Sunday Supper, and Savory Monkey Bread

Posted: September 14, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna, Sunday Suppers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Since my life has gotten hectic, and my Saturdays are currently swallowed by the dual demons of Getting Up Early and Logging Lots of Miles, followed by the spare visit from Post-Run Disco Nap, Sundays are where I look when I look forward to the weekend.

Part of the wonder of Sunday is that generally, especially as Summer fades through Indian Summer into Fall, there’s nothing to do except watch football and cook. Two of my favorite things to do. So this past Sunday, I decided to implement a process, whereby I make a big meal for Sunday Supper. It serves as a fuel-up for the week, and as a reminder that the weekend ain’t over yet. It gives leftovers for lunch on Monday, and the reminder that Saturday and Sunday aren’t that far away.

This inaugural week, Sunday Supper also gave me the chance to fire up my oven, which was repaired on Saturday, after not working since June 17. (No… I did not break it by kicking it when the Celtics choked away banner number 18 to the Lakers that night. As far as you know.)

The menu was straightforward, delicious food. On Sunday morning, I browned a brisket in my roasting pan on the stove, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then dropped it into my slow-cooker with 2 small chopped onions, 4 chopped stalks of celery, 4 chopped carrots, a can of low-sodium beef broth (yes, I know, canned. But sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do) and a can of no-salt-added chopped tomatoes. I set the slow cooker on low, and sat back to wait until the delicious smells got overwhelming.
Roughly 8 hours later, I shredded and chopped the meat, and pureed the rest of the items in the slow cooker into a gravy of sorts, and put everything back in the slow-cooker, this time on WARM, instead of LOW.

To go with the excellent brisket (I love Crock-Potting cheap, tough cuts of meat into delicious oblivion. It warms my soul), I made mashed cauliflower. Our CSA had given us a head of it, and while I’m not the HUGEST fan of cauliflower and broccoli, I figured that I shouldn’t let this veggie go to waste. So, I simmered it in milk, and once it was tender, mashed it with butter, salt, pepper, and some of the reserved milk. In all, it turned out delicious, and I was able to trick myself into believing that it was mashed potatoes. Well played, Cauli. Well played indeed.

The real star of the show, confirmed by the response the photo got on Facebook, was the Savory Monkey Bread I made based on Serious Eats‘ recipe.

Savory Monkey Bread

adapted (lightly) from Serious Eats

1. Scald 1 cup of milk. Scalding refers to heating milk up to 180 degrees, no more, no less. Let the milk cool to lukewarm. I judged lukewarm to be about finger temperature, when I stuck my finger in the pot of milk and it felt neither hot nor cold. I don’t know anybody named Luke, so I had to wing it.

2. Combine the milk, 1 packet of rapid-rise yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 2 cups of flour in a mixer. With the dough hook or paddle, beat until everything is well-combined. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

3. Add another half-cup of flour,  half a stick of room temperature butter and a teaspoon of salt to the bowl, and knead with the dough hook (or by hand) until the butter is incorporated, and the dough is springy and a little bit sticky. I didn’t want to over-beat mine, and the original recipe doesn’t give a time guideline, but it’s nearly impossible to OVER knead your dough. I checked by touching it. When I could poke it, and it felt sticky, but it didn’t stick to my hand, I decided it was ready.
Form into a ball, cover, and let rise again for about 40 minutes.

4. While the dough is rising the second time, make the butter dip. I think next time, I will melt my butter, because it seems easier to manipulate than soft smushy butter with soft smushy dough.
Combine 1 garlic clove (or more, to taste) with a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning, a half-teaspoon each of dried rosemary and dried thyme, half a teaspoon (ish) of smoked hot paprika, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a whole bunch of grated asiago cheese (I probably used a quarter of a cup) in a food processor.
When the garlic is finely chopped up and the dried herbs start looking like little bits, drop in the other half-stick of butter and combine. This is a compound butter. Leave it on the counter at room temp.
I think that next time, I’ll melt the butter. Then, add the chopped up garlic and herbs TO the melted butter with the spices, and reserve the cheese for sprinkling.

5. Preheat your oven to 325. Grease your pan. I used a 7″ springform bundt pan, but you can use anything you’ve got.
Take the doubled dough out of the bowl, and cut it in half. Cut each half into 16 pieces (more if you feel like it), for a total of 32 (or more). I used my bench scraper, but you can also tear, use kitchen shears, or a knife.
Roll each blob into a ball, and smear with the compound butter (or dip the balls in the melted herb butter) and sprinkle with shredded parmesan, asiago, romano, or all three.
Put the blobs into the greased pan, stacking them on top of each other and trying to fit them into the little crevices so that they’re somewhat evenly layered. (Deb’s post on traditional Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze has great photos, as always, of the process)
If you’re like me, this is the moment to give the whole shebang another coating of grated cheese. Be like me. It’s fun.
Cover the pan, and let it rise for 30-40 minutes, until the little blobs of dough are filling up the pan.

6. Grate on a little more cheese right before you stick the pan in the oven. I won’t tell anybody.

7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown, and smells like you’re going to faint. Remove from the pan if you can (a springform was REALLY helpful for this) and let cool a little bit, until you aren’t burning your fingers trying to eat it.

This was a great way to kick off what I hope will become a Sunday tradition. Stay tuned to find out what happens next Sunday!


Gourmet, Unbound: March

Posted: March 1, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Gourmet Unbound, Johanna | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

February and I never got along very well. In fact, most years, I spend the entire month crossing out days on my mental calendar, and willing myself through: Only 26 more days…. Only 18 more days… 12 Days left, that’s less than two weeks, we’ve almost made it! It is, of course, about that time I start realizing I am slowly slipping into madness. BUT, I’m not alone — a huge majority of the people I know also hate February, although of course there was that one adorable and pink little bright spot last week. However, for many years the month was divided into the days leading up to my friend Erin’s birthday (the 14th), and the days following it. Not very promising, I tell you.


But for all the years I’ve spent hoping that February would just be over faster, that it would just end painlessly, or best yet, that it would be cancelled due to lack of interest, this year was a rarity. Packed with runs, races, birthday parties, and a cake undertaking, not to mention mailing cookies all over creation and accidently getting quite drunk a few times, February flew by! And all of a sudden, on Thursday evening, I realized with a start that February was almost over, and I hadn’t  even THOUGHT about what I was planning to make for Gourmet Unbound!
It appears that Gourmet didn’t much like writing in February, since the majority of the recipes I found on Epicurious appeared to be variations on things I’ve done recently, or involve seafood (which is risky-at-best when purchasing it at my neighborhood grocery store). The one recipe that caught my attention in a big way was a Cheddar Jalapeno Bread from the March 2007 issue. After taking a mental inventory of the contents of my cupboards and fridge, I decided I could throw this together after the USA-Canada Gold Medal hockey game, and have bread for Monday’s dinner.


Turns out, I had far fewer canned pickled jalapenos left than I thought. LUCKILY, I save leftovers of everything , so when I made cranberry-chipotle relish back in November, I saved the last 2 chipotles and their adobo in a tupperware in the fridge. So when I realized I only had 1 pickled jalapeno left, I did what a resourceful cook does, and I diced up 2 chipotles and added them to the dough along with a teaspoon or so of the adobo.
I also used pre-shredded cheese. I hang my head in shame. But it was tasty and easy.
I did my best to follow this recipe exactly, despite all the urges I as a bread baker had to add more flour when I saw how wet the dough was. It’s apparently supposed to be very wet. The bread comes out of the pan after baking with a nice, somewhat airy crumb, no huge air holes but not dense like a brick, either. It’s pleasantly spicy, not overly cheesy, and quite tasty when sliced, broiled and smeared with butter.


Not, ahem, that I’d know anything about that….
In summation, this is a good recipe, although I think that some tinkering could definitely be done with it. I’ll probably mess with it more in later posts, trying to find my own perfect iteration of Cheesy-Jalapeno bread. But for now? This was a great way to end February and say What up to March.


Savory Bread Pudding

Posted: January 26, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa, delish | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

After last week’s fried chicken debacle, I felt the need to redeem myself by trying a new recipe.  I was a little nervous, because unfortunately this past week was even worse than the previous, so god only knew how I was going to screw up this time.  Perhaps I could screw up ramen noodles, the easiest food on earth.  Maybe destroy a salad and make it inedible…at this point my life is so ridiculous that I wouldn’t be shocked if a foray into cinnamon toast resulted in the amputation of a toe.  The good news is, it can’t really get worse from here, so I might as well just start assuming that its going to get better.  Which is why I decided to set out on a new adventure entitled: Alyssa tries to make bread pudding for the first time without F-ING it up, burning the building down, or losing a toe.

I’ve been looking at this recipe for a while on epicurious.com for leek bread pudding, which sounds super good.  Although the more I thought about it, it felt like it was kind of missing something, and we all know by now that I can’t just leave well enough alone with a recipe, I have to mess with it.  The first thing I decided to do was to take away some of the ridiculous salt they have you put in as well as some of the butter and make up for it by adding a couple slices of diced pancetta (I KNOW, I add bacon to everything, but seriously how is that bad?).   I also traded out the emmentaler for havarti, which was not entirely based on flavor, rather than price.  In small town Ohio, good and affordable cheeses and breads are kind of difficult to find (I was shocked too), so I have to make do with what I can.  I love havarti because its so creamy and delicious, but I think you could substitute for pretty much any cheese that melts smoothly.

I added the pancetta to the sautee pan with the leeks so that they absorbed all the pancetta-y deliciosity.

raw leeks and pancetta

Make sure you cook the leeks until they are extremely soft.  They should fall apart fairly easily when you press them with a spatula.  Some of them will get a little brown and crispy (same with the pancetta), but the rest should almost melt.  That way they will absorb into the bread with the custard and bring its flavor with it.

cooked leeks and pancetta

I also used a little extra cheese when I was layering, because you really can’t go wrong with cheese.

Luckily for me, this turned out really well and when I pulled it out of the oven I felt like I was on Food Network Challenge transporting my 6 foot tall muppet cake to the table without destroying it, because leave it to me to get through this whole recipe and then drop it on the floor as I lift it the one foot up from the over to the stove top.  Thanks to a steady hand and a prayer to the food gods, I was successful and had this to show for my efforts:

Leek bread puddingI really wish that I could somehow make your computer screen scratch’n'sniff right now because I was salivating as this cooled just smelling it from the living room.  It turned out beautifully, and it is just what I needed to get my mind back on track.  I’m taking it as a sign that since this recipe went so well, things will start to look up soon :)



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.