsp salt here or omit it altogether.

cass eggs

Preheat your oven to 350. Using a bit more olive oil or some butter, grease a casserole dish. I used a large Corningware but a 9X9 would work well here, or even a 9×13. Fold the rice into the dairy and egg mixture and then fold in the veggies.

cass all mixed in bowl

Pour the rice and veggie mix into the greased casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes depending on the depth of your casserole dish. You want the casserole to be heated through and the top to be golden brown. All done! Let cool slightly and serve!


**

Field Trip: St. Louis is Awesome & Russell’s On Macklind’s Post-Race Biscuits From Heaven

St. Louis sure gives its residents a lot of things to do. No matter what your interests are, if you’re motivated enough to leave the house you can find something fabulous within a 20-mile radius of the city to fill your day or weekend.  Case in point: I had the chance to race the Eads Bridge Duathlon last weekend, a run/bike/run spanning the iconic Eads Bridge to Illinois, then back to Missouri and up into the oft-ignored Old North City, all before lunch. What a cool thing to be able to wake up and do within the boundaries of my beloved city. Not bad, St. Louis, not bad at all.

eads bridgebarney

Dave was feeling under the weather that day so he didn’t race (he’s feeling better now —>), but he did accompany me to Russell’s Cafe on Macklind Avenue for a casual post-race lunch. I needed lots of good food and a 4 Hands Divided Sky Rye IPA; Russell’s had both of those things and is within walking distance for us, so trekking there was an easy decision. In lieu of posting a Russell’s restaurant review because I love the place and that’s my review, I’ll instead wax poetic about their breathtaking biscuits.

Breathtaking. Buttery. Crumbly. Layered. Fluffy, hot, and square. Served with house-made blackberry preserves, a small pot of good butter, and luscious local honey. We ordered the biscuits, available Saturdays and Sundays during brunch, on a whim. I’m sure glad we did. Russell’s does many things well (grilled sandwiches, kitchen sink salads, phenomenal baked goods); these biscuits were a revelation. You may be thinking that my amped-up appetite swayed me into loving them, but I can say with conviction and a clear mind that these were the best biscuits I’ve ever had. There. I said it. RUSSELL’S ON MACKLIND MAKES THE BEST BISCUITS I’VE EVER HAD.

Until lunch, I thought I’d had a good day because the race was so fun and I got to hang out with my honey. The day was actually made by these biscuits. Outside of the St. Louis area? Try your hand at my Kitchenaid buttermilk biscuits. If you’re around St. Louis and have a chance to swing by Russell’s on a weekend- the Macklind Mile is coming up, after all, another terrific St. Louis race- do yourself a solid and order a board of these biscuits. Slather them with butter and drizzle them with honey. They will not disappoint.

Baguettes! (v)

At the top of the rustic, earthy, lovely food to eat and make list- baguettes!

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On the yeasty, satisfying, work with your hands list- baguettes!

bag and butter

Put on your berets and Breton striped shirts– let’s make baguettes!

THREE BEAUTIFUL BAGUETTES

Adapated from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flourbag ingreds
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 /2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • You will also need parchment paper, two kitchen towels, a rimmed baking sheet, a pair of scissors, and a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet

Directions:

This recipe is very simple. If you can knead dough (you can, the ability is buried in your genetic code) or have a stand mixer to knead dough for you, you can make these beautiful baguettes. There’s a lot of waiting involved as the dough rises; hands-on time is minimal. Baking these lovely parcels of dough is a rewarding, foolproof venture. Let’s get to it.

Faisons baguettes!

Faisons baguettes!

In a large bowl or your stand mixer’s bowl, whisk the hot water into the yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes, until foamy.

bag yeast water

When ten minutes has passed, mix the flour into the yeast and water with a fork, until a shaggy dough forms. I did this in four pour of flour for even mixing. Let this sit for 20  to allow the flour to hydrate. You’re getting the hang of this waiting stuff by now, aren’t you? Good. There’s more to come.

bag dough shaggy

After 20 minutes, add the kosher salt. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and knead with the hook attachment for 4-5 minutes on speed 2, until the dough has climbed up the hook and is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the old-fashioned way: turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes with the heels of your hands. “A good knead is better than an hour of psychotherapy, and it’s free.” There’s your motivation. Exorcise the demons.

bag dough salted

When your dough is smooth and shiny and elastic, oil a large glass bowl with the half tablespoon of canola. Pat the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in an oven or microwave until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

smooooth.

smooooth.

Once doubled, remove the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a 6×8 inch rectangle, then fold the long sides into the middle, followed by the short sides. Basically, double fold it into a little bundle. Pop the bundle back into the oiled bowl and let double again, another 45 minutes or so. I hope you have a good book to read, what with all of this sitting around, sheesh. Consider this AbeBooks list of food memoirs if you don’t. Just looking at the covers makes me hunger for a memoir marathon… I’ll need a rainy Sunday, a cozy blanket, and a LOT of supplemental food.

bag dough folded

Now we get to play with the dough! Turn the lovely bundle onto a very lightly floured surface and pinch off into three equally sized sections of dough. Roll and pinch the rounds into 14-inch logs; these will be the base shapes for your loaves.

bag dough three

Grab your rimmed baking sheet and flip it over. Arrange a piece of parchment paper 3 inches wider than the sheet and fold two pleats into it. Lightly flour the pleated parchment paper.

bag pleated parchment

Put the loaves in the spaces you’ve created on the parchment paper and pull them close together- we’re using the pleated paper to allow the loaves to rise up, not out. Roll the two kitchen towels up and place them on either side of the three loaves. Let the loaves rise until doubled. LAST TIME, I promise.

bag dough towels final

Place the cast iron skillet on the very bottom rack of your oven. Arrange a rack right above that and preheat the oven to a blazing hot 475. To make the baguettes look like baguettes, cut slices into the tops of the dough at 30 degree angles with your scissors (add that to your baking bag of tricks!). Very pretty. Flatten out the parchment paper and pop the baking sheet, still inverted, into the oven. Immediately add the 1/2 cup of ice cubes to the cast iron skillet and close the oven door. The ice cubes will sizzle away and release steam, producing a crisp crust. Bake for 20 minutes, until a deep brown. Let cool and serve! They will be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Slather with butter and kick back. Bon appétit.

bags complete cooling