Sunday, September 16, 2012

Homemade Onion-Herb White Bread

This bread was a hit at a recent dinner party.  You don't find too many homemade savory breads here in  Mexico, so when you show up at a dinner with one of these loaves, folks will think you're a cooking god... and you are, aren't you?

My favorite part about this bread (aside from the rave reviews that were lavished upon me all night) is that it only cost me $30 pesos, or less than $3 dollars, to make FOUR loaves.

I made two loaves in bread pans and I braided the other two loaves Challah-style.  The braided loaves were beautiful, and the bread pan loaves have made some delicious sandwiches.


  • 2 cups soy or cows milk (I used soy)
  • 5 TB sugar
  • 2 TB salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp bread yeast
  • 2 cups water
  • 12-13 cups white flour
  • 5 TB melted butter or margerine, or olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp crushed rosemary
  1. Combine milk, sugar, salt, and water in a pan and heat on the stove until lukewarm (it should feel warm, not hot, on your wrist).  Remove from heat and dissolve yeast in the mixture.  Set aside.
  2. In a very large bowl (you might even want to use a Dutch oven if you don't have a very large bowl), combine half of the flour and all of the dried herbs.  Add the liquid-yeast mixture from step 1.  Mix until smooth, then add the melted butter or oil and the minced onion. Mix until smooth, then add the remaining flour.
  3. Knead the dough for ten minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.  As you knead, your dough should be silky soft, elastic, and not sticky at all.  It should be easy to knead the dough, although you will certainly break a sweat as you knead, because the dough will weigh about five pounds!  To avoid making a huge mess on my table, I always knead my dough directly in my bowl or Dutch oven.  
  4. Oil your bowl or Dutch oven, and place your dough ball inside.  Flip the dough ball over so that the whole ball gets covered in oil.  The oil will make sure the dough doesn't dry out as it rises.
  5. Cover the bowl containing the dough with a towel and place in a warm, draft-free place.  If it's a cold or rainy day, you might need to fire up your oven for just a few minutes, then turn it off and put your dough inside to rise where it's nice and warm.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into four equal peices (I cut mine into quarters with a knife).  Shape each peice into a loaf and place either in a greased bread pan or on a greased cookie sheet.  Cover the loaves again with a towell and let them rise until double in size, about one hour.
  7. While the loaves are rising, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  
  8. When the loaves have risen, place them in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaves begin to get a golden color and they sound hollow when you knock on them.
  9. Let the loaves cool for about ten minutes, then remove them from the pans and/or baking sheets and set them on a rack to cool.  IMPORTANT! You need to let them cool completely (about an hour) before you cut them.  This is very tricky if you don't live alone!
Makes 4 1-lb. loaves.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vegan Soy Sloppy Joes

Photo: Learning Vegan
This recipe is for "Messy Mikes" from my favorite cookbook author Joanne Stepaniak's book Vegan Vittles.  She offers two versions: one made with tempeh and one with TVP (texturized vegetable protein).  I'm reprinting her TVP version here because while Mexico doesn't have tempeh, every corner store in the country seems to carry TVP (they call it "soya"), along with the rest of these everyday ingredients.  Make this recipe, and your Mexican friends will once again be so surprised at how you can use common Mexican ingredients to create such an exotic traditional gringo dish!

A note on some of the ingredients: this recipe calls for ketchup and apple cider vinegar.  If you're in Mexico, I highly suggest you work hard to find Heinz ketchup.  I found it in Sam's Club.  US-style ketchup is far superior to Mexican-style ketchup, which is so watered down that it hardly tastes like tomato at all and the color looks like orange soda syrup.  Since Heinz has more tomatoes, it's also more prostate-healthy than its Mexican counterpart.  So splurge.  You won't regret it.

This recipe also calls for apple cider vinegar.  Stay away from the grocery store, because most of those vinegars are white vinegar (you know, the kind made from wood chips) with food coloring.  I kid you not, check out the ingredients.  Traditional Mexican markets (the mercaditos) have fabulous homemade apple cider vinegar!  You'll find them at a lot of vegetable stands.  They'll be in plastic water bottles with the labels peeled off.  They'll look a lot like honey, and maybe you always thought they were honey, but they're not!  If you haven't seen what I'm talking about, go to your local mercadito and ask any vendor where they sell vinagre de manzana casero.  Store-bought vinegar will do in a pinch, but, again, the real thing is really worth the effort.  And it's just better for you.

So, without further ado, here is Joanne Stepaniak's Messy Mikes:


  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 c. TVP rehydrated with 7/8 c. water
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 tsp sweetener of your choice (I use sugar)
  • 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Bread rolls (try bolillos or hamburger buns)
  1. Soak the TVP in the water while you dice the onions (it should soak at least 5 minutes).
  2. Place the oil in a 2-quart saucepan, and heat it over medium-high.  When the oil is hot, add the diced onion, TVP, and soy sauce, and sauté them until the onion is tender and lightly browned, about ten minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except the bread, and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring often and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.  
  4. Open the rolls as if you were to make a sandwich and stuff them with the TVP mixture.  Serve and enjoy!