Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nutella Spiral Bread called Povitica (Po-va-teet-sa) - Daring Bakers

Nutella Povitica
Just a few quick notes about the sweet tender addictive bread called, Povitica (Po-va-teet-sa):

Cinnamon Walnut Povitica

1) It's a traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is often served at holiday.

2) Original recipes included a spiced walnut spread.
3) The dough is rolled out so thin you can see a picture through it.

4) The Nutella was my idea, don't blame or credit the masters of this form.

5) The recipe looks more complicated than it is. Make an afternoon or night of it and enjoy the process.

This is one of the many inspiring recipes from the monthly "sorta online baking club" called, The Daring Bakers. I've posted many of the monthly challenges, but haven't talked about how it all works in a while.
One obvious proof that this "virtual baking group" works is in the numbers. In 2007 there were only 7 members, now there are thousands. I know, right? There are no fees, no drama, no giant commitments past your own personal desire to be challenged and grow. Each month a chosen member will post on the forum a particular recipe along with information, sometimes history and a very extensive pictorial guide to a certain baked good or procedure.

Then, on a certain day everyone posts their spin and journey with that recipe. You don't even have to have a blog for it, you can just participate and play along on your own.

Some of the challenges have been homemade Croissants (here), Dobos Torta (here), Macarons (here), Canoli (here), Nanaimo Bars (here), and Orange Tians (here) just as a start. The list goes on and on, and includes some fun holiday ideas, too. Just do a search on this site for Daring Bakers and it will come up with many many more. Here's why I'm telling ya this - YOU can join, too. At least check it out if you enjoy baking or cooking (there is one just for cooking called, Daring Cooks.) There's nothing in this for me by telling you about it, except someone told me and it's been a giant ball of fun and real challenge (in a great way.) Let me know if you try it, so I can come check out your post, too and see our spin on next month's recipe. That's another fun part, they don't reveal the next recipe until a certain day. You can read all about it there (here) - but for now, how great is this bread, huh? The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.

Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!
***The recipe as given and developed by our sweet hostess this month would make 4 loaves of bread. I used her "Half Batch" recipe for making two loaves (a move I would regret as I was eating the last crumbs of the second loaf and wishing I had another in the freezer.) To make 4 loaves, just double.

Recipe: Povitica with Nutella Spread (and one with Walnut Spread)
Half Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)

To activate the Yeast:

1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 1⁄2 gm) Sugar
⁄2 Teaspoon (21⁄2 ml/11⁄2 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
1⁄4 Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/1⁄4 oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast


1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar
11⁄2 Teaspoons (71⁄2 ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
2 Large Eggs
1⁄4 Cup (60 ml/60 gm/1⁄2 stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/193⁄4 oz/11⁄4 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided (** I found I needed almost a 5th cup because the dough was too sticky**)

Topping: 1⁄4 Cup (60 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/1⁄2 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Half Batch Filling Ingredients
(enough filling for the two loaves)

3 1/2 cups (840 ml/560 gm/1 1/4 lb/20oz) Ground English Walnuts
1⁄2 Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
1⁄2 Cup (120 ml/115 gm/1 stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Whole Egg, Beaten
1⁄2 Teaspoon (21⁄2 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup (240 ml/225 gm/8 oz) Sugar
1⁄2 Teaspoon (21⁄2 ml/2 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1⁄2 Teaspoon (21⁄2 ml/11⁄2 gm) Cinnamon

****MY OWN NUTELLA FILLING (enough for one loaf) 1 cup Nutella 1 egg, beaten 1/2 cup Heavy Cream Whip all ingredients in a bowl until smooth and fluffy. Spread on the thin rolled out dough, following same directions as the Walnut Filling.

To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir sugar, flour, and the yeast into 1⁄4 cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and about 1/4 of the flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.
8. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces
9. Place dough in 2 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To Make the Filling
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:

16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle
and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (251⁄2 cm by 301⁄2 cm) in diameter.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 1⁄2 ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
26. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place
into the preheated oven and bake for
approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. Check the bread every 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.
35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Cherry Molé, Olé!

This is definitely a "throw it into the pot, job done" meal. The sauce is dark and warm, the chicken is fork tender, and clean-up is quick.

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Cherry Molé

Molé is one of those food terms, like confit, that has been generalized and now is more of a description than a true food. This Slow Cooker Chicken Cherry Molé is like the original form of a Molé in that it has many flavor building spices and ingredients, it contains chili pepper and chocolate, and it is dark and robust.

It is also EXTRA SIMPLE to make, and once you put it all into the Slow Cooker and stir, the only job you have is waiting to eat.

Molé (or mulli) means "sauce". The history of this concoction includes Spain and Mexico, with influences from Africa and beyond. Today, it is considered one of Mexico's culinary prides.
In its most original form, a paste from blended and ground spices is made and cooked into a very fragrant and dark starter. To this is added many things, with every family having their own secret combination and traditional styles. Some of the ingredients include cilantro, nuts, sesame seeds, tortillas for thickeners, dried fruits and several different kinds of peppers.

For this labor and time friendly recipe, I have included dried cherries which pair well with the cocoa that is almost always in a Molé. The sauce is commonly served over turkey, chicken and sometimes pork.
Rick Bayless, whom I obviously admire, serves one of the best Molés in his Frontera Grill in Chicago. If you ever get the opportunity, definitely try it.

In the meantime, pull out the Slow Cooker or Crock Pot and get ready for a very flavorful Mexican style chow down.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Cherry Molé-Olé

1 onion, chopped

3 cups Tomato Sauce (or large can of seasoned tomatoes)

1 cup water or chicken stock

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 Tbls. honey

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (canned), chopped

3 Tbls. cocoa powder (unsweetened)

2 Tbls. chili powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cumin

pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

2 lbs. Chicken breasts or combination with thighs (boneless)

1) In a Slow Cooker, add the onion, tomato sauce, garlic, peanut butter, honey, dried cherries and Chipotle chile. Stir together.

2) Stir in the cocoa powder, the chili powder, the cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg.

3) Put the chicken on top of this sauce, season with salt, close the lid and cook on low for about 5-6 hours.

4) When done, use 2 forks to pull the chicken into shreds and fold into sauce.

This is wonderful on a little slider bun, or served as an entree with rice, potatoes or polenta. Everyone will be wanting mo' Molé. :D

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mussels in Coconut Milk and Lime - Simple Saturday

I know some folks are saying, "Mussels for Simple Saturday, have you gone off the deep end?" Although, they may sound exotic to some, there is no simpler food to prepare than fresh Mussels.

Green Lipped Mussels in Coconut Milk & Lime

So, upgrade your idea of dinner for yourself and family, or treat your guests to a great starter by fixing Mussels in Coconut Milk and Lime.
These are Green Lipped Mussels and are sustainably raised off the shores in New Zealand. You can actually order these and they come to you live and "smiling" from a company called, I Love Blue Sea. I've ordered seafood from them and like their concerned practices.Here are 5 things to know about Mussels:

1) You always want to cook Mussels that are living, which you can test by tapping on the shell. If it's good, it should close up.
2) They cook fast and easy in very little liquid for steaming, and they open up when done. After a few minutes, any that never open should be thrown away.
3) Green Lipped Mussels are known for guarding against inflammation in the body.
4) When steamed they give off their own salty taste, so they need very little added salt.
5) After they're cooked, they can also be chopped and served in soup, salads and grilled appetizers.
The Green Lipped Mussels are some of the largest ones, and have a meaty and solid taste.This broth is great for sipping or pouring over some rice. Buy, steam and enjoy - it's very simple~

Recipe: Green Lipped Mussels in Coconut Milk and Lime
(serves 2 bowls, or 4 starters)

15-20 Mussels
2 Tbls. Butter
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 Lime
pinch salt/pepper

1) Wash Mussels and pull off any beard (scruffy strings around the shell edges.)
2) In a large pot on Med. heat, melt the butter with the scallions and a pinch of salt and pepper.
3) Pour in about 1/4 cup of the Coconut Milk and add the Mussels. Put a lid on the pot and allow the Mussels to steam for about 3 minutes. Shake the pot a few times to distribute the Mussels.
4) Pour in the rest of the Coconut Milk, close the lid and heat for about 3 more minutes.
5) Remove the lid and make sure all the Mussels have opened up. If any are still closed, remove the open ones to a bowl and close the lid and heat for another couple minutes to give them a chance to open up. After that, remove any closed Mussels and discard.
6) Put the Mussels in bowls, squeeze Lime juice over them. Strain the Coconut Milk broth over the Mussels and serve with a garnish of green onion.

Now, you are simply fancy. Get slurping.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maple Tofu Bites - Simple Saturday

These Maple Tofu Bites are more of a tasty-treat-tip than a recipe. They make a fun, pick-up sweet appetizer for a cocktail party or a kid's party (and the best part is they're so good for us.)
Maple Tofu Bites

I was lucky enough to be invited by Allison of to a Tofu Workshop that was being taught by Rachael of

We started with dried soy beans.

They were soaked and ground up.

Allison doing the grinding~

They were heated and pressed,

Andrew of doing the pressing~

which gave us warm, toasty soy milk.

Rachael guiding us~

It was so nutty and delicious I may be spoiled for store-bought forever. The soy milk was curdled and then the pillowy curds were ladled into a wooden press.
After and hour, we ended up with creamy, fresh tofu.
We didn't even throw out the nib-like paste, called Okara, that's left over from pressing the ground beans for the soy milk. We each took some home to use in cooking other things. (hint: post to come?)

Our Tofu was silky melt-in-your-mouth light and we topped our bites with chopped scallions and grated daikon.

Then Allison told us how she and her boyfriend, Son, like to eat tofu drizzled with pure maple syrup. What? What? Doesn't that sound incredible? Well, turns out - it IS incredible and how easy is that? Of course, Allison didn't just bring up the idea without also bringing out the maple syrup so we could test this brilliant tip.
So, now I pass it along to you with the added plating idea of making tiny lollipops out of them for serving at a party or to kids (who love eating anything on sticks. Who doesn't, really?)

I know the generous and talented Allison will be posting the whole workshop on her site soon, so check out and follow her for updates. You can also visit for tofu making and other wonderful recipes.

Maple Tofu Bites:

Firm Tofu
Real Maple Syrup

1)Use a small cookie cutter to cut your tofu into small bite size pieces (or cut into small cubes)

2) Drizzle with Maple Syrup, or pre-soak in Maple Syrup for a few minutes before placing small wooden skewers or sandwich picks into the tofu pieces for serving. Garnish with chopped nuts, if you desire.Happy Saturdays and here's to simple scrumptious ideas~ Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cowboy Coffee Rubbed Brisket

Can't you just picture it: a cup of dark, rich coffee and a plate of fork tender Brisket on a slice of homemade bread? Here's a little help- You can't see the coffee? It's on the brisket, and it's one reason it taste so cowboy-good. Now, just add that coffee rub to a few more tasty seasonings and you'll have a smokey glaze that will cover your brisket and stick to your ribs.
Cowboy Coffee Rubbed Brisket

The coffee grounds create a campfire, barbecue-style crust on the meat that works in the oven or on a grill. Don't trim your brisket until after you've cooked it, because the fat keeps it moist and adds a ton of flavor. This is one of those meals that taste even better the next day, chilled or warmed on a sandwich. Cut the meat on the diagonal for easy slicing and don't be stingy, just pile it on. Life can be a tough ride some days, but your brisket doesn't have to be, right? Cover it with a spicy coffee rub, cook it long and low, and maybe you'll feel like singing under the stars, too. Yippee-Ki-YAy

Recipe: Coffee Rubbed Brisket

Coffee Rub~

1/4 cup Smoked Paprika
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbls. Ground Coffee
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1) Mix all ingredients together well.
2) Rub all over a 3lb. Brisket and place it into a foil lined baking pan.
3) Cover the Brisket loosely with foil to enclose.
4) Bake in preheated 350F oven for 1 hour, then reduce heat to 300F and cook for about 2 more hours.
5) Remove the Brisket (it should be fork tender) to a plate and keep warm.
6) Pour the pan drippings into a sauce pot and add:
For the Glaze~

2 Tbls. Honey
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls. Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste.

7) Stir to combine all ingredients well and heat on Med/High for about 10 minutes. It's ready when the sauce has thickened and glossy. Taste for seasoning.
8) Serve over /or with sliced Brisket.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet Potato Tea Bars and High Tea at Montage Hotel, Los Angeles

Almost every culture in the world has a tradition or relationship to TEA. So many people have stories about family gatherings, or moments with special people spent over a cup (or glass) of tea.

I grew up in the southern part of the United States and my relationship to tea was a tall glass of "sweetened ice tea". In fact, where I grew up you would have to ask the server if you wanted tea that was not brewed with a lot of sugar in it already. A cup of hot tea was usually made by the cup with a string attached bag of Lipton. It would be left in the cup too long which meant more Teddy Bear honey was needed.

Sweet Potato Tea Bars

If I went to a friend's house where they poured a cup of tea from a pot, with fresh tea leaves inside I assumed they were rich or from England.
I was in college before I was introduced to the whole "going to tea" or "taking tea" or "having High Tea" delightful pleasure. Since then, I seek out places that serve a great Tea.

For a couple years, I worked with a stylish Tea Salon in Los Angeles where I had the chance to learn about tea and developed many recipes that used tea as an ingredient or infused with the flavors. Our specialty was World Teas. We broke the mold of just the proper English Tea by creating recipes inspired by different countries and their flavors.

If you read my blog often, you know there are several recipes using tea to enhance the flavor base (ie. Cowboy Smokey Tea Tomato Jam, Tea Poached Shrimp Summer Rolls, Stove Top Smoked Fish, Green Tea Croquembouche, Matcha Green Tea Doughnuts. )

If I could pass on just 3 important ideas about tea it would be these:

1) Using real tea, not old flakes in a stringed bag, makes all the difference in the world.
2) Water temperature can make or break the flavor and the true taste of the tea.
3) Don't over brew - it's the same thing as burning food and that's why it taste bad.

When I have visitors to California, or visit a friend's city I almost always suggest going to a tea in the area. There is something very replenishing about sharing a plate of scones,
a couple mini-sandwiches and tiny desserts while chatting over warm and fragrant tea pots.This month, my online Lets Lunch Bunch has the theme of High Tea for us to share across the miles in our virtual lunch date. When my daughter and a friend from Italy were here, we took the opportunity to seek inspiration by having tea at the exquisite Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The room was quiet (until we started giggling and sharing stories) and the food was delicate, but plentiful. In case you are thinking this is just a "Ladies" tradition, there were more men in the room than ladies the day we were visiting. There were several obvious business meetings going on around the room, a family stopping for a breather during their busy day, and a couple who sounded like they were on a first date (not that I was listening.)When I returned home and pondered how I could combine the proper tea fare I had partaken in during the afternoon, yet give a nod to my much more casual background. I came up with Sweet Potato Tea Bars.Sweet Potatoes, packed with good healthy nutrients, make a good combo to the antioxidants in tea. The creaminess goes so well with a hearty smokey black, yet the earthiness pairs well with a grassy green tea. Also, they're just damn good.Tea is one of earth's most natural healing liquids. I recommend drinking more of it. Do it slowly. Do it often. Do it with people you love.

Also: Check out all of the inspired High Tea ideas with the Lets Lunch pals:

Charissa‘s Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches with Honey Mustard, Tomatoes & Basil at Zest Bakery

Emma‘s Brown Sugar Shortbreads With Hawaiian Jam at Dreaming of Pots and Pans

Grace‘s Taiwanese Sandwiches at HapaMama

Karen‘s Saskatoon Berry Tartlets at GeoFooding

Linda‘s Mesquite Hemp Cocoa at Free Range Cookies

Linda‘s Singapore-Style Ginger Tea & Kaya (Coconut Jam) Toast at Spicebox Travels

Lisa‘s Little Lemon Meringue Tarts at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Mai‘s Cougar Gold & Shallot Shortbread at Cooking in The Fruit Bowl

Patrick‘s Welsh Rarebit at Patrick G. Lee

Rashda‘s Spiced Chickpea & Sweet Potato Tidbits at Hot Curries & Cold Beer

Rebecca‘s Millionaire’s Shortbread at Grongar Blog

Steff‘s Lemon-Lime Shortbread Cookies at The Kitchen Trials

Join us next time, have lunch with us online. Go to twitter and put in the hashtag (#letslunch) and leave us word you'd like to join. We're growing with every lunch. :D

Sweet Potato Tea Bars

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter (6oz.)
2/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla

1) Mix the crust ingredients in a large bowl. Press the crumbly crust into a parchment lined 9" pan.
2) Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then pour in the filling.


1 Large Sweet Potato (baked)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 lemon juice and zest
1/4 cup milk

1) Beat all ingredients until creamy.
2) Pour into the pre-baked crust. Return to a preheated 350F oven. Bake for about 20 Minutes (until set.)
3) Cool and chill for 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
4) Garnish with chopped nuts or powdered sugar.