Saturday, October 18, 2008

Basil Beer Bread

Bread has always seemed very scary to much potential for failure! When I read a thread on the Cooking Light BB posted by someone who shared my thoughts this recipe for Basil Beer Bread was recommended. It was originally posted by Elizabeth 13 and the source is Real Simple, and that is exactly what this recipe is. The name of the recipe says it all, Basil: Good, Beer: Good, Bread: Good, how can you go wrong!!??

Beer Bread

Source: Real Simple

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan
1 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably ale
Flour for the work surface
1 cup chopped or torn fresh basil

1. Heat oven to 400° F.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer on low, or in a large bowl using a spoon, combine the flour, yeast, salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Add the beer and mix just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the basil (or rosemary if subbing) and knead gently just until incorporated. Shape the dough into a round loaf and transfer to the prepared sheet. Bake until the loaf is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn the loaf onto a wire rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I used two cups of whole wheat flour and used all purpose while flour for the remaining cup and 1/4. Basil Beer Bread is a perfect way to use all of the basil that I have growing out back. For years I planted basil plant after basil plant with my typical "black thumb" results. Kylie thought she would give it a try and she clearly has the magic touch! It has been flourishing in an almost out of control way. The basil really makes this dense bread taste fresh and the beer deepens the rich flavor. This Basil Beer Bread is excellent on its own, dipped into soup, or used to make a great ham and swiss melt. It is a crucial element in satisfying a comfort food craving!


Dogs in Shirts!!!

The boys are growing much larger and I just had to buy them these shirts. I never thought I would be one of those people....but I just couldn't pass them up! Halo doesn't mind his too much, but Figgins LOVES his!! These two are such goof balls, I can't believe how much joy they bring to my life!!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mexican Rice

Since moving to CA I have found myself preparing more and more Mexican inspired dishes. I have even made the jump from "mild" to "medium" in regards to salsa, which I thought would never happen:) Avacados which I once feared are now a weekly occurrence. Thanks to crazy Cousin Bud and his interesting take on the holidays, within a few years we will be harvesting our own avacados from the tree he gave us for Christmas a few years back. Regardless of the main dish, enchiladas, tacos, chili relleno casserole, I always make Mexican Rice as a side. I have tried several different recipes and finally found one we all really enjoy. While this recipe is inspired by an existing one, this is my take on the versatile side.

Mexican Rice

(My adaption of a classic recipe.)

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 chopped medium white onion
2 diced jalapanos
2 cups long grain white rice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
A large handful of minced fresh cilantro
1 lime

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine tomato, onion and jalaponos in processor or blender until pureed completely smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve 2 cups.

Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 or 2 minutes.Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.

Heat the olive oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over medium high heat about 2 minutes. Drop a few rice grains in, if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, pureed mixture, tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.Stir well 15 minutes into the cooking time and return to oven.

Stir in the juice from the lime and the minced cilantro.

Terry has said over and over again that this Mexican Rice is better than any he has had in a restaurant. The consistency of restaurant rice was something I had trouble reproducing until I found this original recipe. Rinsing the rice and frying it in the oil are the two techniques that set this rice apart from rest. This rice can seem a bit time consuming, but it is well worth the effort. It freezes well so we usually make a large batch and freeze what we don't eat. We served it along side of beef enchiladas and Terry's guacamole. I hope you enjoy this Mexican Rice as much as we do, I have never received anything less than a rave review when adding this to a meal!