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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Bread, Crackers, Muffins, Sandwiches

TIP OF THE DAY: Kabob Sandwiches

For your grilling pleasure, here’s an alternative to burgers and other red meat from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Food on a stick is great fun for kids, and the entire family can help prepare this simple kabob recipe.

Children can skewer the meat, which cooks in minutes on a grill or indoor George Foreman-type grill. Then everyone assembles his/her own pita sandwich, customizing the garnishes to their preferences.

This recipe is classic Greek: roasted meat with tzatziki, the Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce, and whatever garnishes you like:

  • The basics: lettuce, onion, tomato
  • The “extras”: bell pepper rings, thin-sliced cucumber, radish or cucumber salad
  • The “whatevers” from the fridge: fresh or pickled chiles, crumbled feta, pepperoncini, pickles and of course, “whatever”
  • And did we mention, it’s quick?

       

    kabob-sandwiches-ws-recipe-230

    Find more delicious recipes at Williams-Sonoma.com. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    RECIPE: QUICK KABOB PITA SANDWICHES WITH TZATZIKI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt (more to taste)
  • 1 pound filet mignon, lamb loin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 pita bread rounds
  • Garnishes: shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes and shaved red onion
  • More garnishes: bell pepper, chiles, feta, pepperoncini, pickles, whatever you’ve got
  •  
    For The Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce)

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons total chopped fresh dill and/or mint
  • Salt to taste
  •  

    lamb-kabobs-sliding-skewers-WS-230

    Iconic Greek lamb (shish) kabobs, made even easier with these stainless sliding skewers. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the tzatziki. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Add salt to taste and set aside. This can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge; serve it at room temperature.

    2. PREHEAT the outdoor grill to medium-high. For an indoor grill, place the grill plate on the lower level and the griddle plate on the upper level (Williams-Sonoma used the Cuisinart Elite Griddler). Preheat both sides to 450°F.

    3. STIR together in a small bowl the paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another bowl, toss the meat with the oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.

    4. THREAD 5 or 6 meat cubes onto each skewer and place on the grill (or the grill side of the electric griddle). Cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the beef/lamb is cooked to medium, about 8 minutes, or the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Meanwhile…

     

    5. LIGHTLY toast the pita bread rounds on the grill or the griddle side of the electric griddle, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

    6. CUT the toasted pita rounds in half crosswise, then pry open. Fill the pockets with the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion other garnishes. Top with the tzatziki and serve immediately.

     
    OUR FAVORITE NEW SKEWERS

    Grilled kabobs is easy until it’s time to remove the cooked food from the skewer. New skewers from Williams-Sonoma (photo above)solve the problem with a sliding disk that lets you push food onto the plate in one swift motion.

    An added bonus: The square shape of the rod prevents foods from spinning when you turn kabobs on the grill. You’re guaranteed even cooking!

    This Williams-Sonoma exclusive is dishwasher safe, too. A great gift for grilling enthusiasts.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crostini Appetizers

    Bruschetta and crostini are two of our favorite nibbles to serve with cocktails, wine or beer.

    Both are Italian traditions, and can be made from scratch or topped with leftover cheese, meat, seafood and/or vegetables. Bruschetta can be made indoors or on the grill. Crostini, which are smaller and can fall through the grill grate, are made indoors under the broiler.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    The answer is twofold: the size of the slice, plus grilling versus toasting. Bruschetta (three or four inches in diameter) are cut from a baguette and grilled; crostini (about two inches in diameter) are cut from a thinner loaf (called a ficelle) and toasted.

    Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh) are grilled bread slices rubbed with garlic and topped with any variety of items. The toppings can be as simple as extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, to diced tomatoes and basil, to almost any spread, vegetable, cured meat or cheese—even fruit.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy; in modern times is a popular snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

       

    crostini-with-havarti-castelloUSA-230

    Crunchy crostini with summer vegetables and melted cheese. Photo courtesy Castello USA.

     

    The word comes from the verb bruscare in Roman dialect, which means “to roast over coals.” If you have access to a grill, grill the bread for authenticity. If not, you can toast it.

    The word bruschetta refers to the grilled bread, not the topping. Some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, using it to refer to the topping only and selling jars of “bruschetta” (it should be bruschetta topping). Show your superior knowledge and don’t allow the term to be distorted.

    Crostini (cruh-STEE-nee) are croutons—not in the American sense of small toasted cubes of bread used to garnish soup or salad, but thin slices of toasted bread. The word is the plural of crostino, “little toast” or “little crust.”

    Smaller than bruschetta, the slices are typically cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette one to two inches wide (the word is French for string). The slices are brushed with olive oil, toasted and then topped with spreadable cheese, pâté or other ingredients. Plain crostini are served with soups and salads, (in the manner of the formerly fashionable melba toast) or set out with cheese.
     
    WHY USE FRENCH BREAD WITH AN ITALIAN RECIPE?

    Bruschetta began as peasant food, thought to originate in medieval times when it was common for Italian peasants to eat their meals from slices of bread instead of using expensive ceramics plates. The originators would have used any bread available to them.

    Over time, the recipe became refined as an appetizer (antipasto), on more easily handled small toasts. While both countries make a large variety of delicious breads, the Italian repertoire didn’t include long, thin loaves like baguette (the French word for stick) or ficelle (the French word for string).

    Here’s an overview of the differences between French and Italian breads.

    Now, let’s eat! The crunchy, cheesy appetizer recipes that follow are from Castello Cheese, which has a website full of recipes with cheese.

    The first recipe uses their Aged Havarti; the second their Creamy Havarti. You can substitute any semi-firm cheese that can be shaved (examples: Alsatian Muenster, Gouda Monterey Jack, Port du Salut, Reblochon, Tilsit, Tomme de Beaumont).

    Prep time is 30 minutes.

     

    havarti-crostini-bacon-castelloUSA-230

    Crostini with bacon and havarti. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Castello USA

     

    RECIPE: CROSTINI WITH SUMMER VEGETABLES

    Ingredients For 18 Crostini Servings
     
    For The Crostini

  • 1 ficelle or slender baguette, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1¼ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano or Anaheim chile pepper, seeded, stemmed
    and finely chopped
  • 8 ounces Castello Aged Havarti, shaved thinly
  • Preparation

    1. MAKE the crostini: Preheat the broiler to high. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and arrange them, oil side up, on a baking pan. Place under the broiler until the bread turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove and season the crostini with chives and salt. Set aside.

    2. MAKE the vegetable topping: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and pan fry for 1 minute. Add the onion slices and continue cooking until they soften and become translucent.

    3. ADD the tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and chiles and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and top the crostini with vegetable mixture, then with thecheese.

    4. PLACE the crostini under the broiler just before serving, until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Serve warm or room temperature.
     
    RECIPE: BACON & HAVARTI CROSTINI

    This recipe takes less time than the vegetable crostini: 16 minutes. Castello used its Creamy Havarti.
     
    Ingredients for 8 Servings

  • 8 slices of diagonally cut baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, dill, parsley and rosemary
    (you can use a combination)
  • 8 slices smoked bacon, cooked
  • 2 ounces havarti, shaved thinly
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRUSH one side of the bread slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and herbs.

    2. ARRANGE the slices on a baking pan and place under a broiler until the edges of the bread crisp to a golden brown, about 3 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the heat and top each slice of bread with a layer of crumbled bacon and shaved cheese. Return the pan to the broiler and heat until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

    4. REMOVE and immediately sprinkle with remaining chopped herbs. Serve while hot or at room temperature.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Bear Toast

    Food fun doesn’t get easier than this:

  • Toast a piece of whole wheat bread.
  • Spread it with honey or peanut butter.
  • Add banana slices for the ears and mouth.
  • Add raisins for the eyes and nose.
  •  
    All of the ingredients are on the “better for you” list, so enjoy!

    P.S. It’s not just for kids! Who wouldn’t love a piece of bear toast?

     

    Bite this bear! Photo courtesy Dana’s Bakery | Facebook.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chef Tips For Exciting Sandwiches

    porchetta-Hilton-Chicago-flavorandthemenu-230

    A porchetta sandwich served with fennel
    slaw, roasted red pepper, crispy fried onion
    threads and sriracha aïoli. Photo courtesy
    Flavor & The Menu.

     

    What’s trending in restaurant sandwiches?

    Proteins are still a first-round decision: Do you want chicken, ham or roast beef, for example.

    But these days, according to chefs interviewed by restaurant trade magazine Flavor & The Menu, produce makes the sandwich.

    Here are five quick tips and a link to the full article. We’ll tell you what chefs are doing, then offer some easier home solutions.

    1. CONDIMENTS COUNT

    Sweet, sour, savory and pungent: Chefs use any number of chutneys, conserves, marmalades, pestos, pickles, salsas and sauces for a creative flavor boost.

    Chefs create special condiments like broccoli marmalade, celery leaf pesto, fried caper aïoli and pumpkin agrodolce*. At home, we make an easy mayo substitute nonfat Greek yogurt, flavored with diced smashed garlic and dill (creating a form of “yogurt aïoli”).

    There are trending condiments that you can buy in the store: bacon mayonnaise, fig Dijon mustard, onion marmalade (caramelized onions) and sriracha ketchup.

    Any of them will add “wow” notes to a sandwich.

     
    *Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce made by reducing vinegar and sugar with other ingredients.
     

    2. GO VIBRANT WITH VEGGIES

    Forget bland lettuce and out-of-season tomatoes. Chefs are substituting specialties like tempura turnips, fried shallots and Vidalia onion purée, and are also getting creative with veggie sandwiches.

    They’re using root vegetables for bold sandwich flavors. The new tuna melt may just be a roasted broccoli and cauliflower melt.

    Whatever the base, it works with pickled vegetables. From pickled carrot slices to pickled beets, it’s easy to pickle vegetables at home. Don’t forget to pickle your favorite hot chiles!

    Home-pickled veggies can be ready in an hour; but if you have no time, just pick up a jar of giardiniera, assorted pickled vegetables that typically include carrots, cauliflower, celery, red bell pepper and optional hot chiles.

    At home, you may already add sliced avocado or guacamole to sandwiches. But how about:

  • Asian vegetables: Asian pear slices, bean sprouts, blanched bok choy, shiso or water chestnuts.
  • Fresh herbs: Basil, cilantro, dill, green onion†, parsley or sage.
  • Potato: Add lots of fresh herb and onion to potato salad and put it on the sandwich, instead of to the side. Try curried potato salad with currants and sliced almonds. Or, slice leftover plain white or sweet potatoes, season and add to the sandwich instead of tomato.
  • Slaw: Go beyond traditional to Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and other flavors. Try this BLT Slaw recipe with a ham or turkey sandwich.
  • Shaved vegetables: Shave raw asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and/or celery as a “crudité” addition that adds crunch and flavor.
     
    While they’re not exactly vegetables, a trending sandwich addition is:
  • Chips: potato, tortilla or veggie chips.
  •  
    †Onion is botanically classified as a perennial herb that grows from a bulb. So are other members of the Allium genus, including chives, garlic, leek, scallion and shallot.

     

    3. ADD FRUIT

    Who says that a slice of fruit doesn’t belong on a sandwich, along with—or instead of—the lettuce and tomato.

    Raw, roasted or pickled, fruit flavors are a perky counterpoint to meaty, salty and savory ingredients.

    Start with apples, pears, plums or other stone fruit in season, and try them alternative raw (sliced thin) and pickled. Both provide a nice crunch.

    If you want fruit without effort, you can default to a jar of fig conserve or red pepper jam. Peruse the shelves of specialty food stores to see what calls your name.

     
    4. USE NUT OR SEED SPREADS

    The explosion of hummus flavors at the grocer’s was the first hint that you can season old standards to deliver new flavors.

    Certainly, use flavored hummus as a spread. But chefs are also mixing peanut butter with Middle Eastern spices, hummus with chocolate and sunflower butters with fruit preserves.

     

    roast-beef-sandwich-mccormick-230

    Roast beef panini with sage pesto and pickled onions. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    Take spreads made from nuts and seeds and enhance them with your own favorite flavors, to deliver new punch to everyday sandwiches.

    One of THE NIBBLE’s first Top Picks Of The Week, back in 2004, was a line of savory peanut butters called Peanut Better (alas, it is no longer produced).

    Think onion parsley peanut butter on turkey or ham sandwiches, Southwestern-spiced PB on roast beef sandwiches, hickory smoked PB with hot or cold turkey, ham, and roast chicken. Go Thai by adding ginger, crushed red pepper and a splash of soy sauce.

    Next step: Get a jar of plain peanut butter and get to work!

     
    5. BEANS & LEGUMES

    Chefs are spreading sandwiches with mashed curried chickpeas, white bean purée and pickled black-eyed peas.

    Beans and legumes provide velvety texture and lots of extra protein. Turn your leftover beans and legumes into sandwich spreads or fillings—with cheese or grilled vegetables as well as with meats.

    We added leftover lentil salad to a turkey sandwich along with some pickled onions. Delicious!
     
    OUR FINAL TIP

    Think outside the box, like a creative chef. Every recipe we eat didn’t exist until someone first put the ingredients together.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Jumbo Croutons

    Most croutons are miniature cubes. Some crouton lovers would like them much larger: more flavor, more crunch.

    And they certainly make salads more fun.

    So today’s tip is. Make jumbo croutons. They make salads more fun. And you can customize the flavors each time, so there’s no “crouton fatigue.”

     
    GENERAL CROUTON TIPS

  • Pick your bread. While baguette is a standard, you can use whole grain, seeded, raisin-semolina or whatever you like.
  • Pick your texture. Crunchier croutons come from drier bread. For the crispest crouton, use day-old or two-day-old bread. Fresh bread takes longer to dry out in the oven; so if that’s what you have, adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • Use a flavored oil. If you have basil oil, chili oil, etc., use it to add more flavor. Whatever oil you select, more oil creates a heavier, more sumptuous crouton.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices take your croutons in any direction you like, from the heat of cayenne or red pepper flakes, to the elegance of fines herbes, to exotic notes of curry or Chinese five spice. One of our favorites is toasted sesame seed. You can also add grated cheese.
  •  
    RECIPE: GARLIC CROUTONS

    Ingredients

  • 1 baguette or ficelle*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  

    salad-long-croutons-morningstarfarmsFB230r

    Make jumbo croutons any shape you like. These are crouton “fingers.” Photo courtesy MorningStar Farms.

     
    *Ficelle is slender French loaf, thinner than a baguette, no more than two inches wide. The word is French for “string.” It’s a better shape if you want to make round croutons with a diameter of two inches or so.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cut the bread into rounds or fingers.

    2. TOSS the ingredients in a large bowl, coating bread thoroughly. Bake until toasted to your preference (light or dark), 15-20 minutes.

    3. PREPARE and dress the salad. Top with warm croutons and serve. You can store croutons in an airtight container for a day or two.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Berry Croissants

    croissant-fruit-cheese-castelloUSA-230

    Berry croissants: a yummy idea. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     

    For Sunday brunch or afternoon tea*, here’s a fun alternative to a chocolate croissant that provides another reason to enjoy seasonal berries.

    RECIPE: BERRY CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • Croissants
  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mix
  • Mascarpone, fresh chèvre (goat cheese), cream cheese or other spreadable cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPLIT the croissant and spread the bottom half with cheese.

    2. ADD the berries, whole or sliced, depending on size.

     
    Thanks to Castello USA for the idea (they used blue cheese).

     
    *Who has afternoon tea, you say? Well, THE NIBBLE is a far cry from Downtown Abbey, but we serve afternoon tea daily. Not everyone drinks tea, but it’s our chance to sample some of the many foods that arrive at our doorstep—baked goods, candy, jam, crackers, cheese, pâté and so forth—including coffee, tea and other beverages. If you want to serve a proper afternoon tea, here’s how.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    mac-and-cheese-grilled-cheese-davidvenableQVC-230

    A grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We’re closing out National Grilled Cheese Month with something out of the ordinary: a grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese. It’s the creation of Chef David Venable of QVC, who created it to use up leftover mac and cheese. (Really? Who ever has leftover mac and cheese?)

    He uses extra slices of cheddar on top of the mac and cheese, which melt and will help hold the mac in place. And, since you don’t want to wait until you have leftovers, you make the mac and cheese from scratch.

    If you like heat, add some chili flakes to the recipe.

    RECIPE: MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced, cooked, and fat drained
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1–1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 slices white bread or bread of choice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

    2. ADD the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When the sauce begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the shredded cheese, mustard, optional chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until all of the cheese has melted. Add the bacon and the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to fully coat the macaroni. Set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    4. PLACE 8 slices of bread on a work surface and spread the mayonnaise onto one side of each slice. Flip over 4 slices of the bread and place 1 slice of cheddar on each.

    5. DIVIDE the macaroni over the cheese-covered bread slices and spread evenly. Top with the remaining slices of cheddar and cover with the remaining bread slices, mayonnaise side facing out.

    6. PREHEAT a square griddle pan to medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the hot griddle and toast until golden brown on one side, about 5–8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches; then place the griddle, with the sandwiches, in the oven and bake for about 5–8 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese slices have melted.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches For Dessert

    bananafostergrilledcheese-grilledcheesesocial-230

    Bananas Foster on French toast. Photo
    courtesy Heidi Larsen | Foodie Crush.

     

    April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Wisconsin, American’s premier cheese-producing state (California is runner-up), even has a chef-spokesperson for the occasion.

    She is MacKenzie Smith of the blog Grilled Cheese Social, where she creates recipe after recipe for innovative grilled cheese sandwiches. She’s also the sandwich expert for About.com.

    Mackenzie developed five new grilled cheese sandwiches for National Grilled Cheese Month—made with delicious Wisconsin cheese of course. The first is what we’d call “dessert grilled cheese,” although you can certainly have it as your main for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    It takes the idea of Bananas Foster—bananas sautéed in butter with brown sugar, banana liqueur and rum. Mackenzie combines these ingredients with sweet, creamy mascarpone and cream cheese on a sandwich of French toast.

    It’s a smash, and our tip of the day is dessert grilled cheese.

     
    RECIPE: BANANAS FOSTER GRILLED CHEESE

    Ingredients For 1 Sandwich

  • 1 ounce (about 1/8 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 ounce cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon banana liqueur or brandy
  • 1/2 small banana, thickly sliced
  • 2 slices brioche bread
  • Sea salt flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the mascarpone and cream cheese in bowl. Set aside.

    2. PREPARE the French toast batter: In bowl, beat egg, milk and vanilla and set aside in a shallow bowl wide enough to hold sandwich for dipping.

    3. MELT 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the liqueur and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the banana, stirring constantly to evenly coat bananas. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the bananas are well coated in sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

    4. PREPARE the sandwich: Spread the mascarpone mixture evenly on one side of each bread slice. Top one mascarpone-covered slice with the banana mixture, a sprinkle of sea salt and the remaining bread slice, mascarpone-covered slice down.

    5. SOAK (gently!) each side of sandwich in the French toast batter for a 1 minute. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwich in the skillet and grill 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and allow to rest 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE: DULCE DE LECHE GRILLED CHEESE

    Dulce de leche fans will enjoy this dessert grilled cheese sandwich, made with mascarpone and the addictive Argentinian dessert (made by caramelizing sugar in milk).

    The recipe is courtesy of the Grilled Cheese Academy.

    Ingredients For 4 Sandwiches

  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dulce de leche
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry preserves or 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
     
    Preparation

  •  

    mascarpone-dulce-raspberry-grilledcheeseacademy-230

    Mascarpone and dulce de leche on cinnamon raisin bread. Photo courtesy Grilled Cheese Academy.

    1. COMBINE the mascarpone, dulce de leche and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

    2. BUTTER one side of each slice of bread. Spread the mascarpone mixture on the non-buttered side of 4 of the bread slices. Spread raspberry preserves on the non-buttered side of the remaining 4 slices of bread.

    3. PLACE one slice of bread with raspberries or preserves on each mascarpone-topped bread slice, buttered sides out. Place the sandwiches on an electric griddle heated to 350°F, or in a preheated skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until bread is lightly toasted.

    4. REMOVE and serve immediately, unsliced, since cheese is very soft.
     

    WANT MORE?

    Here’s another dessert recipe: Mascarpone Grilled Cheese With Chocolate “Soup.”

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

    cinnamon-crescent-tasteofhome-230-ps

    Make warm and fragrant cinnamon crescents
    for breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy Taste
    Of Home.

     

    Today is National Cinnamon Crescent Day.

    Crescent is the English word for croissant, the buttery, crescent-shaped laminated dough breakfast roll (there’s more about croissants below). Make your own with this recipe from Taste Of Home.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON CRESCENTS (CROISSANTS)

    Ingredients For 4 Dozen Small Rolls

  • 6-1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

    2. HEAT the butter, milk, shortening and water to 120°-130° in a large saucepan. Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until moistened. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough will be sticky).

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

    4. COMBINE the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

    5. PUNCH the risen dough down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface; knead about six times.

    6. DIVIDE the dough into four portions. Roll out one portion into a 12-inch circle; spread with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar. Cut into 12 wedges.

    7. ROLL up each wedge from the wide end and place it point side down, three inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Curve the ends to form crescents. Repeat with remaining dough, butter and cinnamon-sugar. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven.

     

    cinnamon-BenFink-SuvirSaran-230

    One of the three different types of cinnamon. Photo by Ben Fink from Indian Home Cooking
    by Suvir Saran.

     

    8. BAKE at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Make the glaze: Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla; drizzle over warm rolls. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the rolls.

     
    WHAT IS A CROISSANT?

    Meaning “crescent” and pronounced kwah-SAWN in French, this rich, buttery, crescent-shaped roll is made of puff pastry that layers yeast dough with butter—a technique known as laminating.

    Traditionally a breakfast bread served with jam and butter, two classic variations include the almond croissant, filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with sliced almonds, and the “chocolate croissant,” correctly called pain au chocolat, baked with a piece of dark chocolate in the center.

    In the early 1970s, croissants became sandwich substitutes as they evolved from their two traditional fillings, chocolate and almond paste, into many savory variations, from broccoli to ham and cheese, as well as additional sweet varieties.

    There’s also the Bavarian croissant or pretzel croissant, made of a pretzel-like dough that combines bread flour and whole wheat flour with salt sprinkled on the top, like a pretzel. Some are made of puff pastry, others of a soft pretzel-type dough in a triangle wrap, like a croissant.

     
    The Real History Of Croissants

    Stories of the croissant being made in the shape of the crescent of the Turkish flag, after the defeat of the Turks in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, are a perpetuated myth. Recipes for croissants do not appear in recipe books until the early 1900s, according to the Oxford Companion To Food. The earliest French reference is in 1853.

    The croissant is descendant of the Austrian kipfel, a yeast roll usually filled with chopped walnuts, dried or candied fruit, or other filling, and shaped like a crescent. It arrived in Paris in 1938 or 1939 with August Zang, an Austrian military officer. He opened a bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise, and introduced Viennese techniques which would one day lead to the baguette and the croissant. The crescent-shaped kipfel was ultimately made with puff pastry by French bakers.

    You can read this history in Jim Chevallier’s book, August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoisserie* Came To France (Kindle edition).
     
    *Viennoiserie are buttery, flaky breakfast breads and pastries made with laminated dough, a technique of layering and folding a yeast dough to create brioche, croissants, danish, pain au chocolat and other so-called “Viennoiserie.” It is a marriage between traditional bread baking and sweet pastry baking. The technique of lamination produces many buttery layers that can be pulled apart to reveal thin leaves within. You can see the striations, or layers, of pastry when you look at the top of the Viennoiserie or when you cut into them. This technique is time-consuming and expensive (because of the amount of butter needed).

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Sourdough Bread Day

    April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day. Sourdough is an ancient bread made by a long fermentation of dough, using naturally occurring lactobacilli bacteria and wild yeasts (other types of breads use cultivated yeasts, which became available only in the 19th century).

    In comparison with breads made with cultivated yeast, sourdough usually has a mildly sour taste and aroma, the result of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.

    The preparation of sourdough begins with pre-fermenting, using a “starter” made from flour and water (the starter is also known as levain, the chief, chef or head). It can be a fluid batter or a stiff dough, as the ratio of water to flour varies by baker.

    The starter helps to develop the uniquely tart flavor of sourdough bread. Starters are maintained for years, even generations. The colony of bacteria and yeast inside the dough is kept alive by the baker, who needs only a piece of it to bake a new batch of bread.

    If you bake bread in a bread machine, note that the rise time of most sourdough starters is longer than that of breads made with baker’s yeasts. Thus, sourdough typically doesn’t work in a bread machine; you need to use conventional baking techniques.

       

    sourdough-basket-lafayetteNY-230

    Sourdough bread baked at Lafayette Restaurant | NYC.

    ANCIENT BREAD

    One of the oldest sourdough breads was found in a Swiss excavation; the site dates to 3700 B.C.E. But the origin of sourdough fermentation is likely thousands of years older than that, originating in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia.

    Bread production has relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history (the alternative to leavened bread was flatbread, such as lavosch and tortillas). The development and use of [cultivated] baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back only 150 years.

    Sourdough starter from a prior batch is used to create the new batch. Sourdough remained the usual form of leavening in European into the Middle Ages. Then, it was replaced by barm, the yeast-laden foam that forms in the process of brewing alcohol (for bread, the barm typically came from beer brewing). Centuries later, scientists learned to culture yeast, so bakers no longer had to rely on barm.

     

    sourdough-starter-foodformyfamily-230

    Sourdough starter. You can also purchase ready-made starter. Photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com.

     

    SOURDOUGH COMES TO AMERICA

    French bakers brought sourdough techniques to Northern California during the Gold Rush (1848–1855), and the bread remains part of the culture of San Francisco, where it has been in continuous production there since 1849. Some bakeries can trace their starters back to those days!

    In English-speaking countries, where wheat-based breads predominate, sourdough is no longer the standard method for bread leavening. It was gradually replaced, first by the use of barm from beer making and then by cultured yeasts.

    Thanks to the artisan food movement in the late 20th century in the U.S., it has undergone a revival [Source]. Now, most of us can enjoy it whenever we like—for toast, sandwiches and in the bread basket.

    If you haven’t had sourdough bread recently, today’s the day!

     

    Check out the different types of breads in our Bread Glossary.

      

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