Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

There is a magic to fresh bread.  There is something eternally warm and welcoming about its taste, the mouth feel and oh the smell.  It is the smell of pure bliss and utter hospitality.  I used to work on a ranch in the summers cooking three square meals a day for hungry cowboys and ranch hands as well as teaching manners to the little cowboys that ran around in the fields all summer, free as woodland elves.  It was there in the starkly beautiful wild country of Nevada, among the sage and the pine… and the cows, where I really learned to cook.   Yes, my culinary birth was one by flame and long hot summers of trial and error; errors that the hungry crew were either kind enough not to mention or too hungry to care.  My mom of course had taught me all the basics and she was set on my mental speed dial, on the old tethered rotary phone by the ranch kitchen, where I would sometimes need to make very expensive long distance phone calls mid-meal, sending out an SOS to her landline where she always picked up and trouble-shot the lumpy gravy or the burnt tomato sauce (note; start fresh with the gravy if you can, always adding in hot liquid to the cornstarch or flour and mixing until smooth before pouring in. Unless you have an emulsifier then use that and poof creamy gravy, also don’t scrape the burnt sauce in the pan just carefully ladle the top ¾ of the sauce into a new pan that has a heavier bottom for long hours of simmering on the stove).  Of course those calls were only made when the head chef had left little me in charge, otherwise Susan (the ranch wife) in all of her glory and wisdom was there by my side.  Helping me knead, teaching me about sourdough starters, showing me the ways and enchantment of a well stocked pantry.   We made bread daily and it was the best part of each day for me.  Waking up with the sun, pulling on the apron, cotton strings wrapped around twice to tie in front, the flour catching wind as cup by glorious cup full is scooped into thick potted bowls.  Breathing new life into the yeast with warm water and a watchful eye, drops of thick olive oil and the slap of dough on wooden tables, then a silhouette in the warm window, a flour cloth covered bowl back lit by the morning sun and a moment of pause until we knead once again then wait once more.   Then it’s thrown and shaped, long brush strokes of whisked egg, a knife dragged across the top and into the vintage Wedgewood where it warms and darkens, the wonder of bread is complete.

I don’t make bread every day anymore but the rhythm of the process is always there, waiting quietly to be put to work.  So I want to share one of the easiest bread recipes with you my readers: Challah.  This bread is eggy and full of loft, it’s wonderful to sop up soup or sauces with and with a slight sweetness even better with honey and butter slathered on top.  It really shines, dipped in eggs, milk, and cinnamon then grilled into the most perfectly perfect French toast.

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Farm Fresh Eggs

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah
Fresh Hot Delicious Challah Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

You will need

  • 11 ozs or 320 grams* water
  • ¾ cup or 85 grams Turbinado** Sugar
  • 1.5 Tablespoons dry yeast
  • 3 ½ cups or 800 grams flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon good flakey salt
  • ½ cup or 60 grams oil

*When baking it is best to measure with a scale if you own one, if not I have included the conversion for you

** Simple recipes like this with only a few items demand quality, so use fresh pastured eggs, fine olive oil, raw sugar and the best salt you can find.

How to:

  • Warm the water to 95-115 degrees and stir in the sugar
  • Pour yeast in, let sit for a few moments for the yeast to bloom
  • Pour mixture into a kitchen-aid with a hook attachment and add flour, salt and oil
  • Lightly beat eggs and add into mixture
  • Mix low incorporating for about 4 minutes then increase speed for 4 more minutes
  • (If you do not own a KitchenAid, get one! But until then, stir in bowl until too hard to handle then kneed for at least 8 minutes)
  • Take dough (it will be moist) and kneed on a lightly floured surface for a minute forming a ball
  • Then place dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl
  • Cover with a warm moist towel
  • Let rise until doubled in volume; about 45 minutes
  • Then divide dough in half and each half into thirds
  • With your hands gently roll and stretch each third into a long log
  • Gather the tops of three of your logs and pinch together then braid until you reached the ends and pinch together
  • Repeat with the other three logs of dough
  • Place both loaves on a parchment lined backing sheet cover with warm moist towel and let rise once again – about 45 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • You know dough is ready with you pinch it with your finger and it instantly bounces back!
  • Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with your choice of topping and bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven to 350 and bake until golden and beautiful about 8 more minutes.
  • Slice, eat, enjoy!

To all the Challah back girls and goys,

Marcella Rose


Fresh Hot Delicious Challah



Shakshuka {Gluten Free}

shakshuka

You wake up, you’re tired. Well maybe you aren’t, but I am and I can’t be alone in this feeling…right readers?  On the weekends I often feel like getting up and making breakfast is just too much, can’t I just stay in bed and have Charles (the butler I wish I had) bring me breakfast in bed, Downton Abby style? I mean life is taxing and you are hitting it hard.  Between work, family, obligations, friends, the gym and the home, finding time to make a healthy meal can often feel like panning for gold in the Mississippi, i.e. almost impossible.  So you often fall back on your go-tos; you know, things you make all the time.  Go-tos are a great thing, but go-to them too much and you can get palate fatigue.  You’ve got to spice things up!  Do something different, look outside the box or look to Marcella Rose’s! Well, if Sunday breakfast has you bored, do I have a new breakfast dish for you.  Shakshuka.  It’s fun to say right? Shakshuka!  Well it’s even more fun to make and by fun I mean easy, like crazy easy. Plus it’s insanely delicious and you can probably make it right now with ingredients you already have on-hand.  Some recipes of this dish call for crusty bread which is amazing for scooping up the heavy caramelized sauce but if you’re gluten free it’s amazing by the spoonful or with warm corn tortillas.  Shakshuka recipes often call for feta or goat cheese but really any cheese you have on hand will do, you can make it simple with salt and pepper or you can add spices to take the flavor through the roof.  Again my recipe is below, but play around and make it your own! I always feel it best to break all the rules in the kitchen.  It’s the one safe place to do it right?  Your Le Creuset pan can’t really fire you now can it?  Your olive oil won’t give you a ticket now will it?  So have some fun, spice it up, shake it off, or rather Shakshuka it off, and trust me you will feel like jumping out of bed to make this breakfast.

good morning eggs a blend of parsley, fennel, garlic, sweet paprika, and other spices shakshuka Canned Tomatoes

You will need

  • 3-5 cloves minced garlic – depending on how Italian you are…if you are Sicilian add some more
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 glugs olive oil
  • 1 quart jar of stewed tomatoes (plus the juice)
  • 5 eggs – or more if you have a bigger pan or more mouths to feed
  • Feta (optional)
  • Flat leaf parsley chopped – about 3 tablespoons (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Spices – I used a middle eastern blend of a  parsley, fennel, garlic, sweet paprika and other spices

How to

  • Heat a pan over medium high heat and add olive oil
  • Sauté your onion until translucent; about 4 minutes
  • Add garlic, stirring to avoid it burning, until fragrant; about 1 minute
  • Dump in tomatoes and juice, smashing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon
  • Add spices (if using), salt and pepper then stir to incorporate
  • Allow the mixture to simmer until the juice cooks down and you have a thick sauce; about 5 minutes
  • Crack your eggs directly into the tomato mixture and cover with a lid
  • Cook eggs until yolks are soft but still runny; about 3 minutes
  • Top with cheese and parsley
  • Dig in

IMG_7050shakshuka shakshuka

Shakshuka for everyone!

Marcella Rose

shakshuka