Daring Bakers Challenge: Potato Bread!!

Last month, after drooling over all the posts from the Daring Bakers last challenge, Bostini Cream Pie, I knew I had to join. I don’t bake much, but I’m game for any challenge and DB gives me an excuse to eat pastries! I wrote Ivonne and Lis, letting them know that I can be quite clumsy when it comes to baking and asked if I could still join. They replied with warm welcome, encouraging me to join.

At first I was disappointed when I saw the challenge for my first month of daring bakery—Tender Potato Bread. The host of the month, Tanna, anticipated some fuss over a savory bread challenge at the very onset of the holiday season, and she explained that she’s more of a savory gal. Happy to know that the savory bread represented the host’s style, I started to get pumped. And then I started to get scared. I haven’t had much luck with yeast breads. Maybe I don’t proof the yeast properly (though I honestly try!) or maybe I knead wrong, but most yeast breads that I’ve attempted haven’t turned out right—edible, but nothing to brag about. And then to read that the dough would be much softer than normal (non-potato) bread! My whisks were tremblin’!

Continue reading “Daring Bakers Challenge: Potato Bread!!”

A Few Days Before Thanksgiving Pasta

Thanksgiving is tapping her foot impatiently on the doorstep. She’s poking me, inquiring why I haven’t started preparing yet—I haven’t even shopped! She’s rolling her eyes and hurrumphing at me as I flip through my cookbooks, looking at Christmas cookies.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m excited—ecstatic—about Thanksgiving this year. My sister and her husband recently bought their first home, and she’s hosting Thanksgiving for our family and his, somewhere around 20 people. We’ve divied up the tasks (living 2 hours away and not getting there until Thursday morning, I don’t have many) and decided who cooks what. Everything is planned and ready to get started on, but unfortunately I just can’t cook on Monday what we want to eat on Thursday. And in anticipation for the big day, I don’t feel like cooking much of anything else.

The thought of having a kitchen full of dirty dishes on Wednesday afternoon—when I have to start, in a frenzy, to cook my part of the dinner—is terrifying, so I’ve been trying to cook as cleanly and organized as I can this week. Thankfully, this paranoia about keeping a clean kitchen in prep for the holiday begat a wonderful, simple, and calming dinner of pasta with spinach, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sausage. The spices, which remind me of everything wonderful about the holidays—sans any stress—are warm and snuggly. Because you are saving so much time with a practically effortless dinner, I suggest eating by candlelight or a crackling fireplace—tell Ms. Thanksgiving to shove off and enjoy some relaxation before the big day!

Easy Pasta with Spinach, Nutmeg, and Sausage

adapted from Bon Appetit, Dec 07

serves 4

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1½ pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper, white peppercorns if you have them
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 pound cavatelli pasta, fresh or frozen if possible
  • 12 oz (2 bags) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano (or Parmesan) cheese, with more for sprinkling

Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Add sausages. Sauté until cooked through and beginning to brown, breaking up with back of spoon and occasionally scraping bottom of skillet, about 10 minutes. Stir in pepper and cinnamon, then cream; bring to simmer.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite.

Add pasta to sauce. Add nutmeg.* Cook over medium heat, adding spinach in batches and tossing until wilted. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese; serve.

*Nutmeg gets a slightly off taste when heated for too long, that’s why I added it in after the other spices. The original recipe added the nutmeg during the first step, so the cooking time might not have been enough to give the nutmeg this off flavor, but I didn’t want to chance it.

Blog or Bust #3 Round-Up: Healthy Fall Dishes

Hey all! There were a bunch of great recipes submitted for this round of Blog or Bust. To remind you, the theme this go-round was fall. We all love fall food—pumpkin, apples, squash, with it’s comfy spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) and warm-up your heart feel. So, Blog or Bust this time asked for you to create a “Fall” dish—pumpkin pie, chili, gratin, soup, the possibilities are almost endless. Something comfortable, something cozy, something hearty. Something that screams “Come on, holidays, do your worst!” We need to prepare ourselves for winter, people, and the best way to do that is to fill our bellies with something delicious, nourishing, and homey. We don’t, however, want to feel like stuffed turkeys, so we kept things healthy! Below is the round-up, in no particular order, and all particularly delicious!

Elly from Elly Says Opa! pretended it was Thanksgiving back in October and made this Braised Chicken Thighs with Autumn Harvest Orzo, Mushrooms & Walnuts for the event. Slow cooking is on of my favorite ways to cook chicken, and I’m always amazed by how not-healthy a healthy slow-cooked dinner will taste. And Elly’s orzo was a blend of a blend of pumpkin, sage & chestnut orzo—Mmmm!

Dani from Average Cook cooked up a chunky two bean and beef chili. Dani writes, “Not too spicy, just a little kick, perfect for me. The cinnamon added an interesting taste to the chili, in a good way. I served it with some sour cream (light), shredded cheddar (fat-free), and diced avocado. It really hit the spot. It’s a keeper.” And to top it off, there is 10 grams of fiber in the chili—nice!

Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen created a salad of beet and feta. Pickled beets and feta cheese are dressed with a light vinagrette and fresh mint, noting that “the strong taste of beetroot goes very well with the sharp flavour of feta cheese.” It sounds invigorating and delicious!

Deeba of Passionate About Baking started off her post on a healthy apple crumble with a quote: “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.”-George Eliot. Her apple crumble is equally poetic, with lightly toasted oats, cinnamon, and walnuts— something to love.

Mansi from Fun and Food gives us a decadent dessert, Sour Cream Raspberry brownies! “The secret ingredient is Sour Cream,” giving the dessert “a moist and rich texture to the brownies and the raspberries give it the luscious taste in every bite that makes these beauties almost irresistible!” YUM!

On Halloween, Sara from What Smells So Good? spooked up with a Ghoulash! She gives us the nutritional facts, “A succulent meal for serving over noodles, brown rice or mashed potatoes that has 241 calories, 7g of fat, 3g of fibre and 130% of the daily recommended Vitamin A intake per serving!” That’s scary good!

Mocha from Masala Box gives us another chili, this one made with turkey (Thanksgiving chili, anyone?) This is a great, one pot meal (Mocha calls it OPM), perfect for a busy autumn night. Topped with sour cream, green onions, and a little cheese, this is a meal to cozy up to.

Maria of Dinner and Drinks made a slow-cooker apple butter that taught me a little something—I had thought apple butter was actually a butter, when really it’s more of a preserve. Knowing that, I was psyched to try apple butter! Maria writes, “What could be more fall-like than apples, brown sugar and spices slowly cooking all day long? So I made a big batch of apple butter! The aroma that this makes as it cooked away in the crock pot was amazing. It doesn’t take much to get lots of flavor, it is a mix of sweet, tart and spice all at once.” …I’m sold.

Zlamushka from Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen made a baked Hokkaido pumpkin with herbs, which I’ll let her explain to you. “Back in Slovakia, orange pumpkin is considered exotic. Only recently, it started appearing in stores some time around autumn. However, most people do not buy it, for one simple reason. They have no idea what to do with it. Hokkaido pumpkin (how we call it) is very sweet compared to our traditional white-greenish pumpkin (in English spaghetti squash or white “pattypan” squash). Therefore the vendors started attaching little recipe books to the pumpkin when selling. My mum all excited brought one home for me. It was my very first time cooking pumpkin, so I was quite excited myself. I prepared one of the simple baked dishes featured in the little attached recipe book.” With so many wonderful herbs in the dish, it sounds divine, and perfectly autumnal!

And finally, I blogged about cranberry applesauce a while ago, submitting the recipe to this event. It’s a great applesauce on its own, and I’m using it as a sub for cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! And keep cozy!

Attempt Two: Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream

You may remember that a few weeks ago I threw a pity party for myself over some braised short-ribs. They had come out too tough, but the sauce I had made to go with it was too good to go to waste, so I ate the mediocre dinner and then cried to you about it. Being the seasoned chef that I am (that’s supposed to be a joke) I for some (god knows what) reason decided to give my own advice on how to make good short-ribs—even though I had never successfully made short-ribs.

“In the end, I learned that short ribs are probably best cooked over a long period of time, marinated the night beforehand, and then refrigerated once cooked, reheated and served the next day.”

OK, so that’s bullcrap and I’m here today to bite my tongue. And to give you a succulent recipe for tender short ribs, that only takes 2½ hours, and that has a tangy, creamy sauce that will make you forgive me for all the silly culinary things I say!

It’s been a loooong week that included a looong train ride and excruciating business trip… so instead of writing anymore text that will undoubtedly come out sounding crabby, here’s the recipe:

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream

from The Gourmet Cookbook

Serves 4

  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 pounds short ribs
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped, plus 1 T chopped celery leaves*
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 4 cups veal stock**
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 T drained bottled horseradish

Wrap peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaf in a square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni.***

Pat ribs dry and sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until just smoking. Add ribs and sear, turning with tongs, until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer ribs bone sides up to a roasting pan large enough to hold them in one layer. Set aside.

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375ºF.

Add onions, carrots, celery ribs, garlic, bouquet garni, and wine to skillet, bring to a boil, and boil until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir stock into vegetables and bring to a boil. Pour stock mixture over ribs and cover pan tightly with foil. Transfer to oven and braise until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 2½ hours. Let cool slightly.

When ribs are cool enough to handle, remove any excess fat and discard bones.**** (Set pan aside.) Transfer beef to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

Pour cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan, pressing on solids; discard solids and skim fat. Bring to a boil and boil sauce until reduced to about 1 cup, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together creme fraiche, horseradish, celery leaves, and remaining 1/8 tsp salt in a small saucepan and heat over moderate heat, stirring, just until hot.

Serve beef topped with sauce and horseradish cream.

*Try to use organic celery. Otherwise, the leaves have a chemical-like taste to them.

** I used a good beef stock (not homemade).

*** If you can’t find cheesecloth, you can make a bouquet garni using kitchen string and a coffee filter. Add all ingredients into the filter, then close top and tie off with string. Works perfectly.

**** I left the meat on the bones, because I like that feeling of eating everything off the bone at the table. Carnivorous and such. And also, only discard the bones if you are crazy and don’t want to make stock from them. Even if you don’t want to make stock soon, just wrap them in a freezer bag and pop in the freezer until you are ready. Then, next time you make this recipe, you won’t have to use the store bought stuff!! 🙂

Jean-Georges, Momofuko Ssam Bar, and Bouchon Bakery

All in one day.*

Photo from New York Times

Jim and I ventured to the city Saturday, with tickets to Tom Stoppard’s play. We walked up to the theatre, passing an unusually large mass of police and cop-cars, as well as some angry looking people, and learned at the entrance that the play was cancelled. The stage-hands had gone on strike.

After a few minutes of pity-partying, we decided that we’d make a good day out of our trip—we’d gotten someone to come over to walk the dog, planning to be out for over 12 hours, so why not take advantage of that?

Without even planning it, the day revolved around food. We had already eaten lunch at Jean-Georges, lunches of tuna tartare and then hake with coconut-milk broth and mango (for me), and mushroom soup with curried chicken and enoki mushroom and then petite filet with brussel sprouts and couscous (for Jim). The lunch was finished with a chocolate cake (or more like a chocolate marshmellow over a graham-cracker crust) with pumpkin ice cream. Everything was superb. The flavors were at once bold but not overwhelming, and the dessert captured the sense of “autumn” more perfectly than I could ever imagine. And this menu, prix-fixe, cost 24.00 per person. I am still swooning.

After that lunch, it was hard to get too disappointed about the play—we were already having such a good time and the meal alone was worth the trip into NYC. Wanting to walk off the dessert, we linked hands and strolled over to Union Square, to check out the farmer’s market. We bought some wonderful spiced hot apple cider and sipped the fragrant drink on a bench in the park, happily people watching, almost in a daze.

From there we wandered to Momofuku Ssam Bar—you know, the restaurant/gourmet fast food joint owned by David Chang. The one with the steamed pork belly buns. They are as good as the hype. Unctuous pork belly is offset by piquant pickles and the perfectly steamed buns make for a chewy, glorious little sandwich. It was probably the fattest sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but every single calorie was worth it.

Finishing our Japanese beers, we headed off for a long walk from the village to the Time-Warner building. Since we were at Momofuko at the tail end of their lunch menu, we didn’t get dessert (which is only on the dinner menu). Passing the Time-Warner building, headed for the car, I suddenly remembered that Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery was in there, a floor below Per Se. We excitedly ran in, and ordered two sandwiches, an eclair, a chocolate tart, and two cookies—a little snack for when we got home. The bakery’s food was fantastic as we munched on it hours later in the apartment, and I can imagine that Per Se is off the charts if this is what Keller offers as ready-made prepared food. Popping in a movie and feeding each other chocolates for the rest of the night, I was actually glad the stage-hands were striking.

*photo yoinked from New York Times website.

Brown-Braised Onions

Jim and I stood in the sauce aisle of the supermarket for an inexcusable amount of time yesterday. We were looking for steak sauce. The last one we tried was horrible (yet expensive!) and I think past its (unlabeled) expiration date. So, we were stuck looking over the rest of the (too-small) selection of bottles at Whole Foods. Most of them were hot in some way–Five Alarm, Smoky Hot, Chili-Fire, etc. Jim suggested we get the Thai hot steak sauce. I shook my head in disapproval. He suggested the chili pepper and smoke. Another no. The wasabi-flavored? I rolled my eyes, getting frustrated. I suggested the generic brand, which seemed to be normal steak sauce. He bawked, we were in Whole Foods, where we could get some odd-brand interesting bottle, and I wanted generic? BORE-ring.

We ended up getting nothing. And as we walked away from the aisle I had an overwhelming urge to say to him, “I know that you just don’t care about this stuff, but I do. I am cooking from Julia Child’s cookbook tonight and I cannot, can not, have some smoky, tongue burning, totally-un-French steak sauce!” As I was forming this statement in my head, however, I realized how silly I sounded. Jim just doesn’t care? Why not? He eats my food daily, he listens to me gab on about recipes all the time, he’s a diligent reader of this blog. Of course he cares. Of course he doesn’t want me to cook something that I don’t feel is right. But, also of course, how the hell would he know that five-alarm sauce doesn’t go with Julia Child–or for that matter, how would he know I’m cooking a Julia Child-French recipe when all I mentioned to him earlier was onions. So I kept my mouth shut. And felt quite proud of myself for thinking it through. I’m getting good at this “relationship” thing. (ha.)

The brown-braised pearl onions that adorned our bare steaks were fantastic, candy-like with sweet caramelized skins and tender insides. Try these if you know what’s good for you.

Brown-Braised Onions

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

For 18 to 24 peeled pearl onions about 1 inch in diameter:

  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1½ tablespoons oil
  • A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet
  • ½ cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water*
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley springs, ½ bay leaf, and ¼ teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth**

When the butter and oil are bubbling the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

*I used a beef bouillon.

**I used parsley wrapped around a bay leaf, because I sadly have no fresh thyme.

Moroccan Chicken with Apples

I’m lucky enough to cook in Maria Robbins’ kitchen quite often. Maria, talented chef and author of some dynamite cookbooks, is Jim’s aunt, and whenever we visit the Hamptons we stay on her pull-out couch and pay our way by cooking for dinner parties or family meals. Maria, who has spent countless, laborious hours in the kitchen researching recipes and feeding friends and family, has given cooking a rest for now, though she inspires me to get cookin’ all the time (last visit she asked me point blank: “When are you going to quit your job and become a cook?”)

I love cooking for Maria and Ken (Jim’s uncle), especially since their big, open kitchen puts my itty bitty stove-home to shame. To be able to have three pots fit on one counter is freakin’ fabulous! During one visit late this summer, on a lovely just-a-bit-chilly kind of night, we were cooking for a party at Maria’s house. Needing to feed around 30 people, we couldn’t decide what to make, wanting something both interesting and simple. Maria broke open one of her cookbooks and a recipe for Irish stew, made with whole grain toast, country-style mustard, and Irish stout winked at us from the pages. A few hours, 10 pounds of meat, and a couple mishaps later, we served up the delicious stew to the party. It was so (happily) different from the normal summer party fare of burgers and dogs. Everyone raved over the dish, going back for seconds and thirds.

The next day, Maria gave me the cookbook that the recipe came from, sensing that I couldn’t wait to try everything in there. I haven’t prepared all the dishes yet, but I certainly plan to. Maria’s recipes are those wonderful, take-care-of-you kind—the kind that makes you feel at home no matter where you are. The recipes from this book are especially wonderful for parties—you actually see the guests loosening up after such warm-hearted food.

Tonight I made another recipe from Maria’s book—Moroccan Chicken with Apples. I don’t normally use fruits in my savory dishes, but I took a chance with this one, relying on Maria’s tastes. I have to say, this dish changed my attitude about fruit for dinner! The sweet raisins compliment the onions, while the apples are coated in the spiced sauce that has reduced in the dutch oven. The chicken is fork-tender and succulent. I added some extra spices to the dish because I was in the mood, and while at first I thought I might have gone too far, half way through the cooking the spices had melded together and a tantalizing aroma of ginger, clove, and cumin wafted through the apartment. Champ sat at attention by the stove, snout sniffing at the air.

Once the sauce reduced and the apples and raisins were added, the chicken was a deep brown and began to fall apart and mix into the onions. The final dish was a perfect stew—not too saucy, not too dry, and was perfect with couscous made with chicken stock and a little butter. Serve this with a side salad of bitter greens.

Moroccan Chicken with Apples

from Maria Robbins Simple One-Pot Stews: Delicious, Satisfying Stews from Around the World, for the Stove Top or Slow Cooker

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves: 2-3 people (4 if you are having another side)

  • 1½ lib chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup wheat couscous
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 T butter
  • pinch of salt

Place the chicken, onions, parsley, butter, and spices in a medium or large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add enough water to nearly cover chicken (shown in picture). Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered with a lid so that some steam can escape, for one hour or until chicken is fork tender.

Add apples and raisins and cook for another 10 minutes, or until apples are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or keep warm until serving.

Meanwhile: Bring stock, butter, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. When it begins to boil, add couscous and turn off heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork. Serve with chicken.

Pan de Muerto

That I am not a religious person is an understatement. I’m not a lapsed follower, a confused agnostic, or spiritual in any way that involves more that a belief in the Earth, science, and Nature. I am 100% atheist and very comfortable being so.

So, I don’t believe we go anywhere after we die (though, yes, I know, I can’t actually prove it) and I pay no mind to the thought of Heaven or Hell. That said, I do have immense respect for the dead, those we knew personally and our ancestors, as well as the affect of the dead on the living. The emotional rollercoaster we ride when faced with a loved one’s death is life-changing, and the ability of the living to keep on living after this happens is worthy of celebration. Celebrating our lives in the face of death, the lives of those who’ve come to pass, and the lives of the ancestors who gave us our rich history is not a strictly religious ideal, but more of a human one (though hey, animals mourn too).

Rituals celebrating the dead have gone on for thousands of years, and the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico trace back to the Mayan and Olmec civilizations. The Day of the Dead celebrations on November 1 and 2 are a way for people to pay respects to the dead—decorating graves and making delicious offerings. Everyone who likes to cook knows how great it feels to give food to loved ones, so why not deceased loved ones? By offering the deceased the food that you put your sweat and tears into (not literally!), you get to benefit from that warm, fuzzy feeling.

There are a few traditional foods used for offerings at the celebrations (and lots of traditional liquors), including sugar skulls and Pan de Muerto. Skulls have long been used as a festive and celebratory symbol of the dead, like in the floor mosaics of Pompeii, and weren’t always the scary Halloween-or-poison symbols that we have today. Pan de Muerto, “Bread of the Dead,” is a semi-sweet bread, sometimes decorated with skulls, or formed into a skull and bone shape. Anise almost always flavors the bread, and some recipes, like this one, call for orange.

Pan de Muerto

This bread, which uses a lot of flour, goes perfectly with coffee or tea, and I imagine orange marmalade would be quite wonderful on it as well.

Makes 2 small loaves.

  • 2 T anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 T grated orange zest
  • 1/2 ounce (2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 5 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 egg yolks plus 2 eggs, lightly beaten together
  • 1 or 2 of the egg whites for brushing loaves
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable, corn, or canola oil

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 tablespoons anise seeds and 3/4 cup water to a boil. Remove, cover, and let sit about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the water and the seeds.*

Meanwhile beat the sugar and zest until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Add the 2 tablespoons of drained anise seeds, yeast, salt, and 3 cups of flour, and beat to mix, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved anise water and melted butter and beat (not vigorously) until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the yolks and beaten eggs and beat until incorporated and dough is sticky, about 1 minute. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until fully incorporated.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough (along with any scraps at the bottom of the bowl) onto it, and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Coat the interior of a large mixing bowl with oil, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil, cover loosely, and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let rise until it doubles in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough onto it, punch down, and divide into 2 equal pieces. Shape the dough into 2 round balls and use the heel of your hand to flatten into disks about 2 inches thick. Place the disks as far apart as possible on a large baking sheet. Cover the loaves loosely and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let rise until they double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

In a small bowl beat the reserved egg white with 2 teaspoons water and brush all over the loaves. Bake at 375º, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the loaves are well-browned and crusty, 25 to 30 minutes. Place the bread on a wire rack and cool to just warm or room temperature before slicing. Serve up on your most beloved gravestone—or just eat it all yourself, in celebration of those underground (I’m sure they won’t mind!)

Optional: Mix 3-4 T of sugar with 1/2 T of ground cinnamon. Paint 2 T of melted butter over loaves and then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Hey, it’s sweet bread, right, so why not go all out!?

*If you don’t like the anise seeds in the bread, boil them in water to make the anise-flavored water and then discard the drained seeds. You’ll still have the (though a bit subtler) flavor of anise.