Category Archives: Bread

Orange and Oat Scones

IMG_2157

I fear I’ve gotten in a breakfast rut.  I used to change it up with oatmeal, smoothies, omelettes, and pancakes.  These days, the fastest breakfast I can put together in the morning is toast and eggs.  And, last week, it officially got old.  Requiring something different, I ventured out and made scones.

IMG_2142

Unlike brunch where scones can be sweet and almost-dessert, a weekday breakfast needs to be filling, healthy and satisfying.  These scones satisfy all three criteria and the taste is sublime.  Perfectly sweet and hearty, the scones are perfect during these cold mornings alongside a cup of my favorite tea.  I had dried apricots on hand, but you can use any dried fruit you have.

IMG_2156

I kept them in an airtight container for the week and just toasted them every morning and the scones did not dry out for the whole week.

Orange and Oat Scones

from 101 Cookbooks
yields 8 large scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp coarse turbinado or Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, currants, cranberries, blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like little pearls.  Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats and zest. Stir in the buttermilk and apricots until just moistened.
  4. Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing.
  5. After bringing the dough together, gently pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes (see photo) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, leaving room between each scone.
  6. Sprinkle the tops with the 2 tbsp coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minute or until the bottoms are deeply golden.

4 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread, Breakfast

Chocolate Banana Bread

One of my favorite combinations is banana and chocolate.  More so than chocolate and peanut butter.  (Gasp!)  And, as it seems like I have a thing for baked banana items, chocolate banana bread is one of those things that have been on my to-bake/cook list for a while.  And, as usual, I had the perfect amount of over-ripe bananas sitting around for just this occasion.

 

Won. Der. Ful.  And, that would be an understatement.  We actually made two loaves.  Binks was devouring piece after piece of the first loaf when we received some news from a neighbor, which deserved (at the very least) a loaf to be gifted.  That was probably the saddest my husband has ever gotten about banana bread in his life.

 

This bread is really a denser cake that is full of deep, rich chocolate flavor, without losing the banana foundation.  The chocolate chips in the bread add so much that it really moves this up from a ‘bread’ to a ‘dessert’.  I can promise you on my loaf pans and the pathetic look on Binks’ face when I moved one loaf away from him that this is absolutely addictive.

Chocolate Banana Bread

slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (mini chocolate chips work great here)
Instructions:
  1. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter, salt, and sugar together.
  4. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.
  5. Mix in baking soda, cocoa, and flour.
  6. Mix everything until well incorporated, about 3 minutes in an electric mixer.
  7. Add chocolate chips.
  8. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes – 55 minutes, until a toothpick entered in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  9. Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, invert the loaf onto the cooling rack.

3 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread, Cake, Desserts

Buttermilk Cornbread

Now that fall is officially upon us, the comfort food season for me has begun. I love that now the heartier dishes are coming out. The best part is the breads. Whether garlic bread to accompany your favorite pasta dish or scones for the perfect brunch omelette, bread is really a necessary addition for fall. And nothing speaks fall and comfort in the South quite like cornbread.

;

I’m responsible for these every Thanksgiving and there are never any leftovers. Perfectly crumbly without being dry or overly sweet, this cornbread recipe is a favorite. I prefer sweeter cornbread, than ones with jalapenos in it, which seems to be a favorite for many. To me, it’s like putting nuts in brownies: no, no and no. While these go wonderfully with a big bowl of soup or chili, I was content just eating by itself for a perfect late-afternoon snack. Butter optional – but preferred.

Buttermilk Cornbread
barely adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in microwave in large bowl. To melted butter, stir in sugar.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together baking soda and buttermilk. Set aside.
  4. To melted butter, quickly beat in eggs until fully incorporated. Then, add and mix in buttermilk mixture until smooth.
  5. Blend in cornmeal, flour, and salt until fully blended and no lumps remain.
  6. Pour into greased pan.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

7 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread

Banana Bread

Call this a staple.  Everyone should have a banana bread recipe in their collection.  And I’m ready to hear what your favorites are because after many years of searching, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the one.  The one that can make mothers forget why you picked a fight with them last week – er, and  yesterday.  The one that can win over mother in-laws.  The one that you don’t just make because you have ripe bananas, but the one that you wait for bananas to ripen so that you can make.  The one that has been tried and tested everyday for a week and still tastes great.

Have I lost you?  Let’s back up.  Banana bread is easy … and it’s hard.  First, it’s easy because it is an easy way to use up a lot of ripe bananas.  I tend to stock up.  My fault because once I see a speckle, I will not eat it.  Second, it’s easy because I haven’t tasted a banana bread that didn’t have banana flavor.  That leads to the hard part of banana bread.  Who knew it was so complicated?  Almost all banana breads I’ve made and tried tend to be gummy, too dense and greasy.  All except for this.  After some considerable searching, I found a recipe that is packed with banana flavor without the weight, and a sugary crust that make each bite as wonderful as the first.  Let’s say that bread should be bready and this remained bready for four days after – the longest I could the bread around in my house.

A slice of this and my mom forgot all about my bad attitude.  For a solid day.  There’s magic in this bread.

Banana Bread

adapted from Annie’s Eats via Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5 large, very ripe bananas, peeled
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly spray a loaf pan (about 9 x 5 inches) with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; whisk together, and set aside.
  3. Place 5 bananas in a microwave safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and make several slits in the wrap to allow steam to escape.
  4. Microwave on high until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the bananas to a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes (you should have ½-¾ cup liquid).
  5. Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until reduced to about ¼ cup, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the bananas and the reduced banana liquid.  Mash with a fork or whisk until fairly smooth.  Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the banana mixture.
  8. Fold together, just until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Do not over-mix the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.
  9. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the assembled loaf.
  10. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-75 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing.

12 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread, Favorites

Cinnamon Toast

As my family spent the weekend telling stories and sharing memories a year later, nostalgia was on the menu.  As children, my mother made cinnamon toast often on weekends.  A cross between toast and a cookie, my sister and I looked forward to these mornings served with a cold glass of milk.  My dad on the other hand, sat at the edge of the table, paying bills and having tea with his toast.  He would listen to my sister and I entertain each other with ridiculous stories, and we would watch him meticulously write his checks and gather materials for our first outing of the weekend – the bank.  Happening almost like clock work, the only variable was the breakfast and lately, I’ve had cinnamon toast on my mind.

While my mom used regular white bread, which is commonly used, I switched out for a loaf of wheat french bread that I had on hand.  Again, I really am giving you a how-to as opposed to a real recipe, but this is one of my all-time favorite foods.  Simple and easy to make, it’s perfect for anyone and everyone.  I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy a piece of bread laden with cinnamon and sugar?

Cinnamon Toast

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of bread (if using French bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
  • Spread butter on each slice of bread.
  • Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar mix.
  • Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes until it’s golden brown.

6 Comments

Filed under Bread, Breakfast

Rosemary Bread

I’m a bread fan.  Are you?  You know, the fresh-baked, crusty outside that requires a serrated knife to crack into the soft and pillowy insides.  The type that’s perfectly soft but holds up to a hefty spread of pure unadulterated butter.

When I was selected to create a menu for the Foodbuzz 24×24, I knew I wanted to incorporate rosemary from the herb garden.  To complement my garden inspired menu, I wanted to create a rustic loaf using rosemary with some other herbs.  Making breads like these always leave me wondering I don’t bake basics like bread more often.  Have you baked bread before?  That’s a problem I’m more than happy to correct.

And, did I mention it goes perfectly with butter?

Side note – this bread tastes a lot like the bread you get at Macaroni Grill.  

Rosemary Bread
adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 and 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme, minced
  • 1/2 tsp basil, minced
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast in a large bowl.  Proofing:   Add the yeast and sugar in a large bowl.  Stir in water and mix.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil.  Mix until it comes together.  You can use a mixer with a dough hook, but I just used my hands.  Get it to come together, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes.  You want the dough to be smooth and elastic.
  3. Once smooth, place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, place in your oven with the light on and let it sit for an hour.
  4. Remove from the oven, punch down and knead again.  Let it rise again in the oiled bowl.  This time you don’t have to put back in the oven.  I take this time to preheat the oven to 375.  Once the dough has sat for another hour, bake for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve warm.

4 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread

Local. Sustainable. Organic. A Garden-Inspired Menu

I have been very fortunate to come from and marry into a family interested in having their own vegetable gardens.  Every summer, I am pretty much guaranteed that my family CSA will supply me with organic vegetables once a week.  My in-laws, with acreage, have devoted a quarter of their land to harvesting their own vegetables.

The variety includes squash, potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, okra, lettuce, spinach, chard, garlic, onion, cilantro, mint, tomatoes, green beans, pears, cantaloupe, chili peppers, and much more.  Needless to say that my grocery bill is substantially lower during this time of year.

Eating from the garden, in short, tastes better.  Much much better.  Fruits taste sweeter.  Vegetables taste fresher and just generally have more flavor.

As a gesture of gratitude, I cooked a meal to thank those that have given me more than just produce – but really a new way about thinking about cooking and quality of food.  This Foodbuzz 24×24 menu is comprised of local organic, sustainable or organic ingredients.

Menu:
Blueberry Mint Soda
Rosemary Bread
Deviled Eggs
Fried Green Tomatoes
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Reduction
Pan-seared Halibut over Wilted Spinach, Texas Portobello Mushrooms and Tomatoes with a Citrus Shallot Dressing
Squash Gratin
Peaches with Homemade Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Ice Cream

Served on a (fortunately) cooler Texas evening, we enjoyed this meal outside near the vegetable garden.  Served family style, this experience was more than a meal but a celebration of the people who dedicated themselves to feeding themselves and their families better.

When I first started grocery shopping and cooking for myself, thinking about where my food comes from was not even in my thought process.  In my mind, shopping at the big chain stores for cheaper blueberries and shopping at an organic store for duper expensive blueberries would yield the same result, the former just requiring an additional rinse under some cold water.

Well, times have changed and I’ve grown a bit wiser.  In this global world where any food is accessible year-round, I now focus on buying for the season rather than for the sale.  In the end, the product is not the same.

Instead of investing in produce that has traveled thousands of miles, I encourage you to check out your local farmer’s markets, join a CSA, buy seasonally, or grow a garden, no matter how small.  Growing and knowing the food you eat will change how you look at your plate.

7 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Bread, Dinner, Uncategorized

Parmesan French Toast with Caramelized Onions

Lately, there has been quite a proliferation of breakfast options on this blog. With some rare exceptions and the typical eggs and toast, most of my breakfasts consist of sweet options – oatmeal, cereal and pancakes. I woke one more morning wanting savory French toast, and I was determined to make it happen.

And, I did.

Starting with a wonderful loaf of going-stale bakery bread, I put together a recipe that I know will make its way into my breakfast repertoire on special occasions. When, I have a breakfast/brunch menu consisting of the usual sweet options (scones, muffins, fruit etc.), I plan on using this recipe to balance and offer guests a surprising and delightful twist on a classic.

I also paired this with perfectly caramelized onions. I also thought about poaching an egg on top, but stuck to the onions. There are quite a bit of options here.

Parmesan French Toast
– Serves 4

Ingredients;

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 8 (1/2 inch) slices of going-stale (about 2 day old) brioche or country bakery-style bread.

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the half and half, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper.
  2. Soak the slices until fully absorbed. Take your time with this. You want the bread to be soaked.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Once the pan is hot, cook the bread on each side until golden brown.
  5. Serve warm with caramelized onions (recipe to follow).

Caramelized Onions

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 2 large yellow or white onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar

Directions:

  1. Using a thick-bottomed pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  2. Stir occasionally to keep the onions from burning.
  3. After the onions have become a bit translucent, add the salt and sugar.
  4. Cook over medium heat until it’s caramelized.
  5. Watch your stove and the heat. If the onions are browning too fast, reduce the heat a bit.
  6. This process takes about 30 minutes. Do not rush it as it is completely worth the effort.

7 Comments

Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Vegetarian

Banana Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Streusel

We recently visited Binks’ cousin’s son.  She had him less than a month after I delivered.  However, we wanted to wait a good amount of time as she was recovering from a C-Section, her entire family (including her parents) were recovering from the flu (yes, with the newborn there), and her baby developed a sinus infection.  That and scheduling issues allowed us to visit him when he was a little older than one month.

And I was not going to go empty handed.  I made one of my favorite muffins.  These bakery-style muffins are adored by everyone in my family and I was 90% sure that she would enjoy it as well.  I was right.  Perfectly moist and full of banana flavor, the muffins also come with a beautiful crumbly cinnamon-y topping.  A beautiful presentation with very little effort.  The recipe allows you to gather ingredients you likely have in your pantry with some very ripe bananas.  If you’re at all like me, you have very ripe bananas at least once a month.

Banana Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Streusel
adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 medium-size very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
For the streusel topping:
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Line 12 muffin cups with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, beat the bananas, vanilla, brown sugar, egg, and melted butter until everything is incorporated.  Mix the wet mixture into the dry until everything is wet and fully mixed.  You do not want to over-mix.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, spoon the batter into the muffin liners.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the streusel topping until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Sprinkle liberally over all of the muffins.  You should have enough to have a good amount on each muffin.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 19-20 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

4 Comments

Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Muffins

French Toast Casserole

I love French toast.  Remember?  Love it.

I love bread pudding.  Remember?  Loves it.

Now, French toast + bread pudding = this.

This = french toast casserole.

Math is good.

Math is delicious.

This was by far the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time.  The cinnamon-y nutty topping is the best part.  Perfectly eggy. Not mushy.  Perfectly spiced.  With a splash of the boozy.  Meant to be shared.  Your family and/or friends would love you for it.

French Toast Casserole
adapted from Paula Deen

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb day-old challah bread
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Praline Topping Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter (1/4 lb)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts – only b/c that’s what I had on hand.  Next time, I’ll try pecans
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Directions:

  1. Slice challah bread into 1 inch slices.  Arrange slices into a buttered 9 x 13 flat baking dish in two rows.  I overlapped the slices a bit.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, Grand Marnier, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Make sure it’s all combined.  Pour mixture over the bread slices to evenly cover all the bread slices.  I had to spoon some of the mix over the bread after pouring to ensure even coverage.
  4. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, preheat the oven to 350F.  Take off the foil.
  6. Prepare the praline topping by mixing all the praline topping ingredients and blending well.
  7. Spread the praline topping over the bread evenly and bake for 40 minutes, until the bread puffs up and gets golden brown.
  8. Serve warm.

Note:  I don’t think you need maple syrup as it is sufficiently sweet on its own.  However, if you want to, use hot maple syrup.

8 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread, Breakfast, Uncategorized, Vegetarian