More Football Baking

26 10 2010

It’s getting to be a bit of a thing, this football-watching.  I’ve really taken to baking or cooking up something delicious to share with my friends on Sunday, and it’s really nice to have something fun to look forward to on Sunday night – a nice cap to the weekend that lets you forget about Monday morning for a few more hours.

Gotta love the muffin method!

Two Sundays ago, Melissa was hosting, and she wanted to make a big pot of chili.  She requested that I whip up some cornbread to go along with it, and of course I was game.  But I didn’t want to stop at just plain old cornbread.

Jalapeño and cheddar make everything better!

No, only the best in home-pickled and hand-imported ingredients will do.  That is to say, I found a half-full jar of pickled peppers lurking in the fridge, and the Baby Loaf of Tillamook cheddar needed to be put to good use, because moldy Tillamook is not an option in my house.

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A Peck of Pickled Peppers… Bread

3 12 2009

I’ve been on a bit of a pickling kick lately.  Ever since Jessica showed me how easy it could be, I’ve pickled cucumbers, garlic, cocktail onions, and long green hot peppers, which will henceforward be referred to as “jalapeños,” even though they obviously are not. 

The jalapeños were purchased by Nick, to make salsa to go with the nachos we served to some French friends who came over for dinner one night last month.  (We wanted to do something really American – and really good – for them.)  I warned Nick against making the salsa too hot, and he acquiesced, on condition that he be allowed to add more peppers to the leftovers.  Of course there weren’t any leftovers.  So that’s how I decided to pickle a handful of peppers, with no real plan as to what to do with them afterward.  It occurred to me, perhaps even as soon as I had them in the jar, that one really good thing to do with pickled jalapeños is to make jalapeño-cheese bread.

Jalapeño-Cheese Sandwich Loaf

Armed with the Ratio, a new batch of starter (my old one died over the summer), and some Tillamook Pepper Jack cheese (thanks, Kiran!), I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.  The only tricky part is getting all the tasty bits to stay in the bread.  Kneading them in is not the best way.  Folding them is.  Like this:

jalapeño-cheese letter fold
1. How do you get the jalapeños and cheese in the bread, anyway?, 2. Step 2, 3. Letter fold complete

Then it’s really just a matter of time while the bread proofs and bakes.

No, it didn't really change color...
1. Before proof, 2. After proof

As you can see, my bread didn’t rise all that much, which I’ll admit gave me my doubts, but I carried on anyway, and am so glad I did!

jalapeños, cheese, bread

We ate it that night with big bowls of chili, and later Nick made ham sandwiches for his brown-bag lunch.  I can’t tell you how long it lasts, because this was gone in two days.

If you’re the recipe-abiding type, here’s what worked beautifully for me:

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A Hot Sandwich For A Cold Night

13 11 2008

Those of you who have been paying attention the last couple of weeks have probably noticed a proliferation of meals involving Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese.  Normally, I would use La Fête du Fromage as an excuse to try something funky and new (although who needs an excuse, really?), but this time I’m going to wax rhapsodic about my favorite cheddar cheese.

Started in 1909 as a dairy farmers’ cooperative to ensure the continuing high quality of cheese produced in the region, the Tillamook County (Oregon) Creamery Association now includes over 100 dairy farmers and produces a gamut of dairy products from cheese to ice cream.  Pretty much everything you could want to know about them can be found on their website.  (And no, I am not a member of the fan club.)

The cheese itself, in case you are unfamiliar, has a firm, bordering on crumbly texture.  It melts like a dream, and has a distinct tang to its robust, smooth cheddar flavor.  It’s great for snacking as well as cooking.  I’ve already made chili and macaroni and cheese with it, but this time I wanted a sandwich.

Nearly there

Specifically, a tuna melt.  Using my standard tuna salad recipe (red onions, celery, and mayonnaise – no pickles) and some tasty bread from Du Pain et des Idées, I built a solid base for the thick slices of Tillamook.  Into the pan the sandwiches went, with a thin smear of butter on the outsides of the bread.

Cooking the tuna melts

And out they came, gooey and delicious as ever.  Nick took about a million pictures of the beautiful cheese oozing out the side of the crispy, toasty sandwiches.  And then we sat down to eat them while watching the Daily Show.  It was a good night.

Personally, I think this borders on obscene.

Don’t forget to stop by Chez Louloufor the Fête du Fromage roundup on the 15th!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Mackenstein

31 10 2008

Or, The Modern Procheesius

Just in time for Halloween, I smacked together a jumble of Ingredients That Needed To Be Used and called it Macaroni and Cheese.

Tillamook Cheddar?  Good.  Chorizo?  Good.

Which it was.  Only I didn’t have macaroni, so I used twirly pasta instead.  And I also threw in some chopped up chorizo, because hog+cheese=good things.  And some peas, because I was going to serve them on the side, but then decided I didn’t want to get another pot dirty.  But I did take the time to make Béchamel, and I used 100% Tillamook cheddar, just because I could (and because the damn refrigerator still hasn’t been fixed and I’ll be really upset if I have to throw Tillamook away).

Normally, when I make Macaroni and Cheese, I make fresh breadcrumbs, toss them with a little butter, and use that to top the gooey cheesy deliciousness.  Being Cuisinart-less, I resorted to using boxed breadcrumbs, which, in retrospect, was a mistake.

Don't call it casserole!

Still, it tasted homey, and was the perfect meal for yet another cold, rainy night.  The chorizo gave little bursts of smoky goodness, and the peas kept us from feeling like total pigs.  In fact, Nick gave me an engagement ring over a very similar meal almost exactly four years ago.

Happy Nevada Day!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Tonight’s Dinner in Real Time

16 10 2008

6:00 pm – Writing emails.  Maybe I should start the beans if I want chili for dinner tonight.

6:10 pm – Beans are on.  Back to obsessing over blog stats.

7:15 pm – Where the hell is Nick?  He left to take pictures of foliage well over an hour ago.  I should probably get the rest of the chili going, at any rate.  S*#%!  The burner was on too low and my beans have just been sitting in hot water for the last hour!

7:22 pm – Nick calls from somewhere in the 19th.  He’s on his way home now that it’s dark.  Really need to start cooking chili.

7:24 pm – Chopping onions, tears in my eyes.  The chili powder in my nose isn’t helping, but is going to be delicious.  Add beef and break it up as it browns, à la Bolognaise.

Browning the beef and onions

7:30 pm – Love the smell of minced garlic hitting a hot pan.

7:31 pm – Rummaging around in the pantry (the fridge isn’t working and the pantry is open to the outside so things stay cool) for the chicken stock.  Damn.  It doesn’t smell good.  Need liquid, quickly.  Beer!

7:32 pm  – Pour some semi-cool Kronenbourg into the pan.  Scrape up fond.  Notice that the beans need liquid and pour some beer in there, too.  Start drinking the remaining beer.

7:35 pm – Don’t tell me we’re out of tomatoes!  Oh, there they are, hiding behind the lemons.  Dump can of tomatoes into chili.

7:37 pm – Was it pasilla chili powder or California that I used before?  Does it matter?  Probably not.  I’ll just put some of each.

7:47 pm – Everything is simmering.  Come up with brilliant idea for blog post.

8:00 pm – Throw beans in pan with meat to cook together.

Come on, we're missing the chili!

8:07 pm – Nick finally makes it home.  He’s jealous of my (now empty) beer.

8:14 pm – Taste.  Definitely salty enough, but is it chili-y enough?  Needs cumin and guajillo powder.  (Nick is my hero for bringing back four kinds of ground dried chilis from the States.)

8:24 pm – Nick suggests I add cayenne.  I start grating the world’s best Cheddar cheese to top the chili.

Another of the spoils from Nick's New World Adventure

8:28 pm – Time to eat.  Hunks of Pain des Amis from Du Pain et Des Idées complete the meal.

Warm, hearty, and satisfying

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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