We’re baaack – this week’s receipt

After an intense 3-day, 275 mile (or so), bike ride in the rain with a fabulous cast of characters, Phil and I are back and ready to eat some real food. Chowing down on steamed vegetables and some sort of pasta every night was not ideal. To see some of our photos from the Braking the Cycle AIDS ride, go here. The LGBT Center also has a page up with photos.

Groceries were bought yesterday, with a nice focus on veggies. The checkout lady was impressed with the amount of groceries that I bought and the total of my bill. When I told her that I was in the fourth week of this project she looked amazed and said “that’s crazy.” It’s really not that bad.

Total: $29.98. I bought milk today ($1) to make yogurt, so we’ve got .02 cents left for this week. However, there is last week’s surplus of .24 cents. So: .26 cents in the kitty. Wahoo!


No Brainer Bread

This is the bread I have been making consistently since starting the $30/Week challenge. I did a google search to find a quick rise/yeast bread recipe and found a few. The best is one from the comments section from Serious Eats. I’ve tweaked it a bit and it is really a no brainer. The bread comes out a little dense, slices well and depending on the flour you use (I use a combo), tastes great.

No Brainer Bread

The easiest sliced bread ever.

Ingredients:

1 packet active dry yeast
500g flour (I use a combo of AP and whole wheat and throw in some vital wheat gluten flour too)
300-305g warm water (start w/300g and add a bit more if you need to)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
bit of butter and olive oil

To Do:

Preheat the oven to 200F while you prep dough.

Note: I have a stand mixer, so this is really easy and quick. Since the dough is rather sticky, you can mix it with your hands in a large bowl and it will all turn out all right too.

Combine the dry ingredients and the yeast in the the bowl of a stand mixer (or a big bowl) with a fork. I put the sugar, yeast and salt in the mixing bowl and then set my kitchen scale to 0 and measure out the dough. This recipe is pretty versatile, so use whatever flour(s) you want.

Put on the dough hook and start the mixer. Add the water, mix until well kneaded with dough hook. Alternatively, use your hands to knead the dough if you don’t have a mixer. The dough should be nice and smooth and come together easily. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water. If you think it’s too wet, just keep kneading it – it’s okay if the dough is a bit wet.

Turn off the oven. Lift dough out of bowl and add a few drops of olive oil. Plop the dough back in the bowl and shake it around. Cover it with a dishtowel and place in the warmed oven for at least 30 minutes (for superquick bread), up to an hour. I usually leave it in for 40 minutes.

Take dough out of oven. It should have risen! Punch it down and knead it with your hands a few times (or put the bowl back in the stand mixer and use dough hook to knead it some more). Form it into a cylinder and place in a loaf pan that you rubbed with some butter. Cover up the loaf pan and let it rise until doubled (30-40 minutes). Heat the oven to 350F.

Brush top of bread with a bit of milk (I use soy). Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool and place in a paper bag for storage.

Makes: 1 loaf


Or Else You Can’t Have Any Dessert

Go-to example for the vegetable phobic, the brussels sprout is much maligned. This recipe is for the brussels sprout skeptic (Jon, we’re lookin’ at you). This recipe has one huge advantage over most other ways to cook the sprouts and that is this: they don’t end up tasting like pee. This recipe might have come from somewhere – maybe Bittman, I can’t remember.

Brussel Sprouts That Really Taste Good

Brussles sprouts (washed)
Butter (2 tbsp, maybe 3)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Take the sprouts, cut the hard stem ends off, then cut them in half lengthwise. Put them all into a casserole dish. Cut the butter into 1/4″ cubes, and distribute them among the sprouts. Dust with salt and pepper, then put them in the oven and cook them for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. If you prefer your sprouts on the dry side, cook them uncovered. Or cook ’em covered if you’re feeling saucy.

Sprouts pictured here with an improvised cous cous and veggie dog casserole with caramelized onions and toasted fennel seeds. Equally appropriate with a bottle of Rioja and a Basil Hayden’s on the rocks.


Back to Basics

Since me and Phil are leaving for our Braking the Cycle bike adventure on Thursday, this week’s trip to the Coop was for the basics.  See below for all of the exciting purchases.


Chapatis

Tina picked up some flour at the coop yesterday so that we could have some bread over the weekend, but having gone out to for drinks at Franklin Park last night (good thing we’re not counting drinks out toward our grocery total – I don’t think our 30 cents would have gotten us very far), we didn’t actually get around to doing any baking last night. Point being, when we got up for breakfast this morning we didn’t have anything bready to put our last two eggs on top of.

We decided to make some chapatis, since they’re so quick and don’t require anything ingredients beyond flour, water, and salt. We took Mark Bittman’s recipe as a basic guide, but simple as that is, our version is even faster.

The Easiest Possible Chapatis
1 1/2 whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water

1. Put the flour and salt in a food processor. Turn the processor on and slowly add the water. That will leave you with a slightly sticky dough ball.

2. Put the ball on a floured surface, under a towel, and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.

3. Pinch the dough into small pieces (about the size of a big marshmallow) and roll each one out to a round, about 3″ in diameter.

4. Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Put a round in the skillet and let it heat until the dough start to puff and bubble a bit, then flip it and it within a minute it should balloon up from the skillet. Each side should be lightly charred.

5. Put the finished chapatis in a small basket and cover them with a cloth until they’re all cooked.

Finished. They’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and they go perfectly with pretty much anything. We had some with our eggs and faux canadian bacon, and then more with Tina’s homemade apple ginger jelly. You just can’t find a quicker and easier bread.


Update: $0.30 Left

I went to the Coop early this morning and got whole wheat flour, cornmeal and 4 packets of Emergen-C as I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and need all the vitamin C I can get.

The grand total? $3.20

FLOURS!

Orzo with Mushrooms, Hazelnuts, Parsley, and Tofu

This was a recipe that I wanted to make on Friday with white beans, but after coming home a bit late from work, I decided my original Thursday night recipe (including brown rice) would take too long. Adaptation! I decided to toast the orzo a bit and then cook it in loads of water and it added a nice nutty flavor to the orzo.

Orzo with Mushrooms, Hazlenuts, Parsley, and Tofu

Cooking Soundtrack: Bjork – Live Box

Ingredients

Tofu Marinade (Phil’s creation, not sure about portions, but a lil bit of this and that)

Rice Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce (just a small dash)
Agave Nectar
Crushed Red Pepper
White Pepper
Garlic

The Rest of the Stuff

1 block of extra-firm tofu

1 cup orzo

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp fennel seeds

8 white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1.5 cups chopped parsley

handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts with skins rubbed off

squeeze of lemon

salt & pepper

To Do:

First, squeeze out as much water as you can from the tofu. Cut into thirds lengthwise and then into triangles. Heat a nonstick pan and put the tofu in the pan (no oil, nothing). This will help dry out the tofu and enable it to absorb the marinade better. Cook on both sides and press down with a spatula until the tofu looks toasted and dry. While it’s cooking whip up the marinade. Put all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Place dried-out tofu in a pan and cover with marinade. The longer you soak the tofu, the more flavorful it will be (I only did it for about 20 minutes though).

While the tofu is marinating, heat up the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sautee the garlic and fennel seeds over medium heat and then add the orzo. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until orzo is toasty. Add a whole lot of water and some salt. Cook until al dente (about 7-8 minutes). Drain (reserve some liquid in a cup) and cover to keep it warm.

Finish up with the mushrooms while the orzo is cooking. Heat up a tiny bit of olive oil (I have an olive oil spray bottle and just used a quick spray) – you don’t need much because mushrooms contain a lot of moisture. Sautee the mushrooms until they’re a lovely brown color and squeeze a bit of lemon juice if they appear to stick to the pan. Add some salt and pepper to the mix. If the orzo is still cooking, steal a bit of the pasta water and add it to the mushrooms. If you already drained the orzo, use some of the pasta water you saved. The mushrooms should be browned and reduced in size.

Toss the orzo, parsley, mushrooms and hazlenuts (toast them in oven or toaster oven and use dishtowel to rub off skins) together. Add more lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Top with slices of the tofu. Eat!