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Forget Those Supermarket Rolls – Go Krazy with Homemade Kaiser Rolls

Sean and I are both big proponents of sandwiches in this house and take every opportunity to make a good sandwich for lunch or dinner. Of course, there is nothing quite like a sandwich on a good roll to make it taste even better. The problem is finding the good rolls that you will love to eat. Unfortunately for us, we do not have a bakery in our town or nearby, which means you would have to settle for the rolls they offer at the local supermarkets. If you have ever had a Kaiser roll from New York City or one of the boroughs, you will quickly realize that the rolls offered outside of the city pale in comparison and or too soft, too dry and somewhat flavorless, making for a disappointing sandwich. The best solution available to me was to try to make these rolls on my own. I was hesitant at first, fearing it would be a lot of work to give it a try, but I came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen in their cookbook Bread Illustrated (one of my favorite cookbooks by the way). The recipe seemed very easy and straightforward, so I decided it was time to give it a try.

Homemade Kaiser Rolls

5 cups bread flour

4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups water, at room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg, at room temperature

4 teaspoons sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon poppy seeds, optional

Whisk the bread flour, yeast and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the water, vegetable oil, egg, and sugar together in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup until the sugar has dissolved.

Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, set the mixer to low speed and slowly add the water mixture to the flour mixture and mix the ingredients until a cohesive dough starts to form, and no dry flour remains, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead the ingredients until the dough is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom of the bowl, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead the dough by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place the dough seam-side down in a lightly greased large bowl or container, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Press down on the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a clean counter or workspace. Press and stretch the dough into a 12 by 6-inch rectangle, with the long side parallel to the counter edge.

Using a pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut the dough vertically into 12 (6 by 1-inch) strips and cover the dough loosely with greased plastic wrap.

Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining pieces covered with the plastic), stretch and roll the dough into a 14-inch rope. Shape the rope into a U with a 2-inch-wide bottom curve and the ends facing away from you. Tie the ends into a single overhand knot, with a 1 1/2-inch open loop at the bottom.

Wrap 1 tail over the loop and press it through the opening from the top. Wrap the other tail under the loop and pinch the ends together to seal them. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, placing the rolls pinched side down on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart. Cover the rolls loosely with greased plastic and let the dough rise until it has nearly doubled in size and the dough springs back minimally when it is poked gently with your knuckle, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush the rolls with the egg mixture and sprinkle them with poppy seeds, if using. Bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking process.

Transfer the rolls to wire racks and allow them to cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.

The process of forming the rolls sounds more complicated than it is. Once you get used to doing it, they come together pretty quickly, though I have to admit I think mine could have looked nicer. Besides the looks, I have to say these rolls are excellent. They have the right texture and the crisp exterior that you want in a roll while still maintaining a moist interior crumb. There are stamps you can buy to imprint the rolls if you do not want to go through the effort of getting that rosette shape yourself (you can find them on Amazon or King Arthur Flour). We used the rolls that night for chicken sandwiches for dinner, and I have to say they are better than anything I can buy around here. While they are certainly not of the quality you will get fresh from the bakeries on Arthur Avenue, it’s a good one you can do yourself without a lot of work and still have a great roll for sandwiches. It’s definitely one I will be making again.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in Breads, Breakfast, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Uncategorized

 

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A St. Patrick’s Day Treat – Skillet Soda Bread

Most people really only give much consideration to Irish soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day and may not think about it much the rest of the year. The problem is that most of the soda bread you find in local stores this time of year is very dense, very dry and very crumbly and just does not taste that good. Even some of the mixes I have tried over the years have been disappointing and I wanted to try to make one this year that would have the great crust a soda bread should have but the tender bread that was not tough to eat. I came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen last week and it was simple, basic and sounded perfect so I went about giving it a try to see how the bread would be.

Skillet Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 tablespoon melted butter, optional

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the center position. Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingers until it is completely incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the buttermilk. Work the liquid into the flour mixture using a fork until the dough comes together in large clumps. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead it gently and briefly until the loose flour is just moistened. The dough will still be scrappy and uneven.

Form the dough into a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter and place it in a cast iron skillet. Score a deep cross on top of the loaf and place it in the heated oven. Bake the bread until it is nicely browned and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and brush the top of the loaf with the tablespoon of melted butter, if desired. Cool the bread for at least 30 minutes before slicing it. Serve the bread slightly warm or at room temperature.

I have to say it was the best soda bread I have had in a long time. No it does have raisins, or currants or any of that other stuff in it, but it doesn’t need all of that and that is more of the American version of Irish soda bread anyway. The crust on this bread has a wonderful crunch to it just like you want without it being all crumbly so it doesn’t fall apart when you slice it. The bread itself is nice and tender as well and goes really well with your corned beef and cabbage meal, if that is what you are having. You can make this on a baking sheet if you don’t have a coast iron pan or want to use one, but I think the crust comes out great thanks to the cast iron pan. If you can eat it while it is still warm it is that much better, but this will be okay for a day or two covered before it starts to dry out if you want to make it ahead of time. This will be my go to soda bread recipe from now on.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Breads, Cooking, Holidays

 

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Checking in With a Classic – Chicken Marsala

There’s been a lot of work coming my way lately, which is a good thing because it keeps me working, but it also keeps me from doing extra things like blogging. After spending 10-12 hours a day on the computer writing it is hard to find the energy to get back on and write for the blog. Today I have a little bit of a break during the day so I have time to share a recipe I recently tried out at home. Sometimes it is nice to get back to the classics for recipes and I had wanted to make chicken Marsala for a while now and had just not gotten around to it. I finally happened to be down near our local liquor store the other day and made the conscious effort to go in and get a bottle of Marsala wine so that I could make the chicken. I decided to try out this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, which strays from a number of other recipes in that they do not make use of chicken broth in the recipe. I figured I would give it a try to see how it came out.

Chicken Marsala

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

1 cup all-purpose flour

Table salt

Ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 ounces pancetta or bacon (about 3 slices), cut into pieces 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide

8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups Marsala wine 

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 small lemon

4 tablespoons butter cut into 4 pieces, softened

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and place a large heatproof dinner plate on the oven rack, and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat  a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until it is very hot (you can hold your hand 2 inches above the pan surface for 3 to 4 seconds), about 3 minutes. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Halve the chicken breasts horizontally and then cover the chicken halves with plastic wrap and pound the chicken to an 1/4-inch thickness with a meat pounder. Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper; working one piece at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour to coat both sides. Lift the chicken piece from the tapered end and shake it to remove any excess flour; transfer the piece to a large plate and repeat the process with the remainder of the chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the heated skillet until it is shimmering. Place the floured cutlets in a single layer in the skillet and cook the chicken until it is golden brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the cutlets and cook them on the second side until they are golden brown and no longer pink, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated plate and repeat the process with any remaining chicken pieces. When all of the chicken is cooked, return the plate to the oven.

Cook the pancetta or bacon in the now-empty skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until it is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the mushrooms to the now-empty skillet, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and the crisp pancetta or bacon and cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the Marsala wine, scraping up any browned bits. Return the skillet to the heat and bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and measures about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juices. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir in the parsley and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

I have to say I have had chicken Marsala a number of times and very often the chicken is overcooked and the mushrooms are slimy and the sauce is watery. none of those things occurred with this dish. the chicken was tender with great flavor and the sauce came out perfectly. The mushrooms were not overcooked or watery and came out perfectly and the pancetta (or bacon, which I used this time) was a nice touch to the dish. I served this with noodles for Michelle and Sean and had it over rice myself and it was done perfectly. I even had some leftovers the next day for lunch and it was delicious. I would use this recipe again to make this classic. It is not one I had made in a long time so it was nice to try it again.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce

 

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Easy as Pie… well, Cake… Easy Lemon Pound Cake

there are always going to be times where you wish you had some dessert around and you just don’t have anything available. Maybe it is some last-minute visitors stopping by for coffee and you just wish you had something you could put out. Or maybe you are like me and you have a teenager complaining that there are no desserts in the house and they would like something to have as a snack or dessert. At times like this you need to have an arsenal of desserts that you can put together easily, typically in under an hour and without creating a lot of fuss or mess. Sure, cookies are always an option, but for me it means dragging out a lot of ingredients, the mixer, cookie sheets and more and it means a lot of clean-up. Brownies are always a good option too, but maybe you don’t have the chocolate on hand to do them fast. it is at times like this that I often find myself turning to a trusty pound cake recipe I got from America’s Test Kitchen. it is a classic recipe, easy to put together, requires only a few ingredients and minimal clean up and produces a great and versatile dessert.

Easy Lemon Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, melted and hot

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour and 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

Process the sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice together in a food processor until the ingredients are combined, about 10 seconds. With the food processor running, add in the hot melted butter in a steady stream until it is incorporated. Pour the mixture from the food processor into a large bowl.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture in 3 additions, whisking to combine the ingredients after each addition until only a few streaks of flour remain. Continue to whisk the batter gently until almost no lumps remain. Try not to overmix the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Wipe any drops of batter off the sides of the pan and gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles from the batter. Bake the cake in the oven until a toothpick in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process.

Let the cake cool in the loaf pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan, then flip the cake out onto a wire rack.Turn the cake right side up and allow it to cool completely, up to 2 hours, before serving.

What you end up with in just about an hour is a moist pound cake that is not thick and dense like many can be. The process of adding the hot butter in the food processor allows the ingredients to emulsify quickly before there is a chance of anything curdling that can make the cake dense. if you prefer not to have the lemon you can simply leave the zest and juice out and get a nice, plain pound cake or you can substitute something like orange juice and zest for an orange flavor or use some almond extract and slivered almonds for an almond pound cake. you can then serve this nicely by itself or with some ice cream, serve with berries or other fruit, or even serve it in chunks with some chocolate fondue.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, have a Happy Valentine’s Day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Cakes, Cooking, Dessert

 

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Making Use of That Leftover Lamb – Sort of Lamb Shawarma

Okay, now that you have made this delightfully tasty but quite large leg of lamb from yesterday’s recipe, what the heck do you do with any leftovers? Sure you can make shepherd’s pie, which I have done in the past, and it is quite a tasty dish in its own right and makes good use of leftovers, but I wanted to try something different. There really aren’t a ton of uses for leftover lamb and it can get kind of tough and chewy if it is overcooked as it is, so I wanted to find something a little out of the ordinary that would not require a great deal of cook time for the lamb pieces. I received a cookbook, The Make-Ahead Cook, by America’s Test Kitchen, that came to my rescue right away. They had the solution of what to try with leftover lamb that I had never considered before – lamb shawarma. You have likely had or seen lamb shawarma at a Turkish or Mediterranean restaurant at some point in the past as you see this mass of meat rotating on a vertical rotisserie and the meat is gently sliced off from there to produce your dish.This recipe attempts to recreate the taste of that dish with the use of leftovers and a trusty skillet to get you through, and makes a really great yogurt-tahini sauce to go with it.

Lamb Shawarma

For the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

1/4 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Shawarma:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 pound cooked lamb, sliced thin (about 1 3/4 cups)

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

4 (6-inch) pita breads, warmed

2 cups chopped iceberg or romaine lettuce

2 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped

2 shallots, sliced thin

For the yogurt-tahini sauce. combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, parsley, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste, cover the bowl and refrigerate it until you are serving the meal.

For the lamb shawarma, Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the cumin, coriander, and cardamom and cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 1 minute (be careful not to burn the spices!). Add the sliced lamb, breaking up any clumps, and cook until the lamb is just beginning to crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the minced parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/4 cup of the yogurt-tahini sauce in the center of each warmed pita, then divide the lamb mixture evenly among the pitas. Top each pita with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, lettuce, tomatoes and shallots. Wrap the pitas around the filling and serve.

This was really tasty and only took a few minutes to put together completely. The lamb gets barely any re-heating at all, just enough to get it hot and crisp, and it tastes great with all of those great Mediterranean spices that you use in the mix. Place it on a warm pita with the yogurt sauce and it was fantastic. I have to admit I was a little worried that Michelle and Sean would not go for it but we all loved it and gobbled it down pretty easily. This will certainly be my go to dish for leftover lamb from now on. I did add some diced cucumber to the toppings of the pita to mix it all in for a bit of coolness and freshness to go along with the dish, and you could serve this simply with a side of rice or a side salad and have a great meal for lunch or dinner.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 

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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Lamb, Leftovers, Lunch, Sandwiches, Sauce

 

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Got Leftovers? Make This Chicken and Rice Casserole with Lemon and Parmesan

More often than not we have one meal a week that I just call Leftovers Night. The night is either a hodgepodge of different things that have been leftover from various meals re-heated separately or, if the ingredients go well together, some type of stir fry, hash or casserole for dinner. When we had some leftover vegetables and a rotisserie chicken in the fridge the other day, it seemed to be crying out to be made into some type of casserole and I had seen this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for a chicken and rice casserole recently and found this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Chicken and Rice Casserole with Lemon and Parmesan

2 tablespoons butter

2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin

1 onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1/2 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves

25 Ritz crackers, crushed to coarse crumbs (about 1 cup) or crunchy bread crumbs

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the carrots and the onions and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated. Add the water, chicken stock, heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Stir in the cooked chicken, the asparagus, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and the tarragon and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle the Ritz cracker crumbs over the top to coat the top of the casserole. Bake the casserole until the topping is browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

This recipe makes great use of all kinds of leftovers and comes together nicely to form a one pot dish filled with chicken, rice and vegetables. The chicken stock and heavy cream create a nice sauce that goes throughout the dish and you get a hint of the lemon and the cheese in each bite. I really liked using the Ritz crackers as topping as well and it gave some added buttery flavor and crunch to the dish. This would work well with any type of leftover chicken or turkey and you can put it all together in under 40 minutes, making it great for a weeknight and for easy clean up.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Leftovers, One Pot Meals, Poultry

 

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Great for Any Time of Day – English Muffin Bread

My family loves English muffins. Of course, we all grew up eating the English muffins from the store and they are fantastic as a breakfast alone, with some eggs and bacon and are especially great with a hamburger for lunch or dinner. I have even made some Homemade English Muffins that were great and easy to make. When I came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for English muffin bread, I was a little skeptical myself. I didn’t really see how a simple recipe like this would turn out and taste like an English muffin, but I was very pleasantly surprised. This is one of the easiest bread recipes you will come across and it is a great one to make for any occasion. This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread so you can always freeze one for another day.

English Muffin Bread

Cornmeal

5 cups bread flour

4 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups milk, heated to 120 degrees

Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans and dust each pan with cornmeal. Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in the hot milk and mix until everything is combined, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the dough is bubbly and has doubled in size.

Stir the dough and divide it evenly between the two prepared loaf pans, pushing the dough into the corners with a greased rubber spatula. The loaf pans should be about two-thirds full when you are done. Cover the loaf pans with greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it reaches the edge of the loaf pans, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Discard the greased plastic wrap and transfer the loaf pans to the heated oven. Bake in the oven until the bread is well browned and registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the loaf, about 30 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through the baking process. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely, about 1 hour. Slice the bread and toast and serve or just slice and serve.

With just a few ingredients you can get a great loaf of bread. I have to say the texture of the bread is very much like that of an English muffin and while it may not have the nooks and crannies you love in an English muffin, everything else about it is perfect. The bread has great flavor and I served it with our dinner last night and then had some toasted this morning with my coffee and it was spectacular. This would be ideal to serve with a breakfast or brunch buffet or just to have when you feel like having a simple bread with any meal.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Breads, Cooking

 

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