Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Well Past 17 - and a Land of St. Honore' update

Octobers of late have always had more excitement than one would like. This year it's when our 14+ year old lab suddenly couldn't walk, stand on his own, eat on his own and his poor body was twisted like a cooked shrimp. Our focus became one of keeping him alive and working to get him better. In all the upheaval I neglected to celebrate the 17th 'blogversary' of Feeding My Enthusiasms. Who knew that I would still be finding things to post about so many years and recipes later? Take a look at the bread I just posted for the Bread Baking Babes...a yeasted bread with fresh persimmon...never even thought to make that before. No telling what this year will bring...new recipes and techniques I'm sure.

I do occasionally check stats and discovered that someone had checked out a post from 2010 where I made glazed popcorn with cranberries and chopped almonds. That wouldn't be noteworthy especially, but I decided to check out the post and discovered that it was also one of my Land of St. Honore' stories...and not for a Daring Bakers post either. Then I checked the link I have on the sidebar to some collected Land of St. Honore' posts and discovered that I had put that one in, but that I had left out others from 2010.

The result is that I've updated that link on the sidebar (Land of St. Honore' posts found here) to include and additional 5 stories...with perhaps more to come as I discover them. 

I started writing about the imaginary Land of St. Honore' when the number of Daring Baker posts became so large that it was difficult to read them because post after post sounded so much alike. We are all making the same recipe and there is only some latitude for variations, so what can you say that stands out? The solution was to write little stories which included the dish being made. I had so much fun with writing the small fictions that I kept it up and even did some, like the candy corn, on days that had nothing to do with the Daring Bakers. Eventually the DBs became too large to be fun, so I stopped participating. Every now and then another Land of St. Honore' story was written, just because I enjoyed it. If I find more, I'll add them to the link.

To get to the link on the sidebar, make sure you are in 'web view'. When I look up my blog on my iPhone or iPad, I need to scroll to the bottom and click on 'web view'. When I do, the side bar includes a lot of things...A Welcome, A Recipe Link which is activated by clicking on the photo of the set table, Bread links for 2011, The Blog Archive (most recent at the top), Bread Blog link, then links to favorite blogs and followers, then the Bread Baking Babes, and THEN the Land of St. Honore' link!

The new links include a delicious orange dessert (top of blog post photo), which is great at this time of year,  

a Rhubarb-Strawberry Steamed Pudding which is great in April or May, somewhat exotic things like 

stacked Cream Puffs and chocolate Pavlova, and 

Brownies...with all of the ingredients in a jar for gift giving if you like. 

Once you get reading those, I'll bet you will enjoy the rest with things like 

Banana Bread and Vol au Vents, 

Bakewell Tarts and Chocolate Whiskey Cake, 

a Chocolate Valentino Cake and Tuiles (one of the funnier stories), plus savory bakes like Pizza and a 

Fresh Spinach Pasta Lasagna. Hard to believe I had that much energy nine or ten years into the 'new century'!

Hope you enjoy the stories and maybe find a new recipe or two to try.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Bread Baking Babes Try Something Different

Did you know that you can eat banana peel? Neither did I. The bread that many of the Bread Baking Babes are making today used a whole frozen banana, peel and all. I'm not eating bananas right now, so I substituted persimmon pulp...not nearly the same, but it turned out fairly well. Our Kitchen of the Month is the audacious and delightful Elizabeth of blog from OUR Kitchen blog. I do hope that you will make HER version!

If you would like to be a Buddy, contact Elizabeth and send her your URL and a photo, plus a brief description of your bake by Jan. 29th and she will send you the beautiful Buddy Badge. Be sure to see what the other Babes have done with this unusual recipe. They are all very experienced bread bakers, so it should be fun to see their iterations.

As you know if you have been reading this blog all along, I rarely follow a recipe the way it is written, even baking recipes. Substituting persimmon pulp for banana puree sounded straightforward, but turned out to be something else. I cooked the persimmon pulp to help evaporate some of the excess water but even so the recipe seemed to have a lot of liquid and I ended up adding a significant amount of extra flour (using bread flour because I have a lot of it) which sort of muted the persimmon flavor. It was still tasty and the addition of spices and the cinnamon filling helped, too, although there may have been too much cinnamon flavor...next time I would use less. I liked the nutty taste from the whole wheat flour and wheat germ used. Even though there was some brown sugar, this really isn't a very sweet bread.

This was a sloppy dough for much of the time I worked with it, but I knew that I wanted to make two medium wreaths with the dough and that I wanted some definition of the layers, so a truly slack dough wasn't going to work. Eventually I realized that I would need to knead in additional flour, but I was surprised that it was far more than a 1/2 cup. After a while I stopped measuring, so you won't be able to replicate my bread. Try the banana one instead if you can eat bananas. You may still need to add extra flour, but probably less if you use the loaf pan method of shaping. The recipe for the banana one is further below. You can make bread or buns.

For the persimmon one, scoop the flesh from two very ripe Hachiya persimmons (the kind that look kind of like a heart, not the flat-ish ones), mash with a close-tined fork or in a food processor, then cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes at medium-low heat to cook off some of the excess moisture. Let cool, mash again with a fork to break up into a puree, then use like the banana in the recipe (once the banana and peel have been pureed). Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon allspice to the flour and whisk it in to that it is thoroughly combined with the flour mixture. You may need to add additional flour, but go slowly so that you don't add too much. If you are shaping to put into the loaf pans, you probably won't need too much additional flour. For the filling, use half as much cinnamon as described in the banana recipe. I made my dough stronger with bread flour for the additional flour, then when it was time to shape, I cut the dough in half, rolled the half into a rectangle, spread with half the cinnamon filling (leaving unfilled edges for sealing), then rolled up along the long side. I used a serrated knife to cut the roll in half long-wise, then 'braided' the two halves, keeping the cut sides up and then formed that 'braid' into a circle, tucking the ends under. Let rise again, then bake, just as in the banana recipe, but using less baking time than the loaf, but more than with buns. When cool, if desired, glaze with a combination of confectioners sugar and warm milk...just a tiny bit of milk.

Here is the actual January 2023 Bread Baking Babes recipe:

Wild Banana (peel and all) Cinnamon Bread (or Buns)
based on a recipe in the "Tassajara Bread Book" by Edward Espe Brown, with notes about the recipe from "Bread Alone" by Judith Ryan Hendricks, and the method for using ALL of the banana in the Washington Post's recipe for "Don't Peel Your Banana Bread" (quickbread)


  • 1 ripe banana, washed thoroughly, and frozen


  • 50 grams (98 ml) whole wheat flour
  • 50 grams (50 ml) water
  • spoonful (~15 grams) wild yeast starter from the fridge


  • 410 grams (3+1/3 c) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 10 grams (1 Tbsp) buckwheat flour
  • 12 grams (24 ml) wheat germ
  • 30 grams (30 ml) plain yoghurt
  • 170 grams (170 ml) water
  • 2 Tbsp (27 grams) vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
  • all of the leavener from above
  • banana from above, thawed
  • 14 grams (1 Tbsp) brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 grams (generous 1 tsp) seasalt + 10 grams (10ml) water


  • 60 grams (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 28 grams (2 Tbsp) brown sugar
  • 25 grams (2 Tbsp) white sugar
  • ground cinnamon (or a mixture of ginger and cinnamon), to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • handful or two of pepitas and/or raisins, optional
  1. prepare the banana: Two days before you plan to bake the bread, thoroughly wash a ripe bananas (ideally, the banana should be well-mottled with black spots). Just to be sure that any oil-based pesticides are removed, for washing, I use bio-degradable dish-soap (NOT antibacterial!) and water, plus plenty more water to rinse. Dry the banana, then cut the stem and bottom edge off (put those into the compost), and place the banana in a freezer bag to freeze. The next morning on the day before you plane to bake the bread, take the banana out of the freezer and put it (still in its freezer bag) into the fridge to thaw.
  2. leavener: The night before you plan to bake the bread: mix leavener ingredients in a smallish bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on if it's cool at night, (or with the light turned off if it's warm in the kitchen).
  3. dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking the bread:
    • check the leavener: see if a small spoonful floats in a bowl of cool water. It probably will. But, if the leavener has a concave surface, sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour and the same amount by weight of water. Stir, cover and let rest for about 30 minutes to check again. It's very likely that it will float. When it floats, proceed with making the dough.
    • dry ingredients and leavener: Sift the all-purpose flour into a mixing bowl large enough for the final dough to triple. Add the buckwheat flour and wheat germ, and all of the leavener from above. Add yoghurt, 120 grams of water [change that to 150 grams], vegetable oil, and all of the leavener to the bowl. Use a wooden spoon (or dough whisk) to mix everything in the bowl together to make a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes.
    • banana: The Washington Post's "Don't Peel Your Banana Bread" recipe is based on the recipe for Zingerman's Bakehouse Banana Bread. That recipe has the best explanation for how to prepare the bananas for the dough itself:1. Prepare the bananas. [...] Defrost. As the bananas freeze and defrost they will turn black. They do not need to be black prior to freezing. [...] Puree until they are a smooth paste. You may see tiny dark specks of the peel. This is fine.
      - Zingerman's Bakehouse Banana Bread Recipe (pdf) (https://www.ypsilibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Zingermans-Bakehouse-Banana-Bread-Recipe.pdf)
      I found it easier to cut the banana into chunks before puréeing it. I also left some all of the inside pulp in the bowl before pulverizing the rest.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the brown sugar into the pulp of the banana purée. Put the rest of the water (20 grams) in with the peels. Please don't be alarmed about the very dark colour that results from puréeing. It will simply make the final dough a little darker colour. Put the purée into a smallish bowl.
    • Using a wooden spoon, mix the peel purée into the banana sludge. Dump this mixture on top of the dough that has been resting.
    • adding the egg and salt: in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg with the salt and 10 grams water. Pour this mixture over top of the banana mixture.
    • Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the banana/sugar/egg/salt/water mixture into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like maybe it's coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Don't be overly terrified that the dough seems to stay really gloppy and sticky. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
      The dough will be kind of sticky and pretty loose. I added a couple of extra tablespoons of flour to bring the dough together, but it wasn't that easy to shape.
      - Karen K, Karen's Kitchen Stories | Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread (https://www.karenskitchenstories.com/2022/07/yeasted-banana-sandwich-bread.html)
    • Repeat the above step 2 or 3 more times.
  4. filling: melt the butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. Combine the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cover and set aside at warm room temperature.
  5. shaping: when the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured board. Divide into 2 equal pieces.
    • loaves: Gently shape the dough into flat rectangles that are about 2 centimeters thick. Smear the filling over each rectangle and roll like jelly rolls, from the narrow side, to make 2 loaves. Put the rolls seam side down in parchment paper covered bread tins. Run your hands under water and gently wet the top of the shaped bread. If you're using them, scatter pepitas on top. Cover the tins with a damp clean tea towel and let rise at warm room temperature until almost double. To test if it has risen enough, flour your finger and press gently on the edge - it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
    • instructions for shaping and cutting buns
      buns: Using a lightly floured wooden rolling pin, roll one of the pieces, as thinly as you can, into a long rectangle. Evenly slather the top of the rectangle with half the melted butter and half the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can to form a long tube. Cut diagonally and use a chopstick to press down the centers so that the spiral flares out. Place well apart on parchment covered cookie sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover the shaped buns with a damp tea towel and let sit in a warm, non-drafty spot until they have almost doubled.
  6. preheat the oven: A half hour before baking, turn the oven to 400F.
  7. baking: Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the loaves or buns are golden. But first:
    • bread: Just before baking, liberally spray the tops of loaves with water. Put the bread on the middle shelf of the oven, immediately turning the oven down to 375F (the sugar wants to burn...).
    • buns: Put the buns on the top shelf of the oven, immediately turning the oven down to 375F. Half way through baking, turn the buns around and turn the oven down to 350F; with all that sugar, the bottoms of the buns really want to burn.
  8. cooling: If you have made buns, place them still on the parchment paper on a footed rack on the counter to cool completely. If you have made bread, remove it from the pans, and place each loaf on its side to cool on the footed rack. Check to see that the bread is done by rapping it on the bottom; it should sound hollow like a drum. If you only hear dull thuds, put the bread back into the still hot oven - directly on the rack (there's no need to put it back into the tins - for 5 or 10 minutes more. Once it is done, place it on the footed rack to cool completely before cutting into it. It is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Italian Sausage Meat Loaf

I grew up eating a meat loaf made with ground beef, enhanced with tomato juice and oatmeal and an egg. It fed the whole family until the next to the last kid was old enough for it but by then the older kids were often gone at dinner time babysitting, so I think that the recipe worked just fine my whole childhood, even though there were ten of us at dinner some of the time. Since it takes about the same amount of time to bake potatoes as to bake the meatloaf, the next oven rack down usually had the potatoes baking to be served with the meat loaf. 

I got the recipe from my Mom when I moved to California and made it myself but these days I can't eat beef, so I have to be creative. 

Tonight's version is made with Italian sausage and ground pork. Because the Italian sausage comes already seasoned, I didn't add salt and did add some extra mixed Italian seasonings to make it even more Italian in flavor. Beyond that I only sprinkled some black pepper over the ketchup to tone down the sweetness. Because I love mushrooms, I added finely chopped mushrooms to the mix, plus the usual onion and oatmeal. I added chopped parsley and tomato and skipped the tomato juice. I  forgot to put in the egg...but I did coat the top with the ketchup and a sprinkle of black pepper right before putting it into the oven to cook. 

Italian Meatloaf 

Serves 8

1 1/2 pounds ground meat - I used 3/4 ground pork and 3/4 Italian sausage
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup finely chopped cremini mushrooms
1 diced tomato
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
3/4 cup oatmeal (rolled oats), uncooked
2 tablespoons ketchup
a dash of ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small sheet pan with a silicone liner or foil or parchment paper.

In a large bowl place the ground meat, chopped onion, chopped mushrooms, diced tomatoes, parsley, Italian seasonings and the uncooked rolled oats (oatmeal). Use your hands to gently mix thoroughly. Form into a rough ball in the bowl, pour out onto the prepared pan, then use your hands to shape in an oval loaf. Spread the ketchup thinly over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with the black pepper. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Check for doneness - thermometer should read at least 175 degrees. If lower, return to oven. Can take up to 1 hr 10 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve hot. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Quiche For Sweetie

Sweetie wasn't feeling up to par on Jan. 1, but by the next day he was better. Since we didn't party on New Year's Eve, just toasted each other with Irish Coffee, I think he was fighting off a cold. Of course I wanted to bake something to cheer him up...it's what I do. Since we had left over ham and cheese from Christmas, I decided to make quiche, one of his favorite things.

A good quiche has a flaky crust, so I blind-baked my stand-by ReadyCrust and let it cool. For the filling I had sautéed onions and sliced mushrooms, cubes of ham, small cubes of brie, and frozen chopped spinach (well drained). I added an extra egg to the filling so that it would be a bit firmer than usual. Because of that, it cut cleanly and served neatly while still very warm. 

Leftover will keep in the fridge a few days, if you have any. A nice side with this is a fruit compote or a green salad.

By the way, my Christmas tree is still up, but I will be taking it down soon. Each of the ornaments will be carefully put away for next year. In a way, that's similar to planting seeds...there is the faith that there will be a next year, a spring, a harvest, a celebration in the future. Since I received art supplies for Christmas and just cleaned up my studio, my attention is being drawn to my art journal and the next painting...

Ham and Brie and Mushroom Quiche with Spinach

1 blind-baked 9-inch single pie crust, fluted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped finely
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
dash of pepper
1 cup diced cooked and cooled ham

1/2 cup brie cheese in small dice
1/2 cup chopped spinach...preferably frozen and thawed

3 (or 4 as I did) large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I used unsweetened oat milk)
dash ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Keep the pie crust warm while preparing the filling.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil, then sauté the onions and mushroom 3 minutes over high heat, stirring often, until onion is lightly golden and mixture is losing its moisture. Stir in the thyme and pepper. Place this mixture into the bottom of the pie crust. Top with the ham cubes, distributing evenly.

Evenly distribute the brie cheese over the veggie mixture. Warm the chopped spinach in the microwave and then wrap in paper towels and squeeze the extra moisture out. Place clumps of the spinach evenly over the ham.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs lightly with a fork or whisk and then beat in the milk and nutmeg and pepper. Pour this mixture over all of the filling ingredients in the pie plate. The filling will just come to the top of the pan sides.  If desired, brush the fluted crust with milk (optional).

Place pie pan on a small baking sheet and bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 30-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary, cover the fluted crust with foil if it starts to brown too much.

Cool quiche on a rack for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
Serves 4 - 6.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Happy New Year! Some Tips

                            Mis en place and spelt flour...for two tips

 No, I didn't make any New Years resolutions per se, but I do plan on eating lighter and also I want to share some of my cooking and baking tips. You may (or may not) find something that you'll find useful next time you cook or bake.

The first tip is for baking. Don't stress about sifting flour. I understand that baking is really a lot of chemistry and that proportions matter, but today's flour only needs to be fluffed up in the bag or container before you measure. I have a scoop in my flour container, so I use that to lift up flour all around the container and then slowly let it fall from the scoop, which I'm holding a good six inches above the flour in the container. Once I've done that a few times...takes seconds!...I use the scoop to fill the measuring cup, then use a knife (or in a pinch my flattened index finger) to remove any flour above the measuring cup lip. The best recipes have you weighing the flour anyway, but this works for the recipes that only give measuring cup measures. 

Another tip is also mostly for baking. Having your ingredients at room temperature is really important for baking (unless the recipe tells you to chill an ingredient, or melt the butter, and so on). The ingredients will blend better, if you are creaming butter, it will aerate better, eggs will mix in to a butter/sugar mixture better, and so on. The tip is that if you have forgotten to warm your eggs, you can put them into a mug of really warm water for a few minutes. If the butter is cold, a microwave can help, but you do have to be careful. Put the butter on a plate, wrapped, then microwave it on half power for just 10 seconds. Turn the butter over and turn it 1/4 turn, then microwave another 10 seconds on half power. Check to see if it is less firm and ready to use. If not, half power for another 5 seconds should do the trick.

The most important tip is to get all of your ingredients out and prepped (mis en place)before you start any recipe or cooking project. This way you will find out before you start if you are out of an essential ingredient (so you can go buy it, borrow it, or find a substitution...or try another recipe!), and if you also make sure to lay out any tool, pot, pan, etc. called for you won't be flummoxed by not having that hand-held mixer or immersion blender when the recipe is half done. Imagine trying to make jelly, which needs hot, sterilized jars once cooked, if you forgot to check if you have jelly jars, and if they are clean and sterilized. I often run the dishwasher, with all the jelly jars in it, right before making jam or jelly. That way the jars are ready, hot, and clean right out of the dishwasher. 

Of course in order to do this prep work you will need to read the recipe all the way through...so read it again. When I read it the second time, I try to imagine myself actually making the recipe. Visualization works!

That's it for today. There will be more posts with tips coming later this month.