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Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

This month’s Food ‘n Flix pick resulted in honeymoon nostalgia and these baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches.  French Kiss is a lighthearted comedy from 1995, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.  The basic plot of the movie is woman (Meg Ryan) loses boyfriend to another woman, goes to Paris to track him down, meets a jewel thief (Kevin Kline) along the way, and then falls in love with the jewel thief.  It’s a cute romantic comedy – the kind of thing that my husband plays video games through and mixes up with another cute romantic comedy (namely Runaway Bride) which we watched a few weeks after.

And maybe it’s because I’m equally a cynic, what I mostly thought about the movie after I finished watching it was – oh those simpler times in the 90s when a woman could safely run off with a man she barely knows after losing her passport and money to his family’s vineyard without fear of being murdered.  Just saying.  Still – what a vineyard!

My one challenge with watching movies for Food ‘n Flix is this – I watch them as a food blogger, which means I want them to slow down and focus on the food!  It’s Paris – it’s France – show me beautiful food!  There was beautiful food in this movie, just not enough of it that was up close and personal.  So my inspiration ended up being less of something in the actual movie and more of Paris itself.  What better way to celebrate Paris than with baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches?

A big part of my inspiration also came from all the memories that watching this movie brought up of Clay and my honeymoon nine years ago.  We did a two week Europe trip – starting in Paris, taking a train to Amsterdam, and then flying to Rome and then home.  My one regret, particularly from the Paris part of the trip, was that I was still a hard-core vegetarian, and even though I was drooling over every baguette with ham and cheese that Clay ate, I stuck to the baguettes with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  No – I wasn’t suffering that much.  But still, these baguettes and French Kiss sandwich are my attempt to recapture the days we spent in Paris and the glorious smells of the bakeries and the beautiful slow food that was everywhere around us.

The baguette recipe is adapted from a King Arthur recipe.  I reduced the rise time without any negative impact on the taste of the baguette.  I do use a starter, which I realize adds time and the need for advanced planning to make these, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  The actual hands on time with these is minimal – 15 minutes at the most.

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches


  • ¼ teaspoon active yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 115 degrees)
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • All of the starter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • For the French Kiss Sandwiches (for two sandwiches)
  • 4 – 6 slices of Jamon Serrano (or prosciutto or thinly sliced ham)
  • 8 thin slices of brie cheese


  1. Start the starter the night before. Combine all the ingredients for the starter in a medium bowl and stir. This should form a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight – about 14 hours will do it, though the starter is forgiving.
  2. To make the dough
  3. Combine the warm water, the yeast, and all of the starter. Mix until the starter is mostly incorporated. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Combine to make a shaggy dough and then knead the dough for 6 minutes on a floured surface. Add a bit of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to you. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
  4. First Rise
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
  6. Second Rise
  7. After 45 minutes, punch the dough down (deflate it). Cover it again and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Shaping the Dough and Preparing it for Baking
  9. After the second rise, deflate the dough again and cut it into four even sections. (You can also divide it into two sections or six sections – depending on how many baguettes you want to make). Roll the sections of dough into rectangles and fold them into baguette shapes, placing the seam-side down.
  10. Place the shaped baguettes on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  11. [The baguettes may spread a bit during the final rise– so if you want more classically shaped bread, you can place the baguettes on parchment paper or a clean dishtowel and pull up a bit of parchment paper or dishtowel between each baguette to help it keep its shape. If you do this, when it’s time to bake, you’ll need to gently roll the baguettes onto a greased baking sheet.]
  12. Cover the baguettes with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 20 minutes before the end of the final rise. To get a nice crispy baguette, it helps to have a very hot oven.
  13. Once the baguettes have completed the final rise, transfer them to the baking sheet (if you need to) and then place them in the oven. If you have a spray bottle with water handy, gently spray the baguettes, being careful not to spray your oven’s element. Bake for 20 minutes or until the baguettes are a golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and let the baguettes sit in the oven for 10 minutes after they are done. This helps get an even crispier texture on the outside.
  14. Let the baguettes cool for at least 30 minutes. When they are cool, to assemble a sandwich, slice the baguette in half and place the brie and jamon on the baguette. Enjoy!
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This post is also linked to to #CookBlogShare at the Easy Peasy Foodie’s site.  Check out all the great recipes!

Hijacked By Twins


Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins are one of the tastiest breakfast treats to make.  They take a bit of time, but are absolutely worth it.  With about two hours of your time, most of it hands off, you’ll have the fluffiest Homemade English Muffins.  Who wouldn’t want a homemade English muffin, smothered in butter and jam?

I’ve always had a fondness for English muffins.  Their craggy surface is just begging to be toasted and have a bit of butter drizzled over them.  For years, I’d eaten store bought English muffins and wondered if there was a particular secret or trick to making them.  English muffins were kind of like bagels in that regard – something made with yeast that was too complicated to make at home.  Ok, so I haven’t made bagels yet, but when I made homemade English muffins a few years ago around the holidays, I realized they weren’t that hard at all.

There is a two-step process to cooking the muffins. The first step is to brown them on both sides in a cast iron or non-stick pan.  Then, they bake in the oven for just a little while to bake all the way through.  I don’t see the need to use English muffin rings, as the dough holds its shape.

The one difference is that homemade English muffins aren’t quite as craggy – there aren’t as many air pockets in them.  Still, they toast up really well and have a nice, dense and chewy texture that goes so well with butter and jam, as well as holds up to various breakfast sandwich ingredients.  They also are absolutely heavenly as the base for Eggs Benedict.  These make a great weekend baking project, as well as a yummy treat.

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1 egg


  1. Heat the milk until it is warm to the touch (110 degrees if you have a thermometer). In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm milk and the yeast and let sit for a few minutes.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in another bowl. Add the flour and salt mix, the softened butter, and the egg to the milk and yeast. Combine until you've made a shaggy dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for six to eight minutes. You may need to add a bit more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Once the dough has formed a smooth ball, return it to the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm spot for an hour.
  4. After the first rise, turn the dough out on a floured surface and divided it into 6 or 8 pieces (depending on the size you'd like your English muffins). Roll each segment into a ball and flatten slightly. Place the English muffins on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and let rise for an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat a cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When your skillet is hot, add the English muffins, four muffins at a time (or more, if you have the room in your skillet). Cook the English muffins for 5 minutes per side (or until each side is golden brown).
  6. Place each browned English muffin on the baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or lightly oiled). When all English muffins are browned, bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until the muffins are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  7. Let the English muffins cool slightly before splitting them open. Enjoy!
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Pumpkin Date Bread

Pumpkin Date Bread

The October/November pick for the Cook the Books Club was Jessica Soffer’s Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots.


I had very mixed feelings about this book.  It was well written enough for me to stay engaged and read it to the end, largely because I connected to the main character, Lorca, though throughout the book, I really, really found myself disliking her mother and her absolutely blase disregard for her daughter’s desperate need for her love.  Full disclosure here – in another not too long ago life, I worked very closely with populations of both adults and young adults who were highly at-risk and often engaged in very risky behaviors, of which self-mutilation was often the least of it.  I think that’s why I struggled with this book so much – I know that it takes a lot of perseverance for someone to save themselves and few get so lucky to find a Victoria, the other main character and a former restaurant owner, to help them.

Ok – now that that’s out there…the book was a feast of good food.  After all, the entire focus is on how food can bring those who are desperately lonely together, and that particular theme resonates for me.  I left the book with the feeling that food could transform Lorca’s life and make her into a resilient adult and that made me happy.  It also made me happy to go flipping back through the book when I was done and think about what inspired me.  I finally landed on a variation of date bread, because of this line of Victoria’s: “‘Date bread,’ I said. ‘From my country.’ Oldest trick in the book: bake something to make guests feel at home.”  It is November, after all, and I’ve been in a baking mood.  My pumpkin date bread relies on the flavors of the season with a good dose of pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree.  The dates give it an extra punch of sweetness.  It’s dense and chewy and goes really well with a cup of coffee in the afternoon.

This is also pretty easy to put together and makes a generous two loafs – perfect for having a loaf to eat now and one to freeze for later.  Last, but not least, this is a low-fat pumpkin date bread, which gets much of its moist texture from unsweetened apple sauce and Greek yogurt.




Pumpkin Date Bread
Makes 2 loaves

3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15 ounce can)
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients, from the flour through the white sugar in a large bowl and mix.  Combine the wet ingredients, from the pumpkin puree through the eggs in a small bowl and mix to incorporate all the ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing just enough to incorporate all the dry ingredients.  Add the dates.

Divide the batter between two bread pans that have either been buttered or that are lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.



Many thanks to Cook the Books Club – I’ve had so much fun developing recipes based on the last two challenges.  I’m looking forward to more reading and cooking in the future!


I’ve also linked up with this month’s tea time treat challenge, which is all about comfort food (and what’s more comforting that fresh bread?).  Check out the wonderful hosts of Tea Time Treats:  Lavender and Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo’s Kitchen. Lavender and Lovage is hosting this month, so be sure to check out all the recipes for Tea Time Treats here.

Tea Time Treats
Quick and Easy Focaccia

Quick and Easy Focaccia

In some ways, this is a TBT post.  Many, many years ago, I found a book on making focaccia at some bookstore or another.  It’s a small volume, but what was significant for me was learning how to a multi-stage bread: one that requires a starter or sponge that ferments and that then is incorporated into the dough.  The focaccia made from the recipes in that book were a revelation for me – they were a thick risen slab adorned with garlic, herbs, olive oil and salt.  I made focaccia religiously every Christmas, as it was one of my uncle’s favorite foods.  I rarely, if ever, found time to make it any other time of year.

Some time ago, when I was doing some Pinterest browsing for bread, I came across a no-rise focaccia recipe.  As much as I would like to take the time to make a full sponge, full rise focaccia, I find that I just don’t have the time.  No-rise bread comes to the rescue on those nights when focaccia makes sense as a side and I haven’t done any sort of planning ahead to make the real deal. 

This is also a great side for a lunch salad.  It’s easy to make the night before, and in the recipe below, easily makes two cake pans worth of bread.  For the first dozen times I made this recipe, I used fresh rosemary, chopped finely, for the topping.  Since we moved, I don’t have a rosemary plant yet, so have used red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings and salt instead.

focaccia prebake


Quick and Easy Focaccia
Serves 8

2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons active yeast
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
Chopped rosemary and salt or dried Italian Seasonings and red pepper flakes to top
Olive oil to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water.  Add the flour and salt and mix well.  Split the dough into two sections and spread them into two well-oiled eight-inch cake pans.  Drizzle with olive oil and top with seasonings.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.