This past weekend I was in Jerseyville Illinois to present "Lessons from the Breads of Christmas" for the local HCE (click here for the page with the description of the program). They sold over 300 tickets to the event, so I was glad to have a projector and a good sized blank wall to be able to show photos of the various steps for the breads. I did a few live demos, too, including fougasse, the bread with the slashes in it, shown to the left. It's a traditional bread for Christmas Eve in Provence. Sometimes it has walnuts or raisins (or both) or it's made as a savory bread with onions or olives.
I also made Bolo Rei, the Portugese bread for Epiphany. It's a yeasted dough flavored with lemon and orange, topped with apricot preserves and orange marmalade, then studded with candied cherries and sliced almonds. Traditionally a bean is hidden inside, and the person who gets the slice with the bean is King or Queen for the day. I was lucky to have my kitchen angel Kevin along for the trip to hellp with prep.
I after I celebrated the 5:30 p.m. Mass at Holy Ghost on Saturday night Kevin and I ate at Tony's North on State Street. Best toasted ravs ever, even better than what I've had on the Hill in STL. Kevin had a perfectly cooked ahi tuna steak, and I had the baked lasagna. (I've eaten there before and the pecan crusted chicken is excellent as well). The pecan caramel upsidedown apple pie serve hot with ice cream was easily big enough for two and utterly statisfying. Overall, excellent table service by our waitress, although we experienced a less than attentive hostess with our seating. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are every anywhere near Jerseyville at lunch or dinner.
If you are in town around breakfast time, don't bother going anywhere but the White Spot, also on State Street, right by the Knights of Columbus. The omelets are cooked to perfection, without any browned eggs but a generous portion of fillings. We sat at the counter and watched the cook turn out four in a row, each of them flawless. Better than average coffee (for a diner), and I would say the same about the sausage, bacon and fried potatoes. Friendly service, too. I suspect they could turn out a decent lunch and dinner as well. The locals confirmed this, but I intend to test the theory myself if I get a chance---nothing like a good patty melt!
Had a great time at Effingham a couple of weekends ago, doing a demo for the local HCE. We made ice cream muffins, pumpkin scones and nutty whole wheat shortcake with tart apple topping. St. John's Lutheran Church was the venue and the staff there was very hospitable. Best of all, a representative from Hodgson Mills was there and brought gift bags for everyone! She took some pictures, which I have posted here along with some photos from the church.
I received an e-mail to the website reminding me that I had promised to post my mother's sugar cookie recipe. It uses cake flour instead of all purpose, almond extract instead of vanilla, and powdered sugar to dust the countertop and rolling pin, all resulting in a tender but crisp cookie with a unique flavor and almost no need to use frosting. But decorating cookies was always the fun part when we were growing up, so feel free to break out the jimmies!
(Full disclosure---I got this photo from a Good Housekeeping website. I also intend to steal the idea for a Christmas card!)
Get my mom's recipe here.
How to be a Breadhead has been shipped from the printer, but hasn't been distributed yet because of a glaring error on page 42. In the recipe for Pull-Apart Garlic Bread, it says to start with 2 cups of melted butter instead of 1/2 cup! I suspect that Paula Deen snuck in and changed it while we weren't looking. The folks at Reedy Press will have to cover the mistake with tiny stickers---about 2600 copies. I already did that on the copies I have. That normally would be a tedious job, but I did it during the second game of the playoffs, the victorious Cards vs. the Nats, so it didn't feel like such a chore.
This weekend I gave some demos in Effingham and St. Louis (photos and moreand was asked for some recipes which I am posting here.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Filling
2 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free baking mix (I used King Arthur’s).
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar, divided
2 Tbs. milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and have one additional sheet of parchment available. Mix the softened cream cheese with ½ cup of powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Knead dough gently four or five times while it is still in the bowl.
Remove half of the dough from the bowl and pat the dough into an 8-inch circle in the center of the baking sheet (it helps to butter your hands so the dough will not stick to you). Spread three quarters of the sweetened cream cheese evenly over the circle of dough. Spray the second piece of parchment lightly with cooking spray, and pat the second portion of dough into an 8-inch circle. Carefully flip the second circle of dough on top of the first and peel off the parchment paper.
Using a large rotary pizza cutter, cut dough into 8 wedges. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until round is firm on the edges but still slightly soft in the middle. Cool on a wire rack. Beat the remaining cream cheese with ¼ cup of powdered sugar and the 2 tbs. of milk to make a glaze. Spread glaze on the scones and cut apart before serving. Makes 8 large scones.
Note--You can easily substitute all-purpose flour for the gluten free baking mix.
Cheddar Chive Drop Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. chopped fresh herbs
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup milk
¼ cup shredded sharp white cheddar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl. Cut in vegetable shortening using a pastry blender or two knives. Add milk and stir until just blended. Drop by tablespoons onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly and serve warm. Makes 12 biscuits.
Herbal Encouragement Bread
I developed this recipe as a bread to share with a friend who is going through a difficult time, as several of the ingredients have a symbolic meaning. The sour cream symbolizes making the best of something that has gone bad. The onions of course represent tears, and the thyme is the herb of perseverance and courage, as this hardy plant thrives in the rockiest and harshest of environments. The loaf is braided to suggest that although things in the person’s life may look tangled and confused, stepping back and reflecting may reveal both a pattern and a purpose. A fresh loaf bread with a hand-written note explaining its message would mean far more than any store-bought card.
¼ cup warm water (100° to 110° F)
1 pkg. Active Dry Yeast
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 tsp. honey
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup minced onion
½ tsp. dried thyme
4 to 4½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water and allow to develop until foamy. Heat sour cream to 110° to 120° F and pour into a medium size mixing bowl. Add egg, oil, honey, soda, salt, onion, and thyme, and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add yeast and stir until combined. Add 4 cups flour, one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each cup. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 1 minute. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes (this resting period helps the dough to “firm up”). Knead for another four minutes, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough manageable---dough will be elastic but slightly sticky. Lightly oil the surface of the dough and place in the rinsed mixing bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place about 1 hour, or until doubled. Punch dough down and knead briefly to expel the larger air bubbles. Divide dough into three equal portions. Roll each portion into a rope 18” long. Braid ropes to form a loaf, tucking the ends underneath. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on rack for 15 minutes, then brush the top and sides of the loaf with butter if desired.
Notes ---You should feel free to substitute sugar or molasses for the honey in this recipe, according to personal taste. The chopped onion could be red, yellow, white, or green, depending upon what’s in the fridge. I usually sauté onions before adding them to dough, but in this case I added them directly and the result was just fine.
Fr. Dominic Garramone AKA