Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I love to make bread. This past Easter I made a very special Challah. Thanks to my friend Tobi I now know how to pronounce it correctly! The Ch starts way back in your throat with a gutteral, scratchy Huh and K sound all at once. Try's fun, especially if you really exagerate it!
This eggy bread is not reserved for the Jewish Sabbath or Easter, but can be enjoyed any time. Challah, known by many different names, is used in cultures all over the world. The recipe I made is easy to include with any big dinner party as you make it ahead, freeze and bake just before serving. Leftovers (if there are any!) make delicious French Toast or yummy fried sandwiches. Go heavy on the egg wash using two coats and be sure not to over-bake.

3 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast; about 1 1/2 packages
1 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup lukewarm water (too hot and it will kill the yeast; not hot enough and the yeast won't "work")
1/2 cup vegetable oil; more for greasing the bowl (I used butter for greasing.)
5 large eggs
1 Tbsp. table salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup raisins (optional) plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (I used poppy.)

Here is the dough all raised after sitting in a warm spot for 1 hour,
ready to be punched down and rise again...get the symbolism?!?
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar and salt. This is a good way to "test" your yeast. If after a couple minutes, the yeast does not foam up, it is no good. Start over with new yeast. Within 5 minutes it should be nice and foamy.
Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 large eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Use more flour as necessary so dough does not stick. Clean out bowl and grease it using either oil or butter, then return dough to bowl. Swirl it around so all sides and top benefit from the oil/butter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for at least an hour until almost doubled in size. Punch dough down (with love), cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half hour.
At this point you can knead the raisins into the Challah, if you're using them, before forming the loaves. Traditionally Challah is braided. You can use a fancy 6-braid technique or simply do what I did which is divide dough in half. Form 3 strands for each loaf and braid as you would hair. Pinch and fold the ends together and under so braids don't unravel. Either keep as a loaf or bring the two ends together to form a circle for a round loaf.
Beat the remaining egg and brush it on loaves.
Either freeze breads or let rise another hour. If baking right away keep at least 2 inches between loaves as they will grow again upon final rising and still more when baking.
If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves one more time with any remaining egg. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using and bake for 30-40 minutes.
If freezing, wrap each loaf individually in plastic wrap and then foil. Unwrap and remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. I added another egg bath for good measure.
Bake in middle of oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack. The aroma of this baking bread is intoxicating.
Note: Straight loaves of braided Challah are eaten throughout the year--typically on the Sabbath--round Challahs, often studded with raisins, are served for the New Year and other High Holidays.
My husband and I recently slipped away to the beautiful historic city of Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1636 by Roger Williams (that's him atop that sculpture!) makes it one of America's oldest cities.
This fascinating small city is teaming with things to do; lots of art, culture, fabulous food and history. Providence is also home to Brown University and The Rhode Island School of Design. Don't miss the RISD Museum! We stayed in a lovely B&B (The Old Court; right in the heart of everything. It was fun to depend on our feet rather than wheels for 48 hours! While in town I visited a unique wine store ( featuring 300 wines priced under $20. I tried a Malbec blend that was truly one of the best wines I have ever tasted...and was under $20.
Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The region lies at the foot of the Mt. Tupungato volcano, which, at 21,555 ft. high, is one of the highest peaks in Argentina. The 2009 Tupongato Malbec blend (mainly Malbec with some Merlot and Cab), which the owner of Bin312 selected for me, was a complex and delightful mix of black cherry, hint of currant, coffee and chocolate. You really could separate and taste each of those flavors!
Here is my THOU...
Providence is located at the head of Narraganset Bay and has 4 rivers running through it-The Providence River, Woonasquatucket, Blackstone, and Moshassuck River. If you are a hopeless romantic (as we are!) a gondola ride is a must.
All for today...hope you enjoyed my ramblings.
Tune in again soon for another episode of
In the meantime, keep cooking!

Saturday, August 2, 2014


I have been trying some different foods of late, many of which do not require a recipe. I hope this gives you some new ideas on what to serve your family. Since we are at the height of corn season, here's a great way to use any leftover corn on the cob.
2 eggs for every large ear of corn
1 Tbsp. milk
1 cooked ear of corn removed from cob
Almost any other herbs or spices (smoked paprika, chipotle, dill, basil, chives, etc.)
Handful of slightly steamed spinach, optional
1/2 cup cheese, optional
Well, you get the idea...just use your imagination!
This souffle just has corn, eggs, and milk. Served with encrusted haddock
topped with chives and chive blossom and a petit tomato salad.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add 1 Tbsp. milk and any other ingredients. Place in a well greased custard cup and bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and slightly browned. Let it cool slightly (it may deflate a bit) and then run a knife along edge of custard cup and pop out the souffle. This is not a true souffle since we are not using flour to make a roux and also does not cook at the higher oven temp of a classic souffle, but it is a very easy substitute and close enough that I call it souffle! Serve as a light lunch on bed of greens or as a side dish with dinner. It is also delicious for breakfast.
This time I used both spinach and cheese and served with baked ham and roasted cauliflower and garlic.

Here's another dish that really doesn't need a recipe, but I will tell you how I prepared it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on your sole. Lightly salt and pepper. I used white pepper so it would not spoil the clean 'look' of the fish. Make a simple bread stuffing with fresh bread crumbs, butter, a little fresh sage. Place about 1 Tbsp. of stuffing in the center of the sole and gently roll the fish around it. Top the sole with a drizzle of lemon oil and bake for about 6 to 8 minutes until just done. I served topped with fresh chives on a bed of broccoli puree. To make the puree: Steam broccoli until fork tender. Drain and place in a food processor (blender also works, but the texture is not quite as good). Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and blend until you get desired consistency. The puree may need thinning with a little olive oil. The carrots are just julienned, steamed until crispy tender, and drained. Return the carrots to the pan. Add 1 big tablespoon of butter, a little honey or agave nectar and sea salt. Swirl around and let sit until you are ready to plate. To make the presentation a little fancy I tied the carrots into bundles secured with chives.

Next up is only for the brave of heart...or in this case kidney!

I was grocery shopping for my Dad a few weeks ago and bought these lamb kidneys by mistake. I thought I was getting him liver. I have had lambs liver before (It is very popular in Ireland. Also delicious!), but never lamb kidneys so decided to cook it up as you would liver. First remove the sinewy parts in the center of the kidney and any silver skin by carefully sliding a sharp knife just under the skin and pulling off. Rinse kidneys well. Pat dry and dredge with flour, salt/pepper, a little onion powder and tiny amount of garlic powder.
Put a tablespoon of butter and splash of olive oil in a pan and get bubbling hot. The olive oil keeps the butter from burning. Place the dredged kidneys into the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side. Do not overcook the kidneys or they will get dry, but don't undercook either or they will be bloody when you cut into them. I tried them both ways and the perfect way is just cooked through.

Once you get over the idea of eating the kidneys of a lamb it really is yummy with just a subtle hint of lamb flavor.

There is a reason you have never heard of blueberry waffles. What a mess I made of my waffle iron, but I do have to say the waffles were absolutely scrumptuous! I started with a basic waffle recipe.
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. butter
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk*
1 large (or 2 small) eggs
* If you don't have buttermilk on hand, add 1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice to 1 cup of regular milk and shake well.

Preheat waffle iron. Spray with PAM or other cooking spray. Sift flour with baking powder and soda, and salt. Melt 5 Tbsp. butter and in a separate bowl whisk together melted butter with buttermilk and egg(s). Stir butter mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. The batter will be fairly thick. At this point I added about 1 cup of beautiful fresh blueberries and cooked as you would a regular waffle. Two things happened: First, the cooking time was much longer than usual because the blueberries released their juices and slowed things down; and Second, as the sugar was released from the blueberries they burned and stuck to the waffle iron. Fortunately the burned pieces stayed on the waffle iron and did not damage the flavor, but it did make one big mess! Next time, I will try making a blueberry syrup and adding to the fully cooked waffle.

Well, as I often say...EVERYTHING WE TRY 

I am closing on a very sad note. My dear Dad passed away on July 2--just one day shy of my folks 67th wedding anniversary and what would've been my Mom's 88th birthday. I believe Dad is at peace and now happily reunited with my Mother. I love you both very much.
Paul F. Asbell
October 21, 1925 - July 2, 2014
Thank you, as always for the opportunity to share my passion with you!