Breads – To Knead or Not to Knead

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 5

I’m a fan of them all, kneaded and no-knead breads.  They are all my children and I love them, different though they be.  This week’s column is on ways to use sourdough starter in breads for flavor rather than as a leavener.  I know, I know, sourdough IS a leavener, but not for someone who has limited space and time, say someone who cooks out of a boat galley.  Therefore, because sourdough isn’t a fail proof method for me on the boat, I’ve developed my own ways of using it that don’t require so much tending.

There are also a number of other sourdough breads that I’ve posted in the past should you get super excited and find yourself on a bread roll….  Ha!

Still ‘Ha!’

Rosemary Chicken and Dumplings – The Perfect Comfort Food

I don’t know about your area, but it’s been DANG cold here.  Like this cold…


When it’s this cold, what makes me happiest is pots of simmering goodness on the stove and steaming up windows.  Chicken and dumplings  fits the bill to a tee.

Also, if you’d like to see a demo, here’s me on 207 with Rob Caldwell.  (Next time I’ll get a hair cut!)

Rosemary Chicken And Dumplings
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (remove the skin if desired; I usually take the skin off the breast and thighs)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups chopped onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots; about 2 large carrots
2 cups chopped celery; about 3 stalks of celery
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 3 cloves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3/4 cup milk

Heat the oil in a large, wide stockpot over medium-high heat.  Toss the chicken, flour, salt, pepper and paprika together until the chicken is coated.  Place the chicken in the heated pot and cook until browned on all sides.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs; cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the white wine and stock; bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add the milk.  Mix just until the milk is incorporated.  Drop 1-inch balls of dough on top of the simmering chicken.  Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. NO PEEKING!

Serves 4 to 6

No-Knead Bread 101 – Artisinal Roasted Garlic and Black Olive Bread

Bread is not easy.  Anytime we deal with a living organism, there is unpredictability.  Live things just don’t always do what we wish, or it takes longer, or it happens faster.  In any event, it’s not always on our exacting timetable.  But it doesn’t have to be so maddening.

Roasted Garlic & Olive No Knead Bread Recipe by Annie Mahle

A number of people have said to me recently that they’ve tried and failed to make their own bread.  We’re going to work on that, because once you get it, there is nothing more satisfying in the cooking world than pulling a beautiful loaf of bread out of your own oven.  Even after 25 years of cooking and making bread on a daily basis on the boat, I still love it.

We’ll begin with a step by step of the guideline/recipe in Sugar and Salt:  Book One and move on to adding grains and different ingredients.  I’ll be posting once a month or so and then take a break over the summer.  We’ll come back to it in the fall, just in time for the first chilly snap of frost that makes us think of heating the house and warming our bellies.

This recipe requires a Dutch oven.  This covered pot creates a convective space for moist air, which allows the bread to rise beautifully, and then, once the moisture has dissipated, creates a terrific crust.  I use this method at home frequently.  However, on the Riggin I need to make 4 loaves at a time – but I don’t have the space for 4 Dutch ovens.  So I choose the other, more traditional method that is in Sugar & Salt:  Book One.

Basic No-Knead Recipe
5 cups flour (or flours) of your choice
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 to 2 cups water

Roasted Garlic and Black Olive Bread
to the basic recipe add:
1 cup pitted black olives
1/3 cup peeled roasted garlic cloves; about 1 head roasted garlic

Combine all ingredients except water in a large bowl.   Add water and mix with one hand, adding water until the dough just barely forms a ball and there are no little dry bits hanging out in the bowl. Depending on how moist the olives and garlic are, the amount of water can vary from 1 cup to 2 cups.   This dough should feel too wet to knead and like biscuit dough in moisture content.

Cover the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap; and let the dough rise at room temperature overnight, until the surface of the dough has risen and is flat, not rounded.  For those who have worked with traditional kneaded dough, this will look like a disaster.  Just wait, it will be fine.

Place a Dutch oven (an oven proof pan with a lid) into the oven.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Shape the dough into a round boule by tucking the dough loosely under itself; place the loaf in a bowl lined with parchment paper.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again until doubled, another 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Slash the tops of the loaf with a sharp knife and transfer the parchment paper and dough to the hot Dutch oven and cover with the hot lid.

Bake until the exterior is golden brown and the bottom is firm; about 50 to 70 minutes (no peeking for at least the first half hour).  Remove from both the oven and the Dutch oven and let cool before slicing.

Irish Soda Bread – Why mess with a good thing?

My Grandma wasn’t a fancy cook.  On the other hand, the recipes that she passed down to me are ones that I reach for time and time again.  They are tried, true and most importantly, good.  Her pancakes, her biscuits and of course her Irish Soda Bread (because, well that’s what today’s post is about), are ones I’m sure my daughters will use when they leave home.  I’m a creative girl, but there are just some things one doesn’t mess with.  Grandma’s recipes are such things.

On the Riggin, I’ll often serve this with New England Boiled Dinner, a traditional staple and a perfect meal for St. Patrick’s Day.

irish soda bread for st. patricks day
Shows the cross cut before going into the oven.
The recipe times two make four loaves for a crowd (or a boat load)!

Irish Soda Bread
This is another recipe passed down through the women in my family.  I’ve used dried apricots or raisins in place of the currants (my only nod to my inner creative).  I’ll also change it by leaving out the caraway seeds which is how my children prefer it.

The recipe calls for sour milk, which we now mostly call buttermilk, but in honor of my Grandma, I’ve left the orginal language.  To actually make sour milk, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the 1 3/4 cup of milk and let sit for 1 to 5 minutes to curdle.  Then add to recipe as instructed.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup currants
1 1/2 cups sour milk, plus 2 tablespoons – extra if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix in the sugar, caraway seeds and currants.  Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the milk with your hands until a ball forms. If there are still little bits of flour that are not incorporated, add a little bit more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a complete ball.

Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth (about 5-10 turns).  Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6″ round loaves.  Place the loaves on a cookie pan.  Make two cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the top and bottoms are golden brown and a long toothpick or fork comes clean when inserted into the center of a loaf.

Cool before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Annie on 207 Monday night, February 25th at 7pm

Hey gang, don’t miss how to make Carrot Banana Cake.  Rob Caldwell and I will laugh and joke our way through the making of this cake schooner-style – that’s a one bowl cake.  When you have as many dishes as we do on the schooner, ya get smart about how to make a good cake without tons of bowls.

Rob keeps eating the frosting… Check it out.  Set your dvr, recorder or your alarm so ya don’t miss it.  WCSH6, 207 with Rob Caldwell and Cindy Williams.

Carrot Banana Cake

Hanging with Rob in the kitchen

Homemade Granola – Great Last Minute Gift

cinnamon pecan granola

The aroma of bread baking is just about as evocative as it gets of home, mom and comfort however, I would contend that the smell of toasting granola is just as tantalizing and poignant a sensory experience.  When we are on the bay sailing in and among the other vessels of the fleet, I always know when another boat is baking granola.  And I can always tell when another boat is burning a batch of granola.  Of course the billow of dark smoke escaping the galley is one small hint, but it’s also the burnt sugar and toast smell that is the woeful giveaway.  While a fairly easy task in a home kitchen, getting granola just right in the high heat of a wood stove is a bigger challenge (or so I’ve been told, ha!).  last minute homemade giftBecause in an oven cranked up to do the production of an entire day’s food it’s a matter of seconds from perfectly toasted to dang-that’s-too-dark!, I’ve taken to baking granola either at the end of the day or while we are at lobster bake. In both cases, the stove can be shut way down and the granola left unattended to toast slowly and evenly.

granola for sale

At home, however, the quick work of several batches of both Cinnamon Pecan Granola and Maine Blueberry, Cranberry Granola made me almost forget what trial and error has gone before me in summer’s past.

For a basic recipe that you can tweak, here’s a previous cook the book granola post.  I’ll be making granola all winter long, so feel free to order a fix for yourself or as a gift.  Annie’s Granola.

With a good smellin’ home

The book is here! The book is here!

If I didn’t call you back this spring, if I didn’t email you even though it was important, if you basically weren’t  bleeding from the head or one of my girls (even if they weren’t bleeding from the head I paid attention to them), you may have heard, I was writing a cookbook.  It sort of took up every available moment.  And now it’s here!  It’s here!

The huge tractor trailer truck pulled up in our driveway.

Out they come!

Projects are a funny thing.  You think about them for a while and sometimes have a hem-and-haw period where you don’t know the how, where, what and why although the who is pretty clear – me, myself and I.  Finally, you get a mental grip on yourself and dive right in.  Once you are in the process, then it’s about both the creative work and the deadlines with all the requisite organization and executive skills.  As the project nears the end, there seems to always be a bit of a crunch (and by ‘bit’ I mean ‘a big, hairy while when you think you’ll never be done’) and then poof off it goes into the universe (or off to the printer as is the case with a book).  Once you have it in hand, it’s almost hard to remember what all the fuss and hubbub was about.  It’s not unlike, although not nearly as intense as, birthing a child where there is a time when every woman wonders how it is that we actually have so many children on this planet, because, dang!, who would keep doing this over and over again?  And then you hold that child in your arms and all of those intensely difficult hours seem suddenly very fuzzy and unimportant.

Safe and sound in the barn.  Hee, hee!

So now as I write, I’m so excited to have Sugar and Salt in hand that I’m a little foggy on how much work was involved.  Elizabeth, the photographer of all the book’s photos not to mention the manager of the entire production schedule, will shoot daggers in my direction when she reads this, but she loves me, so that’s okay.

The first box we opened!

Thank you to MORE & CO. for their amazing design work and their knowledge of book production.  Maria, CDR and Ryan you are all terrific.  Thank the heavens for your facility with In Design, we would have been sunk without you in so many ways.   Working together with you all in our creative process was so much fun that I’m already looking forward to next time.  Thank you to Sharon Kitchens for actually finding us MORE & CO. in the first place and for continuing to beg for a cookbook to promote.  I appreciate you and all of your smart, ingenious work.  Thank you to Elizabeth for her photos, her attention to detail and her organizational skills.  Working with you every day is such a pleasure.  Lastly thank you Kirkwood Printing for the beautiful paper and the quality print job.  Dear ones, we created something lovely together.

In celebration!

Catering for 20 – Ahhh, Now We’re Talking

Sometimes it’s such a relief to cook for the same number I cook for all summer long.  It must sound funny, but it’s actually LESS thinking for me.  I don’t have to hold back on amounts like I do when cooking for the family or testing recipes and even then half the time I end up with twice as much as I need!  This job came a while ago, but no matter, it has some of my favorites, one of which is oft requested on the Riggin, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip.  When I take these platters of bubbly, crusty, cheesy flavor out of my wood stove on the boat and bring them on deck to a crowd of hungry sailors, they NEVER come back empty.  I’ve taken to setting some aside for the crew so that they get a bite as well.

food for a crowd

Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

dip for crudite

Could the color of these veggies be any prettier?  That’s White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip for the vegans.

dip for crudites

More dip, cause we all gotta have our veggies!

easy appetizers for a crowd

Roasted Mushroom Pate en Croute – another one that never comes back empty.  For me, this is one that I have to say to myself, “Step awaaay from the food.  Awaaaay.”

appetizers for a crowd

This one is my favorite because it’s so pretty.  Sesame Soy Udon noodles are wrapped around forks and served on a bed of shaved bright purple cabbage.  Guests just take one or two forks for their plates.

appetizers for a crowd

Delicata Squash and Goat Cheese Tartlets – kinda pop in your mouth goodness.

Playing in my winter kitchen

Cook the Book: Meatloaf


This is my mom’s recipe.  As a little girl I loved the leftover meatloaf sandwiches more than the meal itself.

2 pounds ground beef
1 cup oatmeal or breadcrumbs
1 cup tomato juice or 2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix it all up, pat it into a greased loaf pan and pop it into the oven. Bake for 1 hour.  Let it cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8

Cook the Book: Newfi Bread

Newfi Bread

This recipe is a favorite on many vessels in the windjammer fleet.
2 tablespoons (2 packages) dry yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
8 cups white all-purpose flour
3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 cup molasses

Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water. Add more water if needed. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Oil the bowl and the top of the dough, cover, and place in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes, until doubled. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 3 loaf pans. Punch down the dough, form three loaves and place them in the loaf pans. Cover and allow to rise again until nearly doubled. Place the pans in the oven, throw a cup of water over hot stones set in a pan in the bottom of the oven (or toss 3 to 4 ice cubes into a pan in the bottom of the oven) to generate steam and quickly close the oven door. Bake until deep brown (around 45 minutes).