Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nutty bread with a spicy dinner...

We had a total of 9 new recipes this week - our favorites this time were the Mississippi Mud Cake, Thai Chicken Pizza and the Egg Salad BLTs. I hope you don't mind reading a novel today... I seem to have way too much to talk about! Better grab a drink and maybe a snack...

*I've also gone ahead and brought the recipe section to the left up-to-date... you may need to hit refresh to see the new additions!

We ended up going to the grand opening of the new organic market that opened up yesterday - it is called My Organic Market. We have been going to a local Co-op called The Common Market since there are no Whole Food type stores within a reasonable driving distance for us and this market will be in direct competition with them. Unlike The Common Market though, MOMs is not a Co-op.

MOMs seemed to have a good layout - I thought they had a larger and more varied grocery selection than The Common Market, however, MOMs bulk section is lacking in comparison. At first look, I thought the prices were on par with a Whole Foods or The Common Market, though they did have a few items that were cheaper. They did have quite a few very friendly workers out and about to see if anyone needed help or had questions - they also had a few stations set up around the store for samples. Before they had any signs up on the building, we thought they were going to be a pretty big store, but they did not take as much up of the building as we had hoped. It is a nice store, but I was more impressed when The Common Market did their grand re-opening - they gave away many more items for the first however many customers that day. Here's what MOMs gave out -

We appreciated the very large re-usable shopping bag! We tried the chocolate bar today, but did not like it much at all... not being a big fan of milk chocolate, it was too sweet and had an almost sour taste to it! Oh well, I guess I can't complain as it was free!

Once we got the grocery shopping done today and had lunch, I cracked open the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book to find a bread to bake since it had been a few weeks since I've used it. I found a bit more unusual whole grain bread to try with this recipe for a Toasted Sesame and Sunflower Loaf. You may notice a little different step in this recipe - the book recommends that with most whole grain yeast breads you mix the ingredients together just until combined and then to let the batter rest for awhile. Since whole grain flours tend to absorb liquid more slowly, this step allows the dough to thoroughly take on the liquid and will help prevent you from feeling that you need to add a lot more flour than you actually need when you work the dough. This also gives the yeast a head start - I found the dough much easier to knead and only had to add just a sprinkling of extra flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Jeff's first comment when he smelled a slice was that it was almost like peanut butter! The bread is studded with a plentiful amount of sunflower and sesame seeds - the toasting of the sesame brought out a such a nutty aroma that I also thought was very reminiscent of peanut butter! I thought the use of toasted sesame oil in the dough was perfect - while it was baking, the nutty aroma that filled the kitchen was mouth-watering. With butter and milk added, this loaf is soft and tender - perfect for use in sandwiches or toasted and eaten plain for a snack as it has a very assertive flavor. If you want to keep the crust ultra-soft on this bread, be sure to give the outside a good brushing with melted butter as soon as it comes out from the oven. While we had a slice or two along with dinner tonight, my plan is to use this for a killer peanut butter sandwich for our lunches tomorrow!

Tonight's dinner, Lentils with Chickpeas and Couscous, was only our second time having lentils and even though it was hard for Jeff to admit, he really liked them! The first time we had them, they were pureed into a soup, but in this recipe they are left whole and they were quite tasty. I used green French lentils so their texture would be a bit more firm as Jeff has an aversion to some foods that are too mushy. The cooked lentils are combined with a fiery sauce made from chipotle salsa, cilantro, tomato paste, cumin, onions, carrots and chickpeas. You can control the heat by using whichever salsa you like, but we wanted it spicy! To help soak up the chunky piquant sauce, we served the mixture over golden whole-wheat couscous that was prepared with a handful of juicy golden raisins - the raisins added a touch of sweetness against the smoky heat in the salsa. To give the dish one more punch of flavor, a scattering of lush toasted pine nuts top each serving.

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