Category: Bread

Chile-Cheese Gratin Sandwiches

June 15, 2010

I have been writing Dana Treat for a little over two years.  In that time, I have shared a lot about the food I make, the things I like and dislike, a bit about my family, a lot about Lopez Island and the special bakery that is there, and thoughts on a new tattoo (photo and story coming soon, I promise).  I’ve directed you to other blogs I like and have sung the praises of chickpeas and chocolate.  Hopefully I have goaded you into giving tofu a chance and maybe even into trying tempeh.  I also hope I have shown you what vegetarian food can be, given the chance.  Here is something I’ve never discussed.

I’m not really a cheese person.


I hesitate to even mention it because I almost feel like I lose some foodie credibility.  How can you love food and not love cheese?  You don’t eat meat and you don’t like cheese?  Who the hell are you anyway??

It’s not that I don’t like cheese.  I do like it.  I have recipes here that feature cheese – 21 of them as a matter of fact.  I guess I should say that I don’t like it much by itself and I tend to use less of it in recipes where it is called for.  If there is a cheese platter at your next party, you might see me hovering near it, but I promise you – what I am admiring is the crackers.  The cheese plate in a French restaurant?  Lost on me.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is my friend Michelle.  I have known Michelle since I was a lowly promotions intern at a radio station in 1994.  As our friendship has grown, we have shared meals together all over Seattle and in Vancouver, Whistler, London, Rome, and Paris.  She is a lusty and enthusiastic eater.  She often says things like, “This is the best (fill in the blank) I have ever tasted”.  As you can imagine, she is fun to cook for.  I haven’t asked her about her desert island food, but my hunch if would be cheese.  The woman is passionate about cheese.

Michelle came to stay with us this past weekend and I knew immediately what I had to make for Sunday lunch.  I have a sweet little book called Savory Baking, and in there is a recipe for Chile Cheese Gratin Sandwiches  Basically, you bake a chile and cheese filled bread in a loaf pan.  Once it is cool, you cut slices of the bread, top it with sliced tomatoes and then top the whole thing with a  cheese and butter concoction.  Under the broiler it goes for a few minutes and then what you have is basically cheese heaven.

Before I tell you how much I liked this recipe, allow me to tell you how much I liked making lunch.  Whenever we have friends over on Sunday, it is almost always for brunch.  I make some kind of egg dish (like this one or this one), I always make roasted potatoes, and I make some kind of baked good (like cinnamon rolls or coffee cake or petits pains au chocolat).  The dishes change, the formula remains the same.  This time I thought I would change it up and make lunch instead.  This cheese bread, soup, salad.  It was a nice change of pace.

So, if you set up your tent in the cheese lovers’ camp, this is a good recipe for you.  I loved it because the flavors were interesting – not all one note as cheesy things can sometimes be for me.  There were canned chiles, red pepper, and jalapeño peppers in the bread so while it was rich, there was also a lot of spice to cut the richness.  I was thinking ahead and just doubled the recipe and put the other loaf in the freezer.  The next time I serve a hearty soup, I know what I am serving along side.

One Year Ago: Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas
Two Years Ago: Curried Red Lentil Stew with Vegetables

Chile Cheese Gratin Sandwiches
Adapted from Savory Baking
Serves 8

Two notes.  Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian – it contains anchovies.  If you care, you can find a vegan sauce at Whole Foods or just omit it.  I sprayed my pans with non-stick spray and some of the bread stuck to the bottom, so be sure to grease your pans well.

Chile-Cheese Bread
2 cups flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 ounces (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 4-ounce can peeled mild green chiles, drained
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced
½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced

Cheddar Topping
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 ounce (¼ cup) Romano cheese, shredded
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of salt
8 tomato slices

To prepare the bread:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF and butter or spray an 8-by-3-inch loaf pan.  Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add the cheese and gently toss until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Whisk the milk, oil, egg. green chiles, chopped jalapeño, and red bell pepper in another bowl.  Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and briefly blend with a spatula.  The batter will look moist.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it in the oven.  Bake until the top is golden brown and springs back gently when touched in the center, about 45 minutes.  Put the loaf on a cooking rack for 10 minutes and then remove the bread from the pan to completely cool.

To Prepare the Topping:
Put the butter, Cheddar and Romano cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and a little salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment.  Whip for 2 minutes on medium speed.

Set the oven to broil.  Cut the loaf into 8 slices and lay the slices on a baking sheet.  Place a tomato slice on each piece of bread.  Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese topping over each tomato slice.  Put the baking sheet into the oven about 4 inches away from the flame and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

(Wrap cooled bread in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.  Remove the loaf from the freezer and thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours.  The Cheddar topping can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)


May 27, 2010

Randy has been involved in a big project at work.  In addition to his time-consuming and demanding day job, he hired a team of outside consultants to help him with a totally separate project.  (Don’t ask me what he does for a living because I’m not exactly sure.)  Everyone involved has been working ridiculously hard and not sleeping much.  Yesterday was the big presentation and it starts to wind down from here.  We had a big dinner party last night last night to celebrate.

Big dinner party.  Big.  As in 9 people.  As in I started working on the meal on Saturday.  As in 4 different cocktail nibbles, appetizer course, salad course, bread, 3-part main course, and a totally over-the-top dessert.  Big as in a lot of wine bottles going out to the recycling bin today.

I knew the food would be blog worthy and I had the best intentions of photographing everything so I could write about it.  I even set up my light on the floor of our kitchen.  It started off well.  I got some shots of the appetizers and the salad (see above) but then things got a little crazy in the kitchen.  There was salmon involved and a farro/black rice dish that had to be finished at the last moment.  There was a peanut butter pie served with homemade chocolate sauce, roasted banana ice cream, and a no-bake peanut chocolate cookie.  I kept thinking, “I should be taking pictures!  I want to write about this!” but I just ran out of steam.  The trip from the dining room to the kitchen carrying a plate laden with chocolate and peanut butter seemed like a long journey.

For the record, I turned to a trusted source for advice on the salmon.  We had intended to grill it but after a few emails with Matt, fish genius extraordinaire, I decided to slow roast it in the oven.  I’m totally sold on this method from now on.  I bought 4 pounds of Copper River salmon at the place Matt recommended.  I don’t eat fish but I do know that Copper River salmon is the best of the best.  Randy cut it into portions and then put it on a baking sheet and into the refrigerator.  Half an hour before I wanted it to go in the oven, I pulled it out, drizzled it with healthy amount of olive oil and sea salt and let it come up to room temperature.  About 35 minutes in a 250° oven and the salmon was cooked perfectly, and no one had to stand outside with the rain and the grill.

Also for the record, let me tell you that I will be making that exact same dessert – all parts – again soon so I can take those damn photos and share recipes with you.  Wanna come for dinner?

What I can share today is this bread.  You know when you see a recipe and just want to drop everything and make it?  Maybe something called Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread?  That happened to me with this one.  Fortunately, I had this dinner party in the works which could accommodate it because otherwise, I might have eaten the entire loaf myself.

Have you heard of monkey bread?  This is a savory version that is much less labor intensive.  It goes a little something like this.  You make a super simple dough, roll it out to a very long rectangle then top it with a cooked onion and Gruyère cheese mixture.  You cut the dough into 10 pieces and stack them one on top of the other in a loaf pan.  You take a look at your crooked stack that doesn’t fill up the pan and think, “This is never going to work”.  Then you put it in the oven.  Soon your kitchen starts smelling amazing and when you peek in the oven, you see that magically the dough is starting to fill in the whole pan.  When it is done, it has magically turned into a loaf (though still crooked), it has turned golden brown, and it calls to you to be eaten immediately.  (But!  It can keep for two days at room temperature!  I love recipes like this.)

The result is pretty extraordinary.  Come on.  Sauteed onions?  Gruyere?  Bread?  So soft you want to use it as a pillow?  I brought this out to the table (after sneaking a piece) and when I went back not five minutes later, it was gone.  Not a crumb on a plate.  I can’t wait to make it again.  You can have it with your peanut butter pie when you come over for dinner.

One Year Ago: Green Bean and Fennel Salad

Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread
Food & Wine
Makes one 9-inch loaf

1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, 1 stick cubed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (3 ounces)
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

1.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Butter a 9-by-4½-inch metal loaf pan.  In a large skillet, melt the ½ stick of uncubed butter; pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a small bowl and reserve.  Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is softened, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the poppy seeds and season with salt and pepper.  Scrape the onion mixture onto a plate and refrigerate for 5 minutes, until cooled slightly.  Stir in the Gruyère.

2.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the cubed butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas.  Add the buttermilk and pulse 5 or 6 times, just until a soft dough forms.

3.  Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times.  Pat or roll the dough into a 2-by-24-inch rectangle.  Spread the onion mixture on top.  Cut the dough crosswise into 10 pieces.  Stack 9 pieces onion side up, then top with the final piece, onion-side down.  Carefully lay the stack in the prepared loaf pan and brush with the reserved butter.

4.  Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until it is golden and risen.  Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding and serving.

(The unmolded loaf can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.  Rewarm before serving.)

Holly B’s Cinnamon Rolls

April 6, 2010

Friends, the clock is ticking.  I am just about 3½ months away from a big birthday.  Big as in huge.  40.

Last July, when I turned 39, I set some goals for myself.  Since I still have a few months to go, I will wait to fill you in on whether all the goals are met.  (Here is a hint – yoga, yay!  Croissants – not so much!).  But now I can cross a big one off my list.

Every single time I go into Holly B’s Bakery I either get a cinnamon roll, or I regret not having gotten a cinnamon roll in addition to whatever delicious item I did get.  If I did one of those free association exercises and you said, “Holly B”, I would no doubt say, “Cinnamon roll”.  You get where I am going with this.  Holly B = cinnamon roll.  And yet, in all years I have owned her cookbook, I have never made them.  I can partly blame it on the fear of finding myself in the house with a dozen or so cinnamon rolls and partly blame it on timing.  You see, this recipe ends with the dreaded words, “Serve still warm from the oven”.  How do you time that?

Now that I have made them, I kick myself for not just diving in sooner.  It is not complicated.  First you make a bread dough which needs to rise for an hour or so.  Then you roll the dough out, do the brushing and sprinkling and the rolling back up.  Then you slice and place on a baking sheet where they rise again for about 30 minutes.  They bake for about 30 and then you eat them.  Why did this sound so daunting?  I wanted to bring these rolls over to a friend’s house for a post egg-hunting brunch.  I made the dough and let it rise about and hour and a half before we left.  I formed the rolls just before we walked out the door and let them finish their rise in her warm kitchen and bake in her oven.  Then we feasted.

Back to that free associate exercise.  If I say “cinnamon roll” and you think “Cinnabon” then I would not advise making these rolls.  They have very little in common with those shopping mall monsters (sorry, I am biased).  Remember, this is a bread recipe (that has a whole cup of whole wheat flour in it) which is rolled out, brushed with butter, sprinkled with two kinds of sugar, a full tablespoon of cinnamon, raisins, and sliced almonds.  There is no icing and I wouldn’t want there to be.  Because the roll itself actually tastes like something other than air, you actually want to taste that part.  The roll is delightfully nutty from the whole wheat flour and the sugars caramelize just so.  I always tell you how I don’t like nuts in my baked goods but I wouldn’t think of leaving those sliced almonds out.  They are delicate and add a wonderful crunch and very subtle flavor.

I wanted to get a picture of me with both boys but the Easter egg hunting was a little too exciting for them to both stand still at the same time.  Separate was the best I got.

One Year Ago:  Marinated Chickpea Salad with Radishes and Cucumber

Holly B’s Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from With Love & Butter
Makes approximately 12 rolls

For the dough:
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp. honey
1 package (2¼ tsp.) quick-rise yeast
2 tbsp. mild tasting oil (DT: I used canola oil)
Scant 4 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. milk powder
1¾ tsp. salt

For the Rolls:
Flour for dusting work surface
¼ cup (½ a stick) butter, melted
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Make the dough:
Swish together the water, honey, yeast, and oil in a roomy bowl.  Now dump in the flours and lastly the milk powder and the salt.  Mix these dry ingredients gently with your fingers without breaking through to the liquid below.

Now grab a wooden spoon and mix the dough vigorously until it’s just too stiff to continue.  Either knead the dough with floured hands on a lightly floured surface or use a dough hook with a stand mixer.  If the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour.  If it feels too stiff, sprinkle with warm water.  You will want a nice smooth dough – 2-5 minutes of kneading should be fine.  Dust the ball of dough with a little flour.  Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside.  Drape with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size.  (This takes about an hour.)

Lay a sheet of parchment paper down on a 10×15-inch baking sheet.

Make the rolls:
Do not punch down the dough, but gently turn it onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle the dough with flour and roll into a rectangle ¼-inch thick and approximately 10 by 25 inches with the short sides top and bottom.  Check the underside of the dough frequently.  Loosen any stuck spots and sprinkle on a little more flour.  Brush the dough with the melted butter, coating well but not leaving puddles.

Combine the raisins, almonds, sugars, and cinnamon.  Distribute the mixture evenly over the buttered surface, pressing down on the edges so the filling won’t fall off when you roll up the dough.

Starting at the short edge nearest you, roll up the dough, tugging gently to achieve a nice, snug long and keeping the edges even.  Turn the log seam downward and use a serrated knife to slice the dough into 10-12 rolls.  Place the rolls snugly in the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy and doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Before the rolls finish rising, preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the center position.  Bake the Cinnamon Rolls for 15 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes more.  The rolls should be light gold and no longer doughy inside.  (DT: I think it’s best to check on the insides – mine looked done but were a little doughy.)  Serve still warm from the oven.

The Last Food Blogger on Earth

March 15, 2010


Folks, it’s true.  I am the last food blogger on Earth who has not made Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread.  Okay, well maybe not the last,  but I am one of the last.

I’m intrigued by it though and having tasted it (my lovely neighbor Julie is a convert), I can tell you that all the fuss is well-deserved.  I bought the cookbook, I have the right size pot, now I just need to bake it.  (I don’t think I will write about it though – haven’t we all read enough about no-knead bread?).


I decided to make another of Lahey’s much-praised recipes for my first foray into his world.  Pizza Bianca is one of those things where you look at the list of ingredients and think – that’s it?  Or at least I do.  But then I remember that my very favorite part of any pizza, even bad pizza, is the crust.  So why not just one giant crust?

To be fair, this is meant to be more of a flatbread than a crust.  I imagine Lahey’s vision is somewhere between a foccacia and a pizza crust.  I think what I made is a little closer to a foccacia and I didn’t quite get the dimpling technique right, but it was still really delicious.  I cook and bake a lot but I have to say that pizza dough is not my specialty.  I know that I just need to make it more regularly to get a better feel for the dough.  (Did you hear that?  That is Randy cheering in the background.)  I am excited to try more of his pizza recipes in addition to that famous bread.


One Year Ago: Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Ginger Biscotti and Tropical Gazpacho

Pizza Bianca

From My Bread
One 14-inch pie

3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
¼ tsp. (1 gram) instant or other active yeast
½ tsp. (4 grams) table salt
¾ tsp. (4 grams) sugar
1½ cups (350 grams) cool (55 to 65°F) water
¼ cup (60 grams) extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for coating the bowl and brushing
½ tsp. (4 grams) coarse sea salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, table salt, and sugar.  Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, stick dough, about 30 seconds.  Lightly coat a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it.  Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 9 to 12 hours.

2.  When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface (a cutting board is useful here) with flour.  Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece; as you begin to pull it away from the bowl, it will cling in long thin strands and will be quite loose and sticky.  Using lightly floured hands, fold the dough over itself two or three times and nudge it into a loose, rather flat ball.  Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil as sprinkle with the coarse salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface).  Put the dough in a warm, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

3.  Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500°F, with a rack in the center, and place a pizza stone, at least 14 inches in diameter, in the center of the rack.

4.  Generously dust a pizza peel with flour and place the ball of dough in the middle.  Spread out the fingers of one hand, like a claw, and drive your fingers into the dough but do not puncture it.  You want to simultaneously create dimples in the dough and spread it out across the peel.  Continue working your hand across the dough and dimpling it until you have a bumpy disk about 12 inches in diameter.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the rosemary leaves.

5.  With the peel resting on the counter, grasp the handle and give it a quick little tug; you want the pizza to just barely move but stay on the peel.  (Loosening it makes it easier to slide it onto the baking stone.)  If the dough sticks to the peel, gently lift it around the edges and add flour to the peel.  Shake the pizza onto the baking stone.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the mounds but still pale in the dimples.

6.  Slide the peel under the pizza and transfer it to a rack to cool for at least a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Holly B’s Pesto Parmesan Cornbread

February 10, 2010


So what do you serve with chili?  Kind of silly, right?  Kind of like asking, “What do you serve with peanut butter on bread?”  In case you are not catching my drift – cornbread is what you serve with chili.  Oh and beer.  Duh.

The question becomes, which cornbread?  I already have two favorites but I thought it was time to try a third recipe.  If you want very full-flavored cornbread with lots going on, I can whole-heartedly recommend Ina’s version.  It is the one to make for a crowd since you will end up with a ton of it.  But if your appetite is more on the delicate side, I wouldn’t use that recipe.  It’s a meal in and of itself.

I thought I would try Holly B’s recipe and jazz it up by doing the Pesto Parmesan option listed in the book.  The nice thing is that the pesto stays in a small area so I could taste the bread on its own as well to truly asses where it stands in my cornbread book.  The verdict?  Very delicate and cakey.  So much so that as Randy went to take a bite, it basically crumbled right into his chili, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I liked baking it in a pie dish and that each wedge had a little dollop of pesto at its end.  I also liked the Parmesan sprinkled over top.  Maybe I’ll try that with my other favorite version which comes from The Joy of Cooking.  Recipe coming some time soon.


One Year Ago: Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Holly’s Favorite Corn Bread
With Love & Butter
Makes 8 wedges

¾ cup stone ground cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
8 tsp. pesto
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Butter a 9- to 10-inch glass pie plate.

Place all the ingredients except the pesto and cheese in a medium bowl and mix, by machine or by hand, until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl once or twice.  Smooth the batter into the pie dish.  Evenly blob 8 teaspoons of pesto around the edge of the batter, so that each wedge of cornbread will show a bit of green at the base.  Scatter the whole dish with the Parmesan.  Bake 15 minutes, rotate the dish, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the top is light brown and a toothpick comes out easily.  Cut into 8 wedges and serve.

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