Tuesday, March 27, 2012

(Amish) Friendship Bread (including starter)

image from wiki, as waiting for two weeks without a picture is not acceptable

Amish friendship bread, something that is handed down from friend to friend throughout the years.  If you're lucky you've received some and always have a "starter" on hand.  If you're not so lucky, or got really busy and your starter went bust, you're probably wondering "how do I get that wonderful bread into my life." Well as luck would have it my mom ALWAYS has this recipe on hand, mainly because come the holidays she bakes off 1-2 full recipes at once so she always has to have the starter recipe ready so she can start again.

While most of us who first receive this recipe cringe at the idea that we're going to leave this sit on our counter-top for two weeks with no refrigeration and it contains dairy.  DO NOT WORRY, this is a necessary part of the bread process, you are creating a controlled fermentation between the flour, sugar and milk creating a yeast like substance which helps the bread rise and gives the bread its distinct flavor.  But always remember one key aspect of this bread DO NOT USE METAL as it will kill the yeast that you are creating and just leave you with spoiled milk dough, which is not something that tastes very yummy.

So how do you go about creating this bread/home science experiment? First create your starter, then after the starter has fermented use the second half of the recipe to bake yourself off some yummy bread, after first setting aside some to share with your friends (after all that's how this recipe got its name in the first place)!

Friendship Bread Starter

Ingredients
3 cups flour
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups milk

Directions
Day 1: Mix 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of warm milk in a very large glass bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set on counter-top. DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
Days 2-8: Stir mixture once a day with a wooden spoon. DO NOT USE METAL UTENSILS.
Day 9: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Stir well and cover.
Days 10-13: Stir mixture once a day and re-cover. It is best to do this around the same time every day.
Day 14: Again add 1 cup each of flour, sugar and milk.  Divide 3 cups of the starter equally among 3 one-gallon zip lock bags.  Give 2 away to friends (with copies of the following instructions) and keep one for yourself to start a new batch. Use remaining starter, about 2 cups, to make the bread.

Instructions to go with starter --
*Do not use a metal bowl or spoon for mixture.
*Do not refrigerate.
*When air gets into bag, let it out.
*It is normal for the batter to thicken, bubble and ferment.
Day 1: You receive the starter. Do nothing. Store it on kitchen counter
Days 2, 3, 4: Squeeze bag several times.
Day 5: Add 1 cup of each flour, sugar and milk. Squeeze bag to mix.
Days 6, 7, 8 and 9: Squeeze bag several times.
Day 10: The day you will bake the bread. First add to the starter 1 cup each flour, sugar and milk. You will have 5 cups of starter.  Now separate it. Give 2 one cup starters away to friends and keep one for yourself to keep the mixture going, the remaining 2 cups goes into the bread.

Once your starter is ready and you've set aside the starters its time to bake the bread

Friendship Bread

Ingredients
About 2 cups of starter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
oil or butter for greasing pan
flour or powdered sugar for dusting pan

Possible additions:
nuts, raisins, dates, chopped apples, pineapples, berries, mashed bananas, maraschino cherries, coconut, chocolate chips or other spices of your choosing, as desired.

Directions:
Heat oven to 325*f, grease 2 loaf pans, dust pan with flour or powdered sugar.
Stir first 10 ingredients until smooth. Add fruit, nuts, and spices of your choosing, if desired.
Pour mixture into 2 well greased loaf pans that have been dusted with powdered sugar or flour.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Depending on additions you may have put into the mixture it may take much longer to bake.
Once bread is done cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Makes 2 loaves, 8-10 servings each.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁)


Well first off I have to apologize for not posting this recipe sooner.  My husband and I found it a LONG time ago (like a year!) but I lost the recipe before I was able to get around and post it. Thank you non-move. It wasn't until about a week ago that he found it again and we were able to make it. YAY!

This recipe has a few steps, but trust me the end product is WELL worth it.

This recipe was found at RasaMalaysia, to which I will probably post more of her food again soon. SO GOOD!

One thing I never knew, even after working at a place that cooked Chinese food for 6 years was that they use baking soda to make the chicken/beef/pork super tender -- hey it was in a huge tub, I quickly learned to not ask questions that may contain words in Mandarin that I didn't know (I speak it on about a one or two year old level).  I can tell you one thing, I probably will never go back to making Chinese food without this little secret!

Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁)
Makes two GOOD size servings, or four moderate servings

Ingredients
1 boneless & skinless chicken breast, about 10 oz - cut into small cubes
1/2 cup unsalted cashew nuts
1 small green bell pepper, about 4 oz. - cut into small square pieces
5 slices ginger
1/4 onion - cut into small square pieces

Marinade
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp rice wine

Sauce:
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
3/4 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp water
3 dashes white pepper powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp rice wine
1/8 tsp sesame oil
salt to taste

Instructions:
  1. Cut up chicken and place in the baking soda for 15-20 minutes, then rinse chicken off thoroughly, making sure NO baking soda remains.
  2. While chicken marinates cut up ginger, onion and bell pepper (second time around I also added a frozen "asian mixed vegetables"), set vegetables aside.
  3. Once chicken has marinated and has been rinsed thoroughly pat dry with paper towels, then marinate with remaining marinade ingredients for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Mix sauce together while chicken marinates, set aside
  5. Heat wok on high and then add 1 tbsp of cooking oil and stir-fry the chicken until the color turns white, or half-cooked.  Remove from wok and set aside.
  6. Add another 1 tbsp of cooking oil into the wok and add in the vegetables. Stir-fry until you smell the peppery aroma from the green peppers and then add the chicken back in.
  7. Add in the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken meat is cooked and well coated with the sauce.  Salt to taste.
  8. Add in cashews and stir well just before serving.  Serve over steamed rice.

Note: if you're not using a wok, I do not recommend cooking this on high, probably a med-high instead.