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Homemade Tofu - 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #41 Elizabeth Andoh

Homemade Tofu
the "Gourmet" prompt...
41. Elizabeth Andoh- As Barbara Tropp was to Chinese food, so is Andoh to Japanese, with specialties in—who knew?—Japanese vegetarian, and the almost equally obscure home cooking.

One of my absolute favorite things about food, cooking, and eating has always been the link to people, culture, and tradition.  It's the ability to get to know someone...some place...through the plate they offer you.  They plate they share with you.  Food.  Although there are countless dialects, it really is the universal language.

Shrimp w/ Feta & Tomatoes (Garides Saganaki)

Shrimp w/ Feta & Tomatoes (Garides Saganaki)
Last summer I was introduced to a cookbook author that I had never heard of before.  Tessa Kiros.  My introduction came by way of her latest cookbook, Food From Many Greek Kitchens.  I was enamored by the beautiful color photos.  I was transported by her words and descriptions of the food, the people, the place.  My stomach rumbled over the recipes I imagined cooking in my kitchen.  And then, by some turn of fate, Tessa was chosen as our featured chef/cook over at IHCC...which in turn took me further into the realm of Tessa Kiros cookbooks.

Tamarind Brandy Sour

Tamarind Brandy Sour
Leslie and I?  We're talking TAMARINDOS today.  Tamarinds (or tamarindo en español) are legumes that  grow on trees that can get to be as tall as 80 feet high.  Each tamarind pod contains a soft pulp that surrounds hard seeds.  The pulp is edible and acidic and ranges from sour to sweet.  It grows in warm, tropical climates and is used to make refreshing beverages, candies and ices, and even used as a savory ingredient in pickled dishes, meat or fish dishes, or condiments like Worcestershire sauce.

Meyer Lemon Curd Brioche Crescents inspired by Last Holiday | #FoodnFlix

Meyer Lemon Curd Brioche Crescents
Possibilities.  Life is full of full of them.

I recently watched the film Last Holiday for Food 'n Flix (chosen by our host this month, Leslie).  I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before.  And actually I couldn't even recall seeing any trailers or previews or commercials for it.  It may sound like a "holiday" film - but holiday is used in the broadest sense.  Or maybe the British sense.  As in "going on holiday".  That would be vacation for us Americans.  Which leads me to believe that nobody who works in my public library system has actually seen this film that they have on their shelves.  Because I found it in with the Christmas movies.  It is NOT a Christmas movie.  Okay.  Anyway.

Fizzy Lifting Drinks inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I've adored the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for as long as I can remember.  Since I was a wee one.  But in the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you - this is the first time I've actually read the book.  I don't know why.  I've had my nose buried in books for just as long!  And it's crazy since I'm a fan of Roald Dahl.  BFG.  James and the Giant Peach.  Matilda.  Go figure.  So I was totally excited when my friend Deb from Kahakai Kitchen announced that she was choosing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for this round of Cook the Books!   So now along with both versions of the film adaptation, I also own the book.  And I'm making sure that all my kids take turns reading it.  It has the potential of being a favorite.

It is the familiar story of little Charlie Bucket.  He lives with his parents and both sets of grandparents in a tiny, run-down home at the edge of town.  As he passes Willy Wonka's magnificent chocolate factory on his way to and from school each day, his step slows as his nose lifts high into the air to take "long deep sniffs of the gorgeous chocolatey smell around him".  What makes it sad is that he goes home to a small portion of weak cabbage soup.  And only gets chocolate once a year on his birthday.  But Charlie is a good child...a good soul...and he never complains.

Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage

Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage
Though our weather hovers in the unseasonably-warm range and we've been setting new record-highs all week long (even hitting 90° F one day...in March...in the first day or two of Spring...in Northwestern Indiana. No. I can't get over it. It's weird.), it's still a good time for soup.  But I've mentioned that before.  In my book, soup isn't seasonal.  It's a staple.

While I do usually prefer brothy soups, the occasional thick...or thicker than brothy...ones add variety.  So I don't dismiss them.  Especially when they're beautifully beany.  This one in particular is thickened with both white beans and potatoes that are cooked until extremely tender and falling apart and then mashed to add body to the broth.  It becomes creamy and luscious which I think makes the perfect backdrop for the bold flavors of cabbage, rosemary, Italian sausage, Parmesan, and balsamic vinegar that actually work together in harmony rather than compete as it seems they should.

Garlic Wafers - 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #40 Elena Arzak

garlic
the "Gourmet" prompt...
40. Elena Arzak- Elena is almost as lauded as her very famous New Basque chef dad, Juan Mari Arzak. She’s the top of Spain’s tree.

Elena was born into Spain's "premier food family" in San Sebastián, Spain.  She was raised in the kitchen doing the thing most all chef's start out with - "the dirty work".  Arzak was built as a house in 1897 by Elena's great grandparents.  They turned it into a wine inn and tavern.  Her grandparents turned it into a restaurant when they took over.  Her father, Chef Juan Mari then Arzak (a founder of Basque nouvelle cuisine) grabbed the reigns next.  At the age of 17, Elena couldn't think of anything better to do with her life than become a chef.  So with the support of her father, she went abroard to study for a number of years and took time to study the roots of Basque cuisine.  She now runs the Arzak kitchen with her father.  She is known for being exciting and innovative.  Like her father, she likes to fuse modern with traditional.  And she is highly successful in that endeavor.

Basic White Bread

Okay.  So you know I love freshly baked bread in basically any form.  Or maybe you don't.  In which case, I do.  I love it.  From dense, rustic loaves studded with grains, nuts, and seeds to sweet, gooey buns topped with icing to crusty, chewy artisan loaves to the simplest, most basic white bread.  I love 'em all.

But for a couple of years now I've been baking up many, many variations on a basic loaf of white bread.  The whole family's in on the quest.  We want a loaf that's soft...but not too soft.  Sliceable...but not too dense. It should hold up to sandwiches both cold and hot.  I should be able to toast it.   While I've found some loaves that come close to what we're looking for.  THIS particular recipe is the closest.

It's soft, yet sliceable.  It holds up to toasting...and sandwich fillings.  And it doesn't taste like airy cardboard.  Always a bonus.  It's the perfect vehicle.
Basic White Bread

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 1½ hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake bread

Ingredients (2 loaves)
  • 5 c. (~680 g) all-purpose or bread flour
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg (2¼ tsp.) instant dry yeast
  • ½ c. dry milk powder
  • 2 c. hot water (120°-130°F)
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable shortening, room temp
Instructions
Combine all ingredients in your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix for ~3 minutes on low to combine. Turn it up to medium speed and knead for ~5 minutes. Adjust hydration (w/ more water or more flour), if needed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and finishing kneading until you have a lovely soft dough. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about an hour.

Punch down dough and divide into two equal pieces.

Shape each into a loaf by pushing into a flattish oval and folding it in half or rolling it. Tuck nicely into greased loaf pans, seam sides down, and cover. Let rise another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F during last 15 minutes of rise time.

Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce temperature of oven to 350°F and bake for another 20 minutes or so, turning loaves halfway through to allow for even coloring. The internal temperature should register 200°F and you should get a hollow sound when you knock on the bottoms. Remove from pans and let cool on racks.

*adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Bread via Living in the Kitchen with Puppies 
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{DIY} Reversible Wooden "Tabletop" Tutorial

So the other day I mentioned that I was headed to Lowe's to get some wood because I was feeling crafty.  And feeling like I needed some variation in my photos - a change of scenery, if you will.  I rotate between my couple of outdoor tables (for light) and cutting boards, but I wanted some more options.  Different colors.  A while back while on Pinterest, I'd pinned a do-it-yourself wooden tabletop tutorial from Confections of a Foodie Bride (who was inspired by Love & Olive Oil)...and I was ready to make one for myself.  So I set off to Lowe's with the hubs.  I find it both inspiring and dangerous to wander the lofty aisles of these types of stores with your spouse.  The possibilities start spouting from your mouths at the sight of wood and paint and shelving and tools and hardware and fixtures and... well... you get my point.  But eventually we walked out with everything I needed to make one reversible tabletop.  Plus a few other things.

Let's begin with the basics.  What you'll need.  The type of wood you use is up to you.  I used the least expensive since I knew I'd be painting it with colors anyway.  This makes one reversible tabletop that is about 2' x 2' (good for photographing food and things).

basics:
8 - ¼ x 3 x 2 wood boards
8 - ¼ x 4 x 2 wood boards
wood glue (I used just over ½ of a 16 oz. bottle)
sand paper (medium grit / 80-120)
wood stain - in your "shade" of choice
paint - in you color(s) of choice

extras:
drop cloth or tarp
sanding block (holds sand paper and makes your life easier if you don't have an electric sander)
paint brushes
paper towels
bandana (to cover your mouth & nose while sanding)
safety glasses or sunglasses (again, for the sanding)
weights or something heavy to weight down wood

bonus:
garage or outdoor workspace
bright, sunny day
good music
cold beer

time:
~2-3 hours active time
24 hours unattended (to allow wood glue to dry) + some for stain/paint to dry
When assembling my tabletop, I used the same basic method that both of the blogs I mentioned used.  I like to do a first run on something "proven" and change it up from there, should I feel the urge.  I know I'll make more tabletops in the future, so I might try throwing in a few really skinny boards just for variation or interest amongst my tables.  The basic method follows.

I began by laying down a tarp on a large work surface and sanding the tops of all of my boards - both to smooth out any slivers and get rid of any planer marks that may have been there.  I then sanded down all of the edges on that top side.  If you look closely, you can see that in the photo below.  This is totally personal preference, but I like the way that it looks.  Sort of like "planks" as opposed to one continuous piece of wood in the finished project.  So.  Don your bandana and glasses and get all of the boards sanded.
Wipe all of the saw dust from your tarp (or shake it off) and your boards.  Take of the sweaty bandana.  You know.  If you're doing this on an unseasonably warm 78° winter day.  Under the sun in the doorway of your garage.

Lay 8 of the boards, sanded side down, on your work surface.  Start with one of the wider boards and then set the thinner one next to it and repeat until you have 8.  Channel your inner child-in-art-class and squirt those boards with a good amount of wood glue.  Give yourself some room at the outer edges, because the glue will spread when  you weigh it down.
Once you've done that, start laying the remaining boards, arranged in the same fashion only sanded side up this time, over the top in the opposite direction.  Repeat until all of the boards are in place.
And that's it.  Lightly wipe off any glue that may have escaped out the sides with a damp cloth.  Next lay something (other half of tarp or drop cloth or a large sheet of plastic or fabric) over the board to protect it from your weights, if necessary.  Spread out a good amount of weight equally over the whole tabletop.  Let sit for 24 hours, undisturbed.  That's the hardest part.  The waiting.
24 hours later, you've got yourself a reversible tabletop to do with as you choose.  Awesome!  Admire it.  Contemplate leaving it just like it is.  Wood is pretty, after all.
If you like, brush on some stain.  I used a basically blond stain because I knew I was painting over it.  Mainly I was going for a good seal.  Go darker if you want darker spots to show through your paint.  It's entirely up to you and what you want the finished product to look like.  Once you've stained one side, it's time to play the waiting game again.  Once it's dry, flip it over and repeat.
At this point, it's time to paint.  I know it seems a bit copycat to go with white and turquoise...because basically that's what my two inspirations did.  But honestly, I wanted - no needed - a white tabletop.  I'd been meaning to buy or make one for a long time.  And turquoise is my favorite color.  I knew I wouldn't get it out of my head until I'd painted something turquoise.  I can't decide whether or not I think it's too bold.  Sometimes I think it is and sometimes I think it isn't.  I might wind up doing a bit of white-washing over it one of these days.
So this table, with these colors, was just the beginning.  I have plans for a couple of variations on plain wood in mind.  And visions of a pale, peeling yellow.  And an aged, mossy green.  Oh, and a white-washed grey.  And perhaps...

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Sesame and Pistachio Snack (Pastelli)

I find myself drawn to sweets and snacks laden with sesame seeds.  I love the look of those tiny little seeds all jumbled together.  And while I love the thin little crisp-like Sesame Snaps, I absolutely adore these pastelli.  As I was making them, flashes of being a little girl kept crossing my mind.  The toasty sesame-scented oils wafting from the pan.  The warm, enveloping scent of honey.  And nostalgia slapping me square across the face once the two were combined.  Folded together they woke a sleeping childhood memory.

I can't recall circumstances.  I can't recall specific instances.  What I can recall are little crinkly paper-wrapped bites of sesame honey treats.  My mom always had them around when I was very young.  So young that I think it was before my brother and sisters even take up residence in my memories (I'm a good deal older than them).  The soft sticky chew.  The feel of my teeth slicing through those dense, sweet seeds.  The comforting blanket of seeds so tiny and grassy and coated in honey.  This is what they were.  Pastelli by another name.

Those little bites from my childhood didn't have pistachios in them.  But I like the addition.  It adds color without changing the flavor.  These are a sweet treat.  In so many ways.
Sesame and Pistachio Snacks (Pastelli)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: snack dessert honey nuts sesame seeds candy Greek

Ingredients (20-30 "bites")
  • ¾ c. + 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • ⅓ c. shelled pistachios, broken in half
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. honey
Instructions
Toast sesame seeds and pistachios in a nonstick skillet over low heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Pour onto a plate or bowl and set aside.

Return skillet to heat and add sugar. Cook, without stirring, until it melts and becomes lightly golden. Carefully add honey to the skillet. Using a heatproof rubber scraper/spatula, stir the sesame seeds and pistachios quickly into the sugar/honey mixture. It should be thick and sticky.

Pour/scrape the mixture out onto a flat, heat-proof surface (parchment lined tray, silpat, marble slab) and flatten a bit with the back of the spatula or a spoon. Use your hands dipped in cold water to form a rectangular shape that is about 6" x 7" and ¼" thick.

Let sit for a few minutes to begin to set up, then cut into small, bite-sized squares or rectangles. Don't wait too long, or it will become hard to cut.

note:
These little snacks are reminiscent of the chewy sesame honey sticks that my mom always ate when I was just a girl. They taste and feel just as I remember them - of earthy sesame and rich honey.

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Pretzel Dogs

Ever since I can remember, the two things I get most often when watching a sporting event - baseball...football...basketball...what-have-you... are warm, soft pretzels and/or a good dog or sausage.  Sure.  Sometimes nachos sneak their way in, but there's just something that screams EAT ME! from the pretzel and dog stalls and sellers.

So it should be no surprise that the little people sprung from my loins feel the same way, should it?  Huhn-uh.  No surprise at all.  We're very lucky to have a minor league baseball team that calls our city home.  I've been a baseball fan ever since I can remember.  There's a fabulous cart in the stadium selling dogs and brats you can smell before you've even pushed through the turnstiles.  And we can always count on a soft pretzel pebbled with fat grains of salt and wrapped in wax paper to shield our hands from the heat.  Dripping mustard and cheese.  Nothing like a sunny day, baseball with pretzels, dogs, and beer.
Or perhaps the crisp days of autumn.  Football games.  Fortunately we live in a college town with plenty of football madness.  And driving distance from "my" school.  And two to three hours drive from three pro stadiums.  Be it the walk to the stadium or tailgating outside - you can smell the fat and spices in the air and hear the sizzle as they turn brown over the fire.  Slather on the goodies and warm up with a sausage.  Walk into the stadium and grab run to the snack bar at halftime for a pretzel as big as your head.  And each child wants their own.  Nothing like a crisp autumn day with pretzels, dogs, and beer.

Or maybe winter is ending and a premature dose of spring is in the air.  March Madness.  College hoops (the only kind of hoops if you ask me - not a fan of pro-basketball).  While I love going to a game, I've always watched the Madness from my own (or somebody else's) living room.  But this doesn't mean we don't still crave our pretzels and dogs!  Oh no.  And perhaps...just perhaps...we crave them even more.  Since we can close our eyes and feel the rush of crowd, the squeak of the sneakers, the thumping of the ball; it's only natural that we should also crave those familiar foods.
So that is why it was the perfect time to head into the kitchen and combine our two favorites. Fat and chewy soft pretzels wrapped around tasty dogs, smoked sausage, and/or cooked brats. The kids and I made the dough in advance. They helped me roll out the dough, wrap the dogs, and fend off determined hotdog thieves. We all reaped the rewards as we chose our favorite items for dipping (mustard all the way, baby!), poured cold bevvies, and joined the hubs in the living room for what we realized was becoming a family tradition - sports, pretzels, dogs, and beer (or another age-appropriate liquid).

Pretzel Dogs

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook Time: 12-14 minutes
Keywords: bake boil entree snack appetizer bread hotdogs sausage Super Bowl birthday American
Ingredients (8 full-size or 16 mini)
  • 8 hotdogs or sausages (of the pre-cooked variety)
dough:
  • 1½ c. warm water (110-115°F)
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2¼ tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 22 oz. (~4½ c.) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. butter, melted and cooled
water:
  • ~3½ quarts of water
  • 1 c. baking soda
  • 1 large egg, beaten, with a splash of water
topping:
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
make dough:
Combine warm water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and set aside for 5 minutes, until mixture is foamy.

Add the flour, salt, and melted butter. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium and knead dough until it is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, creating a ball of dough around the dough hook, ~5 minutes or so.

The dough will be soft, pliable, and just a bit sticky. Remove from bowl, form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Dust the top with flour, then cover with plastic and let sit in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size, ~1 hour.

Place baking racks in the center and upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 425° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly brush the paper with oil. (Don't skip the oiling - it’s important to brush the paper or the pretzels will stick!)

making the pretzel dogs:
Combine water and baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil.

While the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly oiled work surface.
If you are using whole dogs, divide dough into 8 pieces. If you are cutting the dogs in half, divide dough into 16 pieces.

You want to make a rope with each piece of dough. Start with the fingers of both hands in the center of the dough, and roll, moving your hands outward as you go. Roll the dough along the oiled surface until you have about a 24" (for whole dogs) or 12" (for half dogs) piece of rope.

Starting at one end, roll the dough around a hot dog gently (without stretching too much), pinching and sealing each end well.

When water has come to a boil, gently lower a few of the dough-wrapped dogs into the boiling water and allow to boil for 30 seconds. Using a skimmer (flat, slotted spatula), carefully remove them and place on the oiled parchment.

Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle each with some coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slide into the oven and bake until they are a deep, golden brown, ~12-14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool a bit...but serve them warm!

notes:
When in doubt, use 2 trays - these need space around them to help the air circulate and brown them better.
If possible, I recommend weighing (as opposed to measuring) the ingredients. I found the weights to be EXACT. This dough is a dream to work with.

These are best enjoyed the same day that they are made. HOWEVER, if you don't eat them all right away, then double-wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. When ready to serve, remove them from the plastic. Wrap each one well in a piece of foil and bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for ~12 minutes, or until heated through.

adapted from Alton Brown and Joy the Baker
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Shrimp Curry Butter Canapés + a Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party

Shrimp Curry Butter Canapés
Gelman and Zheutlin have created "a cookbook with recipes for food and drink that either appear in Mad Men, or were served in the 1960's by the bars and restaurants featured in the show".  And in honor of the fifth season of Mad Men (premiering one week from tonight), they are throwing a Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party to get you in the mood.

Savory Sesame Bread Rings (Ka'kat) & Roasted Thyme Sesame Blend (Za'atar)

I'm still in catch-up mode in cooking through Flatbreads & Flavors, but I'm happy to say that I'm only 2 days late this time...as opposed to 2 weeks.  A notable improvement.  And actually, I was really looking forward to baking these sesame rings for one major reason (aside from the freshly baked bread factor which is always tops).  That reason?  Oddly enough, it was the recommended accompaniment to these tempting, oval rings.  Za'atar.  Or roasted thyme and sesame blend.

You see, my favorite local market has a pretty impressive aisle housing "international" items.  I find many of the imported items that I can't find anywhere else locally.  From treacle and English biscuits to golden syrup and "exotic" spices.  For months now, I've been eyeing a 16 ounce bag of Green Za'atar.  It wasn't expensive or anything...I just wasn't sure how I would use it.  I was intrigued by the look and the ingredients of roasted wheat, roasted thyme, and ground sumac (along with sesame seeds and salt).  Ground sumac.  What in the world is it?  Sure, I'd heard of sumac.  I knew the word.  But what in the heck was it.  Really?  In the back of Flatbreads & Flavors I found my answer.  Sumac is a reddish spice that looks sort of like chile powder and made from dried, ground sumac berries.  It gives a pleasant acid taste to spice blends and dishes.  Huh.

Well, when Za'atar was listed as a suggested accompaniment, I made a beeline to the international aisle and giddily placed that bag of spice in my cart.  While I've included the recipe for making Za'atar at home, if you're unable to source sumac (like me...and no I didn't look online...I wanted it NOW), this is a fantastic option.
This sesame ring dough is simple and very easy to work with.  My recommendations are to make sure you  have a big, clear work surface for rolling the long ropes - it'll make your life so much easier.  And to use a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray to lay said ropes on.  The original recipe calls for them to be oiled, but I found that the dough kept sliding and shrinking back when I tried this.  The lining gives the dough something to hold onto and lets the rings keep their long, brilliant shape.  My rolls weren't perfectly even from top to bottom on this first try - why I'm recommending you give yourself a nice, clear, BIG work surface.  I'll follow my advice next time.   It didn't affect their baking or taste, though.  Merely the aesthetics.

I will definitely be making these again - they are wonderful while warm.  Good and chewy and perfection when ripped and dipped into olive oil and touched to the Za'atar.  My kind of snackin' food.  Or a meal (I've mentioned that I can make a meal out of bread once or twice before, no?).

Savory Sesame Bread Rings (Ka'kat)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15-17 minutes
Keywords: bake bread vegetarian sesame seeds Israeli
Ingredients (4 oval rings - ~12" long)
  • 1 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1½ c. warm water
  • 2 c. bread flour
  • 1-2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbs. water, for egg wash
  • 4-5 tsp. sesame seeds
accompaniments:
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • Za'atar (Roasted Thyme & Sesame Blend)- recipe follows or pre-made (I like Ziyad)
Instructions
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a medium to large bowl. Combine bread flour and salt in a small bowl and add to the yeast, one cup at a time, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon to help activate gluten. In the same manner, stir in one cup of the whole wheat flour. Now, stir in the remaining cup of whole wheat flour a little at a time until the dough will no longer hold any flour (you may have some flour left over).

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 7-8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. If dough seems sticky when you're trying to knead, add in a bit more of the flour that you haven't used yet.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, ~1 hour.
Punch down the dough and divide into 4 fairly equal pieces. On your work surface, roll each piece under your palms into a long rope, 24"-36" long. Pinch the ends of each rope together to make a loop. Place the rings on two trays that have been lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Cover and let rise 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400° F during last 15 minutes or so of rise time.

Brush each bread liberally with egg wash and sprinkle with about a quarter of the sesame seeds. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden. If both sheets don't fit on the same rack, switch them halfway through baking. Cool slightly on a rack before serving.

Serve with olive oil and a little cone of Za'atar for dipping (dip bread in oil, then touch to the herb...or simply let the herb cling to the moist crumb of the bread if you don't want to use the oil).
Za'atar (Roasted Thyme & Sesame Blend) yield: ¼ cup
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
3 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves or 2 Tbs. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
½-1 tsp. ground sumac, to taste

Place a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and toaste, stirring or shaking constantly until they start to give off an aroma. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Grind thyme leaves to a coarse powder in a spice grinder or mortar. Add sesame seeds and salt and grind to a powder. Add the sumac. Store in a tightly sealed spice jar or glass container.

adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors
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