Friday, June 18, 2010

Monkey Bread

Mmmmmmm...this recipe came to fruition due to my recent obsession with clipping coupons and saving tons of money on groceries. I found a great deal on the Sunday SF Chronicle just for the purpose of getting those extra coupons. I've been reading the Contra Costa Times for so long, that I forgot the Chronicle has a food section on Sundays....BONUS!

Love love love how this turned was not your basic muffin recipe where you whip it up in a few minutes, but well worth the effort. I've always been a little scared of yeast for some seems so mysterious. All that foamy business, and then waiting around for the dough to rise and stuff. Luckily the recipe was very precise (and long-winded) for newbies like me. Here it is verbatim:

Monkey Bread

Instant yeast streamlines yeasted baking because you don't need to "proof" it by first dissolving the yeast it in water, then waiting for tiny bubbles to appear on the surface. The rising times are also shorter. This bread is best eaten the day it is baked, but can be prepared a day ahead (see instructions).

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast ( 1/4-ounce packet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the dough: Using a rubber spatula or whisk, thoroughly combine 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, salt, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside.

In a small heavy saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter melts (150°-160° on a candy thermometer). Remove from the heat; add 1/4 cup cold water and set aside until the milk-butter mixture cools to 120°-130°, about 1 minute. Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and mix well with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Attach the bowl and the flat paddle attachment to the mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add 1 egg and mix just until incorporated, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Repeat with the second egg, then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup more flour and resume mixing on low speed until smooth, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons additional flour and raise the mixer to medium speed for about 45 seconds, or until the dough is smooth, still soft and slightly sticky.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with 1 tablespoon flour. Place dough in the center of the flour-dusted area. Knead the dough gently for about 1 minute, or until it is smooth and still just slightly sticky; add additional flour (1 to 2 tablespoons) only if necessary. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place (75° to 80°) until it is about 1 1/2 times its original size, 45 to 60 minutes. (No need to grease the bowl since covering it with plastic wrap keeps the dough surface moist.) The dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.

For the coating: Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Reserve the butter in a separate bowl. Assembly: Lightly spray or grease a 10- to 12-cup nonstick tube or Bundt pan. Gently push down the dough to deflate it, divide it in half, then divide each half into 17 equal-size pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Coat each ball in melted butter, then roll in the spicy sugar mixture. Arrange the balls in the prepared pan, layering them evenly on top of each other. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour, or until about 1 1/2 times in size.

To bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375° at least 30 minutes before baking. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cover the pan with a serving plate and invert the bread onto it. Carefully lift the pan off the bread. Let the bread cool for 15 to 30 minutes to serve warm, or let cool even longer (up to 6 hours) to serve at room temperature.

To do ahead: Up to 24 hours before baking, prepare the dough as directed up to the point of assembly. Gently deflate the dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use, but remove from the refrigerator at least one hour before assembly to let dough come to room temperature. Continue assembly and baking as directed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicken Marbella

It's funny how convoluted life can be.....all these twisty roads that somehow always bring us back to what we love to do the most. For me one of those things is cooking (the other is pool, which I happen to be starting back up tonight!!) So while we have a precious new addition in our family and schedules have changed dramatically, I am determined to keep doing the things I love so that I can stay a happy mama.

Lately the adventurous and time consuming meals have been far and few between, but I finally feel that I am slowly able to try new recipes while the little one is sleeping happily in her swing. Most of the work on this one is making the marinade the night before, and then a little basting while it cooks. I served it with a salad and roasted red potatoes. YUM!

I love the combination of sweet, salty and tangy in this chicken. I found it in People magazine touted as Matt Lauer's favorite recipe that he's eaten on the Today show. I really liked the subtle meditteranean flavors of the olives, capers and prunes mixed together with oregano and wine. Give it a try if you are feeling like something a little different!

Chicken Marbella


1 whole chicken, 5 lbs. cut into 8 pieces
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and pureed
2 T. dried oregano
2 T. coarse salt
2 T. ground pepper
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
1 bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. fresh chopped parsley or cilantro

1. Combine chicken, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes olives, capers and bay leaves in a large bowl. Cover and marinate in fridge overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Place chicken in large, shallow pan and spoon marinade over it evenly.

4. Pour white wine over the chicken, and sprinkle with brown sugar.

5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices.

6. Transfer chicken, prunes olives and capers to serving platter with a slotted spoon. Moisten with pan juices and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.