Mmmmmmm! Pancakes!

Orange Sourdough Pancakes

It’s time to cook with another blogger.  This yummy recipe for orange sourdough pancakes comes from Biker Chickz recipe blog.  I stumbled on to this recipe one day when looking for new things to do with sourdough.  I cook a lot of pancakes and tend to stick to my old classics so I kept forgetting to try something new until today.  I’m really glad that I tried these!

Since I always want my pancakes to be a little more whole grainy than most, I made some of my typical changes to the recipe.  I used whole wheat pastry flour for the additional flour (my starter is white flour), I used half the sweetener and substituted honey for sugar and then I used olive oil in place of the butter.  For the original recipe and what looks like a very tasty orange syrup go here (we had these with real maple syrup).

Despite my monkeying around with the recipe before I can even try it out, the pancakes came out beautifully!  They were thin and crêpe like.  The flavor of the sourdough was malty and grainy yet wonderfully enhanced by the orange juice.  The pancakes came out a yellow golden color from the fresh orange juice.  We were going to eat the pancakes with yogurt and strawberries, but I had to strip my plate down to just maple syrup and pancakes.  The pancakes were too delicious on their own to be covered up by competing flavors.

Thank you Becky the Biker Chick.  I’ll make these pancakes again and again!

Orange Sourdough Pancakes redux

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp honey

2 eggs

1 cup active sourdough starter

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

3 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another medium sized bowl, beat the eggs.  Whisk the following into the eggs:  honey, sourdough starter, orange juice and olive oil.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just moistened.  Let stand for 5 – 10 minutes.  Batter will be bubbly!

Preheat an electric griddle to 325 degrees.  Ladle out the pancakes so that they are about 4” in diameter.  Let cook until dry and bubbly on the sides (about 2 -3 minutes).  Flip pancakes and cook for about another minute until golden brown.


Baking from a vintage cookbook


As we travel through life, we tend to collect things.  Sometimes we collect things consciously, sometimes we don’t. 

I love books.  I love to read (although I have to admit that I don’t always read with the same gusto as I used to), and I love the feel and look of books.  Cookbooks are especially alluring for me.  A good cookbook tells a story.  A good cookbook can transport you to another place or time.  I have 128 cookbooks.  I just counted.  How many do I use? If I had to give you an honest number without going back and looking, I would guess a dozen.  It’s not that I don’t love most of these books; it’s just that cooking, like fashion changes with the times and it changes as a person’s tastes may change.

In the eighties, I went through a healthy phase and fancied myself to be a vegetarian.  I was devoted to Molly Katzen’s Moosewood cookbooks and I yearned to be devoted to others.  I purchased the Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook but couldn’t really fall in love with the book.  Therefore, it was the first of many books to gather dust on my shelves.  Around the same time, I started to develop a desire to bake bread which I didn’t fulfill for many years to come.  I let myself purchase the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book during that same era.  The bread book promised that you could bake whole grain bread without the use of refined flours.  The book was very scary to me. 

I am now a much more confident bread baker so this week, I bravely dusted off the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book.  Although this book is such a product of its time, it also seems very relevant to me.  Trends repeat themselves and with the local food and organic movements in full swing, a book like this is a good teacher.  Here is a book that can help you buy the healthy whole grains we are told we need to eat and guide us to be self sufficient and know that the food we create is pure. 

I feel silly knowing that I have acquired so many bread books recently as my baking passion has intensified.  So many of these books look pretty but don’t necessarily teach a person to bake.  I’ve had this informative book all along.  A book with few pictures that in reading the text, really teaches baking.

The recipe I zeroed in on was the sour corn rye bread.  The original recipe was not called sour because of a starter.  The recipe includes yogurt and vinegar.  I set about to calculate the necessary changes to make the bread work with my starter.

This bread was an adventure back in time for me.  I tend to rely on my kitchen aid standing mixer for creating my dough.  This recipe called for an unusual method of kneading.  A half cup of water is set aside and as you mix and then knead the dough, you keep dipping your hands in the water to incorporate it slowly into the dough until the dough goes from dry and hard to soft and then “dramatically sticky”.  I have no idea how to do this with my mixer.  By hand it took twenty minutes or so and I did not feel the need to work out at the gym afterwards.

Rye breads always freak me out a little.  For some reason, they never seem to rise for me.  When I give you the recipe below, rising and proofing times will be vague and general based on a cool day in my kitchen and the fact that I left to buy groceries for the week during this time.  Your results may vary.

The resulting bread was fantastic!  It was everything I expect from an excellent loaf of rye bread.  The bread became tall in the oven.  It baked up perfectly.  The texture was dense but had a really good crumb and it smelled and tasted amazing!  I wrapped the bread in plastic last night and stored it in my cupboard.  I expected the bread to suffer from this treatment.  When I opened the bag this morning to serve a slice for breakfast, the most wonderful aroma enveloped me.  The bread was still perfect.  It did not taste stale at all!!

If you are a sourdough baker, I highly encourage you to try this recipe.  (R., that means you!)

I am proud to submit this recipe to this week’s YeastSpotting event on Wild Yeast.  Please visit Wild Yeast every Friday to see other amazing adventures in bread!

Sour Corn Rye

Adapted from the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book

¾ cup cornmeal

¾ cup boiling water

3 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups rye flour

2 tbsp caraway seeds

2 ½ tsp salt

1 ½ cups nonfat plain yogurt

2 tbsp cider vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsp honey

1/3 cup active sourdough starter

½ cup room temperature water

Stir the cornmeal into the boiling water in medium sized bowl and set the mixture aside.

Mix the whole wheat flour, rye flour, caraway seeds and salt in a large bowl. 

Mix the yogurt, vinegar, olive oil and honey into the cornmeal mixture.  Stirring the mixture until smooth.

Stir the wet ingredients and the sourdough starter into the dry ingredients.  Use your hands to work the mixture together into a dough.  The dough will be really stiff at this point.  Once the ingredients seem to meld together enough, turn them out onto a very lightly floured board.  Have the half cup of water beside you in a bowl flat enough that you can dip your fingers into it easily.  Knead the bread 10 times and then dip your hands in the water and continue kneading.  You will repeat the process of kneading about 10 times and dipping your hands until you have incorporated all of the water into the dough (crazy I know! But the book recommends we knead whole grain dough 600 strokes!).  Use a bench scraper to keep the dough moving if it sticks too much.  After the water has been incorporated, the dough will be soft.  Keep kneading until the dough becomes dramatically sticky and then stop (I decided mine was ready when it stuck to the board and wouldn’t budge).  The book states this should take 15 minutes, it took more like 20 minutes for me. 

Oil a large bowl.   Form the dough into a ball and place the ball smooth side up in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and allow it to ferment for 1 ½ to 2 hours (I did two hours because my kitchen was cool.  You should be able to poke the dough and have the hole fill in; I was impatient and moved on to the next step although my dough was stubborn).  Press the dough flat and then form it into a smooth round.  Let the dough rise.  The book states this should take half the time the first rise did but we are working with starter now (not conventional yeast).  I went grocery shopping, came back, the dough still wasn’t ready so I the second rise actually took four hours. 

Press the dough flat and divide it in two.  Form each half into a smooth ball, pulling but not breaking the surface so that it is taut.  Pinch the seam at the bottom until smooth.  Dust a peel or a cookie sheet with corn meal.  Place the dough on the cornmeal dusted implement and let the dough proof for up to an hour and a half until the dough returns a gently made fingerprint.  Slash the surface of each loaf.

During the proofing time, place a pizza stone into the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  When the dough is ready, place the two pieces of dough on the pizza stone in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 50 minutes.  Remove the bread, and allow the bread to cool on a rack completely before cutting.


A public service announcement


We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement.  It is summer!  Stop buying bagged salad!! Heads of fresh lettuce are available for half of the price of that sickly possibly dangerous stuff (remember that little E Coli problem a couple of years back?).

Grab a giant bowl.  Fill it with fresh salad greens.  Cut up broccoli, carrots, radishes, avocado, celery and anything else that is fresh crispy and tastes delicious.  The picture above is an example of what you could have.  (I forgot the can of chickpeas).  Buy a good quality salad dressing or make your own.  These goodies will keep in the fridge for a couple of days giving you salad at a moment’s notice.  You now have no excuse not to eat your veggies and this is far cheaper than going out to buy a salad at a restaurant.

This has been a public service announcement sponsored by Delectable Tidbits.

So many recipes, so little time


As I travel though the blogosphere, I have a tendency to bookmark recipes for future use.  Most of these bookmarks never get revisited and “my favorites” in my browser are littered with good intentions.  I also have a real world example of this horrible pack rat tendency of mine.  I am a magazine junkie and I tear up my magazines, saving recipes that look good.  I currently have two file folders bursting with clippings from years of reading and hoarding.  I don’t often weed through these folders either.

One day, as I was admiring other bloggers that are hosted on WordPress, I stumbled upon a gorgeous blog called See Beautiful.  Beth Ann is a talented photographer who moved to Japan and was chronicling her life there through her photos and her blog.  As I looked at her photos, I stumbled onto some delicious looking recipes and I bookmarked them for later.  A few months later, I actually remembered the recipes and made them.  They were so delicious that I have made them again and again.  Beth Ann has reworked her blog and it is now called Beth Ann Blog.  Click on the link to enjoy her amazing photos of Singapore!

About those recipes?  I highly recommend you make this food for dinner soon, so click on the links for Curry and Dijon Baked Chicken and Roasted vegetables with soy sauce and ginger.   Don’t be put off by the idea that an Asian style chicken recipe has Dijon mustard in it.  It is pure genius.  The sauce has a lovely sweet and spicy flavor.  I add twice the ginger and garlic to the veggies for a spicy and sweet but mellow flavor.  Round out this meal with a hot serving of plain brown rice to soak up the sauce from the chicken.  You’ll be happy you are cooking with other bloggers, just as I am.

Corporate whore?

I had mixed emotions about a new widget that WordPress just offered us bloggers.  It is a widget from SocialVibe.  It allows me to post a badge on my blog so that my readers can watch a short advertisement and a Corporation will send money to the charity of my choice.  At first, I wasn’t going to do it.  I felt a little bit like a Corporate whore.  After a little investigation, I realized that I could sponsor the Surfrider foundation.  Having this charity to sponsor made it all seem right for me.

The Gaviota coastline is right next to where I live.  It is one of the last pristine pieces of coastline in Southern California.  I have always loved this stretch of farmland, hills and ocean views between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.  Like all gorgeous places in the world, there are pressures to develop this land instead of leaving it as a treasure for all of us to love.  The Surfrider foundation is good at being a pain in the ass of the developers and our local County government.  Here is a link to their local website

So, please click on the link at the bottom of my information bar.  Have a laugh watching a slinky half naked girl suggestively waxing a surfboard and Body Glove will donate money to a good cause and it won’t cost either of us a dime!

A new twist on breadsticks


Sourdough starter is a lovely thing. It sits in a jar and doesn’t talk back. All it requires is a little food and water. You may not be able to pet it (if you try, it won’t exactly be pleasant). You can’t teach it to talk, fetch or retrieve your slippers, but you can teach it to play dead. Through the thick and thin of aging parents, loss of love, and loss of work, a little flour and water is all that is needed to keep a constant friend ready to help you bake and forget.

 Several weeks ago, I went to Portland to visit my best friend. She is a loyal visitor to my blog and has followed my sourdough adventures. I suggested a couple of times that she might enjoy baking bread. I didn’t think she was very enthusiastic about bread making until she asked me to bring the starter with me on the plane. I have to admit that I am not a traveler. Travel makes me anxious. I fly so infrequently that I end up flummoxed by the changes in procedures that happen so often in this post 9/11 world. I packed a bit o’ Herbert in a leak proof plastic container nestled into a zip lock baggie with a cold pack to help keep the starter nice and sleepy. I didn’t really think about what was in my luggage until a man next to me in the lobby of the airport sat arguing with a security guard. As I eaves dropped, I came to realize the man was angry because they found a small vial of silicon oil in his luggage and airport security informed him they discarded it. I began to nervously think of the Turkish prisons in the film Midnight Express. Luckily, Herbert must have seemed strange but safe. I made it to Portland without having to explain what was sitting in my luggage.

 R. was tutored in the care and feeding of the starter that week and surprised me the week after with emails containing the most delicious pictures of pancakes, breads and pizza. She seemed to love her new toy! She also let me know that her starter has been named George and George has been “gifted” to several of her friends who are now baking all sorts of wonderful things.

 During that week in Portland, I only managed to bake one thing. I saw this recipe for sourdough grissini on Susan’s Wild Yeast blog and they looked like the perfect accompaniment to the yummy homemade dinners my friend treated me to during that week. I had never made bread sticks and I was pleased by the fact that the recipe was so fast and simple. The breadsticks turned out great and we gobbled them up in two days flat.

Last week, I baked for the first time in weeks. I made pizza. Making pizza made me feel like I am getting my baking mojo back. I began to be on the lookout for something else to bake.  I was thumbing through the latest issue of Cooking Light magazine and there was a suggestion for an accompaniment to a pasta dish. The suggestion was to take frozen breadstick dough and brush it with olive tapenade, twist the breadsticks so that the tapenade gets folded into and around the bread. Since I am never one to do things the easy way, I knew a sourdough version of these breadsticks was inevitable! I made a wheatier version of Susan’s grissini and covered them in tapenade. These breadsticks are mellower than I would have expected them to be with so much olive paste, but the flavor is delicious and the texture is chewy and with a slight crunch to the tips of the bread. The baking time is a bit longer for these due to the fact that I added extra water before I really checked on the texture of my dough and the tapenade may have made them a little moister too.

 This is my submission to this week’s YeastSpotting event on Wild Yeast. Please visit Susan’s blog for more adventures in bread!



Tapenade Twists

 120 g white bread flour

220 g stone ground whole wheat flour

200 g water

1 ½ tsp salt

23 g olive oil

230 g well fed, 100 % hydration sourdough starter

4 – 6 oz olive tapenade

 Combine all of the ingredients except for the tapenade in a bowl and mix well. You may need to add extra water by the tablespoon until it forms a medium soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes to form the gluten. (You should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking apart). Transfer your dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough ferment for 2 – 3 hours with a fold at 40 and 80 minutes (Fold: Pat the dough into an 8” x 4” rectangle and fold it like a letter. I usually do this a couple of times. Do not pat it roughly, you want to form air pockets and stretch the gluten but you don’t want to abuse the dough).

At the end of the fermentation time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Meanwhile, divide the dough into 3 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, flatten each piece into a 6” x 4” rectangle. Brush the rectangle liberally with olive tapenade. Cut the rectangle into long strips. You should be able to cut about 8 strips from each piece of dough. Move the dough strips one at a time to the cookie sheet. Pull the dough gently to stretch it to the length of the cookie sheet and then twist the dough into a loose coil from top to bottom. Repeat until all three dough pieces are flattened, brushed with tapenade, cut and twisted. Bake the breadsticks for 30 – 40 minutes, until browned. Remove from the oven and transfer the bread to wire racks to cool completely before enjoying.