Yesterday was a big cooking day at our house, we made a couple items which help make the days go by easier. It is hotter than Hades outside this week, so I’ve been shying away from anything that requires heat. Last night I bit the bullet — but if I was going to heat up the kitchen to make one thing, I figured I might as well make some others!
At the end of an hour we had Baked Fennel with Gruyere Cheese, enough Apricot Hazelnut Breakfast Bars to last a couple weeks, and 6 pizza dough bases for 9×13″ pizzas.
The first thing I baked was the Fennel. This was delicious and so simple. You just need a hunk of Gruyere Cheese (I used about 4 oz..), a big bulb of Fennel, and Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs. Preheat the oven to 350F, oil your baking pan (mine was a round 13″ pan), spread out the fennel in one thick layer, Grate the cheese and put it over the fennel, and sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of Breadcrumbs. Bake at 350F for about 1/2 hour and serve. Serves 4 as a nice side.
Then I got to work on the simplest, most wonderful breakfast bars. I found the original recipe in a Nigella Bites cookbook. These bars store wonderfully at room temperature in a container, and work great anytime you need a nutritious snack or quick meal for around 250 calories.Nigella uses cranberries and peanuts — which tastes equally good! Last night I used hazelnuts, goji berries, apricot pieces, cranberries and flax seeds. Really, the possibilities are pretty endless.
What you need:
2.5 cups of plain oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind)
1 cup of seeds (ie: sesame, sunflower, hemp, flax)
1 cup of nuts (ie: almond slivers, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts)
1 cup of dried fruit (ie: cranberries, raisins, dates)
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
A dash of salt
Preheat the oven to 250F and grease a 9×13″ pan with oil or butter (I like to use my glass baking pan, oiled with coconut oil.) Gently heat the condensed milk over low heat on the stove. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the warm milk until it is well mixed. Spread mixture in pan and press down evenly throughout the whole pan. Bake at 250 for one hour, remove and let cool about 15 minutes, slice into 16 pieces and let cool completely before removing from pan. Store in an airtight container.
While the breakfast bars were cooking I mixed together the only pizza dough which has ever worked for me (well, the only one I made myself… storebought doughs always work!) The recipe is below and it is SO easy and totally awesome. I use 5 cups of the regular white bread flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour instead of the 00 tipo flour Jamie recommends (this is the best flour for pizzas, but I’ve never seen it locally). Otherwise I follow the recipe exactly. At the end of the rising time I divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and store each one individually in plastic baggies with the air pressed out. I freeze these and use them as needed, removing them from the freezer a few hours before I plan to use them. I make my pizzas on large cookie trays, I think they measure about 10×14 inches. This dough also works great to make baked empanadas, breadsticks or calzones.
What you need:
7 cups of white bread flour
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
5 tsp active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix together with your hands and knead until you have a soft, pliable, smooth consistency. lightly flour the bowl and the ball, cover with a cloth and let rise for one hour until dough is doubled. Punch the dough down and knead it a little, then divide into 6 equal pieces (Or more or fewer depending upon your baking plans). Wrap in plastic wrap or a baggie and store in the fridge or freezer.
I love this recipe, since now I make pizza once a week — and I don’t have to make or buy dough for 6 weeks! That’s six dinners, solved. All I have to do is defrost the dough, preheat the oven, roll it out, top it, and bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Easy peasy.