Yeast Artisan Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Yeast Artisan Bread! There’s no doubt bread can be a family’s comfort food, even if you seldom bake it yourself. With more people setting up a home office or home schooling, suddenly bread-baking has turned into a thing. And if you own a bread machine, better yet. Dust it off and give it center stage on the quartz countertop in your gourmet kitchen. Baking bread is like therapy for the soul. We combine ingredients, knead dough, make decorative slits on top, and bake it to a rich golden color. From start to finish, it becomes a focused project. When the house begins to smell like the neighborhood corner bakery, everyone notices. It’s time to slice it up and slather on the butter.

YEAST ARTISAN BREAD

Ingredients:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet active yeast

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, add ingredients in the order listed. Always add the yeast last, creating a small indentation on the top of the dry ingredients. Pour yeast into indentation. Select the “Dough” setting. At the end of the cycle, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for one minute. Grease a bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour. Cover bowl with a damp cloth. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch the dough down and knead for a few seconds. Form the dough into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover again and allow it to rise in a warm place 30 minutes longer. To bake in an iron skillet, preheat oven to 400°. Put the iron skillet in the oven while it is preheating. Place a roasting pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. Fill it with one inch of hot water. Using oven mitts, remove the hot skillet from the oven. Grease the inside of the skillet with olive oil. Sprinkle with one tablespoon cornmeal. Carefully transfer the puffed bread dough to the iron skillet. Dip a kitchen shears in hot water. Cut slits in the top of the dough. Sprinkle generously with water. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the loaf is a deep golden brown. When a cake tester is inserted in the center, it comes out clean. Remove the iron skillet from the oven. Immediately remove artisan bread to prevent over baking. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting.

Queso Chicken Flautas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Queso Chicken Flautas! Are you as torn between corn tortillas and flour tortillas as I am? There are days, and certain dishes, where nothing but corn will do: tamales, taquitos, enchiladas, tacos, and chips. Corn tortillas, generally, are much smaller and easier to hold. When they are soaked in sauce, they are more pliable and suitable for baking. If you like the taste of toasted corn as well as the chewy texture, corn tortillas are for you. The same applies to flour tortillas: quesadillas, flautas, fajitas, chimichangas, and burritos. Flour tortillas are bigger, not to mention softer for folding. You already know this if you’ve ever eaten a monster burrito or ginormous chimichanga. One is baked, the latter is fried. Today’s recipe features the sturdiness of a flour tortilla to hold the juicy chicken and melted cheese filling without turning soggy or falling apart. What a delicious dilemma.

QUESO CHICKEN FLAUTAS

Ingredients for Herbed Sour Cream:

8 ounces sour cream

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons green onions, chopped

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

4.5 ounce can green chiles, drained and diced

1 envelope taco seasoning mix, less 1 tablespoon for remaining recipe

12-count flour tortillas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

15-ounce jar queso cheese dip, warmed

Instructions:

To make the herbed sour cream, combine sour cream, honey, lime juice, and sea salt in a bowl. Stir until smooth. Gently fold in chopped cilantro leaves and green onions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. In a medium bowl, combine shredded chicken, Mexican cheese blend, cream cheese, and diced green chilies. Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix (less 1 tablespoon of mix). Stir thoroughly. Set aside. In a small dish, whisk vegetable oil with reserved taco seasoning mix. Set aside. Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. To assemble flautas, place 1/4 cup chicken mixture on bottom third of each flour tortilla. Roll up tightly, leaving ends open. Place seam-side down on prepared baking sheet. Brush filled chicken flautas with seasoned oil mixture. Repeat until all tortillas are filled. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until flautas are crispy. Serve with warmed queso cheese dip, herbed sour cream, and chunky salsa.

No Yeast Beer Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: No Yeast Beer Bread! Never in my wildest dream did I ever realize there would be a shortage of all-purpose flour and yeast. Yet, the grocery store shelves were bare. I don’t know if it had anything to do with panic-buying during the coronavirus quarantine or if people were baking up a storm in isolation. Homemade bread is a comfort food, after all. Kneading dough can be a distraction from stay-at-home kids and social media rants. Plus the incredible aroma of bakery bread is soothing and rewarding. So, the obvious answer was to go to the fridge and open a can of beer. Beer acts as a leavening agent, as long as baking powder is included in the recipe. For those who wonder, the alcohol does burn out and evaporate. Now the results are a more dense and heavy bread with a thicker crust, just so you know. Personally, I like the crunchiness of toast better that way. Then again, it could be the result of “bathing” it in butter before baking. Let’s jam with beer bread!

NO YEAST BEER BREAD

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

12-ounces beer, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and sea salt. Stir until mixed. Add the beer, stirring until the dough forms. Set aside. Warm the butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Brush the parchment paper on bottom and sides of the loaf pan. Spoon the dough into the buttered loaf pan. The dough will have a rustic appearance. Brush the remaining butter evenly over the top of the dough. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. The bread will be a golden brown. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert pan to remove the beer bread. Slice and serve.

Dark Chocolate Mug Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Dark Chocolate Mug Cake! The first thing I want to tell you about this recipe is coconut flour can make a cake drier than all-purpose flour. True, it does make it a gluten-free alternative AND an excuse to add a scoop of ice cream, which I did. I would call the texture very dense, but my husband was painfully honest and used the word “dry”. I believe adding an extra egg white might alleviate that problem, but who knows? Perhaps you’ll try it and get back to me. The gist of the story is, when you’re really craving something sweet and don’t want to put a lot of time into it, this is a “piece of cake”. Two minutes in the microwave and you’ve got it. Just add fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, and a wicked scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. You can blame me.

DARK CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 large egg, room temperature

Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Sliced almonds, for garnish

Instructions:

Rub the inside of a microwave-safe coffee mug with butter. Set aside. In a bowl, combine coconut flour, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and a large egg. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared mug. Microwave on High for 1-2 minutes. Carefully remove the mug and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add fresh strawberries and sliced almonds, for garnish.

Quite Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Quite Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies! One of the benefits of touching base with friends in the blogosphere is sharing blessings and paying it forward. Today’s recipe gives a “shout out” to Linda, The Dutch Baker*. She featured a fabulous peanut butter cookie recipe that absolutely made my mouth drool. So much so, I ran to my kitchen to insure I had all the necessary ingredients to whip up a batch. That’s one of the advantages of social distancing, in my opinion. Some even refer it as “stress baking” or “anxiety baking”. Quarantine cooking has even become a thing. It releases tension, challenges our skills, and satisfies the craving for a reward. Whatever way you choose to look at it, we’re all in this together.

QUITE TASTY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White sugar for rolling (optional)

Instructions:

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In a food processor, cream softened butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add crunchy peanut butter. Pulse to blend. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture only until slightly combined. Do not over mix. Transfer cookie dough to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The following day, remove bowl from refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. By the teaspoonful, form the dough into balls. Roll in white sugar. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake 11 minutes. Remove pan and allow cookies to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool peanut butter cookies completely before storing in an airtight container.

*Linda, The Dutch Baker, featured this recipe first. You may visit her at

http://thedutchbaker.wordpress.com/2020/03/18

Lovely Lace Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Lovely Lace Cookies! For the keen observer, you may notice this is the same recipe I used for Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough*. There is a simple explanation. For those who are unable to eat an entire batch of raw cookie dough, there is an alternative. Simply split the portion and bake a batch of Lovely Lace Cookies. But be forewarned. Once you drizzle them with chocolate, you may eat them faster than ever. I did. No shame!

LOVELY LACE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons light cream

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Syrup for drizzling

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor, combine butter and brown sugar. Cream together. Add vanilla extract and sea salt. Pulse to blend. Gradually add flour. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Add light cream. Pulse to mix well. By hand gentle fold in semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Drop by level teaspoons onto nonstick baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Watch carefully. Do not burn. Cool on baking sheet until firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with chocolate syrup before serving.

*Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough can be referenced under Letter E at https://snapshotsincursive.com/2017/03/23

Homemade Tortilla Chips

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Homemade Tortilla Chips! Ever wonder why your favorite Mexican restaurant has such incredible tortilla chips? Well now you can make your own café-style chips at home. Begin with flour and corn tortillas the day before. Just open the packages and let them breathe overnight on the kitchen counter. This simple step removes any excess moisture and allows them to fry up crispier. Sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chunky salsa is practically a dream come true.

HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS

Ingredients:

2 cups vegetable oil

1 package yellow corn tortillas, extra thin

1 package flour tortillas, soft taco size

Sea salt to taste

Instructions:

Cut each corn tortilla into 8 wedges. Use entire package. Set aside. Cut each flour tortilla in half and then into strips. Use entire package. Set aside. Beginning with one cup vegetable oil in a large skillet, heat the oil on medium setting until a tortilla sizzles. Avoid smoke. That means the oil is too hot. Place a handful of corn tortilla wedges into the hot oil. Do not overlap. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the chips are golden and crisp. Use tongs to flip over half way through, if necessary. As the oil is used, reduce heat to avoid smoking. Use tongs to remove chips from oil; drain on paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat in batches until all corn chips are fried. Add remaining cup of oil to skillet. Repeat with flour tortilla strips. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!

Rum Raisin Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Rum Raisin Cookies! Before you turn the page, let me clarify…you can choose to omit the rum in this recipe and substitute with water and opt for rum extract instead. Either way, if you’re a raisin-lover, this version puts the “plump” in raisin to make them moist and chewy. In the time it takes to preheat the oven and assemble the remaining ingredients, the raisins are ready to use. Trust me, everyone will thank you!

RUM RAISIN COOKIES

Ingredients:

2 cups raisins

1 cup dark rum

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. Set aside; do not drain. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Add the slightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix thoroughly before folding in the raisins and chopped almonds. Drop with a tablespoon 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes. Cool on wired rack.

Flour & Barley Brick Oven Pizza in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Flour & Barley Brick Oven Pizza in Las Vegas, Nevada. Everyone has that craving for pizza at one time or another. Flour & Barley, on The Linq Promenade, designed an Italian-American eatery for just that reason. Don’t expect the ordinary choices, though. Flour & Barley focuses on uniquely fresh ingredients, gluten-free options, specialty Italian sauces, and even a vegan cheese if needed. Pizza not your thing? No worries. Go with a meal salad, pasta dish, or seafood entree. It’s all good. Hip patio dining offers the perfect vantage point for people-watching plus a nice view of the High Roller.