Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lots 'O Good Looks, Good Eats and Bread Revisions

Warm brownie sundaes are one of my all time favorite desserts and go to option if splurging while out. Most are okay, some are good, and this one from the Chop House was the best EVER. I made sure to share with the dinner's honoree, birthday boy Tyre.

I visited D Bar again recently for a friend's birthday. The Cake and Shake, Brulee of the week and glass of crazy bubbly wine were all delish. I heart you D Bar.

The Mighty Acorns also had their season closer on a hot, hot Sunday afternoon and celebrated with food and drink at the ridiculously amazing home of Liz and Chad. Chad's Super Chocolate Cookies were TO DIE FOR. Seriously, I have been looking for a homemade cookie recipe like this for YEARS. Maybe someday he'll share it with me?

And just this past weekend I made a solo road trip up through Wyoming, Idaho and Montana to attend the wedding of Danika and Dave, one of the sweetest couples I know. Their cake was GORGEOUS. Don't you think?

FYI to all the bread bakers - I've made changes to the "Holy Mackerel!" post so reprint or recopy if need be!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

D is for DESSERT!

I have no good reason for not visiting D Bar earlier. I knew it existed and had even seen the massive waiting line spilling out on to the sidewalk. But why didn’t I stop?! No problem. That’s over with and I can now say D Bar is currently at the top of my Denver dining list.

Why, you may ask, am I using an entire blog entry for one restaurant? Because the D in D Bar stands for DESSERT. Normally I don’t really like places that are total scenes where you wait a really long time for something you can get at several other places in town, but D Bar doesn’t feel like that at all. It’s definitely a bit of a scene but because they have a large patio, great staff, and the evening was warm, I didn’t mind waiting 30 minutes on 17th street sidewalk with white wine in hand. I also had a lovely dinner date ;)

I suggest going not only for dessert but also for dinner. The plates are small, the flavors rich and deep, and the sweets more than large enough for sharing. Our party of three ordered D Bar Dates, The Monika, Wraptastic, and Kobe Sliders. Uh. May. ZING. Seriously. The best dinner out I have had in quite some time.

Knowing it could only get better, we then successfully finished off a Rhuberry!, Cake and Shake, and some sort of Souflee that came with a tropical fruit sauce and baby beignets. It was long past dark by the time we got to dessert so I don’t have any good pictures to show you, but you can check out photos on their website here. Go try this place. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Holey Mackerel!

Mary Mullins Original Homemade Bread
Allow 3-4 hours. Yields 2 medium sized loaves.

It worked! We didn't fail miserably!! It may even be good enough to sell because it looks pretty much perfect!!! And breathe...

My first weekend spent entirely at home in almost 2 months was graced by a vist from one of my cousin’s cousin second removed or something or other, Victoria. Somehow, after an 11 o’clock breakfast on a 90 degree day, she convinced me to attempt Mary Mullins’s famous homemade bread. We used a “reprinted by special request” recipie from the 1980 Ware’s Grove Lutheran Church Cookbook. I don’t know when it was originally printed but I’m guessing its date of conception was long before that, sometime during the early years of Alvin Leroy Mullins and Mary Elizabeth Ware’s marriage. Late 1930’s? And maybe she got it from a family member before her?

ANYways, after buying 3 new bread pans, calling several Mullins and Hewitt family members, and researching high altitude bread recipe adjustments, the baking commenced.

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 package active dry yeast (do NOT use rapid rise yeast at altitude!)
1/3 cup hot water (not boiling)
1 large beaten egg
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup dried milk
1 tsp garlic powder
About 4 and 1/2 cups bread flour (we need more gluten at altitude)
2 large bowls
2 small bowls
2 large bread pans
rubber spatulas
wooden spoon
cooking spray
some real butter

1. In a large bowl whisk sugar and salt together.
2. Pour boiling water over sugar and salt mixture, then add oil. If need be, stir and scrape down sides until all sugar and salt is dissolved.
3. Let cool.
4. In small bowl combine yeast and hot water. For more direction on yeast, read the back of the packet ;)
5. In another small bowl whisk together cornmeal, dried milk, and garlic powder.
to the liquid mixture.
6. Add dried mixture to liquid mixture/large bowl.
7. Add beaten egg to large bowl.
8. Add yeast mixture to large bowl.
9. Add flour, about 1 cup at a time, smooshing out any clumps of dry ingredients.
*Wooden spoons with shorter handles are my best friends in bread making. They are strong and the best option for quickly and effectively starting your dough*
10. When not sticky but also not stiff, remove dough from bowl onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, only adding tiny bits of flour as needed.

**Knead you say? How do I knead? My mom taught me to knead with my fisted knuckles and heels of my hands. This is my personal kneading style:
Press, press, press out the dough ball with the heels of my hands.
Fold in a third of the dough and roll the seam with my knuckles. Repeat, repeat.
Punch, punch, punch with my fists until the dough is uniformly shaped again.
Repeat, repeat, repeat whole process until smooth!**

11. Spray the inside of a second, clean large bowl with cooking oil.
12. Place dough into the sprayed bowl and press into bottom. Flip dough over so both sides have a bit of oil on them.
13. Tightly cover dough bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place with no drafts to rise.
14. When dough has doubled in size (ours took about an hour and a half) punch down and divide into 2 equally sized dough balls.
15. Roll and mold each dough ball in your hands a bit to elongate it into more of a rectangular, pan shape.
15. Spray the insides of 2 large bread pans.
16. Place a dough ball in each of the pans. Press into bottom and then flip over so both sides have a bit of oil on them.
18. Re-cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until dough is pushing against it (ours took about 30 minutes).
19. Turn on oven to 350 degrees.
20. Punch down dough in each pan.
21. Poke rows of holes in the dough with a fork.
22. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pans half way through.
23. After removing from oven, turn out loaves onto cooling rack.
24. Brush tops of loaves with butter and eat warm, as toast, or with sandwiches!

It sure smelled like Grandma’s bread, and it pretty much tasted like it too. But the texture was 100% different. Was it my Omega-3 oil? Less air pressure? Extra yellow corm meal? Failure to punch down and let rise a third time? Who knows. We didn’t really care anyway, which was obvious when we were already down half a loaf only 12 hours later ;)