I’ve already written other blog posts on a homemade pasta with infused tomato puree and one about my first experience making (french) bread. This time, I experimented with a couple of new recipes I found on Pinterest. Since I’m new to the pasta and bread making game, I think I’ll have to keep trying and tweaking recipes before I get those “signature” dishes!
The French Bread
I tried a french bread recipe that only requires one rise instead of two. Since I had decided to make it last minute and I happened to have rapid rising yeast on hand, I thought it was worth a try. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)
The recipe was for two loaves, but I only wanted one, so I cut all the ingredient amounts in half. This was easy to do because a lot of the amounts look like they had probably originally been doubled. For example, it calls for two packages of fast rising yeast, so instead, I simply used one.
This was way better than the last french bread I made. The outside got crustier and the inside was fluffier and less dense. Plus, it took a fraction of the time to prepare. I actually used bread flour instead of regular all purpose flour and let the mixer knead the dough a little longer than the last time. These things may have contributed to the better bread. However, although the inside of the bread was fluffier, I felt it still had a tiny bit of toughness to it when pulling it apart. I don’t think this has anything to do with the recipe. Just some alterations I need to make to what I’m doing.
So, I prepared the dough, let is rest covered for 10 minutes. I then made it into a loaf shape, only sort of using the jelly roll method. I did it roughly because I didn’t want that spirally inside that I got last time. I let the loaf sit covered on a oiled baking sheet for about 35 minutes. I took this opportunity to prep a couple other things and take a shower! I also timed it so that the pasta noodles were drying at this time.
Also, I decided to bake it half way without a wash or butter brushed over it. Then once it was a little bit browned, I took it out, brushed some butter over the top and let it cook the rest of the way. This helped give it that nice golden brown. Similar to last time, I also only cooked the loaf part-way through before I took it directly off the baking sheet and put it on a baking rack because the bottom browned before the rest of the loaf.
I let the bread cool a little. I used half of it to make garlic bread. The garlic bread was just melted butter, minced garlic, salt, pepper, dried basil, freeze-dried chives, and parmesan sprinkled on top. I let those pieces broil in the oven just so they got brown on top and little toasty. This was just a quick solution for making garlic bread. If I hadn’t already been making a bunch of other stuff and had fresh herbs, I’d make this delicious herb garlic bread recipe I found years ago. (I’ll save that for another time :))
Bonus, I sliced up a couple of pieces of leftover bread this morning to make toast. I topped them with some smashed avocado, tomato, and sprinkled with pink Hawaiian salt. YUM!
The pasta recipe was a very basic one and had 5 stars with 46 reviews at the time. I spiced it up a little but sprinkling in a little dried parsley and dried basil. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)
The verdict: The pasta was fine and is probably a good traditional recipe if that’s what you want. My noodles ended up being too thick, so they were a bit dense and chewy. I think it’s because I didn’t spend enough time rolling the pasta out before using the fettucine cutter. I’d like to give this recipe another try because I really think this was my own fault and I’d like an easy go-to pasta recipe.
I had a can of san marzano tomatoes in the pantry, so I dumped the contents into a large pot and used my mashed potato smasher to break up the tomatoes. I added quite a few seasonings, but I was just experimenting with the flavor. If you’re looking for a simple sauce, you don’t even need to add anything. Here’s what I used to add some depth to the sauce flavor:
- sliced garlic
- dashes of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper
- one bay leaf
- a little bit of chopped onion
- a little water and chicken bouillon powder
- a dash of balsamic vinegar
- dash of parmesan
- tomato cooking wine
- We had just gone on a winery tour last week and purchased this tomato cooking wine. It has a subtle flavor and perhaps it drowned in the sauce. I think this would be really nice to use in other dishes, perhaps to deglaze a pan of mushrooms or something!
I also wanted to add some protein to the dish, so I pressure cooked some chicken we had in the freezer and shredded it. (Since I didn’t season it, the other chicken breast was cut up and saved for the pups!) I put the shredded chicken directly into the sauce. I also air fried some frozen shrimp and peas and put those into the sauce last minute, just before serving.
I won’t lie; this was overall a lot of work. But since I like cooking and it was a leisurely Saturday night, I enjoyed it. This would also be great for a date night if you and your significant other ever like to cook together.
I hope you give some of those recipes a try and share some of your lessons learned, as well!