Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

Quick and Easy Sunday Afternoon Snack (with Wine): Cheese Toasties

12 June 2011

This is the first in our brand spanking new Quick and Easy Sunday Afternoon Snack series. Every recipe we post with the Quick and Easy tag must possess three primary characteristics: (1) it has to be quick to make with minimal prep work; (2) it has to be easy, as in “you could do this tipsy,” to throw together; and (3) it has to provide a decent cover story for having a couple glasses of wine on a Sunday afternoon. See, if you are eating something and it absolutely begs for wine, then you are obligated to pour yourself a glass, and you definitely aren’t a lush. Just don’t make any of these for breakfast and you’ll be fine.

As an added bonus, the snacks in this series will be a good way to introduce kids, or slightly less than adventurous adults, to progressively more sophisticated tastes, without scaring the bejeezus out them in the process. The dishes themselves should look familiar and classic enough to transport them to a place where they’re comfortable enough to try something new and unexpected. This week’s edition introduces Dijon mustard, tarragon, and some non-crappy cheese to the classic open-faced toasted cheese sandwich. For four mini-sandwiches (call them Cheese Toasties if you want), you will need:

Cheese Toasties ... Dijon, tarragon, scamorza, and black pepper on Challah rolls

Cheese Toasties ... Dijon, tarragon, scamorza, and black pepper on Challah rolls

  • 2 English muffins, Challah rolls, Hawaiian or Honey Wheat rolls, or 2 slices of regular sandwich bread (sliced kitty korner)
  • butter
  • Dijon mustard
  • the leaves from a sprig of tarragon, finely minced
  • decent cheese that melts easily, enough to cover the bread, such as scamorza, mozzarella, or even Gruyère, grated or thinly sliced
  • a few pinches freshly ground pepper
  1. Slice the rolls in half, like a hamburger bun, and butter the top side. Smear some Dijon over the butter, top with the cheese, and sprinkle some tarragon over the cheese.
  2. Place in a toaster oven and toast, or under a broiler, until the cheese is melted and gooey. Top each one with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. You likely won’t need salt if you use scamorza or mozzarella, but season gently with salt if they need some.

Told  you it was easy. For wine, I’d go with something with enough acid to cut the fat in the cheese and butter and hold up to the Dijon, which, depending on the type you use, can be quite assertive. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would do nicely, as would a Chablis if you prefer Chardonnay. For reds, I would stick with the lighter side, such as an Oregon Pinot Noir. Of course, I need not mention how well good cheese goes with beer. My favorite right now is Goose Island’s Matilda, and it happens to pair with this snack wonderfully.

 

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Basic Bread Pudding

16 May 2011

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of making a chocolate-banana bread based on a Gordon Ramsey recipe. It was delicious, but since we don’t really have all that much of a sweet tooth, and the chocolate pushed it into that realm, we had leftovers. Rather than let them go to waste, we turned the bread into a classic bread pudding, and loved the results. Sorry, it didn’t last long enough to take a picture. 😉

Other than something to cook it in (a loaf pan, silicone mold, an old hub cap, a muffin tray, etc.), you’ll need:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 (chicken) eggs … we use a lot of duck eggs here, but this calls for chicken
  • 1/2 cup decent honey … buy this at a farmer’s market for half the price and 3 times the flavor of one you would pick up at a grocery store
  • 4 “slices” banana bread, brioche, or just plain good old bread bread … 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
  • butter (unsalted, naturally)

The method couldn’t be easier:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Gently warm the milk in a pan. When it’s tepid, take it off heat and add the honey. Stir to dissolve the honey in the milk.
  3. Pour the milk-honey mixture (Biblical references aside) into a bowl and beat in the eggs.
  4. Generously (is there any other way) butter each slice of bread on one side and then cut the slices into cubes.
  5. Butter your baking dish, and toss in the cubes … don’t stack them, just toss them in there.
  6. Pour the egg-milk-honey mixture over the cubes to cover. You may have too much of this, in which case, let the thing settle and the bread soak up some of the liquid, and then top off with more of the mixture.
  7. When the oven is good and hot, bake the soon-to-be-pudding for an hour or so. You’ll know it’s done when the mixture sets and the top browns. If it stays gooey, remember to use less egg-milk-honey next time. 😉 Trust us, it will still taste awesome even if you have to eat it with a spoon, so there will be a next time.
  8. Remove for the oven and sample some. Sample some more. Now, show some discipline and cool it for an hour or so at room temperature, and then in the fridge. It’s better the next day.

The quality of your final product depends on the texture, density, and quality of the bread and the ratio of bread to liquid. Try it a few times and you’ll develop your own favorite technique. You won’t need to top this with anything, but whipped cream, caramel, and berries are all good options if you’re so inclined.

We’ll have a fun announcement later this week to make Humboldt Kitchen better, so stay tuned.

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