Kozunak – Bulgarian Bread

For Christmas Eve Martin requested Kozunak. ¬†This is a sweet bread that is made during Easter – since it is also called Easter Bread I would have to say Easter is this bread’s party season ūüôā ¬†However, it is also made during Christmas and New Years in Bulgaria. ¬†There are several ways you can make this bread by adding different ingredients. ¬†I made a basic Kozunak. ¬†Honestly, this was a bit of a challenge for me. ¬†I made 2 doughs last weekend. ¬† Martin said it was a good bread but not Kozunak. ¬†I checked further online for some other recipes during the week and this one was successful for me. ¬†However, I had to do the milk/yeast/sugar twice. ¬†(Well, if you count last week it would be 4 times.) ¬†Anyways, I finally figured it out. ¬†End result, it really is not difficult to do, just takes time. ¬†Today was a success. ¬†Martin said this was definitely Kozunak. ¬†PHEW!!

 Kozunak
(adaption of recipe from Annie’s Art Book)

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Ingredients

7  1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 large eggs
1 1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (I put vanilla in everything sweet!)
4 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup vegetable oil

To brush on bread before putting in oven; 1 egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water. Mix together.

optional:
2-3 tbsp lemon zest ( if you like it) or lemon flavor.  (Since Martin is not a fan of lemon I left this out.  Next time, lemon zest!)

I used a stand up mixer for the recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. In a medium bowl combine the yeast mixture ingredients- milk, yeast and 1 tsp of sugar. (Now here comes the hard part for me!  I ended up warming the milk in 30 second intervals Рon the lowest setting, in the microwave.  It took about 3 minutes to get the milk very luke warm.  Not hot to the touch at all. I could put my finger in the milk ant it was slightly warm) Stir until the yeast dissolves completely, then cover with plastic wrap so it can stay warm and wait 15 min to proof.  It will have bubbles on top for sure!
3. Sift flour and salt in large bowl (I did not sift it though)
4. Mix on high speed, with the paddle attachment, the eggs, vanilla and sugar until creamy.
5. Add the yeast mixture, melted butter and vegetable oil, mix well.
6. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients until well incorporated.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Add lemon zest at this time if you like it.
7. Grease  a large bowl or casserole dish with oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (I put my bread to rise in the microwave.  That way I avoid drafts.)
8. After the dough is ready, divide into 3 equal parts.  (I weighed the pieces.)  I made 2 braided breads.  I used my bundt pan and put each one in the bundt pan.  (Next time I will probably use a larger baking pan.  I had a little bit of an issue with the middle of the bread baking.  It ended up working out but next time different pan)
9.If you do not want to braid the bread you can take a ball of dough, roll it out with your rolling pin on a greased surface, you can add if you want filling like, nuts, chocolate, jam, raisins etc, then roll it inwards.
10.Back to braiding; when you have all your “ropes” hold the ends of each rope¬† and twist them¬†in the opposite directions.
11. Braid the ropes together and place them in greased deep baking pans. Let them rise until they reach the top of the baking pan.
12. When the Kozunak has risen, brush with egg yolk on top, sprinkle some sugar and/or some nuts.  I sprinkled one half with sugar and the other have with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, depending on the shape you choose and the size of the pan you are using.
This is a delicious, sweet bread. ¬†Christmas 2012 Food 013Simple, maybe not, but well worth it. ¬†You don’t need a holiday to bake this bread, just time. ¬†ūüôā
If you want to braid;¬†Christmas 2012 food 002Christmas 2012 food 003Christmas 2012 food 004¬†Christmas 2012 food 006These photos are from the Kozunak “fail” I did for Christmas Eve. ¬†I ended up baking mini braided Kozunak’s. ¬†They were much denser then the Kozunak recipe above. ¬†Delicious just as well, but not what Martin remembered from his memories of Kozunak he shared with his Grandparents. ¬†I believe the problem with the denser bread is the proofing. ¬†I never really got bubbles which obviously resulted in a heavier roll. ¬† Thank you for reading my very long explanation of my Kozunak adventure! ¬†I am not sure I can say this was simple but it was delicious and I enjoyed the challenge. ¬† Wishing you a fabulous 2013!!

Thyme Olive (yes, olives) Crackers

Another cracker recipe for you to enjoy.  The original recipe called for rosemary.  Since I had made a rosemary cracker that afternoon I used thyme instead.  Thyme worked wonderfully and I am sure you will enjoy it too.  I thought the olives were a bit weird but these really turned out very flavorful.  Try this SIMPLE and DELICIOUS cracker for your New Years Eve or any eve!!

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Thyme Olive Crackers
(adapted from Purple Foodie)

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme,finely chopped
2 Tablespoons black olives, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup half&half, more if needed (I did not need any more half&half.  You can also use heavy cream.)

Preheat oven 400 degrees

1.  Put flour, salt, cheese, thyme, olives, garlic and olive oil in bowl of food processor.  Pulse until flour and olive oil create little crumbs.  (If you do not have a food processor, whisk all the dry ingredients first, then add the oil and use a fork or pastry blender to mix until they look like coarse crumbs.)
2. Add about 1/4 cup half&half and let the machine run until dough is combined.  (If you do not have a food processor, pour the cream into the dough mixture and combine it into the dough with your hands.)
3.  Put parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Put the dough on the parchment paper and roll out until 1/4 inch, add flour as needed. (I put a little flour on the rolling pin)
4.  Score lightly with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.  Sprinkle with kosher salt or topping of your choice (pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced garlic or onion).

Enjoy!!

Rosemary Crackers

I have discovered that making crackers is much more fun than buying a box at the grocery store.  I think these would be a fabulous gift with some delicious cheeses (or the crackers alone would work).  They take no time at all and are, of course, SIMPLE and DELICIOUS.

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Rosemary Crackers
(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (you can use table salt)
pinch of pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (or any hard cheese you choose to use)
5 Tablespoons sour cream

Directions

1.  Combine flour, salt, pepper and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine.
2.  Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3.  Add cheese, pulse until combined.
4.  Add 1 Tablespoon of the sour cream at a time, pulsing each time to combine.  Process until dough comes together and is well combined.
5.  Transfer dough to a work surface.  Shape dough into a 2 inch wide log.  Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
6.  Heat oven to 325 degrees. Slice chilled log into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Transfer slices to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, util crackers are golden brown and firm in center, 25-30 minutes.  Transfer to rack to cool.

Check out the Parmesan Crackers and Thyme Olive Crackers too.  You will really love them!

Peppermint Bark (Very Simple)

I have always enjoyed the combination of chocolate and peppermint. ¬†Peppermint Patties have been a favorite confection of mine for many years. ¬†When I bought a candle for Rachel this year from Bath and Body Works they had a recipe attached. (Yes, Bath and Body Works recipe!) ¬†She thought this would be a fun recipe to make along with the Christmas cookies we made. ¬†It was an awesome choice! ¬†Surprisingly, it was a great recipe from a store that sells body lotions and candles. ¬†We did make a couple of changes so you will be getting the recipe I made. ¬†I tried to find their recipe online but was unable to locate it. ¬†Needless to say this is a very “simple and delicious” recipe. ¬†I wanted to get this on my blog so you could try it this year. ¬†HO, HO, HO!!!

 

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Peppermint Bark

12 oz Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1 Tablespoon Butter
12 oz Milk Chocolate Chips
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 cup coarsely crushed Oreos
12 oz White Chocolate Chips
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Peppermint extract
1/2 cups crushed red and white mints or candy canes

1. ¬†To create bottom layer of bark, melt the dark chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon of butter in microwave, at 30 second intervals. ¬†Stir after each 30 second interval. (It took about 4 – 30 second intervals to get to a creamy texture.) When smooth and creamy, spread mixture in a greased 13″x9″ cake pan. ¬†I used a glass dish. ¬†(You could also add 1/2 cup of whole coffee beans. ¬†I thought 3 different chocolates was plenty of caffeine for my family! Rachel agreed!!) ¬†After you spread in the dish, put in freezer for 15 minutes.

2.  Melt milk chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon of butter in microwave at 30 second intervals, stir until smooth and creamy.  Add 1 cup of crushed Oreos.  Spread mixture over the dark chocolate.  Freeze this mixture for 15 minutes.

3.  Lastly, melt white chocolate chips and 2 Tablespoons of butter in microwave at 30 second intervals, stir until smooth and creamy.  Add the 1 teaspoon of Peppermint extract after the 2nd 30 second interval.  (Rachel and I did not experience smooth and creamy with the white chocolate.  I always have problems with white chocolate.  Watch it carefully.  We were able to spread it okay and it worked out fine.  Just not as spreadable as the dark/milk chocolate. It had a crumbly texture.)

4.  After you spread the white chocolate, sprinkle with the crushed red and white mints.  (We pushed the candies in with the spatula.)

5.  Refrigerate 3-4 hours.  Break into pieces and ENJOY!!

This would be an awesome gift.  It is very easy and fun to make.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.   Merry Christmas!!

Chicken Parmesan Pizza

Had an awesomel Pizza Friday! ¬†For this Pizza Friday I was checking out some facebook and pinterest posts. ¬†I found a Chicken Parmesan Pizza on Jill’s Pinterest. ¬†I make Chicken Parmesan on a frequent basis and thought this would be quite yummy. ¬†I made one with chicken nugget sized pieces and then one with bite size pieces of delicious chicken parmesan pieces. ¬†This is a simple & delicious pizza. ¬†Here goes:

Chicken Parmesan Pizza

2 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg & 1-2 Tablespoons milk or half and half (I use half and half for everything)
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper

I cut the chicken into nugget sizes to begin with.  I then dipped chicken pieces in egg mixture and then in bread crumbs.  001I fried in cast iron skillet. (You can use whatever frying pan you want.  I love my cast iron skillet).

Ok, the chicken is done.  All you have to do is add pizza sauce, chicken, mozzarella and bake at 500 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  002 I baked on a pizza stone.  It turned out quite delicious!

007 According to Eric, Rachel, Martin and Sean the bite size chicken pieces won hands down!  Enjoy!!