Pull-Apart Cheesy Garlic Bread

This is the third version I’ve made since this past fall, but only the first version I’ve been relatively happy with. There might be still more work to be done, but I will keep at it like the trooper that I am. D&D_1643

Things I’ve learned:
-You need a sturdy bread. A round is okay, but I like a Chicago Italian loaf the best so far. A white bread (version #2, I used White Mountain Bread round) and it was just too soft. You can’t really pull-apart the bread. Sort of defeats the purpose.
-Roast the head of garlic. Great flavor and compliments the minced garlic. Yes.
-Melt the butter in a pot and add all flavorings. Keep on low to infuse the butter with lots of flavor.
-Use sliced cheese in the lower part of the cross-hatched of bread. Use grated cheese above.
-Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
-Fresh herbs – your choice but I like chives, parsley, and finely minced rosemary.
-Red pepper flakes are a must, even if it’s just a tiny pinch.
-Make the cross-hatch pattern large – it’s easier to stuff than a tight cross-hatch pattern.

Loaf of Chicago Italian Bread
Head of garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 Tbs minced parsley
1 tsp finely minced rosemary
I Tbs Dijon mustard
1/3 pound provolone, sliced kind of thick
1/3 pound colby, grated on large holes of box grater
minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut top 1/2 inch of head of garlic to expose cloves. Place on piece of foil, pour olive oil on garlic, wrap tightly in foil and bake about 40 minutes, until garlic head is soft. Remove and set aside. Leave oven on.

Melt butter over medium low heat in saucepan, add in minced garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper, zest and juice from lemon. Add in parsley, rosemary, and Dijon mustard. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place bread on foil and make a large cross-hatch pattern, slicing most of the way, but not all the way through. Brush tops and sides with butter. Slide provolone in crevices, then squish roasted garlic in with the provolone, and then stuff the colby as well. Spread remaining butter with herbs into crevices and on top.

Bake until cheese melts, 18 – 20 minutes. Top with chives and serve.

15 January 2018

Chex Mix or something like it – round 1

My mom, (here we go again), always made chex mix for Christmas Eve. No idea why really. Actually that is kind of strange – Christmas was always banana nut bread, magic bars, M&M cookies, vanilla taffy, and chex mix, oh, and then the very strange cheese ball that I always made. Once again I mention that. Strange.

Take away story: yes, do let your eleven year-old run Christmas Eve. It makes for some great stories. But not necessarily great cheese balls. Just saying.

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This is so not my mom’s recipe, but mine since I decided to make it for Christmas Eve this year. That said, this is an experiment and I want to see what I like and what I want to change. I think my “part 2” will be for the Super Bowl. Yep.

4 cups Crispix Cereal
8 ozs lightly salted cashews
1 cup pretzels twists
1 cups of bagel chips and/or pita chips
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, bruised – not too mashed
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 tsp ground garlic
1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
good pinch kosher salt

In a heavy bottomed pot over low heat, melt butter with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, ground garlic, Herbs de Provence. Let simmer super low while preheating oven to 250 degrees.

Remove thyme and garlic clove. Add Crispix, cashews, pretzels, and bagel chips to a heavy-duty foil lined baking pan. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and mix well to combine and let soak in just a bit, 2 – 3 minutes. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes and if you are like me adding just a bit more Worcestershire sauce each time. Spread on paper towels to cool and then store in an zip top bag. I plan to make it dinner several times this week. I mean it is cereal for dinner, right?

Modified from : www.halfbakedharvest.com/moms-secret-Christmas-eve-Chex-mix

Guess I’m not the only person who had a mom that made this for Christmas Eve. Cool.

 

Spiced Pecans

I have many (many!) recipes for spiced nuts (more than I have ever used but I guess I need to D&D_1183remedy that situation). One of my favorite’s is my adapted version of Union Square Cafe’s Best Bar Nuts, but if a nut recipe has fresh minced rosemary I’m pretty much all in.  But, that said, I’m not a fan of nuts that use egg whites to coat. It’s not so much the taste, though that is a bit odd, but largely a texture issue.  I’m kind of a butter, sugar, and bake girl.

4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Worcestershire
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
One wedge of fresh lime or more if it makes you happy

Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Add pecans and cook, swirling pan constantly until pecans are toasted, 5 minutes or so. Add the chopped rosemary and swirl because it smells so good.

Add remaining ingredients except lime and stir to coat pecans. Continue cooking and keep stirring for 1 – 2 minutes. Add lime juice and stir for a bit. Transfer pecans to parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer and let cool. Break up any large pieces.

Note: This is not in the original recipe, but I let the pecans sit in a low oven for about ten minutes. They are still sticky, but the humidity here is a bit of a hot mess (not much if a surprise really).

All that said, the flavor is fantastic or amazing. Might just be a new favorite – yep it is.

www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Jessicas-Spiced-Pecans

Super Bowl 50

A Year Ago – Salted Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread – make at your peril. No, seriously.

Please don’t make this.* No, really, I mean it. Don’t.  How do you deal with a recipe like this? See below.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp water, if necessary

Put the flour, sugar, rosemary, salt, and Parmesan into the bowl of food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse just until a soft dough forms, the dough should hold together when squeezed together. If not, add water and pulse to combine.

Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and transfer dough on to it. Using the wrap, form dough into a log until tight and about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Slice dough into 1/3 inch slices and arrange on baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool the shortbread for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Claire Robinson (sorry, I kind of like you, but don’t like this – what can I say?)

* I may just be an idiot, but I had to try this. Confectioners’ sugar? Should have known better. Really? But I do love me some cheese crackers and am pretty much willing to try any recipe for them.  So strange, I just had to do it. It’s oddly compelling.  But that was a huge mistake. What do you do with a recipe like this? Keep it as a warning? Well if you’re me, I will live with this forever and I will never make that mistake again. And it ended up in the trash can after the first batch. There we are. Ugh. What a waste of rosemary. No picture because there are no crackers. I should have known better since I make crackers all the time. Sigh.

Parmesan, Rosemary, and Walnut Shortbread

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Rosemary Parmesan Walnut Shortbread

I don’t really know how I started this cheese cracker thing but I’m glad I did. I mean, when  you have an entire binder for crackers, that may just be a little, well, nuts. I did set up some of my favorites in a competition of sorts in 2012 and judged on the following:

  • Time to Mix / Log or Rolled out
  • Dough Handling / Time to Chill
  • Spicy / Nuts
  • Flavor
  • Crispy
  • $
  • All Around

These are by far my favorite cheese crackers. The taste is divine, texture excellent, and they keep quite well. Hence winner of the cracker challenge of 2012.  I honestly wonder why I make any others, but I enjoy experimenting. I have collected other recipes since then and need to stage the competition again –  perhaps this year.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ozs freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted at 350 for 10 minutes, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

Cream butter, add Parmesan and mix well. Stir in flour, rosemary, walnuts, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Form the mixture into 1″ logs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an half an hour or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 30. Source: Epicurious

14 May 2006 – Mom’s Day
1 July 2012 – Winner of the Cracker Challenge 2012
23 December 2013 -Christmas Eve
2 March 2015
7 March 2015 – just because I wanted more.

Now my goal is to create one of my own and I know it will include cheddar cheese, and perhaps some Parmesan, nuts – walnuts likely, cayenne, and rosemary.

Rosemary Cheddar Crackers – Foster’s Market

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Rosemary Cheddar Crackers

2 cups (8 ozs) grated cheddar
8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp sea salt, plus more sprinkling
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne

Cream butter and cheese together in a large bowl with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until smooth and well combined.  Stir together the flour, rosemary, red pepper, and cayenne in a separate bowl.

Turn the dough onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. Roll into log shape. Wrap in paper and refrigerate for several hours or over night until dough is firm and sliceable.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut the log into 1/4″ slices and arrange on baking sheet. Using fork, prick each cracker several times and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

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Okay. I have issues with this recipe. Now I know I’m a bit of a cracker snob and all, but I should have trusted my gut and not used dried rosemary. How I so regret losing my huge rosemary plant. Must start a new one as soon as can be.

Cayenne and red pepper flakes makes for a hot cracker, perhaps too much. I will stick with just cayenne from now on. Don’t need the extra salt on top – too much.

Dough was super nice, bake time was spot on. Easy to put together with things on hand, so not all is bad, but I think it could be better with just a few adjustments.

FostersMarketCookbook

Foster’s Market

One of my favorite memories of my time in Chapel Hill, NC., was going to Foster’s Market. This cookbook is the only one I’ve ever stood in line to get signed and I got one for my great friend too. Sara Foster is so amazing. Both the Durham store, just off the 15-501, and the Chapel Hill store on Airport. It was the place I took all my friends who came to visit. If I could ever open a restaurant/shop, it would be a combination of Foster’s Market, European Street in Jacksonville, FL – my home city (not a town), and Food Glorious Food in Tallahassee, FL.

Source: Foster’s Market

 

Fig Cocktail Crackers

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Fig, Orange, Rosemary Cocktail Crackers

I have to admit, this recipe really intrigued me. I have a slightly totally weird obsession with making crackers – cheese crackers in particular. I have a binder of recipes that I’ve collected over the years and had a full out cheese cracker fit contest in 2012 pitting 6 of my favorite recipes against each other in a cracker challenge. So this was completely different. But not really.

  • 2/3 cup finely chopped black mission or golden dried figs
  • 1/2 dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs orange zest (1 orange)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted  pecans

Place chopped  figs and sherry in microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and microwave for 1 minute.  Let them cool and soak up the flavor while you prep everything else.

In a small bowl, rub the rosemary and zest into the sugar until sugar is moist and aromatic.

In a sanding mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter with the orange rosemary sugar at low speed until creamy.  Beat in the egg yolk until just combined, about 1 minute.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and beat until smooth. Add the salt and flour and nuts and beat until just incorporated.

Drain figs and pat try and sprinkle with a  little flour, mixing it around. Fold them into dough by hand.

Turn the cookie dough out onto a work surface and knead until it just comes together. Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk. Roll out each disk between 2 sheets of wax or parchment paper to approx. 1/4 inch thick.  Slide the parchment covered disks onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour, until very firm or refrigerate for several hours up  to two days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and link baking sheet with parchment. Working with one piece of dough at a time, peel off the top sheet of parchment. Using a 1 1/2 inch round cookie  cutter, stamp out the  cookies as close together as possible. Arrange on baking sheet 1 inch apart.

Bake bite sized cookies for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly golden, shifting the baking sheet half way through cooking.  Let cool on baking sheet  for 3 minutes then transfer  to wire racks to cool completely. Baked cookies can be kept  in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Source: Beth Lee (omgyummy.com)  adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Apricot Tarragon Cocktail Cookies

Bench Notes: Well, this was very interesting. I liked the flavors together – fig, orange, rosemary, pecans. But I pretty much love rosemary in everything – but it can beat you over the head a little bit. So restraint is important. Went over very well at the office. My boss said, “do you always make strange things?” How do you answer a question like that? Then he said, “I don’t know what any of it is, but I like it.” I’m guessing that’s a compliment, of some sort – ish.

I did let the dough rest in the refrigerator for two days, covered in parchment and I was really worried that it would dry out, but it didn’t. Guessing that’s the olive oil.  I haven’t made a cracker with olive oil before and was concerned, but it was really good. Almost split that infinitive.

I will be thinking of other flavors that will work with this idea. Maybe add a bit of parmesan? Do love cheese.