Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread

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So Husband is really big into home brewing, which is awesome, but it also means we have a lot of beer sitting around. We drink it, give it away to friends/strangers, and still it piles up! So I have started cooking with it more often. I found this recipe while browsing Pinterest (to quote Husband “What DON’T you find while browsing Pinterest?!). It. Is. Amazing! I cannot stop eating  this wonderful bread. And it wasn’t that hard. So delicious and rich and the flavours meld perfectly

This came from a site called The Smitten Kitchen. The recipe suggests using a bread maker, but since I do not have one, I did not use it. I will include both sets of directions. =]

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Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup beer (I used Husbands Agave Wheat Beer. Light and just a bit sweet)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/3 cup rye flour (use additional a-p flour if you don’t have this) (I did not have any, so I used my fresh ground flour)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the  filling:

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or a mustard of your choice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Several grinds black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Directions:

To make the  dough:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup of beer, just until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool down slightly. You want the mixture warm (110 to 116 degrees), but not steaming hot.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and table salt. With the mixer on low, pour in the butter-beer mixture, mixing only until the flour is moistened. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. The batter will look lumpy, but will become smooth in a moment. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and all of the rye flour, mixing until just combined. Replace paddle with a dough hook and let the machine knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes on low. (Or, if you aren’t using a machine, knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. Heads up, I had to add about 3 cups of flour to my dough to keep it from sticking to my hands and the bowl and everything else!)
  3. Oil a medium/large bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare fillings.

To make the filling:

  1. Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and Worcestershire until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In the bottom of a medium bowl, stir together mustard powder, paprika, table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add shredded cheddar and toss until grated strands are evenly coated with spices. I like to keep this in the fridge until needed so it doesn’t get soft and clumpy, making it harder to sprinkle over the dough in a bit.

To assemble the bread:

  1. Either coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan lightly with butter or a nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and roll the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle, making sure it doesn’t stick to the counter by lifting sections and re-flouring the counter as needed. Brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; each should be 12-by-4 inches. Sprinkle the first one evenly with a heaping 1/4 cup of the grated cheese (which is now fine to leave out at room temperature). Gently place another strip on top of it, coat it with another heaping 1/4 cup of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.
  3. With your very sharpest serrated knife, gently — so gently! The lightest sawing motions the weight of the blade will allow! — cut your stack into 6 to 7 2-inch segments (each stacked segment should be 4-by-2 inches). I say 6 to 7 range because while your 12-inch length should clearly yield only 6 2-inch segments, I find that the soft dough stretches so much when you lift and stack it that I end up with 7. Either amount will fit; this is totally not something to fret over.
  4. Arrange stacks of dough down the length of your prepared loaf pan as if filling a card catalog drawer. I make this easier by standing my loaf pan up on its short end to make the next part easier. If, when you finish filing all of your dough stacks, you ended up with less than needed for the dough “cards” to reach the end of the pan, when you return the pan to rest flat on the counter again, just shimmy it a little so the dough centers. It will all even out in the final rise/oven. If you ended up with toomany dough cards, before you add the last stack, simply press gently on the dough already filed to make room for it.
  5. Loosely cover the pan with more plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again for 30 to 45 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake loaf for 25 to 35 minutes, until puffed and brown. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes before flipping it out onto a serving plate/cutting board. Serve warm with cold beer.
  7. Loaf “pulls” apart the easiest when it is hot or warm. If it has cooled beyond the point that the layers wish to easily separate, simply serve it in thin slices. Wrap leftovers in plastic and keep at room temperature for a day. I bet the leftovers would be fantastic reheated with scrambled eggs.

Gourmet Comfort Food

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So,  my dear readers, today was a very lazy day. Husband brewed a new batch of beer, I played video games, cleaned, and decided I wanted to make something special for dinner tonight. Hm… even tho it wasn’t a bad day (at all), I decided we needed comfort food. And for Husband and I that means only one thing… grilled cheese and tomato soup! But we have soup and sandwiches all the time. It’s wonderful, but nothing really special. And since I had the itch to cook something really wonderful and a bit complex, I decided “screw that, let’s go gourmet!” So, here’s what we had

A Simple Italian Salad

From Scratch Roasted Tomato Soup

and, of course…

Grilled Brie and Fig Sandwich!

 

The soup and salad are healthy, but the sandwich… yeah… there’s pretty much nothing healthy about that one. But it tastes amazing!

Gourmet Grilled Brie and Fig Sandwich

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So. What says comfort food more than grilled cheese and tomato soup? Nothing! Not to us, anyhow. So tonight I kind of threw health out the window and decided to make a gourmet comfort food dinner. The star of the show was this Grilled Brie and Fig sandwich. It was so… I don’t even have words for it. Rich, amazing, delectable, sweet, fantastic… just wonderful. I will be making these again, but not anytime too soon, for the sake of our arteries!

Gourmet Grilled Brie and Fig Sandwich

Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread. I used an artisan whole wheat bread
  • a few slices of brie (enough to cover once slice of bread)
  • 1/2 tbs (apx) fig spread
  • fresh or dried rosemary (fresh is preferable, but since I didn’t have any I used a Rosa Maria blend which is dried rosemary and garlic)
  • 1 pat of butter

Directions:

  1. Put the brie on one slice of bread.
  2. Spread fig spread on the other slice
  3. Put together
  4. Put butter and rosemary in skillet on MEDIUM (do not put on high. It will burn the rosemary and your bread will get hot and crispy before the cheese melts)
  5. Cook the sandwich on each side until golden brown. If your bread gets done before the cheese is melted, just put them in a warm oven for a few minutes.

    (sorry it’s a bit blurred. Glass  plates make it a bit hard…)

Ta da! My stomach hurts (in a good way), and I hope yours does too. Bon Appetite!

Roasted Tomato Soup

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So Husband and I love a simple dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup. So today I decided I wanted to make a “gourmet” dinner. So what better than a gourmet favourite? This is the soup that went along with our Gourmet Grilled Cheese.

I followed the original recipe to the letter, but next time I would up the ratio of tomatoes to onion. Anyhow, here is my altered recipe (with already raised tomato/onion ratio).

 

Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves (skin on)
  • 2 small Vidalia onions, cut in half (or 1 regular onion)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried basi
  • 2-4 cups water (depending on how thin/thick you like your soup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice the tomatoes in halves and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Place the garlic cloves and onion halves on a separate baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast the vegetables until soft, about 20 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. Peel the skin off the garlic cloves and place with the rest of the vegetables, in a food processor. Add about 2 cups of water and puree until smooth. Add more water to reach your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.

If you, like me are trying to get other things made at the same time, pour the soup in a pot, turn the  burner on low and let it sit until you’re ready

Simple Italian Salad

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Tonight husband and I are having a “gourmet comfort food” night. So since our main dish is a Brie and Fig grilled cheese sandwich with a side of scratch tomato soup, we needed something healthy. And  simple. So here is my basic but tasty Italian Salad

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Simple Italian Salad

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 leaves of Romaine lettuce
  • 3/4 of a red bell pepper
  • 3/4 of a  cucumber
  • 1 large carrot, peeled into ribbons (use your potato peeler. Works perfectly)
  • 1 can black olives (or calamata olives, if you prefer)

Directions:

  • chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces
  • chop other ingredients into desired sized pieces
  • mix in a bowl

I topped  this off with some red wine vinegar, but you can use any dressing you want. Also, cheese would be grand wit h this, but considering all the wonderful but super unhealthy cheese that’s comprising our main dish, I skipped it in the salad. Enjoy!

Original Nilla Banana Pudding

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Banana pudding is one of my all time favourite desserts. Dad and I used to make it together when I was  a youngin’. So, I decided it was time to make some. And not with pudding or pie filling, but all from scratch. And the thing is, its’ not hard! So don’t skimp and use pre-made nonsense. Do it right and you will not regret it!

This recipe is just the one of the  side of the Nilla Wafers box, but it’s the best I’ve ever found.

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Original Nilla Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • dash salt
  • 3 eggs, seperated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 45 Nilla Wafers, divided
  • 5 bananas, sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler. Blend in3 egg yolks and milk. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water 10-12 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla
  3. Reserve 12 wafers for garnish (optional). Spread small amount of custard on bottom of 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with layers of 1/3 each of the remaining wafers, bananas and remaining custard. Repeat 2times.
  4. Beat egg whites on high spead of mixer until soft peaks form.Gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread over custard,sealing well to edge ofdish
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned (tip: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR OVEN! The egg whites will burn easily, and all will be lost. Lost, lost, lost. Or something like that). Cool slightly. Top with reserved wafers just before serving (again, optional)

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

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So, last night, being Thursday, was Stefanie and Farrah night. As usual, I like to bring some sort of finger food. Both of us eat healthy, but that doesn’t mean things can’t taste amazing! So last night I brought baked sweet potato fries, and we demolished half of them! You can do a more classic style using just salt and pepper (which is what I did last night), or you can also put cinnamon (or a myriad of other spices) on them for a bit more savory snack. If made with the salt and pepper, they are wonderful on their own or dipped in ketchup

There are hundreds of sweet potato fry recipes out there, but I got mine from Simply Recipes.

Here we go!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large ones
  • 1/4 cup olive or other vegetable oil (I used grape seed oil)
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar (optional. I did not use any sugar)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp spice or spice combination of your choice: chipotle powder, smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice, pumpkin pie spice, garam masala, Cajun seasoning, or just salt and pepper (which, as stated, is what I used last night)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. (For more crispiness, preheat your oven to 500°F.)
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then, if they are very long, in half crosswise. Cut each piece into wedges.
  3. Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and add the oil. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and spices of your choice. Use your hands to mix well, so all pieces are coated with oil and spices.
  4. Spread the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a baking sheet; the oil they are coated with should keep them from sticking to the pan. If you are trying to cut fat, reduce the oil to 2 Tbsp and use a non-stick coating on the baking sheet. (Note: a commenter has recommended putting them on a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, so that the oven air circulates around the sweet potato pieces and you don’t have to turn them in the next step. Another commenter recommends preheating the baking sheet, to help the fries get crisp.)
  5. Bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn over all of the sweet potato pieces. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are well browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

That’s it!