Tuesdays with Dorie – Irish Soda Bread (+ Challah)

So I went a little off-recipe this week. And I don’t know that it was 100% a good idea. I have only had one other soda bread in my life and it is really delicious, so based on my results, I’d almost say this was a failure. But I think there are a few things I could do to fix it. Now admittedly, it looks very pretty. I mean, I don’t think this is debatable. That looks like a good bread. But taste-wise, I was a little disappointed. This is what happened. I made this bread, challah, and the cheese souffle for French Fridays with Dorie all in one day. Big woo, right? I mean that’s really not a whole lot going on. I had the day off so it’s not like I was fitting it into a busy work schedule or anything, but what happened was I made the challah first. And the challah needed 9-10 cups of flour, pretty much depleting my stock. Why, you ask, did I make challah? I’m not Jewish, even though I’ve been told I “look Jewish” a few times. There are a number of really beautiful Jewish ladies (hello Natalie Portman!) so I take this as a nice compliment. I’ve actually never even had challah before. But I follow this blog called emmycooks and she had done a post on it and the night before this baking extravaganza I had a dream that I was eating just ginormo amounts of bread, so I had to make it. I’m sure you understand. So before I get to the soda bread, let’s talk about the challah.

This is a serious recipe, using massive amounts of flour and requiring 15 minutes of kneading (Madonna arms, here I come!). I don’t know why I was super drawn to doing this, other than the dream. A few months ago, someone asked me a strange question : If you had to eat your way out of a room, what would you want the room to be made of? My answer was bread. Not like Wonderbread, but amazing crusty, tasty bread and I think my dream might have been something like that. When I was younger, I could remember my dreams in super detail, but now I kind of just have impressions.  So anywho, I make this dough and knead it and it first looks like this:

But then after a few hours of just hanging out with Candy and the espresso maker, it looks like this!

I mean, doesn’t that look like you just want to lay your head down on it and take a nap!? It’s so pillowy and huge and awesome! So I was pretty enamored of this whole process and kind of left the soda bread till after and then I realized, “Shit, I do not have 4 cups of flour!” So I had some whole wheat flour and I thought I would do half and half. That seemed like a plan. Also berries were on sale at the store and I had a little half pint of blueberries that needed something to do. So I got all my stuff together while the challah was rising and I was feeling pretty good about things.

And after I mixed everything together I was still feeling like this was a good idea and a nice compromise. I mean, making all my Dorie stuff in one day, plus this other bread and I was making the recipe more healthy? Kudos to me!

Alas, pride cometh before a fall as they say and my bread was not really all that great. Turns out blueberries + buttermilk with no sugar = kind of a tart little bread we’ve got here. I should have definitely added some sugar. In fact, when I slathered a slice with butter and sprinkled a liberal amount of cinnamon sugar on it, it was pretty tasty. Without, it got this review from a friend “tastes like medicine.” Not my best work, to say the least.

But let’s all revel in the beauty of the challah once again, shall we? And if you want to make it, the recipe is here!

If you want to give the soda bread a try and not f*#% it up like me, visit one of our hosts for this week to get the recipe. They did this simple classic some justice, unlike me. Oh well. I hear that lemon loaf cake a’callin my name already and it’s still a few weeks until April. Catch you next time Doristas and hopefully it will be a little more successful!

French Fridays with Dorie – Cheese Souffle

This post kind of snuck up on me. Hmmm I just found out snuck isn’t a real word. Weird. I’m still using it. It’s a really busy week at work and a really busy upcoming weekend so I actually made this FFWD recipe last Sunday and just remembered as I was laying on my bed thinking about drinking a glass of wine after a 12 hour workday that I have to get this baby done! I’ve got the glass of wine and a really yummy candle lit, so I think I should be good to go.

We recently did a Celebrating Julia Child class at work, so I had witnessed and sort of helped in the preparation of a souffle not too long ago so this didn’t really worry me a lot. I borrowed the souffle dish from the store kitchen though. I don’t have one of my own. Have to fix that. Perhaps Le Creuset will come out with one in the near future… 🙂

So the ingredients are pretty simple and I usually have almost all of them on hand at all times. Once I get that elusive souffle dish, I could crank one of these out a week! Here’s my little mis en place display:

God bless those little clear glass bowls! They make even the humblest of ingredients look a little fancy-schmancy! So this comes together fairly quickly once you have the cheese grated and the egg whites whipped. Every time I do something with egg whites I am extremely thankful for my Kitchenaid. Candy really is a champ when it comes to beating egg whites. I tried to get a pic of the beautiful peaks we created but I haven’t really got the knack for getting great mixer photos yet. You know who does? Shelly over at http://www.cookiesandcups.com. She always manages to get great shots of ingredients in her mixer. She also makes delicious things. I pinned her most recent concoction and I think I might make it for Easter.

Any old who, back to the souffle, or rather what we ate with it. Even though I knew it would be really yummy, I felt like we needed to have something to chow on with it. Tristan is not really into meatless meals and the only meat I really had was bacon. Bacon is the real reason I can’t be a vegetarian. It is so delicious and versatile and I wanted to try something new with it. For a recent Tuesdays with Dorie recipe I had purchased some Medjool dates that I didn’t end up using. I’ve never bought dates before because they always make me think of this:

While Indiana Jones is very handsome to look at and super badass, I always think of how this little monkey eats the poisoned dates and saves his life (kind of) and therefor have a negative association. I bought the dates because I felt like I shouldn’t give up so quickly when faced with something I maybe don’t like and I’m so glad I did. I asked my coworker Kath for a suggestion on what to do with them and she said she stuffs them with bleu cheese and wraps them in bacon and bakes them. Sounds like a plan Stanley! I had gorgonzola so I slit open the dates, removed the nut (seed?), stuffed some gorgonzola in there and then wrapped them up in half a slice of bacon and baked them while the souffle was doing its thing. OH. MY. GOD. They might very well be one of the best things I have ever eaten. You’ll see that they’re not pretty but holy shit were they good!

The dates got really sweet and sticky and the creaminess of the cheese and the saltiness of the bacon mixed with that were just about the greatest thing ever. Make these as an appetizer for your next get-together and I promise, you won’t be sorry. The souffle was really delish. I think I got the proper amount of lift and the texture and everything seemed just right. I think maybe next time I would throw some chives in there for color and a little bit of onion-y flavor. Having only eaten one souffle before, I don’t have a lot to go on but I think it was a success. The only sad thing was that since it was only the two of us we didn’t finish it and souffle is not really a leftovers type of meal. Bummer.

True confessions time – I always make a joke that my refrigerator is 50% cheese and when gathering the ingredients for this souffle I realized just how close to true this is. I have 11 different kinds of cheese in my fridge. 11! That seems excessive. Here’s the line-up:

Gruyere

Neufchatel

Cream Cheese

Parmesan (both hard & shredded)

Merlot Bellavitano

Raspberry Bellavitano

Provolone (sliced)

Sharp Cheddar (in both a fine and coarse grate)

Mozzarella (in both a fine and coarse grate)

Velveeta (if you say this isn’t a cheese, we can’t be friends. I love Velveeta mixed with milk and melted over noodles. Sue me)

Gorgonzola

Anyone else have any embarrassing refrigerator confessions? What do you always have too much of?

French Fridays with Dorie – Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Onion Biscuits

So far this is the simplest recipe I’ve done for French Fridays with Dorie – just your basic biscuit with a little sauteed onion twist. Biscuits are kind of hard to photograph in a pretty way, so that’s why I photographed our very colorful and delicious dinner with the biscuit on the side. I wouldn’t call it cheating exactly, just kind of skirting the rules…

I felt like an amazing multi-tasker tonight because I roasted the butternut squash for the salad with honey (yum!) I made the dressing for the salad, I breaded and pan-fried the chicken, and I made these biscuits! I sense a little horn-tooting coming on…tootle-toot! But really I’ve made this salad 3 or 4 times and it’s super delicious so this wasn’t actually that challenging. I’m not saying don’t be impressed, I’m just saying don’t be that impressed. 🙂

I just couldn’t think of anything cute to garnish this plate with. I need more practice clearly. So to get these bad boys going, you just melt a little butter in a skillet, dice a small onion and saute it for a few minutes, like so:

Then you mix up a few key ingredients with your hands, add the onions and the milk and pat it out on a clean surfaced to get biscuit-ed:

The recipe said it would make about 32 biscuits and I just must be grossly overestimating the size of a regular biscuit or something because I only got 16 and I thought mine were pretty small. Am I missing something? Was this recipe supposed to be called “Mini Saint-Germaine-Des-Pres Onions Biscuits?”

After I had my salad pretty much all ready to go, I popped these into the oven so we could eat them while they were still piping hot and I must say, they were good. They were very good. I am not a huge biscuit person. I’ve never eaten biscuits with gravy, not out of an aversion to them or anything, just because it wasn’t something we made growing up. When we had bread with a meal, it was usually of the Pillsbury variety. I’m not embarrassed. I LOVE Crescent Rolls. And Breadsticks. And Flaky Layers Biscuits. But that doesn’t mean I won’t make these again. I most definitely would. They had a really nice crunch and subtle flavor and were really easy to throw together. I’m not forgoing my refrigerated tubes of dough, not in this lifetime at least, but they aren’t necessary when these were so simple to do.

Oh and the salad from tonight is SO GOOD. I was going to save it for my next recipe round-up, but why? I found it here on SkinnyTaste.com and you should definitely make it. I left out the pumpkin seeds and obviously added some chicken breasts that I pounded thin and dipped first in flour, then in a beaten egg, then coated in some panko and pan-fried. They add a nice crunch and some protein so it makes it more of a meal than a side. I never knew how delicious butternut squash could be until I roasted it this way. It’s awesome and cheap and good for you, so you should try it too. I only used half the squash for this salad so I will have to find something to do with the rest. Oooh the possibilities! Hope everyone else thought these were as yummy as I did!