Olive Sourdough Loaves

I pulled a half cup of sourdough out of the refrigerator and put it in a bowl with ½ cup of lukewarm water and a cup of all purpose flour. I stirred it well and put plastic wrap over the top of the mixing bowl and left it on the counter overnight so it was raring to go for a rustic loaf.

My starter and I then took a field trip across two states before I added flour and chopped black Kalamata olives for a delicious loaf even my Dad enjoyed. You don’t need to give it that long a rest or a drive in a warm car but, even if you do, the bread still turns out delicious!

This recipe makes two loaves. Give one away to someone who is self isolating but craves some good bread or you can freeze the extra loaf until ready to eat it yourself.

They make really good bread for sandwiches, too.

Olive Sourdough Loaves

1 cup sourdough starter, fed
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 ½  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½  cups bread flour
3/4 cup drained, pitted, and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

Combine everything but the olives in a stand mixer and stir to form a smooth dough. Fold in the olives and Knead about 10 minutes, dough should come cleanly away from the sides.

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm, draft free place until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, gently divide the dough in half. Shape each piece of dough into either a round or oval loaf. Place each loaf on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cover the loaves and let them rise an 1 hour. They will be very puffy.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Spray the loaves with water and make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each.

Bake the loaves for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.


Garlic Sourdough Focaccia

I made a chicken, lemon and rice soup  the other day and knew I would want a good homemade bread to go with it. I decided on focaccia with some of my sourdough but, instead of the usual rosemary or olive, I decided to go for garlic. I crisped up some garlic in olive oil and it was deliciously garlicky.

This focaccia has a lovely chew and great flavor. And you won’t have to worry about vampires for a long time to come!

I used the extra yeast to shorten the time of the bread making – the last time I did this without, I needed an overnight rise. By placing it in a 9×13 pan, it gives it enough rise to make lovely sandwich bread.

Garlic Sourdough Focaccia

1 cup active sourdough starter
1 ¼ cups warm water
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Garlic oil

½ head of garlic (about 8 large cloves)
¼ cup olive oil

Remove enough of  the sourdough starter from the mother for the recipe and place in a draft free place for four hours. Feed the remaining starter and return it to the fridge. The starter should be bubbling nicely after its rest.

Place the starter, water, oil, salt, flours and instant yeast into a bread machine. Let the machine run for 15 minutes on the dough cycle and then turn it off for 15 minutes to hydrate the flours. Clear the machine and start the dough cycle over again.

Once the dough cycle has ended, place the dough in a large, well oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, draft free place for two hours. I place mine in the cold oven with the oven light on. One hour into the rise, punch down the dough.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until golden brown. Be careful not to let it burn. Strain the garlic, reserving the garlic flavored oil and the garlic separately.

Lightly oil a 9×13 pan with half of the garlic olive oil. Place the dough onto the oiled pan (trying not to deflate it too much). Use your fingers to spread the dough to the edges. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour until well risen and puffy.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use your fingers to dimple the top of the dough all over. Brush with the remaining garlic flavored olive oil. Sprinkle the crispy garlic and coarse sea salt over the top.

Bake about 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Chocolate Pecan Truffle Cookies

I owed my friend Charlotte some cookies and her only request was chocolate and pecans. I browsed through my recipes and decided to go sinfully decadent with truffle cookies. These are soft cookies with such a rich flavor of chocolate from the melted to the added chips. I’ve got to say the addition of toasted, chopped pecans to them are a real treat.

I used Ghirardelli bittersweet and semi-sweet baking chips in this recipe. I love the taste and texture they add to the cookies.

I really like the flakes in Maldon Sea Salt, so that it what I used to sprinkle on top. A crisp bite of salt in each large flake, so you use a smaller amount than with a less coarse sea salt.

Darkly rich with a soft texture, these are definitely the cookie for chocolate lovers.

Chocolate Pecan Truffle Cookies

3 cups bittersweet morsels
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup semisweet morsels, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough
2 -3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let chocolate cool slightly.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt to combine. Set aside

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs. Slowly add the warm chocolate mixture, mixing to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Add in flour mixture. Cool for a few minutes (if batter is too warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Chill for 10-15 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of flaked sea salt. Bake for approximately 7-8 minutes until the outside looks slightly cracked. Do not over bake cookies because they will continue to bake as they cool once removed from the oven. Cookies will be soft and gooey in the center.

Lemon, Chicken and Rice Soup

This is a combination of a Greek avgolemono soup with chicken, rice, eggs and lemons and a low country bog (a swampy chicken and rice soup) common to the Carolinas. I like the addition of lemons to clear out the sinuses and, with all the worries about COVID-19, what could be more comforting and healthy than chicken soup?

If you don’t want to hassle with making the chicken stock, buy 10 cups of stock from the store and get a rotisserie chicken from the grocer. Start the recipe with cooking the rice in the stock. A whole chicken usually gives about 3-5 cups of chicken. I reserved the breasts for chicken salad and still had more than 3 cups of chicken to shred for the soup.

The final dish is silky and refreshing while also being immensely comforting.

Chicken and Rice Soup

1 – 4lb whole chicken, rinsed
10 cups water
2 carrots, broken in half
2 stalks celery, broken in half
1 small onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups long grain rice
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk

In a large stock pot, place chicken, carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 60-90 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and water has become a flavorful broth.

Set chicken aside to cool slightly. Strain and discard solids from liquid and return the chicken stock to the pot. Run it through a fat separator if you want to reduce the fat in the final dish. Pick the meat off the cooled chicken, until you have at least 3 cups of chicken. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside, discarding skin and bones.

Bring broth back to a boil. Cook rice in the broth with salt and pepper on low heat until soft and tender, about 20 minutes.

Ladle out one cup of the cooked rice and place in a blender with lemon juice and zest and the eggs. Blend until smooth.

Stir shredded chicken into broth. Very slowly, add the warm egg/lemon mixture into the pot, whisking constantly to prevent any clumps from forming. With heat on low, cook for about ten minutes or until thickened. Taste for seasoning.

This soup will continue to thicken when stored, so have about a cup of chicken broth when reheating the soup. As it warms, the liquids will combine and make it the perfect thickness.

Cucumber and Salmon Sandwiches

You don’t have to go to high tea at a posh noshery to enjoy a good cucumber and salmon  sandwich. Nor do you need to invite the Vicar.

These sandwiches are just elevated versions of the cucumber cream cheese sandwiches I used to sneak in to scarf during my mom and her friends bridge games and, later, mahjong games.

Light and refreshing originally, the addition of flaked salmon really kicks these up a notch.

Here is my salmon recipe. I just purchase a little more than I think I’ll need for dinner so I have about 1 extra serving (at least a cup) leftover for these sandwiches. The lemon flavor adds a nice touch so, if using canned, add a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Cucumber Salmon Salad Sandwiches

About a cup of leftover cooked salmon or 1 – 6oz can (drained)
1 cucumber, peeled
1 package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon dill or 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped fine
1 tablespoon grated Vidalia or other sweet onion
salt and pepper to taste

white sandwich bread, crusts cut off

Cut cucumber in half and scoop out seeds. Grate cucumber onto a towel and squeeze out some of the liquid.

Stir dill into softened cream cheese along with the grated onion and cucumber. Fold in the flaked salmon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly mayonnaise or butter the sandwich bread. Spread on the cucumber salmon mixture and then assemble the sandwiches. For a nice presentation, cut into triangles. For a party, cut each into 4 triangles.

You can add a tablespoon of mayonnaise or yogurt to make it loose enough for a dip with crackers or crudités.