Tuesday, February 8, 2011

French Country Bread and Baguettes

4 cups bread flour
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water (115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
oil for bowl


In a bowl, mix together the flour and the salt.

In another bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and half of the flour/salt mixture. Using your hands, mix until it forms a dough. Then, cover with a dish cloth and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours. It should triple in size.

Gently incorporate the rest of the flour/salt, using your hands.

Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. It should be supple and elastic when you stop kneading.

Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with a dish towel. Let sit for 1 hour. It should double in size.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Knead again. Then cut dough into 3 parts and form each part into a long baguette. Place on a baking sheet. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Place a bowl of water in the oven. Bake baguettes for about 25 minutes (maybe less). Remove the bowl of water after 15 minutes of baking.

Baguettes are particularly crusty and light because they are cooked at extremely high temperatures and are vaporized. Even though domestic ovens can't go as high a real French bakery ovens, you can still make an excellent baguette, by remembering to put a bowl of water in the oven. And, of course by baking at a very high temperature.

Beef Stew with Potato Fingerlings, Green Peppers, and Carrots

2 1/2 lbs beef (sliced 3/4" thick diagonally 2" X  3"
3 cups potato fingerlings (cut in half with skin on)
3 cups carrots (cut 1/2 inch)
1 big bell pepper (cut into 12 pieces lengthwise)
1 medium-sized sliced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablesppoons canola or olive oil
1 big can tomato sauce
4 cups beef stock
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 laurel or bay leaves

Marinate the beef with the garlic, onion, vinegar, and bay leaves for 30 minutes or longer.  Heat a saute pan to high.  Brown the marinated beef and cook until it sweats.  Add the tomato sauce and the beef stock and cook for 40 minutes until meat is tender.  Add the carrots, potato fingerlings, and green peppers,  and cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat.  Mix everything together and the sauce should thicken by this time.  Simmer on low for about 5 to 10 minutes more.  Serve with rice or bread.   

*Serves 6 to 8
Kitchen Tried and Tested by author on 02/07/2011

Homemade French Country Baguette And Strawberry Jam

My daughter took a photo of her plate this morning before eating her breakfast and she emailed it to me. A plate of a simple dish all of which were homemade. 

The hearty French country baguette was baked last night and the strawberry jam was made the other night.  The baguette was crusty on the outside and just right inside, soft and hearty.  Strawberry jam is not too sweet and made of organic strawberries, brown sugar, and lime juice.  No artificial ingredients but all natural and organic.

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