Posts Tagged ‘Bread’

Bruschetta.jpgJ. and I attempt, but don’t always succeed, to have a date night once a week. We usually head out to a nice restaurant or a movie but last week we were beat and just wanted to stay home. I had baked some wonderful crusty Italian style bread earlier in the day and we had found some beautiful tomatoes at the farmers market… Bruschetta was the answer.

I decided to make 2 different versions and after a quick trip to Wholefoods for some delicious meat we were set to go. I didn’t just want to make an ordinary tomato combination for the top. It was date night after all, I wanted something a little different and unusual. I went with garlic roasted tomatoes on Tomato and basilsoppressata or prosciutto with jalapeno lime white balsamic vinegar to finish it off.

First off I put the tomatoes into the oven to roast. I only wanted them cooked for a very short time with some garlic and olive oil to really bring out the sweetness in these gorgeous tomatoes we found. I wanted them to hold their shape and keep the firm texture, not go all mushy.

ProscuittoWhile the tomatoes were in a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes, I sliced some chunky bits of our Italian crusty bread and smeared them will olive oil. I heated up our grill pan and toasted these on both sides. I tried to get nice crusty grill marks on the bread. I did ok for the most part but there were some slightly crispier parts.Soppressata

Once these were grilled I just rubbed them with some garlic and set them aside to dress. I did a few of each meat for J. and I. Layer 1 being either soppressata or prosciutto. To be honest a few slices of each magically disappeared between the two of us… I love that stuff!

Basil leavesAfter the first layer of meaty goodness I added some fresh basil leaves. We had also picked the basil up at the market since our basil plant hasn’t survived it’s first (and only) Arizonan summer. By this stage the tomatoes were out and cooling down.

I cut the tomatoes in half and put them in a bowl, seasoned them with plenty of salt and pepper and then generously drizzled jalapeno lime white balsamic vinegar over them. I mixed them together and placed them on each piece of bread.

After pouring some wine J. and I sat down to a yummy, simple dinner. I had some goats cheese on the side as well for us to eat with the bruschetta. The creamy rich flavor worked so well with the freshness of the bruschetta. J enjoyed it so much we actually had something similar for dinner the next night. The tomatoes were extremely sweet and juicy. I was happy with how crusty and delicious the bread was as well. Such an easy, quick date night dinner. A good way of keeping my boy J. happy too!

FatooshOn my final day in Washington DC, I managed to sneak away for a delicious and yummy lunch. The conference I was exhibiting at had quietened down, people were leaving and I had a long night of travelling home to Phoenix ahead of me… a hearty delicious meal (and a couple of beers) were definitely called for.

Recommended by fellow blogger Alina and some great people I met at the conference, Zaytinya was my destination. Only 2 short blocks from the hotel that I was exhibiting in, I wandered down for a late lunch.

Mythos Beer

Taking my traditional seat at the very big bar I was ready for a nice cold beer and some great food. I ordered my Mythos beer, a Turkish beer that I had never tried before and perused the menu. The girls I met at the conference had insisted I try the $25 Mezze Lunch. It was a 4 course meal with multiple choices under each course.

For first course I went with the Fattoush salad, a combination of tomato, cucumber, red onion, green pepper and radish. This had a delicious pomegranate vinegar dressing over it. Given the heat of DC, it was such a light, fresh and yummy start to the meal. The fresh pita bread they kept refilling throughout the meal was a great accompaniment.

ArayesSecond course was a difficult choice for me. I could have had any of the 4 choices but decided to go with the Arayes, a dish I had never heard of or tried before. These were stuffed pita breads, filled with grilled ground lamb and tahini on a bed of garlic yogurt. I don’t think it is possible for me to describe just how delicious this small plate of goodness was. Such flavor but so simple. I could have eaten an entire meal just of those. However, with 2 more courses still to go, I thought I shouldn’t order a second round. I ordered another beer instead.

Spanakopita

For my third course I decided to stay with something traditional, Spanakopita. This was flaky, melt in your mouth house-made phyllo pastry that was then stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. Carefully rolled into a crispy, tasty roll and placed on a spinach puree. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This was possibly some of the best Spanakopita I have every eaten. I couldn’t believe how perfect the phyllo was. I wanted to eat 6 of them, not just 1.

Apricots and yogurtI restrained myself and just sat back with another beer and waited for my dessert. I had chosen to go with the lighter of the 2 dessert choices, Greek Yogurt and Apricots. I actually didn’t read the description until after I had ordered it. It may have been the lighter of the 2 but oh my, did it sound delicious. A small cup came out, looking like a orange and white parfait. There were layers of muscat soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet and pistachio powder. If I hadn’t have been in a public place I would have licked the cup clean! Delicious, light and refreshing – an excellent end to an amazing lunch!

I will go back to this place – I actually would go back to DC just for a lunch here and a dinner at St. Arnolds. My DC trip was great both professionally and culinary! I ate great food that had been recommended to me, found my own little gem on my wanders through the city and got to spend some time in one of my favorite cities on the East Coast.

When in DC next I recommend you try one of the great places I visited or perhaps you will discover a little gem of your own!

Sunday last weekend we had so many leftovers from the dinner the night before I figured we would just eat a plate of that for dinner. After cooking a big dinner Saturday the last thing I wanted to do Sunday was cook. So J. and I cam up with this amazingly delicious sandwich. Gravy soaked pork with cheese and giardiniera on toasted bread. And so begins my Ode to the Pig Part III.

I grabbed the left over roast pork out of the fridge, along with the left over gravy. I sliced thin strips of the pork and put them in a small saucepan, covering with the gravy. I then just let this warm slowly. I also heated up some of the roasted veggies we had to use as a side to our sandwich.

J. in the meantime cut four thick slices of semolina bread and started toasting them under the broiler. He flipped them over and topped each side with some grated sharp cheddar cheese before putting them back under the broiler to melt.

Now it was time to assemble. On one side of the toasted bread and cheese we heaped large amounts of the gravy soaked sliced pork. On top of this we added heaped spoons of giardiniera. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a spicy pickled vegetable mix with carrots, pickles, peppers. So tangy and spicy it is fabulous on sandwiches. Lastly we just put the second piece of toasted bread and cheese.

These sandwiches were piled high but with some difficulty I managed to cut them in half. We sat down and bit into them and we were in porky, spicy, heaven!!! Amazing how great such a simple dish can taste and with no cooking at all. Cold pork turned into such a delicious dinner… the giardiniera add just the right amount of tanginess and spice. It was the perfect sandwich.

The pig did it again!

I was doing some cooking today of things to freeze for dinners and lunches over the next couple of weeks. I had made and frozen some meatballs and thought with the remaining ground beef I would make some burgers for J. and I for dinner tonight. This was a great idea except I didn’t want to go out and buy bread rolls. I thought why not make my own!

Well the difficulty here comes when I realise I don’t actually have any yeast. This is going to limit what bread I can make. I have previously made soda bread and thought I could do this but make rolls instead of one big loaf. This is fast and easy and I really love the crunchy crust on the outside. It is a heavier bread inside though so I will have to see how it works with burgers.

The recipe I use for this is an adaption or amalgamation of several different recipes I have used over the years.

My oven is preheating to 425 F (it takes a while so I did this before I even started on the dough). I a large bowl I put 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar and I whisk it all together. In another small bowl I beat an egg and then add 1 3/4 cups of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar.

I form a well in the dry ingredients and then add the wet. Using the whisk I start to bring the dough together. It is really difficult to combine so I always end up using my hands. It doesn’t have to be a completely smooth dough, it is rough and rustic looking which I also like.

When it has formed a dough I cut it into 4 even pieces (this will make 4 large rolls) and shape them so that they are roundish. I grease a square cake tin to bake them in. If I use a flat tray the dough will spread too much and won’t keep the shape I want. Into the oven then for 35 minutes. I turned them around after 20 just so that they browned evenly.

The smell in the house is fantastic when they come out of the oven and they are delicious with butter and honey while still hot. I haven’t made the burgers yet so I will do a post about them later, fingers crossed the rolls work. If J. happens to read the blog this afternoon before getting home I guess dinner won’t be a surprise anymore. Oh well… the bread will be yummy though, let’s hope the burgers are too!

I love bread! It is probably my favourite comfort food and something I will often crave. There are a great many things that I love about my new home but unfortunately the bread isn’t one of them. Since moving to the US I have been on a search for what I like to refer to as “real” bread.

My search became necessary when I started noticing a strange aftertaste when eating my morning toast. The sweetness that “American” bread has is overwhelming and even came through my slatherings of butter & vegemite. Now, I know I can go to Wholefoods and get sourdough or baguettes but for an everyday bread I am after a wholegrain sliced loaf that goes great as toast, sandwiches, with eggs, however I want to eat it.

Finally after extensive research and a lot of unsuccessful taste testing we have found a bakery with “real” bread. Now, this isn’t like a bakery at home but is a close approximation compared with other bakery chains I have found here. Great Harvest is actually a franchise but the bread is delicious.

J. and I went by the bakery one Saturday afternoon, they had closed so we were just peaking in the window to see what they had on offer. As we had our noses pressed up against the window, two people in the back waved at us and came and unlocked the door to talk to us. They turned out to be the incredibly friendly owners and bakers. They asked what we were looking for and I got into my whole spiel about my search for unsweetened bread. They generously gave us a bag of rolls and said try these on the house and let us know what you think.

We couldn’t believe the generosity! Not to mention the taste of the bread when we finally made it home to taste the rolls. They were Honey Oats rolls so they were slightly sweet but certainly not the artificial sweetness with a horrible aftertaste that I had been experiencing.

Those rolls won me over and I have been slowly working my way through their different varieties of bread. Our current favorites are the jalapeño cheddar garlic loaf, which is only baked made on Thursday and we get occasionally because it is amazing as toast under eggs for breakfast. The other is more of an every day bread… the High 5 Fiber loaf which was exactly what I was searching for.

So my search has come to an end… I have a found my “real” bread substitute and even J. can taste the difference. We still have others to try but we definitely have our everyday loaf choice… Now time for a sandwich!!