Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

For a long time I shied away from bruschetta.  I had some sort of fear about uncooked tomatoes.  Not sure where I was going with that but I’m happy to say it’s been over for quite a while.  One day I said to myself “Hey – this is bread” and it’s all been roses since.

Perhaps not all roses.  I’ve had bad bruschetta foisted upon me on more than one occasion and it’s infuriating, especially since it’s not hard to make a good one.  So simple and pure is this appetizer (or meal if you’re like me); bad ingredients and an uncaring hand in the kitchen are really the only spots you can place blame.  A shame then.  Why bother?

Bruschetta can be a great many things.  In its simplest form bruschetta is bread, lightly coated with olive oil, toasted over coals, rubbed down with raw garlic, and coated lightly with cracked pepper and salt.  That sounds devastatingly good.  Variations on the theme include chopped onions, herbs, beans, and tomatoes.  The recipe that evolved below is fairly similar to what you’ll get in most Italian restaurants when you place an order. Continue reading

Rustic Italian Bread

Rustic Italian BreadMan can not live on bread alone.  A true statement.  He’d need butter or olive oil to go along with it.  For me that would probably be enough.  Maybe a lemon or two to keep the scurvy at bay.  I don’t think I’d need much else, such is my love for bread.

This is a go-to recipe for me.  It makes a great loaf, has a great crust, and looks even better.  As far as breads go, this recipe is really simple (most breads aren’t that complicated – it’s the yeast that scares everyone off.)  Yeast used to scare me a bit before I started meddling around with it.  I quickly found out it’s really easy provided you follow a few steps.  Keep it packaged and keep it in the fridge.  Aside from that, just making sure you’re using the proper temperature water, give it the time it needs to do its gassy work, and you’ve just about got everything you really need to know. Continue reading

Irish Soda Bread – Sort Of…

Irish Soda BreadBread borders on a religion for me.  No surprise there, if you’ve read through the blog a bit; there’s quite a few bread recipes.  There will be quite a few more I imagine.  I’ve toyed around with bread enough, I’ve not even scratched the surface here.

Most of the Irish Soda Bread I’d had growing up was dry enough to sop up oil spills in the garage.  Gack.  Not my idea of a good time really.  I liked the idea, a simple yeast-less quick bread that was easy to put together.  I just don’t like my bread that incredibly dry.  This one is different.  It’s nowhere near as dry.  It tastes great out of the oven.  It tastes even better the next day after it’s been wrapped up in foil overnight.  Something goes on in there during those wee hours alone, things mature and meld.  It’s surprisingly simple and takes well to some variation. Continue reading

Freakishly Easy Beer Bread

Freakishly Easy Beer Bread

So I got a “request” to make another loaf of the Amish White Bread.  This usually arrives in the form of “we have no more bread….what are we going to do about this?”

Dutifully I halved the recipe and made one loaf, but while it was busy rising figured “what the hell I’m already making bread, why not crank something else interesting out.”  It’s a slow night, what can I say.  I looked around for a few recipes and finally settled on making some Beer Bread.  Not that I had any particular desire for it, just why not?

Most of the recipes I came across were quite easy, actually only a few ingredients.  While this is still easy I added a few things in the name of all that is tasty.  It can be mixed in one bowl, by hand, in just a few minutes.  It does not need to rise, does not need yeast, and does not taste like you are swilling a Natty Light when you’re done.  All good things. Continue reading

Amish White Bread and Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Amish White BreadEasy Cinnamon RollsMy mother and father are probably both equally responsible for my bread fixation.  My mother made sure we had bread with every dinner she made.  And given she made dinner almost every night – you’d be right in thinking we were bread people.  This partly, I’m sure, because my father is what you’d call a bread hound.  If there is a crumb of bread somewhere my father will, with bloodhound like accuracy, sniff it out and find some way to get butter onto it.  The apple, I’m happy to report, does not fall far from the tree.  On weekends when I was growing up, my father and I would ride to “The Hill” in Providence.  The hill is actually Federal Hill – the very Italian section of Providence; restaurants, stores, and you can still hear the native tongue being spoken on the streets.  It’s a great place to visit if you’re in the area – if for no other reason than the food.

There was a small bakery we’d arrive at pretty much when the doors opened – I think maybe noon on weekends.  We’d be rewarded with hard Italian rolls fresh out of the oven and fresh wine biscuits (that I’ve not found an equal to since.)  My father would decimate several rolls before we even got home (this is a man who for quite some time would roll into Bertucci’s and order half a dozen rolls with butter – to go….for lunch.  Not a pizza or salad and rolls – a bag of rolls, stop.)  The wine biscuits wouldn’t last terribly long, and would leave a vaguely greasy brown paper bag behind.  That bakery is still there, new owners, twenty years on.  They still make tasty things (I think they bought the place with the recipes included) but it’s not quite the same.  Maybe it’s the water, maybe there’s no old Italian baker churning the stuff out, or maybe it’s nostalgia.  Who’s knows.  In any event, tough stuff to live up to.

As a side note if you’re ever in Providence – Pastiche is a fantastic dessert place on Federal Hill, no one in my family has a birthday without getting a cake from this little slice of happiness.  Small, fairly continental, and possessed of a very talented pastry chef, Providence is worth a visit just for this great place.

So enough of a trip down memory lane.  This bread is cribbed right from Allrecipes – Thanks Peg whoever you are.  This delightful recipe gives you two very simple loaves of moist white bread.  It has a really good crumb, rises beautifully, and browns up gorgeous.  As a bonus – you can make one loaf of bread, and about 9 decent sized cinnamon rolls instead or a second loaf.  Doesn’t like a win-win?  If you follow the recipe as listed, you will end up with a loaf of bread that’s sort of sweet, maybe a little too sweet for some people.  You can cut the sugar in half if you can believe that, and it still makes a tasty loaf, and the lessened sugar content might be more to your liking.  It doesn’t take 6 hours of waiting for it to rise either.  It’s a pretty quick recipe.  So fire up the Kitchenaid for some tasty eats. Continue reading