Tag Archives: French Bread

Tomato Bisque Soup and French Bread (step-by-step) w/ pictures


As promised I will be sharing recipes for French bread and tomato soup! The soup is easy and delicious, the bread is a bit harder to make but can be accomplished even by novices!  I have been looking at French bread recipes forever, and here is what I find to be the simplest method! A food processor works wonders for this recipe, but a kitchen aide or good old arms work well too!

French Bread

Makes two loaves

4 hours mostly idle- great for laundry days

Kitchen Tools:

  • A kitchen aid stand mixer or my preference, a food processor both work wonders. I have links to kneading bread by hand below if you have neither!
  • A dutch oven, or tray that can be preheated so you can pour boiling water over it to create steam.
  • Cookie sheet- I used one from sur la table


2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (I use bobs red mill, but any will work- a packet is equal to 2 1/4)

5 cups bread flour (You can make up to two of these cups whole wheat if you want healthier bread) + more for dusting

2 cups warm water divided

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Cornmeal (for dusting the tray you will put the bread on)

1. First measure out 2 1/4 tsp yeast and place in a large liquid measure such as pyrex. Add 1 cup warm water (too hot and your yeast will be killed before it even has a chance), and 1 cup of BREAD flour even if using whole wheat. Stir with a fork until all ingredients are well incorporated. Let sit for 15 minutes until bubbles form at the top and it starts to look foamy.

2. In the meantime put the remaining 4 cups of flour in the food processor with the bread dough attachment, kitchen aid bowl, or large mixing bowl. Add the salt and pulse or mix until combined.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the food processor and fit lid. Turn on and add remaining 1 cup warm water and run the food processor until you have yourself a ball of dough (more of a lump, there is too much dough in this recipe to form a ball. The dough should be a bit sticky and pass the windowpane test.  If you are kneading by hand follow those techniques.

4. Oil a large bowl (I use organic canola oil spray) and add the dough rolling it into an imperfect ball. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for at least two hours.

5. The dough should be over double in size.         IMG_1218

Take it out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.


Cut the dough in half and roll each piece into a ball.


Punch one of the balls down into a 6 inch round.


Fold over and press to seal, continue to do this until cylindrical.


Then pinch the seam to close off the base of the bread



Turn the bread over and roll the dough out so that the middle is big and gradually declines to the end and then place on baking sheet prepared with grease and cornmeal.

IMG_1254IMG_1255IMG_1257Let rest for an hour under a floured cloth. At this time preheat your oven to 425 Fahrenheit (220 celsius) with the dutch oven, cast iron, or pan in preheating as well. After an hour score the bread, I use a steak knife but I have had practice, be careful not to deflate the bread! Spray with olive oil and add the bread to the oven. Working quickly pour  a cup of boiling water into the dutch oven (or other suitable cookware) and close the oven quickly as you want to keep the steam in the oven. NOTE: The steam can burn you badly so wear an oven mitt/ long sleeves!

Set the oven for 30 min and clean up! After 30 minutes take them out of the oven and let cool for a minute before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Using the Whole Wheat Flour:


Using Bread Flour:


One of the first books I received when I became a vegan was Tal Ronnen’s Conscious Cook. I devoured the recipes and savored the flavors he put on a plate. I had never heard of cashew cream or nutritional yeast before and was eager to try out all of his recipes. Some of his recipes are very time consuming, but this is one that can be whipped up in an instant for a dinner party, or just a nice way to end a cold winter day.

Tal Ronnen’s Tomato Soup with Cashew Cream:

Makes 6 servings.

1 hour mostly absent


4 Tbsp Earth Balance (or oil)

1 stalk celery chopped

1 carrot chopped

1 onion diced

1 28 oz can of fire roasted chopped tomatoes

1 bay leaf

5 cups faux chicken or vegetable stock

1 Tbsp fresh minced parsley (more to garnish)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1-1 1/2 cups cashew cream

4-5 cloves of garlic crushed (less if you dislike garlic)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1. Place the Earth Balance in a stock pot over medium heat until melted. Add the onion, carrot, crushed garlic, and celery and saute for 10 min until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent.

2. When the vegetables are tender add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Then add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

3. Open the lid and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cashew cream and let simmer for an additional 10 min. DO NOT BOIL. If you do you will end up with clotted cashew tomato bisque…not particularly aesthetic…but definitely tasty none the less.

4. For this step it really helps to have an immersion blender so you don’t have to transfer hot soup to the blender. Remove the bay leaf and blend until smooth. You can either run it through a fine mesh sieve or allow the thickness of the soup to absorb you, and who wants to do extra work for less nutrition? I certainly don’t! For those of you who don’t have an immersion blender, work in small batches and move the soup to a blender. Don’t overfill, I have the burns to prove this is not a wise decision even though you may be in a hurry or your guests will be arriving soon! Hold the top of the blender as the heat will try to pop it off and you don’t want a mess on the counter. Your soup will be a party hit, and veganism will have scored a point if you dare feed this to any omnivores.


Digging in the Dirt with Chez Panisse


Today was my first day as an intern at Chez Panisse. There is nothing that can describe the beauty of the kitchen or the way that it functions. When I arrived the head pastry chef was not there yet, but others in pastry knew I was coming and began to show me around. The restaurant itself is within a craftsman house, the interior is hardwood, and the kitchen spans what seems to be longer than the dining room.

The kitchen was stunning, warm and inviting. Wood and marble were woven together as art, a place where artisans created the desserts for the day. I was excited to get started, it was still hard to imagine that I had somehow found myself in the epicenter of the culinary world. My first task was to separate egg yolks from egg whites for tart bases. Not too difficult of a task, but 9 cups stretches the project for over an hour. I was then assigned to take the darks skins off of the pistachios with a pairing knife and when it occasionally flaked off at the gentlest knife scrape I felt a sense of joy…its always the little things that get me.

After I was done with the pistachios it was time to have lunch, and what a decadent staff meal it was. Strewn across the counter were various dishes from meats to vegetables all looking and tasting amazing. The lettuce was fresh, divine, and perfectly dressed. The pastry people sat outside on the steps and I was able to get to know the people I was working with a bit more. I had made it to lunch, and I was ready to finish my day strong. I returned to the kitchen to begin peeling, quartering, and coring Pink Lady apples for a beautiful tart. I had a stack too big to fit into a deep hotel pan, and I found myself overwhelmed with apples. But I noticed that with each task, after a few times, I would get a rhythm and the kitchen meditation I love would send my mind internally. Baking is a pleasure, and even the simple and sometimes monotonous tasks are therapeutic. Who wouldn’t rather knead dough or pick huckleberries than sit in a cubicle?

The head pastry chef sent me home with some pistachio cake which I knew my boyfriend would eat in the car on the way home. Next time I go in I will be shadowing one of the more experienced interns to learn a day in the life and continue to get my bearings. Overall the day was a success and I am thankful to have begun working in the uniquely wonderful environment.

The staff members at Chez Panisse work differently from any restaurant I have worked in, they don’t yell, or tell you what to do in a do-what-I-say-or-else sort of way. It felt more like a school, where the professors were understanding, informative, and patient. The head pastry chef told me that they try hard to be a teaching kitchen, maybe other restaurants should take note…their protege have gone out and made some of the greatest restaurants. Every time I look in any cooking magazine Chez Panisse pops up several times, it is no wonder, their methods are flawless, and their staff is passionate about food. I am excited to soak up all the information I can get from this internship, excited for the experiences that await me, and excited to begin this new chapter in my life.

Bon Appétit!

In other news, Brendon and I have been working the garden soil to death! It seems rocks were deterring any growth and we had to excavate a foot deep. Today we drove up to Marin County, just north of Oakland, to get some free aged horse manure. And after today the garden is finally coming together!

These are the two rows we finished today and pictures of the ranch where we went to get the compst:photo-16 photo-17


And coming up soon, tomato soup and french bread. Delicious!photo-20photo-18