Garden Herb Focaccia Bread

It was 45 minutes till dinnertime, and we were in pretty good shape toward getting the meal completed and served on time (barring any unforeseen circumstances). No sooner had I had this thought, than one of our number spoke up excitedly and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to add fresh baked bread to the dinner?”

“Oh NO!” was my immediate response.

Provide fresh baked bread for 63 people in 45 minutes! I felt like one of the disciples when Jesus told them to feed the hungry multitude with one little boy’s lunch! However, knowing this sister as well as I did, I knew it was no use trying to discourage her from making this happen; once her heart was set on something, nothing was apt to change it, so no one even tried. The result? Fresh baked bread in less than 45 minutes, beautifully golden on the outside and perfectly textured and filled with fresh garden herbs inside…a miracle for all!

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Garden Herb Focaccia Bread
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
35mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
45mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the water; do not stir.
  3. Let stand 1-2 minutes or until the surface becomes bubbly.
  4. While yeast is bubbling, combine flour and table salt in a large bowl.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Stir with wooden spoon or mixer, and add remaining 1/4 cup.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 5-7 minutes, adding small spoonfuls of flour if necessary.
  8. Spread dough into a lightly greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place (low oven, heating pad) 10-15 minutes.
  9. Let rise in a warm place- about 80-85 degrees - until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
  10. Using the end of a wooden spoon, indent the dough every 1-2 inches.
  11. Combine remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil and herbs until leaves are broken up and oil is fragrant.
  12. Pour over dough. Rub gently into surface. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  13. Bake 10-12 minutes, in a 375 degree oven.
  14. Let cool and cut into wedges.

Note: The speed of this bread is due to the quick rising in a warm place. I like using the oven light or a heating pad. If you don't have a warm place, no problem, just let it rise more slowly on your kitchen counter.

 

Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread

We have quite a number of Sisters in the Convent who have celiac-sprue or gluten allergies. Buying gluten free bread can be extremely expensive and well, frankly, you might as well be eating cardboard! We have wanted to find a recipe for quite a while that is healthy, inexpensive to make and tastes like real homemade bread. This recipe fits the bill. It’s high in fiber from the oat content, easy to make and tastes wonderful! It’s especially lovely toasted with butter and jam. Most oats are gluten free — check the label to be sure. The only reason they wouldn’t be is if they are manufactured in a factory where they also make products with gluten. We are so fortunate to have a company that supplies us with oats, so this bread costs literally nothing to make. You can find xanthum gum in the health food aisle of the supermarket — don’t leave it out — it’s an “all natural” emulsifier and you need it as a binding agent when baking without gluten.

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Rating: 3.7
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Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
20-30minutes
READY IN
2hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the hot tap water in the bowl of a standing mixer and let sit for a few minutes, until the yeast is active and bubbles start to form on the surface.
  2. If you're using whole oats, blend them in a food processor or blender until they're pretty fine (as fine as you can get them) to make the oat flour.
  3. Once the yeast is active, add the oil, honey, corn starch, white rice flour, xanthan gum, and oat flour to the mixer and beat until combined.
  4. Add the salt and eggs and beat for a few minutes until fluffy.
  5. Pour into two well greased 9 inch loaf pans and allow to rise for about 45 minutes until doubled (only fill the loaf pans about 2/3 - 3/4 full - any excess can fill up a smaller loaf pan). Sprinkle the top of the loaves with some oats.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Once the loaves have risen, cut a few slits in the top with a serrated knife.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast

Today’s post begins a series of offerings from Guest Bloggers at the Monastery Kitchen! We hope you will be doubly blessed (as today’s author was!) by this beautiful story and recipe for a delicious Christmas breakfast.

A new friend and a great recipe: I got a Christmas miracle two-fer!
A funny thing happened on the way to the blueberries…

by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

It was two days before Christmas and I simply did not have time. I couldn’t afford a run to the grocery store and deal with the bustling crowds of last minute shoppers in the midst of all that I was doing. But I’d forgotten the butter, so I was forced to brave the cold and the crowds.

Making my way through the produce aisle, I spotted an elderly woman who was pushing her carriage slowly and seemed a bit lost. She sounded as if she were talking to herself. As I approached her, I discovered she was. I asked if she needed help.

Fumbling through her purse, she pulled out a folded piece of paper and said she was looking for fresh blueberries for a recipe she found in a magazine. I went with the woman – whose name, I learned, was Ellen — to find the tucked-away fruit. We found them, but since the fresh blueberries were not in season and were a bit expensive, Ellen decided to opt for frozen.

I began to walk with Ellen to the frozen food department on the other side of the store. We chatted along the way, and my new friend told me all about the recipe and how it is assembled in one pan on Christmas Eve to enjoy on Christmas morning. She sold me on the idea, so I grabbed a bag of frozen blueberries for my own shopping cart. Ellen and I gathered up the remaining items we both would need for the special Christmas breakfast. Before parting company, we exchanged phone numbers with the intention to chat again.

After Christmas, we spoke on the phone and compared notes about our overnight Christmas French toast and we made a date to get together.

That was several years ago. Since then, we’ve gone out for tea, watched a Christian movie at the theater, and chatted about our faith and families time and time again. I even brought Ellen a rosary from one of my visits to Rome. Though she is not Catholic, she said she appreciated it very much and began praying the rosary. Later on, she would tell me that she wasn’t sure if she was saying it just right, but that praying it brought her much comfort.

We are still friends to this day. And to think that our friendship was born in a grocery store on a blustery day when I was tempted to not leave the house! But, oh, how I marvel over God’s mysterious and wondrous ways. He arranges beautiful serendipitous encounters that can turn into meaningful faith-filled meetings and even long-term friendships. We just need to open our eyes and our hearts—and slow down a bit too.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is an award-winning author and the EWTN television host of Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms. A Catholic wife and mother of five, she was noted as one of the Top Ten Most Fascinating Catholics in 2009 by Faith & Family Live and enjoyed a decade-long friendship with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

To read more about Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, or to purchase her wonderful book “Feeding Your Family’s Soul”, follow this link!
http://www.paracletepress.com/Products/8357/feeding-your-familys-soul.aspx

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Rating: 5
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Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast
SERVINGS
10people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45-60minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Coat a 9 x 13–inch baking pan with nonstick spray, and arrange baguette slices in a single layer in the dish. I usually “cheat” and make more than one layer.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, three-fourths of the brown sugar (or honey), vanilla, and nutmeg.
  3. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.
  4. Cover and chill the mixture overnight. There will appear to be a lot of moisture when the mixture goes into the refrigerator, but most of it will all soak into the bread throughout the night.
  5. Just before baking, sprinkle the remaining quarter cup of brown sugar (or honey), the pecans, and the blueberries over the top.
  6. Bake in a 350ºF oven for about 45–60 minutes or until golden and bubbling. (Check it at 45 minutes and keep an eye on it for the remainder of the time.) It should be a light golden brown on top, and the egg mixture should be completely cooked.
  7. Serve with pure maple syrup. For an added treat, heat the syrup with extra blueberries to make blueberry-flavored syrup. You can serve this dish with fresh fruit on the side and breakfast sausage or bacon, too. Enjoy!

o-boyle-photo

Tasty Pumpkin Rolls

Our Convent bakers are always thinking ahead and experimenting — their thoughts and ideas are often very innovative! This week they were totally into Thanksgiving and enjoying it thoroughly. They assured me that I would be pleased with the final outcome of their efforts and how right they were! I had heard pumpkin being mentioned so I was expecting a pumpkin dessert of some sort. Instead they produced the tastiest dinner rolls which could not have pleased me more — whimsical little pumpkin-shaped creations, each complete with its own stem. I can’t wait to see the smiles on every person as they gather around the table this year.

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Votes: 1
Rating: 3
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Tasty Pumpkin Rolls
SERVINGS
2dozen
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen
COOK TIME
12-15 minutes
PREP TIME
40min + rising
READY IN
approx. 2hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Sprinkle with sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add milk, brown sugar, pumpkin, butter, salt, spices and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 24 evenly-sized pieces. Working a few at a time, roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch rope on an un-floured surface. Before shaping, lightly dust ropes with flour, and then, with floured hands, turn each one into a pumpkin.
  3. Create a small loop in the rope with a long tail on one side and a short tail on the other. Wrap the long tail around the edge of the loop 2-to-3 times. Hold the remaining end of the long tail on the bottom-side of the loop with a finger to keep it from unraveling as you continue to work. Wrap the other tail around the edge of the loop, tucking it through the center of the loop.
  4. Pinch both of the ends together where they meet on the bottom side of the loop. If you’re not happy with the look of any of the rolls, simply set them aside for about 10 to 15 minutes and reshape. Place finished rolls on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 10 minutes.
  5. Just before baking, brush rolls with an egg wash for a shiny look or butter for a matte finish. Insert a sliced pecan into the center of each roll, pressing so the pecan touches the pan. In an oven preheated to 400° F, bake rolls for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Rolls should be golden brown and gently firm to the touch. If not serving right away, shorten the baking time by several minutes and finish baking right before eating.

20161012_191406pumpkin-rolls01 pumkin-rolls02

Syrian Pita Bread

Years ago before pita pockets, as we now know them, had become so common and readily available commercially, they were a regular everyday staple in our home. We called these Syrian bread, because we had an authentic Syrian neighbor who baked it regularly for her household and taught my mother how to make it. I have many happy memories of helping my mother shape the dough into the round loaves. I loved watching these magically puff up into inflated discs in the oven as they baked; and then settle back down into their original shapes after they came out of the oven and cooled.

Always we would roll some of the bread up into towels while still warm; when it cooled this way it had a much chewier texture which I especially liked just with plain butter. However there are so many ways to enjoy it. Sisters particularly love it stuffed with fried or roasted eggplant and fresh sliced tomatoes, roasted onions, peppers, and zucchini or yellow squash slices, with a sprig of fresh basil.

Another favorite way we eat it is split in half, brushed with oil, herbs of choice, onion salt and grated Parmesan. Then baked in 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until brown and crisp. It is a fun bread to bake and a fun bread to eat in whatever way you like.

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Syrian Pita Bread
SERVINGS
6-8pitas
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pitas
COOK TIME
5-7mins.
PREP TIME
1 1/2hrs.
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the water and allow to get bubbly.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt.
  3. With the machine on, pour in the yeast mixture and then the oil and process until the dough forms a ball.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times.
  5. Form the dough into a ball.
  6. Lightly oil a bowl with olive oil.
  7. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  9. Take the dough and divide it up into 6-8 sections.
  10. On a floured surface, shape the dough into little flat circles.
  11. Heat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Baking the breads 2-3 at a time bake them for 5-7 minutes. Just till they turn a nice golden brown.
  13. Take them out the oven, let them cool and then ENJOY!

pita01

dough01

Simple French Bread

This week took me back to serving at Villa Via Sacra, the home of the Mount Tabor Center for Art and Spirituality in Barga, Italy. What a blessing to be back in this verdant and beautiful area of Tuscany. This is the peak of Tuscany’s summer season when tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, peaches and nectarines are all in abundance. After a busy summer of offering hospitality to various groups, the villa household has quieted down for a wee bit. August 15th is a national holiday for the Feast of the Assumption. We felt it was only right to celebrate this special day in true Italian style, which means pack a picnic and head for the cooler air of the mountains! We did just that: a simple meal of homemade bread, cheese (pecorino stagione, ricotta and parmigiano), meats (mortadella, sopressata and prosciutto cotto), some garden vegetables of cucumbers, tomatoes and olives, a bottle of red wine and a fresh fruit salad.

We enjoyed this fresh French bread with our picnic. Delightful to eat with cheese and meats or just a little olive oil, it requires little rising time, so it’s a wonderful go-to bread recipe that you can make and bake within an hour.

Andiamo mangiare!

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Simple French Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
25-30 minutes
PREP TIME
10 minutes
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Activate your yeast by sprinkling it over the hot water in a bowl and whisk with a fork until dissolved and add 1 Tbsp of the sugar - let sit until foamy - about 5 min.
  3. Add the remaining sugar (3 Tbsp) and then the flour a cup at a time, mixing in as you go (you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook for this step, if you'd like). Add the salt at some point along the way. Stop adding the flour if your dough is no longer sticky.
  4. When the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl, turn the dough out onto your counter and divide into two balls.
  5. Using the palm of your hand to kneed out any air bubbles, roll the dough into two long loaves.
  6. Let rise slightly (about 10 min.) and brush with the egg-wash.
  7. Bake for 25-30 min, or until golden or reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees.
  8. This recipe can also be used to make nice breadsticks.