Baked Ziti Casserole with Eggplant and Veal Meatballs

Layers of ziti, tossed with marinara and ricotta nestled between slices of eggplant and tiny veal meatballs.  Do I have your attention?  Pure comfort food for a cold winter night, this casserole comes together in just over an hour.  With healthy whole grains, lean veal and light dairy this is a meal you can enjoy guilt free!

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 lb. ground veal
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups whole wheat bread crumb
  • olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups marinara
  • 3/4 cup low fat ricotta
  • whole wheat bread crumbs and grated parmesan for topping

Preparation:

Combine the veal, egg, milk, parmesan and bread crumb in a large bowl.  Mix well using your hands, then form 2 dozen small meatballs.  Brush a skillet lightly with olive oil and cook the meatballs over medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides.  Don’t crowd the meatballs in the pan, cook in batches if necessary.

 

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Set aside the cooked meatballs.  You can drain them on paper towel to remove some if the oil.   Next peel and slice the eggplant.  Try to keep the slices about 1/4″ thick.

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Brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Quickly cook them in the same skillet.

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Cook the ziti for about 3 minutes less than the package directions.  They will cook the rest of the way in the oven.  Divide the sauce between 2 containers and whisk the ricotta into one half of the sauce.

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Toss the cooked ziti with the ricotta mixture.

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Now we are ready to assemble the casserole.  Preheat your oven to 350º and coat a 9″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with half of the eggplant slices.

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Top the eggplant with half the baked ziti and meatballs.

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Repeat with another layer of sauce, eggplant, ziti and meatballs.  Finish with the remaining sauce.

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Top it off with a few shakes of breadcrumb and grated parmesan.

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Bake for 30 minutes and finish under the broiler for 2 minutes, just until the topping is slightly browned.  Watch that it doesn’t burn!

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Mmmmm….  This meal got raves at our house!

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This dinner takes a little longer to prepare than most of my weeknight favorites.  You can save time by making the meatballs in advance.  Believe me, if your family knows you are making this they won’t mind waiting a few more minutes!  Leftovers, if you have any are great the next day.  Next time I might make a double batch!

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joycebug

Posted in Casserole, Comfort Food, Healthy Italian Favorites, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta, Whole Grains | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pasta Fagioli Soup

There’s a little Italian restaurant we go to that makes the best Pasta Fagioli.  The weather is keeping us at home today, so I’m recreating this wonderful soup right in my own kitchen.  We’re snowed in so that means using what’s in the pantry.  I’ll bet you have all the ingredients too, so why not give this one a try?  It’s on the table in under an hour.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  • 1 slice of bacon, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 15.5 oz. can Navy beans
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 49 oz. fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup Ditalini pasta
  • grated parmigiano reggiano for serving

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Render the bacon and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Stir frequently until the vegetables cook down and release their liquid, about 15 minutes.

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Stir in the beans and the tomatoes.

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Add the bouillon, chicken broth and all of the seasonings.  Simmer 30 minutes.

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Add the Ditalini pasta directly to the soup (uncooked) and simmer 10 minutes more.

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Serve with grated cheese.  Add crusty bread and this soup is a meal in itself.  Make a big batch, it’s even better the next day!

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joycebug

 

Posted in Comfort Food, Italian Sunday Dinner, Soup, Under an hour | Leave a comment

Mezzi Rigatoni

Mezzi Rigatoni The Extruded Noodle 033aFor this week’s Italian Sunday Dinner I made Mezzi Rigatoni (half size rigatoni) with my KitchenAid® pasta press attachment.   The rigatoni shape is my favorite, and I’ve found that cutting them to half length helps keep their shape while cooking.  I’m using a combination of whole wheat pastry flour, semolina and Italian “00″ flour.  I try to use at least 50% whole grains in my recipes, but you can certainly use all white flour (bread flour works well).

Ingredients: (2-3 servings)

  • 207 g. flour (I used 107 g. whole wheat pastry flour, 50 g. semolina, 50 g. “00″ flour)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4-5 tbsp. ice water

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Preparation:

Measure out the ingredients.  Combine the flours and salt.  Whisk the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer.  With the paddle attachment, mix in the flour and up to 5 tbsp. of ice water to form a dry crumbly dough.  The dough will look like pie dough, but will hold together when you give it a squeeze.  Form the dough into walnut size balls, and slowly feed the dough balls into the hopper.  Don’t overcrowd, and wait for each piece of dough to be pulled into the auger before adding the next.  If the first few rigatoni don’t look nice and smooth like this throw them back into the hopper for another pass.

Mezzi Rigatoni The Extruded Noodle 048aSpread the pasta on a floured dish towel so that it doesn’t stick together.

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Set up a large pot of salted water and bring to a rolling boil.  Use a spoon or spatula to scoop up the pasta, try to leave most of the flour on the dishtowel.  Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir and cover immediately so the temperature quickly returns to boiling. Cook the pasta for 4 minutes.  Fresh pasta cooks quickly!

Food safety:  Refrigerate fresh pasta if you will not be cooking it within the hour.

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Drain and plate the pasta.  They are plumped up beautifully and cooked to al dente!

Mezzi Rigatoni The Extruded Noodle 056aTop it off with your favorite sauce and grated cheese.

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There is nothing like homemade!  Please comment if you liked this post and be sure to check out my meatball and sauce recipes!

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joycebug

 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure: I received no compensation from KitchenAid® for this post.  
Posted in Healthy Italian Favorites, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta | Leave a comment

Mushroom Risotto

I made this dish a few times over the holidays and everyone loved it!  Mushroom Risotto is a great side for a dinner party or any night of the week.  The prep does require 30 minutes of your undivided attention, so get your stirring arm ready and let’s make risotto!  6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 48 oz. can fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 carton of mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup shallots sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 cups Arborio rice
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese, for finishing
  • fresh chives, for finishing

Preparation:

Warm the chicken broth in a saucepan.  Heat 1 tbsp. of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.  Add 1 tbsp. olive oil in the skillet and stir in the shallots.  Cook for 1 minute then add the rice.  Toss well to coat the rice grains with oil.  Use a ladle to add 1/2 cup of broth to the skillet, stirring continuously until the rice absorbs most of the liquid, then continue adding one ladle of broth at a time, stirring until almost absorbed before adding the next.  Taste for doneness after about 30 minutes.  You will likely need most, but not all of the liquid.

When the rice is ready, remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.  Add back the reserved mushrooms and finish with 3 tbsp. butter, 1/4 cup grated cheese.  Sprinkle with fresh chives.

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Comfort food at its best, but nice enough for a holiday meal!  The leftovers reheat well so you can enjoy them the next day.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Tea Loaf

I love making quick breads in a tea loaf pan.  Measuring 12 x 3″, a tea loaf pan produces a long, slender loaf with smaller, diet friendly slices.  This recipe was inspired by my favorite yogurt, banana chocolate chip, and I used a 6 oz. carton in the batter.  You can use plain yogurt, vanilla or even sour cream.  You can also make this recipe in a 9 x 5″ loaf pan, just increase the baking time by 5-10 minutes.  I did not use nuts but they would be a welcome addition.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flourBanana Chocolate Chip Bread The Extruded Noodle 018a
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 6 oz.  lowfat yogurt (I used banana)Banana Chocolate Chip Bread The Extruded Noodle 015a
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet shaved chocolate
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs and banana and beat with the whisk attachment.

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Add the yogurt, butter, sugar and spices.

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Change to the paddle attachment, and gradually add the flour mixture and the milk, mix just until blended.  Stir in the chocolate shavings.

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Coat the loaf pan with cooking spray.  Distribute the batter evenly in the pan.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread The Extruded Noodle 023aBake for 50-55 minutes at 350º.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.

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Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then use a thin spatula to turn the loaf onto a cooling rack.

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Allow the loaf to cool to room temperature before slicing.

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Put the coffee on!  It’s time to enjoy this delicious dessert.  Nice for entertaining, and enjoy the leftovers for breakfast!

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If you liked this recipe, check out my Cranberry Orange Tea Loaf

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Sunday Waffles

At our house a healthy Sunday breakfast starts with a light fluffy waffle topped with nuts and fruit.  Sneak in whole grains by using a combination of whole grain and white pancake mix.  There are many substitutions for the ricotta in this recipe, including sour cream, yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin, and banana.  Vary the nuts (pecans, almonds) and fruit (pear, banana) to keep things interesting.  This recipe makes 4 waffles.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. organic canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup ricotta (use light or fat free)
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup pancake mix (such as Heart Smart Bisquick)
  • 1/2 cup whole grain pancake mix (such as 365 Organic 100% Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancake Mix)
  • 2 tbsp. walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar Splenda®
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. Brown Sugar Splenda®
  • cinnamon and nutmeg

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Preparation:

Whisk together the egg, oil, vanilla, ricotta and milk.   Add the pancake mix 1/4 cup at a time, stirring just a few times to incorporate.  Heat the waffle iron.  In a small skillet, toast the walnuts just until fragrant.  Turn the heat off, sprinkle with the Brown Sugar Splenda and stir continuously until it melts and all of the walnuts are coated.

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Add 1 tsp. butter to the skillet, and add the apples.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar Splenda®, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Stir and toss for a few minutes, just until the apples are coated and warmed through.

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Pour the batter onto the waffle iron and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Serve with the walnuts and fruit.

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Make extra waffles and freeze them.  They keep well and are delicious reheated in the microwave or the toaster.

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Whole Grain Sourdough Dinner Rolls

Today I’m making healthy, whole grain sourdough dinner rolls.  I love baking with whole grains and milling my own flour.  This is my favorite grain combination.  From top to bottom, we have White Wheat, Spelt and Kamut®.

Whole Grain Pull Apart Rolls The Extruded Noodle 007aUsing about 1/3 cup of each, I milled the grain into 1-3/4 cups of fresh flour.  You can substitute a good quality whole wheat flour such as King Arthur.  Be sure to check the expiration date as whole grain flours degrade more quickly than white flour.

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Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups whole grain flour
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 2 tbsp. powdered milk
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. softened butter
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • canola oil, for the proofing bowl
  • 1 egg, for brushing
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preparation:

Whisk together the flours, powdered milk, instant yeast and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg, starter, butter and sugar.

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With the dough hook attachment, gradually add the flour mixture and the water on low speed to form a soft dough.  Increase the speed to 3 and knead the dough for 5 more minutes.  Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and allow to rise in a warm, draft free area until doubled.

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Depending on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen it will take 60-90 minutes.

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Transfer the risen dough to an oiled cutting board and divide into 12 equal pieces.

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Form each piece into a ball by pressing it firmly into the cutting board in your cupped palm, using a rotating motion.

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Place the dough balls in a 9″ x 11″ baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour.

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The rolls will be touching.

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Preheat the oven to 400º.  Brush the top of the rolls with a well beaten egg.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Bake for 17 minutes.

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Use a spatula to remove the rolls to a cooling rack, all in one piece.

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Separate the rolls just before serving.  Delicious for soaking up your favorite sauces and gravies!

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For an easy white flour version of this recipe, see my earlier post Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

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Posted in Baking, Bread, Sourdough, Whole Grains | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cranberry Orange Tea Loaf

Long slender loaves of orange infused cranberry bread yield diet friendly slices and feed a crowd!  I have a pan that makes 3 12×3″ tea loaves, but you can also make 2 9×5″ loaves with this recipe.  It’s definitely a holiday favorite, great for entertaining and for gifting.

Cranberry Orange Tea Loaf The Extruded Noodle 008aIngredients:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • zest from one orange
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 bag cranberries (12 oz.)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Rinse and chop the cranberries using a food processor or electric chopper.  A few pulses should do it.  Add the eggs, shortening, sugar, zest, orange juice and cranberries to the bowl of a stand mixer and blend well using the whisk attachment.  Switch to the paddle attachment and gradually add the flour mixture.  Incorporate all of the flour, just until blended.  Stir in the walnuts.

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Coat the baking pan(s) with cooking spray.  Distribute the batter evenly between the pans.

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Bake tea loaves 40-45 minutes at 350º.  If using 9×5″ loaf pans, bake for 55-60 minutes.

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Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack.  Cool completely before slicing.

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The cranberry makes such a beautiful presentation.  Arrange the slices to show it off!

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Moist and delicious, nice for entertaining, bring to the office, even enjoy it for breakfast!  This recipe is too good to save for the holidays.  I’m making it this weekend!

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Posted in Baking, Holiday Favorites | 1 Comment

Low Carb Shephards Pie

Even at The Extruded Noodle we occasionally take a break from carbs.  Here, versatile rutabaga replaces the traditional potato topping in this Low Carb Shephards Pie.  Rutabaga is a nutritious root vegetable that is lower in calories and carbs than potato.  It originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip and may be sold as yellow turnip, waxed turnip or swede (Swedish turnip).  Hubby is always surprised at how good this is.  Follow the easy, step by step instructions and make it tonight!

3-4 Servings

For the Filling:

  • 8 oz. lean ground beef
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots and corn), thawed
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. low sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup light beer (or substitute low sodium beef broth)

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 large rutabaga or yellow turnip
  • 1 cup grated cheese (use your favorite, I used an Italian blend)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1% milk
  • paprika
  • Italian parsley for garnish

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Preparation:

Heat water in a sauce pan with a steamer basket.  Peel and cut the rutabaga into cubes.

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Steam the rutabaga until fork tender, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

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Heat olive oil in a pan or heavy skillet.  Add the onion, garlic, mixed vegetables and a pinch of salt.  Cook 4 minutes.

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Add the ground beef, thyme, pepper, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Break up the beef and continue stirring until browned all over.  Add the beer (or beef broth) and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

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To make the topping I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  You can also use a food processor or potato masher.  Combine the cooked rutabaga, cheese and butter and pinch of salt.  The recipe is very forgiving so substitute any cheese you like, even cream cheese will work.  Drizzle in a little 1% milk, until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes.

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Heat the oven to 400°.  Coat a 9″ round or square baking dish with cooking spray.  You can also use a pie dish, like I did here.  Add all of the filling.

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Spread the rutabaga evenly over the top and sprinkle with parmesan and paprika.  Bake for 25 minutes then broil on low for 4 minutes to brown the top.

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 Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately!

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This meal is very good and will satisfy your hunger without being too heavy!

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 ***************

Hint: Speed up the prep by peeling and steaming an entire rutabaga ahead of time.  You can freeze half for another recipe.  Or, use half of the rutabaga for this recipe and save the other half for oven fries later in the week.

Oven Fried Rutabaga

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Posted in #dashdiet, Comfort Food, Dash Diet Friendly, Low Carb | Leave a comment

Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Here is a nice easy recipe for yeasted rolls, perfect for family get-togethers and holiday dinners.  Forget those bland tasting supermarket rolls, these are so much better and they can be made ahead for less stress the day of your big event.

Ingredients:

  • 4-3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. softened butter
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil for proofing
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preparation:

Whisk the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, powdered milk, sugar, and yeast.  On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and water using enough water to form a soft dough.  Increase the speed to 3 and knead for 5 minutes.

Add the canola oil to a large bowl with the kneaded dough and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel and let the dough rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  The dough will double in size.

Gently deflate the risen dough and transfer to a cutting board.  Use a bench knife to divide the dough into 21 pieces.  Cup each piece in the palm of your hand and press against the cutting board in a rotating motion to form a tight ball.

Use a large baking sheet lined with parchment, or butter a 9 x 11″ glass baking dish and a 9 x 9″ glass baking dish.  Arrange the rolls 1″ apart, and mist with cooking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.  The rolls will be touching.

Beat an egg until frothy and brush over the top of the rolls.  I like to sprinkle half the rolls with toasted sesame seeds.  Bake in a 400º oven for 15 minutes.

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Use a spatula to slide the rolls onto a cooling rack (in one piece).

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They can be served warm or at room temperature.  Pull the rolls apart just before serving.

 

Holiday Dinner The Extruded Noodle 008a

 

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Posted in Baking, Bread, Holiday Favorites | 1 Comment

Beef Stir Fry

Stir-fry dinners are a fast and easy weeknight meal.  Try this one with beef!  Prep your veggies ahead and this dish comes together in 15 minutes!  The recipe serves 2 but you can easily double or triple for a large family.

For the sauce, whisk together the following:

  • 3/4 cup broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup Mirin (rice wine)
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaping tbsp. corn starch

Prep the following:

  • 1/2 lb. stir fry beef
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, ends removed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup carrot, cut into match sticks
  • 1/4 cup celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 oz. Chinese noodles (I like Hang’s noodles)
  • 2 tbsp. organic canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds

Put it all together!

Whisk together the sauce ingredients and let stand while you prep the veggies.  Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet and set aside with the scallions for finishing.  Cook the noodles, drain and set aside.  Now add a little canola and sesame oil to the skillet and brown the beef, 1-2 minutes.  Toss with a little soy sauce and set aside.  Add the vegetables to the skillet with the rest of the oil.  Stir fry until the veggies are crisp tender, 3-4 minutes and toss with more soy sauce.  Now add the meat and noodles back to the skillet and slowly pour in the sauce.  Toss and stir continuously until well combined and the sauce begins to thicken.  Transfer to a large serving platter and garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds.

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Look at the vibrant color in this dish!  This is one of my favorite weeknight meals.  Try it at your house!

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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Asian Inspired, Dinner for two | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Braised Lamb Shanks with Farro

For our first Italian Sunday Dinner of 2015, I made a hearty lamb stew with farro.  I had been thinking about this recipe for a while and the lamb shanks were waiting patiently in the freezer!  Farro, a nutty flavored whole grain is a staple in Italian cooking.  You can substitute any whole grain such as spelt, barley or wheat berries.  Although you will see three different pans being used in the photos, the truth is the entire dish can be prepared in one pot.  You will need a pot or deep skillet with a cover that can go from stovetop to oven.  A Dutch oven is perfect.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1.5 lb. lamb shanks (1 large or 2 small)
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for browning
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups low fat, low sodium beef broth
  • 1/3 cup farro (substitute spelt, barley or wheat berries)
  • 6-7 gold baby potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

Preparation:

Season the lamb shank with salt and pepper then dredge in the flour.  Shake off the excess.  As you can see from the photo, I had visions of cutting the lamb shank in half but even my butcher knife was not up to the task.  So I left it in tact for a 2 hour braise until the meat was falling off the bone tender.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Farro The Extruded Noodle 004a

Heat a heavy skillet or Dutch oven and add 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Brown the lamb on all sides.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Farro The Extruded Noodle 009a

Sauté the carrots and onion in the same pan.

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Rinse the farro and add to the lamb and vegetables.

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Whisk together the wine, beef broth, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Pour over the lamb and vegetables and add the bay leaf.  Cover and bake for 2 hours.

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While the stew is cooking, prepare the finishing touches.  Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a heavy pan and add 1 tbsp. olive oil, 6 garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp. rosemary.  Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and gently cook until the garlic is soft.  Cut the baby potatoes in half.

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Two hours later and the lamb smells amazing.  By now the bone has served its purpose, creating a rich and flavorful sauce.  This pan has been working hard!

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Removing the meat from the bone was easy and for a nice presentation I decided to transfer everything to a clean casserole.

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Arrange the potato halves over the top and brush with the garlic butter.

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Cover and bake for another 45  minutes, brushing with the garlic butter half way through.  Remove the cover for the last 20 minutes.  Garnish with parsley and it’s ready to serve!

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Isn’t this beautiful!  The look, the smell, the taste!

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Please do try it!  Serve with red wine and crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Farro The Extruded Noodle 059a

 The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

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Posted in Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Italian Sunday Dinner, Stew, Whole Grains | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

BBQ Chicken Bites

Soft enriched dough surrounds cheesy bites of chicken!  Finger food at it’s best, this is an appetizer that everyone will love!  The recipe makes 4 dozen or more bites and you can prepare most of it ahead of time.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 2 cups (about 10 oz.) cooked chicken breast, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup prosciutto, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, chopped fine
  • 5 tbsp. softened butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce plus more for brushing and dipping

Preparation:

Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for 5 minutes to form a soft supple ball.  Place the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl, and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean dishtowel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.  While the dough rises, prepare the filling.  Combine the cooked chicken, prosciutto, cheddar, 4 tbsp. melted butter and BBQ sauce.

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Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 12″ rope.

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Use a rolling pin to flatten each section into a 4″ wide rectangle.

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Rub 1 tbsp. softened butter over the dough, and distribute the filling evenly down the middle of each section.

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Carefully roll the dough up around the filling and pinch the seams to seal.  Roll into a cylinder shape and place seam side down.  Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes more.

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Use a serrated knife to cut 1″ rounds.

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Arrange the rounds on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment.  You can optionally cover and refrigerate at this point, and take them out 20-30 minutes before you are ready to bake.

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Preheat the oven to 400º and bake for 8-9 minutes.  The tops will be lightly browned and the centers will be bubbly.

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As soon as the bites are done, brush them with more of your favorite BBQ sauce.

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Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with more BBQ sauce for dipping.

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Now watch them disappear!  This appetizer is sure to be a hit!

The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

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Posted in Appetizers, Chicken, Comfort Food, Holiday Favorites | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans are the perfect addition to your appetizer buffet.  Serve with fresh fruit or alongside the cheese and crackers.  They are an addictive snack so you may want to make a double batch!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar

Preparation:

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet on medium low heat (for best results don’t use a nonstick skillet).  Stir frequently, and don’t leave the pan unattended.  Nuts will be toasted and fragrant in about 3-5 minutes.  Don’t let them burn!  Next push the nuts to the side of the skillet and add the butter in the center.  As the butter melts stir in the nuts and turn to coat.

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When the butter is completely melted and bubbling, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the nuts.  Continue stirring constantly until the butter and sugar form a syrup.

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Remove the pan from the heat.  You can put the Candied Pecans right into a serving bowl (if using a plastic bowl then let them cool a bit first).   They were delicious right out of the pan, but I thought they were at their best when they had cooled to room temperature.

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I plan to make these again and will double the recipe next time!  The leftovers would be great on a salad, or as a topping for your oatmeal.

The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

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Posted in Appetizers, Holiday Favorites | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Spiced Apple Cider

Tis the season for Spiced Apple Cider!  Easy to make in the crockpot and sure to become a family favorite!  Mulling spices infuse the cider with flavor, and fill your kitchen with the wonderful aroma of cinnamon.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp. allspice
  • 1 tbsp. cloves

Holiday Dinner The Extruded Noodle 002a

Preparation:

Add the cider, brown sugar and nutmeg to the crockpot.  I like to use a tea ball for the mulling spices.  You can also wrap them in cheese cloth and tie in a bundle with cooking twine.  Drop the tea ball into the cider, cover and heat on low for 2-3 hours.

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Serve with orange slices.  For the adults, offer brandy or rum on the side!

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It’s a cup of comfort and joy that will warm you to your toes :-)

 

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Cheers!

Spiced Cider 007a

The Extruded Noodle ©

Posted in Crockpot, Holiday Favorites | Leave a comment

Seafood Chowder

Rich creamy seafood chowder was on the menu at our house this weekend.  The inspiration for this recipe came from a favorite summer spot that hubby and I have visited quite often.  Spoiler alert – there’s rum and bacon!  Read on to learn how to recreate this delicious dish.  For a beautiful presentation, I served the chowder in bread bowls and a link to that recipe is also included.  It takes several hours to prepare but well worth the time!

For the chowder:Bread Bowls with Seafood Chowder The Extruded Noodle 053a

  • 6 oz. shrimp, peeled and chopped
  • 12 oz. flounder or other white fish, diced
  • 6 oz. can chopped clams
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp. red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butterBread Bowls with Seafood Chowder The Extruded Noodle 026a
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups fish stock (or chicken broth)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • big pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. dill
  • 3 tbsp. rum
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 6 tbsp. half n half
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a heavy stock pot.  Sautee the celery, onion, garlic, bell pepper and potato for 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bread Bowls with Seafood Chowder The Extruded Noodle 007a

Sprinkle 2 tbsp. flour over the vegetables and stir.  Gradually add the 2 cups chicken stock, stirring constantly.

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Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours.  Use a stick blender to partially puree the vegetables.

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Just look at the transformation from thin liquid to rich creamy chowder.  We are now about an hour away from serving.  It’s time to cook the bacon!

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Reserve the rendered bacon fat in the skillet.  You should have about 1 tbsp.  Quickly whisk in 1 tbsp. flour to make a roux.  Whisking constantly, add 1 cup of fish stock to the pan to deglaze.  Strain the thickened mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  Add about 1/2 cup to the stockpot and rinse out the skillet.

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Chop the flounder into small pieces and add directly to the stock pot, along with the chopped clams.  I like to quickly cook the shrimp in a skillet with a little oil or butter, just until it turns pink.

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Add to the stockpot with the rum, dill, paprika, cayenne and liquid smoke.  Simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes.  Stir in the half and half toward the end of the cooking time and keep warm.

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This is so good.  The roux gives it a beautiful color.  You are now ready to serve.  The bread bowls really do make a beautiful presentation and I hope you are inspired to give this a try.  Top each bowl with chopped bacon and enjoy!

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Click here for the Bread Bowl recipe!

The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

 

Posted in Comfort Food, Seafood, Soup | 1 Comment

Bread Bowls

I’m making a very special lunch this weekend!  Bread bowls have been on my to-do list for a while!  Today they will be filled with creamy seafood chowder, but you can substitute your favorite soup or stew.  Thicker is better!  Make the bread bowls the night before your meal.  The bread will have better texture and structure to hold the hot liquid.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup fully active sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • olive oil

4 Servings

Preparation:

Combine the starter and the honey in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, yeast and malt powder.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and water to the starter.  When combined, increase the speed and knead for 5 minutes.

Bread Bowls with Chowder The Extruded Noodle 001a

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.

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Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft free area for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bread Bowls with Chowder The Extruded Noodle 009a

Remove the risen dough to a cutting board.

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Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 even pieces.

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Working with one section at a time, pat the dough into a rectangle.

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Fold the left side over and press into the dough, like this.

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Fold the right side over, letter style and press.

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Rotate the dough 180º and stretch into a rectangle.

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Fold the left side over and press.

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Fold the right side.

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Turn the dough over and shape into a tight round.

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Do the same with all four sections of dough.  Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Arrange the dough balls with enough space in between to double in size.

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Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 500º.  Use a sharp serrated knife to score an X in the top of each dough ball.  Brush the tops with a little more olive oil.

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Bake for 2 minutes at 500º, then reduce the temperature to 425º and bake an additional 18-20 minutes.

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Cool in the pan for 15 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store overnight in a paper bag or airtight container at room temperature.  If the bread feels too soft the next day, take it out 2 hours ahead of time.

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To serve, cut the top off each bowl.  Using a spoon, scoop out some of the bread from the inside.

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Fill each bowl with soup and serve immediately.  We had seafood chowder garnished with crumbled bacon.

Bread Bowls with Seafood Chowder The Extruded Noodle 056a

What a lunch!  If your mouth is watering at the sight of my seafood chowder then be sure to look for the recipe in the next post.

The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

This recipe is dedicated to Meghan
Posted in Bread, Comfort Food, Sourdough, Whole Grains | Tagged | 1 Comment

Roast Turkey Gravy

Quite possibly the best turkey gravy I have ever made.  Forget skimming the pan drippings and fussing over a roux.  This is much easier and you can make it ahead so there will be no last minute gravy fiasco.

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey drumstick, thigh or large wing
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. Wondra flour
  • 6 cups turkey stock

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400º. Heat the olive oil in an oven proof skillet.  Add the turkey, vegetables and thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper.

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Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning the turkey once.  Transfer to the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

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Remove the turkey from the pan.  Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and whisk for 30 seconds.

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Continue whisking as you drizzle in the turkey stock.  Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

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Strain through a fine mesh sieve or use cheesecloth.

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Discard the vegetables.

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Look at the beautiful color!  I have been making mediocre gravy for years, but no more.  From now on this is my Thanksgiving go-to recipe.

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The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

Posted in Holiday Favorites | Leave a comment

Brick Chicken

Brick Chicken The Extruded Noodle 027aThis recipe has been on my 2014 culinary bucket list.  My husband was a little surprised when I asked him to get me a brick!  The technique is simple, a whole split chicken is cooked skin side down in a heavy skillet, weighed down with a brick to ensure continuous contact with the surface of the pan.

 

I used an oval Dutch oven for this recipe.  A cast iron skillet would also work.  You need a pan (not nonstick) that can go from stovetop to oven.  The chicken came out beautifully browned and moist.  This marinade is amazing!

 

 Brick Chicken The Extruded Noodle 007aIngredients:

  • 3-lb. chicken, split down the middle (but not cut all the way through)
  • 2 tbsp. peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • Brick Chicken The Extruded Noodle 009a1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbsp. divided
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

 

 

Preparation:

Toast the whole peppercorns, coriander seed and fennel seed in a hot skillet for 2 minutes, just until fragrant.  Grind in a coffee grinder.  Transfer to a small bowl with the paprika, cayenne, cumin, turmeric and salt.  Whisk in the olive oil, lemon juice and zest.  It smells really good!

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The chicken came from our local poultry farm and to make things easy I asked them to split it for me.  Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat dry.  Place in a large baking dish.

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Now rub the chicken all over with the spice mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

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Wrap the brick in aluminum foil.

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Preheat the oven to 375º.  Heat your Dutch oven or oven proof skillet on the stovetop and add 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter.  Place the chicken in the pan skin side down and cover immediately with the brick.  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes to develop the crust.

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Transfer the Dutch oven or skillet to the oven and continue cooking for 35 minutes more.  Carefully remove the brick and use a thermometer to check for doneness, 165º

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Transfer the chicken, skin side up to a serving platter.  Look at the beautiful color!

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Can you see how moist it is?  Hubby and I both loved the marinade.

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I made sweet potato and corn bread to go with the chicken.  It was a great meal!

 

Brick The Extruded Noodle

The Extruded Noodle ©

joycebug

 

 

 

Posted in Chicken, Chicken Dinner, Comfort Food | Tagged | Leave a comment

Multigrain Sourdough – My Favorite Bread Recipe

Ever wonder why I sometimes taunt you with pictures of my homemade bread, hot out of the oven with no recipe link?  The truth is that I bake more by feel than by formula.  My favorite bread, the one I love to make on a Sunday afternoon is one of those recipes that are part measurement and part instinct.  Professional bakers might snicker, but remember our Nonnas were making amazing bread long before there were master chefs.  So with that in mind, today I took the time to write down my recipe for you.  Even if your measurements are a bit off, it will yield a consistently good loaf.  Read the notes at the end to learn more about my sourdough starter and my home milled flour.

Ingredients:Multigrain Sourdough Boule The Extruded Noodle 070a

  • 1 cup fully active sourdough starter
  • 1.5 cups freshly milled whole wheat flour (or substitute store bought whole wheat flour)
  • 1.5 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp. milk

Preparation:

Why use a starter?  The flavor that a starter imparts to your finished loaf is what real artisan bread is all about.  Think of your favorite bakery loaf vs. the bland mass produced supermarket variety.  So why are we using instant yeast in a sourdough?  The starter will absolutely leaven the bread all by itself, and it will be amazing.  But it will take much, much longer and hey, we’re busy right?

Sourdough Starter The Extruded Noodle

Measure the flours, for a total of 3 cups.  The more whole grain flour you use, the more water you will need to properly hydrate the dough.  Whisk in the instant yeast, salt and diastatic malt powder.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter and a squeeze of honey.  Gradually add the flour mixture and the water with the dough hook attachment on low.

Multigrain Sourdough Boule The Extruded Noodle 019aWhen all of the ingredients have been incorporated, the dough will look very wet.  Increase the speed to #4 and knead for 5 minutes (use a timer).  You will have a soft, supple dough.

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Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.

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Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and allow to rise for 75 minutes or until doubled.

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Gently deflate the dough and transfer to a cutting board.  Stretch and pat the dough into a rectangle.

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Now fold the left side over, like a letter fold, and use the side of your hand to press it into the dough.

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Fold the right side over and press.

Multigrain Sourdough Boule The Extruded Noodle 042aRotate the dough 180º, stretch and fold the dough again.  Here’s the stretch.

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And the left fold.

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And the right fold.  See how I tucked the ends in?

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Now turn the dough over and shape it into a tight round.  There’s the boule!

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Oil a 9″ round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal.  Set the shaped dough into the baking dish, and cover with plastic wrap and dish towel.

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Allow to rise another 30 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 425º.  Set a baking dish with water on the bottom shelf to create steam.

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Brush the top of the loaf with milk, and quickly score the top twice with a sharp serrated knife.

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You can also do a box score (like a tic-tac-toe).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the pan after 5 minutes and cool on a rack for at least 4 hours before slicing.  Here is today’s loaf.

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Here’s a loaf that was box scored.

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You’ll have a hard time waiting for the bread to cool!

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Wonderful spread with butter, dipped in oil or toasted the next morning.  I also use this recipe for my pizza dough, and some of this loaf may turn up in my Thanksgiving stuffing.  Bread baking is addictive and I have been doing it for many years.  I hope this post will inspire you to try it yourself.

The Extruded Noodle ©

 joycebug

 

Notes:

English Muffins The Extruded Noodle 001aAbout my sourdough starter:  My starter is  now over 2 years old.  You do not have to capture wild yeast from your back yard!  I bought my starter, and if you don’t know someone who will share a bit with you I recommend you do the same.  Companies like King Arthur and Sourdoughs International (my personal favorite) have a fine product.  Taking care of a starter is not difficult.  I keep mine in the fridge in a 1 qt. ball jar with the cover on very loose (it needs to breathe).  I feed it once a week, with equal parts flour and water by weight (100% hydration).  Typically, 1/3 cup stone ground rye flour and 1/3 cup all purpose flour, and 1/2 cup of water.  I don’t get all hung up on the measurements.  If it feels like it needs more flour or water, I add a little more.  I am looking for a consistency of thick pancake batter, and that to me is more important than the measurement.

About my flour:  I mill my own whole grain flour.  Many of my recipes are 100% whole grain and others like this one are a blend of whole grain and white flour.  My favorite grain combination is White Wheat, Spelt and Kamut®.  Whole grain flour can quickly become rancid sitting on the shelf, as it degrades more quickly than white flour.  Freshly milled flour is tastier and more nutritious.  If you use store bought, buy in small quantities and be sure to check the expiration date.

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I love hearing from you!  Questions and comments are always welcomed.

 

Posted in Baking, Bread, Sourdough, Whole Grains | Leave a comment