Side Dish Recipes

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Sourdough Bread Bowls
Iced Tea

"Sourdough" Bread Bowls made with Kefir

Want a sourdough starter?  Look for links at the end of this post. 

From the book:
This is my cheater version of sourdough French-type bread. You can use it to make loaves, breadsticks or whatever. We make small, round loaves because they are great for serving thick stews in, and can also be used just for a loaf of bread. You can use a sourdough starter if you have one, but this makes a nice, sour French bread, which is pretty close to my old home town’s famous sourdough.

Sourdough Bowls with one sliced for eating

  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed to about 90 deg. F
  • 1/2 cup Kefir or beaten sour cream, or sourdough starter, warmed with milk to about 90 deg. F.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup melted (but not too hot) butter or your favorite cooking oil
  • 5-6 cups all purpose or bread flour (some can be whole wheat or other type)
  • 2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten (if using all purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Fruit Fresh, which is a natural ascorbic acid used to keep fruit from browning, or oxidizing. This improves the texture and flavor of the bread. It’s also handy to have on hand if you like cut up apples or bananas.
  • 1 Tbsp salt (careful with this, as too much salt will kill your yeast)
  • 1 Tbsp quick-rise or regular yeast, or 1 1/2 to 2 packets regular yeast.

I like to use Kefir because it adds a nutritional value as well as a nice, sour flavor. Mix the milk, Kefir (or whatever), and butter in a bowl. Mix two cups of the flour with the fruit fresh and salt in a large bowl. Make a well and add the yeast, then the milk mixture, and mix well. I use my mixer with the dough hook.  When smooth, continue to knead/mix while adding additional flour, a cup at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic, clammy but not dry and not sticky dough. If it gets too dry, add a bit more warm milk. When smooth, continue to knead for at least 10 minutes. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in warm area (not hot) until at least double in size, about 30-60 minutes.

Punch down and knead another 5-10 minutes.  Shape into loaves or balls about 4-6” in diameter.  Note: you can make smaller loaves, or place in bread pans. This is very versatile.  Place on a parchment-lined sheet or in a bread pan.  Cover and let rise about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove covers and place bread in oven, bake 20-45 minutes depending on size. Bread should be a bit bigger, golden brown on top and have a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of the loaf.  Remove and cool on cooling racks.  To use as bread bowls, cut a hole in the top (to make a bowl shape) and scoop out some of the bread inside.  Fill with a very thick stew and serve with the bread pieces you scooped out.  It’s best, for regular loaves, to let the bread cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap and leave for at least 12 hours.

Kneading the dough using a dough hook on a mixer

The dough, punched down after raising

Dough - ready to shape

Shaped loaves

Cooling after baking

TIP: The more fat you put into your bread, the more tender and flavorful it will be.  Also, the more gluten there is, the less dense your bread will be. Therefore, a bread flour will yield a bigger, lighter loaf while using whole wheat exclusively will make it more dense. As a side note: you can refrigerate or freeze bread dough just after the first kneading by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating/freezing. Just thaw, let come to room temperature and proceed where you left off.

How to do Kefir is in the book, and can be found on the Internet. Some links below.
Ok, so, what is Kefir and what can I do with it?  Kefir is a tart liquid made from soaking the Kefir grains in any kind of milk or sweetened water. I can’t really tell you what a Kefir grain is, but it has something to do with its make up of good (probiotics) bacteria and yeasts that grow much like bread yeast, and cause sugared liquids (milk has lactose, a sugar) to ferment. This doesn’t necessarily make an alcoholic beverage, just as baking bread doesn’t make an alcoholic loaf.  The resulting “brew” if much like a thin yogurt, drinkable, and actually quite tasty. You can treat it much like a drinkable yogurt.  It’s full of  not only gut-healthy bacteria, but vitamins, minerals and easily digestible complete proteins.   The “grains” look a lot like cauliflower and are about the size of small whole and rough chopped nuts. 

You can buy ready-made Kefir drinks in the grocery store, usually wherever the organic foods are sold, in the cooler section with the milk, et al. You can also make your own, but it requires a commitment to feeding the grains on a weekly basis, and straining the resultant liquid. I do, and I find it worth the effort. 
Ok, so, what do I do with it? Well, you can drink it, or mix it with fruit and drink it. I use it much like buttermilk in anything calling for buttermilk, and in my sourdough recipes. You can also make a very healthy soda from a water-based Kefir or using the whey from a milk-based Kefir, by combining the water or whey with juice (about 1/4 cup Kefir whey to a quart of juice) in a mason jar, covered with plastic wrap and a rubber band. And let sit for a couple of days. This also makes the starter for more soda. Do not use a screw-on lid, the fermenting process will shatter the jar. The fermentation process is much like old time soda making which used yeast instead of carbonizing the water. Much healthier. 

Draining the Kefir Grains

The Kefir Grains (left) and the Kefir (right)

Kefir Grains in milk ready to ferment


Some good Kefir sites:
Kefir Soda
Buy Kefir Grains

Sourdough Starter
Buy Cultures

Iced Tea

This is how we make iced tea:
Mise en place - all things in place, ready to make

  • 4 quart mason jars
  • 4 large ice tea bags (we like the peach one by Lipton) or 12 regular tea bags
  • 4 quarts boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
Place one large or three small tea bags in each jar. Add 1/2 cup sugar to each jar.  Add boiling water to fill each jar. Stir, and let steep 5 to 20 minutes.  Remove tea bags.  Cover jars and refrigerate. 

Steeping the tea

(c) Lisa Murray 2012 All Rights Reserved.  Text and pictures by Lisa Murray.

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