Monday, September 28, 2009

Focaccia Bread and Crockpot Lasagna

First things first, I gotta talk about this blitz bread. It has totally rocked my world. It's a yeast bread but it requires no kneading. I don't have much luck with kneading. I always end up with a big club hand of dough.

This bread is slightly thicker than focaccia bread you'd buy at the store. You don't need to knead the bread because you don't want a lot of rise from it. Focaccia is supposed to be a thinner bread. I've made no knead bread before, and it takes a long time. The classic no knead bread has several long rise times, and a long baking time in a super hot oven. Not so with this bread. It only calls for an hour long rise time, and you bake it at 375 for 40 minutes. Bread that you can make in under 2 hours? I'm all over that!

The recipe says to beat at high speed with a hand mixer. Know what? I didn't even do that. I thought the dough might be too sticky and strain the motor on my hand mixer. I just used a good old fashioned spoon and mixed the dough as fast as I could for a minute. This worked great! The dough still rose very nicely. I think it even rose a bit more than I expected.

I had a half cup of feta cheese I wanted to use up, so I tossed that in. I wouldn't go out of my way to put it in next time. It didn't do anything to improve the flavor of the bread in my opinion. If I had leftover feta I'd add it again, but only if I didn't have another use for it. It's definitely not necessary.

I had gotten a free container of Pasta sprinkle from Penzeys and I thought this bread would be a perfect use for the spice blend. It contains California basil, Turkish oregano, minced garlic and thyme. I also substituted garlic powder for the garlic salt. I thought the bread would be salty enough with the other salt in the recipe. It worked wonderfully, and made the bread extra garlic-y. Yay!

Next time I'll try baking this in two 8 inch cake pans. The 9x13 loaf was a lot for us to eat before it got stale. I'll try freezing one loaf to see how that works. I know quick bread freezes nicely, but I'm not sure about yeasted bread. It will be interesting to see if it gets gummy after being defrosted.
I've mentioned on here before that I'm not one of those people who thinks lasagna is a complicated dish. You can prep it all the night before and then stick it in the oven when you're ready to cook it. There's nothing much more simple than that, or so I thought. Enter Kraft's Slow cooker lasagna. I assembled the dish the night before in the liner of my crock pot. In the afternoon I took to out of the fridge and let it simmer in the crock pot until dinner. Between this and the bread, the house smelled like heaven. Blockette started asking if we could have dinner around 3:30.

I used Meijer's brand roasted red pepper and garlic pasta sauce. Even though I prefer Ragu brand's chunkier pasta, I find myself gravitating to the Meijer's brand because of the roasted red pepper flavor. I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the line I've seemed to acquire a taste for roasted red peppers. I never seem to have the time or forethought to roast some ahead of time to add to my favorite pasta sauce. I guess Ragu does make a roasted red pepper flavor, but my Meijer's doesn't carry it. I think it's just so I will buy the Meijer's brand. I've got that much clout. Well I should. I'm there enough.

Anyhow, as I get back on track... I only made one substitution in this recipe. I used small curd low fat cottage cheese instead of the icky ricotta. And all was right with the world. The End.

Blitz Bread from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups (14 ¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3 teaspoons dried herbs
dried herbs for sprinkling

Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom. Combine all of the ingredients, except the dried herbs for sprinkling, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds. Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it is puffy.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with the dried herbs of your choice, if desired. Bake the bread till it’s golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*To make cheese-stuffed bread: Add 1 cup crumbled feta cheese to the dough after it’s been kneaded for 60 seconds.

Kraft's Slow Cooker Lasagna
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 container (15 oz.) P Ricotta Cheese
1 pkg. (7 oz.)Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 egg
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked
Make It

BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, egg and parsley. SPOON 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles (broken to fit) and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles (broken to fit), cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid. COOK on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 min or until melted.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the mental picture of you whipping through the dough with your wooden spoon at turbo speed! I'm so glad you liked this bread. It seriously changed my life, too. The crockpot lasagna looks like I definitely need to give it a try!


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