Tartine Challenge

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Tartine Bread

I have always wanted to cook my way through a cookbook. The movie Julie & Julia was such an inspiration to all the “Renegade Foodies” as Amy Adams called herself in the movie. I saw myself as the RN working through a pandemic by day, and a renegade foodie by night. I have so many cookbooks and none of them ever really spoke to me like the Tartine Cookbook. I started down the sourdough rabbit hole in May of 2020. I am a visual learner so I sought out Joshua Weissman on youtube to teach me sourdough. After a few successful attempts I felt like I needed more. I found Maurizo from Food52 and his blog, “The Perfect Loaf.” He really helped me push further. I made baguettes, foccacia, pizza, bomboloni, croissants, etc. He went in depth about his preferred flours. He helped me really understand sourdough. Then I stumbled upon a local baker who converted her home into a micro bakery named “Flour Culture.” Her breads and desserts are visually awe inspiring. I really wanted my bread to look like hers. I love her aesthetic, and her bread is equally delicious and beautiful.

Tartine Bakery opened up in Silverlake, just a 30 minute jaunt from my house. The word is, it’s the best Bakery in San Francisco. When I visited Tartine I was immediately captivated by the art behind the glass. The flaky pain au chocolates and the desserts were as beautiful as they are in Paris. The Tartine Cookbook was for sale so I treated mysellf to the book, pizza, the Country Loaf and croissants. Thumbing through the book, I realized it was not just about making sourdough. It was also a book on the food that pairs well with bread. The cookbook incorporates both cooking and baking. The savory recipes include bread in some way. I finally found the book that was most like my cooking style. Cooks tend to cluster in groups. The pastry camp, the bread baker camp, the savory camp. I was the savory home cook who dabbled in desserts and then found sourdough. Home-cooks learn by watching cooking shows, youtube and following recipes until they get a voice of their own. I have been developing and refining my own cooking style seeking inspiration from family, travels, celebrity chefs, and restaurants. This whole blog was dedicated to the recipes I’ve developed over the years. It’s time to pivot. It feels odd to be blogging about executed recipes that I didn’t write. It kind of feels like cheating. However, it’s just what I need right now. I have plenty of recipes that I will share with you if I need a break from the cookbook. I have to follow my passion to learn. I hope I counted correctly, but this is the break down. There are 25 bread recipe variations and 44 recipes from savory to sweet including bread in some way. Approximately, 69 recipes to execute. I probably will not blog every single one except the ones I have something to say about. If you would like to follow the adventure, I post regularly on IG stories. My handle is karenskitchenblogger on Instagram. I hope you check in from time to time to see my progress, and I hope this inspires you in someway.

Recipe #1 Basic Country Bread

The rules I followed making bread before Tartine

  • Make off-shoot Levain from ripe starter in the morning
  • 1-3 hour Autolyse before adding Levain
  • Mix Levain into Autolysed mixture
  • Add Salt
  • Build Strength via Rubaud method and or slap and fold
  • 4-6 Stretch and folds
  • Bulk Ferment for at least 4 hours adjust as needed
  • Divide and Bench Rest then Shape and cold proof for 12-18 hours
  • Hydration Level high 80’s

Tartine Recipe is simpler and gives great results.

  • Make Levain the night before
  • When Levain ready-Fermentolyse (Autolyse with Levain mixed in at the same time)
  • Bulk Fermentation at 78-82 degrees for 3-4 hours
  • No need building strength except for 4 stretch and fold or “turn”
  • 8-12 hours cold fermentation
  • Hydration Level 75%


I had a lot of doubts going into this recipe. I liked the idea of less work and shorter time frames I mean that’s a no-grainer, HA! A little bread pun. After a year of making bread I thought high hydration & strength building yielded the best results. Tartine has taught me that a great loaf of bread is actually about having a vigorous starter which will do all the heavy lifting for your bread. Overworking the dough only degases it and dough temperature is really important to gauge fermentation time. I really wanted to do another stretch and fold but paused and did the windowpane test. Sure enough after four turns it was good. I had to make some adjustments to the bulk fermentation I purposely slowed things down and extended the cold fermentation 16-17 hours to meet my sleep requirements. These are all part of the learning curve. I am grateful to be able to see both angles so I can adjust to my schedule. Honestly, it all starts with your starter. If it’s fed regularly and you keep learning how the dough should look, the rest will follow. Shaping and scoring naturally develops with practice. Sourdough can be forgiving if you are willing to learn.

I have come a long way. Thank you Chad Robertson for putting a stamp on my bread journey.
All you knead is loaf/love!

Onto the next recipe!

2020 A Home-Cooks Moment

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Comté Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam and Black Winter Truffles on Homemade Sourdough Bread

Happy New Year! I feel refreshed and hopeful with every new year.  This year in particular because we seem to be rounding a corner with the vaccination roll out.  Our hearts have been especially heavy because my husband is an Emergency Room Physician and I am a Registered Nurse.  In the back of our minds we always knew a pandemic was possible but never truly believed it would happen.  In the beginning, we were glued to the news trying to understand what was happening like everyone else. We did our best to inform our family and friends of the severity of this virus.  We tried to be good examples on how to navigate our new way of living.  We questioned ourselves many times on how to best limit our social lives.  My son, a high school senior had dreams that this would be his year as a wrestler.  We witnessed his dreams crumble right before our eyes.  The frustration to keep them motivated to do well in school when everything felt so hopeless.  Polarizing politics, civil unrest, fires, earthquakes need I say more?  Our mental fortitude waxed and waned.  I know we have a long road ahead but I’m hopeful that we are heading in the right direction.  We know more about this virus than one year ago.  We are better at treating patients who get infected.  We now have a vaccine.

For those of us that cook and use it as a creative outlet.  This was our moment.  All of a sudden time was no longer an obstacle.  My weekends were free with nowhere to go.  Time alone in the kitchen always was my sanctuary.  I, like many others became a sourdough addict.  I was always the self-proclaimed non-baker.  I hated to measure and weigh.  I’m drawn to the fire and flame and improvisation of cooking.  I love the sound of my knife as I chop and the sound of sizzling when food hits the pan.  The pandemic actually gave me pause and opened up a side of me that I didn’t think existed.  Strangely, I wanted to slow down and learn to weigh in grams.  I didn’t mind waiting two days for one loaf of bread.  I mean this is insane but it has been the most rewarding thing I’ve learned in the kitchen in a very long time.  I feel more complete and well rounded.  A confident  home cook.  In hindsight, I am grateful that cooking was there for me.  Cooking kept my mind curious and excited.  With all the frustrations that 2020 ushered in, cooking became my center.  It kept the home stable and loved.  It reminded me that when the world seemed to be falling apart we should take hold of what we can control.  It helped me realize that I am the only person responsible for my happiness.  My faith and family held together and we are indeed closer.  I knew that when the year came to a close I wanted to end it well.  On New Years Eve I made myself a luxurious sandwich.  Black Winter Truffles with Comté cheese and fig jam with homemade sourdough bread.

This isn’t a recipe in the official sense.  It’s more of an idea with tips.  The ingredients are interchangeable and can be fluctuated as you see fit and desire.  Here is a list of the ingredients I used.

Sourdough Bread, KerryGold Salted Butter, Comté Cheese, Fig Jam and Black Winter Truffles


Mise en place-French for setting up.  Have everything ready to go.  Butter at room temp, grate cheese, shave proper amount of truffles

Butter both sides of bread

If bread has open crumb use larger slices so cheese doesn’t fall out

Cover skillet to help with melting


Cheese pull

Cheers to a better year from an RN and Home-Cook.

I’m strong to the finish cause I eats me spinach

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Appetizer / italian

Mom’s Famous Sausage Spinach Loaf

Who didn’t love “Popeye the Sailor Man” as a kid? I always think of Popeye when I eat spinach. Although I really didn’t like spinach as a child, I wanted the super strength you would get by eating it. This sausage spinach loaf may not make you strong like Popeye, but it will allow you to food flex. It will be all you are ever asked to bring to a party again. My Mom makes this and it’s always the first thing on the table to finish. I’ve learned to make it and now I am sharing this beloved recipe with you.

Time 1 hour

Servings 2 Loaves


3 lbs of bulk Italian sausage, 2 loaf (1 lb each) frozen ready bread dough thawed, 1 1/2 cups of chopped frozen spinach thawed and drained, 2 cups of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 large onion chopped, 3 cloves of garlic chopped, 2 tsp dried basil leaves, 1 TBS crushed red pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 tsp fennel powder and egg wash.


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large skillet on medium-high heat add sausage. When sausage starts to brown add onion. Once onions start to soften add garlic and mix for a couple minutes. Then add spinach and incorporate. At this point you can add dried basil, crushed pepper and garlic powder. Once mixed add chicken stock to get all the brown bits from the skillet removed from the bottom of the pan. Reduce liquid until almost completely evaporated and turn off heat. Finish with sprinkling the fennel pollen. Turn off heat and let cool.

Roll out bread dough on a well floured surface. Check frequently for sticking and add more flour as needed. This dough can be hard to roll out. Be patient and keep rolling out until it submits. Roll out to approximately a 13 x 10 inch rectangle. Add grated 1 cup parmesan cheese for each loaf.

Once sausage mixture is cooled add sausage 1/2 the amount in skillet to rolled out dough. This should make 2 loaves.

Roll jelly-roll style starting with the long side. Pinch and tuck ends and corners.

Place loaf on top of parchment paper on cookie sheet. Mix 1 egg and 1 TBS of water in separate bowl and mix. Brush egg wash over loaf. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooled slice and serve.


Backyard Corn with Street Cred

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Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Corn in America is a backyard summer staple. In the City of Angels, the street vendors sell Street Corn like New York City sells hot dogs. It is often boiled and on a stick for easy on the go eating. Frequently, the corn is slathered in mayo and rolled in cotija cheese with various spices. Growing up we didn’t eat corn this way. We always grilled our corn and slather it with butter and Pico Pica. Pico pica a bottled hot sauce every self respecting Mexican will have in their refrigerator. I do love street corn, so in this recipe I mix the two ideas. I use a Pico-Pica butter in place of mayo, and roll it in a herb spiced cotija cheese. This Labor Day, make Street Corn as one of your side dishes. You won’t regret it!

Time 1 hour

Servings 4


4 Whole Corn with husks, 1 stick of salted butter melted, 3 TBS Pico Pica hot sauce, 4 oz of Grated Cotija Cheese, 3 TBS of chopped cilantro, 1 TBS of chopped green onion, 1 TBS of paprika, and lime wedges.


One hour before grilling corn I soak the unhusked corn in water. I enjoy eating the corn with the husks pulled back. This will help prevent the husks from burning while on the grill. Then I pull the husks back and place a rubber band around the loose husks to keep everything neat.

Hipster bun corn husk

I place all the corn side by side and grill until I have beautiful grill marks.

Charred Corn

While corn is grilling, mix melted butter and Pico Pica.

Pico Pica Butter

Then mix cotija cheese, cilantro, green onion and paprika in a casserole dish.

Butter the corn then roll corn in cotija mixture.

Alternatively, you can use avocado as your fat base then roll in cotija mixture.

Avocado is a delicious fat alternative to butter or mayonaise

Once corn is coated in cheese place on platter along side lime wedges and enjoy.

Cheers to a great Labor Day Weekend

A Golden Opportunity

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Golden Beets with whipped feta, basil-pistachio oil, pomegranate molasses and mint

Let’s not “beet” around the bush. Beets are very earthy and challenging for most people to enjoy. I have found if the beet is golden and roasted, it’s delicious. This pandemic has really made me consider my nutrition and immunity. I am taking this time to work on self-care and re-think what I put into my body. I know that adding more colorful vegetables into my diet will benefit my health. At some point my immunity maybe challenged with the Corona Virus and I want to give myself the best fighting chance. This is a golden opportunity to create recipes that are delicious and good for you.

Time 90 minutes

Servings 2-6


9 golden beets (1 lb 11oz), 1/2 cup of feta, 1/3 cup cream cheese, 12 basil leaves, 7 mint leaves chiffonade, 1 TBS raw meat pistachios, zest of 1 lemon, 1 TBS olive oil, pinch of salt, pomegranate molasses and sourdough bread.


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Chop Beet greens off leaving the tips on. Place in an oven safe pot with a lid. Fill water level up half way and do not submerge the beets. Drizzle some olive in and cover and let cook for 30 minutes.

They will steam/roast with the lid on

After 30 minutes, rotate the beets so the part that was in water is now facing upward for even cooking. Place back in oven for another 30 minutes.

While the beets are steam-roasting start to grill up some of your favorite bread. In this case I used my homemade sourdough bread. Brush some olive oil and grill.

To make the basil-pistachio oil you will need a mortar and pestle. Add basil, pistachios, lemon zest and oil then a pinch of salt. Mortar and pestle until desired consistency. Be sure to taste and set aside.

To make whipped feta add feta and cream cheese to a separate bowl. Smash feta into cream cheese until somewhat smooth. The feta is tangy and the cream cheese is smooth and set aside. They work well together with fruit and vegetables.

Once the beets have cooked for one hour remove from pot and place on cutting board to cool. While they are still warm peel the skin off and quarter the beets into bite size pieces. If the skin is hard to remove use the back of the spoon to aid in the peeling.

Now it’s time to assemble. Place beets on platter and dress up with whipped feta, basil-pistachio oil, chiffonade of mint and pomegranate molasses.

Enjoy as appetizer or meal