Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stuffing Bread with Dried Cranberries

The perfect bread for turkey sandwiches or to use for stuffing, this tender flavorful loaf also slices up beautifully for Thanksgiving breakfast toast that hints of the delicious dinner to come later.

If you’ve been reading along here for a while, you know that I like to bake bread. I love the smell of the yeast as it comes back to life in a little warm water. I love the heft of an enriched dough as I knead it and the springy bounce as I spin it in the oiled bowl of my mixer in preparation for the first rise. But the very best part of baking bread is the way the whole house smells as the bread bakes. When my girls were still living at home, nothing brought them out of their rooms and downstairs faster than the aroma of bread in the oven. Well, and the eating, of course!

But I understand that not everyone feels they have time to bake bread. So it is my great pleasure to introduce you to a book that solves the “no time to bake” problem. Make Ahead Bread divides the process into manageable parts, allowing you to make the dough ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator overnight or even for a day or two, depending on the recipe, until you are ready to bake and enjoy.

Make Ahead Bread was written by the witty and knowledgeable Donna Currie of Cookistry, a blog you might already be familiar with. If you aren’t, do go over and say howdy. Donna never fails to crack me up with her quips and I often had to watch that I didn’t have a mouthful of coffee in the morning when she shared the antics of her husband, Bob, because he could make me snort coffee out of my nose. Sadly, Bob passed away suddenly just a few weeks ago. In typical food blogger fashion, a group of us decided we’d honor his memory by helping Donna promote her bread book, a project he deeply supported, as he did all of Donna’s endeavors, hopefully sending a few customers her way through the power of social media.

I’m not just recommending this book to be nice though. I really love it! I am quite the cookbook junkie but I’d like to tell you that this was THE ONLY cookbook I asked for for my birthday this year! Yep, it’s that special. I was so delighted when my mom arrived in Dubai with Make Ahead Bread that I couldn’t help but share a photo of me and it on Facebook.

I haven’t shared recipes from it before now but I have special permission from Donna to share this one and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! You can get your own copy of Make Ahead Bread at better bookstores as well as on*

This recipe is from Make Ahead Bread – 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day © Donna Currie. Used by permission. (I’ve added the metric adaptations.)

1 cup or 240ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) or 318g bread flour
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup or 35g dried cranberries
Non-stick baking spray (the kind with flour in it)

Note: I had to subsitute fresh herbs so I doubled the amount since dried herbs are always stronger in flavor than fresh. Another confession, I wasn’t reading with my cheater glasses so I thought it was 1 tablespoon of both parsley and chives. I don’t think the extra chives were a bad thing though since I’m a fan.

On Prep Day
1. Combine all the ingredients and knead by hand (mix first in a large bowl, then turn out and knead) or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, until dough is elastic.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or place it in a large plastic bag and seal the ends. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

Going into the refrigerator.

The next day after a long, slow rise in the cold. 
On Baking Day
1. Spray the 9x5-in or approx. 23x13cm bread pan with baking spray. (I also chose to line the pan with parchment for easy clean up, something Donna mentions in the introductory part of her book as an option.)

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rough 8 in or 20cm square. Fold the top half to about the middle of the dough and press the edge down to secure it. Fold the top over again, this time to within about an inch or so of the bottom. Press the edge to deal. Now pull the bottom of the dough up to meet the dough roll you‘ve created and seal the seam. Pinch the ends closed and place the dough, seam side down, in the prepared pan.

3. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The dough is ready when it has risen about an inch or 2 centimeters over the top of the pan, about 1 hour in a warm room.

4. About 30 minutes before the loaf is fully risen, heat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

5. When the dough has risen, remove the plastic. Bake until the bread is richly browned and the internal temperature of the loaf reaches 195°F or °90.5C on an instant read thermometer, about 55 minutes. Remove the bread form the pan and cool completely on a rack before slicing.


The hardest part of this whole recipe? Finding space for the dough bowl in my ridiculously overstuffed refrigerator.

Make this bread. Buy Make Ahead Bread.* You won’t be sorry!

Check out the fabulous list of breads we've baked for Donna from her book:

UPDATE: Win your own copy of Make Ahead Bread
Follow this link to enter:

*Affiliate links.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Party Pecan Pie

A sticky, sweet pecan pie in a flakey crust, sized perfectly for parties. There can never be enough pecan pie when you are feeding a crowd. This guy is perfect for Mardi Gras parties, showers, tailgating and especially Thanksgiving or Christmas buffets.

Today we are celebrating Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook who is expecting her second baby very soon by sharing recipes that are great for family occasions. Lauren is a sweetheart so even though it meant double posting today, I had to join the party, ably organized by Tara of Tara’s Multicultural Table.

I’ve made this large pie several times over the last few years, mostly to take to Mardi Gras parties, but it works for any event and recently made the traveling team for my dad’s 80th birthday party as a road trip/hotel snack. Because that’s how we roll in my family.

Make sure you scroll on down to the bottom and see all the other great recipes we are sharing in Lauren's honor today!.

For the crust:
3 1/2 cups or 440g flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup or 300g shortening (I use Crisco.)
Cold water (Added by tablespoons just till the dough just holds together. Maybe 8-10, but use as little as you can get away with. This makes a flakier crust.)

For the filling
1 lb 5 oz or 600g pecan pieces
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups or 250g sugar
2 1/4 cups or 530ml Karo or other light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter in small pats

Cut the shortening into the flour and salt with a pastry blender until you have small crumbles.

Add the cold water a tablespoon or two at a time and mix in lightly with a fork after each addition. Stop when the dough will just hang together.

Flatten the dough ball and wrap tightly in cling film. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 300°F or 149°C and cut a piece of foil that will fit an approximately 12x16 in or 30x41cm pan, including covering up the sides.

Roll your dough out as thinly as possible on the foil, leaving just a little space around the edges. If it's sticky, lay a big piece of cling film on top or dust with some more flour.

Fit the dough-covered foil into the pan.  Roll the tops of the dough down and crimp to create a decorative edge.

Dock the sides and bottom of the crust with a fork.

In a large bowl, whisk your eggs and sugar together well until the sugar is almost all dissolved. Add the Karo and salt and whisk again until completely combined.

Add in the pecans and stir well.

Pour your filling in the pie crust and top with small pieces of butter.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes in your preheated oven, until the pie is just set.

Allow to cool completely before attempting to cut the pie into squares. Store in an airtight container with each layer separated by wax paper or baking parchment.


Here’s wishing much joy to Lauren and her expanding family! We hope you enjoy all of the special recipes we are sharing in your honor today, Lauren!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Fresh Cranberry Muffins #MuffinMonday

A delicious muffin made with fresh cranberries in a vanilla batter which lets the cranberry flavor shine through. These babies would be perfect for Christmas morning or for bringing along to a Christmas brunch. 

T'is the season for fresh cranberries in the United States, and from the looks of the refrigerated supermarket shelves here in Dubai, the trend has spread. Last year I had a comment on muffins I had made with dried cranberries, asking if they could be made with fresh as well. So this recipe is for my friend, Marilyn, who lives in cranberry country, that is to say, the US northeast. I have been a regular reader of her blog, Communicating Across Boundaries,  since I connected with her through a post about Egypt, where I was living at the time and she had lived for many years. I knew I’d met a kindred expat spirit as I read about her struggles to fit in and at the same time maintain traditions while living overseas and raising children. And with the challenges of moving back to the US after a life abroad. Every word she publishes enlightens me and makes me think. If you are a third culture kid or are raising some, I am sure you will love her too.

Along with fresh cranberry muffins, may each of you enjoy the wonderful Christmas I wish also for Marilyn and her family!

1 1/2 cups or 170g fresh cranberries
1 cup or 200g sugar, plus two tablespoons
2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it or by lining it with paper muffins cups.

Chop the cranberries roughly and put them in a bowl. Separate 12 little pieces of cranberry to top the muffins with before baking, if desired. Sprinkle the rest with the 2 tablespoons extra sugar and toss to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the sugar and the flour, along with the baking powder and salt.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla.

Add your sugared cranberries in the dry ingredient bowl and toss them lightly with a spoon to coat them.

Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ones until just combined. You may still see a little flour showing and that’s okay.

Divide the batter between the muffins cups. Top with reserved pieces of cranberry, if you kept some back.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Soft and Tender Dinner Rolls #BreadBakers

If there is any bread more delicious than a soft and tender white dinner roll, brushed with melted butter, I’d like to meet it. Because I don’t think there is one.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook – actually, they both were – but in this instance I’m talking about my maternal grandmother. Thanksgiving and Christmas were usually celebrated at her house and she put on quite the spread. I honestly don’t remember if she baked them every time, but I remember eating those soft white bread rolls that came in the foil (or was it some sort of weird cardboard?) pan, ready to bake. And they were wonderful. Not too yeasty that a child might object, brushed with butter and so soft and smushy that you could make a dough ball out of them, perfect for nibbling as you waited your turn to fill your plate with the other beautiful dishes. Those rolls were what I was hoping to recreate here for our Bread Bakers Thanksgiving event, where we have been challenged by our talented host, Holly of A Baker’s House, to bake bread fit for a special occasion.

I started with this recipe from All Things Delicious and made a few alterations to the ingredients and the method but I followed Hannah’s instructions for making the dough into classic round dinner rolls. (She shows several different ways of shaping the dough into special rolls so make sure to go have a look if you need some ideas.)  I have no idea if my Red Star yeast was more active than whatever was used in the original recipe, but I ended up with monster rolls. Beautiful, soft and tender but so big! Next time I will roll them half the size to get the rolls of my childhood memories. But I will definitely be baking these again.

If you are looking for a special bread to bake for your holiday table, make sure to scroll on down to see the list of 21 recipes we are sharing today. Many thanks to Holly for hosting!

2 cups or 475ml milk
1/3 cup or 80g butter
1/4 oz or 7g yeast (one sachet – I used Red Star Quick Rise Yeast.)
1 egg
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups or 625g flour, plus extra for kneading and sprinkling on before baking

1/8 cup or 30g melted butter for brushing on after the rolls are baked

Put the milk in a large microwaveable vessel (I use the biggest silicone measuring cup* from this set. It was a gift from my cousin years ago and I love it!) and add in the butter. Microwave until the butter is mostly melted, about 3-4 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Put the yeast in your mixing bowl and pour in about a cup or 240ml (no need to measure exactly) of the warm milk/butter mixture and set aside for about 10 minutes. You are hoping that the yeast activates and gets all bubbly. If it doesn’t, you need to buy some fresh yeast and start over.

Now add in 3 cups or 375g of flour, the egg and the salt to your mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until all of the flour is incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to mix in any flour left there. It’s a very runny batter at this point.

You can see the bubbly yeast/butter/milk there on the left. That's what it should look like!

Continue mixing and add the remaining flour by spoonfuls until all is incorporated. Now it should be wet and soft sticky dough but that’s what is needed for soft and tender rolls.

Now mix for 3-4 minutes, changing to the dough hook, if necessary, to help develop the gluten.

The finished dough

Cover the bowl with cling film and allow the dough to rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

Meanwhile, line your baking pan with parchment paper, a silicone mat or grease it liberally with oil or butter.

Once the first rise is done, punch the dough down and knead it briefly on a floured surface. Cut the dough ball into halves, then cut the halves into half again. Cut each piece into three to make very large bread rolls, or six to make more reasonably sized ones.

Roll the dough pieces into balls, pinching them from underneath to stretch the tops so they are nice and round. Put the balls, side by side, pinched side down, in your prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with flour and put the whole baking pan in a clean, new garbage bag, capturing some air before you clip it shut, so that the bag doesn’t touch the top of the bread rolls. Allow the rolls to rise for about an hour.

About 15 minutes (or however long your oven takes) before the second rise is completed, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Bake the dinner rolls in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown all over.

Brush with melted butter and serve warm, if possible.


Tender, soft and fluffy. Just as a dinner roll should be. 

Our celebratory breads, for your enjoyment!


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

*This is an Amazon affiliate link. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Green Beans with Baby New Potatoes

Like all great savory recipes, this one starts off with bacon and garlic.  How can it go wrong?  This dish was always, and always will be, a must at family Thanksgiving or Christmas meals.  My grandmothers made it with little red baby new potatoes and so would I, if I could have found them in Kuala Lumpur.

I actually made and photographed this dish just before Thanksgiving but never got around to sharing it.  As Christmas approaches it gets more vital!  This was the second dish I made (See the other one here.) and brought to the Christmas party in Cairo last Friday so you can see how essential to the holidays I believe it is.  

Today, I am off to scout the so-called expat area of Cairo, called Maadi.  You can be sure I will be on the lookout for baby new red potatoes.   

600g fine or regular green beans
400g baby new potatoes
4 cloves garlic
3-4 slices of streaky bacon
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper

If you have genuine new potatoes, just wash them to get rid of any dirt and then scrub the peelings.  If you have to use little ones or large potatoes with thick skins, peel them first and cut to an appropriately small size.

Cut your garlic into thin slices and your bacon into tiny strips.

Top and tail your green beans, then rinse them.  If you are using the regular size, you might want to cut them into small pieces as well.  (Cut them diagonally because it’s more fun and prettier than a straight cut.)

Fry the bacon until crispy and then add the garlic.  Fry for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.  You do not want the garlic to brown because it gets bitter.

Add in potatoes and cook, covered,  for a few minutes.   If it looks too dry, add a small sploosh of olive oil.   Add in the green beans and stir to coat with the bacon grease and olive oil.  Sprinkle in a little salt and the two peppers.

Cook, covered, until the potatoes are done and then till the green beans are as soft as you like them.   If you want your green beans really crunchy, delay adding them until the potatoes are almost cooked.

Check the salt and pepper, adding more if necessary.  Enjoy!

After note:  I had a lovely time with a new friend touring the shops of Maadi, finishing with lunch at a restaurant called Fusion overlooking the River Nile.  Sadly, I did not find any baby red new potatoes.  Yet.