Medium Dark Rye Bread

This is what I saw when I looked out my front door this morning, just the kind of day that I want to spend in the kitchen.

We’ve had a couple of weeks of bone chilling cold and icy roads.
There’s just nothing to do but bake bread.

I love rye bread, and when I found this recipe on The Stay at Home Chef I immediately wanted to try it out. Thank you Rachel Farnsworth for this simple recipe. Today’s the day I try baking rye bread, and I get to use my new pullman bread pans.


  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 4 cups all purpose flour



  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water (about 110° F), yeast, salt, caraway seeds, molasses, unsweetened cocoa powder, and the rye flour. Using the dough hook, mix on a low speed until completely combined. Use a plastic spatula keep the sides scraped clean (do this carefully).
  2. Add in 3 cups of the all purpose flour and knead until combined. Continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time until thoroughly combined and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Remove from the bowl and form into a ball. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl (I just wash the mixer bowl and use that – no point in making more dishes).
  4. Cover the dough with a towel or piece of plastic wrap and set in a warm place in your kitchen and let the dough rise for 90 minutes.
  5. After 90 minutes divide the dough into two portions and shape into loaves by stretching the dough and rolling the edges underneath. Do this several times.
  6. You can bake this as a rustic loaf on your pizza stone, or try out your new fancy bread pans like I did.
  7. Grease and flour the pan and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper. Place the loaf in the pan and level the top of the dough. Cover the pan with the top (pullman pans have a top so you can make sandwich loaves.) If you want to use the pizza stone for a rustic loaf, sprinkle some cornmeal on your pizza peel or cutting board and place the dough on the board. 
  8. Let the loaf rise for another 40 minutes.
  9. Heat your oven to 450° and heat the pizza stone. Place a shallow pan filled with water on the second shelf to provide a nice steamy oven.
  10. SPECIAL TIP: Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of warm water. Microwave for about 45 seconds and stir. The liquid should be clear. Brush the top of the loaf with the liquid (makes the crust nice an crispy) and cut several parallel lines across the top of the loaf.
  11. Place the loaf on the pizza stone. Add water to the shallow pan to create steam. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads the center of the loaf at around 190-195°.
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. The loaf should come out of the pan easily.
  13. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.




Let’s make toast.




Elderberry Syrup

Cold and flu season has arrived and one way to fortify your immune system is elderberry syrup. Elderberry (sambucus nigra) is one of the oldest remedies known to man. And the great thing is that it works. You can find numerous research studies on the effectiveness of elderberry in treating colds and flu. Let’s hear it for old wives. They knew what they were talking about.

Making elderberry syrup is very easy. I order dried elderberries online because I’m not a knowledgeable forager, and better safe than sorry. 

Here is my recipe for making elderberry syrup.

  • 2/3 cup dried black elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons dried or fresh ginger root
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cloves (2-3 whole)
  • 1 cup raw honey

In a saucepan, combine water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half (about 45 minutes). I like to use the crockpot. When the liquid has reduced, allow it to cool to lukewarm. Carefully mash the berries and pour the liquid into a glass container, then discard the berries. They have done their work.

Add the raw honey (you could also use sugar, or maple syrup) and stir to dissolve. Store in the refrigerator.

The standard dose is 1/2 teaspoon for children, or 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon for adults daily. If you do get sick, take the the standard dose 2-3 times daily. Elderberry syrup can shorten the duration of your illness by up to four days or more, and is useful in reducing mucus, cough, sore throat and more.

As with any medication, don’t exceed the recommended dosage especially with children. However, it does taste a lot better than cough medicine, and it’s great on pancakes.




Balsamic and Pomegranate Reductions

It’s been some time since I posted. For those of you who have so patiently visited, thank you. During the summer I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, it was small and only required surgery, but it took a little while to recover (typing was difficult). However, now I’m back and feeling great.

Sometimes the thing that elevates a dish is the sauce or dressing. I love using balsamic reduction on everything from salads to roasted vegetables, but face it, the stuff is very expensive to buy so I thought I would try making it myself. As it turns out, it’s really easy. I’m going to start with balsamic reduction first, and then move on to my next favorite and even more expensive pomegranate reduction.

Balsamic Reduction

All you really need is a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Some people add sugar, but I think the balsamic vinegar is sweet enough by itself.

and a pan.     



Pour 2 cups of balsamic vinegar into the pan. Bring it to a boil, and reduce the temperature to a low simmer.  Let it simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Don’t let it burn or scorch. Continue to simmer until the vinegar has thickened and reduced by about half. The result should be thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. 


The reduction will continue to thicken as it cools. Pour into a glass jar, and store in the refrigerator.

Try not to eat it with a spoon. It’s wonderful on salad, vegetables like asparagus, roasted beets and, of course, strawberries.

Now that we’ve got that cooling in the fridge, let’s try another and slightly more exotic reduction. You may have run across recipes that include “pomegranate molasses.” It’s the same thing.

Pomegranate Reduction

Don’t bother squeezing your own pomegranates. I’ve done it and believe me it’s a real pain in the neck. A bottle of pomegranate juice from the supermarket will work just fine.

In a sauce pan, add 4 cups of pomegranate juice and, 1/2 cup sugar (I used raw sugar), and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. You can add your favorite spices if desired.

Heat the juice and sugar over a medium heat to boiling. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer until it is reduced to 1 3/4 cup (50-60 minutes). Allow to cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Pomegranate molasses is used in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.  It’s also great on ice cream.

Be sure to label the jar because it looks a lot like balsamic reduction.

I’ll be back next week with another post. Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Mushroom Risotto

Life has been really hectic lately. I’m working on a second Pantry Magic cookbook, expanding my line of fruit and vegetable powders on Etsy, and it feels like forever since I’ve posted anything. But honestly, I’m having one of those days when I just want something simple and warm and nourishing. Creamy mushroom risotto is the perfect answer. I know, you’re thinking that’s too much work, all that stirring. But there’s nothing complicated about risotto, and as a matter of fact, I find the stirring kind of soothing. Besides, it doesn’t really take that long, so let’s get started.

Here is what we’ll need:

  • 1 cup of arborio rice (you could also use a short grain brown rice)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, any kind, sliced and quartered, plus 1 tablespoon of my Gourmet Mushroom Powder (you can find it for sale at ElaineintheKitchen on Etsy)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 have onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour the rice into a heavy bottom sauce pan with no oil or water.

Let the rice toast lightly, stirring to keep it from burning. When the rice becomes slightly fragrant, pour in the wine.  Let the wine cook down and then add 1 cup of vegetable broth.

Let the rice simmer on a medium low heat, stirring frequently. When the broth has been mostly absorbed, add another cup of broth. Continue slowly adding the broth until it has been absorbed.

In the meantime, in a preheated sauce pan, add the onions and garlic along with two tablespoons of broth.

Season with the thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the mushrooms. Sauté,stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked (10-20 minutes). Remove from the heat and cover.

When the rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the broth, add in the mushrooms and onions, along with the parsley. Stir to blend completely.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Cover, and let rest.


Served with a simple side dish of steamed carrots, tossed with maple syrup and dill.

A Plate of Creamy Goodness