Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises: Sourdough Tortillas

It's hard for my family to resist a Mexican dinner. It wasn't uncommon when I was younger for my family to eat at Mexican restaurants two or three days a week. So, when Sourdough Surprises picked flatbreads for the month of February, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to make tortillas.

Of course, this ended up being a many-days process. First and foremost, I had to finally take the time to re-season my grandmother's cast iron pan (sadly, I know its benefits – but it sat in the back of the cupboard for I don't know how long). Then the two day process of making tortillas, and finally, a Mexican dinner for my family.

Well, this one wasn't an easy one. For starters, I could barely get the whole 3 cups of flour mixed into the dough when I made it. A day later, and the dough was so wet I could hardly handle it. Perhaps because I used regular all-purpose flour (unfortunately, I'm the only one who watches what I eat in my house, and at least one of my taste testers dislikes whole wheat products). I managed, though. It made nearly twice what the recipe indicated, so that was another plus. And then I had to wait until I had another day off to make dinner and try them! It was tough – I was looking forward to a homemade Mexican meal.

The recipe:
Sourdough Tortillas
Adapted very slightly from Grain Mill Wagon
- 3 cups flour
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup sourdough starter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Pinch salt
Step One:  Combine the water, flour, salt, and sourdough starter in your mixer or food processor.  Keep adding flour, slowly, until the dough forms a nice ball without sticking too much to the sides of the mixer.  Once you get the dough to a soft ball form, allow the mixer to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes (if you don’t have a mixer, just do this by hand!)  Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let this hang out on your counter for 12-24 hours.
Step Two:  When you’re ready to cook up your tortillas, heat up a griddle, cast iron skillet, or cooking pan of choice to medium-high heat.  I don’t bother with greasing or spraying my griddle.  I like to use my large griddle so that I can have multiple tortillas going at the same time – it helps to speed up the process.
Step Two:  Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer onto a greased surface.  Gently divide the dough into walnut sized balls (this recipe will yield a dozen or so, depending on size).
Step Four:  Grease your hands with a little olive oil and working with one ball of dough at a time, use your fingers to smoosh the dough out into a tortilla.  I suppose you could use a greased rolling pin, but I find that using my fingers alone works fine.  Sure, the shape isn’t a perfect circle – but that’s okay!  It’s homemade, remember?
Step Five:  After rolling out the tortilla, gently and carefully move it to the hot skillet.  Cook it for about 30 seconds per side, until a little golden and bubbly.
Step Six:  You can either eat these immediately, or cool them off and store them in the fridge or freezer for later use.  I have found that they reheat very easily and even stay soft.  Yay!

So then comes dinner:
A little chicken breast, a lot of seasoning, some cheese and salsa...they ended up being tough for tacos – just a tad too small, but they were certainly delicious.

(I did also have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on one, but at 11:30 at night...I forgot to snap a picture.)

I can't say I'm going to make homemade tortillas again anytime soon – my family still eats at Mexican restaurants enough that it doesn't make sense to make a Mexican dinner at home. But I'm glad I did.

And now I just need another day off to spend in the kitchen!

Check out our other awesome flatbreads!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shine Supper Club: Breakfast-in-Bed-Worthy Mocha Oatmeal

When I first saw that the Shine SupperClub was doing “Sexy Dishes” for February, I was at a loss. I'm a single girl, just cooking for family and friends. Romantic dinners for two hasn't been in my repertoire.

Then, after a hard workout, I was exhausted and looking for some carbohydrates. I turned to one of my quick and easy favorites: oatmeal. When I'm as tired as I was, I sometimes just make an instant oatmeal packet with hot brewed coffee. When it's plain, one of my favorite sweeteners is a packet of hot cocoa mix. At this point, I was so tired I wanted someone to just bring it to me.

And then it hit me: it's the perfect breakfast-in-bed food. And what's sexier than breakfast-in-bed and chocolate?

Of course, instant oatmeal and hot cocoa are easy enough to throw together. So for my next post-workout oatmeal dish, I set out to make a more from-scratch version.

So, a little coffee, a little sugar, a lot of cocoa powder (I like it dark!) and a coffee creamer and voilia!

Breakfast-in-Bed Mocha Oatmeal
Serves 1...but easily doubled

1/2 cup quick cooking oats
2/3 cup cold coffee (oatmeal will be on the thick side, use more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar (use more or less to taste)
1 half-and-half coffee creamer, or flavor of choice
Splash of vanilla extract

Mix oats, cocoa, and sugar in a bowl, stir to prevent clumping when wet ingredients are added. Add coffee and vanilla, stir.

Microwave 1 1/2 minutes, or amount of time specified on oatmeal container.

Add coffee creamer, stir until well mixed.

I think this on a tray, maybe with a side of strawberries, would make anybody's sexy meal list. It's also a perfect breakfast food – get your caffeine fix in your morning oatmeal!

I'm not making any promises if you serve this to your sweetie. But I think it ups your chances. Now if someone would just make it for me...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Light Orange Soda Cupcakes

It seems like whenever I most need sweets, I don't have time to bake.

In case you haven't heard, the NHL lockout is officially and utterly over – and that means this wannabe baker has regular work again. It also means that I don't have nearly as much time in the kitchen, much less time to blog about it.

Diet soda cake is nothing new to me. I was introduced in the early 2000's when I was on Weight Watchers for my sister's wedding. A box of cake mix and a can of diet soda is all it takes. It comes out super moist, although it falls apart easily.

Generally, people use lemon-lime soda for yellow cakes and diet cola (or the variations) for chocolate cakes. A while back, I got the idea to try and recreate the flavor of one of my favorite from-up-north treats: Orange Chocolate. Why not use orange soda and chocolate cake?

Unfortunately, whenever I bought orange soda, it kept disappearing. So I took a permanent marker, wrote “NEEDED FOR BAKING” on it and then...procrastinated. Until now. With a couple of days off, into the kitchen I went.

Like I said, without any eggs or oil in the cake, it does fall apart easily. Therefore, I prefer them made as cupcakes with paper liners – even though I despise cupcake wrappers almost as much as I despise trying to make sure my cupcakes/muffins are of equal size. The recipe also only makes about three quarters of what the box says. I wound up with 19 cupcakes.

The benefit of the crumbly, moist texture is that you can go with a much lighter frosting. With a package of whipped topping in the pantry, I opted to use that and added a packet of hot chocolate mix to it.

Need an official recipe?

Diet Orange Soda Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

1 box Chocolate Fudge Cake mix
1 can (12oz or 1 1/2 cup) diet orange soda

1 packet whipped topping mix
Milk and vanilla as called for on box
1 packet of hot cocoa mix

Mix cake mix and soda in a large mixing bowl. Scoop batter into paper-lined muffin tin, filling about 2/3 full

Bake as according to instructions on box. Cupcakes will be done on the lower end of the time range given. Cool on a wire rack.

Prepare whipped topping as directed. Mix in hot cocoa mix until well combined.

Spread topping on completely cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

As far as chocolate cupcakes are concerned, these were good. However, while there was definitely something different about them, you couldn't really taste the orange flavor. Perhaps if I'd used a regular chocolate cake mix, the orange might have shone through a little more.

Best yet, each iced cupcake works out to a whole 130 calories. Sure, health nuts will probably go off on me about the trans fats in the whipped topping and the artificial sweeteners in the soda, but I firmly believe that eventually they'll discover that everything has something bad for you in it. I say enjoy, like everything else, in moderation.

Now I just need to get back to baking!