Amy’s Whole Wheat Raisin Bread

26 Jan

Amy Scherber of the Amy’s Bread Bakery in New York – inspired me to bake a whole wheat bread with raisins. This recipe starts with a sponge that is refrigerated overnight. The next morning you mix up the rest of the ingredients and bake delicious bread later in the day.

Here is my version, with adaptations:

Great lightly toasted and spread with peanut butter!

Some special techniques that I recommend for this recipe:

  1. “Stretch-and-Fold”. This is a gentle kneading technique that develops the texture and gluten in dough, without adding extra flour.
  2. Bake with baking stones and inverted metal bowls over the dough.

Super Crunchy Bread

21 Jan

This bread was inspired by Cindy Kerschner’s Barley Oats and Buckwheat Groats Rolls

I used buckwheat flour but had to use my coffee grinder to make barley flour.

Amazing Buckwheat Walnut Bread

14 Jan

I’ve been wanting to make a yeast-raised buckwheat bread for several years. I’ve bought some at French bakeries in New York and even in big cities in the Balkan countries.

The first challenge was finding buckwheat flour. It’s available from specialty stores online but too expensive when you add shipping costs. Then a few days ago I spotted an array of flours in the India section of my local Asian/International grocery store (Lotte Market). One package was labeled “Kuttu flour”. I looked up “kuttu” on my smart phone, and discovered it was buckwheat flour. I grabbed a package for $2.99 for 14 oz.

Indian buckwheat flour, front
Indian buckwheat flour, back

At home I researched yeast-raised buckwheat bread recipes online. Most of the recipes were french or italian in origin so I had to convert ingredients from grams to cups, which is my preference.

Here’s the recipe I started with:

And here’s my version with adjustments and converting grams to cups:

Loaves right out of the oven
Loaves sliced, with walnuts inside

The important factor in making buckwheat bread is to go light on the buckwheat flour, in proportion to other flours. Buckwheat is a very strong flavor and a little goes a long way. Please note that I used less 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour in my recipe. Also I reduced the whole wheat flour to a half cup and substituted bread and all purpose flours. Reducing the proportion of whole wheat to white flours gives the bread a lighter texture.

Fourneau Baking Insert

8 Jan

This is a cast iron insert for your oven

Here’s a description of how to bake great bread with the Fourneau oven insert, including a few recipes:

Multi-grain Sandwich Loaf

7 Jan

This bread has a high percentage of healthy grains (oats, whole wheat, barley, rye, flax, buckwheat) and is enriched with milk and egg. Here’s the multi-grain mix I use –

The recipe –

Inverted metal bowls help dough rise and prevent over-browning in the oven

Wild Rice and Onion Bread

3 Jan

This is my adaptation from a Peter Reinhart recipe:

My recipe (below) makes one large loaf or two small ones. I increased the amount of cooked rice and substituted a 12 grain rice mix for wild rice. You can also use Lundberg Wild Rice Blend.

These loaves turned out so yummy with a nice chewy crust. I found it very convenient to mix the dough on the first day, refrigerate it overnight and bake the loaves the following day.

some ingredients for this bread

12 grain rice mix, cooked

Here’s my loaves in the oven. Note they are on baking stones and covered by large metal bowls. This prevents the loaves from browning too quickly.

large metal bowls covering loaves on baking stones

Bean & Tomato Soup

31 Dec

This is a quick soup, with some convenience ingredients and use of an Instant Pot.

Holiday Julkage

30 Dec

Here’s a recipe inspired by a Scandinavian classic.

This is a yeast raised cake that’s indulgent while light on the sugar and butter.

Lookin Good!

The following photos show measuring and chopping the dried fruits and rising the dough under metal bowls.

measuring dried fruit

chopping dried fruit

Adding dried fruit during rising
dough rising under bowls

Dakota Bread

12 Dec

This bread was a revelation! It’s multi-grain but light and full of flavor. Note that the cottage cheese and egg boost the protein in this loaf. Try it as a sandwich bread or accompaniment for a hearty soup. You can start it in the morning and bake it just before dinnertime. It requires very little work and a short list of ingredients*.

I found this recipe online:

Here’s my adaptation –

*The rye flour can be hard to find. Luckily I have a local bakery that sells me rye flour in 5 pound bags.

Caramel Fudge in the Microwave

8 Dec


Easy Caramel Fudge

This easy caramel fudge is sweet, creamy and incredibly addictive. I‘ve adapted the recipe for the microwave.

Author Fiona Dowling


  • 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) pan, parchment paper and a 10 x 10 x 4 inch corningware casserole dish for microwave cooking


  • 7 oz white chocolate chips 200 grams
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter 75 grams
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed 200 grams
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk 395 gram tin
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup  30 ml
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional: 2/3 cup pecans or walnuts


  • Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang around the edges.
  • Combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup in the casserole dish. Stir gently with metal spoon or plastic spatula/scraper.
  • Put casserole in microwave oven and cook on high for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and stir gently.
  • Return casserole dish to microwave oven and cook on high another 2 minutes. Stir again and check to see if the mixture forms a soft ball that holds it shape when you drop a small amount from the spoon. If it’s still too liquid, microwave one minute more.
  • Now remove the casserole from the oven and stir in the white chocolate, salt and vanilla.
  • Sprinkle the nuts on the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Pour the fudge over the nuts and smooth the top.
  • Cover the fudge with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour. Then use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces. Refrigerate the fudge for several more hours to let it harden.

Walnut Rye Bread

28 Nov

This is my recent adaptation of a rye bread recipe I found online. Basically, I reduced the amount of rye flour, added some whole wheat flour and walnuts, and extended the flavor development with an overnight cool rise.

The result is a nice contrast between the earthy flavors of rye and whole wheat with the buttery crunch of walnuts – plus a hint of caraway.

Multi-grain Breadsticks

22 Nov

These are rustic breadsticks – so easy to make in one day. There are several kinds of multi-grain cereals that work in this recipe. Bob’s Red Mill Meusli is an example.

Golden Harvest Bread

18 Nov

This bread uses butternut squash for flavor, texture and color. You can add craisins and golden raisins for additional sweetness.

The bread has a starter (poolish) prepared overnight, then mixed into the dough the next day and baked.

Multi-grain Rolls with Poolish

25 Oct

This is my latest recipe for special occasion rolls, with the addition of multi-grains. The poolish is a starter that takes only a few minutes to make and rests in the refrigerator overnight. It improves the flavor of the finished product.

You can vary the recipe in many ways if you wish: by substituting whole wheat flour (or spelt flour) for the rye flour in the poolish; or folding in fresh herbs instead of the raisins or cheese.

Pumpernickel Bread with Rye Starter

11 Oct

This bread recipe turned out with great taste and texture. The addition of a small amount of cocoa powder is really a magic ingredient in terms of improving the texture of the crumb and the ability of the bread to rise.

Here is a helpful video of how to add dried fruit to the dough.

Here’s a video demo of the “stretch and fold” technique

All Seasons Tomato Soup

16 Aug

Here is a recipe I use when really good tomatoes are not available. You can substitute vegetable broth/stock or chicken stock if you wish.

Correction: I use Lundberg wild rice blend.

Veggie Cream Cheese

8 Aug

For my homemade recipe I like to use neufchatel or light cream cheese. This makes a quick lunch on homemade bread.

Overnight Rolls for Shrimp Salad Sandwiches

24 Jul

To make bread baking easier, I like to use recipes that use an overnight cool rise in the refrigerator. In this recipe you mix all the ingredients and knead the dough on the first day. After refrigerating the dough overnight, you can take it out in the morning and leave it to warm up and rise at room temperature. By mid-day you can shape the rolls and bake them.

A recipe for Shrimp Salad will follow soon….

Chocolate Fix Brownies

6 Jul

Here’s a recipe from a vintage cookbook called The Nut Cookbook. I decided to make a sweet treat and this recipe was fairly easy to make.

I made some modifications to the recipe: reducing the sugar to 1/3 cup and the shortening to 4 T. I added the gooey frosting by melting 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips with 1 T milk and mixing in about 4 T marshmallow fluff.

Also, I reduced the oven temperature to 325 degrees F for the first 12 minutes and then 300 degrees F for an additional 10 minutes.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie

10 Jun

This is a dessert for a special occasion. The tricky parts involve timing the setting up of the gelatin and incorporating the whipped egg whites. To ensure that the gelatin doesn’t get so “gelled” that you can’t fold in the whipped egg whites: put the chocolate/gelatin mixture in the refrigerator and check it after 30 minutes. If it is just beginning to thicken it is time to add the whipped egg whites. Then, chill the filling mixture in the refrigerator another 30 minutes (approximately) and spoon the filling into the prepared pie crust. After that, it will take a few more hours in the refrigerator before it is set enough to cut and serve.


Summer Squash Salad

17 May

This easy salad combines raw summer squash with carrots, sweet peppers and spring onion.


  • 1 medium yellow summer squash
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper
  • 1 spring onion


  • 1 T wine vinegar or white wine
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


Peel and discard the outer skin of squash. Use vegetable peeler to make ribbons

Put squash in a medium bowl (glass or stainless steel) and sprinkle with a little salt. Gently mix the squash to distribute the salt. Let this sit out for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, take out a medium sized serving bowl for your dressing.

Combine wine vinegar, lemon juice, oil, sugar and salt in serving bowl. Peel the carrots into ribbons as you did for the squash. Stir the carrots into the dressing. Next, coarsely chop the sweet pepper and spring onion and add to carrots. stir gently to distribute the dressing.

Now it’s time to rinse the squash ribbons with cool water and drain them on a clean towel. Add the squash to salad bowl and gently mix the vegetables.

Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a little more lemon juice, salt or sugar as desired.

Special Occasion Bread

15 May

During my Pandemic Baking, I concentrated on three baking techniques that I hadn’t really experimented with before. They include using a poolish starter; using an autolyse to condition whole grain flour; and kneading dough with the stretch-and-fold method.

I adapted this recipe from the book, Amy’s Bread. I chose the recipe “Organic Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread with Oats and Pecans” because it uses a starter/poolish that you make the day before baking. I made adjustments in the ingredients and measurements and the result makes two loaves of one pound each.

See the video below for the Stretch-and-Fold technique.

This video shows the stretch-and-fold technique which helps gently develop gluten in your dough.

Multi-grain Rolls with Poolish

7 May

I was looking for a reliable recipe for a multi-grain rolls. I decided to minimize the use of whole wheat flour because it inhibits the ability of the dough to rise, especially when combined with other grains. The addition of an egg gives a lighter texture to the rolls.

Orange/Walnut Bread with Biga

27 Apr

I’ve discovered a two-day technique to get the benefits of a sourdough bread with much less fuss. It involves making a biga (the Italian version of the French poolish, which is a pre-ferment).

Here’s a recipe adapted from the King Arthur Bread website.

This is basically a white bread with the addition of several ingredients that give a softer texture: rye flour, milk powder and oil. The fermented biga along with the orange zest and nuts enhances the flavor. Baking at a relatively high temperature directly on a baking stone adds a nice crisp crust.

This recipe makes a 1 3/4 lb loaf.

Egyptian Sun Bread/Al Shamsi

19 Apr

Al-Shamsi is a popular bread in Egypt and goes back to ancient times.

I’ve longed to find an authentic recipe for the wonderful bread I ate in Egypt during a vacation in 2000. Here is the recipe!

I recently tried the recipe, with a few alterations in technique (see below). The taste – subtly sour with a hint of rye flavor. The texture is light but moderately chewy. The secret is a wet dough – kneaded for a maximum of five minutes in an electric mixer- then by hand with the stretch-and-fold technique. This bread cannot be hurried. I made the starter (biga) a day before. The following day I mixed in the remaining ingredients, combined machine and hand kneading with rest periods in between. I baked the loaf at dinner time. The resting periods not only develop the gluten. They develop flavor. During the kneading/resting periods you can put the dough in the refrigerator and forget about it for several hours, if you wish.

The last rising, before baking, I folded in a small quantity of multigrain cereal and sprinkled more cereal on top.

An aside: If you are superstitious about bread baking, here’s an interesting article about Egyptian bread deities, Isis and Osiris.,ever%2Dliving%20Green%20God%20Osiris.

Some related websites mention that Egyptians have a prayer they recite before eating bread. I haven’t been able to locate it – yet.

Great Lemon Bars

18 Apr

I tried this recipe last night, for a last minute dessert. Wow! Great flavor – quick to mix up in one bowl, and bake.

Roasted Veggies (Delish)

13 Apr

Here’s an easy side dish.


  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 small Japanese sweet potato (yaki imo)
  • 1 medium yukon gold potato
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small red onion


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut vegetables in chunks.
  • Put vegetables in large mixing bowl. Add olive oil and salt to taste. Mix with hands to incorporate oil and salt.
  • Arrange vegetables on baking tray.
  • Bake in oven at 350 degree F. for 30-40 minutes, until veggies are lightly browned.

Vegetarian Chili

10 Apr

This turned out so good last night I wanted to save the recipe.


  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced

Line baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Spread olive oil on the baking sheet and toss oil with vegetables.

Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times until all vegetables are softened. Transfer vegetables to a dutch oven.

  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes, 14.5 oz
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes, 14.5 oz

Put canned tomatoes in a food processor and pulse to puree. Add tomatoes to the dutch oven.

Add to pot:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth

Set dutch oven on stovetop burner on low heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. I leave the lid off or cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar. This should reduce the liquid somewhat and thicken the sauce.

Now add:

  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can kidney beans, 14.5 oz

For seasonings, here are some suggestions:

  • 1/2 tsp. each chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, paprika (smoked), cayenne pepper, salt
  • or, 2 tsp. Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning

I like to serve chili over egg noodles!

Best Pasta Sauce

1 Apr

This is a very easy sauce to make, with a lot of flavor. The secret is the white wine.


1 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil

4 or 5 colored mini peppers, seeded

3/4 cup white wine

garlic salt, to taste

minced, dried onion


Use an immersion blender or food processor to roughly puree the stewed tomatoes.

Use a microwaveable pan with glass cover (corningware). Mix the stewed tomatoes and crushed tomatoes.

Prepare the mini peppers by discarding the seeds and chopping them finely.

Add the peppers and white wine to the tomatoes.

Positioning the lid slightly open, cook in microwave oven on high for 10 minutes. Stir the sauce, then repeat the cooking 10 minutes at a time, twice more – a total of 30 minutes cooking with stirring in between.

Let the sauce cool and sprinkle with a little garlic salt.

Optional: sprinkle in 2 tsp. minced dried onion.

Wild Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash

25 Mar

I developed this recipe last night, using what I could find in the pantry and refrigerator. This dish is usually made with acorn squash but I find that butternut squash is consistently sweeter.

This afternoon I can report that it’s also delicious cold.

Red Lentil Soup with Wild Rice and Barley

24 Mar

The Instant Pot saves a lot of time preparing this soup.

Here’s the recipe

Instant Pot Mushroom Barley Soup

4 Mar

Here’s a satisfying soup that’s easy to prepare. This is not strictly vegetarian due to the use of chicken broth but you can substitute vegetable broth if you prefer.

convenience ingredients

Experiment: stretch-and-fold yeast bread mixing technique

27 Feb

I was intrigued by the idea of a bread baking technique that uses less flour and less mixing time. There are many videos on the internet demonstrating how to start with a really soft, sticky dough and efficiently develop the gluten without adding additional flour. For my experiment I chose Priya’s Broa de Milho recipe, with a few modifications*.

Ingredients for Portugese Cornbread/Rolls (my version)

  • Starter
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow corn meal
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T olive oil


  1. In a small bowl, combine corn meal, hot water and warm milk. Stir and let mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. In large bowl of stand mixer, add 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp. dry yeast. Let this sit for 10 minutes to dissolve yeast.
  3. To large mixing bowl, add all of the starter, the corn meal mixture, plus salt, honey and olive oil. Mix in half of the bread flour and stir by hand.
  4. Attach the large mixing bowl to the electric mixer and mix dough on low speed for a few minutes. Gradually add the remaining flour and mix to form a soft, somewhat sticky dough.
  5. Now (keeping the dough in a large bowl) start the stretch and fold process, video below:
  7. I like to do a cool rise initially, which means refrigerating the dough overnight.
  8. On baking day, I do the stretch and fold process several times to further develop the gluten. The dough will feel very elastic.
  9. After the dough is shaped, let it rise until double in bulk. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for rolls; 30 to 35 minutes for loaves.


*Recipe modifications:

  • I added a basic starter consisting of 1 cup warm water, pinch of yeast, pinch of sugar, and enough all purpose flour for a consistency of oatmeal. This mixing bowl was covered with plastic wrap and left at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • I reduced the amount of corn meal to 3/4 cup
  • Instead of 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour for the dough, I used bread flour.
  • I put the dough in the refrigerator overnight for a cool rise.
  • I made rolls instead of a loaf.
  • I used an oven temperature of 425 degrees F.

Print Fabric Cloth Doll

18 Nov

This is an idea for a rag doll, using print fabric for the face and body. I found this photo on the internet years ago.

I am also inspired by the well-known dollmaker, Mimi Kirchner.

She uses upholstery fabric with toile prints for her cloth dolls, especially for the male dolls with tatoos.

Here are some other tattooed cloth dolls.


3 Sep

Looking for a quicker version of the sauce for Shakshuka? Here’s my latest recipe:


  • a 14.5 oz can of stewed tomatoes (mexican style preferred)
  • a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 4 dried apricots, finely minced
  • 1 T crystalized ginger, minced
  • 1 cup sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning


Use a food processor or immersion blender to puree the stewed tomatoes.

Place all ingredients except TJ seasoning in a dutch oven or large covered pot.

Set stovetop on low heat and stir occasionally until sauce reaches boiling. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Leave pot uncovered or leave cover ajar to let some of the liquid evaporate. When sauce cooks down to the desired consistency, add the spices.

This is my  classic version of the popular Israeli/Middle Eastern comfort food.


Update:  here’s a recent menu using Shakshuka Sauce.  I substituted deviled eggs for the traditional eggs poached in the sauce.


And here are some photos of the dish in progress.




And here’s the feast!


Hot Cocoa Mix

4 Jan

My grandkids love hot cocoa in the winter. For several years I’ve given them food gifts at Christmas, so I’m always looking for hot cocoa recipes. This is one I developed this year. I started with a box of instant cocoa mix from the grocery store. Here’s what followed:


  • contents of 1 package of purchased hot cocoa mix (11 oz)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups non-fat dry milk


Put above ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until dry ingredients are well mixed and chocolate chips are ground finely.

Transfer mix to a decorative glass or plastic jar. Label the jar with these directions: “For one serving, put 2 rounded tablespoons mix in a mug. Add boiling water to cup or half boiling water and half milk.”

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

24 Dec


  • 1/2 lb korean chestnuts in the shell
  • 1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
  • 1 small red onion, or 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

This recipe serves or 3 – 5

First I oven roast chesnuts that I buy at my Asian grocery store. These are the large korean variety of chestnut. To roast them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut slits in the top of each fresh chestnut and place on a baking pan. To prevent exploding chestnuts (a real mess in your oven) some people recommend soaking them in water for 1/2 hour before roasting. They should be done in 30 minutes. I freeze the roasted chestnuts for a few hours which makes it easier to peel off the shells.

To cook the brussels sprouts and red onion, I start with 2 T olive oil in a dutch oven. Then I make very thin slices of each brussel sprout and cut the red onion in thin slices as well. Next, I heat the oil in dutch oven and add the brussels sprouts and onion. Cook on medium heat, stirring often until the vegetables are tender but still a little chewy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some chopped roasted chestnuts and the dish is ready to serve.