Spring is whizzing right by, and I'm doing my best to keep up! While the weather has been up and down, I've consistently enjoyed the cool mornings and evenings, and have done my best to get out as much as possible during the days. This includes a canoe trip last weekend that left me with a very slight suntan and some serious bug bites.
I've been cooking up a storm, but trying to keep things quick and labor free to keep myself sane and the kitchen cool. I've been browsing recipes for raw recipes, including these granola bars and trying to minimize my time in the kitchen.
On a completely different note, I got a wild hair to try this Cheddar Beer Bread. Honestly, it was pretty good, but not amazing. If I made it again, I'd at least replace the water with canned tomatoes for sure. I'm not sure I'll make it again, but it makes an ok quick bread with potential for a few different uses.
Here's the setup
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker
Three Cheese and Beer Quick Bread
6½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
1½ cups sour cream
2 cups beer, at room temperature
½ cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups (6 oz) Gruyere cheese
1 cup (3 oz) Parmesan cheese
2 cups (6 oz) white cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans.
2. Grate all of the cheese.
3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, dried mustard and Italian herbs.
4. Remove a 1/ 2 cup of the white cheddar and 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese and a 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and set aside for the topping of the bread. Add the rest of the cheeses to the flour mixture. Using your fingers mix in the cheese so all the cheese is coated in flour.
5. In a separate bowl whisk together the beer, sour cream, tomato juice, eggs and worcestershire sauce until thoroughly combined.
6. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula just till mixed. Do not over mix.
7. Divide the batter between the two greased loaf pans and press down with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with the cheese that was set aside earlier.
8. Bake for 50 -55 minutes or until done. Allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before removing them from the pans. Place on a wire rack to cool.
I used a bit more cheese than called for, because I think that's how life should be. I also used a lot of aged cheddar, and no Gruyere, because I don't like swiss :P
Here's the cheese.
The flour mixture, with a lot more herbs than called for (including the star, chives!!)
And the flour mixture next to the mixture of beer, sour cream, tomato juice, eggs and worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire is really savory and meaty, perfect in this bread!
In this case, mix just until things come together. The more you mess with the dough the more the gluten will develop. The more the gluten develops, the tougher the dough will become. So tread lightly!
Here's the dough, mixed just enough to come together.
I started with drop biscuits, and then made a loaf.
It occurred to me that making grilled cheese and making croutons are great ways to use well-flavored quick-breads.
This gave me a ton of ideas that I hope to explore soon.
I imagined an apple walnut bread for grilled cheese with brie, and croutons for a strawberry spinach salad.
Then I imagined roasted garlic and sun ripened tomato bread for grilled cheese with mozzarella and basil, and croutons for a salad with pesto dressing and a balsamic viniagrette.
Then I imagined a rosemary potato quick bread for grilled cheese with a young goat cheese, and croutons for salad with carmelized onions and grilled chicken.
The ideas and potential go on and on, and I hope you can use that idea to spark some of your own, but for now, here's the Cheddar Beer grilled cheese, and the simple tomato soup I made.
Simple Tomato Soup
This made enough for us each to have a large bowl, seconds, and still have leftovers. I'd say it made a good 8 cups.
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2-5 cloves garlic if you like it
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 pt. milk/cream/soymilk/water/stock/whatever you have
Heat up the sauce pan, add the veggies, and cook until they're soft and the onions are translucent, around 10 minutes
Then, add your crushed tomatoes and extra liquid.
I have become a big fan of stovetop soups these days. They're fast, easy and usually healthy becuase they're so simple. After cooking your veggies and adding your liquid, just use your immersion blender.
I used the bread with some aged cheddar and parmesian.
Mmm. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
This time of year brings my favorite flower, the peony!
Next time, more garden photos! Until then, enjoy the spring!
Weekend cooking: Nancy Jenkins’ Virgin Territory
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