Something new that I’ve tried last week… Use any sourdough recipe you like, I am sharing my default version with a touch of spelt. Once the bread is ready to go into the oven, add some water to a little charcoal powder and brush the surface of the dough. While it’s still wet, place a stencil on top and shower it with white flour (all-purpose is fine). Rub it gently so that the design is as sharp as possible. Carefully lift the stencil, slash the bread and bake.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

480g bread flour
20g spelt flour
10g salt
370g water
80g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
1 tablespoon activated charcoal powder
a little water
all-purpose flour for stencil detail

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom. 

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, make a paste with the charcoal powder and water, and paint over the surface. Immediately place a stencil on top, and shower white flour over it, rubbing it gently to get the design to stick well. Next, use a brand new razor blade to score around the design, to coach the bread into opening without ruining the pattern.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I know that one should never complain about excessive oven-spring when bread baking, but for some designs it would be better to have a less “explosive” loaf… I intend to play with formulas with higher whole-wheat content to try and tame the loaves with patterns and more elaborate scoring. Still I like the way this turned out, and it is much better than rubbing the powder over the loaf.

You can brush the excess flour once the bread is cold. I need to play a bit with the placement of the stencil and the amount of flour to add to it, but overall I am quite pleased with the overall look.

ONE YEAR AGO: Lime-Ganache Bonbons

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This was made in a pressure cooker, but if you don’t own one, no problem. Follow my modifications for a stove-top version. I often make chili exclusively with ground turkey but this version with 50% bison won our seal of approval. Not that much additional fat, but definitely a more complex flavor.

(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeños, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
2 large sweet potatoes, diced
1 pound ground chicken
1 pound ground bison meat
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or other red pepper of your choice)
1 can (28 ounce) whole tomatoes
garnishes of your choice

Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker. Sautee the shallot, bell pepper and jalapeños with a little salt and pepper. When fragrant, add the two kinds of meat and saute for a few minutes. Add all other ingredients, close the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure.

Reduce heat, cook for 25 minutes. Release the pressure quickly according to the method recommended for your pan. Simmer the chili gently for a few more minutes and serve. Adjust consistency with water or by reducing it further. Serve with toppings of your choice. If making in a regular pan, simmer gently for 1 hour, adding more liquid if needed during cooking.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As you may know, we cook with leftovers in mind, and chili is one of the perfect recipes to enjoy in subsequent days, it gets better and better. Bison meat is widely available where we live, but any ground beef will work, although the fat amount will be higher with most other cuts. We love the mixture of the two types of meat. If you have pickled jalapeños hanging around, they are a nice topping idea also. We used guacamole and yogurt seasoned with salt and lime juice.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chocolate Bonbons with Mango-Ganache Filling

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I could have added the denomination VEGAN to the title of this post, but was afraid to cause The Great Bewitching Exodus of 2021. So, yes, it is a vegan recipe but will please any omnivore around. Phil and I included. It is hearty, satisfying and with a depth of flavor that will surprise you. I started from a recipe published by America’s Test Kitchen, but I am a lot happier with my considerably modified version.

(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large stalks celery
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup texturized soy protein (I used this one)
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Reserve about 1 cup of cremini mushrooms whole. Working in batches, pulse the remaining cremini and shiitake mushrooms in food processor until pieces are about 1/2 inch in size. Transfer to a bowl. Pulse the carrots and celery in the food processor, add them to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the can of tomatoes with the juices to the processor and run it until smooth. Reserve.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add processed vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Mushrooms will release liquid, so keep cooking until it seems dry. Stir tomato paste, cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the wine and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, texturized soy protein, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and more salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp each). Simmer for 5 minutes, quarter the reserved cremini mushrooms and add to the sauce. Simmer everything together gently for about 10 minutes.

Adjust seasoning, and serve over cooked pasta of your choice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You are probably not very thrilled about the texturized soy protein, as it is one exotic ingredient to buy, but I’ve made this recipe without it and the difference in texture is quite striking. I highly recommend you include it. If you want to omit it, add a little water to the sauce and simmer it longer. I also recommend that you get the brand I bought because it is apparently the best one out there.

It is tempting to compare it with Bolognese sauce, but I rather not go there. Let me just say you won’t be disappointed if you try this version, and it’s something that might come in handy if you want to entertain a person who is vegetarian or vegan. I’ve made it three times so far, and it will show up again at our table, maybe as a lasagna version.

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Easily makes it into the OMG FILES. Everything goes together in perfect harmony, so my advice is not to skip any of the ingredients. Broccoli has that funky nature that people love or hate, but even if you are in the latter group, the apples act as the perfect partner. Like couples that make each other shine a little brighter. I don’t really have a broccoli issue, but maybe some of my readers do, so don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

for the broccoli:
Broccoli florets, enough to cover a quarter-sheet pan
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

for the dressing:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

for the salad:
greens of your choice (baby spinach, spring mix, baby arugula)
apples, cored and diced (I used Honeycrisp)

Heat the oven to 420°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. Place the broccoli in a bowl, toss with the soy sauce and maple syrup, season with salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, moving them around half-way through roasting. Remove from the oven and let it cool still spread out, so they don’t steam and get mushy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Set aside. Assemble the salad: add all the ingredients to a large bowl, drizzle the dressing and toss gently. Adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We had this salad twice already, the second time I’ve added roasted slivered almonds and dried cranberries, and it was even better, so I recommend you include them if you like. The inclusion of broccoli makes it more substantial and if you are vegetarian or vegan, a hearty piece of bread will be all you need to call it dinner. Sourdough dipped in balsamic vinegar plus olive oil would be a match made in Vegan Heaven.

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FOUR YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

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I kept waiting and waiting to get more recipes and make a more involved article in my “Incredibly Simple” category, but truth is I would MARRY these carrots if I was single and searching for a perfect match. It makes no sense to delay this post. You will not find a simpler recipe. And definitely not one that will surprise you as much for the outcome versus simplicity ratio. Do not be ashamed to buy this ingredient at the grocery store: Sweet Soy Sauce for Rice, by Kikkoman. It is all you need. Well, carrots would be nice to have also…

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Carrots, cut in sticks, enough to cover a quarter baking sheet
1 to 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce for rice (Kikkoman)
zest of 1/2 lemon + lemon juice to taste

Heat oven to 420F. Coat cut carrots with olive oil, season very lightly with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 25 minutes, until edges start to get golden brown. Remove from the oven, drizzle the soy sauce and lemon zest all over, and roast for 5 minutes more, or until the sauce starts to caramelize. Serve with a little drizzle of lemon juice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t know if I will ever bother making a different version of carrots, at least not until I get bored with this beauty. If you want to feel virtuous and work harder, make the sweet soy sauce yourself from scratch. There are many recipes around (like this one), but at least once go the easy route and try this version. We all need a simple side dish in the repertoire for those times in which life seems a tad overwhelming.

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