Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No Knead Bread, Apple Tart, & Four Bean Chili

This is what things looked like this morning when I finally rolled out of bed around 9:00. The weather turned out to be pretty mild, only looking threatening from the windows up high. I made it to the newcomers coffee hour but felt frazzled and after a bit of shopping came home to get my head in the game. For me baking = stress relief and so I got down to work, bouncing between the computer and the kitchen counter organizing my work/life while making some tasty food in between.

No Knead Bread

Yesterday and today I've been working on a batch of No Knead Bread. I'm afraid for me it's ending in a state of FAIL, but it's still in the oven so we'll see what happens when I take it out. It came out "just fine" as Grandma Mary Helen would say. It isn't the tallest or prettiest bread but it's tasty! Chewy in the middle, crisp on the outside!

Oh! Not so bad after all!

My friend Ida has made bread like this a few times and she's told me how easy it is. I even watched her do a few steps and it did indeed look pretty painless. The recipe I followed said it was so easy a 4-year-old could make it, (which is demonstrated here). But my dough turned out a bit funny, and the finished bread looks nothing like the pictures, but the taste is good.  I'm beginning to think I should have paid better attention to The Great British Bake Off and read up about what kind of flour to use (strong flour vs. plain flour). I used plain flour and I think that's where I might have gone wrong. But who knows. I'll try again sometime and will likely add more (strong) flour. In the meantime I made other things yesterday and you can read about them below.

What the heck? Is it bread? Is it a pancake?

Tasty, if flat and funny looking.

No Knead Bread Ingredients

3 Cups Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Instant Yeast
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Water


Mix. Cover. Rest for 8 - 20 hours (according to the author)
Pour dough onto floured surface, wet hands, fold all ends toward center.
Turn dough blob over so you have a smooth, tight surface (or if you're me, it'll just keep oozing around on the parchment like sticky pancake batter. Oops)
Let rest for 2 more hours in floured bowl. Dough should double in size (or if you're me, it barely grew)
When there's 1/2 hour left of your 2 hour resting, pop covered enameled cast iron pot
(think Le Creuset-ish) at 400 degrees (230 Celsius).
Once the full 2-hour rest is complete place dough ball into piping hot pot, re-lid the pot, and place back in oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove lid, bake for additional 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Rustic Apple Tart w/ Brown Sugar Glaze

So completely NOT mine. From Sprinkle Bakes

After I started the bread yesterday I noticed we had some apples that were about to head to the rubbish bin (see how I called it rubbish, not trash? I'm integrating to the British culture!)  I did a one shot internet search and came across this Rustic Apple Tart in Cast Iron Pan, which was perfect since we don't own a pie pan.  But I'd need a crust, which I wasn't that excited about making so I found this
lazy pie crust and did that instead. To compensate for my laziness I made the extra the effort to glaze the whole tart with some brown sugar glaze. Here are the details:

Lazy Pie Crust 

1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons White Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Milk

Mix everything together in the pan you're using for your pie/tart. In my case it was a 9-inch cast iron pan. Mix with a fork or your hands until everything is incorporated. Press dough until evenly spread around pan. That's it! It's that lazy. And I should mention it didn't work well with this tart, so don't try it. If you do, it's you're own fault for making something very strange. Tasty enough, but s.t.r.a.n.g.e.

Rustic Apple Tart Ingredients

5 - 6 Apples (mine were small), roughly chopped (I left apple peel on mine)
White Sugar *
Brown Sugar *
Flour *
Cinnamon *
Nutmeg *
Butter *
* I eyeballed all these ingredients and just made it up. If you want more precision I'd follow the recipe which can be found on the the above link to the tart.


Chop apples.
Sprinkle apples with everything but the butter.
Place apple mixture on top of crust.
Drop chunks of butter throughout.
Fold edges of crust up and around apples.
Coat crust in melted butter to help crust brown.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until crust is golden.

Brown Sugar Glaze Ingredients

1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Water


Mix all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat.
Stir continually until sugar granules are melted.
Allow to cool slightly, spoon over tart.
Serve warm.

Four Bean Chili

And don't think I went through all that and we just ate apple tart for dinner. Oh No. I made 4-bean chili too. This is the recipe I use, but I modify it because I like 4 kinds of beans instead of 2, and since I didn't have bulgar on hand I used pearl barley. Overall, a great recipe. Have I mentioned this recipe before? I'm trying to search my own blog to find out but alas, the search gadget isn't working. Ideally I'd use dry beans instead of canned, but let's face it, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
3 large jalapeño chilies, seeded, minced (about 4 1/2 tablespoons)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
3 cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup bulgur*
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or regular vinegar)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon **

*   Also called cracked wheat; available at natural foods stores and supermarkets.
** I omit the cinnamon because I don't care for how it tastes in savory dishes.


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, red bell pepper, and jalapeños and sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, bulgur, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until bulgur is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Don't you love all the photos I took of these various cooking processes?

Yeah. Oops!
Happy Thanksgiving Week to my friends and family back home!

Last night's Moonrise


  1. Hooray! I love Four Black Stars days! Wow, you have been busy. I'm very impressed. About the strong vs. plain--was it Andrea who was just telling us that strong is what you want for bread because it has more protein? I just heard that somewhere.

    I need to try some bread soon. Should I start with this one? Maybe good not do kneading with this shoulder.

    I think I'll try your chili soon too. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Yes, it was Andrea who told us about the flours. She sent me a nice email to clarify and so I'll use her suggestions next time around. I think a scale would help loads too. Try this recipe, but use a scale and the strong flour. I think you'll be impressed!