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Okay, I didn’t know about Beecher’s Handmade Cheese until I’d watched an episode of Foodcrafters on the Food Network (it’s been more than a month and yes, it’s still my favorite TV channel 🙂 ). In that episode, they’d showcased the mac & cheese made by the cheese shop in Seattle.

Now, I like macaroni and I do love cheese, but I’ve never been able to find a ready-made mac & cheese from the stores that was … eh … nice … you know what I mean? Sometimes they tasted too “cheesy”, and oftentimes they tasted kinda artificial, leaving a strange aftertaste on the tongue and in the back of the throat.

And sadly, I didn’t try to make homemade mac & cheese, mostly because I was so disappointed with & disillusioned by those store-bought ready-made ones.

But there I was, watching Kurt Beecher Dammeier prepare a batch of his famous mac & cheese and describe how his mac & cheese (or rather penne & cheese, as he uses penne instead of macaroni) became so popular that it became called the “world’s best” by his customers.

So, I was intriqued about trying mac & cheese again, this time following Kurt’s recipe.

Now, sadly, I didn’t have the 2 cheeses called for in Kurt’s recipe: Beechers Flagship Cheese and Just Jack Cheese. I could try ordering them online from Beecher’s, but as I was eager and impatient to try the recipe, I decided to substitute Beecher’s cheeses with a good aged cheddar and some pre-sliced Monterey Jack.

Even though I may have conceivably used cheeses inferior to Beecher’s, I was still able to turn out the best mac & cheese I’d ever tasted!

The dish had the right amount of cheese … not too overpowering like the store-bought ready-made kind … while the chili & garlic powders were not overpowering, giving a more rounded taste to the sauce. And the penne really provided a great platform for the cheese sauce to cling to.

If you want to try your hand at making Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese, here’s the recipe …

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Sorry it’s been a while since my last post … sadly, my job’s been keeping me busy, too busy to do any cooking or baking, let alone try out new recipes.

But I’d just discovered the Food Network a few days ago when I was changing my cable plan. And the first show I’d watched on that channel was a pretty funny one by the witty Alton Brown … Good Eats.

Not only does Alton show us how to cook … eh, well … good eats, of course, but he also gets educational with the history, science and nuggets of information about those good eats, all accompanied by some humor. Check his show out on your TV or the episodes available on YouTube.

And so, here I was … while laughing with Alton, he showed how easy it was to make soft, homemade pretzels. And here’s my yummy attempt at making those same pretzels …

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So, we had homemade pizza over the weekend … there’s nothing like making your own pizza, right? Not only can you control what and how much (or how little) of the toppings you want on your own pizza, but you can also choose the best quality ingredients you can find or afford for the toppings & dough!

And if you have kids, the pizza making is a great way to bond and spend time with them. They can help to prepare the dough and toppings, roll out their own crusts and top their own pizzas any way they like (within reason, of course 🙂 ). It’s also a good way to get them to eat if they are choosy or picky eaters … let them choose & top their pizzas to make them feel that the pizzas they make from start to finish are really theirs, which should help ensure they’ll eat them.

My kid enjoyed helping me weigh and mix the dough ingredients, and I’d even let her slice the ham (obviously, I was hovering over her shoulder, worried that she might cut herself). She made for herself a smoked ham, mozzarella & Parmesan cheese pizza, stretching out her own pizza dough and spreading a base of a tomato-based pasta sauce that supplied her vegetable diet needs (she doesn’t like to eat vegetables but will eat a bit of such tomato-based pasta sauces). She happily devoured almost the whole 12″ pizza (less a 1/6th slice)! I think that’s quite a lot of pizza for a slim 10-year old, right?

I made fully loaded pizzas for my significant other & I, using good quality pepperoni, smoked ham, red & green capsicums, onions, fresh white button mushrooms, black olives, mozzarella and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on a bed of the tomato-based pasta sauce over a moderately thin crust. The crust was made from what I call Savory Olive Oil Dough, which has garlic powder and onion powder for additional flavor.

Here’s my recipe to make the dough … Read the rest of this entry »

Well, the Pain de Mie is now thoroughly cooled and ready to be sliced and compared to store-bought sliced white sandwich bread (which we’ll just call a “SB” for short).

First, here’s my Pain de Mie (aka, “my loaf”) compared against what the Pain de Mie is supposed to look liked, from King Arthur Flour’s blog (aka, “KAF loaf”) … here’s the whole loaf before they are sliced (my loaf is on the left while the right one is the KAF loaf) …

My underachieving loaf did not rise enough to fill the pan fully, resulting in the shorter, dome-topped loaf instead of a nice, squared loaf. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the recipe by the good people at King Arthur Flour, for making a traditional Pain de Mie using a 13″ long Pullman lidded loaf pan. This recipe is reproduced and adapted from their Bakers’ Banter blog, while this other post on their blog has great photos of the Pain de Mie being made and what it looks like after baking. Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, with the results of Trial #1, I’ve decided to increase the amount of sugar (to make the bread sweeter) as well as increase the potato flour to improve on the softness of the bread.

Here’re the ingredients and method for Trial #2 … Read the rest of this entry »

It’s the next day, so let us see how well my first try at making the Softest White Sandwich Bread is.

A slice of Trial #1 is on the left and a slice of store-bought bread is on the right in comparison …

20120605-084130.jpg Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, here’s my first try at making the softest white sandwich bread possible.

I’ve just returned from the supermarket, laden with Bob’s Red Mill Potato Flour & Soy Flour along with some organic lecithin granules and other groceries (I can never resist stocking up on groceries 🙂 ). I already have Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten, bread flour, olive oil and full cream milk powder, so I’m ready for Trial # 1.

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Since I’d started baking bread again after discovering the bread in just 5 minutes a day technique, I’ve been wanting to wean my significant other and our daughter from store-bought sliced sandwich bread to something more wholesome and maybe even cheaper.

The recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as well as the authors’ follow-up books (Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day) are great and delicious, but as they are artisanal French breads, they are best eaten the day they are baked … they do not keep well for more than a day, becoming dry and stale. Assuredly not what my significant other and our kid like to eat, which is pillowy soft and light like Wonder Bread … here’s a picture of some store-bought sliced white sandwich bread.


On the other hand, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day does have a recipe for Soft American-Style White Bread, which has sugar & butter and makes good sandwiches … on the first day. However, it does not stay soft on the 2nd day onwards, not like the store-bought kind.

So, this got me thinking that there must be a way to reproduce the longer lasting softness of store-bought sliced sandwich bread, but without any artificial preservatives or additives. So, I’m now on a mission … to find out what makes the softest wholesome sandwich bread.

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Okay, here’s my second try to make Something Like English Granary-Style Bread … or more accurately, Dark Malt Oat Meal Granary-Style Bread, right? 🙂

20120530-120700.jpg Read the rest of this entry »