No Knead, No Problem! My go-to bread for lazy days

No-Knead Bread

No-Knead Bread

This bread is literally the easiest bread out there.  No snazzy yeast, no finicky sourdough starter, just some baking soda, baking powder, and buttermilk to get this dense and delicious loaf ready for your plate!


Easy No-Knead Bread

Makes 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
2–2 ½ cups spelt or whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ¾–2 ¼ cups buttermilk, plus a little for brushing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons runny honey
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat your oven to 425F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat or spelt flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in 1 ¾ cups of the buttermilk followed by the melted butter and honey.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until all of the liquid has been evenly mixed in.  If needed, feel free to add some of the remaining buttermilk to make the dough come together.

Once the dough is too stiff to stir with the spoon, lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it.  Gently knead the dough to form it into a rough loaf but be careful not to overwork it.

Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet and, using a large knife, score an ‘X’ across the top making sure to cut about halfway down.  Use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of buttermilk all over the top of the loaf and scatter the top with pumpkin seeds.

Bake the bread in your preheated oven for 25 minutes then reduce the heat on your oven to 350F and continue to bake for an additional 20–25 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when you rap on the top with your knuckles.

Transfer your loaf to a wire rack and allow it to cool.

Starch on starch on starch: Potato Thyme and Cheddar Focaccia

Potato Thyme and Cheddar Focaccia

Potato Thyme and Cheddar Focaccia

We Bergs are firmly a starch family.  

No dinner is complete without potatoes, rice, noodles, or some sort of doughy delicious bread.  I mean, sure, it's February and I'm trying really hard to dig into healthy veg filled plates to counteract the winter slumps but, come ON!

Starch is the best!

It's on days like this, days that I am sliding down the slippery slope of fading New Year's resolutions, that I like to overindulge in the stuff and really double down so I give you Potato Thyme and Cheddar Focaccia.

I mean, Potatoes + Bread = Unbridled Joy in my books and the multipliers of cheese and thyme are kind of a no brainer.


Potato Thyme and Cheddar Focaccia

Makes 1 - 9x13" loaf

¾ cup + 2 tbsp warm water
1 slightly rounded teaspoon quick rise yeast
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup finely grated white cheddar cheese
1 small Yukon Gold potato, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, for top of loaf

In a glass measuring cup, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and set aside in a warm place for approximately 15 minutes to activate the yeast.  

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and kosher salt and make a well in the middle.  Once the yeast mixture is nice and foamy, pour it into the well along with a ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil and begin mixing the dough with a wooden spoon to combine.

Once combined, dump the shaggy dough mixture onto a well floured work surface and begin kneading for approximately 6 – 8 minutes.

Shape the dough into a tight skinned ball and place into a well oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

While rising, coat a 9x13 baking pan in remaining 3 tablespoons of the remaining of extra virgin olive oil and set out your grated cheese.  In a small bowl, toss together the thinly sliced potato and thyme with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

Once risen, press the dough into the pan, making sure to poke your fingers all the way through to the bottom of the pan while you stretch the dough.  Cover the formed focaccia with your clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425F and scatter the cheese evenly over the dough.  Arrange the potatoes overtop and sprinkle with pepper and coarse sea salt.  Bake the focaccia in your preheated oven for 18–25 minutes or until golden and the potatoes are soft and beginning to brown.

Remove the focaccia from the oven and let cool slightly before digging in.

Bannock: The quickest of quick breads

Bannock

Bannock

Bannock is kind of the perfect cross between a biscuit, a pancake, and an English muffin.  It’s amazing plain fresh out of the frying pan, smeared with lots of butter and jam, served alongside a saucy dinner used to swipe up every last tasty morsel, or even as a sandwich or burger bun.

It takes about as much work as pancakes so you’ll be able to impress your family and friends with pretty much zero effort on your part!


Bannock

Makes 12

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping bannock
2 teaspoons salt
2 ½ tablespoons baking powder
¼ cup melted butter or lard
1 teaspoon honey
1 ½ cups warm water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder; make a well in the centre.  In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter with the honey and pour into the dry ingredients.  Add the water and stir just until a loose dough forms. 

Dust a clean work surface with flour, dump the dough out, and knead 7 or 8 times or until the dough is no longer sticky on the outside, adding a scattering of flour as needed.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and flatten into 1”-thick rounds.  This should leave you with rounds that are around 3-4” across.

Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat and add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  When hot, fry the bannock a few at a time for about 3-4 minutes per side or until deep golden brown.  If your pan starts to look a little dry, add a bit more oil and allow it to heat up before frying more bannock. 

Allow the bannock to cool slightly and enjoy with anything your heart can imagine – or, if you’re feeling extra snazzy, split the bannock down the middle and use it as a bun for Bison Burgers!

An aubergine valentine

Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

Ah, Valentine’s Day!  Whether you love it or hate it, there is one rallying cry we can all get behind on February 14th: today is a day for good food!

I started this morning bright and early by cooking up my take on steak frites with wee little hand pies for dessert on CTV’s Your Morning (check out these recipes and the video for the segment here!) and have been hemming and hawing about what to make for dinner tonight ever since.

So, for our first Valentine’s as a married duo, I’ve decided on something that’s quick, easy, and mutually adored by both Aaron and I alike.  We’re about to dive into some rich, meaty, and cheesy Roasted Eggplant Parmesan!

Purists may scoff but this is my go-to version of eggplant parm.  No, it is not dredged in bread crumbs.  No, it is not fried.  Yes, it is delicious.  And to be honest, without the dredge, I’ll feel a little less gluttonous adding copious showers of extra Parmesan cheese while sharing this meal with my beloved.


Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 2 (with some leftover for lunch)

1 medium eggplant
1 tsp kosher salt
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups quick and classic tomato sauce (or your favourite store bought tomato sauce)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 slices of fresh mozzarella or, if you’re feeling nontraditional, some goat Gouda (half the thickness of the eggplant slices and about the same size around)
Fresh basil to garnish, optional
Parmesan frico to garnish, optional (recipe follows)
 

Preheat your oven to 375F, line one cookie sheet with tin foil, and another with a layer of paper towel.

For the eggplant, trim off the top and bottom and slice into 1 cm disks.  This should give you about 15 slices but more or less is fine.  Place the slices in a single layer on the paper towel lined cookie sheet and evenly sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.  This will draw out some of the moisture and bitterness from the eggplant and give it a super lovely texture. 

Allow the salted eggplant to sit for about 20 minutes while you gently heat the tomato sauce, finely grate the Parmesan cheese, and slice the mozzarella (or goat Gouda if you’re like me and that’s all you have on hand).

Pat the eggplant dry with another piece of paper towel and coat the foil lined cookie sheet with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheet and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and pop the eggplant into your preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.

Remove the eggplant from your oven and top each with 1 – 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce and evenly sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.  At this point, the eggplant slices should look almost like little pizzas! 

Choose the three prettiest pieces of eggplant and top each with a slice of mozzarella (or Gouda).  Pop the whole thing back into the oven and cook until the cheese is perfectly melted and maybe a bit golden.  If you’re in a rush or just want some crispy bits of cheese, throw on the broiler but be sure to keep your eyes and nose on alert – burnt cheese is rarely if ever a good thing.

To serve, dollop some sauce down onto your plates and stack 5 or so of the roasted eggplant slices on top, making sure to finish with the super cheesy mozzarella layer.  Toss some fresh basil on there as well as some freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Parmesan frico and share with your honey.

 

Parmesan Frico

¼ cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
 

Preheat your oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Scatter the Parmesan cheese onto the centre of the parchment paper, making sure that the cheese stays concentrated in one even and thinly spread layer.

Bake for 5 – 8 minutes or until melted and just slightly brown.  Be careful not to over brown the cheese because it. will. taste. awful.

Remove the parchment from the hot cookie sheet and allow the frico to cool completely.  Break apart and serve as wispy little crackers or on anything that is made better by Parmesan cheese (hint: roasted eggplant parm)!