Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

May 21st, 2015

Savory Cheese and Chive Bread 4

This may look like an American quick bread, but according to Dorie Greenspan, it has a French soul.  Savory breads, cake sale’, are served all over France with apperitifs. What is so nice about this bread, other than its wonderful taste, is that it is indeed quick and easy.  After you grate your cheese, toast your walnuts and snip your chives, it is just a matter of mixing the wet ingredients with the dry and baking in a loaf pan.Savory Cheese and Chive Bread 2

The aroma from the oven was heady.  I was impatient to cut into the bread even before it had cooled.  I managed to get a few shots of it before we dug into it.  David, who has been avoiding carbs, said it was the best bread I had ever made as he nibbled away at one small piece after another.  We have eaten it with salads, as an accompaniment to grilled chicken and as toast for breakfast.  It is best that way.

Lake Lure Deck 1

We have almost finished with the dock in preparation for the summer festivities.  We ordered new window boxes for the boathouse windows and I planted some geraniums.  I will add some trailing greens and white vinca when I make it to the garden center.  David got a little carried away with the spray paint.  The green chairs used to be a more subdued shade of green, but the neon color is starting to grow on me.  Now at least I can tell boaters clearly where we live;  the boat house with the bright lime green chairs.

Savory Cheese and Chive Bread 3V

This savory bread would be great with any of your Memorial Day picnic offerings.  Let’s remember our Veterans on this very special weekend.  My Father was a proud Marine who served duty in Guadalcanal during the Second World War.  My Brother, Bill, served two tours of duty in Vietnam.  They make me so proud.

Dad in Marine Uniform

Semper Fi.  And Happy Memorial Day.

SAVORY CHEESE AND CHIVE BREAD ( Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table )

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (depending on what cheese and add-ins you’re using )
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (or more to taste; you could even add a pinch of cayenne )
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 generous cup coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte’, Emmenthal, or cheddar (about 4 ounces)
2 ounces Gruyere, Comte’, Emmenthal or cheddar, cut into very small cubes (I omitted this)
1/2 cup minced fresh chives or other herbs (or thinly sliced scallions)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to350 degrees F.  Generously butter an 8-x-4 1/2-x-2 3/4-inch loaf pan – a Pyrex pan is perfect here.  If your pan is slightly larger, go ahead and use it, but your loaf will be lower and you’ll have to check it for doneness a little earlier.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and white pepper together in a large bowl.

Put the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk for about 1 minute, until they’re foamy and blended.  Whisk in the milk and olive oil.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a sturdy rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, gently mix until the dough comes together.  There’s no need to be energetic – in fact, beating the dough toughens it – nor do you need to be very thorough: just stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the cheese, grated and cubed, the herbs, and the walnuts, if you’re using them.  You’ll have a thick dough.  Turn the dough into the buttered pan and even the top with the back of the spatula or spoon.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and a slender knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and wait for about 3 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the loaf over onto the rack; invert and cool right side up.

Printable Recipe

 

Mashed Potato Casserole and Other Ramblings

May 15th, 2015

Mashed Potato Casserole 1

Allow me to ramble a bit.  This will be a rather disjointed post.  It seems I have been snapping pictures willy nilly with no particular theme in mind.  We did have this mashed potato casserole last week.  David was grilling ribs and I knew that the timing for dinner would remain up in the air.  There are many steps involved in his rib recipe.  So, as not to worry about the mashed potatoes, I turned them into a casserole that could be kept warm in the oven.  The topping of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter was delicious.

Porch Tulips 1

Yesterday we had an old friend from our college days over for lunch.  She has moved close to our area and we had the best time catching up with each other.  I set the table on the porch, and although it was cool, we enjoyed being outside.

Porch Couscous

Our lunch included Ina Garen’s Couscous and Tuna Salad.  You can find the recipe here.

Porch Salad

I made a simple tossed salad with Spring greens, mandarin oranges, raspberries and almonds and these focaccia breadsticks with an oil and balsamic vinegar dipping sauce.

Porch Sign

David took me out to lunch for Mother’s Day at a small town near us.  After lunch we browsed in several antique shops.  I found this “Antiques” sign.  It is obviously not old, but it looks great hanging on my porch.

Lake Lure House Spring 1

I also found this colorful hanging basket to hang at the entrance to the cottage.

Potato Casserole 2v

MASHED POTATO CASSEROLE

6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 cup half and half or cream
A large handful of chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
1/3 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon melted butter

Place potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Add a generous teaspoon of salt.  Bring to bowl and cook until tender.  Drain potatoes.  Add butter and enough half and half to mash into a creamy consistency.  Add chives and mix in.

Grease a casserole dish.  Add potato mixture.

Mix together the topping ingredients.  Spread over potatoes.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Can be held in a warm oven until needed.

Printable Recipe

 

Pomegranate Grilled Chicken

May 8th, 2015

Pomegramate Chicken 1

We are so happy that grilling season is here again.  One of the first recipes I wanted to try was this pomegranate marinated chicken.  It calls for pomegranate molasses.  That was an ingredient that I had never heard of before.  It turns out, it is not easy to find.  But Whole Foods carries it and if you look online you can actually make it yourself.  Here is a link.  It is nothing more than pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice reduced down to a syrup.  The tangy syrup goes very well with grilled chicken.  The bottle that I found was actually called pomegranate syrup.

Pomegranate Chicken 3V

Add a cluster of pomegranate arils and you have a pretty spectacular dish.  And speaking of spectacular, our weather has been perfect this week.  We’ve had cool mornings, temperatures in the high 70’s in the afternoon, and evenings warm enough to eat on the porch.  The lake has been busy with boat traffic and a few brave souls are water skiing in wet suits.  One of the newest sports on the lake is paddle boarding.  It looks so peaceful to see a lone person standing on a board, paddling along the quiet shoreline in the morning.

Pomegranate Chicken 2

This dish was a good introduction to grilling season.  It pairs well with  so many summer sides; pasta salad, grilled corn, coleslaw or potato salad.  I hope this has gotten everyone in the mood for summer.  I am ready.

POMEGRANATE CHICKEN (What Katie Ate on the Weekend )

12 skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
Pomegranate Molasses, Mint and pomegranate seeds, to serve

Pomegranate Molasses Marinade:
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
juice of 1 lemon
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 sprigs mint, leaves picked and very finely chopped (I used basil leaves)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade, place all the ingredients in a pitcher or bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour into a large resealable plastic bag, add the chicken thighs, then seal and shake to combine.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours ( or overnight if possible).

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.  Cook the chicken thighs for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.

Drizzle over some extra pomegranate molasses, then serve hot, scattered with mint and pomegranate seeds.  Serves 4 to 6.

Printable Recipe

 

Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Tomato Focaccia

May 4th, 2015

Caramelized onion Focaccia 1

This is another tasty recipe from Katie Quinn Davies new cookbook, What Katie Ate on the Weekend.  I love making bread.  I keep a container of instant dry yeast in my refrigerator at all times.  Turning out loaves of wonderful bread is one of the easiest kitchen tasks that you can master.  Mixing the dough in a stand mixer makes it even easier.  Caramelized onion Focaccia 3V   The last few weeks have been kind of hard on me.  David has been traveling.  I have sprained my ankle and I’ve had to hire a dog walker.  And now I am facing surgery.  I have plates and pins in my right leg from a previous injury.  It looks like they need to be removed.  I’m not sure when this will happen, but plans with family and friends are on hold for a while.  Lucky for you and me, I can still sit at my computer and connect with everyone.  Also lucky for me is that my kitchen has turned out to be the best “handicapped” space I have ever been in.  I can cook, I can clean and I can be creative.

Caramelized Red onion Focaccia 2 Close

While I was baking this bread one morning in my kitchen, I was reflecting on just how lucky I am.  No matter what is going in our lives, we still must carry on with daily activities.  We can choose to passively sit back and feel sorry for ourselves . . .  or we can go into our kitchens and cook.  I choose to cook.  It is therapeutic . . . it connects us to each other . . . . and who could resist this crunchy bread.  Drizzle it with a little more olive oil, dip it in balsamic vinegar and enjoy.

CARAMELIZED ONION, FENNEL AND TOMATO FOCACCIA

2 teaspoons active dried yeast
2 pinches of superfine sugar
1/3 cup olive oil, divided, plus extra for brushing
3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
fine salt
4 red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 teaspoons fennel seeds
9 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
sea salt

Combine the yeast, sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoon oil and 11 fl oz warm water in a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), then set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until frothy.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add 1 teaspoon salt.  Make a well in the center, pour in the yeast mixture and stir to combine.  If you are mixing in a stand mixer, add the flour to the mixing bowl and mix with the dough hook for about 5 minutes before you turn out onto the board and then kneed for just a few minutes on the floured board.

Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Place in a large bowl that has been greased with a little olive oil and cover with a damp kitchen towel.  Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet over low-medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 12-15 minutes or until soft.  Add the brown sugar and vinegar and cook, stirring, for 7-10 minutes or until the onion has caramelized and the vinegar has been absorbed.  Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

Punch down the dough with your fist.  Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for 1-2 minutes.  Spread the dough out to form a rough rectangle, then cover the surface evenly with the onion mixture.  Scatter the fennel seeds on top, reserving a few to scatter over later.  Carefully fold the dough over on itself a few times until most of the onion mixture is incorporated into the dough (this bit can get a little sticky so ensure your countertop is well-floured).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. and grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

Press the dough onto the prepared sheet, cove with a camp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.

Use your finger to press dimples into the dough, then carefully press the tomato halves into the dimples.  Brush well with oil and sprinkle over the remaining fennel seeds, then season with a few good pinches of seal salt.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Printable Recipe

 

What Katie Ate on the Weekend – New Release

April 28th, 2015

What Katie Ate on the Weekend 2

Two years ago, Katie Quinn Davies, came out with her first cookbook, What Katie Ate.  The success of her blog of the same name was the reason that so many wanted to hear more from this talented Irish gal who now made her home in Australia.  What captured everyone’s interest was not only her delicious food, but also her photography.  She was not afraid to show the crumbs on the platter, the rustic patina of her serving pieces or the wrinkled and stained linens. Her food appeared genuine.  Her color palette was dark.  Her props were vintage.  She actually inspired me to scour antique shops for similar old pieces.  Her book was a work of art.  Because of her unique styling she was awarded the James Beard Award for photography.

Today is the release of her second book, What Katie Ate on the Weekend.  The lighting is brighter but the photos are still works of art.  Katie takes us on adventures to Italy, Ireland and Barossa.  She describes a weekend girls’ luncheon, a Mexican dinner party and many more celebrations.  I was sent a copy of her latest book by the publisher to review, but all opinions are my own.  It was hard to pick a recipe to try because there are so many good ones in this cookbook.  I finally chose her Couscous with Spiced Chickpeas and Pomegranate.  Salads are a big part of our menus this time of year.  They go so well with grilled meats, but they are also good on their own.

Couscous with Chickpeas 1

 

I would make this delicious salad again and again.  I have several recipes for couscous salad but this combination is unique.  The pomegranate arils are crunchy and offer “bursts of fruity flavor”.  The chickpeas, tossed in cumin and sauteed until somewhat crunchy, add a spicy hit and the lemon and olive oil smooth the ingredients together.  The almonds add more crunch.  The recipe called for mint leaves but I had to substitute  baby basil leaves.  Not a bad idea. There are several more interesting salads in this book, like Quinoa and Grape Salad or Prosciutto, Fig and Grilled Peach Salad.

Couscous and Chickpeas 5You will hear more from me about recipes from this cookbook.  I want to try the Pomegranate Chicken, the Chipotle, Lime and Jalapeno Ribs, the Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Tomato Focaccia and the Double Chocolate Brownies with Salted Butterscotch and Cherries.  The only criticism I have of the book is the occasional use of ingredients that I am not familiar with, such as rice bran oil and tomato passata.  But to me, that is just another reason to learn something new.  This recipe is a keeper, as is the book.

COUSCOUS WITH SPICED CHICKPEAS AND POMEGRANATE

1 cup couscous
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups sliced blanched almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 x 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
seeds from 2 pomegranates or a small package of pomegranate arils
1 large handful mint, torn, or basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Cook the couscous according to the packet instructions.  Fluff with a fork to break up any lumps, then season to taste and set aside in a large bowl.

Toast the slice blanched almonds in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then set aside to cool.

In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chickpeas, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing often, until crisp and golden.  Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute or two, then transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl with the couscous, along with the cooled toasted almonds.

Add the pomegranate seeds, mint, lemon zest and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and gently toss to combine.  Season with a little extra salt and pepper before serving.

Printable Recipe 

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.