Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


One of my friends, Fr. John, has been working through the Book “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.”


It’s a lot like Peter Reinhardt’s recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, in that you don’t do much other than let the yeast work on the flour to build the flavor.  Then you shape it how you’d like (which takes up the 5 minutes,) let it rise, and bake it.


Any oven will do!


A pan of steamy water helps make for a wonderful texture in the crust.


The bread bakes for about 35 minutes or so…


The internal temperature should reach between 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit.  Timed it perfectly here!


Ideally the bread cools overnight.   Hahah.  Heheheh…  Hoo-eeee.


After about ten minutes though,


Just sitting there looking and smelling absolutely wonderful….


Who could resist?  It was to die for.


For never having made bread before, Fr. John did a great job.  This method is simple and effective.  The bread is delicious!

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago

As a lot of you know already, earlier this summer I travelled to Spain and walked a part of the famed Camino de Santiago. My feet finally recovered, and the bones in my legs no longer ache.

The Tarta de Santiago was one of my favorite parts of the trip, in a strange way. Mostly because it’s so easy to replicate, despite the many versions of it that exist. (In fact, here is a great recipe to learn from.)

All of the other memories exist only in my mind, and in the photos I’ll be posting here soon… And in an article I’m working on for another site, which I hope to have done before they throw me to the curb.

But after a few experiments, I discovered that the weight ratio of ingredients is what’s important. And that the tartas I enjoyed in Santiago de Compostela had a ratio, evidently, of 37.5% almonds, 37.5% sugar, and 25% eggs, by weight. 1/4 tsp almond extract, perhaps a bit of lemon or orange zest, a pinch of salt… .and you’re good to go.

I’ve been pretty busy of late, what with Parish activities, funerals, and attempting to reorganize all of the data on our Parish websites. But this tarta is delicious, and so easy to make. Just remember…. it’s all in the weight.

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine and Port

Ribs 1

There’s nothing more Catholic than sitting down together with friends and family and lingering over a well prepared meal. Yes, here is yet another post from my now defunct food blog, which I am slowly transferring over here. It’s basically short ribs bourguignon. If you brown the ribs under the broiler, then add some stock, wine and port to braise for a few hours, this is what you’ll end up with.

Ribs 1

These are awesome.

ribs 2

I was worried at first, but… Oh …

ribs 3



Oh my.

I’m merely conveying that I was blown away.

I had never cooked short ribs, and I was not a believer.

I lived in ignorance, and I’m not going back.


Behold the base of the braising liquid.

It starts so innocently.

ribs 6

I get this block of frozen veal glace at Whole Foods. It’s very good stuff and saves you from making your own.

I’ve made my own a few times, and buying a frozen block for $15 is actually cheaper where I live. It helps sauces taste worlds better. And if your living large with nine pounds of short ribs, then you may as well live large with some good stock in your braising liquid.

red wine and port

Red wine and port, this is looking good.

Still I was leary.

Short ribs always looked too fatty. And they cost as much as a tenderloin roast. So, I always went with the tenderloin. 20 ~ 30 minutes to sheer ecstatic eating pleasure? Hello?

ribs 8

Flush with skepticism I forged ahead, got the liquid going, submerged the freshly browned short ribs and eventually braised away for hours and hours.

I did get a lot of work done in the meantime.

ribs 9

This didn’t help the situation.

I was skeptical, fatigued, jaded. It looks so miserable.

It all cooled down and got refrigerated. It waited two whole days while all of life went on around us. It became a time capsule in my refrigerator, waiting until I was ready for it. The world slept.

And I almost completely forgot about it.

ribs 10

Then I saw this.

Still, it was defatted, placed in a shallow baking dish and surrounded with the magnificent braising liquid which, at the time was still all gellied up.

Underneath, it was a glace almost, an aspic even, a gelee. And it was so good.

And as it all warmed in the oven, and the aromas filled the air, my heart underwent a makeover which was so humbling. I realized this was just a new part of life that I had never had the pleasure of experiencing before. How could I have been so closed to the fullness life.

the spinach thing

My gaurdedness was accompanied with my usual strange thing for wilted baby spinach, here in cream, etc. It’s a side trail through the woods, but a nice one.

Ribs 12

With some basmati rice, these amazing short ribs with the delicious beef falling off the bone, the spinach thing.

It’s so simple.

I want it again.

And again and again.

seconds of ribs

And after all of the photos I tried to get, I eventually no longer cared when I went back for seconds. Just pile that beef and unctuous sauce right on.

I hope you are able to make this yourself some day if you haven’t already. I’ll be off growing in humility.

Many thanks to Dorie Greenspan of French Friday’s with Dorie for her cookbook and for everyone in that group which promotes these attempts. I’m grateful.

Update: These are actually meant to be served with a gremolata of orange zest, parsley, er, and a few other things. I’ll be forced to make them again and give that a try.! I’d hate to miss out on all the deliciousness to be had.

Coconut Rolls 101: Trials and Errors

coco loco

Okay, so here’s the lowdown on my latest excursion into Coconut Rolls.

  1. First, I tried making a brioche and substituting virgin coconut oil for butter. As an idea, it has it’s bright moments but it’s overkill.

    It would probably make a great crust, to wrap something up in. Like, a pork braised in coconut milk/lemon grass thing, wrapped in brioche made from virgin coconut oil.

    Maybe not. If I ever do that, I’ll be sure to let you know.

  2. After that adventure, the obvious occurred to me – to just use a cinnamon roll recipe, and use coconut mixed with coconut milk instead of the cinnamon filling.

    That didn’t quite work out because I didn’t use enough coconut, or coconut milk. But if you just looked at them as dinner rolls with a slight hint of coconut in them, they were actually very good. Unsuspecting passersby loved them as such.

  3. Third, I decided just to try the recipe over at African Recipe Secrets. It’s pretty amazing, to say the least, if you’re a coconut lover.

    However, it wasn’t the light and simple rolls I had over at Dong Phuong, which I love to eat down at Bayou Gulch.

    It was back to the drawing board. Some other day, some other time the secrets would be revealed…

  4. Yesterday I decided to try the recipe for Rarotongan Coconut Rolls over at Pease Pudding (it comes up in a google search for Coconut Rolls; it also listed over at Tropical Traditions, but for the life of me I cannot find the recipe there at the moment.)

    I had to modify the recipe a bit, but the results were closer than I’ve ever been before. So, we’re getting there! I’m actually wondering if I just ask the bakers over at Dong Phuong, they would tell me how to go about it.

    Anyway. Shall we get on with this? This is taking forever.


I used a stand mixer because it makes my life easier and I don’t mind the one minute it takes to clean the thing afterwards.

You mix unbleached all-purpose flour, (bleached flour is horrible for us,) with margarine in the recipe, but I used coconut oil instead since margarine is so un-natural, and coconut oil can be very good for us. If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a coconut oil fan.

So you mix the flour and the coconut oil. And the coconut.

coco 2

The recipe called for 1/4 cup of water, in which the yeast was mixed, and that was about it. I added about a cup of coconut milk to get a proper consistency. And a proper consistency only consisted of having a dough that did not consist of dry flour particles, and having a dough that moved around in the mixer.

It stayed on the stand mixer about 10 minutes with the dough hook, on low, with the bowl scraped down a few times. The mixer wants to dance off the counter at times, but not very much. For this mixer, you just set it on “2”, according to the manual for bread doughs.

coco 3

After that process, you roll the dough out into a log, and cut it into twelve pieces (one for each Apostle of Christ.) First cut the log into halves, then halve the halves into quarters…

coco 2 1/2

…and then cut each quarter into thirds. Given such precision methods, mine are still completely uneven. But you know what? It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that my rolling board is being pushed off the countertop by the accumulated snacks behind it. Sigh.

At this point, cinnamon roll recipes would have rolled the dough flat and spread it with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, butter, cayenne pepper, hazelnuts, turmeric… Hmmm.

Speaking of which, I was making something the other day and sprinkled some paprika into the dish and, unfortunately, the paprika had become infested with a huge, enormous and completely gross colony of mealy bugs. What is it with exotic spices and mealy bugs? Or anything and mealy bugs. I bought some walnuts once at a middle eastern store and they turned out to be infested with mealy moths which took forever to get out of the pantry. They’re probably still there. The dish was a wreck.

So. Now, where were we again?

coco 7

Instead of rolling the dough flat, spreading a filling over it and then rolling it up, you simply roll these pieces into little logs and then roll them up individually.

It was not as tedious as it sounds. But it was still a bit tedious. I’d rather come up with some type of filling and then roll it up and cut it. Anything to make my life a bit easier I tell you. If you don’t simplify the process somewhere, next thing you know you’ll be raising your own coconuts.

One they’re in the pans you let the rise until doubled in size, which took about 1.5 – 2 hours. Or so. My pans don’t match because I’m a man, and men don’t worry about those kinds of things. The pans are coated with coconut oil and flour.

coco 4

While those rise you make the glaze. Mix the sugar and cornstarch… The recipe called for corn flour which I don’t have.

coco 6

Mix in some coconut milk to make a smooth paste…

coco 8

Add the rest of the coconut milk and the coconut, then cook over low to medium low to high heat until the sauce thickens.

Can you see the glass topped electric stove we have here? It’s not always easy to gauge temperatures on it, and it’s very easy to burn or scorch things if you don’t take care. If I were in college and/or only boiling up hot dogs I’d probably love it. As it is, I dream of one day using gas again. Or at least a better electric stove.

coco 10 white balance corrected

The dough rises. I didn’t think it had risen enough, and was concerned that maybe I should have used an 8″ pan. But I had used a bit of baking powder also….

coco 11

Cover the rolls completely with this thick, luscious, creamy glaze…

coco 12

And bake until done. Despite thinking they hadn’t risen enough, they rose beautifully.

My oven was set at 375; I think 350 might be better. But 400 might work best.

Immediately after taking them out, I poured some more of the glaze over them, as you see pictured here.

Had I not done so, or had I poured on less of the glaze after they came out of the oven, I think they might have been almost exactly like the wondrous rolls over at Dong Phuong (If I link there enough, maybe they’ll notice me and take pity on me, and tell me how to make their delicious coconut rolls.)

Except that I think Dong Phuong puts a small coconut glaze filling inside and then rolls them up like cinnamon rolls. Which is what I am going to do next time.

coco 13

All of that being said, these are wonderful. Try them as soon as you can! If you like coconut that is. If you don’t like coconut, then please forgive this entire, lengthy, coco-nutty post. And, I hate to say this, almost, but they’re really almost as good as Dong Phuong‘s.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

The Rolls
4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 cup of sweetened, bagged coconut from your local bakery section
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet instant yeast
1/4 cup of H2O
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

The Creamy Coconut Glaze

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut (see above) tightly packed
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. pure vanilla

The Beta

Mix the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup warm water. Let the yeast action begin for a few minutes. If nothing’s happening your water is probably not warm enough, or the container cooled it down. 30 seconds in the microwave works for me in such instances.

Put the flour, coconut oil and coconut into the mixing bowl and combine with the paddle attachment. Add in the baking powder at any point in this process.

Add the yeast, sugar and water to the flour and combine. Then work in the cup (about a cup; I used two cans total in the entire recipe between this and the 2 cups in the glaze) of coconut milk and knead for 8 minutes.

If the mix is too sticky add some more flour. It’s a bread dough.

Shape the dough into a log, and divide the log into 12 pieces. Then, roll each piece into a small log about 1/2 inch or so thick, and coil each one into a roll shape and place onto a 9″ round cake pan prepared with coconut oil and flour. Put six (6) to a pan.

Cover with a cloth and let rest in a warm place till doubled in size.

Meanwhile make the coconut glaze.

Put the sugar and cornstarch in a small skillet and whisk together.

Whisk in the dry coconut. Dry coconut does not whisk well, but surely you’re already aware of this.

Add in the two cups of coconut milk.

Place pan over a medium low heat and cook for a few minutes until the liquid thickens.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and reserve.

Later, once the rolls have doubled in size, pour over half the coconut glaze and place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove the rolls from the oven when done, pour the rest of the glaze over the rolls, and serve warm.

If you’re a coconut lover, you’ll absolutely think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Or at least wish that these will be around in heaven. Or at least want to take this recipe and make it to your own tastes.

Have a good one, S’amusez-vous!

Breakfast at Bayou Gulch

Breakfast at the Lagoon

I mentioned before, that there’s a Priest in the diocese who says all I think about is food. I don’t know why that gets under my skin, but I think it has to do with the fact that I’ve had all of two brief conversations with him in the last ten years.

So that would mean, obviously, that’s one of the things the presbyterate talk about when they think of me.

Oh well. God bless them.

I tend towards the simple for 99% of my meals, and think a lot more often about the people who are going hungry in the world; and those who struggle with grocery bills. In fact, I often live on toast and jam.

Lately I’ve been baking lots of whole grain, vegetable pizzas since they’re fairly quick, high in fiber and nutrients, and low in saturated animal fats. They’re also inexpensive.

But I confess, when I find something I love, I can be passionate about it.

Coconut Rolls

Take these coconut rolls. But don’t take mine! I love them, and I don’t care who knows it! If anyone should ever want to pick some up for me, please feel free.

Breakfast Rolls

Look at the innocent looking, cinammon-roll type, er… roll. You can see hints of coconut where the cinnamon usually is.

Don Phuong

You can find them over at Dong Phuong Bakery

Dong Phuong Bakery and Restaurant map

It’s in the New Orleans East neighborhood out towards the Rigolets.


They have lots of great stuff, and claim to have the best french bread in New Orleans. Which brings up a good point: The Vietnamese were colonized by France and picked up some awesome pastry skills. And one certainly has to admire their industry.

I’ve taken to going out of my way every now and again to drop by. A woman in front of me was buying up almost everything in sight, and I almost fainted until I saw more coconut rolls nearby.

Here they are innocently packaged in their home, filled with delectableness and coconut milk.

Fantastic Breakfast Rolls

I tried recreating them once, but am still researching the process. It’s definitely a cinnamon roll dough. But it’s not a thick coconut mixture inside (although that was delicious). I think it’s just a simple mixture of coconut and coconut milk, and then a slightly sweetened coconut milk glaze.

It’s a lot easier just to drop by the bakery.

Almost All Gone...

As if all I think about is food… It’s just that these are so… so… wonderful. It’s all I can do not to think about them.

Black Lagoon

Kinda sorta.

They certainly made the morning perfect and bright, right after a beautiful Mass.

The Rev. Kenneth Allen