Crusty French Bread: Sayonara my local bakery shop!

Crusty French Bread Whoever said, “man cannot live on bread alone”, apparently never ate Carole Romatis Brighenti’s home-cooked, crusty French bread.

Not all men are alike. And neither are all French loaves. If you want French bread tastier than that sold in any neighborhood bakery, you gotta try baking and then eating this recipe for crusty French bread. Yummy, yummy, yummy…I got love in my tummy.

For years my wife raved about the bread made at our local bakery shop here in Berlin, Connecticut. Indeed that bakery does bake a good French bread; however, it pales in comparison to the crusty French bread made from this recipe.  And it is half the cost!

Carole would stop faithfully at our local bakery at least a couple of times a week because she always liked her bread fresh. The problem was that while there, she would see the blueberry and cherry turnovers at $1.75 each, the bearclaws at $1.75 each, the stromboli’s at $6.00 per half loaf, and the cannolis at $2.25 each, etc., resulting in an exorbitant tab, not to mention exorbitant calories.

Best of all, this bread only requires ten to twelve minutes of mixing and kneading. Carole sweats to the oldies while preparing, burning calories away in the process.

Also a trip to the bakery consumes much more time, while often the French bread is not available at the bakery; however, these ingredients are always on hand at your home.

INGREDIENTS:

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (129 degrees)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal

DIRECTIONS:

Add one cup of warm water to large mixing bowl. Check temperature to make certain it is one hundred and twenty-nine (129) degrees. Carole uses her Polder electronic meat thermometer for precision accuracy in temperature. If water is too cool, the yeast won’t activate; if too hot, the yeast will die.  Results may vary given the accuracy of your thermometer.

Add one package of active dry yeast to water, stir with wooden spool to dissolve.

Once dissolved, add two (2) tablespoons of sugar and stir again.

Let  mixture sit at least twenty minutes until a foam covers the top.

Now add two (2) tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and one-and-a-half (1 1/2) teaspoons of salt. Stir a couple of times.

Add two cups of flour and stir until incorporated.

Now turn mixture onto a floured cutting board. Knead and add remaining flour as needed.

Knead for three (3) or four (4) minutes, and then let sit for four (4) or five (5) minutes.

Then knead for another eight (8) to ten (10) minutes.

Place in large mixing bowl and coat dough thinly but entirely with olive oil. Turn dough so its entire surface gets lightly coated.

Cover with plastic wrap and a couple of dish towels, place in a warm area, and forget about it for one-and-a-half (1 1/2) hours.

Punch it down, cover again, and let sit for another one-half (1/2) hour.

Roll out on cutting board, cut dough in half, and roll out in lengths and widths of approximately fourteen inches (14″) by two inches (2″).

Place loaves on a cornmeal coated baking sheet. Cover and let rise for another one-half (1/2) hour.

Slice tops diagonally four (4) to five (5) times.

Place in a pre-heated three hundred and fifty (350) degree oven.

Mist bread in oven with a water sprayer four (4) to five (5) times during the first five (5) minutes of baking in order to create a crispy crust.

Let bake from twenty-five (25) to thirty (30) minutes until tapping the bottom of bread sounds  hollow.

Cool loaves on rack, if you can keep everybody away from eating them.

Enjoy!  I love the slightly sweet taste from the sugar and the dense but light texture of the bread.

Add a comment March 13, 2013
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Lobster Ravioli. Make your own dough for a real Italian taste.

Add a comment March 27, 2012
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Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner 2011

Every year I compose a menu for Thanksgiving Dinner, a meal based on Thanksgiving memories from my childhood. I typically place a copy of this on the door to my refrigerator for family members, who inevitably would ask me “what’s for dinner”, thereby sparing me from repeating over and over again the litany of all the items on the menu.

Here is this year’s menu. Of course, everyone is invited to our house for dinner. Just send us an email notifying us of your desire to attend and we will set another plate for you. Since I have an Italian gene, I do not know how to cook for a few people; rather, I am inclined to cook for the entire neighborhood.

Appetizers

Crudites and Dip
Bacon Crescent Bites
Cheese, Olive, Roaster Peppers, and Salumi Platter
Shrimp Cocktail

Entree

Italian Broccoli Salad
Roast Turkey with Giblet Stuffing
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Buttered Green Beans
Carmelized Pearl Onions
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Crescent Rolls

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

Mmmmmm….I’m hungry already! I love Thanksgiving. Don’t you?

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope to see you for dinner.

Add a comment November 23, 2011
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Barbecue Shrimp: saute the way you like it

In Louisiana, it’s called Barbecue Shrimp even though it is not barbecued outside on a grill but cooked in a saute pan.  Go figure.

What I like about this recipe is that this recipe is a variant of Buffalo Wings; however, instead of chicken wings, it’s done with shrimp.  Neat, huh?

The only “con” about this recipe is that it’s messy:  that is, you have to use your fingers to peel the shrimp to suck all the goodness off the shells.  This recipe probably evolved in Louisiana from a crayfish boil, where they are cooked in a spicy broth, and you have to pinch the tail and suck the head.  But don’t yuck up:  there are no heads on the shrimp, unless you are a true Cajun and you will insist on buying head on shrimp.  But since the shrimp are flash frozen on the boat, unless you are on a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, you are not going to find head on shrimp.

Ingredients

1 pound butter

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon liquid crab boil, such as Zatarain’s

1 tablespoon cayenne powder

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaf

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 lemon

Hot sauce, such as Tabasco  

6 large shrimp (U12)

Take the butter, cut into thirds, and melt in a large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Next, add the green onions, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, thyme, garlic, bay leaves and 5 to 6 shakes hot sauce. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice in and then drop the lemon halves into the pan. Bring to a boil, but there should be no smoke. Add the shrimp in flat rows on top. Cook until pink, about 2 minutes per side. Pour everything onto a plate and serve.

Let everything soak for a bit, but don’t overcook because the shrimp will have a rubber-like texture. Don’t forget that you want to cook it with the shell on.

Add a comment October 4, 2011
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Shrimp Santorini: feta cheese, kalamata olives, and Greek seasoning add a sizzling taste to shrimp!

Sizzling Shrimp Santorini

Indulge yourself in the bright flavors of the beautiful resort Island of Santorini:  shrimp sizzlingly sautéed in a skillet with feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes and garlic. You don’t have to be Greek to prepare this feast fit for the gods; nor do you have to be Greek to enjoy Shrimp a la Santorini.  You just need a body temperature of 98.6 degrees (or thereabouts).

Total Time:  1 hr 5 min

Prep:  15 min

Cook:  50 min

Level:  Easy

Yield:  2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1white onion, chopped
  • 1/2teaspoon Greek Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1/2teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5medium tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 3tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4cup kalamata olives
  • Thick-crusted bread, for serving

GREEK SEASONING: 

  • 2teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until nearly translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine the oregano, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, pepper and sea salt.  Add this Greek Seasoning, oregano and tomatoes, and season with sea salt. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley and shrimp.

Transfer the shrimp mixture to a small baking dish. Top with the feta. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add more Greek Seasoning and sea salt if desired. Garnish with the olives. Serve hot, with the crusty bread for dipping.

Add a comment September 21, 2011
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Pasta alla Caprese: Simple but yet so Delicioso!

Intense Flavor's pasta alla caprese by Carole Brighenti

Do you like pasta but feel it’s too hot during the summer to simmer your sauce like Nonna did?  Are you looking for an alternative to preprocessed pasta dinners?  Here’s the perfect summer pasta dish!

I call my husband “pasta boy”. I need to cook pasta not only 24 hours a day, but 365 days a year, including on the hottest days of summer:  my pasta warden grants no reprieve for intemperate weather.  In order to save my marriage and sweat glands, I delved into my epicurean subconscious and uncovered a dish that I recall seeing somewhere in my cookbook travels.

Too lazy to sojourn down to the basement and search through a thousand cookbooks for the recipe, I improvised, using infallible syllogistic logic as well as adding my garden grown basil and cherry tomatoes.  Having cooked and served it tonight and receiving my pasta boy’s accolades, kisses, and expressions of undying love, I decided to post it immediately on my recipe blog hoping that you will get a little appreciation (and perhaps a little action) from your appreciative spouse, too, for a minimal amount of effort on your part.

3/4 lb. penne (or your favorite) pasta

1 pint of cherry tomatoes quarters

1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella diced

3 T fresh chiffonade basil

1/2 cup sliced black olives

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Boil pasta to desired doneness.

Drain.

Immediately fold in all ingredients while pasta is hot:  this is extremely important.

Toss and serve.

Bon appetito!

Serving suggestion:

Serve with grilled chicken breast and string-bean salad (recipe to follow).

Add a comment August 17, 2011
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My Father’s Chili Hot Dog Sauce Recipe and the Ultimate Nightmare Hot Dog!

Carole Brighenti's Homemade Chilli Hot Dog Recipe

My brother wanted our Dad’s Texas Chili recipe for hot dogs, so instead of mailing it to him, I decided to publish it on my blog so he will visit my recipe blog. Yes, I am the older, bossy, nagging sister, but he loves me. And I love his two adorabe daughters.  The youngest daughter loves our cats, especially Isabella.

Because my brother finally brought my nieces down for a visit recently, after begging and pleading for years, I promised to publish my father’s Texas Chili recipe, which originated from the days when he owned and operated a restaurant, the Seafood, on Spring Street in New Britain, Connecticut some sixty years ago.

For hot dogs, we use locally made hot dogs from Nozewski Meat Products in New Britain, Connecticut, because they have a unique flavor that is not overpowered by the chili sauce and other toppings:  you can still taste the hot dogs of Nozewski, unlike many of the supermarket hot dogs, which lose their crunchy texture and intense flavor under a heavy meat sauce, garnished with onions, fresh sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, and other spices.

1/4 cup oil

1 large onion finely chopped

2 T chili powder

1 T cumin

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t oregano

1 t cayenne

1 lb. ground beef (80/20 ground chuck is preferable)

3 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1/2 t salt

pepper to taste

In large skillet heat oil.

Add onion, chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano and cayenne.

Saute 5 minutes, stirring.

Add beef, cook until brown, breaking up into pieces with spoon.

Stir in tomato sauce, salt and pepper.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, at least 30 to 45 minutes.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

Now if you are really adventurous and undeterred by the inevitable nightmares throughout the night, then you might wish to construct the ultimate nightmare hot dog.

Split open the hot dog.

Lay hot dog flat on the grill and cook to desired doneness.

Flip over hot dog, lay on slices of cheese and cook hot dog until cheese melts.

Place hot dog in bun.

Slather with Dijon mustard.

Add chopped sweet onions.

Top with a couple of spoonfuls of fresh sauerkraut.

Smother with the Texas Chili sauce.

Indulge with reckless abandon.

Be considerate at bedtime.  Sleep with adequate ventilation, preferably alone.  Or at the very least, never risk exposing your spouse to the crosshairs of your backside in the event of any night-time assaults.

Well, I have to think of another recipe that my brother wants so I can bribe him My piggy husband at dinnerto bring my two precious nieces down again.  Hmmm, this may take some scheming on my part because he was such a picky and fussy eater as a child:  you know, the little brother who refused to eat dinner if any two foods on his plate touched and had not been completely separated by a maginal line.  My husband on the other hand…did you ever see a pig at a trough?

Add a comment May 30, 2011
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Italian Broccoli Salad: How to Get Your Children to Eat Broccoli

My husband hated broccoli until I served him my Italian broccoli salad.  I grew up eating broccoli salad because my mother, whose parents were from Naples, Italy, would serve it to me.  In case you don’t know, Italians eat what grows nearby, and typically spice it up in Mediterranean fashion with lemons, garlic, and olive oil.  Broccoli is no different.  That’s why everyone will love this broccoli salad, including your children.

The ingredients are basic:

2 – large broccoli crowns

2 – large lemons

6 – cloves of garlic

1/2 – olive oil

salt and pepper

Steam broccoli in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes or until crisp tender.

Drain broccoli for at least 30 minutes until most of the moisture is drained off to ensure that the lemon juice and olive oil is not diluted.

Cut broccoli into spears.

Place broccoli in large bowl.

Cut garlic gloves into large pieces (i.e., each clove into 2 or 3 pieces).

Salt and pepper to taste.

Squeeze the 9 lemons and pour the juice over the broccoli.

Add the olive oil.

Toss to combine.

Place in serving bowl.

Garnish with lemon halves.

Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Serves 2 to 3.

The great thing about this salad is that it tastes even better the next day as the juices of the lemons, garlic, and olive oil permeate the broccoli.

Yum.

2 comments February 28, 2011
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Greek Classic Chicken

 

Here is an interesting chicken dish that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Chicken is a perfect canvas for intense flavors, including lemon, garlic, oregano, and olive oil.  The result is a juicy, tasty, economical dinner.

1   3 to 4 lb. chicken split in half

2   Lemons

1   T dry oregano

1   t onion powder

1   t garlic powder

5   T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken halves in roasting pan, skin side up

Squeeze the juice of the w lemons over chicken; place lemon halves in the roasting pan with the chicken

Sprinkle chicken with oregano, onion powder, garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken halves

Place in 350 degree oven, uncovered, for 1.5 hours, or until golden brown and cooked through

Serves 2 to 3, depending upon appetite

3 comments February 3, 2011
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Shrimp Magazine for the Clients of Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC


Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC:  The Gourmet Accountant

Carole Romatis, besides being the QuickBooks Guru at Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC, is also the Gourmet Accountant at our firm. It is Carole’s belief that accounting does not have to be a bland subject. Which is why we are always glad to discuss your accounting, QuickBooks, taxes, and business over a glass of wine, while enjoying a gourmet meal specially prepared by Carole Romatis, a true epicurean at heart.  Let’s face it, tax season is long and arduous.  And we have learned to survive this season of drudgery by eating well…every night!

Tonight Carole served a very special client “Shrimp Magazine”. If you have never eaten Shrimp Magazine, frankly, you have never lived.  This seafood dish is even decadent by New Orleans standards.  It is butterflied shrimp sauteed deliciously in a rich garlicky butter sauce with artichokes, ham, and green onions served over cappellini.  The sauce is what makes the dish so tasty, but if you cannot handle the cholesterol, then suffer.  But allow me to tempt you by providing its recipe so that, at least, you can enjoy it voyeuristically.

Take three-quarter’s of a cup of flour.

Season with kosher salt, black pepper, granulated garlic.  Mix.

Peel and butterfly a pound of extra large shrimp, and dredge in the seasoned flour.

Add one stick of butter to a 10″ saute pan.

Add the floured shrimp to the pan.

Saute for a few minutes and then turn them over.

Add a cup of chopped artichoke hearts and a half of a cup of diced ham.

Then add a third of a cup of white wine, (2) tablespoons of  Worchestershire sauce, and sprinkle with granulated garlic, black pepper, and kosher salt.

Add (2) tablespoons of fresh chiffonade basil and (3) tablespoons of green onions.

Add (2) cloves of minced garlic.

Stir it all up.

Serve immediately over angel hair pasta.

Sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano cheese freshly grated.

Enjoy.

Now allow us to ask you, does your present certified public accountant serve you a gourmet meal with a glass of vino while he or she reviews your financial statements or tax returns?  No?  C’est dommage.  We do.

Have a tax or an accounting question?  Please feel free to submit it under “Comments” at Accounting, QuickBooks, and Taxes by the Barefoot Accountant.  For information and assistance on any tax and accounting issue, please visit our website:  Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC.

Add a comment July 27, 2010
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