Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

 2015-07-23 17.04.17 2015-07-23 17.04.14    2015-11-02 10.57.03 2014-10-26-17-58-40 2015-10-19 14.38.43

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To me, there is nothing better than homemade croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up that special Artisan bread you bought from your local bakery. Ciabatta breads are my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right in the bread. Let me say this, if you love good bread, and you’ve made your own croutons, you’ll never buy them ever again. Above are some of my recipes where I’ve used homemade croutons. There’s my chicken and French onion soups, add to the filling of a squash, a delicious Panzanella salad, and finally, my sausage and asparagus strata. Soon I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another type of Ciabatta. They are just so many recipes that come from great homemade croutons. Let me show you my basic crouton recipe using the Tuscan garlic Ciabatta loaf.

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So, there are two methods to making great homemade croutons. The first one is, baking them off on a sheet pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, Kosher salt, and black pepper. You could also get crazy and add some, garlic powder, and maybe even add dried herbs.Then I’d toss them with the olive oil,Kosher salt, and pepper to make sure they’re all coasted nicely. Bake them off at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.  The second way, I love to do them, is to use a very large non-stick saute pan, for recipes, that don’t require more than 4-6 cups of bread cubes. I also gild the lily with some butter. Using butter with olive oil just adds extra flavor to those delightful little cubes of bread.

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First, I dice up the Ciabatta with crusts on, in about 1 to 1-1/2 inch cubes. then I add butter and olive oil and unsalted butter to a large non-stick saute pan on med heat. Once that’s melted, I add the bread cubes with Kosher salt and black pepper. Make sure that they all lay flat and in one layer. This will ensure they”ll toast evenly getting nice and golden brown. Using a wooden spatula, I toss all the bread cubes until they’ve absorbed the butter and olive oil. Every couple of minutes toss the croutons around in the pan so all the sides become a golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add minced fresh herbs and grated Parmesan cheese (optional). This process takes about 15 minutes.

Yields: 4-6 cups (1 loaf of Tuscan garlic Ciabatta)
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

4-6 cups of cubed bread (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or regular Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Have bread cubed, Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saute pan on med heat. Add the bread cubes in, ( making sure they’re in on layer in the pan) and season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes so they’ve absorbed the butter and oil. Let saute a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown color on the first side, then toss them again to brown the other sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add any other ingredients you may want. Fresh herbs and grated cheese are delicious.

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Gluten Free-Mini Cauliflower Muffins

2015-09-02 17.21.11 2015-09-02 17.36.13

These little treats are so flavorful. They may not be what you think of as real muffins. I think of them as little mini souffles. Not having the slightest bit of flour or baking powder, these little gems ROCK! Every bite has you wanting more. Roasting the cauliflower gives an extra depth of flavor. Finished with a chive cream cheese topping, sets these cauliflower muffins over the top. First, the start ingredient, the cauliflower.

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The oven is set at 400 degrees F. I cut up a cauliflower and removed all the florets. Spread them out on a sheet pan along with one Fresno chili. I seasoned the cauliflower with Kosher salt, black pepper, cumin and chili powder. I add olive oil and tossed all the florets with the seasonings to make sure it was all good and coated. I roasted all this for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower was caramelized and tender. If the Fresno chili is done before the cauliflower, then just remove it and set it aside until the rest is finished roasting.

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Once the cauliflower was done roasting, I placed the florets ( you may have to do this in batches) into a food processor along with a seeded Fresno chili and minced garlic. I pulsed this a few times until it all was processed with no big pieces. The color is awesome from the chili, and the seasonings. These muffins are going to have so much flavor.

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The next step is to take a large mixing bowl, add in room temperature eggs, full fat ( you could substitute non-fat) Greek yogurt, fresh store bought basil pesto ( refrigerated section of the grocery store),  Kosher salt, and black pepper. Once combined, then I add in the freshly shredded Colby Jack cheese ( you could substitute cheddar). I then mix the mashed cauliflower mixture through until combined.

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In a separate bowl that nice and dry, add in two room temperature egg whites, I whisk them until frothy, then add in 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Continue whisking until the egg whites have reached the stiff peak stage, like you see above.

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Next, add the beaten egg whites to the cauliflower mixture slowly by folding the whites in with a spatula. Coast mini muffin tin pans really well with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the cups to the top with the cauliflower mixture. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack. Best served warm or at room temperature.

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Once they’ve cooled on the rack, I transfer them to plates for their topping. I just took 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese and mixed that with 3 tablespoons of freshly minced chives. Placed the filling in a plastic bag, snipped off the end and pipped the cream cheese mixture on the top of each cauliflower muffin.

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Yields: 24 mini muffins
Equipment: food processor, 2 mini muffin tin pans
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes ( includes roasting time of cauliflower)
1 cauliflower head cleaned, leaves removed, cut into florets, and roasted
1 roasted and seeded Fresno chili
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/3 cup of full fat Greek Yogurt ( substitute low fat)
1/4 cup of fresh basil pesto
1/2 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese
2 large eggs- room temperature
2 egg whites-room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cream cheese topping optional
1- 8 ounce bar of room temperature cream cheese
3 tablespoons of freshly minced chives

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prep the cauliflower, season , and roast it off. Next, in a bowl mix the room temperature eggs, pesto, Greek yogurt, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Next, mix in the shredded cheese. In a separate bowl have the room temperature egg whites ready. Pull the cauliflower and Fresno chili out of the oven. Next, place the roasted cauliflower, minced garlic, and seeded chili into the food processor. This may happen in batches. Once all the cauliflower mixture has been processed, add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix to combine. Now beat the egg whites adding in the cream of tartar at the frothy stage. Beat until stiff peaks. Fold in the egg whites slowly with the other bowl of ingredients. Place in well-greased muffin tins filling them to top. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the muffins from the pan and set on cooling racks. Best served warm or at room temperature. Once the muffins are at room temperature, that’s the best time to add the topping.

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Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits

2015-07-20 12.27.02 2015-07-23 08.39.49

These sweet potato biscuits are so Yummy!  It puts a nice twist to your breakfast. Now I will tell you that I didn’t make mine super sweet, but you can. I used Greek yogurt to balance out the sweetness and it worked perfectly.

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So, I’m starting with the flour and I’m adding in the baking soda, baking powder, Kosher salt, freshly ground nutmeg, and ground cinnamon. I whisk all this together. In a bowl in the frig, I have cold cubed butter that I’ve diced up and ready for when I need it. I also have a food processor fitted with the metal blade ready to go. What I like to do is to add about a 1/3 of the flour mixture into the processor then I add in a third of the cubed cold butter. I pulse the butter and flour together until  the butter is the size of peas mixed all through the flour. You can see in the pictures above. If you try to put it all in the processor at once, it won’t incorporate correctly and you’ll end up with not evenly distributed butter throughout the flour. It takes a little time but it’s worth it. While I make the wet ingredients, I place the four butter mixture into the frig until I’m  ready to combine the two, about 10 minutes. Next for the wet ingredients.

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You could go this route, but why. It takes over an hour to bake the sweet potato. Then you have to let it cool so you can peel and process the sweet potatoes through a food mill to get the right consistency.I have a better idea!

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Organic sweet pureed baby food. Yep! It has no additives and all the work is done for you.

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In a bowl I’ve added some the baby sweet potato puree, Greek yogurt, and brown sugar. I’ve whisked them all together really well and then transferred the wet ingredients into a measuring cup to make it easier to add to the dry ingredients.

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Once the wet has been introduced to the dry, do not over mix. I should look like this picture above. It also should be a sticky batter.. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. I doubled the recipe because, I know from experience that one batch will not be enough. Also because the batter is quite sticky, I’m choosing to use a scoop instead of two spoons to drop the biscuits onto the baking sheets. It’s just easier for me. I’m using the large scoop, 1/4 cup capacity, for my biscuits today. This will make 22 biscuits. Using this size scoop, they come out a looking like a standard size biscuit after they’ve baked. The oven is preheated to 425 degrees. The biscuits will bake until they are set and just brown, about 18-20 minutes. Keep your eye on them after the 15 minute mark. I leave the light on in the oven so I can watch them closely. Having the sweet potato puree and brown sugar in them, they could burn easily.

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Once the biscuits come out of the oven and are still nice and hot, I brush some unsalted melted butter over each one. Let them cool for a couple of minutes and serve.

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Yields: 22 large biscuits
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 18-20 minutes ( watch carefully after the 15 minute mark)
Equipment: Food processor, 3 baking sheet pans, ice cream scoop, 1/4 cup capacity, and parchment paper
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
2-1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 sticks of unsalted diced and cubed cold butter
8 ounces of organic baby sweet potato puree
8 ounces of Greek yogurt
1 cup of packed brown sugar

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients into a food processor with 1/3 of the cold diced cubed butter and pulse.until butter is the size of peas. The flour and butter mixture needs to look like coarse crumbs. (Remember to do this in stages because you don’t want to over fill the food processor). Repeat this process until all the flour and butter have been processed through the food processor and return to the bowl. Place the flour mixture into the refrigerator to keep cold. Start on the wet ingredients. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato puree, brown sugar, and Greek yogurt together. Pour the wet mixture into a large measuring cup to make it easier to combine when adding to the dry. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients just until the the flour is incorporated. Do not over work the dough. Mixture will have a sticky consistency. Scoop the dough on lined parchment paper baking sheets about 1- 1-1/2 inches apart, and bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until dough is set and just brown..To test if done, take a toothpick and if it comes out clean they’re done. Again, keep a close eye on the biscuits after the 15 mark. The biscuits are best served hot. If needed, they can be reheated for 5 minutes at 400 degrees and be just perfect.

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Home Made Drop Biscuits

2015-04-03 12.45.26

These are the best drop biscuits ever! Once you’ve tried them, you’ll want to make them all the time. So easy just watch.

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First I line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. Next I get the food processor out, it’s going to do all the work for me. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mix all your ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture.  I add flour, baking powder and salt to the food processor, and pulse a few times just to combine everything.

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Next for some really cold butter. I keep the cubed butter in the frig until right when I’m going to use it. I also have some shredded cheddar that I’m going to add to these biscuits. It’s important to add the cheese to the flour mixture before adding in the butter, I measure out some of the shredded cheddar, and add it in to the flour mixture in the food processor. This way the cheese will distribute through the flour evenly. Once the cheese has been added, and by the way, the cheese it totally optional, I add in the cold cubed butter. At this point you want to keep pulsing the flour mixture and butter until the butter is the size of peas throughout the flour. Now for the liquid. I have whole milk here that I’m slowly going to add in through the feed tube at the top.

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I start off with 1-3/4’s cup of whole milk, but I may not have to use all of it. As you feed the milk slowly through the feed tube, the dough will start to come together. You can see this in the 2nd picture above. Once the dough has reached this stage, stop adding the milk in and turn the processor off. The dough almost comes together into a ball. The dough is sticky and that’s what you want.

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Remove the blade from the food processor, take a spoon and drop them onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Now I like my biscuits to be a good size, so this recipe will give me 7 large biscuits. Now, if you use a 1/4 cup measure, this recipe will yield 8-10 biscuits. They just bake off at 425 degrees for 14-16 minutes. Listen, every one’s oven can be a little different. I like to check on the biscuits at 14 minutes by sticking a toothpick in to the center of one biscuit while it’s still in the oven to see if it comes out clean. This way I’ll know if they need a couple of minutes more. On the top of the stove I have a stick of unsalted butter that I’ve melted. I like to add dried parsley flakes to the butter once its melted for some extra color. You could also if you wanted to play around a little, add some garlic powder as well. That would be delicious too.  I’m just using butter and parsley for this recipe. Once they come out of the oven, you just brush the tops of the biscuits liberally. with the melted butter and parsley mixture. Pretty easy right? Now you have the most delicious drop biscuits and you don’t have to buy the box mix anymore.

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Yields: 7 large biscuits or 8-10 standard size
Oven Temp: 425 degrees F.
Equipment: Food processor, baking sheet pans, and parchment paper
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 14-16 minutes
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1-3/4 sticks of cold cubed unsalted butter plus 1 stick of melted butter for the tops of the biscuits
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar (optional)
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
1-3/4 cups of whole milk
Place all the dry ingredients into the food processor and cheese if you desire. Next add the cold cubed butter and pulse util the butter is the size of small peas. Through the feed tube add the milk in slowly until the dough just comes together. Using either a large spoon or a 1/4 cup measure drop the biscuit dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Make sure they are a couple of inches apart. Bake at 425 for 14-16 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean they’re done. Brush the tops with melted butter and parsley.


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