Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Challah

Sorry guys, we are experiencing severe problems with out internet. Basically, we want it to work and it doesn't go our way. Not sure why the cows thought the phone line would taste good, but they were convinced and I hope they're bitterly disappointed. Anyway, here is the May challenge. Not as fun or tasty as Nazook, but what could be?

The "deal" with challah is the braid. There is a three strand braid (what I did), a four strand braid, a six strand braid, and a four strand round braid. There might be more. There is religious/ spiritual significance to each type of braid. I'd tell ya about them all, but I won't even pretend to know that much about it.

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from "A Taste of Challah," by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Here's a recipe you can try:

Easy Challah (from templedavid.org)

4 cups (960 ml) (360 gm/20 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) (11¼ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) package rapid rise yeast
½ (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

Directions: 1. Measure flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, beat until well combined. Cover with a dish towel, let stand 30 min.
4. Add two eggs to the dough, beat again.
5. By hand or with your dough hook knead in the remaining flour mixture. Knead approximately 10 minutes.
6. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour.
7. Punch down dough, knead approximately 3 minutes.
8. Divide dough in two. Shape each half as desired (3, 4, or 6 strand braid).
9. Place loaves on parchment covered or greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise one hour.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
11. Brush loaves with egg wash.
12. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, bake until golden crust forms (about 25-30 minutes).
13. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Here's what mine looked like. My egg wash was on the watery side and someone thought it should be "patted down" (mishap that we won't talk about, well, yeah I will - thanks a lot for your help Jake!), but it still tasted good!

And no, the tomatoes in the background have nothing to do with challah. This was just the tomatoes that had been picked in the garden today and since they are so pretty (and tasty too) I thought they'd be a better background than a bare countertop.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

So my incredibly talented and artistic son, Zach, made me the best Mother's Day card. He did it in a way that screams "Zach". He made it out of Lego's!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

   I am such a fan of Mexican food that it has really become an obsession. My favorite restaurant is El Campesino in Grandview. The food is fantastic and the people that work there are so nice that they make you feel like you are sitting down at the family table when you have a meal. Chicken Enchiladas are hands down one of my favorite dishes. The tender bites of chicken with a mild sauce just make my toes curl.
   I used to go out to eat with my dad quite often to eat Mexican food. Mom was out of town as a flight attendant and Heaven forbid we cook too often. I always had a play practice and he had to work. So we ate Mexican food. If we went to On The Border it was always fajitas, but anywhere else and it was chicken enchiladas all the way!
   I have tried almost every recipe out there for the sour cream sauce, many of which were incredibly disappointing. My neighbor, Ginger, gave me this recipe and technique, so enjoy it like I do. If you want you can make extra and either freeze it, put it in the fridge for the next day, or let the kids take it to school for lunches and make their friends jealous.

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

1 whole uncooked chicken
3 cans of Mild Green Chili Enchilada Sauce (I use mild because my kids are wimps, use the heat
your family likes)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 c. of sour cream (or more to taste)
corn tortillas
shredded cheese (I make my own; your can use Cheddar, Colby, Monterrey Jack, or any combo)

Don't ya like how technical and exact this recipe is?

So first you want to boil your chicken in a big pot of water til it's done. I like to add chicken bouillon and Sazon Goya spice to the water to give it a little kick. If you don't have that, then it's fine to not use it. After the chicken is done, set the chicken in a bowl or on a plate to cool. SAVE THE BROTH!
 (I skim the fat off the top of the broth and save as much of the broth as possible. It's great for soup, mashed potatoes, and rice.)
  Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, shred it off the bone and put your chicken in a separate bowl.

Then you want to mix up your enchilada sauce, sour cream, and soup in a bowl. Set that bowl aside. In another bowl, put your shredded cheese in. You want to get the cheese out of the bowl instead of the bag because your hands are going to be dirty and you don't want to get sauce on cheese that you want to use another time.  You are going to want to make an assembly line on your counter top. Get a 9x13 baking dish and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Spread a little sauce on the bottom of the pan. You are just wanting to make sure that none of the enchiladas stick to the pan when you try to take them out.  Beside that pan you need a clean plate.
  Put about 16 corn tortillas wrapped in paper towels in a tortilla warmer and cook on hi for about 2 minutes. You want the tortillas to be soft so that when you roll them up, they don't crack. If they start to crack, warm them up some more. (If you don't have a tortilla warmer, wrap the tortillas in paper towels and place a bowl upside down over the tortillas in the microwave. We are trying to steam them a bit.

  So your assembly line will have your baking dish, a plate to work on, your tortillas, a bowl of chicken, a bowl of sauce, and a bowl of cheese.
  The first thing you do is grab a tortilla and dip both sides in sauce, then lay it on your plate.
Now take some chicken and put it in a strip down the middle of the tortilla. Then put a pile of cheese on the chicken.

Tightly roll up the tortilla around the filling and place it in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat for the rest. The number of enchiladas you will have will depend on how much filling you put in and how tightly you roll.
When you have the pan filled, pour the sauce over the top. Sometimes I use all the sauce and sometimes I don't. You don't want to make a soup of your dish, but you want plenty of sauce for your enchiladas to cook in. Sprinkle extra cheese over the top. I've figured out since I made this that a little sprinkle of paprika really brings the enchiladas to a new level.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You want the sauce to really be bubbling and the cheese to be melted. It will be tempting to take it out early, but don't. You want that sauce to really cook in to your enchiladas.
Add a side dish of the Mexican Rice and some refried beans and you have a fantastic dinner. This reheats fantastically - if there's any left.