Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bulgur Wheat Bread #BreadBakers

A tender loaf with a welcome bit of nutty chewiness from the bulgur wheat, this yeast bread has a soft crust and slices up beautifully.

As much as my grandmothers loved cooking and even baking, I don’t remember either of them ever baking bread. The French influence in our Louisiana heritage did mean that bread was important; you just bought it at a bakery. From the time I was tiny my mom told me stories of when she was younger and she would bring a stick of butter along to the bakery to pick up a fresh hot loaf just so she could butter the bread and eat it immediately in the car. Who wants to wait? The only bread I remember in our house when I was growing up was white sandwich bread and French bread – still white inside – preferably baked by the southern Louisiana institutions of Evangeline Maid in Lafayette and LeJeune’s in Jeanerette, respectively. Even today, my mom’s freezer in Houston usually has a loaf or two of LeJeune’s delicious French bread, still made by hand, for when she needs a bread and butter fix.

When I started dating my husband and was introduced to his dad and stepmom, I finally met a woman who baked bread weekly, more often that that, in fact, if she had bread loving visitors (like us!) because her home-baked bread was the centerpiece of every lunch, surrounded by cheese and sliced meat and condiments and salad. And breakfast, more often than not, included toast. I wrote at length about Fiona’s wonderful bread for the inaugural post of Bread Bakers exactly one year ago, so I won’t go into it again here, except to say that hers was also the first time I remember eating and loving whole wheat bread instead of white. She started me on the road to baking my own bread and even buying whole grain breads. They are just so much more flavorful! (Although it's still hard to beat a pimento cheese sandwich on Evangeline Maid.)

This month our Bread Bakers challenge to bake bread with whole grains was set by our able host of Cali’s Cuisine. I decided to kick mine up a notch by adding bulgur wheat as well. It was a very good decision. This recipe, adapted from one in the New York Times online, makes two nutty deliciously healthy loaves and freezes beautifully.

N.B. You'll need three and a half hours of resting or rising time, in addition to almost one hour baking so start early in your day!

Ingredients - for two standard loaves
For the sponge:
2 packets active dry yeast (1/2 oz or 14g total)
3 cups or 710ml warm water
3 tablespoons mild honey
1 cup or 200g coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups or 250g strong white bread flour
1 cup or 120g wholemeal bread flour

For the bread dough:
1 bread sponge recipe (see above)
1/4 cup or 60ml canola oil, plus a little extra for oiling bowl and baking pans
1 scant tablespoon salt
2 cups or 240g wholemeal bread flour, plus additional as necessary for kneading

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and honey, and stir until dissolved. Leave it for a couple of minutes to make sure that the yeast is reacting and making some small bubbles before proceeding.

Add in the bulgur wheat and leave to rest again for another five or so minutes.

Now whisk in the white bread flour and the wholemeal bread flour one cup at a time. Keep stirring or whisking for at least two minutes after all three cups have been added. You'll end up with quite a thick batter.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave to rest in a warm spot for one hour. It should bubble up quite dramatically.

Fold the oil into the sponge along with the salt and then fold in one cup of the wholemeal bread flour.

Sprinkle your clean work surface with flour from the second cup of wholemeal bread flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl.

Here’s where it gets sticky. I found that using a stainless steel dough scraper really helped with this part of the process.

Sprinkle the dough with more wholemeal bread flour. Use your scraper to turn and fold and “knead” the dough, until the last of the cup has been added.

Keep folding and kneading for about 10 minutes, adding just a little more flour as needed, until the dough springs back when you press it with a finger. It will still be quite sticky.

Wash out your bowl and grease the inside with a little canola oil.

Scrape the dough into the bowl and turn it over to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl again with cling film and leave in a warm place for one hour.

Punch the dough down, cover it again and leave to rise for another hour.

Grease two bread loaf pans. Divide the dough into two equal parts and place them in the greased pans. Sprinkle with some wholemeal bread flour and put them in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C at some point in that 30 minutes. Mine takes forever to get to temperature so I start about 10 minutes in. You do what you need to do.

When your 30 minutes are up and your oven is preheated properly, cut some quick slashes in the dough with a very sharp implement.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F or 88°C on an instant read thermometer or the top is golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.


More whole grain goodness from my fellow Bread Bakers:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers 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 foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Creamy Coconut Popsicles

Two ingredients are all you need to make these creamy coconut popsicles: Sweetened condensed milk and coconut cream. Well, and freezing time! So easy and delicious!

This week my Sunday Supper group is anticipating Labor Day in the United States by sharing no-labor recipes, with plenty of make-ahead or simple-to-prepare dishes and drinks that will leave you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the holiday tomorrow! I had no idea what to share for this event until I remembered some coconut popsicles I made a couple of months back as an experiment that had turned out with gratifying success. So I made them again for real. 

I wanted to add actual fresh coconut to them but was discouraged by my younger daughter who prefers her ice cream without “bits” in it. So that coconut you see is just for show. With only two ingredients, both from cans, these creamy popsicles practically make themselves! Feel free to add fresh coconut to yours, if you can be bothered. They are absolutely coconutty, just sweet enough and perfect as is. And even the dog agrees.


1 can (13.5 oz or 400ml) unsweetened coconut cream – not milk!
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk  - 260g or 6 3/4 oz

Equipment needed:
Popsicle molds (or paper cups, popsicle sticks and cling film)
Deep freezer

Pour or scoop the coconut cream into a large mixing bowl, preferably one with a spout. Whisk it until the cream is smooth and homogeneous.

Add in the condensed milk and whisk again.

Pour the liquid into your popsicle molds (or paper cups, then cover with cling film and insert a stick in the middle) and freeze until solid – this will take at least a couple of hours but overnight is even better.

When ready to serve, run the popsicle mold (or paper cup) under some warm water to release the popsicle.


Whether you are celebrating Labor Day this weekend or just love the idea of no-labor recipes, this is the list for you!

Savory Snacks and Sides
Labor Free Main Dishes
Sweet Treats and Drinks

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Duxelles #FoodieExtravaganza

The earthy flavor of mushrooms is concentrated by cooking them down in a mixture of butter and shallots, then white wine and finally cream is added, creating a thick, rich sauce that is an essential component of classic dishes like Beef Wellington. Or you can just eat it with a spoon.

Here’s the thing about mushrooms for me. Fresh and clean, they have a soft yet almost a snappy texture to them, perfect for slicing into salads. Slightly cooked, they get all wet and even kind of slimy. So, I’m either going to eat them raw or I’m going to cook them down till all of their own water has evaporated, like in mushroom gravy or duxelles.

I made this batch of duxelles a while back because I need it as a component for another recipe that I never quite got around to posting. It had been hanging out in my To Be Shared folder for quite some time when Wendy, this month’s host for Foodie Extravaganza, announced that our ingredient for September would be mushrooms. Apparently September is National Mushroom Month in the US. Who knew? I love it when I am prepared for a group post completely by accident.

If you’ve never had duxelles, let me encourage you to try it. It makes a great thick sauce over rice or pasta. Spread it on crusty bread for snacks or toasted rounds of baguette for appetizers. You can fold it in omelets, roll it in crepes, stuff it in ravioli or stir it through the pan juices of a roast to make the perfect mushroom gravy. Just to mention a few ideas I love. Or, as previously mentioned, you can just eat it with a spoon.

Ingredients – for about 1 1/2 cups or 375g duxelles
3 oz or 85g shallots
1/3 cup or 75g butter
12 oz or 340g mushrooms
1 cup or 240ml dry white wine
1 cup or 240ml whipping cream
Sea salt
Black pepper

Peel and finely chop the shallots. Trim the hard stem ends off and finely chop the mushrooms as well.

Sauté the shallots gently with the butter until they are soft and translucent.

Add in the mushrooms and simmer until they are cooked down and release their liquid.

Keep simmering, uncovered, until liquid is almost all gone. Add the white wine and simmer again until almost dry.

Add the cream, a sprinkle of sea salt and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.

Stir and then simmer a little while longer. It's going to start thickening up as the moisture evaporates. Try not to eat it all with a spoon at this point, but it's sooooo good.

Keep simmering until the mixture is looking almost dry once more. Taste for salt and pepper and add more to your taste, if necessary.

This can be refrigerated for a few days in a tightly covered container. It’s not beautiful but it sure is tasty. If you are using it in a beef Wellington, I highly recommend chilling it first.


Many thanks to Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm for hosting Foodie Extravaganza this month and for giving me the push I needed to share one of my favorite recipes.

Have a look at all the other great mushroom recipes we have for you this month:

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month.

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

If you're a reader looking for delicious recipes check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.