Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bleu Burgers on Artisan Buns

Hey!  How are ya?  Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you like today's recipe. :)

I had a hankering.  I wanted something savory, salty, slightly sweet and chewy.  I wanted a burger with Bleu Cheese.  YUM!  But I didn't want to stop at the store to get some of those buns.  You know the ones-- dry, loaded with preservatives and always turn some shade of blue or green on your counter before you throw them out.  Ick!  And for a person living by herself, I feel like I'm wasting food if I buy bread because I can never eat the whole thing before it goes bad.  But if I make my own bread, I can make just as much as I need and nothing goes to waste.  Plus, it tastes better!

If you've been glancing at the blog lately, you know I've got a thing for artisan bread.  :)  I used the Artisan Bread Dough to make my hamburger buns.  Super simple! 

It's grillin' season here in the Treasure Valley.  I smell all sorts of things wafting through the neighborhood as I walk the pups after work.  And the weather is getting better-- less rain and more sun.  Yay!    You may notice something.  I like my burgers with pickle chips.  I know, I'm weird.  But ya gotta love me anyway, right?

Bleu Cheese Burgers
1 lb Artisan Bread Dough (grapefruit size, link above)
Sesame Seeds
2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water
1 lb ground beef (93% lean is what I use)
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup Bleu Cheese crumbles

Making the Buns
1.  Divide dough into 4 equal pieces.  Form into a ball and flatten slightly.  Let rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper for 40 minutes.
2.  Preheat oven to 450°F and place the pizza stone inside with a pan at the bottom to hold water.
3.  Make a cross pattern in the top of the bun with a serrated knife- cutting about 1/8 to 1/4" deep.  Brush top with cornstarch mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
4.  Place buns on preheated pizza stone.  Add a cup of HOT tap water to the pan in the oven and close the door.  Bake for about 25 minutes.
5.  Place on a rack to cool while you make the burgers.

Making the Burgers
1.  Preheat grill over medium heat for about 10 minutes or so.  Be sure to oil the grates well.

2.  Divide the meat into four equal pieces.  Pat out into a disc that is about 4 inches across.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3.  Grill over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Remove the meat from the heat and let rest a few minutes.

4.  Combine the mayo with the bleu cheese crumbles in a small bowl.  This makes it easier to put on the burger and helps it stick to the bun instead of fall off! :)

5.  Cut a bun in half and dig out a bit of the bread inside.  Fill the void with 1/4 of the bleu cheese mixture.  Top with a meat patty and add other desired toppings (ketchup, lettuce, tomato, mustard, pickles, etc.).  Repeat with remaining burger patties and buns.

And here's a peek into what the pups were doing while I was cooking...

Tobie was chillin' on the couch.

Keeping watch over the neighborhood.

And Ralfie was running around the backyard.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Artichokes with Parmesan Garlic Butter

One of the things we got last weekend in the Bountiful Basket was artichokes.  I love artichoke hearts!  I love them in pasta, on pizza, in salads, on sandwiches...but I have to admit.  I was intimidated by this alien looking vegetable.  I've never made them at home.  Well, time to change that!

I know most people dip their artichokes in melted butter or mayo, but I decided to kick things up a bit by making a garlic-Parmesan butter dip for my artichokes.  And let me tell you-- this stuff was soooooo gooooood!!!  I think I'll serve it over asparagus or green beans next.  YUM!

Some websites said to clip the tops off of all the leaves to remove thorns.  Well, I must have had a different variety of artichoke.  No thorns here!  Here's how I steamed Mr.  Artichoke.

Steamed Artichokes with Garlic Parmesan Butter
1 artichoke
1/2 lemon
1 tsp Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp butter, melted
 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided

1.  Cut Artichoke into quarters.  Rub each cut side with the cut side of the 1/2 lemon.  Slice lemon.  Place lemon and 1 minced garlic clove in the bottom of a medium pot.  Fill pot with about 3/4" water.  Place steamer basket in the pot and put the cut up artichoke in the basket.  Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer/ steam for about 30 minutes.

2.  Remove artichoke from pot.  Use a spoon to scoop out the fuzzy choke.

3.  Place the butter and Parmesan in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, or until butter is melted.  Stir in the garlic.*

4.  Serve melted butter with artichokes.  Take each leaf, dip in the butter, and scrape out the 'meat' with your teeth.  Don't forget to eat the heart-- its the best part!

*Note:  I learned the hard way NOT to add the garlic before microwaving.  It will turn brown and burn before the butter is completely melted.

Tropical Cheesecake

Over the last few weeks, I've been participating in Bountiful Baskets.  It's been great so far!  I pay $15 for a basket that I pick up on Saturday.  The basket contains 50% fruits and 50% vegetables.  You never know what you're going to get until you go pick it up.  I like that the baskets generally contain at least one fruit or vegetable that I wouldn't normally seek out in the grocery store-- like jicama.  I get to try new things and investigate new ways to use up some fresh fruits and veggies!  For more information on Bountiful Baskets, go to

A week ago, we got bananas.  Really green bananas.  That was just fine with me.  They finally ripened this weekend.  I had one banana left and I'd been dreaming of bananas drenched in caramel.  Believe me, this combo is irresistible.  Pineapple and caramel is also delish.  I had a banana, butter and brown sugar, but it needed something more.  Cheesecake!  Coconut!  Now we're talking!

Tropical Cheesecake
1 box Jello No Bake Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups milk (not pictured)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, divided
1 banana, sliced
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1-1/2 cups shredded coconut

1.  Place a medium skillet over low heat on the stove.  Add the coconut.  Stir every few minutes.  In the beginning it will look like this:

Continue to cook and stir over low heat until the coconut begins to brown and smells nutty.  It should look like this:
Remove from heat and put the toasted coconut in a bowl to cool.

2.  Place the crumbs for the crust in a 9" pie plate along with 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Stir well to combine.  Melt 5 Tbsp of butter and pour over the crumb mixture.  Stir until well combined and all crumbs are coated with butter.  Press gently to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the cheesecake pouch with 1 tsp vanilla and 1-1/2 cups cold milk.  Mix on high for about 3 minutes, then stir in all but 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.  Spoon into the prepared crust, smooth the top, and set aside.

4.  Melt the remaining 3 Tbsp butter in the same skillet the coconut was toasted in over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add the bananas and cook, turning every few minutes, until sauce thickens and bananas are soft. 

5. Spoon the bananas on top of the cheesecake.  Drizzle the sauce over top, then sprinkle with the remaining coconut.  Refrigerate overnight.

6.  To serve, dip the pan briefly in hot water.  Slice and serve.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta for Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco De Mayo, Everyone!  Thanks for stopping by to read the blog.  I decided I wanted something a little different this year.  I was browsing the aisles in the natural food store here looking for Rye Flour, and ran across this package:

My friend Erin played with Polenta a bit while we were cooking in Arkansas.  She made the best Polenta!  It was loaded with parmesan that crisped up nicely when fried.  I thought it would be GREAT with cheddar and freshly chopped jalapeno-- boy, was I right!

This makes a wonderful snack for Cinco De Mayo.  They would also be great with a dollop of sour cream, some salsa, and a fresh sprig of cilantro.  But we didn't have any of those things in the lab.  Darn it!  Next time...

Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta
6 cups water
2 tsp salt
2 cups Polenta (aka grits)
2 jalapenos, chopped (I left the seeds and ribs in one half of one of the jalapenos.  Didn't want it to be too spicy!)
3 Tbsp butter
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle powder

1.  Bring the water and salt to a boil in a LARGE pot.  Slowly stir in polenta (so it doesn't lump) and then stir in the jalapenos.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  It will get very very thick.

2.  Add the butter, cheese, cumin and chipotle powder.  Stir well until it is all incorporated.

3.  Pour the polenta into a 9"x13".  You could serve it warm at this point and it would be good, but taking the extra time to let it cool and then fry makes it even better!

4.  Place the pan in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Then cut into 20 squares.

5.  Remove a square, form it into a ball, then press it flat into a patty.

6.  Fry the patties in canola oil or vegetable oil until crisp and golden brown on each side (about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

7.  Remove to paper towels to drain and serve warm.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Since that Artisan Bread makes the CUTEST bread bowl for soup, I thought I'd include a really really good soup recipe.

Broccoli Cheese Soup sounds simple enough, but its really not.  It can easily come out as a glop of cheese swimming in a sea of curdled milk.  Oh yes, it happened.  Not this time-- this time was much better!

It all began with my Bountiful Basket.  Don't know what a Bountiful Basket is?  Go here: and check it out.  The week before last, we got a ton of Broccoli.  A TON!!  six small heads of the stuff.  Broccoli is great, but you can have it steamed only so many days in a row.  Then you start crinkling your nose and uttering things like 'Broccoli AGAIN?!'.  Until you make this soup.  Then you'll be hoarding it away in little plastic containers in your fridge-- with labels for each day of the week.  Yes, that happened too!  But don't worry.  I shared with the people at work!

Here is my lovely recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup (adapted from

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup butter (the REAL stuff)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 gallon 2% milk
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp white pepper
6 cups chopped broccoli*
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1-1/2 lbs Velveeta, cut into little cubes
3 cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1.  Melt butter in the bottom of a very large pot.  Add onion.  Saute until onion is soft and translucent, but not browned (about 5 minutes).

2.  Sprinkle in the flour and whisk.  Cook about 2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out.  Keep it moving so it doesn't burn. 

3.  While constantly stirring, slowly add in the chicken stock.  Keep it moving and add it slow-- this will prevent any lumps from forming.  Once the chicken stock is in, stir in the milk, salt and pepper.  Bring this mixture barely to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to stir every few minutes to prevent the milk from burning on the bottom.

4.  Meanwhile, place the broccoli and shredded carrot in a large pot with a few inches of water.  Cook until crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.

5.  Gradually add the Velveeta chunks, a few at a time with stirring, to the milk mixture.  Once all the Velveeta is mixed in, slowly sprinkle in the Sharp Cheddar cheese, stirring constantly.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.  Add the drained vegetables to the pot and stir well.  Cook another 5-10 minutes, or until vegetables are warmed through and the soup is hot!

To serve in a bread bowl:
Trim off the top 1/3 of the Artisan Bread Loaf.  Carefully hollow out the bottom of the loaf using a spoon-- be sure to leave at least an inch or so of bread all around.  Ladle in the soup and enjoy!

*I used fresh broccoli here.  I trimmed off the florets, then peeled and chopped the stalk.  You could also use a big bag of frozen chopped broccoli.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Artisan Bread

Whoa!  I'm on the mending side of a 6-day flu bug.  NO FUN!!  I haven't been that sick since high school!  Thank goodness I have a great team at work that allowed me to take three days off to lay on the couch and take antibiotics.  Feeling much much better now!

I have a couple of posts for you that I meant to upload last week.  This first post is absolutely beautiful.  Wanna peek?  Ok....

Cross Artisan Bread

Isn't she pretty?  She's even prettier slathered with butter.  Yummmm!!!

I've been telling you about the book 'Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day' for a while now.  It's really easy to follow and the bread it produces is absolutely wonderful.  The loaves are about the size of a bread bowl.  Just right for little ol' me.  The last time Ty was here, I baked up a loaf and we used it for BLT's.  Pretty dang tasty!

So here you go:

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day
3 cups water, room temp or slightly warmer
1-1/2 Tbsp salt
1-1/2 Tbsp yeast (I use Rapid Rise)
6-1/2 cups flour (For this recipe, I used 5-1/2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)

1.  Put the water, yeast and salt in the bowl of your mixer.  Slosh it around a bit.  Don't worry about letting it sit to get all foamy. 

2.  Dump the flour on top of the yeast mixture.  All at once!

Start the mixer on the lowest speed and let it go for a few seconds.  You can speed it up a bit if you like once some of the flour is taken up.  It will form a loose dough like this at first:

Keep stirring and it will eventually form a soft shaggy dough ball.  Like this:

3.  Scoop your dough into a large plastic container.  I use a cereal storage container because its tall and skinny and fits in my fridge without taking up too much room.

 For some reason, my computer liked to load this pic on its side.  Just turn your head to the right and you'll get the idea.  Let the dough rest in the container for 2 hours.  Make sure the lid is not closed tight so the gases created by the fermenting dough can escape.  After 2 hours, it should look like this:

Yep-- head tip to the right.  Time to put it in the fridge.  Its ready to use a few hours later, once its cold.  The cold dough is a lot easier to handle than room temp dough and it will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Baking a loaf when you're ready is super easy!

Baking a Loaf:

1.  Dust the top of the dough with flour.  Using clean hands, pull a piece of dough about the size of a grapefruit out of the container.  Quickly form into a ball by stretching the dough around and under the ball.  Pinch the bottom to seal.  This is called 'cloaking'.  I like to place my ball on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper.  Let it rest at room temp for about 40 minutes or so.

Cloaked Dough

2.  After 25 minutes or so, preheat the oven with a pizza stone in the center to 450°F.  Place an old pan in the bottom-- you'll be pouring in some water to create steam as the bread bakes!  Let the oven preheat for 15 to 20 minutes.

3.  When its time to bake, lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour.  This will help with slashing.

Use a sharp serrated blade to slash.  My two favorite patterns are:

The Cross

The Scallop
4.  Using a pizza peel, slide the loaf of bread onto the hot stone in the oven.  Pour a cup of HOT tap water into the extra pan and close the oven door.  Set the timer for 15 minutes.

5.  After the 15 minutes is up, slide the parchment paper out from under the loaf so the bread sits directly on the stone.  Close the oven door and continue to bake for another 25 minutes.

6.  Pull the loaf out of the oven and let cool for at least an hour before slicing.  The crust will pop and crackle as it cools.  Food with sound effects!  Hoorah!

Scalloped Loaf

Cross Loaf from the Top
I hope you enjoy this bread-- and that you buy the book!  There are TONS of great recipes in there using this dough method.

Happy May Day!