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and I sure hope you will follow me. For the time being (nothing is forever, right?) I will be at the link below.

http://vertigobcooks.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading!

vertigob

VertigoB Bread

VertigoB Bread Recipe
3 packets of yeast
1 quart potato water (save the water from cooking potatoes)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 dry skim milk
1 tsp + 1 Tbsp. salt (I use kosher)
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
5 lbs. flour (16-18 cups including 4-5 cups of whole wheat flour)

Here are the little beauties all ready for the oven.

Get yourself a really big bowl. This is a huge amount of bread dough, so you will need it.

Wisk together the yeast, potato water (it should not be hot, room temperature is just fine), sugar, milk, salt, and oil. Add the eggs one at a time. From this point on, it is all about adding flour. I usually add the whole wheat flour first and then add the white flour. Mix it as long as you can in a mixer and then turn the dough onto a floured surface (preferably a board).

I mix my bread in a contraption like this. We rock it old school around here. No fancy bread electric bread makers around this ranch. Cranking that bread dough, kneading it by hand, I am here to tell you, is a REAL work out. You will be sweating when you are done, but lucky you, you will have some yummy bread to replace the calories you just burned off!

You have kneaded enough and added enough flour, when you stick your finger into the dough and it no longer sticks to you when you pull it back out.

Wash out the bowl you mixed the dough in, spray it with non-stick spray. Put the dough inside, turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Make sure it is not in any drafts and let it rise until doubled.

If you are like me, it will “get away from you” and be pushing the cover off the bowl.

Punch the dough down completely. Get four bread pans ready, grease them up. Then cut the dough into four equal portions. I usually weigh them to make sure they are the same size. I am terrible at estimating (too much like math and I am REALLY bad at math), so I want to make sure they are equal.

Roll each portion out into a 9 x 12 rectangle, making sure all the bubbles are out. Roll dough toward you, jellyroll fashion, beginning with the upper edge. Seal the dough with the heel of your hand after each roll of the dough. Be sure to seal the final seam on the bottom of the loaf.

Seal the ends of each loaf by pressing firmly with the side of your hand to make a thin, sealed strip.

Fold the sealed ends of the loaf under. Be careful not to tear the dough. Place each loaf into a greased loaf pan ( 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan).

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a towel again and let it rise until doubled in size. Again, I have a very bad habit (in the grand tradition of my Grandma Doty) of letting the dough “get away from me.” It ends up making these big, beautiful loaves of bread.

Be very careful removing the plastic wrap from the loaves once they have risen. I have fallen victim to rushing to get the plastic off too quickly and deflating the dough. Heartbreaking. There is nothing more pathetic than bread dough that deflates. I am getting sad just thinking about it!

Here are the beauties right out of the oven.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven temperature back to 375 and bake until brown on the bottom (about 20 minutes, but keep a close eye on them.) My ovens are pretty hot, so I only bake them about 12 minutes on 375.

You can check on them by knocking on the bottom. It should sound hard, not like it is still soft and raw.

Sit down and breathe in the intoxicating perfume of baking bread. It has no equal. It might make you feel giddy and a little lightheaded, but don’t worry, it isn’t permanent.

Now, once the bread has cooled off a little, slice some of it. Make yourself some toast, pour some coffee and enjoy, really really enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This bread recipe is a family heirloom. My great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunts, and now me have all made this recipe for years.

My great-grandmother made all the bread her family ate. She wore a hole in her cutting board, that is how much bread she made.

After I quit my job, I was feeling super domestic (and a little lost) and starting making bread again. Mr. Smith (my brand new husband at the time) dubbed it “B Bread.” So, for the purposes of this blog, it is now VertigoB Bread. Whatever you choose to call it, it is damn good bread. There is also something very therapeutic about making bread. It has helped me make through more than a few rough patches.

It is also so rewarding to have these lovely things gracing my counter.

Email me if you have questions about this auntbaaa [at] gmail [dot]com. Even if you don’t have questions, I would love to hear from anyone that tries this recipe. Drop me a line and let me know how it turned out.

Artichoke Dip with Zip

I originally had this dip at my brother-in-law’s house. His wife made this for an appetizer for my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration. I could not believe how wonderful it was! Of course I immediately had to snag the recipe!

My not-so-dear MIL’s birthday is right after Christmas. She has a problem with this. In fact she hates it. She hates that her birthday is overshadowed by Christmas. To add further insult to injury, she is a twin, so she has had to share her birthday her entire life. She was 63 at that point. Luckily, that was the last birthday we would be forced to celebrate with her. Hurray!

It was H’s first Christmas and we were all sick. Mr. Smith had pneumonia as did The Monkey. Like always, my mother was sick too, but kept insisting she was so glad she didn’t get it. However, she kept complaining about being achy, cold, runny nose, etc. Hmmm…good thing she never caught the cold. She sooooo had the cold, but will never ever ever ever admit that she is sick.

It was one of those colds that just hangs on forever and ever. We were all sick for a month. It was so sad. There are no pictures of our son’s first Christmas because we were all so miserable. We pretty much just opened gifts and went to our separate corners and licked our respective wounds.

Anyway, we were all still sick. Mr. Smith was nursing a pretty nasty fever/cough. H was still a complete mess (low-grade fever, cough, runny nose, etc.) and I was just getting over the dreaded cold.

No excuses would be accepted. This was another in a long series of command performances! So, off we went to suffer.

The ONLY saving grace was this dip and some phenomenal cupcakes (that I had dragged my sad butt up to Newport Beach to procure for the occasion). Otherwise, the evening was  total bust.

It is not as greasy as some other artichoke dips I have tried. This is nice and creamy and has just enough of a kick to make it interesting.

Artichoke Dip with Zip

2 cans artichoke hearts in water

8 ozs. (1 box) cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 can diced jalapenos (4-6 ozs. depending on your preference)

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Chop artichokes and jalapenos in food processor. Mix all other ingredients together. Add artichoke jalapeno mixture and mix well.

Spread in an oven safe baking dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Serve with sourdough bread, crackers or pita chips (Stacy’s parmesan are very good with this) or tortilla chips.

Pioneer Woman strikes again

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Here is the recipe for the Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce I made for dinner last night.

I have almost completely given up on regular pasta. I am a big fan of fortified (protein, Omega 3 and whole wheat) varieties. It gives the meal a little something extra and doesn’t change the taste, in my opinion. Also, it is healthier and Mr. Smith has no real objections to it.

If you can find it in your store, I would recommend Barilla Plus. They just do the best job. It is always perfect, not sticky.

This sauce was a little bit of extra work, but very worth it. I roasted the peppers right after lunch, so that I would have plenty of time to deal with the peeling, coring, etc.

Mr. Smith had some misgivings about the recipe, that is until he found out that it was from The Pioneer Woman. Suddenly, his mood changed and he announced, “Oh, anything from her is good.”

And he was right.

I have never roasted peppers before, but it worked just fine. I did them on the burners (gas stove).

Everything was fine until Baby C saw me take the food processor out of the cupboard. As soon as she saw the thing, she fell apart. We are lucky enough to be in the “I am almost 11 months old and I am terrified of all things that make noise” phase. The mixer, the blender, the vacuum cleaner, the coffee maker, all make her burst into tears and sob uncontrollably. This is a real problem since I cook almost constantly.

Anyway, the peppers tasted great, the sauce was wonderful. Definitely worth the extra work. So, go roast some peppers!

Mocha Fudge Pudding

This little dessert is one of those things that you can whip up and have in the oven while you are eating dinner. By the time the dinner is eaten, the dishes are done, and the kids are in bed, you get to sit down with a warm bowl of loving chocolate. Add a dollop of ice cream and you are right smack in the middle of downtown Bliss.

My grandmother Hilda told me about this recipe first. Hilda has a sweet tooth that is unequaled. Her advice, “Don’t eat the whole thing in one day, like I did.”  Apparently, doing that can lead to issues with your innards, so I would avoid that route. Be warned, though, it will be tough.

Since I first tried this recipe, I have since seen dozens of variations (even a lemon version).

A little advice: it will look like a hot mess when you put it in the oven. Between the batter, the crumbs sprinkled over it and the hot coffee poured on top, you will believe in your heart that you have messed up the recipe or that I, vertigob, have sent you down a primrose path. Fear not, my little puppies, when you open the oven, you will find, as if by magic, a puffy cake, floating on the most amazing hot chocolate sauce you have ever eaten. So be brave and enjoy!

Mocha Fudge Pudding

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. cocoa

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup hot, strong coffee

Blend flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir well.

Add milk, butter and vanilla. Mix well.

Spoon into 8 well-greased custard cups or a well-greased 8-inch square pan.

Combine brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle evenly over batter.

Pour 2 tablespoons of coffee over batter in each cup or 1 cup coffee over batter in pan.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Die a little with each bite you take because this dessert is so wonderful.

Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits

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Left to right: Grace, Alice and Hilda (my grandmother) circa 1938.

Don’t the look they The Three Graces?(thanks Wikipedia.org!)

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This recipe is one of the perennial favorites in our house.

I have very fond memories of my great aunt Alice making this when we stopped to see her one day. You could just tell she would have made this meal if we were coming or not. A hot meal at lunch time was THAT important to her. We were just stopping in for a visit, but she insisted that we stay for a meal. Well, she earned my eternal admiration when she pulled out all the stops and served up Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits.

She was a truly great lady. She did not believe in dry cleaning. She figured if you couldn’t wash it in the washer and dry on the clothes line or in a dryer, it wasn’t worth having. I loved her a great deal. She was no nonsense. She baked her biscuits on a cake pan turned upside down. Oh how I loved finding that out!

She also did the New York Times Crossword Puzzle every Sunday…in INK! I actually witnessed her, sitting and working intently until she got the whole thing done. She was so dedicated and did not even look up until she had that think licked. We all just sat around talking while she toiled away.

She was married to Jimmy who was my grandfather’s dearest friend. Jimmy was a bit of a troublemaker and a bit of a rabble rouser. He refused to use a map. He believed the compass was good enough. He called my Aunt Alice “Sally.”

They were one of those couples that you see walking, and even though they are pushing eighty, they are still holding hands. And they are holding hands because they want to, not because they need to. I love love love those couples.

I can only hope that Mr. Smith and I are lucky enough to end up that way. That is the plan, anyway.

So, here’s the deal.

Get yourself some chicken. You can start with raw chicken, if you are feeling terribly industrious. If you don’t have much time, or you hate dealing with raw chicken, go get a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. It works just fine and cuts your prep time to virtually nothing.

You can use this method to cook the chicken.

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It is so handy and can be done well in advance. Just get some heavy duty foil, put it on a cookie sheet, add some carrots, celery and onion. Peel the carrots, get a few stalks of celery and cut the onion into nice size chunks, nothing fancy. Make a “raft” in the center of the foil. Put the raw, skinless, boneless chicken breasts on top of the vegetables.

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Seal up the foil so that you have a nice packet. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You will have some beautiful broth, some nicely steamed veggies and some cooked chicken ready to use in any number of ways.

You can go ahead and use it for Chicken a la King, which I highly recommend you try. Very nice for a large group.

Or you can just cut up the chicken, make yourself some gravy and serve it over biscuits. You can even use the herb biscuit recipe that Emeril used with the Chicken a la King.

This gravy recipe is pretty much fool proof. I have doubled it, I use it for Mr. Smith’s Turkey Pot Pie, we have it every Thanksgiving.

It is unfortunately called Zippity Doo Dah Gravy. I didn’t name it.

4 Tablespoons margarine

4 Tablespoons flour

2 cups water

2 teaspoons Chicken Better Than Buillion

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan. Stir the flour in to make a nice roux. Wisk in the water and then add the buillion. Just keep stirring it until it thickens to the consistency that you like. Some people like thicker gravy. My father, heaven help me, likes thin gravy. Don’t ask me why.

Once you have your gravy, cut up your chicken and stir it into the gravy. Are you getting hungry yet?

Now all you need is your very favorite baking powder biscuits, baked to perfection.

Split one or two of those babies and spoon the Chicken and Gravy over them.

After you swoon and recover, eat, enjoy and wax poetic about how wonderful simple food can be.

You are welcome!

Dessert Shot Cuteness

Little Puddin' Shots

We bought these little shot glasses several months ago and put them in the cupboard that no one can reach. It got really dusty up there. I am talking DUSTY. The shelf is in the top of the cupboard in the laundry room, we are talking huge amounts of lint and I had to climb on the washer. I am vertically challenged, after all.

But they keep niggling away at me. The idea of what I wanted to do with them.

Ever since I saw the photos of the dessert shots in the King Arthur Catalog, I have been on a mission. I wanted to make some dessert shots. I wanted something with pudding, or cheesecake filling, or berries, or butterscotch, or, or, or…the possibilities are ENDLESS! You could make a dessert shot BAR! How much fun would THAT be?

Today, in honor of Mr. Smith getting his staples out, and getting poor Leftie manhandled (sorry, honey, but he is a doctor!) I decided to go where no vertigob has gone before.

The results were a huge success. And, can I just say, terminally cute? These things are ridiculously CUTE!! The cuteness just makes me want to scream, that is how damn cute they are.

So, to start I just wanted something simple. Mr. Smith is always looking for a homogenous experience (no lumps or crunchy parts, please). So I just got some Nabisco Famous Wafers, some Chocolate Instant Pudding and some Cool Whip and layered them using a long-handled ice tea spoon.

Luckily, these shot glasses can be ordered with tiny little cuter than cute spoons to eat the desserts. I would recommend them. That way, you can make sure to get EVERY tasty morsel of dessert. Life is short, make sure to get every morsel!

If you haven’t used the Famous Wafers before, they are like the outside of the Oreo cookies without that troublesome greasy “frosting.” Nuff said. They are to die for and you can use them to make all kinds of crusts (pie, dessert, etc.) or you can just eat them when you have PMS and don’t have any other chocolate in the house. Of course, I don’t know anyone that would do such a thing. I would never associate with such a person! Please…I have more self respect than to hide in the kitchen, eating chocolate wafers in the middle of the night! Or something like that. Or, dipping them in peanut butter. Or spreading them with softened ice cream. That, all those things would be wrong wrong wrong.

Okay, enough! I am sure I will be posting more about these glasses in the future. Stay tuned!

Post post: Pop Pop believes that these are far too small. It is his opinion that they need to be about four times the size and the spoons need to be larger too. Some people just miss the point completely!