Tag Archives: Basil

Herb Bread

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This bread is a flavored yeast bread; the recipe makes two loaves, and uses the stand mixer much like the Dilly Bread and Cinnamon Bread recipes. The recipe is most like the Cinnamon Bread in that it starts by taking the chill off the milk.
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The recipe uses fresh herbs; if you have an herb garden, there is no problem. Now days, you can buy fresh herbs in the produce section of your favorite grocery store. If you want to try to use your bottled dry herbs, then remember that the formula is usually 3 to 1; three parts of fresh herbs is equal to 1 part of dried herbs. That would mean the 2 Tablespoon measure for which the recipe calls is about 2 teaspoons of dried herbs.

Herb Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

Combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture, 4 1/2 cups of flour and the chopped herbs. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 1 minute.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of mixer bowl. Knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire rack.


To warm the mixer bowl, I fill the bowl from the hot water faucet in the sink and let it sit for 5 minutes while I am chopping herbs; then dump it out and put the measured warm water and yeast in it.

If you don’t want flour flying all over, let it mix for a minute on the lowest speed so that the flour is partially moistened before turning the speed bake to Speed 2.
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While you can just roll each half of the dough into a loaf pan, you will discover that the baked loaves have risen in the center much more than at the ends, making it hard to get an nice even look. The trick is to use a rolling pin, and roll each half of the dough into a rectangle as wide as the loaf pans, and about 14 inches long. The rolling pin will smooth the dough and remove most of the gas bubbles. Then, start at the narrow end and roll the dough tightly up into a cylinder. Pinch the dough to seal the seam and ends. Turn the seam side down, and place in the greased loaf pan.
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I went beyond the recipe after I baked these loaves of Herb Bread; I brushed the tops with egg white and sprinkled them with sea salt. That is the white specks you see on the baked loaves of Herb Bread.
I think it is something to do with age, but I find that my taste tends to need stronger flavoring than most recipes use; thus, at times I will double the flavorings when it comes to herbs and spices. In this case, I have often used 3-4 Tablespoons of the fresh herbs from my garden; some of that increase in amount is also do to not wanting to waste the herbs after I have taken them from the garden.

Basil Chicken Marinade

We marinate meat for two reasons; the marinade enhances the flavor of the meat, but more importantly, the marinade tenderizes the meat. This simple marinade does a great job on chicken breasts.

Basil Chicken Marinade

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic chopped

Mix together, and place in a gallon freezer bag with chicken breasts. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Marinades work best on flat pieces of meat; slabs of meat that are the same thickness across the entire piece. This is so the penetration is even across the entire piece of meat. So, before we actually worry about the recipe for the marinade, we need to take action to flatten the chicken breast to be more even in thickness.
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The easiest way to flatten the chicken breast is to hammer it with the bottom of a heavy pot. To keep from making a mess, use either a plastic storage bag (open so the air doesn’t cushion the blow of the hammer) or a couple pieces of plastic wrap- one under and one over the chicken breast. Now that the breast is captured between two layers of plastic, bring the heavy pan’s bottom down hard on the breast. It takes a good amount of smashing to get the results where the high spots are reduced to the same level as the edges of the breast.

Now that the breast is flattened, slip it into a plastic storage bag and add the ingredients of the marinade. I find one fault with the ingredient list; it sounds like there is enough volume to do several breasts at a time. My experience was that I feel that the ingredients as listed would do a single chicken breast- about 8 ounces of chicken breast. And, I felt that I could do the single piece of meat in a quart freezer bag instead of the larger gallon size. I would double the recipe if I were doing more that a single breast or a gallon freezer bag.
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Because the tenderizing process is really a “cooking” process, I would limit the time I left the meat to marinate to not more than about 10 hours; certainly not over night. The acid (vinegar) in the marinate is acting on the meat just as when we make ceviche- the sea food “cooked” in lime juice. Too long of a marination will leave the surface of the meat mushy and the interior of the meat dry. Marinating draws moisture out of the meat. It is important to turn the freezer bag a few times so that all of the meat comes into contact with the marinade, and not just one surface.

That last paragraph makes marinating sound like a difficult task; it isn’t. That paragraph is mostly about the end cases of what is happening, and why the time period of marinating is important. It isn’t something to start and forget.
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I think marinating makes a difference. One way to test that and form your own opinion would be to cut the chicken breast in half, and only marinate half. Then, after marinating one half, cook both halves and make a taste test. Hopefully, you will see the difference I did, and enjoy the enhanced flavor the marinade gives to the meat.